Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Road to Indiana

Really, this is probably not the best time to start writing. Our life is in major upheaval. Everything is changing. I think the changes are what make me want to write – to process my thoughts and feelings and help explain this crazy adventure a little to those watching, and even to myself.

As we move away from everyone we know and love, I feel strongly that I need to record this journey and invite the ones we’re leaving to follow along with us as we embark into unknown territory.

I can’t promise it will be well written, or even very interesting, but it is my life and I want to invite you into it and the random wanderings of my heart and mind as much as possible.

I may not write very often. I may write everyday. I don’t know what to expect from myself as writing and blogging has been something I’ve been very inconsistent with. But I know that God is teaching me a lot and is moving in ways I want to remember. I want to build an altar of sorts, rock by rock, as a testimony of what He is doing in my life so I can look back and remember each piece He provided and each way He stepped in and did what only He can do.

The story began long ago, of God teaching me and inviting me into a life-changing friendship with Him, but our recent journey began in December. I’ve always wanted to go abroad and share the love of Jesus with people in other countries – to be a missionary – and give my life in crazy radical ways for the gospel. And this last December, I again came to my husband and shared my longing to go and be a missionary. This desire has been so deeply rooted in my heart since I first gave my life to the Lord, that I don’t know where I begin and it ends. It is as much a part of me as my own breath and for so long, God has said, “Stay. Be here. Love here. Grow here.” And I have. I’ve grown and changed and fallen in love with God in new ways everyday. I’ve been truly content and full of joy right where I am, living for Jesus where He has called me to be, but still, like an ache in my chest, I’ve longed for missions like a steady pulsing pain. A constant ache and reminder that I can’t ignore.

In December, we went away for our anniversary, and on the three hour drive, I poured out my heart to my husband for the thousandth time of my longing to go and do missions and this new sense that God is preparing us for something altogether different. I asked him, “Please pray with me. I will stay in Oregon with peace and joy if this is where God has called us to be, but will you please commit to praying with me and asking Him where He wants us to be. And will you really pray earnestly about it?” This was not the first conversation where I’ve begged Andy to move to Africa or India with me, and it may not yet be the last, but Andy committed himself to praying and to seeking God’s will for our life.

Fast forward a month, Andy had a hard day at work and came home and shared about some of the struggles. The conversation spurred on talks about the future and ideas and dreams of what could be. The following day, he shared some of his dreams with a friend of his who lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and they began dreaming together. Andy’s work eventually evened out, but something in Andy’s heart began to want a life in Indiana and the possibilities that were available to us there. He began to talk seriously about us moving there. We dream a lot together about this idea or that idea, so we dreamed a bit, but I didn’t truly expect it to result in anything.

In the end of January, I went on a prayer retreat and we had a time of listening prayer. During that time waiting on the Lord and listening for anything He wanted to say to me, I heard very clearly that He wanted us to move to Fort Wayne, Indiana and that it would be a season where all I had to depend on was God and that I was to press into the suffering and into Christ, choosing the path Jesus walked for the sake of the world. I truly don’t know what that means or will look like, but it certainly didn’t make me excited!

I went home and shared what I heard with Andy, and we continued talking. His mindset was still very practical – finances and career options were his primary focus at the time. We talked and shared our thoughts with some close friends and family and received very mixed reactions. Some reactions made us reconsider the idea entirely – maybe this was a horrible idea. But still, there felt like an invisible hand was guiding us down this path. We read an amazing book together called “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” by Randy Alcorn that really motivated us to think about our finances even more in the light of Kingdom values and the importance of being completely debt free. We began to talk about ways we could be debt-free in Oregon as we have a home loan, school loans, and a car loan. Through these months, we decided that stay or leave, we needed to live debt-free with no loans or mortgages of any kind and that we were willing to make drastic life changes to accomplish those purposes.

We wrestled back and forth, should we go or should we stay? What about other locations? Are we only supposed to be in Fort Wayne or could another cheaper location be an option to us as well? Maybe something closer to our families and home? No matter where we looked or how cheap another place was, we kept feeling ourselves drawn back to Fort Wayne. We felt no peace about any other place and the more we researched Fort Wayne, the more we felt drawn to a particular 10 block radius. It felt crazy, but we both felt sure it was Fort Wayne or nothing.

