Friday, December 23, 2011

First Corinthians 13 - Christmas version

First Corinthians 13Christmas Version
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows,
strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls,
but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen,
baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals and arranging
a beautifully adorned table at mealtime:
I'm just another cook.

If I work at a soup kitchen,
carol in the nursing home,
and give all that I have to charity;
but do not show love to my family,
it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels
and crocheted snowflakes,
attend a myriad of holiday parties
and sing in the choir's cantata
but do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love does not envy another's home
that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way,
but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love does not give only to those who are able
to give in return; but rejoices in giving
to those who cannot.

Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails.

Video games will break,
pearl necklaces will be lost,
golf clubs will rust,
but giving the gift of love will endure.

--Author Unknown

Enjoy EVERY minute!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Apple Tree Christmas

Apple Tree Christmas
   By Trinka Hakes Noble

 From the author's website:
Ever since its first publication in 1984, Apple Tree Christmas has touched thousands of readers young and old with its simple heartfelt message. Now in this handsome, classic edition, Trinka Hakes Noble’s holiday remembrance reminds us once again of the strength of family ties and the boundless roots of love.

   This is one of my favorite Christmas books.  Even though it is not directly Christ centered, it is about a sweet and loving family and it touches my heart every time I read it.
     I came across it as a library book years ago, and continued to check it out every year.  Then last year I decided to look for it online and add it to my personal library, so I purchased it from   Interestingly, the copy I bought was a signed copy, so that was fun too.  
    If you can, I would highy recommend this book as a Christmas read aloud.  Even though it is a children's picture book, I think all ages would enjoy both the story and the illustrations.   This book is still available at most libraries.

On Going Home For Christmas

On Going Home For Christmas
 ~ By Edgar Guest

He little knew the sorrow that was in his vacant chair;
He never guessed they'd miss him, or he'd surely have been there;
He couldn't see his mother or the lump that filled her throat,
Or the tears that started falling as she read his hasty note;
And he couldn't see his father, sitting sorrowful and dumb,
Or he never would have written that he thought he couldn't come.

He little knew the gladness that his presence would have made,
And the joy it would have given, or he never would have stayed.
He didn't know how hungry had the little mother grown
Once again to see her baby and to claim him for her own.
He didn't guess the meaning of his visit Christmas Day
Or he never would have written that he couldn't get away.

He couldn't see the fading of the cheeks that once were pink,
And the silver in the tresses; and he didn't stop to think
How the years are passing swiftly, and next Christmas it might be
There would be no home to visit and no mother dear to see.
He didn't think about it -- I'll not say he didn't care.
He was heedless and forgetful or he'd surely have been there.

Are you going home for Christmas? Have you written you'll be there?
Going home to kiss the mother and to show her that you care?
Going home to greet the father in a way to make him glad?
If you're not I hope there'll never come a time you'll wish you had.
Just sit down and write a letter -- it will make their heart strings hum
With a tune of perfect gladness -- if you'll tell them that you'll come.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh what many blessings the Lord has given us.  Join me as we turn our hearts towards Him in gratitude for his love, mercy and blessings this Thanksgiving season. 

The Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
(Edgar Albert Guest, 1881-1959)

It may be I am getting old and like too much to dwell
Upon the days of bygone years, the days I loved so well;
But thinking of them now I wish somehow that I could know
A simple old Thanksgiving Day, like those of long ago,
When all the family gathered round a table richly spread,
With little Jamie at the foot and grandpa at the head,
The youngest of us all to greet the oldest with a smile,
With mother running in and out and laughing all the while.

It may be I'm old-fashioned, but it seems to me to-day
We're too much bent on having fun to take the time to pray;
Each little family grows up with fashions of its own;
It lives within a world itself and wants to be alone.
It has its special pleasures, its circle, too, of friends;
There are no get-together days; each one his journey wends,
Pursuing what he likes the best in his particular way,
Letting the others do the same upon Thanksgiving Day.

I like the olden way the best, when relatives were glad
To meet the way they used to do when I was but a lad;
The old home was a rendezvous for all our kith and kin,
And whether living far or near they all came trooping in
With shouts of "Hello, daddy!" as they fairly stormed the place
And made a rush for mother, who would stop to wipe her face
Upon her gingham apron before she kissed them all,
Hugging them proudly to her breast, the grownups and the small.

