The Math Genius

 Like any home educator, our heart is to give our children the best education possible.   And like most home educators, along the way, there are decisions to be made—decisions that bring uncertainty and anxiety.   I love the peace of Jehovah Shalom, and that occasional glimpse of His steady hand in the midst of our unsteadiness in navigating this road less traveled by.   I witnessed such a moment recently during a dialogue between our two girls.

As a brief bit of background, the oldest is in the throes of college scholarship applications.   She has answered questions about what college means to her, what are her plans after college, and how she intends to give back to the community often enough to write those phrases in her sleep.   On this particular day, however, the question was a bit different.  My paraphrased version goes something like this:

Name an area in which you have had to overcome a difficult situation, or an area that has challenged you, and how you were able to overcome that challenge, or if it remains a challenge for you.

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The oldest chose to write about her struggles with math, and it was an eye-opening read for me as she shared why she thought math was difficult.   It was even more eye-opening for the youngest, who happened to walk by and begin reading.   After reading through the oldest’s essay, she thought to offer a

word of encouragement.  (You would have to envision a 9-going-on-39 voice and mentality to truly appreciate this):

‘Don’t feel bad.   I can remember when I was in 1st grade, and 2nd and 3rd.   I used to have soooo maaaannny problems with math—addition, subtraction, and multiplication.    But then I hit 4th grade, and I started division, and now, I’m a math genius!!!’

The oldest and I laughed heartily at the “old woman” reflecting upon her early math memories.   But what almost provoked tears, more of joy than of laughter, was the happiness I had that I intentionally waited a year to introduce division into her math studies.   I thought her remembrance of math facts was shaky, and there were other areas that I wanted to see her “tighten up.”   And, like many home educators, my hesitations found steroids as I began to worry about what being “behind” (quotes used intentionally) in math would mean in terms of that all-important question of w

hat grade she is in, not to mention graduation dates or college—YIKES!!     Once I calmed down, though, we just kept plugging away with the skills she needed to be more comfortable.    We added drill sheets from Calculadder to build upon her memorization (we also took some things away as appropriate).   We fought through the frustrations, gradually adding a new challenge as the previous drills became mundane.     So, that level of self-esteem and self-confidence, however braggadocios it might have sounded, meant everything to me.

I wanted to capture this moment for those who may be close to tearing your hair out and wondering, “Will my child ever get this??!!”  It will be alright.

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Does Your Planner Have Room for God?

It’s funny how much of a home educator’s emotion can become tied into the state of the homeschool environment.   I am sure that, at least in part, this connection has everything to do with the amount of time and energy we pour into curriculum, lesson plans, and all matters education.   Personally, I find that, if I allow it, one child’s confusion or frustration, or a spirit of whining, can totally overshadow all of the wonderful things that are happening in our lives.

This is the season of resolutions.  And whether you buy into the idea that you need to begin a new year with new intentions or not (I personally do not), I find myself drawn to the many articles that are available right now on how to transform your homeschool in this new year.   So it should be no surprise that what I’ve thought about most how I would want our school to look in 2013.   As if that thought didn’t offer a wealth of opportunities, for we are far from perfect, I came to this conclusion as I’ve thought about this semester: I don’t want to change a thing.

For the person who is always willing to tweak and tinker, and who never uses anything in the format in which she received it, it seems odd to admit that I don’t want to make any modifications to what we are doing.   Given our extracurricular activities, I made a semi-conscious choice to not include more formal studies in music and poetry.   Each only takes a few minutes, but thinking about who to study and preparing myself and the kids with tools, etc., became overwhelming in the midst of everything else going on.   I am sure that the purists of Miss Mason’s approach could discuss at length the poor choice I’ve made, and to be sure, we might pick up some things as we go.   However, I don’t want to set the stage for something I consider far more detrimental to our school than a year without formal poetry or music study: overplanning.

As a purposeful digression, my MIL and I were having a related conversation not too long ago.   There is a practice that is becoming increasingly popular in churches.  I don’t know if it is specific to non-denominational churches or not.   The practice, you ask?  Walking to the pulpit in the middle of a sermon to lay down money, commonly called “sowing into the Word.”    This act is separate from a formal offering, but instead creates walking and busy-ness in the midst of the speaker’s message—a huge no-no in the traditional church community.    I was asked how I felt about this.  Is it disrespectful and/or disruptive?  Is it “tipping God?”   I think not.   Who are we to hinder anyone when the Spirit strikes them to move?   And though I believe in decency and order, I also think that, in some cases, we have “programmed” the Lord completely out of our services.    And that is what I don’t want to happen here.

