A Blessed Heritage in Kid’s Language

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

                                                                                                 Psalms 127:3-5

 In my last post, I talked about the value of the search engine, even if most of the searches for this blog do revolve around a natural hair topic.   However, I also get traffic based upon other interesting queries, and it intrigues me to think about what others are thinking when they visit.   Recently, I saw this search parameter listed amongst my latest search data:

   ‘how do you say blessed heritage in kids language’

I’m sure they landed here because of our company, A Blessed Heritage Educational Resources.   However the curious person landed here, I was grateful for the question; it took me back, and it made me think.

Why did I name our company ‘A Blessed Heritage?’   What message was I trying to convey?

It’s the same message I think of every time I sit an allegedly family oriented sitcom on television, or listen to some of the conversation at the dance center (during the few times that I actually sit in the lobby), or even converse with some of the parents at church: society has little that is good to say about children.   Watch any sitcoms show often portray kids as arrogant, deceitful and disrespectful.   Reality shows–the most un-real shows on television, in my opinion–see major advertising dollars from showing the promiscuous female teen and her foul-mouthed male counterpart.   We shared these dynamics with our Sunday school class of 13-14 year olds, many of whom come from middle class backgrounds, but would rather emulate kids with far fewer advantages.    There is something uncool about being smart, in their minds; there is a problem with being a kid who is proud of the promise that God and their parents have placed within them.   The following is a quote from  Alex Harris, author of  the book Do Hard Things along with his brother Brett(both of whom I understand are homeschooled kids, ironically enough) reflect upon the environment in which many are expected to thrive:

“Unfortunately we often get praise for things that weren’t particularly difficult to achieve.  If we focus on the props and encouragement of those who have low expectations for us, we become mediocre.  It can be challenging to set our sights on excellence, particularly when we’re hearing that we’re already there.  One of life’s greatest lessons, which we all must learn, could be expressed in the phrase “That was nothing.  Watch this.”  Challenge yourself and others to call the normal things normal and save that word excellent for things that really are.”  ―    Alex  Harris

Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher of the nineteenth century, elaborates upon this with his own thoughts on mediocrity:

“Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you – Is your delight in the law
of God? Do you study God’s Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand – your best companion and hourly guide?” If not, Spurgeon said, the blessing of
Psalm 1 does not belong to you.

To live by God’s standards for young people and to enjoy the blessing He promises, we must get beyond simply avoiding bad stuff. To see this we need only look at the theme verse of the Rebelution, 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (NIV). We’re not just supposed to avoid sinning; we’re supposed to pursue righteousness in a way that others will want to imitate. – page 97-98, Do Hard Things

This latter mandate was the type of prompting I felt in my spirit when I began to craft the curriculum.    I wanted to the kids to meet Martin Luther King as a fun-loving prankster as described by his sister in My Brother, Martin so that they see a “regular” kid who did hard things and became a legend.   I wanted our kids to see Cesar Chavez’s passion for the cause of the immigrant farm worker even before he was THE labor activist.   I want them to know what the Lord can do with their loaves of bread and a few fish, brought before the Father in faith.

When I set up the first version of the company’s website, I posted across the header of each page what I still think of as the company’s motto:   ‘to instill pride, to educate minds, , and to change lives.’   I removed it from the revised version of the site, but those words, and that meaning, have never left my head and heart.

I say that you are more than what others expect of you.

I say in accordance with Ephesians 3:20 and 1 Corinthians 2:9 that you have not yet even begun to tap into your destiny.

I say in accordance with John 14:12 that the circumstances in your life are equipping you to do unbelievable things.

How do you say ‘a blessed heritage’ in kids’ language?

Uncertainty

Uncertainty.

1. The condition of being uncertain; doubt.

2. Something uncertain: the uncertainties of modern life.

Synonyms: uncertainty, doubt, dubiety, skepticism, suspicion, mistrust

These nouns refer to the condition of being unsure about someone or something. Uncertainty, the least forceful, merely denotes a lack of assurance or conviction: I regarded my decision with growing uncertainty.
 
 
I don’t think that I’ve ever prepared for a year with this much uncertainty–not even during our first year.   Maybe it was naivete, but I prayed  ALOT, did my homework and began to execute, even in the midst of my sister and niece being here to help with a newborn baby.   So, this year, as I began to envision what the kids would do, my task was to quit agonizing about what might happen and instead function within what I know right now.   With that in mind, I developed our plans.     Here are the highlights.
 
 
Plans for the youngest were perhaps the easiest to make.   I’m much more comfortable with a plan for the fundamentals, even though admittedly, they are not my favorite to teach–too much redundancy.   What is most exciting to me is that we will use my curriculum to teach her American History next year.   A customer asked me about blog posts that feature the kids using A Blessed Heritage’s products, and it was then that I realized that the last time I taught the children using the elementary product, I had yet to start blogging.   Life pre-blogging seems like a long time ago!
 