Then laughter rang throughout the home, and, Oh, the jokes they told;
From Boston, Frank brought new ones, but father sprang the old;
All afternoon we chatted, telling what we hoped to do,
The struggles we were making and the hardships we'd gone through;
We gathered round the fireside. How fast the hours would fly--
It seemed before we'd settled down 'twas time to say good-bye.
Those were the glad Thanksgivings, the old-time families knew
When relatives could still be friends and every heart was true.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homeschooling - Shattering The Myths

    This is quite good and encouraging.   A little trivia to answer your critics...  : )  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mom's Night Out - The Gift of Time & Other Lessons from Billy Graham

    As I thought about how Rev. Billy Graham reflects on the time he missed being with his family throughout his life, I thought about how the Lord has given me an opposite situation.  My calling has not taken me away from my home and family, as Billy Graham's has.  Instead it has required me to be almost 24/7 with my children.  And the very thing that Billy Graham was asked to sacrifice for his calling (time with his family), is a gift in my life... the gift of time with my children. 
   What a precious gift it is, that the Lord has allowed me to spend TIME with my children, through this blessing called homeschooling.  I want express sincere gratitude for the opportunity to love and enjoy and BE WITH my kids every day. It really is a gift. However, while God has given me the opportunity, the time, to be with them, what I do with that time, is up to me. It can be squandered away, or grumped through, or spent on twaddle type activities. Or I can miss the preciousness of the gift, and resent that time, and look for ways to farm my children out to others who are willing to spend time with them.   (And on some days, my selfish bent can lean in those directions.)
     Yes, time with our families is a gift, to be cherished, used responsibly and not squandered. I know this, and believe this, yet there are seasons where I still struggle to appreciate that gift. Usually, it is because I have allowed my schedule to pull me in too many other directions, creating an exhausting existence, where service to my family (meals, laundry, teaching, playing) seem to be getting in the way of the other things I am trying to accomplish. What a shame when that happens, and I must repent and reprioritize my time and our family commitments.
    One thing that will often instantly remind me of how much I really do cherish this gift of time, is when something that threatens it enters our lives. Severe illness, auto accident, cancer, violence... all thieves that loom just outside my comfort zone waiting to rock my world, and threaten to rob me and my family of time together. Turns out that all of these particular thieves have indeed had their grip on me in the past. And these experiences do tend to be a sobering reminder of the fact that my time with my family and children may not be as long as I think, so I had better be deliberate with every minute and guard this precious gift.
     Another lesson from Billy Graham, was the idea of sacrificing in order to fulfill a calling on our lives. As I walk this journey of marriage and parenting and specifically home schooling, I must revisit this time and again. For me, it is a calling, and I am committed to staying the course, and finishing the work God asked me to do in raising and discipling my children.
This is why I think it is important that we have a vision for our families… a picture in our mind of where we see our kids going and a destination in mind. Otherwise, we are really prone to being led by our emotions, or fatigue, or the crowd, or laziness, or difficulty, or just plain “wanting to do something else!“ etc., into something other than the calling God has given us.

The word sacrifice:

a.  Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.

b. Something so forfeited.

Without sounding like a martyr… because I don’t feel that way at all… but still, we do choose to sacrifice certain elements or paths or activities for others that we deem more valuable, or that we believe God places more value on. We make those choices all the time.. Sacrifice the good for the better.
We sacrifice things we value ( or our flesh values!) like…

Our time…   Specifically, time with our friends, time to pursue hobbies or personal pleasures (like reading, gardening, crafts, exercise), time to pamper ourselves, time to shop, etc.


Money that could be either earned by working out of the home, or money that is spent on “other” things, is spent on curriculum, books, and oodles of teaching resources. But sometimes we don’t necessarily sacrifice money… hubby still makes good income. So it is something else.

Peace of heart and mind

Sometimes our peace of mind is stretched to the very limit and sometimes even beyond, as we disciple, love, and train our kids… meaning all ages! How tempting sometimes to abdicate that job to another… maybe a teacher, youth group leader, kid’s peers, or just look away and pray for the best. For some, spending 24/7 with high maintenance or difficult children is a huge sacrifice of our heart and personal ease of living.


Have you ever felt like you just can’t do it again today… maybe not the actual teaching of school subjects ( but sometimes that too)… but the discipling, training, refereeing, coaching, discipling that is required of us all day, every day. Sometimes it is a strength of spirit, and sometimes physical strength, and often both that we are lacking. For this area especially, we MUST turn to the Lord to fill our cup and remember that He will not ask us to do more than He will equip us to do, even if we are close to the end of our rope.