Perhaps because our school will be one seat emptier after this semester, I am much more cognizant of the need to pour into the children—not academics, necessarily, but training in life.   I want to be sure they understand why we made the decisions we did, and what is important to us as we raise a family.   These are conversations that we’ve had before, but now I’m aware of the need to create time for them in our day.  I want to hear from them, and have a dialogue.  Most of all, I want to create room for them to just be, and for God to just be in them.   It occurs to me that we sometimes become so obsessed with the mechanics of homeschool—the day-to-day academic opportunities—until we miss out on opportunities that mean so much more.

Just as one example, I’ve mentioned previously that our youngest joined a book club at our local library.   I’ve also mentioned my general disdain for the books, but given the youngest’s almost equal amount of disdain for school right now, I have lowered my standards and allowed her to stay in the club.   This past week, the club selected a book where the content is over her head.   Even in reading the back of the book to get a feel for it, she wasn’t clear on all of the words.   But, she gave it her sincerest effort, sequestering herself on a couple of nights before bedtime (from her, that’s dedication!) to read.   After a couple of nights, she came to me and asked if I would help her by reading the book to her as a part of our school day.  Now, as embarrassed as I am to admit this, there was a time when I would have immediately said, ”No,” because it threw the reading schedule that I put together—last summer, mind you– way off track.   Yes, I’m scratching my head, too, but there they are, my exposed feet of clay.   But I’m learning.   And so I applauded her for coming and trying to get help in an area where she needs it.   She did not skim the book, finishing but not understanding; she did not throw in the proverbial towel and beg to quit—all behaviors that have plagued our past.   She wants to learn, and she made the adjustments needed to make it happen.   The book I was reading probably fits more my idea of quality literature, but okay.   This is a quantum leap forward in her attitude about learning, and shame on me if I can’t get out of my own way to accommodate her.   We will still have plenty of time to read books that will hopefully be more to both our liking—I believe God for that, and He’s always been faithful.

As a final thought, I love God’s Word, but I also love the places where He left the page blank.   One of those places is where He said, “I AM.”    He did not qualify it for us, but instead allowed us to fill in the blanks.   Who do we say that He is in our homeschool?   Who do we allow Him to be, and are we leaving room in our planners for expectation of the unexpected?   May God open our hearts, mind, and lesson plans such that He can do a work this year.  God bless you, dear friends.

9 Ways to Rest and Restore

“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would have the courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents…” Charlotte Mason, The Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte Mason

 

Restoration is not just about us; we may be quite comfortable with ourselves and our methods of educating our children. Yet, we sometimes need restoration so that we can restore life and energy to what is around us. Think about it: attitude is a reflection of leadership. Are those “younger mirrors“ in your home reflecting what you want to see?   Your homeschool might be anything but restful right now, but read on and maybe store this one for later!  Blessings!!

A Spirit of Excellence

As I write, we have two days of school left in this semester.    We have truly been on the wind-down, physically, and perhaps even more mentally.   Dad’s home for two weeks, which means the biggest kid in the house walks around frolicking and being a fun-loving distraction to the whole house.    He’s also been the substitute teacher this week, making the day interesting.

Some other things change about our home when Dad’s here, too.   For me, his warmth, combined with the coolness of our would-be winter, makes it harder to get out of bed.   Me getting out of bed later means the kids get out of bed later.    Plus, knowing that we would stop mid-week this week, I intentionally did not schedule as much on the kids’ calendars.   That way, the workload once we do wake up is more than manageable.    Once everyone is finished, they have the day left to themselves.

I’ve made another observation about this time of “less-to-do-and-more-time-to-do-it”: a spirit of laziness can also creep in.   My husband and I were having this discussion as we watched an episode of a sitcom that we had seen all too many times.   If you are not careful, you look around as the sun sets, and nothing has been accomplished.   OR, the work that does get accomplished is done with a Herculean effort to push past mediocrity.    I was also having this discussion–or at least, a related one–with the oldest.