 
The most work I needed to complete for her was to develop a reading list.   Though we’ve read some great books over the years, I also wanted to incorporate some fresh reads for the sake of the older two, who often listen in from the adjacent room as they complete their work.   Several of her reading selections are Sonlight staples that we have enjoyed, partly because that’s what’s on our shelves.   Some of  Tanglewood Education‘s selections round out our list nicely with selections that don’t always appear on many homeschooling reading lists, especially in the genres of mystery and science fiction.
 
If there is one word that defines the time I spend with the older kids,that word would be ‘classics.’    I often talk to the kids about cultural literacy and understanding the context of language past just the words.   This is one of the many benefits of being a life-long reader.   When their Disney shows start with ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’  they should have some sense of where those words come from, and what is their significance to the rest of the episode.   Our son wrote a brief biography on William Shakespeare in his commonplace book and found out that even seemingly silly comedies like “She’s the Man” (Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum) and  “Deliver Us from Eva” (Gabrielle Union, LL Cool J) are based upon Shakespearean works.   By the way, did you know that Shakespeare struggled to consistently spell his own name?   How ironically hilarious is that?!!
 
Our son will begin high school next year, although there are still a couple of areas where he’s at a middle school level.   Like the oldest, he will start a year of ancient history using a Great Books curriculum.   With our daughter, I definitely learned alongside of her as Homer helped us define the word drudgery together.  (Scroll down on this post to see my daughter’s take on Homer and ancient pasttime activities).   I am much more prepared for what these classics look like in terms of work schedule and actual “feel,” if that makes sense.
 
Of course the oldest and her part-time college career present the lion’s share of our uncertainty.    Her current summer schedule is such that she’s in school four days per week.   My plan would hinge upon her going to school twice per week and then completing work at home in the afternoons.    Our first fight regarding my plan was that she wants to be more involved with dance than what I had listed will allow.   I am hoping that she’ll recognize the accelerated pace of college and realize for herself that she cannot take on everything that she’s done in the past.    Of course, if not, I am prepared to play the spoiler in order to see her succeed in all things (rather than succeeding at dance to the detriment of her academic education).   She began class Monday, where she found out that her first paper was due on Wednesday; that was a rude awakening, to say the least.
 
I hate scratching pieces of  the plan that I had for her.   It is as much a lesson in pride for me as it is a lesson in letting go, as I discussed in my “Losing Control” post.    Before I looked into the Government class at the college, I was busily investigating early American history living books and thinking about reading schedules.     Now I am constantly reminded that she will have to learn some things from others with a very different perspective, i.e., worldview, than we have.     A friend suggested going over certain aspects at home, and I planned the reading list to do just that, but the reality is that our time will be limited.    Between the pace of college, letting her go to dance sometimes so that she has some physical outlet and place to express creativity in that way, and her pace (let’s just say she won’t be accused of not stopping to smell the roses), one-on-one reading is subject to happen more sporadically than I like.   I had too many of those experiences this year where we’d pick up a book, then put it down for days, and everyone, including me, would have to get reenergized about it.
 
Speaking of needing energy, right now we’re moving–slowly–through Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha.    I’ve tried not to “force” school and make the summer boringly academic.   But this book is 600+ pages, and not at all the hilarious epic adventure that I remember as a kid.   Maybe because my husband once sold pharmaceuticals to psychiatrists, neurologists, etc., the kids have keyed in on poor Quixote’s mental state, and it almost reads like a tragedy to them.    I’m going to abridge this one myself so that we can move on.
 
Anyway, I look at this definition, and though uncertainty doesn’t, in and of itself, sound so bad, there are other words here: doubt and mistrust.    Yes, when I list my plans, there is much room for doubt, and I have good reason not to trust in my own abilities.    My will gets us limited reward, but I’m looking for more than mediocrity.   So I must choose to substitute different words for doubt and mistrust:   
 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
 
 
Proverbs 3: 5-8 

Spring Break, with an Eye Looking Forward

We took our spring break with the area public schools this week.   As usual, I had far more planned to do than I could possibly get done—will I ever learn?    Not only was my list aggressive, but it became obvious to me by Wednesday that what I needed most was rest.   With that thought in mind, the highlights of much of my week went something like this:

Saturday—weeding

Sunday—church, grades

Monday—cleaning, hair (youngest daughter)

Tuesday—sewing, cleaning, hair (oldest daughter)

Wednesday—school planning, grades for college kids

Thursday—weeding, grades

Somewhere in there I had a birthday on Wednesday

Friday was a flurry of activities.    We took advantage of a field trip that was postponed during our winter storm, so we packed up and met a local homeschool group for a tour through a water treatment facility.   Afterward, because we were losing our weekend time with a brief out-of-town trip planned, I ran around town like a chicken with its head cut off, replacing car tires and replenishing dance supplies.