But we still were wrestling with the whole topic and we were struggling with leaving our amazing communities and families behind. During that season, the Lord reminded me of how He has called nearly every major biblical person of faith to leave their families and their homes to follow Him and of the call in the gospels from Jesus to do just that. Abraham, Moses, Joseph (although unwilling at first), Isaac, Jesus, Ruth, and so many more. The list was startling as I realized that this walk of faith in following Jesus sometimes (often!) calls you away from everyone you know and love and leads you to a place of total dependence on the Father.

We decided, we didn’t want to leave our families and our friends for anything other than a call from God to do so. We decided to wait and pray until my trip to Africa. We asked friends to pray with us and we felt that we would know more clearly after Africa somehow. So we waited. And prayed. And then Africa.

I fell in love with Africa. Uganda was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. It was like a I fell into a romance with a people and a place and everything about it was intoxicating and full of wonder. The people, the sights, the smells, the weather, the traffic, the food, and this siren possibility of all the ways that God wanted to do a renewing and restoring work there wooed me into a place where one night when I awoke at 1am (jet lag!), I laid in my bunk and begged God, with tears and sobs, to let me stay forever. I felt like my heart was aching and yearning in a way that I have never felt before – and breaking too. It hurt so much to want something so bad. And as I lay there, sobbing and begging, He broke my heart and told me “no.” He told me Uganda wasn’t for me, but was for my children. That my love for Uganda was for them. He reminded me of David wanting to build a temple for God and how God said that David couldn’t, but his son Solomon would. David spent the rest of his life storing treasures up for Solomon to use in building the temple, but David would never get to see it completed. My love for Uganda was the treasures I was storing up in my children’s hearts so they could one day complete what God would not allow me to do.

But in that heartbreak, He told me again that He was calling us to Fort Wayne, Indiana. He said many other things – things about a church plant and His vision for our lives there. And I knew, this was my future now. I felt a grief the rest of the trip, but also peace that comes from full surrender, and an ability to embrace my time in Uganda, however short it may be.

During my time in Uganda, Andy committed to meeting with someone each night to pray for us and for our future. During one such night, a friend and him sat and prayed together and asked God for specific direction.  Andy had a vision of our future that was a tailor-made for Andy version of what I had heard from God myself. So while I was in Africa, 8,931 miles away, we confirmed that we would follow God’s leading and move to Fort Wayne. We had no idea how or what Andy would do for a job, but we knew we were called and needed to go.

Andy had previously talked with his boss about moving to Indiana, telecommuting and the like, and his boss had said that wouldn’t be possible with the type of job that Andy had. Through a number of events at Andy’s work, they suddenly needed someone to start a warehouse in the Midwest or somewhere equally as inexpensive. In faith, before we had talked and after he had had his vision, Andy went to his boss and suggested that we would be open to running the warehouse in Indiana. That evening, Andy and I skyped across continents and shared our experiences and made our decision. Andy emailed me the next day and this is what he said:

Yesterday I expected to have a big long talk with [my boss] about IN, but as soon as I went into his office, we started talking about warehouse plans and everything. About an hour into it, I stopped and said I'd like to talk about the whole "me running it in Indiana" thing, and he responded (in other words) saying basically "What's there to talk about? That's what we're doing" so I guess it was a done deal! Glad you said yes, otherwise this could get real awkward.”

And things have been tumbling forward from there. There has been miraculous provision for our living situation that has made people who don’t even know us say, “I think this is God!” In fact, the house we’ll be renting at first is inside the 10 block radius we felt called to, is exactly the amount we first discussed for a rental, and is in the backyard of the Classical Conversations community we’ll be a part of. Plus it is walking distance to a park, has neighbors with kids our children’s ages, and is a block away from the home of our Classical Conversations director. And we’re renting from an incredible le family of believers who have been amazing to work with and who, I think, we could become good friends with!