She was given a blank canvas (minus the grid lines for longitude and latitude) and general instructions for drawing most of the Eastern Hemisphere.   What I envisioned in handing her this project was a map full of the types of details that she has uncovered during her studies–continents and major countries, but also symbols, animals, clothing, etc.   With a mother’s/teacher’s instinct, however, I knew that she’d not embraced this course the way that she’d embraced others during the year, so I sensed a tendency to give me the minimum.    I could have waited, but I thought I’d drop a hint and spare myself some disappointment.   So I said  (pleaded, truth be told), “You could turn this into so much more than a memory game of longitude and latitude.   You could add famous landmarks, you could add major bodies of water, …”    So, three days go by, plus a weekend in which she took time to put on the finishing touches, and I got exactly what I asked for–no less, and certainly no more.

This morning, while she completed the next assignment using her map, I made an observation.   “You gave me continents, but no countries.   Do you remember what I wrote about details?”    I told her that I would count off for not having major countries listed, and began to share my expectations for her final exam.   She launched into how she gave me exactly what I asked for, and how she’d added landmarks, and she’d done what I said to do.   I should have written down exactly what I wanted, she said.   Then with mounting frustration, she requested that I list specifics for the final.

The quick response was that I could list specifics, but I also wanted her to think about giving me more than what I asked for.  I wanted her to possess a spirit of excellence.   This was a life lesson about doing more than the minimum.    When you own a business, customers won’t always articulate exactly what they want; you must anticipate the real need, and surpass their expectations.   When you marry someone, they won’t always tell you every single thing that pleases them; you have to out-do them in love, as the scriptures say, which means doing far more than just what is asked of you.    I talked about her exams in her art history course, with an instructor that she knew and liked from art classes as a child.   She worked hard to please this instructor.   She would proudly boast after each exam how she’d written a paragraph about each piece of art–far more than she was asked to do.   Her papers now sit in the Dean’s office as an example to the state boards of the exemplary teaching performed at the college.   That’s what happens when you do more than what is expected; that is the reward of a spirit of  excellence.

Coincidentally enough, just this morning we were reading the 26th chapter of Exodus.   I can remember my very first time reading through this passage–probably as a girl about my youngest’s age–and thinking it was a waste of my time.   So many details for building the tabernacle!!  Why, and why was this included in the Bible??!!   Praise God for growth.  This morning when we talked about the number of details, the youngest remembered what her dad said on yesterday: our God is a god of excellence.   He has specific assignments for us to do, and He gives us details.   And this is what I wanted the oldest to get–that we serve a God of excellence, and less than our best is not acceptable.

So, it could have been that same spirit of laziness that produced a lackluster map; she’s slept later and harder not having to get up for classes and all the extra activities that make up college.   It could have been (and I expect some of it is) a tendency to prioritize her college courses over her high school courses as the dreaded “senioritis” starts to rear its ugly head.    Whatever is the case, I’d bet it won’t happen again.

I have at least one homeschooling friend who will ball up work that she considers mediocre or worse and throw it away.   Harsh?  Maybe, but that only has to happen once to send a message.   How do you make sure your children are completing their best work?

5 Steps Back from Burnout

I read an article recently regarding burnout, its symptoms and possible steps to prevention.  Though the article’s particular “spin” was light-hearted, anyone who has ever struggled with homeschool burnout knows that there is nothing lightweight about the emotions that accompany it.  In fact, when burned out, your mental state can feel far more like an episode of depression. There was a time when I found myself right there around this time each year.  Looking back, I fully realize now that, while in that state, one of the worst things I could have done is to accept that this was a “normal” thing, and I also gave myself a rite of passage to feel that way.   I fell right into the pit of lies that I hate to hear from other moms:

“You know, they are in that stage…”(said when dealing with disrespectful children/teens)

“Wait until you get a little older…”(said when speaking of physical health declines, long-lasting marriages, etc.)

“This happens every year about this time…” (which is right where I was)

Our tongues need serious taming, but that is a post for another time.   For now, know this: burnout may come, but it does not have to stay, and we certainly should not plan for it.   There are some strategies where we must be deliberate in repositioning what we say, think, and do during this time:

Pray.    Enough said.  Find scriptures that speak to your heart about weariness, fatigue, and leaning and trusting in God.   Speak them to yourself, inserting your name and personalizing God’s Word over your life.

