Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Mess in the Cupboard and What it Taught Me about Home-schooling.



I opened the craft cupboard door to look for an envelope for a card and accidentally tipped a small box on the shelf.  Little slips of paper tipped out.  I picked one up and read it.



They were from an activity we had done for school some time back:
little bits of memories.


 Home-schooling can seem so frustrating at times: the things that are great about it are also what make it hard.




When you home school, your kids are with you in your own home environment all the time.  This means that your kids are always with you...not much time alone unless you can manage to sneak down the stairs in the morning without them hearing you, or you can try to keep your eyes open after they have gone to bed for enough time to read more than 3 sentences from a book for your own enjoyment before you feel your head drop from dozing off.

When your kids are home all the time, it means that your home gets that many more hours of full time use, full time wear on the walls and furniture, full time messes being made, full time "I'm hungry" and "I'm thirsty," and full time sharing of toys that aren't any easier to share when it is the same people wanting to borrow them.

 It means full time memories to be made: good and bad.


When you home-school, it means you are the one mainly responsible for your children's learning, for their steps toward achievements and successes, and the heavy weight of what may seem to be failure when they just can't seem to get the knowledge you think they should have gotten after the repetitive teaching you have given them.

It means you can't blame anybody but yourself; and, strangely enough, you realize that education diligently put forth has no room for blame because each child is different.



It means that when people say that your child's handwriting is sloppy, even after you have corrected her for her cursive o's and a's enough times you start to dream about it; it means when you have said, "'I' before 'E' except after 'C'," and she still spells friend "freind"; it means when you hear that somebody has said that they have met a lot of "dumb" home-schooled kids, that you will fight to not take those things personally, knowing that people who have never struggled to help a child learn will not understand the patience that is sometimes required in teaching without crushing a child's spirit.

It means you will come to understand that knowledge puffs the head that thinks he is superior, but learning how to learn and learning to love the search for true knowledge and the path to wisdom is what is more important.   Embracing education is finding one's area of excellence and using it for the glory of God and the good of man, even when it occasionally means being wrong or randomly requires spell-check.


 Homeschooling means you are the primary source of providing knowledge, but also the guardian of care, understanding, the ear to listen, the eyes to watch for needs, the heart that can stir or squelch adventure.


 Home-schooling is a heavy task, very full, not to be taken lightly...


 ..it is a gift from God but only if we pursue it with dutiful determination, disciplined direction, diligent dissection, daring dramatization.




 You will see the joy of searching and finding;
               you will see the light go on in their eyes;
                          you will be the one they run to to share those sentences that catch their curiosity and burn in them that sudden love of learning...



 even if that moment doesn't come until years into the process.


Homeschooling teaches your children to learn even when it is hard and it feels like work;
it teaches you your own weaknesses and strengths,  and uncomfortably at times,
where you need work.


Above all, home schooling can be successful to the Christian only if we make the center of it what God's credentials demand:


5"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
 Deutoronomy 6
Of course, these verses apply to all of us influencing the lives of children, not just in school, but in each moment of our lives.



Sometimes in our zeal to pass on knowledge, we forget that although every date might not be remembered and spelling errors will surface, those little shards of memories we make along the way can be the glue that makes an education the gift that lasts beyond a lifetime...

it can etch into the soul of the person they are becoming.



As I closed the cupboard door, I smiled at the thought that a memory had been made that somebody had not wanted to forget by hiding them in the cupboard...a little stash of papers.  Yes, it was a little unexpected mess, but it was one that was worth it.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Choose: Right or Wrong?



One could hear him before see him.

His voice rose above the green grass,
songs of beauty and inspired words.

Seated under the tree, his eyes scanned the horizon and despite the songs he sang,
he was alerted by any nearing footsteps.


His ear was trained, his eyes sharp.

Everyday, he walked the quiet steps out into the fields, his gentleness assuring the newborn lamb he carried on his shoulder.

Who would think he, this patient boy who daily spent his hours with the carefully numbered sheep of his father's flock,
would become a king?




Even Samuel was surprised when his older, more mature and experienced brothers were passed over.

How could this be right?

Clearly, the choice of men would be different;
but God doesn't see as men do.

God sees the inner workings of the heart.
The kind patient care of sheep and contented daily maintenance of the job assigned him was a character quality worthy of a strong leader.

David's songs of praise showed a heart of thanksgiving,
even during the menial task of caring for animals who trusted his voice,
while not understanding the words of his songs
or appreciating the beauty of his melodious Psalms.