In all of this, we’ve had people offer crazy generous things to support us in going. James, a friend who constantly embodies the willingness to serve with love and generosity, is driving over with Andy and the U-haul. My mother-in-law felt God put it on her heart to fly over with the kids and I and to help wrangle them on the plane. Another dear friend generously offered to pay a large part of our moving costs. And there is so much more that would take an entire another post to put into words.

In all this, we are just standing in awe of all that God is doing and how He is providing. There have been hard aspects of this journey, particularly in leaving everyone we know and love, and the challenges that come with that. We would love prayer going forward, especially as what God has called us to (more on that later!) is something we feel completely inadequate for. I have no experience and no model that I’ve seen to work from. We are literally walking through the dark waiting for him to light the path directly in front of our feet. And He is faithful to do that and so much more. He says He will do abundantly more than we could ask or think and so we walk, not by sight, but by faith, trusting Him to fulfill all His promises and to lead us “in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

All praise and glory be to Him forever and ever!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Homeschooling: The Journey Continues

The most challenging aspect of beginning the homeschool journey for me has been determining what our homeschool looks like. I love reading articles about the paths other moms have chosen. Simple Homeschool has some great stories where different moms share a "day in the life" and what their nitty gritty looks like. It's good to know they are normal people doing normal things and that pinterest-perfect isn't their normal either.

But, their day-in-the-life still doesn't answer the question, "What does my day-in-the-life look like?"

I've read and wrestled, and read and wrestled some more. At some point, a person can read too much and have too much to wrestle with. The mass volume of information and ideas available muddled my mind so fully that the structure of our homeschool began to look like a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with me trying blindly to pin the right homeschool method on my family's unique build.

To describe the start of our journey, I jumped into a Classical Conversations community at the outset. We joined a community, purchased all of the curriculum, and I was hopeful that we would thrive and, as advertised on their website, I would single-handedly cultivate a love of learning in my child. They would read blissfully in fields of flowers by the age of 5 and the sun would beam down on our perfect happy homeschool family. Okay, maybe I didn't expect all that, but I look back and realize I was hoping the Classical Christian method would be our perfect fit.

We joined the community and we struggled immensely all year.  Each week, we went to a very LONG four hours of repetitive repeat-after-me sessions, where we both felt ignorant and ill-prepared. After a number of weeks of feeling like the dumb kid (and the dumb mom), I spent the week pushing Isabel (then only four years old!) too hard so that when she came to class she wouldn't feel inferior (and neither would I) and while she learned the content and began to improve in class, she began to hate doing "school," as did I.  Most of the time when we thought about doing "school" at home or at CC, we both internally cringed. We limped through the rest of the year and by the last 6 weeks, we had emotionally and physically checked out almost completely.  I was emotionally exhausted from trying to keep up and I realized I had caused damage in my attempts to do so in my child's "love of learning." The very thing I was trying to cultivate was the thing I trampled underfoot as I looked too intently at the "garden" I wanted to grow in the distance and not hard enough at the "garden" I was planting.

Recently, I've been reading through the amazing book, Homeschooling, Take a Deep Breath - You Can Do This, and this paragraph describes my feelings about last year homeschooling Isabel.

 "I began my homeschooling career by teaching only the oldest of my three children. I was new, so I was managing to make every mistake commonly made by homeschoolers, but I also faced the challenge of spending so much uninterrupted time with a child whose personality was as strong as mine. She and I clashed as I struggled to be the perfect teacher and to force her to be the perfect student. When I was teaching one child, I put all my self-esteem, my goals, my pride into this child's education. It was, I thought, her job to prove I could do what most people thought I couldn't do. Instead of starting out slowly and gradually getting used to what we were doing, I charged into full education mode ... This was far too much pressure for one child, and it's a wonder we get along so well today."

Over the summer, I struggled with whether to even try homeschooling again. I was exhausted and I felt like I had irrevocably ruined my child for life. I'm confident Isabel will be just fine, but at the end of the year, I felt like I had failed her and myself unforgivably. Maybe I'm not cut out for this, my mind swirled. Or maybe it was just a hard year with a newborn? Other homeschool parents have newborns and they don't seem to be ruining their kids' homeschool experience. I had, in fact, just read a blog by a mom who had homeschooled her children while also caring for newborn twins. What excuse did I have then to not be successful?