  It will look and feel a little different for each of us... the sacrifices we make to obey God and answer His call.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Billy Graham

Dr. Rev. Billy Graham turned 93 yesterday, Nov. 7th.  (That happens to be my husband's birthday too!).   There was a 2 hour special tribute to him on TV and it was sure incredible to look back over his life and see how he has dedicated it to the calling he felt God placed on him.   He has been all over the world and is one of the most respected people by people everywhere.  Truly, it is just amazing that this one man, from one small town, could make such an impact on the world.   There is no doubt that many came to know Jesus through his testimony and preaching of the Word.
   Yet it was also sobering to hear him say, that one price he paid dearly, was time and relationship with his children.  He seemed to question his life's work, just a little, due to that factor.  It was  a bit sad.   Yet, perhaps that is what God asked him to give up, to sacrifice, in order to serve Him.   I don't know that he was aware all along of the toll it would take on his family, as it seemed more of a revelation in his older age, rather than a conscious sacrifice at the time. 
   Hearing him speak of this, made me think about the gift of time with my family and children, but that will be another post.
    For now, a heartfelt Happy Birthday to Billy Graham, and a thank you for his many years of ministry.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Follow Me, Boys!

   We just watched this film ( ordered it from Netfix), and it was one of the nicest movies we have seen in quite a while.   Fred MacMurray stars in it, and it is the story of a man who settles in a small town, and how he finds a sweet wife, and makes a difference in the lives of others.   It has a bit of the same flavor of It's A Wonderful Life ( not exactly though!).  It is over 2 hours long, so it does a good job of letting us get to know the characters, unlike so many superficial films. 
    As a homeschool parent, I could challenge the role that other adults should have in the lives of our children, but I won't do that.  The movie has too many other nice qualities and is truly a wonderful family film.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MOM'S NIGHT OUT - Reasons Why We Homeschool

  We met for our first Mom's Night Out of the new school year, (Oct. 2011) and it was a great meeting ( in my humble opinion).   We had 14 ladies, and enjoyed making some new acquaintances and catching up with old friends.    I always hate to interrupt the conversations to "start" the meeting, but eventually I did so.   After some introductions, we took turns sharing some of the reasons we decided or continue to homeschool.  As many of you know, the homeschool community is a diverse bunch, and it was both interesting and inspiring to hear the heart of these dedicated moms, and hear how the Lord has led them to this decision.
    Some of the reasons given for deciding to homeschool were:  time with our children, special learning needs, verbal or physical abuse at public school, conflict with government school ideology (evolution, etc.), and Biblical conviction. 
   For me, it has been a Calling to home educate and home disciple my children.  The blessings of walking this journey in obedience have been the Lord's gifts to me.  Yes, there are some difficult days or seasons, but I wouldn't trade these years for ANYTHING.   As it is, there are not enough days in a lifetime to enjoy my children as much as I wish to. 

     In addition to the serious, core reasons we decide to homeschool, there are a few general benefits as well.   We went over some of these at our meeting.
  • Quality Education
  • Schedule:  We make our own - traditional school calendar, year round schooling, family vacations during "off" season, etc.
  • Parental choice of educational philosophy and teaching method
  • Dress Code:  pjs or cowboy and ballerina costumes... and everything in between.
  • Mom Refinement:  There are few situations that expose our character weaknesses and offer the opportunity for the Lord to grow and change us, as much as spending 24/7 with our children. 
  • Family Time:  Lots of it!    
  I could make a giant list of the many reasons why we homeschool.  But my dear friend has done that, and has given me permission to share that list with you.    So, here are 50 reasons Why We Homeschool:

