Day 2: What Does it Look Like for You to Take Time to Examine Your Heart?

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Read Mark 14: 17-29

And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. and he said to them, “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.new-twitter_bird-gray Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.”

Easter Day 2 – Mark 14 v. 17-29 from IF : Equip on Vimeo.

If You Believe This to Be True Graphic

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Day 1: What is the Single Most Precious Thing to You About Jesus?

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Day 1:

You can post whatever you like in the comments, but please do try and answer the main question for today:

What it THE most precious thing to you about Jesus??

Easter Day 1 – Introduction from IF : Equip on Vimeo.

For the next three weeks we will look at some of the final moments of Jesus’ life throughout the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John). Tomorrow we begin in Mark 14:17-26 with the Last Supper.

The final week of our study, we are preparing an experience of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and reappearance to the disciples. We hope that you join us and invite one friend that you hope to hear the history and living story of Jesus’ sacrifice and triumph of sin and death.

Please invite other women to join us:

Instagram the Easter graphic (must be on your smart phone)

Tweet this:new-twitter_bird-gray Join @IFgathering as we study the final days of Jesus’ life together. Join the Easter study. #ifequip

Share this: http://www.ifequip.com

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Mark 16:6-7

In the comments section below, please share:

What is the most precious thing to you about Jesus?

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Will You Join Me For a Three Week Journey to Calvary?

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A few friends and I attended an incredibly powerful worldwide weekend tele-retreat called If: Gathering (perhaps some of you attended too!) There are several thousand women all over the world asking themselves and each other the same really hard questions. These are some of the things I jotted down in my journal, which have echoed through my mind ever hour of every day since last weekend:

“If I really, really believe that God is who He says He is, is my daily life testifying to his grace and love and glory?”

“Will I be safe? Will I be able to measure up against my enemies? What will be the cost of following Christ with my whole heart? Will it cost too much? Do I really want to go ALL IN?” Good God, have mercy on me and cause me to love your ways more than my own safety or security. I am asking the wrong questions!!! I want my heart, my LIFE to ask mach better questions than these!!”

“How can I get over my small-minded proclivities, and press into HIS everlasting, infinitely more beautiful dreams instead of my own. This is not MY narrative; it’s His. I am not the protagonist; He is. My happy ending is not the point here; His is.”

“What an inspiring epiphany that Joshua and Caleb beheld with their eyes the same obstacles that the other spies did when they scouted out the Promise Land together. And YET they were operating from a different storyline, as if they were in possession of some kind of supernatural sight that the other spies could not access because of their lack of faith. How can I daily, steadfastly set my mind on things above, as Joshua and Caleb did, and truly live as if the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and as if Glory of God is real and life-threateningly relevant? Because they are, people! If the Kingdom of God is inside you, these things are much more tangible than anything we could touch with mere human hands.”

All this to say, there is some very real growth happening among so many of us, and I feel absolutely compelled to usher forth a bell-ringing call for us to walk through these hard things together: to share our stories and know each other deeply and love each other unconditionally and relentlessly for His glory. Remember what Jesus said? “And they shall know that you are Mine by your love for one another.”

So many of us are in different seasons of our lives, but I believe with all my heart that we all have things to learn from each other. It’s flat-out impossible for us to all get together once a week at a certain time because we are all in just such different places, as far as when or even IF we have free time to indulge in these kinds of deeps conversations face-to-face. But I think, maybe just maybe, THIS could be a way to do it.

The If: Equip team, out of Austin, Texas has made it incredibly easy to form a community of women who pore over the Scriptures with each other daily and get real and raw on purpose, so we can become the soul-sisters we are meant to be within the Body of Christ.

