What’s Been Happening?

 Apparently, there are a number of bird watchers/ lovers in my midst.  It blessed me to “hear” from several of you and to watch the previous blog post get distributed, then redistributed, then… Thank you!    On top of all of that, as if the Lord said, “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet,” the first red-breasted robin visited us soon after I published my last post!    Here he is, courtesy of http://www.encyclopedia.com.

The youngest will make Apologia’s “smart suet” this weekend so that we can see what else likes our yard.   I have a feeling that, given the weather we’re having, what will eat most of the suet is ants.

For the few of you who follow this blog regularly, you know that I’ve not been here in almost two weeks.    Things have been crazy, to say the least, and time to pen my thoughts has been non-existent.   Then, with my laptop already (and unexplainably) unable to connect to the Internet, our desktop  computer caught a virus, and we were severely limited in our ability to connect with all the folks in cyberspace.   It was a stark reminder of how plugged-in we are as a family.    Thankfully, we had everything back in a matter of days, with 5 people then lined up to accomplish all those online tasks that, left undone, gave us the shakes.    Restoring computers after a repair is painful–every password (even the ones that I don’t remember!), every favorite, and every bookmark had to be reset.  Yet, praise God for technology that works.   Personally, I have three posts in draft stage–I’ve got lots to say!

We’ve had other life events occur as well.    As I mentioned before, February begins our competition season.   Our older two’s first outing was at the end of February.    This year’s ballet costume, I think, is absolutely beautiful.

BTW, our daughter has on this much make-up because of what stage lights do to the face.

This is her on a normal day.     Of course, I think she’s the loveliest teen on the planet.   Apparently, at least one young man thinks the same, and he has asked her dad if he can escort her to one of the area’s homeschool proms.    There are three–can you believe that?!     While we pick out dress patterns and discuss potential hairstyles, I am fighting a mild bit of depression and angst as I realize that she’s my not-so-little girl anymore.    I speak quite often about college, but it’s still far enough out there that I feel good about advanced planning.   But the prom.    The prom.    I still remember my own proms.   I still remember my dresses, where we ate, and my dates–Marcus Mitchell (11th grade), and Marvin ? (12th grade).    I’m struggling with her growing up.   Oh, saints, I covet your prayers.

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Doing Things, But What?

‘ “I think I like that man,” Janus observed.  “Never had  much to do with high-minded teachers since I was a kid, but he means business.    I thought teachers just talked, but he doesn’t fool around with the words.   He goes and does things.‘ (emphasis mine)

Meindert Dejong, The Wheel on the School, pg. 162

 

 

This was an observation made by an older man who, as my parents would say, pulled himself up ‘by the seat of his britches’ (meaning that he had no education or ties to previous wealth), about the local school teacher.    He admired the fact that the teacher didn’t sit around resting upon his laurels, but instead chose to act upon his thoughts.   At least that’s what I got out of it anyway.

 

The Wheel on the School is an agonizingly slow book to read–at least for me, that is.    I shared a link regarding a professional teacher’s response to it here .    Interestingly enough, at least one of the comments the teacher received spoke of how that reader put it down–it took too long to reach the point, and it didn’t move fast enough.     Someone else’s response to the original poster was that those are the reasons that make The Wheel on the School such a refreshing turn from the more modern “wannabe-classics” that are geared for low attention spans and and written as if they were a script for a high-energy video game.    Personally, I can relate to the original reader.    If I weren’t reading it to our daughter, and in the process, trying to teach a few intangible lessons, like not deciding that a book’s boring way too early, I would have probably forsaken it by now and moved on to something else.    But pride, as much as anything else, keeps me from putting the book back in the basket where it has remained for years.     I refuse to relegate myself to being the reader who needs a constant adrenalin rush to enjoy a good read.   

 

To be sure, there are good points to this Ambleside Online-inspired addition to our home library, even though we’re halfway through the book and the main character just found a wheel (should I point out the obvious–that the wheel hasn’t made it to the school? 🙂 ).    A spark of curiosity triggers a chain of events that unite an entire community around one goal.   In doing so, there is a lesson about the value of people–all people–in a common effort.    The downtrodden play as crucial a role as the elderly, who are, for the most part, forgotten; the only six children in the tiny fishing village hear the wisdom of these same forgotten souls, and get to know them as people with stories of their own rather than as “the old man who hates and punishes children who get in his yard.”   Though I’m not sure that the youngest is gaining from the reading all that I just shared, I will say that it’s the type of value-laden (though not blatantly stated, crushing any desire for deeper thinking) reading that I thoroughly enjoy reading and  sharing with our children.  Oh, if it didn’t take so darn long!!!!!