Roll with the ebb and flow of your home and school, not against it.  I am increasingly convinced that fatigue and even illness are signals.   I was having this conversation with the oldest not too long ago.  On yet another night when she was up all too late completing assignments and Facebooking/ texting with friends at the last minute, I was telling her that rest can be just as much of a key factor in being effective as studying and nutrition.   I am not sure that she got much out of our conversation, but as I age, I am learning to listen to my body.

I believe this concept is especially important during this time, when many are busy with all the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year.   Activities and events in your life might require that you to be active every weekend in December; consider a four-day school week.   As an aside, let me pose a general question, during the holidays or at any time: do you really need to school on 5 days?   Most states require a certain number of days that a homeschool student must be “in school;” yet many home educating parents are trained well from their public school upbringing to have school on 5 days.   Work around that co-op play day, the Scout troop campout on every other Friday, or that competition that sucks up a week per quarter and get on with your life.  Within your state’s boundaries, when those school days happen is up to you.

Call those things that are not into existence…(Romans 4:17)  I notice that my children never concern themselves with whether I am going to cook breakfast, or lay out books, or awaken them if they oversleep (that  last task pertains to the younger two).    They have great faith in me that some things will just happen.  A hot breakfast on most days, plenty of pencils and paper, and a schedule—check.   I, however, do not always have this faith in myself.  On a cold day, the bed starts to feel really, REALLY good.   There are nights when I go to bed late, and other nights when I simply don’t sleep–period.   On the next morning, I could easily call off school.   But I know other people depend upon me, so I rise and get moving.  I’m still working on consistently being up before the kids, but I get moving.

Keep it simple.   When we began homeschooling, I was a huge advocate of a plan.   I had 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year plans.   I can remember the 1st year of homeschooling, in which I completed a year’s calendar of what the kids (I only schooled two back then) would do each day.   You can imagine the frustration when a day didn’t go as I planned.   I did that for exactly one year before I backed up 20 yards and punted (football fans, anyone?).   Don’t misunderstand me; I still am a fan of a plan.  I still look back on those 3- and 5-year plans, and some of my earliest ideas are still in place.  But I also understand better that life happens, and I have to adjust myself and all the events/ activities in my life to “happen” along with it.  Otherwise, I spend my time in total frustration.  Two years ago, out of necessity, I began to intentionally schedule what I call “reading days.”   These are days when the only “schoolwork” that is required is for the kids to spend time with books.  The part of me that still appreciates a plan needs to schedule this—that meets my need.  But, the part of me that needs to wash after a vacation because there are no clean clothes, or the part of me that does not deal with too many wrinkles in our day or is in some other way behind needs the reading day.   Moreover, I think it gives the kids a necessary refresher; they get excited about a day with little on the schedule, and I find increasingly that they will actually add on tasks that they consider fun and meaningful.   In Charlotte Mason vernacular, inactivity does not get more masterly than a student developing his own tasks.

Do something for yourself.  Being a home educator is, like being a parent, often a thankless job.  Once the burnout starts to build, it is not a far trip to feeling unappreciated, unloved, unworthy, etc.   We are not failures at what we do; we have just grown weary and need a reminder of our value.   So, physician, heal thyself.  This little “something,” done with you in mind, does not have to drain the household of monies or time. Your treat can be as simple as working out with your spouse or older children to lie in bed and read.   You might negotiate a mini-spa or yoga session.  You might buy a cup of coffee or a slushie or French fries (and eat them while you are in the car alone–LOL!!), but do something that says in your own way, “I’m special to God, and I’m special to me.”   Less you think that these acts or selfish, consider this: Jesus was the ultimate example of a servant-leader, and walking in flesh, He spread Himself thin in ministering to the masses.   Almost consistently, after He ministered, He found time to Himself, and He rested.  He prayed.   He ate with friends.   If He as our Messiah felt this need, we are not in any way in error to retreat for a brief moment.

 

What do you think?   Any other strategies for conquering burnout?   Any favorite scriptures that revitalize you?

Savoring Life’s Amazement and Wonder

One of the things we’ve been blessed to do over our 20 years together is to travel.    Sometimes our trips have been semi-grand vacations, but more often, they’ve been treks through backwoods places and country roads as we hop in the car with Dad while he visits customers.   Inevitably as we ride, we always laugh about the strangest of our vacations, and we talk about places we’d love to visit a second time.