Here is my commitment to you: I will post a link each and every day for the next three weeks of the study (the subject of which is Easter, suitably) and all you’ll have to do is come here, click on the link, watch the short video, read and meditate on the Bible passage, and then head back over here  to post whatever insights the Lord has revealed to you. I believe this could be an incredibly beautiful thing!! If you are not comfortable bearing every nook and cranny of your soul to women you may not know, feel FREE to be a lurker as long as you need/want to. 🙂 Many of us have been burned by the people of God at some point in our lives, sadly, but let us push right on past that and help each other embrace the healing that is freely available from Him, and let us love each other like it’s never gonna hurt–to bring Him glory by acting like the people of God. That’s exactly what Jesus did and what we are called to do as his followers. You can be quiet and just watch for as long as you need to! And if you get behind and miss a few days, DON’T stress! Either pick up where you left off OR just start on the current day’s passage. Who cares???? Only the Devil!! Because you’d better believe he’ll try to use that to trip you up. Don’t let the Enemy tell you any lies about how irrevocably you’ve screwed it up if you get behind. He is a Liar and a Deceiver, and the last thing he wants in you, woman of God, is to be devouring the Words of Life. JUST DO IT!! 🙂

So I am about to post Day 1 now, and tomorrow morning I will post Day 2. Please comment and share your heart! So many of you have been absent from my life for so long and I miss your hearts so very much. It’s just three weeks! We can do anything for three weeks, right??

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An Experimental Life

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It’s been so long since I blogged that I actually forgot how to get to the page to post a blog. And I forgot both my username and password.  For the past year almost, I’ve not written, which I’m realizing is a tell-tale sign that I’m barely breathing. I need to write like I need to exhale.

For me, I have to pray out loud, to talk, and to write it down in order to just figure out what the heck is really going on (both on the inside and the outside). If I’m silent for very long, it means there’s big trouble. It’s terrifying for me to admit that because then some of you might start to call me out more consistently. And then I might be forced to lie to you and say that I’m just too busy to write. And I’m a terrible liar. And I don’t want to lie to you. So I don’t want you to ask me. (You see my predicament then with admitting this?) But the truth is–I want to be called out. So it’s been another really, really hard year, starkly different in its quality of hardness than the last really hard year we had (which we refer to in our family as “the earthquake year”). By the way, when I say “year,” my children have learned that I almost always mean “school year”–because I am both by heart and nature, a teacher–so that’s how the timeline of my life is measured in my mind. I really don’t mean to get into any of that today, but I sort of feel like I’ve been half-asleep or walking dead for a really, really long time.

If you know me or go to church with me, this may really surprise you (or NOT!), and it’s not because I’ve been putting on a show, not even a little bit. It’s actually because I’ve been so ALIVE to ME, instead of dead to me and alive in Christ. But He has suddenly awakened me to Him again. I don’t even know how it happened, but it has! Nothing dramatic has happened in the last few weeks to cause this. A guest preacher at our church preached a very simple message about Matthew 6:33 (“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”), which I have had memorized in 12 different translations for about 20 years now, right? And something in my empty soul went, “AHA! I forgot about that!!”

You see, I’m that girl who has 10 self-help books in the basket beside her bed: how to have a better marriage, how to be more disciplined, how to discipline my children better, how to spice up your sex life (too much information?), how to get my finances in order, how to be a better bible study girl, how to NOT be just another bible study girl, how to be a better homeschool mom (okay, there are about 4 of those)… You get the picture. There’s a Bible in the basket too though! But that one’s just for show, really. I mean, I have the Bible App on my iPhone after all. Why would I need to open my actual, leather-and-paper Bible? That’s almost passe, right?

But Matthew 6:33 (JESUS!) tells me that if I will seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then basically everything else will be okay (even when it’s not okay). That’s too simplistic, I’ve been lying to myself all these years (and to my husband and children and everyone else in my life who actually SEES how I live, not how I talk). Right before that, in Matthew 6:28, Jesus points to the flowers, “See the lilies of the field? They do not labor and spin…” But that’s what I do most of the time–I labor and spin. Instead of really and truly doing the ONE thing that matters, the only thing that matters and causes everything else to work and to mean anything.

I have been waking up in the middle of the night a lot lately, wanting my Daddy like a child awakened from a bad dream. This morning, it was 2:45 am when it happened and the very first thought I had was this:

How foolish and arrogant and selfish it would be of me to open my mouth or even get out of this bed before I have sought and found the Lord today? How ridiculously arrogant have I been to think that I could homeschool my children or even just BE NICE without having first partaken of Him, without having first been FILLED to overflowing THIS DAY with His holy love and presence??