By Saturday, I needed a break from my break, and it came in the form of a trip to the beach.   Plan A was to stay two nights, but we’d forgotten what happens to hotel rates in the midst of spring break.    When we had our rude awakening, we chose to make a turnaround trip.   The beach was, nevertheless, very relaxing for me, and great fun for the kids once they got acclimated to the difference of terrain.   Our older two are so funny; it took them a long time to adjust to stepping through LOTS of seaweed to reach the water, then another long while before they actually allowed themselves to adjust to the water temperature.  (“It’s soooooo cold!” they complained.)   By the time they settled down to make sand castles and take walks, it was almost time to head home!

Sunday was a somewhat relaxing trip back home.   I say ‘somewhat’ because we planned to stop off at a mission in Goliad, TX, and the tour wound up being so much more than we expected.   The Alamo gets all the attention in these parts, but I’ve found that the “off -the-beaten-path” types of tours are the ones that pleasantly surprise you, and this mission, Presidio La Bahia, did not disappoint.   Our short stop-over took us almost two hours, and we still did not see the second mission, Espiritu Santu.  Next year, both our girls will cycle back around to early American history studies, and so this was a perfect opportunity to talk about the influence of Spain in the Southwestern United States.

Speaking of next year, it is about that time to consider what about our current plan will be continued/ revisited/ scrapped, etc.   I’m thankful that we’ve hit a groove where we are both comfortable and bearing fruit, so not too much has to be scrapped altogether, but there is always room for improvement.   With only nine weeks left until we begin summer, this is about the time of year that I begin to realize how much was left on the table (or in this case, in my planner), and how we can adjust for the following year to make their experience—and mine–more memorable.

I cannot believe that my baby will be a 3rd grader in the fall!   I worked hard this year to put more elementary school fun into her day, with some hits and misses.   The biggest “miss” is that I fell off the wagon, so to speak, with the plan of doing something special each month with her in mind as the year progressed.   Though we’ve definitely gotten out more, and have even taken a few days off, I still feel as if I could tighten up, or rather, loosen up some more in this area.   She was looking through old photos of the older two in the earliest days of homeschooling and wondering why she doesn’t get to cook as a part of her day.   I tell you, managing the seasons of homeschool has perhaps been my biggest challenge yet.   Anyhow, as I ponder those thoughts, here is what her academic year will probably look like in the fall.   You’ll see with all three children that I’m still contemplating reading lists.

3rd Grade:

English: Rod and Staff Christian English series

Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting

History: Early American History with A Blessed Heritage Educational Resources

Math: Horizons Math 2/3

Science: Apologia Zoology 1/ 2

Latin: Prima Latina by Memoria Press

Read-Aloud/ Reading List (Sonlight 3 readers as a possibility)

Our son is the epitome of a homeschooler—chronologically, a public school system would place him in 8th grade in the fall.    Yet, because he’s studied with his sister as much as was possible, he has a couple of courses that he’ll actually take on as a high school freshman.   Of course, he is at 8th grade level in several courses, and because of the extensive Rod and Staff text, he is completing 7th grade English.    He’s our middle/ high schooler (smile).   I haven’t worried too much about it yet, but in the back of my mind, I know that if he keeps on track, he will probably graduate high school earlier than I personally would like him to leave home.   So much to think about and so little time, you know?   Anyway, this is his potential year beginning in the summer/ fall:

8th/9th Grade 

Apologetics: Know What You Believe by Paul Little/ The Deadliest Monster by J.F. Baldwin

Character: Ourselves by Charlotte Mason (second year)

Current Events: Student News Daily and/or World on the Web

Grammar: Rod and Staff Christian English series

History: The Great Books (http://www.thegreatbooks.com) (Year 1)

Latin: Henle by Memoria Press

Logic: How to Read a Book (second year)

Pre-Algebra/ Algebra: Teaching Textbooks

Physical Science: Apologia Science

Read-Aloud/ Reading List:

The  biggest question mark with him is how to take advantage of some of the elective opportunities that are available to him in our area, yet work with the girls as appropriate.   We have an area debate team that I’d love to get him more involved in based upon his interests, but I’ve heard that it is a tremendous workload, and I just don’t know where we’d fit in another item.