I’d love to see Oahu  and the other islands of Hawaii again, as we did on our honeymoon, but NOT in what we chose as a hotel.   That was back in the days before we realized that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

I’ve never been as awestruck, and simultaneously frightened, as I was by the number of stars we saw while returning from Big Bend National Park.    Looking into that dark night and marvelling at God’s handiwork made me ponder how small and insignificant I am amongst the many wonders of this planet.

There are other trips that I would love to repeat a second time and perhaps none of them were as exciting to me as our first trip to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.   Short of traveling to Africa, which I might not ever do, this is the closest I will come to a safari experience.     So during our Thanksgiving break, with no family due to arrive, we took  the opportunity to see this area again, and it did not disappoint–for the most part.    The only dent in this Rolls Royce of a field trip is that we could not get the giraffes to come and visit!   During our last trip to the Center, we were able to interact with them at close range:

Also, NO zoo trip has matched the experience of actually having one eat out of my hand,

but it was enjoyable all the same.

The changes to our family dynamic were interesting to note during this second trip, as well.    During our first visit, our youngest was afraid of such closeness with the animals.    The older kids were amazed and excited, although it took a minute for the oldest to decide that feeding an animal up close might be fun.

During this trip, our youngest was SO eager to feed and touch every animal until we had to ask her repeatedly to just caaaaaaalm doooooowwwwwn, and the oldest is ‘no longer a friend of Narnia, ‘ (said in all of Aslan’s majesty).   She considered herself a bit old to feed animals, and was not clear on why she “had to” go.    Funny, even though her leaving us is months away, I watch her head off to our local cc, and/or take field trips with her college buddies–kids we only know by her descriptions–and realize how the Lord is slowly, lovingly allowing us to detach.   But, before that event becomes our reality, we wanted to capture a few moments with us together as five, and the children together as three.

Alright, enough melancholy moments.    The balking of an almost-grown-up kid, the fatigue (did I mention that I worked the night before?), and the price doubling as Fossil Rim realizes what a gold mine it is, were all well worth it.    After all, at how many other locations in the Western Hemisphere can you get this close to God’s creations that normally exist on the other side of the globe?

How many times have you stared an emu in the eye?

When have you seen a wildebeest that was not being chased by a crocodile?

We may not visit a third time; there are so many fun places to go, and it occurs to me as the kids get older that we cannot savor that moment of surprise and wonder forever.   Now they know what to expect.    Perhaps that is just like life itself.   Then again, some other animal could always take a clue from the giraffe and change the whole trip…

How to Make Friends in 2012

Have you ever looked at your spouse and wondered what on earth you have in common?

My husband is an extrovert; I am an introvert.   When I worked in corporate America, a key component of my job involved a study of “type,” and how various traits and perspectives could be used to make people work more effectively together.   I’ve used these same skills here at home in looking at relationships within my family, both immediate and extended.   To say that I’m introverted in this sense has nothing to do with being shy.   Believe me: I am not shy.   Introvertedness and extrovertedness have everything to do with how you process the world around you.   It’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing: it helps me think.

Now back to my husband.   My husband is an extrovert.   Extroverts process the world around them via their associations with people, things, etc.   My husband, as one example, struggles with just letting a phone ring without answering, or not running to the mailbox to get the daily mail: he feels as if he’s missing something.   As long as I know the family’s safe, I never have to see any mail or answer a phone, and those modes of communications often go unnoticed by me if the person/ address in unfamiliar.

Another difference is our individual emphasis on friendships.   Personally, if I have 2-3 people in my life with whom I make a “real” connection, I’m good.   My husband, on the other hand, loves to meet new people and connect in a different way with a wealth of people.   I’m the person on Facebook (or in Blogland) who has relatively fewer friends, but a heart-felt closeness with each person who has crossed my path.   He’s the guy who was last in the family to get a FB account, but who is “above average,” shall we say, in his hours of reaching out and touching everyone.

Given this difference of focus on people and friendships, when the kids come home from any event that places them away from the rest of the family, I’m focused on whether or not they enjoyed it, were they safe, is it something that they might want to do again, etc.   My husband’s #1 question is as follows:

‘Did you make any friends?’