What a fool I have been to think that I had not the time for that, to think of it as a “luxury” instead of the absolute necessity that it is! I am not talking about just having a quiet time here. I’ve done that for years and have devotionals in all my bathrooms that I read every single day when I am doing my business. (Too much?) I’m talking about getting BROKEN over my sin before Him and FILLED to ridiculous, giddy overflow by Him. Every. Single. Day.

After thinking about that for a while this morning (and praying and repenting), He and I then had a good laugh about just how mutually impractical and necessary it is to do that every single day. I mean, seriously, who has the time or energy to do that every single day??? People in prison??? I’m still not sure how on earth this is going to work out in real life. The unfolding of this epiphany over the past couple weeks has seriously diminished my capacity to “get stuff done.” But I don’t care. Maybe it will get easier, but I don’t care. Maybe I just won’t get as much done. I DON’T CARE.

This is a matter of absolute urgency!!! For 22 years now I have lived in the glorious light of the Gospel, and for a few of those years (cumulatively, at least, if not consecutively) I have sought Him hard. And those are the brightest, most exhilarating spots of my life. But for most of my Christian life, I have coasted. I have rested on my laurels (which are NOTHING), studied my Bible, and just bought into the system. As Oswald Chambers put it perfectly, “We take a rational view of life and say that a man by controlling his instincts, and by educating himself, can produce a life which will slowly evolve into the life of God.”

I have squandered precious hours and days and years merely abstaining from evil, or laboring and spinning in vain for mere good; I have grown sick and dizzy of this boring substitution for an abundant life lived fully in Christ. NO MORE!

So I have asked Him to take me back to the start. (Yes, Coldplay’s “The Scientist”  is running through my head too.) I have realized that if I don’t do this, I am going to wake up in another 22 years and still be uncomfortably camped out in the Waiting Room. The days are long liars, but the years fly by, and then we’re dead. We’re done. I will blink a few more times and be 90, and this vapor of a life will have been essentially inconsequential if something doesn’t change RIGHT NOW, TODAY and every day (every hour!) afterward.

If I don’t do this, I’m always going to wonder what He would have done in me and maybe even through me. If I don’t do this, there’s no way I’m going to see the promised land this side of Heaven. If I don’t do this, there’s no way we’ll ever get back to Japan and see any of those whispered dreams of His heart come to life. Heck, I may have already jacked that up. I may have already wasted too many years to get to see it in my lifetime, but I don’t care. I’m turning this thing around anyway.

What will happen if I radically recalibrate my life, with Jesus truly at the center? What will He do?? What if I begin to ruthlessly filter the suitors of my time and energy and money and talent, only giving away the moments and days of my life to that which could sanctify my heart and bring Him glory? Is this too radical? Maybe. Am I asking for revolution? Yes, that’s what I want. There is no other true way to live! Keep me awake, God! Let me not fall asleep again! Is that possible?

What a grand experiment this could be–for my children, for the nations, for the books. Who knows? I’m all in, God.

P.S. I am really going to try and write more, both because I need to keep moving and for posterity. I feel like writing is very much a part of whatever this is that He is doing in me and that I need to be OBEDIENT to just do it. So if I get quiet for a long time again, you have my permission to call me out. Thank you to those of you who have done that. Those prying questions have been a part of this reawakening.

P.S.S. This is SOOOOO long. I am a bit much to handle in general, so a lot of people just ditch me emotionally or even literally once they realize that, which is understandable. It’s a lot, I know. But if you happen to love me enough to stick with me, thank you so much.

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They’ve Come for the Germans: Standing with the Wunderlichs

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Yesterday, our family was able to be a part of the bittersweet victory of the very sweet Wunderlich family, who were reunited after receiving a notoriously terrifying ultimatum from the German government to surrender their children to the public school system or lose them altogether.