50.  Because we like to stay out of the “rat race” somewhat!
49. Because I can save money on clothes, school supplies
48. Because we are free to set  own daily routine & schedule
47. Because I can teach teach my children life-skills
46. Because we can vacation anytime of the year we want
45. Because we can have more time to work on special projects
44.Because of  Socialization (We want our children to have positive socialization experiences)
43. Because of  Individualized instruction (based on child’s leaning style)
42. Because we want to avoid bullies!!
41. Because we want to shelter children from harmful aspects of our culture
40. Because we desire to extend the joys of childhood
39. Because we want to be able to pray whenever we want to
38. Because we want to  work on developing good habits
37. Because we want to practice what we preach
36.Because we want to sleep in on some days
35. Because we want to stay up late with company or a good movie sometimes
34. Because we want to  hug our  children throughout the day
33. Because we want to choose our own course of study
32. Because we want to avoid violence (teacher molestation, shootings etc.)
33. Because we want to learn along with children
32. Because siblings can nurture  relationships
31. Because homeschooling allows for more family discussions
30. Because there is no homework!
29. Because of  more family togetherness
28. Because there is more time for music & art
27. Because the public school gives too much busywork & paperwork
26. Because avoiding  peer-pressure is important
25. Because we don’t get the flu as much
24. Because we want to play with children of all ages (not just own age & grade)
23. Because we want  a more complete education
22. Because we want to teach creation science
21. Because we want to  teach christian worldview & apologetics
20. Because we like to call or skype dad during the day
19. Because we want to practice hospitality more easily
18. Because we want to volunteer or help a neighbor more easily
17. Because we want to keep working on a math problem until we get it!
16. Because we like to read books together as a family
15. Because we enjoy going on family walks and bike rides
14. Because we have freedom to be ourselves without fear of rejection
13. Because we get to spend more time with grandparents
12. Because we are able to choose curriculum that in Christian perspective
11. Because we can weave biblical worldview into all subjects
10. Because we want to make the best educational choices for our children
9.  Because we are able to have more family meals together…and children learn to cook
8.  Because academic subjects can be tailored to the individual students
7. Because Dad can declare any day a holiday and we can have a family fun day
6. Because we can spend more time on areas we are struggling with
5. Because the time with my children passes way too fast
4. Because the homeschooling lifestyle is wholesome and natural
3. Because life is short and homeschooling allows us to prioritize and focus on the eternal
2. Because I love spending time with my children and truly enjoy them!
1. The number one reason that we homeschool our children is because the Lord told us in his word to teach, train, disciple and mentor our children….and our prayer is that our children will follow the Lord all the days of their lives.
Why are you homeschooling???

180 The Movie

We just watched a 30 min. documentary online on abortion.  It is done by Ray Comfort (from Meet The Master with Kirk Cameron), and it is so engaging and informative.  He talks with people on the street, and... well you really must watch for yourself.  I would caution that due to the subject matter, it is probably not for younger children, but more appropriate for mid to older teens.   (Parental preview suggested).  
  It is titled 180 because after talking with Mr. Comfort, these people end up changing their mind ( and heart) about the subject of abortion.  It really is a must see.

 Great movie.... great song.    Just a reminder that if possible, it would be a good idea to support this film in the theater.    The ticket sales send a needed message to film makers that there is an audience for decent movies with a good message.   If we don't spend our dollar on good entertainment options that come our way, we miss the opportunity to send that message and by default "they" perceive the opposite message... no one will pay to see a clean movie.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hold On Handles

My children are all too big for these now, but what a great tool for the busy mom who has more children than she does hands.  Instead of a harness or "leash", these handles attach to your stroller or onto the parent's wrist or belt, and encourages the training of our young ones to hold on and stay close by. 
 This item is on closeout prices at Timberdoodle.  You can  click here to go directly to their website to read more or to order. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Too Small A Price, by Don Fransisco

This is a song by Don Fransisco, Too Small A Price.  It is a way favorite of mine (and many others!).   Since I mentioned his gift of story telling in a previous post, I thought you might enjoy hearing him.  Many of his songs are from the perspective of the person in the Scriptural account.  For instance, this story is told from the voice of the thief on the cross next to Jesus.  There are two parts to it.  The first part ends and there is a short transition on the guitar, and the second part picks up as the man goes with Jesus into paradise.  I know it is long ( almost 10 minutes), but it is so worth it.  Another "trademark" of his is that he often ends a song in a chorus of worship. This is just a beautiful telling of the thief's salvation.   Be blessed.  (That is his wife Wendy with him.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

GoD and DoG

GoD and DoG is a sweet, simple and original song by Wendy Fransisco.  She wrote, illustrated and animated this song.   Wendy is the wife of Don Fransisco, the Christian music artist (very well known in the 1980's), and she was half of the singing group, Wendy & Mary.  Mary Rice Hopkins was the other half.  : )    The music of the Fransiscos has blessed my life and ministered to me deeply over the last 30 years.  I went to my first music concert at a high school in Long Beach, CA, where I listened to Don Fransisco share his amazing testimony and minister in music.   Both Don and Wendy are incredibly gifted at putting scripture stories and Bible passages to music.  Their storytelling through music is amazing.   This particular song is a litte more simple, but still special (especially to someone who really loves God... and dogs).     Enjoy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

