Moving Day

Well, I finally got off the dime and made the decision I’ve been contemplating for years now as this blog grew:   we’re moving.

bh chronicles screen print

 

Please join us at http://blessedheritagechronicles.com.   I have already imported my old blog posts from this blog, and I’m beginning to load a few more items over there.   For those of you who have graciously followed me here, I’d love for you to subscribe to the blog over there.   Though I am not deleting this blog (yet), I will no longer post new content to it.    You can continue to follow the ups and downs and somewhere-in-betweens of the Bullard family at “The Blessed Heritage Chronicles.”   Look forward to seeing you there!!

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Thankful

Plan A was to write this post on last week before we began our fall semester, but the days have been busy, friends.   With what looked like an open window of time and opportunity, I decided to take advantage of an offer to complete a certification for work over the next four weeks.   I’ve also spent a significant amount of away-from-the-computer time completing last-minute preparations for school.   Those preparations included modifying my original syllabus for the 2nd high schooler in our home, detailing economics lesson plans for our budding junior (11th grade) and taking advantage of the recent tax-free weekend to purchase a few last resources for our growing littlest girl, now in 3rd grade.  College ended a couple of weeks back, and for seven days we rested.   Then we were at it again.   Dance began the day after school started for our youngest, at least.

Before any flurry of activity began, though, I had an opportunity to attend the Heart of the Matter online conference.   I make a point of listening in when I can each year.   Usually, our school has been in session for about 3 weeks by then, so my immediate take-aways are few, and I have to wait for the mp3s to be available for longer-term inspiration.   This year, because of the oldest’s college schedule, I had whole mornings to sit while the younger two slept.  I absorbed so much richness, and, almost as if by divine intervention, the schedule of my days at that point afforded me ample time for sweet reflection before our school days kicked off.

We are now entering our 8th year of homeschooling, and though anxiety will, on occasion, rear its unattractive head, on most days, I’m truly thankful.

I’m thankful for my earliest homeschool education in the importance of setting the environment for learning to occur.   I sometimes look over my pre-homeschooling wish lists and plans to make our home friendlier for all day.   Little of that has actually happened.   Our learning centers are still not full of all the many educational games and toys that I intended to buy.   I never purchased the piano I wanted (and placing one in the space I’d planned for it would now severely limit the kids from moving freely in their self-created dance space).   Thank God I couldn’t afford all that pricey curriculum that I took the time to extract from the catalogs; I don’t know that the kids would have been more knowledgeable, but we would have been a lot more broke.

I’m thankful for the couple who introduced us to the Charlotte Mason approach years before we actually began to homeschool.   We don’t get out of doors nearly as much as Miss Mason prescribes, and there are semesters/ years when my lack of expertise in poetry and music history is glaringly obvious.   But, the kids have learned to stop and take notice of a bird at the feeder, and to be curious enough to find the field guide and discover a name for this visitor.   They have learned to stop and look at clouds and take note, not just of their imaginary figures, but also to notice what type of cloud has captured their attention and what its existence might mean to our weather.   They can enjoy Tchaikovsky and identify Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

I’m thankful for a routine that works for us.   I know that some schools thrive in spontaneity, but in our home, little changes in terms of class days and times.   I want us to spend as little mental energy as possible on “what are we going to do today?” and instead delve the work that is before us.   Yet, as much as I am thankful for a routine, I’m also thankful that there is enough new-ness, enough rest in the schedule, and just enough change in plans to keep everyone energized, including me.   I loved sitting down with each of them on the 1st day and talking about what was new, what was the same, and what our expectations were of each of them at this step in their educational process.   Our son read through his “syllabus,” asking questions as if he was signing away his birthright.   The oldest was a step ahead, asking the day before school started, “Is there an assignment that I need to start reading now for later this week?”   It may not sound like much, but my long-term readers will perhaps remember that this is the same child who convinced me that she’d be less distracted, and therefore more productive, if I let her work upstairs in her room; math, consequently, started taking 5 hrs. to complete, science took 4, etc.   So much for less distracted.   It’s difficult, looking at her now, to believe those types of days and months actually were a part of our school day, but God did a mighty work—in her and in me.