It was a surreal experience yesterday to stand for the Wunderlichs: to spend the morning making protest signs in the German language with my school-aged children; to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the warriors of the homeschool movement in Europe; to meet the hollow-eyed moms whose children have already been taken away from them for their crime of homeschooling; to see my own ten year-old daughter consumed by a passion her very own, tirelessly carrying her homemade sign and intentionally making eye contact with every passerby to get their attention; to wait with bated breath for news of the court’s decision; and then to suddenly see the smiling faces of a mother and daughter in the second-story window, fervently praying and hoping that their smiles meant good news; to join in a chorus of happy tears at the news that “The children can go home!” from Dirk’s best friend, sprinting from the courthouse to tell the praying protestors; to admire the rosy cheeks of the four bewildered Wunderlich children, happily reunited with their parents; to hastily hug their “warrior-faced” fourteen year-old, and to hear her laugh nervously at my crazy American gregariousness; to listen carefully as this tired mother and father conceded with fire in their eyes that their children will go to school for now, but that this fight is not over.

Certainly, there is reason for rejoicing because this family is back together under the same roof! But please do not allow your consciences to be alleviated much by this spot of good news–because in Dirk’s words from yesterday afternoon, the German government literally held their children as hostages for three weeks in order to force these parents to comply with the State’s requirement that they send their children to public school effective immediately. The State has also taken away the Wunderlichs’ passports (which is a violation of international law, by the way), making it impossible for them to leave Germany to homeschool their children elsewhere–because the German government incredibly and boldly equates homeschooling with child abuse/neglect. I really hate to be a kill-joy, but my heart is grieved at their bittersweet victory, friends. You see, it has become apparent to me in these past few weeks, as I’ve dived heart-first into this, that families like theirs and the Dudecks and the Schaums and the hundreds of others who are homeschooling underground in Germany, are in the middle of a brutal war against the ruthless tyrrany of the German government for what is a most basic human right–the right of a parent to train his/her own child according to their own beliefs and conscience. The abuse of government power which has been flaunted by the German authorities against the Wunderlich family should jolt us all out of our daily grinds and call us to attention, whether we are homeschoolers or not.

Look, I get it. Homeschooling is not meant for everybody, and if you don’t feel called to do it, you shouldn’t! Perhaps you secretly acquiesce with the sentiment that homeschoolers are in fact a little weird. (Yeah okay, maybe we are. But can’t we all agree that normal is overrated!) I can understand why you would be baffled as to why on earth there are some parents so adamantly opposed to sending their kids to public school– quite possibly schools which are similar to the ones you feel just fine sending your kids to! After all, you too are a God-fearing parent who would never put your child in any kind of mortal spiritual danger. Why can’t these radicals just be satisfied anyway with sending their kids to be witnesses to the world by day, and then instilling into them their own religious or philosophical values by night? What’s the big deal? Let’s be completely honest here: perhaps you’re even a tiny bit offended by the mere existence of parents who feel that sending their own children to public school is a bad idea. I mean, simple logical deduction would bring you to the conclusion that they probably (at least secretly) don’t approve of your decision not to homeschool, right? As someone on the inside of the homeschool world, and out of respect for your intelligence, I admit to you: there are those among us who do feel like all Christian parents should homeschool. But it’s not nearly so many as you might think, and there are some saucy ones who really do stand up to those who condescend you, I promise. (In fact, among you non-homeschoolers are my very most beloved friends, whom I would trust with my own children above any homeschooling family I know, actually.) So please allow me to apologize for the self-righteous among my tribe that have hurt you. I am truly and deeply sorry if there has been someone along your path who has intentionally made you feel like a sub-par parent (or Christian) because you do not feel called to homeschool your children. But please, I beg of you, do not allow these trespasses against you to passive-aggressively hush your own conscience or voice in the face of grave injustices committed against those who are homeschooling. Please, I beg of you, rise from the quiet complacency and say something, do something because we are part of a greater tribe together, especially together.

