only help my unbelief

Homeschooling and Socialization
January 21, 2009, 10:34 am
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One day in eighth grade, I opened my locker and a folded up piece of paper fell out. To: Chelsey, From: Bobby. Bobby was in my homeroom. He was one of the “cool” kids.

I anxiously opened the note. Ten years later, I don’t remember what it said exactly, but it was something to the effect of “I really like you.”

My heart was racing for the rest of the day. I would never have thought that he would like me, but why would he have left a note in my locker? The thought that he was too embarrassed for his friends to know occurred to me, but I didn’t care. Someone liked me, 13-year-old awkward me!

That night, I wrote out a long note back to Bobby, telling him that I was so excited that he liked me and that I was really looking forward to getting to know him.

The next morning, I handed him the note in homeroom. The look on his face was completely confused, as though he had no idea why I was even talking to him. This was the response I would have expected if it were any other situation, but he had written me a note. He liked me.

If you’ve ever seen Never Been Kissed, remember the scene where Drew Barrymore’s character gets asked to prom by the most popular guy at school and then the night of the prom he drives by and throws eggs at her? That was me.

Turns out some of the girls in my homeroom, who were friends with Bobby, thought it would be funny to write me a note pretending to be Bobby, then watch me crash and burn as I confronted him and he had no idea what I was talking about.

I’m telling this story now because, first of all, God heals wounds. It still pains me to see myself at my locker that day, so excited over what I was reading, but there is redemption at the end of the road. The other reason I’m telling this story is because I want to talk about people who say that one of the problems with homeschooling is that you don’t get proper socialization.

My eighth grade year was the first year that I went to public school, after being homeschooled for my entire school career. Some might say that my lack of socialization was the direct cause of what happened, and that may well be true. My teeth were crooked until I got braces at the end of the year. I didn’t have cool clothes. My interests were specific and obscure. I made good grades. I was the epitome of The Uncool.

But I’m not willing to place the blame entirely on being homeschooled. When I told my friend Emily about what happened in eighth grade, she regaled me with stories about her experience in elementary and middle school. She had gone to public school her whole life.  (I think that if we had gone to the same school, we would have been good buddies, because she was just as awkward as I was.)

Little boys who made a list of girls they wanted to have sex with. Little girls who spread fake rumors about girls who were less popular.

I don’t really think the issue is socialization at all. If socialization is what you learn by going to a public school, then here’s what I “learned” about interacting with other people in eighth grade:

  • People will like you if you make fun of people who aren’t as “cool” as you.
  • It’s OK to completely ignore people who aren’t like you.
  • There are no consequences for bad behavior toward other people.
  • The clothes you wear matter more than how you treat other people.
  • You can’t trust anyone.

Those aren’t exactly the principles I want to instill into my children.

If you want to send your kids to public school, do so in the grace of God. Some parents can’t homeschool their kids, and I understand that.

I think most Christians my age who went to public school would say that they were OK with the experience, but sometimes I wonder if that’s not just because they didn’t know that there were other ways to do it.

When I think about the years that I was homeschooled, I remember memorizing Scripture. I remember reading to my younger sisters. I remember going to the zoo in the morning and being the only kids there who weren’t being marched around in two straight lines. I remember building snow forts, climbing trees and working on my bug collection. I remember the children’s choir at church, the water slides at the community swimming pool, and countless hours playing with my American Girl doll with my closest friends.

Public school wasn’t all bad, and I don’t think you can – or should – shelter your children from anything and everything. But at the same time, I want my kids to grow up knowing they are secure in my love for them, and that Jesus is the all-satisfying lover of their souls. I don’t want notes stuffed in lockers or comments made in whispers to get in the way of that.

God can heal middle school wounds, to be sure, but if it’s at all within my power, I’ll be happy to raise an awkward kid with not-so-cool clothes who loves Jesus and doesn’t have any of the painful memories I do. And I won’t worry about if they’ll have friends or if they’ll ever get married.

Speaking personally, I’ve come a long way.

The cutest thing this year, even if it is only January 1
January 1, 2009, 10:54 pm
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Molly Piper, daughter-in-law of John Piper, shared this video of her son, Orison, reciting parts of Luke 2. Apparently she and her husband, Abraham, have just been reading Luke 2 out loud to him every night for the last couple of weeks. When they got him started on it, he pretty much had the whole thing memorized.

I’m not gonna lie, I almost started crying watching it.