When Mother Reads Aloud

                                           When Mother Reads Aloud
    When Mother reads aloud, the past Seems real as every day; I hear the tramp of armies vast, I see the spears and lances cast, I join the thrilling fray; Brave knights and ladies fair and proud I meet when Mother reads aloud.
      When Mother reads aloud, far lands Seem very near and true; I cross the deserts’ gleaming sands, Or hunt the jungle’s prowling bands, Or sail the ocean blue. Far heights, whose peaks the cold mists shroud, I scale, when Mother reads aloud. 
      When Mother reads aloud, I long For noble deeds to do... To help the right, redress the wrong; It seems so easy to be strong, So simple to be true. Oh, thick and fast the visions crowd My eyes, when Mother reads aloud.  ~ Author Unknown

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Encouraging the New Homeschooler

 Around this time of year (late summer, early fall), I get phone calls and emails from mamas who are at that place of decision regarding homeschooling their children.  Some are older moms, pulling kids out of school for a variety of reasons, but some are younger moms, just starting out, facing the expectation to send their baby off on a yellow bus to strangers, and not liking that option.   In both situations,  a mom finds herself at that starting place, just answering that calling on her heart, to disciple her children and keep them at home, where they belong (my bias).  : )
  I love to talk to these new homeschoolers, because it renews my passion for homeschooling, and it feels like an opportunity to pass the baton, and keep the flame of independent, home discipleship alive for another generation.  As I share with them the many benefits and options and blessings of homeschooling, I am vividly reminded of all the joys and blessings the Lord has poured out on my family through homeschooling.   What is interesting though, is to try to answer the many questions and speak to the nagging doubts and fears, in only a short phone call or email.  How do I take 30 minutes and tell them all about it.  I can't.   But I try to reassure them that this is a viable and sensible choice, and yes my children are "normal", and yes, I know lots of other "normal", thriving young adults who were homeschooled, etc.  Yes, homeschoolers can go to college someday, if they want to.  Yes, we have friends.  No, we aren't perfect.  
    Quickly, I can offer a few recommendations for curriculum options or co-op opportunities, magazine publications, books to read, and an invitation to join us at Mom's Night Out to glean from others.  But ultimately, it is up to that mom (and dad), to pick up that baton, and begin their own race.  They must walk their own homeschool/parenting journey, allowing the Lord to lead them, and shape their family, to guide them in educational choices and family priorities.   Like every aspect of life, it must be experienced first hand, to really "get it".   But, I can offer to walk along side them in some fashion, offering support and encouragement and occasional advice or suggestions.  They can learn a lot by watching me and other veterans make our mistakes, share our struggles and trials, and also share how God is faithful in spite of it all. 
    And as they seek the Lord's will for their own family, visit with other homeschoolers, read articles from magazines, blogs, etc., written by Christian homeschoolers, and just do the next faithful thing on their own journey... eventually, gradually, they become the seasoned veteran, mentoring and encouraging another generation of parents who are taking that first step in following God's call on their lives to homeschool and home disciple their children. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Treasures of the Snow, by Patricia St. John

Treasures of the Snow, by Patricia St. John
  This is one of my favorite books, for both adults and children.  The author addresses the powerful message of forgiveness and salvation, through the story of a little girl whose brother is accidentally injured by a neighbor.  The spiritual content is deep, yet will be understood by children.  There is a lot of opportunity for family discussion, if done as a read aloud, which I would highly recommend.  Reviews can't do this book justice.  Just be sure and have your tissues handy during reading time.  (There is a DVD of the same title, but I have not seen it.  We are planning to watch it this weekend.)