Now may I speak to my homeschooling tribe? There is a sentiment I’m seeing all over the blogosphere from homeschooling families lucky enough to be living in the land of the free; you basically think that some of us are overreacting to what’s happening in Europe. Perhaps you just don’t see the need to sound the alarms because, after all, it is not likely to affect “us.” Thankfully, we American parents are still free to raise and educate our children as we deem fit in the United States of America. But can I just tell you something? Yesterday I looked into the red-rimmed eyes of moms and dads who have the same hopes and desires for their children as you and I do. But their government calls them child abusers for wanting to educate their children at home. Their government harasses them with exorbitant fines, threatens prison, and even systematically kidnaps their children in order to scare them into surrendering to the State, in order to bully them against following their own consciences and convictions. I spoke to a German mother who has spent the past 4 years sneaking back and forth between Germany and Spain so that she can continue to homeschool her special needs child, who was not getting what he needed in German schools. These people are not so unlike you and I: they adore their children, and they want their families to be close-knit, and they want to spend their mornings cuddling on the couch with great books. For the love of God, stand up for them! Do what you can (and then more!) for them. Might I remind us that it was not so long ago that men and women in our very own nation had to fight the same kinds of battles to earn for you your right to homeschool your sons and daughters? Freedom is not always free, as we all know too well.

I am so very thankful for those near and far who fasted and prayed and called the German consulate and the city offices in Darmstadt. I would never dare to minimize the power of prayer as a powerful weapon against such injustice; in fact, I would argue that without prayer, our “actions” yesterday would have been fruitless! I really believe that. Dirk told us afterward that the phone calls and emails, as well as the demonstration and presence of the media outside the courtroom, all worked together to sway the judge’s decision (against the advice of the Youth Welfare Officers’ testimony in the courtroom, by the way), to allow the children to return home to their parents immediately. Apparently, the international community has been quite vexing to these German offices in the last 3 weeks–AWESOME!!! So thank you for your participation, in whatever capacity you were able to offer it.

You may be shocked to learn that there are several hundred American homeschool families here in Germany, in the very unique (and uncomfortably humbling) position that we are allowed to openly, freely homeschool our children here where it is prohibited by our neighbors to do so–because of the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement). When our homeschool organization here in the Kaiserslautern Military Community received a personal plea from Dirk Wunderlich for the homeschool families in Europe to please attend the demonstration yesterday during their custody hearing, we (and more effectively, HSLDA) heralded invitations to every homeschool group in Europe, via Facebook and otherwise. Perhaps with foolish optimism and naivete, our organization’s leader indicated to Petra Wunderlich that we would be there with at least 50 American homeschool families to show our support for them and to help them get their children back. But when we sent out the invitations to attend the peaceful protest, the silence was stunning. Only five American families, out of hundreds in the immediate area, showed up. When Petra asked our leader, “Where are these 50 families?” I did not hear her response, but I think I can safely say that we were all disillusioned by the absence of American feet on the ground for the Wunderlich family. Thankfully, the outcome was favorable regardless. I cannot imagine the “what ifs” that would haunt us if their children had not been returned to them that afternoon.

I know that people had good reasons for not coming. And I suppose that I cannot impose upon anyone else my own conviction that I should have moved heaven and earth to be there for the Wunderlichs yesterday. I heard that there were many Americans who were afraid of jeopardizing our own strange brand of freedom to homeschool here in Germany, or didn’t feel it prudent or wise to be a part of a demonstration against the German government, as we are ultimately guests in this nation. These are valid points, with which I do not necessarily disagree. I really do believe you prayed, and that you have good hearts and intentions and that you would have done more if you had felt that you could have. Please understand that, first and foremost, I am not trying to shame you or insinuate that I am in any way better than you. But my heart has just been inexplicably grieved the last few days for this family and for so many others who are going through the fight of their life. We are right here! We had the profound chance to help this family in such a simple, tangible way. I have prayed and grieved and lost sleep over how to communicate this confusing grief I’m feeling, and the thing that just keeps coming back at me over and over again is this…

What if this had been your brother or your sister?