I read articles and blogs and they all said to go with the flow and not to stress. Easy for them to say, my brain retorted, their kids haven't been scarred by a mom who pushed her child too hard. Their kids don't fall apart every time they start doing "school." 

I almost gave up on it all, but I kept feeling like God was gently nudging me back to homeschooling. Don't you see how poorly I did last year?  I asked Him. He gently reminded me that He often calls His people to do hard things, things that they can't do in their own strength. His words resonated in me as I thought of what Jesus walked through for me and the hard things God asked of Jonah, Joseph, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Abraham, Moses, and countless others. Perhaps I did do poorly last year, but it seemed that God was calling me to do hard things with Him.

In so many ways, I look back at our last year and realize that I wanted to be successful in homeschooling for my sake and not for my children's sake. I wanted educated, kind, respectful children partially so I could say I successfully raised my children well. I needed to decide whether I was homeschooling so I could produce perfect children who brought credit to my name (not a great motivation, by the way), or whether I would homeschool for a deeper, more lasting reason. 

God gave me the reason I was homeschooling as clear as day here - paideia - and it changed my heart about homeschooling.

Finally, I had my purpose for homeschooling but was still asking the question, "What does homeschooling my children look like in light of the purpose God gave me?"

I may ask that question every day (maybe year if I'm lucky) for the rest of my homeschool life, but I came up with some solid framework for what our homeschool will may look like this year.

More on the nitty gritty of our homeschool plan for 2016 next....

Melody perusing fairy tales in ballet attire

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Elisha Reads: Homeschooling, Take a Deep Breath - You Can Do This!

I'm learning so much as I've embarked on this homeschool journey. I'm sure many of you are seasoned homeschoolers and much of what I am discovering now, you have fine tuned or you've already discarded. Each new day, it seems I discover what works for our family and what is a complete bust. It feels a little like trying on shoes - some squeeze, some pinch, some are snug, some are so comfortable you never want to take them off, and some fit just right for all the things you need to do in a day.

Last week, we sauntered down to our local library (and if you aren't aware, sauntering with three little children looks more like hustling ornery cattle through an obstacle course) wherein I proceeded to herd Samuel (my little one year old) around the library. As I bent to snatch him up before he could scale the book shelves, my eye landed on a book. It almost reverberated with that fictional magical aura and before I knew what my hands were doing, it had landed in my arms with my squirming child.  A happy throb seemed to emanate from the book as it snuggled its way into our overloaded bag of library loot.

When the kids settled in for naps and the house was miraculously quiet, the book almost jumped at me, so I didn't resist the impulse and I caught it and began to peruse the chapters. Each sentence seemed to flash before my eyes as if the author was looking straight into my fears and my challenges and my children and addressing every question before my mind had finished asking it.

More than any other resource on this homeschooling journey, this book has done wonders for my heart and mind. Even its name sounds like it was meant for me. 

Homeschooling, Take a Deep Breath, You Can Do This by Terrie Lynn Bittner

I won't spoil all the goodness of it, but if you are starting out homeschooling, this is a must-read. She breaks down the homeschool process well for minds that are bent towards creativity rather than list-making and organization. While at the same time, she supplies some very do-able recommendations for getting organized and making lists. It gives me hope that I will find my perfect balance between freedom and structure in my own homeschool life.  And on top of this, it has spurred my imagination and activated my creative juices!

I hope you get a chance to read it!

Most of the books I read are recommendations from others - they don't normally jump off library bookshelves like this one did - so please take a moment and share your favs in the comment section!

{With everything that is available to read, thanks for reading this!}

Friday, August 5, 2016

Homeschooling: The Journey Begins

Homeschooling and I have resembled a science experiment I did as a kid. I would pour water and oil into the same cup and swirl it around, but no matter how much I swirled and shook, no matter how many oil bubbles were created, the elements never blended into a homogeneous solution; they each remained distinct.