I wrote this because, for many homeschoolers, this month is the beginning of that next school year.  And for many brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-box homeschoolers, this might be your first week.  Hopefully things went well, but maybe the time happened very differently than you would have planned it.   Maybe you’re questioning your decision, whether that decision was to begin homeschooling, or to homeschool this year.   Though we’ve had fabulous starts (and finishes) in the last few years , I shudder as I vividly remember years when I toyed with the thought of public school for the sake of peace.    There is always something to be thankful for, and the Lord is always at work in our lives, if we trust Him.   If you didn’t have the week you planned, make your “I’m thankful” list.  If you don’t blog, grab a friend and tell him or her about it.   You’d be amazed at how uplifting a different perspective can be.   I’m looking forward to Monday already.

Excerpt from Caddie Woodlawn

 Caddie’s father’s words to her, reflecting upon her fear of growing up and becoming a young lady:

‘It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful.   What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way!  A woman’s task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness.   It’s a big task, too, Caddie–harder than cutting trees or building mills or damming rivers.   It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things.   They have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through the wilderness.  A woman’s work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man’s.   But no man could ever do it so well.   I don’t want you to be the silly, affected person with fine clothes and manners whom folks sometimes call a lady.   No, that is not what I want for you, my little girl.   I want you to be a woman with a wise and understanding heart, healthy in body and honest in mind.’

from Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

To Coastal Texas for Missions and Mayhem

 In an ideal homeschool world, I love to take in-the-moment field trips that correspond with whereever we are in our studies.   But, with medieval history coming to a close for us and that trip I want to take east (Philadelphia, New York, D.C.) becoming increasingly illusive right now, what I wanted immediately was simply a chance to get out of the house.   So, we took off for an off-the-beaten-path trip to visit missions down in coastal Texas.   When we cycled through American history previously, the kids read Junipero Serra, and we talked about the role of the Spanish in the attempt to convert Native Americans into Christians.   This time, we chose to not remember the Alamo, but to instead find a road less traveled by.   Here we are in Presidion La Bahia  in Goliad, Texas.

 This was an excellent field trip for not much money.    I wanted them to see all the components of the missions system–the presidio (home/ battle station for the soldiers), the village/ living quarters, and the church.

Amazingly enough, this church is still in operation, hosting a weekly congregation.

We were also able to learn much from the war memorial nearby, a commemoration of the fallen soldiers in the Texas- Mexican war.

I wish I could have actually gotten a shot of them kneeling in the flowers–they were gorgeous, but this is the closest I could get.

The history lesson was fun.   It was actually the end of the trip rather than the beginning.   Before we found Presidio La Bahia, we found the Corpus Christi National Shoreline, a well-kept beach area that begins the northern portion of the South Padre Island beach area.

It took the kids a while to adjust to the vast amounts of seaweed parked on the shoreline, but oh, once they did…

It was much cooler than we expected, especially as the sun went down.   So I took our younger two to the car (son had the sniffles), while Dad and the oldest fed seagulls.

It was a fast, fun trip that offered us the perfect combination of education and entertainment.   I came back excited about the headstart on next year, and happy that the family had a chance to get away.   More importantly, I had a deep sense of joy at seeing God’s crafting of a beautiful world, and I was happy to sit still for a moment and just enjoy it.

Using Social Media

My husband made an observation some months back while trying to send me an online article for later reading: it is hard to just send someone an article anymore.    The assumption is that everyone has a Twitter and/or Facebook account.    So, very recently, he bit the proverbial bullet and became a Twitter enrollee.    After a few weeks of orientation/ experimentation, he and I recently had a conversation that went something like this:

Hubby: “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.   I can’t get anyone to respond to me!”

Me: “Well, who are you following?”

Hubby lists the few people/ organizations that he follows.

Me: “It looks like you’re following people who don’t tweet that much, or people who only tweet as PR for their jobs.   You might have to back up and just find people who share your same interests, and people who actually tweet.    You might search according to your hobbies or…”

I felt funny advising him as to how to find people and make friends (?) via social networking.    I’m very much a novice, and there’s much that I need to learn.    Initially hesitant, if not outright suspicious, of social media, it took me a while to embrace these tools—and I do mean tools—as being potentially effective.    I never had a MySpace account.    I’ve made conscious decisions not to join Linked In; I don’t “Digg” anything, nor do I “Stumble Upon” anything.    At this point, I am strictly a blog/Facebook/ Twitter person.    