Is this a man we would naturally choose for a king?

God's choices are right,
in His time.



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Monday, February 24, 2014

The Pros and Cons of a Dragon.



I am an intercessor here on the farm.

I didn't realize it until I was reading the other day.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~




Levi wanted a bearded dragon for his birthday.
It is one of those things that he wouldn't stopped asking for for months.


My sister had some little lizards when we were kids, and we enjoyed them so much.
They were easy to care for and it was fun to catch flies and moths and watch them attack them and gobble them up.  I know he can relate to this because the boy has spent countless hours catching bugs and feeding them to the spiders he finds hanging about in nests around the farm.

I asked him to catch bugs for the 5 baby ducklings we had in a pen in the basement this past summer,
and he was at it for over an hour.  When he finally quit, I asked if he'd fed them many.
"I could only find about 20 bugs each," he responded.

So I know that keeping a reptile fed will not be a task he will ignore.



We got the kids kittens a few years back.
Lillie and Violet both have their cats, but his disappeared when we got the puppy.
I think a neighbor with a calmer household may have adopted him;
at least, that is what I tell Levi when he is upset that his cat never came home.




"Everybody has their own pets except me," he mentions.


It is true that we have plenty of animal choices around here,
but his older sister tends to dote on those so much, 
they all see her as their leader.

When I tell him he has all those spiders as pets,
he tells me he can't hold them,
and I remember the tears he shed when his favorite spider up in the barn did not come out of his spiraling web to eat one day.

Spiders don't exactly have long pet lives.

I knew he wanted to have a creature of his own,
and as much as he draws dragons and dinosaurs and any other reptilian creature,
a beardy would be perfect for him.

I didn't tell my farmer.
I thought and read about them for weeks.
Honestly, I couldn't decide for myself.

Did I want to invest in the care of another creature?
Sure, it would be his pet and he would have to take care of it,
but I know that I have to be the overseer and make sure it gets done.

The initial cost is also one that is a bit more than a toy and once spent,
I want to make sure that that investment is taken care of.

Being a mother means overseeing everything,
even the things that they 'should' know to do:
dog water checker,
beta fish feed monitor,
duck-chaser limiter,
peep pen sanitizer,
cat/dog flea controller/monthly scheduler,
donkey hoof checker,
old arthritic dog lifter/protector from rougher young dog,
and general manager of any other creature that happens to pass through
(like the 'squashed' butterfly they found on the driveway that recovered in the jar on the table for a week and then, to our amazement, flew away after a drink of sugary water.)

If I had my way,
I'd be tempted to say,
"I have enough to do.  Look at this house!
Does it look like it needs another dirt-producing occupant?"






Somehow though, something deep inside of me calls out to me:
that little girl voice that I hear from days gone by,
"Daddy, can I please have some pet geese.
I promise I will take care of them."

Those days of watching him take the time to build that pen,
hours when he could have been sitting inside with his feet up enjoying his
"day off."

Those geese were my babies.
They needed to be let out every morning, fed, checked on.
They had to be penned every night so no harm would come to them.
 I loved those geese and they taught me more about life than any book could ever have done.  Wrapped in their care was my heart, and loving something you care for gives a perspective on life that lives inside of a person forever.

A real creature gives something that toys and books do not.

A creature chooses to love back.
It depends on you for it's life.
It has to build a trust in you that has to be earned,
even when it seems like the care is all coming from you,
unselfishly,
until that creature has decided that you are worth loving/trusting back,

even when that creature never says 'thank you.'


After weeks of reading, looking on Craigslist at the general costs,
stopping in the pet store to ask questions,
it was then that I presented the idea to the farmer.

I had done the research and aligned myself to the idea that a dragon is something worthwhile,
and yet, I still had to deal with the Farmer's possible rejection of it.
That can be hard, but I knew that if I have the facts lined up,
the cost,
the benefits,
the logistics,
the heart of our son.

 

I knew the case would fall on listening ears and be seriously contemplated.
And I know that those times my Farmer has said, "No," he has been right;
and I have been relieved of the frustration that was avoided.


The other morning, I was reading Romans 8,
and I came on these verses:



He does this same task for us,
in a grander, more serious scale:
the Holy Spirit.

We have an intercessor who sees the needs in our lives,
the trials,
the joys,
and He goes before God to plead for us.
God decides what is best for us.  God knows what will work out to good,
even if we cannot see it from our dim perspective.