 

Where am I going with all of this, you ask?    Other than documenting my thoughts about The Wheel on the School, I don’t know!! 

 

Seriously, though, this is the 2nd week of the not-Back-to-School Blog Hop (see my sidebar to the left).    This week’s focus was on school rooms.   Personally, I cheated and used this post from last year since the physical rooms and the story behind them didn’t change at all.   It’s been interesting, for lack of a better word, roaming about Blogland and seeing some of the ways that others designed their educational spaces, whether it’s a dedicated room or several multi-purpose areas of home.   The pictures run the gamut from in-home children’s museums and rooms that make me want to return to school–at their home (LOL), to sofas and patios that are equally inviting.   Sadly, I’ve also seen responses, specifically to the week 2 (school room) hop, that would indicate that there’s something wrong with putting time, energy, and $$ into a designated area for home education.    Personally, I’m thankful for freedom in this area, and the ability to sincerely marvel at others’ school environments, but yet glorify God in what we have as well.

 

I’ve had other places to gain wisdom as well.    This week also was the annual Heart of the Matter’s online homeschool conference.  As I shared via an HSB update, by Wednesday, I was overwhelmed with everything flowing through my head, and anxious for a place to pen it all as it takes shape.    Susan Wise Bauer was one of the guest speakers this conference, which I thought was too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence given that I’m reading The Well-Educated Mind.

 

A good word always commands a response, and I’ve had a wealth of good words in these last few weeks.    Everything my mind and heart have taken on in these last few weeks have  led me to one end: ideas.    I’m fleshing out what to do, rather than simply ‘fooling around with words.’    It would take me a while to post all that I’m marinating upon, and not all of it would be appropriate for this pubic forum anyway, but these are the thoughts, at a high level, that occur to me as end our third week of school:

 

1) I will throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and I will run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Praise God, we are at a place and a pace with which we’re, for the most part, comfortable.     I don’t have have time for envy, for jealousy, for comparisons, for self-doubt, and all the many tricks and snares that prey upon the vision of what the Lord has called me to do.

2) Each day, regardless of what it brings, is a day that the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.

 

More practically speaking, I will:

3) Make better use of my sofas.    This morning, the youngest wasn’t feeling well and laid on the sofa most of the morning.   I took books over and read to her while enjoying time to snuggle with a blanket.   Even the puppy settled down and slept at our feet.      Somewhere in the midst of an increasing amount of formality with her, I’d temporarily forgotten what those days felt like when we would watch the butterflies out of the window and marvel at insects.    I realized this morning that I don’t want to lose that.

 

 

 

 

 

4) Cover the “whys” with the oldest.    Not too long ago, our oldest came home in a moment of disgust with her peers at Sunday School.    She couldn’t believe how disconnected they were with whythey needed to study certain subjects like history.    She didn’t respond to them–a move to not be considered too strange, I’m sure–but she talked about the value of history to me.   As an aside, if you’ve read my blog for more than a year, you’d know what a tough road we’ve had getting to this point, so I was floored at her looking down her nose at others (smile).    Perspective is everything, you know?    Well, today we discussed the phrase “Et tu, Brute’ ?” from Julius Caesar.     She listed in her commonplace book the symbolism of that phrase in modern society.   This also gave us an excellent opportunity to talk about the value of cultural literacy.   To say the least, this should be a promising year.

 

There is more, but I’ve run out of time.    God bless.

 

   

 

Exactly what my Family Needs

 

O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.  I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.

 

Psalms 34:3-4

 

I am so excited this morning to tell you that Angela, formally of Fruitfulfamily, now (hopefully soon) blogging at 7PeasinaPod  is celebrating her new home!  

YYYEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!

 

After over a year of homelessness (her mother’s 1 bedroom was a blessing for their family of 9, but for a husband and wife, there is nothing like your own home), she inherited a home specifically remodeled with her in mind (Her deceased aunt added three bedrooms, a bathroom, and bought a new washing machine and refrigerator before going home to be with the Lord)!!  It only cost her $5 (to change the deed)!!   I was already excited enough as we have lifted her family up to the Lord over the past year or more, but when she walked me through her entire testimony, all I kept saying was “amazing.”    There simply were no words to fully express the privilege of watching God be God.