I’ll confess that, when first introduced to Twitter, I didn’t contemplate getting involved that much.    I signed up for it somewhat by accident, but was hooked after seeing how I could quickly keep up with a friend and/or family member or two.   It took me a while to pick up the art of stating something about myself in 140 characters, and then making it entertaining enough for people to actually appreciate it and respond.     It took a bit more time for me to extend myself past people that I knew and learn how to seek out people that had my same interests.

Facebook I gave a lot more thought to before signing up.     I’d heard so much about the privacy issues, and there are some concerns.   I grow concerned each time I sign onto CNN.com and see the articles that my friends recommended: how does CNN know who my Facebook friends are?     I grow concerned when students say to me, “I looked you up on Facebook…”    It’s an invasion of my privacy, as far as I’m concerned, and it makes me wary about employers and others who look and make judgments.

Another point of confusion for me was that no one could tell me how their Facebook account differed that much from their blog.   By that time, I’d put so much energy into developing my blog, and I thought that one more social network would take me totally away from those items that I consider to be more about purpose.   I decided, slowly but surely, to give Facebook a try after several friends in small business endeavors convinced me that I was missing out from a business standpoint by not getting on board.

I probably put more way more thought into all of this than was necessary.   Everything doesn’t have to be a heady exercise in reflection, or is it a life-and-death decision regarding typing a few lines about what’s going in your life.   “Tweeting” and mini-blogging (which I consider Facebook to be) can be fun, efficient, and in its own way relaxing.   I get that.    In fact, I played around in the early stages of watching the Superbowl, tweeting about all my observations.    One of my followers later pointed out that Christina Aguilera’s botching of the lyrics to the National Anthem got more press than the latest news from Cairo (‘good to know we have our priorities straight,’ she posts).    She’s right, but hey, it was funny for the time that I stayed online, and I needed the respite as I watched my Steelers go down for the count.    But in order to be a good steward of the time God gives me, I debated internally, and rather seriously, how I might use all of this to my advantage without becoming a slave to any of it.    I know people who spend a significant portion of their day on Facebook, or blogging, or on some other point of connectivity via the web.   I know some who pay outrageous phone bills just to stay in touch with it all.   I know the amount of time that it takes me to craft a blog entry, which is the reason that I only post, at most, twice weekly.    I just choose to do something different with the time I have.

So, at the end of the day, how do I use social media networks?

Blogging—still my favorite of all the ways to connect over the Internet, I pen my heart and mind in the hopes of ministering to others like me, making real connections, and allowing my customers to meet the person behind the products.

Facebook—FB is great for linking with friends and family and sharing photos and quick pics of life as it exists here.  Its major function for me, however, is to share short stories and links that interest me, to find out more about my FB friends, and to jot down thoughts and happenings that don’t necessarily warrant an extensive blog entry.

Twitter—Twitter is what it is—140 characters to very quickly say what you are doing right now.   For one who talks to herself quite a bit, this is a neat way to get some of those random thoughts down in one spot, and where else can you meet amazing business connections by telling someone how absolutely uneventful your life really is :-)?

Recently in her 31 Days of Blog Ministry, Amy Bayliss posted about blog purpose and niche, and suggested reading Hebrews 13 as a place of prayer and seeking God about your blog’s purpose.    This was a blog-changing, if not a life-changing, exercise for me.    For some strange reason, I didn’t like my blog being labeled as a “marriage and family” blog, as one reader referred to it; I wanted to be something more.    But as I read through Hebrews 13, it began to resonate with me that marriage and family are high callings, and viewing the writing of them as boring was a rejection of the gifts and blessings I’ve been given.    If I can eloquently depict a house where God is first and foremost, where peace exists and health and wholeness reign in spite of all that isn’t here, I am indeed blessed and highly favored.    Many cannot.   Comments and “likes” should never be the concern when we are aligned with God’s assignment for us.   He role models the nature of truly effective ministry, reaching one here, changing the life of ten there, and teaching twelve at a most intimate level.    So, having said that, here are the guidelines I use for how I interact on any social medium:

  1. Make straight paths for your feet…   Romans 12:13 (Bullard living translation: Be clear in your communication)
  2. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without no moan shall see the Lord…Hebrews 13:?
  3. Let brotherly love continue…Hebrews 13:1
  4. The Lord is my helper, and I will fear not what man shall do unto me…Hebrews 13:6
  5. …the fruit of our lips give thanks to His name…Hebrews 13:15
  6. Making you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight…Hebrews 13:21

 

As I stated before, by no stretch of the imagination would anyone call me an expert; I’m still learning so much about how to navigate these networks and how to put them to best use for my wants and needs.    These are simply my ramblings musings, and my own follow-up thoughts from my husband’s tweeting dilemma.   I am curious, though:  how do you use social media?

Looking Forward

We’re in the beginning stages of a holiday road trip.   In fact, it occurred this is the first trip that we’ve taken at this time of year in several years.    I am excited about visiting family over the week that we’ll be away, but I’m realizing as we ride how special a time this is for me personally, although from the outside, it may not look as if I’m doing much:

This is the time that I’d normally settle in to the break from school, having moved past the activity associated with Christmas Day.    Given our normal schedule, guilt-free snuggling under the sheets can be a welcome respite from the daily routine.   We can also watch movies as a family without me having to say, “I can see it from here [the kitchen]”.   Last night we watched The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and the beginning of the Return of the King.    We all agreed that we wouldn’t watch any more than what we’d read.    I can state happily that we’re all enjoying the books far more than the movies.

This is the time that I’d write—blog posts, curriculum plans and additions, and/ or simply organize my thoughts on a notepad.    Well, thanks to the power of laptops and wireless Internet, all is not lost in that area.

This is the time of year that I fast and pray.    For several years now I’ve sacrificed for 10 days immediately after Christmas Day to prepare for the coming year, to receive clear instruction, and to be aligned with the Father and His plans for me.   I could still fast, but food is such a significant part of our extended family’s gathering until fasting would bring far more confusion than clarification.   So I chose to forego the annual fast and just enjoy family, fun, and food.

I’ve not been a resolution person for a number of years now; I grew weary of how my excitement over my latest diet attempt would die a painful death after a few weeks in January, or how life and its distractions would throw off my best effort to exercise regularly.    Instead, I recommit myself to ongoing personal growth—more time with the Lord, a lifestyle that includes exercise and increasingly more raw foods, more hugs and kisses, more grace and mercy.

There are three “umbrella” areas where I want to hear God’s voice during this time:

Personal: direction as an individual (hair as I spoke of in my last post, health, increasing my mind and following His assignment without my normal hiccups)

Family and Friends: sensitivity to the needs around me—my husband’s, my children’s, and my extended family’s, stepping away from my own busy-ness to cultivate strong friendships

Business:  ideas to create and/or enhance the Blessed Heritage curriculum, partnerships and alliances, and Christlikeness in managing it all

This year, I will take the time to write down some measurable goals—a task that, for various reasons, I did not complete this past year.   And though God was gracious, my lack of listing specific milestones showed.     In the meantime, this morning’s Internet Café Devotion spoke to me regarding reflecting with your spouse over the past year and what you see coming in the year ahead.   In walking through these questions, we had an eye-opening talk in the car.    I’d love to hear of your out-with-the-old/ in-with-the-new plans, too.   God bless you.

A New Start

I’ve blogged for the past four years.   I loved everything about blogging–meeting new people, penning my heart and mind, and every now and then, putting a facelift on my blog template.   So, after my previous provider site crashed, I should be excited about this new venture, right?   Well, I’m still trying to get there.   I started a WordPress blog earlier this year, flirting with leaving my old site, but losing 4 years of sweat equity wasn’t the way I wanted to go.

I keep hoping that my old blog will be restored, if only so that I have some hope of transferring some of my posts.   In the meantime, I’m making a valiant attempt to start again; I spent all day on a template that I’m still not happy with.   My header didn’t show up as I would have wanted, and I can’t seem to find a three-column template with a custom header that I feel is “me.”

Maybe I should take a lesson from my baby girl.    She’s got the right perspective, huh?    At any rate, this blog is likely to change “faces” several times in the next few days weeks, but here I am.   Welcome to all who will join me here.    It’s good to see you, too.