What if this had been your brother or your sister, who had their children violently taken away from them simply for doing what they earnestly believed that God has called them to do? Dirk and Petra Wunderlich are your brother and your sister. I know this is a crushing, all-consuming conviction if you choose to accept it. But these are your brothers and your sisters who are being persecuted for following their convictions right in front of your face. And we are in the very unique position that we can actually and physically be an encouragement to these families.

If this had been your brother or your sister, would you have done more? If it had been ME, would you have done more?

It seems to me that the cultural tide has been turning pretty steadily against the favor of those who strive to follow Christ closely. Can you really not imagine that someday your own rock-solid, most precious convictions might conflict with the ever-shifting sands of the laws of the land? God forbid, but if and when measures of civil disobedience are perhaps required of you and yours, I hope and pray that your brothers and sisters in Christ across the world (and especially in your own backyard) will be willing to pick up their feet and stand with you and for you, despite the risk and cost to them.

First they came for the communists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,

and there was no one left to speak for me.

–Pastor Martin Niemoller, 1946

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Hitler Haunts Homeschoolers in Germany

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This is an exciting time of year for homeschoolers all over the world. Boxes arrive in the mail with books upon beautiful books. Home libraries are reorganized with great care—to make room for all the new books, of course. An assorted array of extracurricular activities, music and art lessons, living literature and history co-ops are all firing back up again. Fun, new apps have been installed on the iPads. Each child’s learning goals for the impending school year have been measured out with great care by the two people who love him the very most, his parents. Updated chore lists and daily schedules are posted and alarm clocks are set. Everybody’s recharged and ready for a new school year. Life is good.

But for one homeschooling family in the sleepy village of Darmstadt, Germany, life is not so good at the moment. Last Thursday morning, August 29, 2013, just as the Wunderlich family was starting their school day, they were literally invaded by an army of 20 German government officials, several of whom were armed. When this brigade assailed upon their doorstep, father Dirk Wunderlich questioned why they were there, at which point three armed police officers readied a battering ram to storm the home by force. Mr. Wunderlich opened the door and was rewarded by being shoved into a chair and told that his children were being taken away. “At my slightest movement, the agents would grab me as if I were a terrorist,” Dirk revealed. Within the hour, the four Wunderlich children, who are between the ages of 7-14, were viciously removed from their home and placed into the custody of the German government. Fourteen year-old Machsejah refused to go quietly, so two robust armed officers forcibly removed her, reportedly treating her as if she were a criminal. When her mother tried to hug her goodbye, one of the special agents literally elbowed her away from her daughter, spitting out the words, “It’s too late for that!” with neighbors looking on and crying over the traumatizing scene. When the parents asked when they would see their children again, they were briskly told that it would not be soon, that essentially their children needed to be deprogrammed from their parents’ narrow way of thinking. Left in the home without their four most precious treasures, the Wunderlichs lamented over the surreal and horrifying experience, “You would never expect anything like this to happen in our calm, peaceful village. It was like a scene out of a science fiction movie.” Perhaps a more accurate comparison would be a WWII film. This scene is eerily reminiscent of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Interestingly, it was none other than Adolf Hitler who ensured the passage of the 1938 compulsory-attendance law, “driven by animus toward faith-based [read: Jewish] homeschoolers.” In a speech given on May 1, 1937, Hitler gave this grim proclamation:

“The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set                   before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community           of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted           and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future,           upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take             youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”

Lest you think this cannot possibly be the mentality of the modern German State in 2013, it should be noted that the first sentence of the official manual for high schools across Germany still reads to this day that “the German school is part of the National Socialist Educational order. It is its obligation to form the national socialistic personality in cooperation with the other educational powers of the nation, but by its distinctive educational means.” Now don’t get me wrong here: this is not about the legitimacy/illegitimacy of the German school system (or any other school system, for that matter). I have absolutely zero experience with their educational system, and besides that, the quality of a school system is simply irrelevant to this argument. I am simply reporting here that according to the instructional manual used at every public high school in the nation, the expressed core objective of the German educational system to form the personalities of German children, ensuring that they grow up to be loyal, nationalistic, socialistic Germans. What if German parents want a different kind of education for their children? Well, that’s just too bad. Nearly eight decades later, Hitler’s law against homeschooling still haunts German families.