As our son said, if you only heard the end of the story, you’d be jealous, and I would never be so presumptuous as to tell her testimony, but the story’s so wonderful that I just have to, have to, share some highlights.   Let me be very upfront in saying that words will fail me miserably in trying to capture eloquently what I heard on yesterday.   Again, sometimes life events just cause you to stare at God, mouth agape, totally dumbfounded.

1)    She endured Egyptian-like plagues in her original home

2)    A neighbor with a bi-polar disorder once threatened her husband with a gun, then caused a neighborhood scare that triggered a SWAT response and the temporary commandeering of her home

3)    They (finally) sold the home out from under themselves, forcing them to move to a hotel, and then into the rental property of a slumlord

4)    Because the slumlord never properly replaced a broken refrigerator, they received two that were filled with maggots, then went without refrigeration for a number of months

5)    Even though they paid their rent in a timely manner, they were evicted while Angela was pregnant with their 7th child (and the oldest was only 9 or 10 years old at the time)

6)    While Angela’s family moved in with her mother, Angela’s aunt, whose health was failing, offered her the home when she went to be with Jesus (no one knew at the time that the journey would take place in one year)

Oh, and did I mention that the Lord gave her a dream 9 years ago about the house, including her neighbors Teresa and Angel?    The Lord also showed her the school room, but since her oldest was only 2 then, she thought that it was a sign of an in-home daycare business.

Okay, are you dancing before the Lord, too?

 

Why is her story on my blog, and what does any of this have to do with me?   Well, first, the Lord tells us to rejoice with others who rejoice.   Second, it’s wonderful to see God answer prayer, and I love seeing Him be God, wherever He is blessing.   And even though Angela is a person that I met through blogging, I consider her a friend.   On an even more personal note, I am often reminded of the trial of Job, and how he began to see his own breakthrough when he took the focus off of himself and began to pray for his friends.   The “MommIdentity” devotional, the conversations I’ve had in the last week or so (certainly this testimony being one of those), and even the comments of dear blog readers and customers like AJ, have really resonated with me over the last few days.  It is almost like a special word from the Lord in the midst of all my preparation.   As I told our son on yesterday, I’m not physically ready to begin school next week—our relaxing summer just began!   Although I know why I chose that start, and by the time we finish early next spring, I’ll be glad I did.  What I didn’t say to him was that I don’t feel totally prepared as a teacher, either.   There are a couple of places where I still don’t have the “right” resources, and I still need each child to go through last year’s notebooks and see where we need to buy folders, new notebooks, print notebooking pages, etc.    My mock syllabi aren’t fully fleshed out.  Math plans need to go into the planners, but I intentionally waited to see what work would be completed this week.   Overall I just feel rushed.   So, in reading the line in the devotional that I am exactly the Mom that this family needs, I felt peace wash over me like a refreshing spring.

If I’m totally honest, I, too, struggle at times with comparisons.   I didn’t post the thoughts about fitting into your homeschooling skin by accident—it’s been the abundance of my heart lately.   As I listened to Angela, I couldn’t help but think, how could you continue to homeschool through all of that?    I thought the same of Phyllis during her encounter with homelessness.    We’ve been through a tough time as well, though nowhere near to that extent.   In fact, relative to the goings and comings of others around us, our woes have been few.    Still, we began reading the book of Psalms in the midst of our trial because I wanted the kids to read the words of David as he encouraged himself at the peak of his persecution.   Maybe I was the one who needed to read it.   However it worked out, when I later wanted to abandon the reading, thinking that the kids weren’t benefitting, they asked to keep going.   Perhaps we all learned a lesson in how to handle life’s adversities.

I applaud Karen for hesitating on putting the kids back in school while she braces for continued chemotherapy; I don’t know that I’d be that strong.   Yet, her family needs a mom with tremendous courage.

I wish that I were as creative as Dawn, as bold and determined as Amy, or as “together” as KeriMae, but I know that God gave them a special grace to give some special kids a wonderful life and school experience.

If only I was the student of home education that Kysha is.   If only my Charlotte-Mason inspired homeschool looked like Linda Fay’s.  If only my older two spent their summer reading like Solid Rocks’.   If only, if only…

Then I bear in mind that it is totally impossible for any of our blogs to reflect our total experience; we blog about the parts of life that we deem worth sharing, that are not too embarrassing to share, and places that we can (sometimes feebly) get words and pictures around.   Also, like professional teachers, we all tend to teach toward our strengths.   The fact that I choose to bore the children with tackle Homer and Dante’ doesn’t make me any less of an effective homeschooling parent than someone else who can craft each of the Seven Wonders of the World with paper Mache and popsicle sticks.    Finally, our kids live near a large metropolitan area, with many distractions and disruptions available to them at any point in the year.   Though I complain that we all are too plugged in, I’ll admit that, for the most part, their choices of what to watch are sound with our family’s values.   Comparing them, therefore, to children who live in rural places with fewer recreational outlets and/or no television is highly unfair to them.