Here we go, 2009
January 1, 2009, 8:00 am
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So I’m not a huge fan of pointless New Year’s resolutions, but I think that it’s always good to take stock of where you are and see areas in which God still needs to grow you. After all, even the Psalmist prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me, and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)

In order to keep myself accountable like I mentioned in my post yesterday, I’m gonna stick these resolutions over in a page on the right sidebar. I’ll check back in once a month and see where I’m at.

I haven’t included anything like “Read the Bible more” because 1) that’s something hard to measure and 2) I don’t want to treat my relationship with God like I treat my workout plan at the gym. He’s eternal and holy and precious, and if anything else, I want to pray more that I would be like Jesus. But that’s not going on this list, because I want that to be the cry of my heart.


  • Finish memorizing 1 John before our wedding
  • Start memorizing a longer book of the Bible (maybe one of Paul’s epistles; Philippians?) and finish it before the end of the year
  • Write Lisbet, the little girl I sponsor through Compassion, at least one letter a month
  • Work with the children in my Sunday School class to memorize the rest of the first 10 questions of the First Catechism (we can do it, Lee!)


  • Compete in a 5-10K race
  • Lose 10-15 pounds before our wedding
  • Lose 25 pounds by the end of the year
  • Avoid soft drinks and other sugary beverages / no soft drinks until after the wedding


  • Have less than $7,000 to pay off of Christian’s loan by the end of the year
  • Plan a budget for each month and stick to it
  • Save up enough money throughout the year for next year’s Christmas presents
  • Stay within our wedding budget


  • “Compete” with Christian to see who can read the most books (more about this another day)
  • Pursue more freelance editing opportunities and other forms of alternative incomes

I feel like all of these things are do-able, mostly because some of them I’m already in the process of doing; I just want to continue them in the new year. For example, Christian and I have both been sticking to a budget for the last three months. We’ve both stayed within a few dollars of our budget each month, which has been an awesome discipline. As far as Bible memorization, I’m about 1/3 of the way through 1 John, and it is a joy.

I think the hardest part will be the physical things. I purposefully didn’t say anything like “work out four times a week,” because that’s destined to fail in the face of busy schedules and unexpected engagements. Losing weight isn’t all about working out; it’s also about eating healthfully, so I think that it’s definitely attainable – it will just require a lot of sacrifice.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? I promise not to make fun. 😉

Eight things
December 17, 2008, 11:24 am
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I got this from Leigh’s blog.

8 TV shows I watch:
1. The Office (The funniest show on TV, although this season seems lamer than others…)
2. Jeopardy (My favorite part, aside from pretending to be a genius by confidently yelling out what ends up being the wrong answer, is the stories the contestants tell. Oh really, you make up songs about your cats and sing them to the dear animals?)
3. The Biggest Loser (I am SO glad Michelle won. I hope that Vicki is embarrassed by her foul mouth.)
4. Top Chef (I don’t normally know what 80% of the ingredients are, but it’s a cooking reality show with very little drama.)
5. LOST (My all-time favorite show ever. I watched two seasons over the course of a couple weeks. January 25 21* cannot come soon enough.)
6. Anything on FoodNetwork. My favorites, though, are Paula Deen, Ina Garten (if only she would stop talking about Jeremy!), Giada DeLaurentiis, Tyler Florence, Sunny Anderson, and Sandra Lee.
7. House (Christian and I call this “our show,” because we watched it for the first time together. We LOVE it.)
8. Everybody Loves Raymond (I used to watch this every evening while I made dinner)
8 favorite restaurants:
1. Moe’s
2. Taco Bell
3. D’s Wings
4. Red Bowl Asian Bistro
5. Crust (local pizza place in Sewanee, where Christian went to school)
6. Olive Garden
7. Egg Roll Chen’s (only local Columbians know the joy of this place)
8. Steak ‘n Shake
8 things that happened to me recently:
1. I applied for a new job.
2. I ate dinner with my friend Alexis at Red Bowl Asian Bistro (see above).
3. I ate lunch at Taco Bell (see above)
4. Christian and I explored some new apartment options.
5. I ordered my wedding dress.
6. I called my mom and asked her to plug in my camera battery so it would be ready for Behold the Lamb tonight.
7. I cleaned my keyboard with some compressed air. One of the highlights of my day, seriously.
8. I watched Michelle win The Biggest Loser last night (see above). AWESOME.
8 things I look forward to:
1. Seeing Behold the Lamb tonight.
2. Getting married on April 18.
3. My two friends – Emily and Emily – getting married in March and April.
4. Living with my best friend.
5. Spending time with my second-best friend, Sam, in preparation for the wedding.
6. Having babies. Soon, Lord, soon. (Well, no sooner than January 2010.)
7. Celebrating Christmas in a non-stressful way.
8. Having six days off work for the holidays. Glory.
8 things I wish pray for:
1. Wedding planning that is Christ-centered and un-stressful.
2. That the wedding ceremony and reception would be used by God to draw all of our unsaved family members and friends to Himself.
3.  That I would daily be a godly example for my sisters.
4. That God would remove every temptation to fear or anxiety.
5. That the two- and three-year-olds I teach in Sunday school would learn something of Christ through what I do every week.
6. That the words I use with Christian would lift him up and not tear him down.
7. That God would give me the desire to seek Him every day through prayer and reading His Word.
8. That I would become famous through blogging. (Just kidding. Kind of. No, yeah, I’m just kidding.)
*An insightful commenter pointed out that LOST starts January 21, which is sooner than I thought it was starting. Hallelujah!