There are reportedly up to 800 families in Germany who are illegally educating their children at home, despite this oppressive leftover law from the Nazi regime. Perhaps it is not surprising that most of the parents who choose to homeschool in Germany are Christians, who seek to provide their children with a different type of education than the statist version offered by German public schools. Ironically, it is precisely these God-fearing, church-going Christians whom the German government fears. In a very recent court ruling against the Romeikes, another German homeschooling family famously under fire, the court admitted that “the general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies…’” Essentially, the German government is afraid that devout Christian parents, if given free reign over their childrens’ upbringing, will raise their children to be fanatical religious nuts, incapable of integrating into normal, secular German society. Consequently, parents are forbidden from educating their children at home, even if they deem that the objectives and curriculum of the public school system are grossly opposed to their religious beliefs.

This prohibition against faith-based homeschooling in particular is nothing short of religious persecution. These parents are being denied the very basic right to educate their children according to their own religious convictions. It is inarguable that both freedom of religion and parental rights are among the most basic of human rights. Article 26, Section 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly, recognizes that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Michael Farris, founder of the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and international law expert, gave a compelling speech at the 2012 Global Home Education Conference in Berlin:

“Germany is a party to all of these treaties. It has promised the whole world that it               will never violate these rights, even if the future of the nation is at stake. Thus,                     there is no balancing test that can be employed to justify a denial of these human                 rights. Germany’s contention that it must ban homeschooling to stop religious                     minorities from homeschooling lest they become a parallel society is not only                     insufficient to justify an exception to Germany’s human rights obligations, it is a                 confession by the German government that its actions are a per se violation of                     human rights standards.”

At the heart of this international debacle is whether or not it is truly a universal human right for a parent to choose how their child is educated. Do children belong to their parents or do they belong to the community, to the government? Again, Adolf Hitler minced no words on the matter:

“When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side, and you will not get             me on your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to me already. A people lives                   forever. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants however now stand in               the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'”

Hitler’s chilling declaration may seem extreme, but the notion that children belong to the collective and not to their parents has lingered far too long in Germany. The ultimate ururpation of the German government over parental rights on where their children will spend the better part of their childhood is absolutely unacceptable.

Petra Wunderlich said her heart was just shattered. “We are empty,” she said. “We need help. We are fighting but we need help.” But what can you and I possibly do? Maybe you’re all the way across the western world in America. Or maybe you’re an American living in Germany like me, and this hits especially close to home for you, as you have met some of these courageous underground homeschoolers face to face. Samuel Adams said it perfectly, “It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” I urge you, brothers and sisters, do something for this family and for hundreds of other German families homeschooling in secret, terrified of the nightmarish reality that has befallen the Wunderlich family this week.

Go to the following link on the HSLDA website and use the contact information in the column on the right side of the article to set a brushfire or two or twenty: http://hslda.org/hs/international/Germany/201308300.asp?src=slide&slide=Wunderlich_map_Aug_30_2013&pos=1

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Sometimes A Chair Is Not Just A Chair

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I don’t often form attachments to inanimate objects, but the magic rocking chair was different. She was special. For almost eleven years, she had loved us well. It was she and I against the world on countless delirious and sleepless nights. It was her with whom I first rehearsed each of my childrens’ own personal lullabies and whispersang them across baby eyelashes a thousand times or so. She was right there holding me up when I prayed all kinds of yearnings over each of my fearfully-made treasures. She rocked gregariously with me through first reading lessons, soaking the words into her wood, book after fantastical book. She was my silent sister when scraped and world-weary toddlers needed a break from battle. She even held me softly, sleepily as I nursed all of my children. I was thousands of times comforted by her curves.

That pilled and tired-cushioned magic rocking chair is where I became a mother.

Her tidy soprano squeaks and familiar alto creaks, and the percolating percussion of the ottoman as it hiccupped lazily exactly each third time I forward rocked; these sounds became the harmony to my new-mother-melodied heart. She was my soul sister, that magic rocking chair.

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