Each of us, whatever is our state of being, is exactly what our families need.   I am exactly what my family needs.  May the Lord get glory in the midst of my feeling unprepared.  He is prepared, and He is sufficient for all my needs.    May He bless you today.

P.S.  Did I mention that the house is completely paid for?   Okay, you can get back to shouting now.    🙂

God in the Dance

 If you subscribed to my other blog, which I’m now deleting, this will be a repeat entry for you.   I am reposting this primarily to capture the few entries that I wanted to save.   Enjoy the day.

I talked about identity and passion in my last post, but I had a real-time opportunity to learn more about trust.

We have, for years now, enrolled our children in a dance program close to home. I shared on my other blog (see here) that the center is not marketed as a Christian center, but the instructors are Christian—or I should say more specifically, I know that they are church goers. Though it’s not my idea of a picture-perfect environment for us, the benefits of being there far outweigh what I’ve seen as disadvantages thus far. At least, that’s what I thought until this week.

This is an exciting time for everyone at the dance center. Costumes are arriving, and the final numbers are coming together. The place simply buzzes with anticipation, and our kids are no different than anyone else’s. They came home modeling costume after costume (they dance a combined 18 times!), and we all enjoyed the fashion show. Then came the turning tide when our oldest daughter began to talk about the conversation over the advanced jazz costume, a simple black cropped pair of pants with a black button-down shirt. The problem is that the instructor decided that the girls’ shirts should be half unbuttoned, baring midriffs. Though I’m not as conservative as some about the kids’ dress, we don’t do bare midriffs around here. Moreover, I didn’t appreciate the instructor telling the girls—14 and 15 years of age (with my 11-year-old son in the room)—that it “looked hot” that way. The salt in the open wound was that, when my oldest immediately voiced her concern, saying that “my mom will not go for this,” the instructor belittled the concern, stating that the girls need to grow comfortable with their bodies.

To say the least, I was livid. The mom in me wanted to call immediately and raise Hades, but the instructor had left the kids with “tell your parents not to call me while I think about it and make a decision next week.” It didn’t help that my husband and I were at different places with this. I was disgusted by what I saw as a direct attack on the values we try to instill in our children; he was torn somewhere between thinking I’m too protective and wanting to not risk straying from what’s conventional. Walking alone is tough, but my spirit absolutely would not rest. Okay, I thought, I’ll give her chance, and more importantly, this gave me a chance to pray. Reflecting back on this whole incident, it’s amazing how prayer becomes the thing we do after we’ve exhausted our natural resources.

I spent all of Thursday obsessed with this scenario, knowing that my next encounter with this same instructor would be late Friday afternoon. My imagination had walked miles, from going 15 rounds with the instructor and/ or the school’s owner, to leaving the program, to writing letters to some child advocacy group, to…The more I thought, the madder I got. But each time I grew angry, I remembered one thing: the Lord will perfect all things concerning me. So I talked to God about it—over and over and over. Admittedly, the thought of this encounter overshadowed everything else going on in my life. When the youngest awoke with a swollen eyelid, I agreed with her in prayer that the Lord would heal her, but I spent the day consumed with what might happen. God, I know I have the victory, but what will be the path?

Something else happened as I began to pray. I realized that not only was this a chance for God to show up on my behalf, but it was also a chance to minister. So my anger gave way, at least in part, to grace and mercy. There’s a point that I needed to make, but I also wanted to leave her with something to think about. I began to pray about words—words that pierce, words that resonate, words that move. So a significant portion of my mental energy was spent crafting my words. How do I state my convictions and yet not crush someone else’s spirit? How do I lift up Jesus without putting her down?

When the time came to go to practice, everything that could go wrong did. Our children were late, and the young lady who catches a ride with us ran even later. I was still searching for words, and seeking wisdom on whether to use them at all (another revelation that came through prayer), as I drove. She said to give her a week; I wanted to give the Lord a week. Besides, I know my tongue would have cut like a knife. I couldn’t help that piercing stare, though; it just wouldn’t leave. When I saw her, and we spoke politely, as if nothing’s wrong (minus my stare–grrrrr). I kept thinking, why don’t you say something? But I’m learning each day to trust God more and more, so miraculously enough, I just spoke and otherwise kept my mouth shut.