Waiting For Superman

Someone asked me if I had seen the movie, "Waiting For Superman", which is a documentary on how bad our public schools are doing in educating our children.  Of course, I don't have to be convinced of the failure of our public schools... whether it is academic or political, or spiritual... I would give them an F across the board.  But I do like to be informed, and since I had only heard of the movie, and could not give an informed opinion, I decided to order it from Netflix (which is another post).  Also our local library now carries it.  You can also watch it on YouTube in parts (first two are posted below), or just the trailer (posted above).
  We watched it this past week, and it is a well done documentary, following the lives of 5 children and their families, as they deal with the shortcomings of the public school, and then attempt to attend a public charter school, where admission is done by lottery.   I would offer a different solution to public education (homeschooling), but considering that this movie maker is not even considering homeschooling as an option, it is a revealing and very sad look at the corruption in our schools. 
   There is a lot of information, and I would probably need to watch it again to catch some of the bias and be able to give a better "review", but it is a film that captures your attention.  My husband and son watched it as well, and also were intrigued.   I was glad we saw it, and feel better equipped for a discussion regarding public education. 
  It breaks my heart to see so many families and sweet children, who are trapped in our school system, and are victims of the corruption and greed.   Of course, this film maker and the others who are trying so hard to fix things, don't connect the dots between what we see in our schools and families and the rejection of God in the public square.  They don't realize that without Him, all is really in vain. 
  Once again, I am so incredibly grateful for the blessing and calling of homeschooling. 
You can watch the first part here:



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reluctant to Launch?

I was asked about any suggestions regarding our "grown" homeschooled kids, who are reluctant to launch, and take the next step, whatever that might be.  My friend is feeling discouraged, and questioning the homeschool path they have been on as a family.  So, I thought I would share some of my thoughts (sorry it is so long),   but remember, I am no expert and I don’t think there is a formula to offer.  And I don’t think there is only one  right answer, and if there is, I certainly don’t think I have it!   Navigating these years is just not easy.  That is my opinion on it.  : )  Would love to hear what others think. 
 ~ First… friend, you are NOT  a failure!  You are a diligent, committed, Christian mother, who has hung in there through all the storms life has sent your way.  You have been faithful.   It is a misconception to think that the rest of us don’t question our success or decisions at times, and don’t struggle with our  relationships with our teen/young adult kids.  This is a tricky season to navigate, no matter how you educate, and it takes real love and patience and endurance.  But it is just a season, and I think it is part of the journey of Biblical parenting… not the most fun part in some ways.   : )
~  We all have these moments of insecurity, no matter which route we take, and because nothing ever turns out just as we thought it would, we second guess our decisions.  So, you are not alone in this.   ;)
~  Failure or reluctance to launch is not just a home schooling issue, but is more common that you might think.  I have friends and family, right now,  who are dealing with the same thing in their public school and Alt. Ed. Students, who have recently graduated.   I think it is more of a personality thing.   I don’t have the perfect answer, but I am happy to brainstorm a little here. 
 ~   I don’t know the specifics of what each family's expectations are vs. what the kids are willing to pursue, but a few areas that I have seen families deal with are:
    * Reluctance to get a driver’s license -  Contrary to the stereotypes of the 16 year old nagging mom and dad for their license, I have known several families whose 18-19-20 year olds are intimidated and afraid to start driving alone.  For those families, they have done the driver’s permit thing for an extended time, but then finally sort of “forced” that young adult to drive to whatever it is they are interested in doing or wherever they need to be.  Over time, they gain some confidence, and then it is not a big deal. 
   *  Reluctance to go to college or further their education -  This is also quite common, and is a little trickier, since this costs us money.   Perhaps there are one of the “programs”, like photography, or pastry chef, or graphic design, or CAD, or hydraulics that would be a good fit for your student. 
     Check into online college/vocational programs… there are oodles, I’m sure.  Liberty University Online is quite affordable, and is a Christian Liberal Arts college.  Again, if you can help your student identify some interest or gift, maybe you can pursue a degree from there online if a local college is not an option, and you don't want to send this barely grown child off to a campus somewhere (that is another post!). 
~  If we are talking about our daughters, I think it gets even more difficult to navigate.  We want them to be Keepers of the home, right?  Yet, we may want them to develop their skills and interests as well. Or they may want to do that.  There are beginning to be books written by home school graduate daughters, about spending this season serving in their homes, preparing to be a wife and mother…. Serving their parents, and siblings, along side mom.  I love that idea, although I am not saying it is the perfect fit for everyone.  But, I would be hesitant to steer our daughters into “careers” that we pray they will not work at once they are married and have children.  It is hard to trust the Lord with their future, and pursue the Biblical role of womanhood, and I too am trying to wrap my head around this, as my girls are getting big. 
   If we decide that we do want them to spend this season in school, I think it is a good thing to think about what talents or interests they have, and how those skills can be further developed with the potential of working from home as a wife and mother someday, or offering classes to the home school and church community…  like music lessons, sign language, sewing business, pastry business, web design, etc.  
~  If we are talking sons, we might be more career minded, as we know what that looks like for our husbands.   But in addition to the typical college degree, there are vocational programs as well, and some of those are online.  Some are at the local community college.  The nice thing about the programs is that they don’t have to take all the liberal arts/general requirements, except for only a few, I think.
~  Maybe our kids could use a gap year…  Here are a few links I found:
     - - From HSLDA
     -  - From Susan Wise Bauer at Well Trained Mind.  Notice you can link to part 2 and 3 as well, to finish reading her thoughts on this.