I've been swirling around in a jar with homeschooling and we've been bubbling against each other. Last year was a mix of frustration and self-doubt, mingled with enthusiasm and disappointment. Nothing, literally NOTHING, went as I had planned or imagined. My children did not wake up with enthusiastic smiles begging to begin school (yes, I had dreamed of my children loving school so much that I simply fed their eager imaginations and hunger for learning). Samuel did not sleep or play quietly while the older children and I read fantastic stories about fairies, world history, and science. I did not manage to drag my sleep deprived body out of bed before my children so I could greet the day with peace and joy overflowing from my time with Jesus.

My water of life was not mixing with my oil of homeschooling. By the end of the year, we were just really broken down into lots of little pieces and I was left staring at the fullness of my sin (impatience, lack of love, pride, and the list keeps going).

This is what homeschooling sometimes looks like in our house. Samuel climbing on everyone!
As we entered into summer, the Lord and I entered a season of His revealing how much work He has still to do in my life. I feel like he pulled back the curtain of my heart and gently shined His light into so many places where I need to grow.  My heart was humbled and repentance entered in. His gentle instruction has led me over the past few months and He has hemmed me in, behind and before, with His tender love.

Amidst this season of repentance and rebuilding (although isn't all of life full of both?), the Lord continued to encourage me to homeschool. There was no head-bashing. No forceful pushing. Just His firm gentle insistence that He would do this with me and that I could trust His leading in my life. I wanted to homeschool, I truly did, but I wrestled with whether I could homeschool. I have ADD, a part of me that is both wonderful and frustrating, and I wondered whether I could tame my mind's constant pushing and pullings to properly educate my children.

And so, somewhere in my heart, I committed to this journey. Really, I committed to my children, because I'm homeschooling for their sake and not my own, and I committed to the Lord.  Chaos may abound and attitudes may flounder, but the Lord and I are on this journey together.

Paideia, the latin word for nurture, stood out to me suddenly bold and bright as the Lord lit it on a page before me.  In Ephesians 6:4, Paul writes, "Fathers, do no provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."  The word nurture here is paideia in the original greek. The Lord impressed it into my mind like a seal upon wax, scribbled in the margins of my bible and circled in my own hand.

God has called me to paideia my children: to nurture, discipline, train, and instruct them in the way of the Lord. The public schools won't do this for me. God did not call my church to do it for me. He didn't ask a private school to do it for me. He commanded fathers (and I'll imply from the whole of scripture that this includes both sexes) to train their children in the way they should go, to talk about Him when they sit at home and when they walk along the road, when they lie down and when they get up (Deut 6:7).  To be clear, I don't think God calls everyone to homeschool, but a number of years ago I very clearly felt the Lord tell me to homeschool. And so, here I am, finally committing to this journey.

I'm not committing to "homeschooling" itself. I'm not pledging myself to the classical learning style. I'm not placing my flag on the hill of better education.  I'm standing my ground on paideia. My children may not speak chinese, sign language, and write in perfect cursive by the time they are six. They may not learn to read faster than their peers. They may not have perfect attitudes and be the best behaved children on the playground. But I'm not homeschooling for these reasons.

I'm homeschooling because I want my children to see Jesus, day in and day out, in my weaknesses and in successes. I want to nurture them and instruct them. I want the gospel to saturate their life.  I want prayer to be in their left hand and God's word in their right. I want faith to be as natural to them as breathing and salvation to cover them like a helmet. Because they are going to face some battles in this life, (we all do, don't we?) and I want them to be prepared in the "nurture and instruction of the Lord." I want their first response to be "Jesus!" and their last breath to be "Jesus!"

And since He has called me to this, I believe that He will equip me for it because He has prepared these "good works" in advance for me to do.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 1:11).  I am assured that my hope, which is Christ, will not disappoint. I am confident that every promise God has made is "Yes" and "Amen!" in Jesus. So I'm walking into this knowing God is with me and that He will guide me and instruct me. That He longs for my children to walk with Him and that He is faithful to finish the work He has started. That His Word will not return void. That He will extend His faithfulness to the thousandth generation of those that love Him. These are the promises I cling to and the impetus for this journey. 