Not only do we have God caring for us as Christians,
but He gives the Holy Spirit to work with us daily,
to confront the sin we daily fight with,
but also to plead with God on our behalf
to enjoy watching the blessings given,
to cry with us when our hearts feel like they are breaking,
to watch us learn and hear us when we give praise to God,
to share our prayers with us.



Those spiders in the barn may have more work ahead in their meal planning come spring.
There is a new creature in life that takes priority in this boy's heart,
and I am thankful for the reminder of God's great care for us.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Green Beans.



"Run downstairs and fetch me a can of green beans, please,
but be careful with it.  Those glass jars are slippery."

I hear the wooden stairs on the old stairway with each step she takes.
She comes back and sets the jar on the counter.
The olive colored green beans wave in the liquid they were placed in months ago,
when the night was still hot from the sun's diligence of the day.

I look out the window and the darkening sky still seems bright with the white flakes falling in it,
the white world it floats to.

Somewhere underneath those feet of snow is the brown dirt and the sleeping future of the coming summer.

Planting, harvest, enjoying the gifts of produce set aside for winter:
the cycle seems obvious as the pan heats on the stove.


It is obvious in the garden, not always so easily embraced in the moments of life.

Each moment is essential...
much work in each step until the harvest comes to fruition.


Galatians 6:9

I set the empty jar into the dishwasher,
knowing that it's emptiness will be viewed next when the sun is hot,
but I'll not think about that now...

"Let's eat."



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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Snow Dragon.


I could hear the cow bellowing up in the barn.


The snow was falling fast, flakes the size of dimes.
I thought of telling Violet to run up to the barn and check why there was so much mooing coming from the barn, but the bull, who seems to get larger and more rambunctious with each passing day made me think otherwise.  I decided I had better head to the barn in case he'd found a way out of his pen.

I checked the situation and realized it was just the mama cow that the farmer must have separated from her baby before he had left for work. As I started back toward the house,
the beautiful white world made me stop and stand in awe of God's simple but stunning canvas.

As I stood there, taking it all in,
I noticed a very large snowball sitting in the yard.
Not far away was the little boy who claimed he had made it,
"to see the biggest snowball I could make.
It just rolls and rolls and keeps getting bigger and bigger."

As I looked at him, I realized I had put him off a lot lately.

"Come do the microscope with me, Mom."
"Come play with the play dough with me."
"Come help me put my Christmas Lego set together, Mom."
"Come play battle ship or do a puzzle with me."
He always asked with such hopeful voice.

I had turned him away with, "I'm too busy right now.  I have to get my work done.
Ask your sisters."

The guilt suddenly hit me as I watched him playing
alone
in the snow.
 

I knew he would love for me to build a snowman with him,
something I had never made time to make with him yet.


I squatted in the snow and formed the distantly familiar shape of the snowball and began rolling it through the snow.
This snow was perfect for snowmen, heavy and sticky, but not wet.

By the time I had reached near where he was at,
I had to tell him to come help me.

"Let's build something," I said.

"Do you mean a snowman?" he asked, eyes sparkling.

"Well, kind of.  Let's build something better."


 
We rolled the two snowballs together.
He ran inside to recharge with fresh, dry mittens while I started piling the snow onto the two snowballs. 

 



 I hoped it would be taking shape by the time he got back,
and it was.



"A snow dragon!" he smiled when he got back outside.



We worked together and eventually the girls came out and worked with us for a while.





When the girls left to go fix some hot chocolate and scrounge up lunch,
I stayed out with Levi.


I remembered back to when I was a child and my neighbor friend's mom had built a magnificent snow creature.  I watched her start it and work on shaping and then creating the details of it.

I remember feeling overwhelmed at how much time she was spending on it,
how she stuck with it until it was done several hours later.
I remember feeling like I could never do something so huge and incredible like that.


"I'm tired, Mom.  This is really hard work.  I could use some help over here,"
he was packing snow around the tail, making it look rounded, as I had just shown him."

"Everything that is worth doing in life is going to be work at some time, Levi.
Just stick with it and before you know it, the job will be done."

"But it is so much to do.  It is so big.  We'll never get done."
Discouragement was setting in.
 
 

"Don't look at the whole dragon.  Just look at that little section of the tail you are working on.
It looks too hard and too much when you think about all that is left to do."

It wasn't too long before I heard, "I need some help over here.  I can't do this,"
he wanted to give up.

"Levi, if I have to stop and help you, the section that I am working on will not get done.
My helping you will mean my work doesn't get done.
Do the best you can.  I know you can do it."