As a related digression, my oldest is the team captain for the group, and a part of her responsibility is to lead the group’s stretches and warm-up activities. Though normally the instructor selects the music, my daughter will sometimes bring her own selections to accompany the kids’ stretching. Like me, her musical tastes are eclectic. Yet today, ironically enough, she chose to warm up to the upbeat, soulful inspiration of gospel artists Mary, Mary. I love how God insists on being glorified. I rejoiced even more when I heard the instructor play the same tunes for her second class; apparently she enjoyed what she heard, too.

So, at the end of the day, how’d this bare midriff fiasco turn out? Well, my daughter was perusing through a brand-new list of costuming details (for lack of a better word)—how to wear your hair, what color tights, hats, gloves, etc. When she saw the jazz dance requirements, she turned to me and said, “Look, Mom. It says I can wear my leotard up under the shirt.” I moved to see it for myself, and I simply hugged my daughter and said, “Look at God.” I’m still looking, and all I can say is, “Wow.”

How We Often Frustrate our Young Adult Children (Part 1)

These words are not my own.   They belong to Pastor Matt Bullen, Heritage Family Baptist Church, Texas, who will also speak at the upcoming Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) conference this summer.   Yet, as I skimmed a homeschooling newsletter, I found the topic thought-provoking.   It is a conversation that I’ve had with my husband, and that I have with myself, quite often as we raise children who are becoming young adults quicker than we’re ready for it to happen.

 

 

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother… Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

                                                                                                            Ephesians 6:1, 2a & 4

 

 

 

 

In parenting my six children ages 14 to 22, I have found that I often quote Eph. 6:1&2 but rarely consider Eph. 6:4.  I have often attributed, what I perceived to be disrespect in my teens and twenty some things, to their not obeying Eph. 6:1&2 when in reality many times it was me not obeying Eph. 6:4.

 

 

In my years as a youth pastor and now as a pastor I have seen many young people who needed to learn to obey and honor and I have also seen many parents who needed to learn not to exasperate otherwise sincere and good-hearted young people. In the next two articles I will share with you some of the things that I have observed that tend to frustrate and discourage young people. In subsequent articles we will discuss the proper transition from parenting children to parenting young adults.

 

 

I. Parent’s Insecurity – Often parents are not secure in their own identity in Christ, or in their job, or in the leadership of their family and so they feel threatened when their children begin to exhibit natural tendencies toward independence and autonomy as they approach adulthood.   Instead of realizing and rejoicing that their job as trainer is coming to an end and their job as mentor and counselor is about to begin, these parents try to push their children back down into the comfort zone of total dominance and submission causing the young people to either

be quashed and stunted in their development into solid, productive adults or causing them to push back to the point of rebellion in their effort to become what everything inside of them is screaming that they were meant to be, adults.

 

 

II. Badge of Honor – Parents who wear their well behaved, talented, academically gifted, and spiritually adept children as a badge of honor, as a means of self esteem, or as credentials for leadership in the church, frustrate their children because the children know that image and presentation is more valuable to these parents than substance and true godliness. The children feel that they are points on a resume rather than valued gifts from God being raised for God’s glory and for His purpose.

 

 

III. Present vs. Future – Parents who are shortsighted and fail to realize that their children don’t belong to them but are on loan to them from God for a short season so that they may train and prepare them to grow up, leave, and follow God’s calling on their lives will exasperate

their children. To these parents, children exist primarily to fulfill a need in the parent’s life rather than the other way around.  The parents feel fear and a sense of loss when they realize that their young people are getting excited about leaving the nest and following their own dreams and goals. Consequently, the parents may begin to whine and hound the young adults about staying near home or never leaving at all.

 

 

IV. Age Appropriate Interaction – Peter Pan and the lost boys never wanted to grow up. Many parents find themselves in a similar predicament on the parental side. They never want their children to grow up or they don’t realize that they are growing up or they simply don’t know

how to adjust their parenting methodology as their children grow to maturity. They continue to chide, command, direct, restrict, and disregard the wishes of young people who are biologically, emotionally, and intellectually adults in much the same manner that they did when they were 4 or 5 years old. Nothing is as sure to frustrate and discourage a young person as this.

 

In the next article we will look at some additional things to avoid so that we may obey Eph. 6:4.