Of course, college preparation has been the focus of our oldest daughter’s curriculum.   With the Lord’s help, she will actually get a taste of that season via the dual degree program at our local community church.    She’s actually going through several significant changes in the coming year.   She and I have different opinions about well she is juggling school and her many extracurricular activities.   Let me tell it, her grades are decent, but she’s losing sleep and having to study almost all of the time.   That is not the intention, but since it is the reality, she will cut back drastically on some of her current activities in order to focus on her academics, and on her overall health and well-being.   My prayer is that she’ll be able to complete her English courses at college, but this is what I envision for her during her time at home:

 11th grade

Chemistry: Apologia Science/ Meteorology with Connect the Thoughts (2nd semester)

Current Events: Student News Daily and/or World on the Web

Algebra 2: Teaching Textbooks

History: American Government and Civics

Latin: Henle by Memoria Press

Economics: Sonlight/ Thinkwell (?)

Read-Aloud/ Reading List:

I have in mind what I want to do, but I’m at a quandary as to how to do it with her.   We’ve been using The Great Books curriculum (see link above) to cover the past two years of history, but I thought to focus in more on American Government and Ethics.   Sonlight is normally my go-to curriculum when I don’t quite know how I might craft something myself, but Sonlight’s American Government course is a part of a core program that costs $600!    That is more than I spend on curriculum for all three of our children, and even if the Lord blessed me with a windfall, I wouldn’t spend it that way.    So I’m looking at options—is there a way to buy the IG for Sonlight without buying the whole packaged curriculum, could I modify the Great Books curriculum, and if so , what to use, what else is out there,…

How about you?   What plans/ changes/ anxieties are you facing regarding next year?

P.S.   I am thinking about a Civics program from Connecting the Thoughts, available through Currclick.    Has anyone else used this?

A Good Season

We didn’t get much snow in Texas, but this was our one taste of a winter wonderland while in Georgia for the holidays:

If I tried to pen what has been our life since my last post, it would seem uneventful, but these days have actually been anything but.   In the last few days, we…

1)      started school again for the 2nd semester

2)      rearranged 2/3 of the upstairs furniture

3)      painted the youngest daughter’s room

4)      revamped my husband’s and son’s closets

The whole paint/ closet cleanout/ urniture rearrangement was a Malachi 3: 8-12 blessing for us after a friend decided to get rid of the furniture she’d kept in storage for years.    It all began with her offering my husband a number of suits that she’d kept after the death of her father.     This man was what the kids call an “OG” (original gangster–LOL), so among the nicer church suits were also a number of pastel purples and fire engine reds with the shoes and hats to match.    I found out later that the red suit matched his red Mercedes convertible–too much.    Anyway, in ridding her high-priced storage area of the suits, she began to look at furniture.    She then offered us a formal sofa and love seat–something we’ve never invested in given our largely unused formal living room area.    Right now, we have our desktop computer in that room, and a sofa that the dog likes to sleep on when he thinks we’re not looking.    Now, we have a beautiful formal set which has the same cherry wood, traditional style of the dining room set given to us after my father passed.   With the addition of fabric, this area is going to be fabulous!   I just pray that we can preserve this WHITE furniture in a house with a busy 7-year-old and 2 dogs who think we’re just here to make them feel at home.   I won’t post a picture right now with the house in disarray; I’ll save the shots for a before/ after photo experience.

Well, with an almost brand new set in our now sincerely formal living room, we moved the dog’s secret bed-with-no-breakfast upstairs to the game room.     The futon that once provided extra bedding for our kids’ guest was now available for our son’s bedroom, giving him the extra room that he wanted to spread out those increasingly long legs.   His twin bunk beds now grace the room of the youngest, who’d had a dresser drawer that had seen better days.    I’d made a decision to get her a captain’s bed, the one with the drawers underneath.     How was I going to buy all this furniture, in light of everything else we needed to do, without debt?     Problem solved. 

I write to take my boast in the Lord.    We’ve had such a tremendous turnaround going into the new year until my head spins just thinking about what the last week has brought us.    In addition to what I’ve listed above, there’ve been business partnerships, contracts, speaking engagements–so much to share that I’ll have to spread it out over the weeks and months to come.    Stay tuned!

Our pastor’s words at the beginning of this year have come from 2 Kings 17, and the message has been so powerful in our lives.   Last year’s word was based on being a priest in the home/ community/ workplace, etc.; this year’s focus is what happens to the priest (us)  as we step into the presence of the King.    I’ve been basking in His Word and enjoying the fruits of this season.    There are a number of confessions we’re making and seeing them come to fruition.    I may share them, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, but without context and teaching it might not make sense.    Just rejoice with me, for I know that,  like the tribulation-filled 2010,  it will pass, too.   Yet, it is a good season and I’m thankful for it.