 

This was our conversation riding home from church on Sunday.   Our son had spent all day Saturday with a group from a local church.  In fact, he has spent a couple of years with this group of kids.   He enjoys them, and they often reach out to him; from our perspective, he has friends among this group.   But my husband had another question/ concern.   I think largely based on his extroversion, i.e., the different, and arguably higher, need for external relationships.   He says to my son, “Why don’t you guys ever do things that are outside of the church?”   How do you build the friendship?”

Here’s where the conversation gets interesting:

Oldest (oldest children have a unique ability to swing in either direction in order to balance the parental presence of the moment): ” Dad, that’s not how kids make friends anymore.   You trade phone numbers, FB accounts, but you don’t really go out and do alot of stuff together.   You just sort of hang out when you’re around one another.”

Son (decidedly introverted like his mom): “I suppose I could invite them to do something, but I really don’t have the time.”

Youngest (an extrovert showing her age by stating her point several times emphatically, since she’s the baby and feels as if no one listens to her):  “You (meaning her dad and I) have to know the parents!”

 

I left this conversation with no clear-cut answers, but instead several ideas to ponder over time.

What the oldest shared was very consistent with some research her dad saw that suggests that kids today don’t have the same needs to be out and about as those of our generation and previous generations before us.   Social media tools like FB, Twitter (the top two used by teens) and even Oovoo (video chat technology) allow them to connect with friends in a way that we could only do via face-to-face means.   It is totally possible for the kids to dance together, or hang out on campus together, and then use these tools to connect at other times without interfering (too much) with home or school work, or disrupting the family’s general flow.   In fact, my husband is convinced that this dynamic is a large part of what took her so long to finally get a driver’s license.   Here is another article that speaks to teens and their use of social media for positive purposes.

Speed of life is what my son alluded to.   As one example of many, he joined the library’s teen book club this year, but only got to review one book before he had to leave the club when he was asked to take on more responsibilities at the dance center.   Given that Saturdays and Sundays tend to get booked quickly with family time and associated errands, he literally has 1 evening free.  Yeah, bowling or a movie would be nice, but I can also appreciate that he sometimes just wants to read, play a game, or watch a movie!

The youngest’s comment is also valid: safety and security are important.   I see some of my Sunday School students with WAY too much information out on Facebook–college acceptance letters with their personal addresses as a part of the Instagram, posts or even clothing that tells you exactly where their high school or church is located, etc.   That doesn’t mention the occasional hacker who might post pornography to a site–YIKES!   The ability of social media to make the world smaller also means that we must be even more diligent over the ear- and eye gates of our children.   That doesn’t even include the crazies who live around us every day. 

My final thought was about a separate, but still relevant, conversation I had with one of my sisters not long ago.   We talked about a younger generation that is far more “me” oriented–those relatives that you only hear from when it is convenient to their needs.   And while we are blessed to be thought of as lights in the darkness, here’s the bottom line: relationships are important.   Don’t get me wrong: online friends can be marvelous.   There are people whom I now consider among my dearest friends who began as blog  buddies or customers.  I genuinely love them and pray for them as I pray for my own flesh and blood.   In some cases, I’ve visited homes, and in other cases, I’ve slowed down to write a “real” letter–something I don’t even do with my sisters!   But yet, those relationships should never be an excuse to not shake a hand, share a laugh or smile, or offer tangible help when you can.

As an example, we have neighbors diagonally across from us, whose primary relationship exists because of the friendship between our youngest and their daughter/ granddaughter.  We as adults communicate often through texts or e-mails–there’s that speed of life thing again.   But after the husband/father suffered a debilitating stroke, there have been days when we had to meet the school bus and keep their little one.   There’ve been days when my husband’s willingness to pay a hospital visit made the husband’s day.   I thought about all of this as we carted surplus fruits and vegetables from our church’s food fair to their home just yesterday.    It wasn’t a big gift, but it said, “We are thinking about you and we care.”   That small gift was about nurturing a relationship.

Again, I’m not Answer-woman on this one, but I can accept that making friends and building relationships looks very different now than it did when I was young.  Yet, some things never change, and I’m praying that as our kids embrace all of these new tools and ways of connecting, they don’t belittle the joy of a smile, a shared laugh, or a warm hug.

What do you think?  Has social media hurt our kids’ abilities to nurture “real” friendships?