~  Or maybe they need an extended senior year, which I have seen several families do, and they have no regrets.  It was exactly what that child needed to mature a little more before making big college or life decisions.  And it bought some time for the parents too, to assess what was important to them, what their expectations really are. 
 ~  Moody Bible or an online Bible college… a good way to spend a year growing up, and maturing.  Again, I know many families that take this time to spend a year or two wisely in a college learning setting, but since they lack some direction career wise, they focus on some Bible teaching.   Can't go wrong there!  : )

~  One caution is to be careful about stopping school altogether, unless there is a very specific plan ( travel, etc.).  It just seems difficult to get back into the academic swing of things, after a lot of time off. 

~  We didn’t allow our ds a lot of working during the high school years.  I know others feel differently, but among other reasons, we felt that to earn a min. wage paycheck would feel like a big deal to a broke high school student, and we were concerned that he would want to continue working at something that was leading nowhere, rather than continue to be a starving student for a few more years, and work towards a career.   So, we made it clear that school was his “job”.  We would continue to fund most of his life, as long as he continued to pursue his education ( or whatever else we agreed he should be spending his time doing.  The point is that sleeping until 2 in the afternoon and playing video games until 3am every day wasn‘t an option that we would be happy with!).

~   I’m not sure that this season should look a whole lot different than the previous one.  What I mean is that even though our kids were sometimes reluctant to do their school work, or complete a course, we just told them “this is what we are doing”.  I realize there are some differences with them as they get older.  But for us, especially right around the time of graduation… we were still in a pattern of coaching and counseling and navigating  together.   We had a situation where even though ds was not opposed to taking the next step, he was truly lost… didn’t know what to pursue.  That was sooo hard, and occasionally, we will have our doubts, even a few years into it.  I ended up sitting with him, and I made a list of all the “areas” of study or careers that I could think of:  Education, medical, business, computers, science, law enforcement, engineering,  etc.   We went through them, and through a process of elimination, he made a choice.  Basically, he knew what he DIDN’T want to do, and that helped us get to an area that he could explore and feel good about.  Even a few years into it, and after a few changes along the way, he is glad with his choice, and we feel the Lord has guided him in this direction, but it has never been something he is passionate about or absolutely driven towards. So, you might want to brainstorm as a family, and see where God leads.
  I guess my main thought here, is not to make it an option to just drift.  Instead, approach it more from… “ Okay Johnny, let’s talk about the next step in life… either continuing your education ( on campus or online, etc.), a gap year ( what will we do with that time… a year of Bible college?, travel?,  extended 12th grade?”…    But drifting is not an option.  Talk about it in a way that makes that clear.  Sort of like choosing next year’s math curriculum… “ Johnny, we need to decide if you will continue in Algebra 2 next year, or maybe we should look at a Consumer Math program?”  Notice, that not doing math at all, is not an option.   So, lay out some options that you are comfortable with, and help them choose.   

~  Every family is so different, and you will have to evaluate what is important to you, what goals do you have for your children, how can you support them in this season, what agreements will you make to assure expectations are met, etc.   One thing I reminded myself and occasionally my ds of, is that “He who funds the life, mostly runs the life”.  What I mean is that since we are funding most of this season, we have some input on how  the time is spent.  It has been our prayer, and so far ds has been very open and compliant, but it has been our prayer that he would seek counsel from us, and would allow us to be the primary influence in his decisions, besides his own sense of what the Lord is showing him.  As a young adult, we want to encourage him in his independence and growth adn responsibility.  But we also want to help him avoid some common pitfalls that young "adults" often find themselves dealing with.   A wise man, seeks wise counsel.  That is not a childish thing to do, and not indicative of immaturity.  In fact, I see it as just the opposite.