I’m glad it’s not that easy to have your gender changed.
December 16, 2008, 1:36 pm
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Mary Elizabeth, 3, is scared of non-dad men, so she calls Christian, my frequent babysitting companion, “Miss Crystal,” thus eliminating the problem.

I’m trying to win some kids’ books for my Sunday School class at church in a contest held over at Abraham Piper’s blog, Twenty Two Words.

November 24, 2008, 1:26 pm
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That is how Sinclair Ferguson pronounces “immediately,” and that has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to see what it looked like when it was spelled out how he says it.

Lots of thoughts running through my mind these days, mostly about church and the kingdom and marriage and birth control and prayer and music. Instead of taking the time that I don’t have to write a full-blown post about each topic, I thought I’d just write a little bit about each one.


The church is made up of believers, and the church is the bride of Christ. Thus, believers as a collective whole are the bride of Christ. So the woman sitting next to me at church yesterday is just as much a part of the bride as I am. I may feel like certain people within the church owe me something or need to take better care of me, but the real question is, how well am I taking care of them? I can trust God to take care of me, and He will. And even though I’m quick to act as though I have no friends or close people in whom I can confide, that’s simply not the case. I was reminded of that this past weekend.


Not using birth control is becoming more and more natural to my thinking, especially as I see families who may or may not be using it, but who nevertheless have many children over a short period of time. This is not a jugdment on those who use it. It is simply me saying that I would like to have lots of kids, because I can’t think of any greater earthly joy.


The more weddings I go to, the more cynical I become about potentially planning my own wedding. At this point, I’ve decided that my bridesmaids won’t have flowers; I will buy my bridesmaids’ dresses for them; they can wear whatever shoes they like; the guys will not rent tuxes; I won’t have flowergirls; we will invite most people via email; we will have one registry at one store with only absolute essentials. I’m sorry if you end up being a guest at my wedding and any of this offends you. However, it is my (our) wedding. And if I continue at this rate, considering how many weddings I will be attending in the next four months, by the time we get engaged, we’ll probably just elope, so no one will be offended at all. Except maybe my parents.


Kids are really smart. They can handle truth. And what is more beautiful than to ask four three-year-olds, “Why did God make you and all things?” and to hear them respond in unison, “For His own glory.” And when they say it, it sounds like “fo His own gwowy,” which is even better.


Feeling uncomfortable about your current state of sanctification is the best thing that can happen. I was reminded of this yesterday when I thought about how God started teaching me about the doctrines of grace. What really pushed me over the edge was someone speaking a hard word to me that made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Who have you made uncomfortable today?


It seems like the older I get, I get simultaneously more tolerant and less tolerant. More tolerant of Christians who believe the essential doctrines of Scripture. Less tolerant of those who settle for anything less than total truth. Sometimes these two things clash. But most of the time, I find that those who are settling for less than truth really don’t believe the essential doctrines of Scripture, so it’s a moot point.


What’s going through your head?

Overheard Sunday night
October 29, 2008, 1:22 pm
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Background: The kids were eating a snack in the nursery while I drew pictures on the whiteboard for them to guess. I had just drawn a snake.

Christian: You know what, guys? Miss Chelsey really doesn’t like snakes.

*looks of shock from the kids, as if three-year-olds LOVE snakes*

Three-year-old: You know what I’m afraid of?

Me: What?

Three-year-old: Cats. Because they do their business in my yard, and they bite.