No matter whether homeschooling and I are remain water and oil, paideia and I resemble sugar water. Sugar dissolves when it is mixed and stirred in water and both are changed by the process. This journey may have mixing, stirring, and all kinds of agitation throughout the process. In the end though, something new and sweet emerges. Add a little lemon and you've got a refreshing drink. ;)

I will be chronicling my journey here to keep a record and history of the "science experiment" God is conducting in my life. Sometimes you'll see the agitation process. Sometimes you'll get a drink of our sweet concoction. My hope is that we'll look back and see a record the results of God's handiwork and His scientific method at work in our life. 

Care to join us? 

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Friday, June 27, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 175: What are you praying for?

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 175, June 27, 2014
Readings: Proverbs 27, Proverbs 28, Deuteronomy 27, Micah 3, Matthew 6:1-18

Ask my wife and she'll tell you - I'm not much of a public prayer person. Or even semi-public prayer in front of other people. 

I wish it was because I was doing my best to obey Matthew 6, where it says to pray in a closet so that you aren't using prayer to try and convince others of your holiness. But really, I just don't want to embarrass myself by saying something foolish in front of others. I'm worried that I won't have the right things to say. But Jesus says to pray this way: 

 And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)

Pray for what you need. God's not impressed by our quantity or quality of words. He knows what we're going to ask for, and he knows if we need it, before we even ask. He wants us to be sincere. He wants us to be honest and forthcoming. He wants us to ask for things that we need from him - not just provisions, but the ability to live out a godly life. Because a little later, He tells us to pray that our sins would be forgiven - as we have forgiven others.

I don't know about you, but I need help to forgive. And I need to be forgiven. God wants to provide both of those things for me - and he wants me to ask for them. God, I am broken, I am in need of your love and forgiveness. Please help me so that I can show your love and forgiveness to others as well, just as you have shown it to me.

365 Days with God - Day 174: Hope for a Fool

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 174, June 26, 2014
Readings: Proverbs 25, Proverbs 26, Deuteronomy 26, Micah 1, Micah 2,  Matthew 5:17-48

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 26:12)

Am I trusting in myself, or am I trusting in God?

Because if I think I've got all the answers, if I'm sure that I have figured things out, that I provide for myself, that I do everything right...I'm hopeless. God has provided everything I need, and any knowledge that I have, He has given me. Who am I to say that I've done anything? How can I give myself credit, how can I count myself valuable, when I brought nothing into this world, and can take nothing out of it? How can I think myself important when I cannot control even my own life?

I pray that I am not wise in my own eyes. I pray that God is the one who provides for me and my perspectives. Because if I am providing everything for myself, what need do I have of God? If everything was my own, why would I need him? And if I am without God, I am nothing.

365 Days with God - Day 173: Hide it under a bushel...NO!

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 172, June 25, 2014
Readings: Proverbs 23, Proverbs 24, Deuteronomy 23:15-25, Deuteronomy 24, Deuteronomy 25:1-19, Amos 9, Matthew 5:1-16

I wish I had time to cover all of the beatitudes, but it'd take weeks. So I'm just going to pick one.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

A lamp under a basket does one of two things:

1) It is burning so hot that it lights the basket on fire, and thus burns brightly anyway
2) It is snuffed out by the basket.

Which do you want your faith to be like? I'd rather the first one. I'd rather it be unable to be hidden. So bright, so prominent, so on fire that encountering it was unavoidable.

But where have we ended up as a nation? All too often we are trying to put our faith under a basket. Telling others to tone it down, to not share so much. Personally, I'm tired of hearing this stuff. Our fire is to burn brightly. Note that these verses don't say to ramrod our faith down other people's throats. It should be unmistakeable. Visible, no matter what.

So rather than trying to hide it, rather than continually making our faith personal only to ourselves, we should be making sure it's prominent. Constantly in front of those who look at us - so that Jesus would be known by our word and deed. That encountering the same saving grace and love that we experience would say all that needs to be said. Do you burn brightly?