 ~  I guess the best advice I can give is continue to take it to the Lord, and give the kids some time without huge expectations.  Even if they are taking baby steps towards adulthood, that is a good thing.   Look for places for them to serve, and you will be surprised at how other doors open up.   And enjoy this final season with them in your home, and embrace this last part of the journey and the fleeting opportunity to disciple them and build your relationship with them.  That is more important than any career, or vocation, or college, or job, etc.  The years are really so short…  Enjoy your family.  : )    And give yourself a little pat on the back… you faithful servant!

Curriculum Fair... woo-hoo!

 This past June, I organized and hosted the largest curriculum sale in my area.  If you knew how disorganized I am, you would think it is funny that I am in charge of this event.  It got handed down to me by accident (long story), and now this is my 5th year hosting it.  For the past 4 years, my friend and her son have faithfully helped me in the planning, set up and tear down, and what a blessing that has been.  But she is "retiring" from homeschooling, and was out of town this year, so it was just me and my 3 children.  And with my bad back, I am mainly a supervisor, pointing out what needs to be done.  My ds is 20 something, and was the main muscle of the day, along with his friend, who I can't thank enough for helping us as well.  My oldest dd is young, but strong and very capable and was also a lot of help with the physical side of the event.  My youngest dd is still a little slight of stature, but she was still busy doing what she could and kept busy helping me with less strenuous set up tasks. 
    The one bummer is that because my administrative mind is in full gear during the entire event, I can't seem to make any sensible purchases myself.  I know it sounds crazy, but I walk around from table to table, and can't really "see" anything.   So, in the end, I miss out on some great deals and items I might have needed.  Oh well... it is still worth it.
    Each year, as I plan, I wonder if anyone will come?  I am from the old school of homeschooling, and I love a curriculum sale.  But as more and more families join the public school at home programs, it seems the pool of "new" homeschoolers searching for wonderful, discounted materials is dwindling.  And with online resources so easily available, it also might cut down on the need for a local sale.  Still, I figure, as long as folks sign up to sell, and as long as folks come to shop, I will organize the event.  
   This year, I was not disappointed at all.  We had a good steady stream of shoppers and the large room was buzzing with conversations... old friends catching up, newer homeschoolers gleaning all they can from veterans, acquaintances getting to know each other better... it all blessed my heart to watch.
    I had almost 40 vendors, and probably over 200 shoppers throughout the day.  We set up a Kids Corner, where I put out a table with a small TV/VHS player, playing Winnie The Pooh or Donut Man videos, along with coloring books w/ crayons, and a few puzzles.  This seems to be a great blessing to moms as they can relax a little, still keep their eye on their kiddos, and shop with a little less stress.
   Once the day is over, and just before the vendors start to pack up, I draw names for a few door prizes for the vendors.  It is my way of showing my appreciation for their participation.  This year I did 3 baskets.   I made a "Kitchen Basket" that contained some really nice dish towels, a very cute homemade apron, and several kitchen goodies, like sponges, toothpicks, zipper type baggies, etc., and a few treats, like a candy bar, specialty tea bags, and a small, pretty plaque with a scripture verse on it.  Secondly, I made an "Office Basket" that contained computer paper, sticky notes, paper clips, Ticonderoga pencils (of course!), highlighters, etc., as well as the other goodies, like a candy bar and Christian plaque.  Finally, I made a "Coffee/Tea basket" with a pretty mug, a Starbucks gift card,  several specialty teas, chocolate covered candy stir sticks, honey sticks, etc., and again a candy bar and Christian plaque.   I just drew names, and handed them out that way.  It seemed to finish the day on a happy note.
   The feedback I received was all very positive, so I hope others thought it was as successful as I did.   For now, I will pack up my few remaining items in boxes, label them BOOK SALE, and tuck them away in the basement until next year, when I will do it all again. : )

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Start of a New School Year

 Man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps.    This is just so true.  I had such big plans for starting off the school year... more scheduled, amp up the academics a little, expect a little more (from all of us).   And then August happened.  We were hit with waves of medical challenges, and they are still continuing  as of the second week in September.    We began school anyway, in the midst of minor chaos.  And while it hasn't ended up looking anything like I planned, I am glad we started, and we are plugging away and dealing each day with whatever the Lord allows in our path.  And we are learning.  In addition to the new books we are working through, we are learning to trust God, to sacrifice our time and dreams, to pray for others, to let go, to serve, and not to give up.   Those are lessons worth learning.