As we continued to move through the snow and work on sections, we talked and complimented each others work. 

"Does this tongue look okay, Levi."

"No, it doesn't look like a tongue, how about making some fire,"
he answered.

"Fire?  How am I going to make fire out of snow?"

As things progressed, I could see his discouragement phase had passed.
The creature was really starting to look better
and the end was not too far away to see.


"We just need to make some claws on the front paw and add some wings,
and we'll be done," he sounded excited now.

"Perhaps when we finish, I can send a picture of our dragon in to the news."
As I told him this, his eyes lit up.

"You mean, we can be famous?" he asked.

I laughed, "Yes, famous for our snow dragon."

"But what if other people see what we have made and want to copy us?"
he looked worried that our dragon would become a creature on everybody's front lawn and not special just to us.

I laughed, "I don't think everybody is going to go outside and build a snow dragon like ours, Levi,
but even if they did, it is a fun thing to share."

I could see him thinking and reconsidering that it might not be so bad to see snow dragons on every front lawn as we drove down the street.


As we patted our dragon to a finish, the joy in Levi's face was priceless:

"Take my picture with my dragon, now, Mom.
We did a great job on it, didn't we?"
he scanned his snow pet as he stepped up beside it.


That creature took several hours of the day out in a snowstorm.
 Doubtless, it will disappear within a week or two.
  Back in the house, the dishes are still in the sink,
 the wet laundry is still in the washer,
my list of  things "to-do" still has nothing "done" on it;
but somehow, I feel like those hours were ones that will be of so much more value than having my list done.  My little boy and I realized the value of sticking to hard work;
of not quitting, even when the job seems too big to conquer;
the joy of seeing a job completed;
the fun of working together and being helpful,
the boost that encouragement gives,
how to give and take criticism without too much offense
(even though my fire still does not look like fire);
and
figuring out a way to make things happen.




It is dark now, and I just saw Levi slip his coat on and disappear out the door.

"Where is he going?" my farmer asked.
"He's going to visit his dragon," I responded.


The dragon may be made of snow,
but I'm pretty sure the memory and the lessons we both learned won't melt with it.


(Our Snow Dragon with Levi's favorite Bible verses).


Monday, January 6, 2014

A Word for 2014.


e·lim·i·nate: 
verb
verb: eliminate; 3rd person present: eliminates; past tense: eliminated; past participle: eliminated; gerund or present participle: eliminating
1.
completely remove or get rid of (something).




The snow is falling in the darkness.





The cat sits there, waiting for somebody to open a sliver of it so he may slip in,
another thing trying to push into my space whether I want him in or not.



I notice the plant in the living room and realize I still haven't replaced the stool my daughter removed from under it: she needed it in her "dance" play.
The plate that broke from her hasty removal of it still sits in  pieces under it.



It calls to me every time I walk by.
"I need to be fixed!  A little bit of water would be appreciated, too!"



The picture on my easel that I started back in the fall still sits unimproved.

Every time I see it, several times a day, I want to stop and add to it,
but that desire never seems to be fulfilled.



The picture of our farm that I started hangs on the wall behind it in the same condition.
They both call to me all day long.





The pictures that my son made for his Christmas thank you cards wait patiently on the copier.
They call to me every time I walk through the office.






The Christmas tree, ornaments removed, sheds more and more of it's fading grace on the floor every time somebody walks by.
"You need to go!" I tell it,
as if reminding it of it's impending removal will make it grow it's own legs and walk out the door.




"Mommy, come see my 'thank you' cards," Lillie calls from her place at the table.
"Can you help me glue them?"

My feet stop beside her and my focus is distracted by the glue stick that is drying without it's cap.



There is a laundry basket full of mending...
it has been sitting in my life for the last several years,
not lessening but building with each passing week.

I am certain there are clothes somewhere on the dark depths of the bottom of it that could very likely be 2 sizes too small for the child it belongs to.

It nags at me every time I walk by it and see it.
I try to deal with it by throwing a vintage table cloth over it,
but I can still sense it under there,
a snarling reminder of things I can't seem to get done.


The windows on the back porch were painted when they were put in to the newly enclosed porch a few years back, but the boards had not been sealed, so the knots yell the same at me:
"When will you repaint us?"

The basement closet my husband built a few weeks ago says the same thing to me
every time I open it to fetch my coat before heading out the door.



There is the box of unfinished Christmas letters, waiting to be written, addressed, and then sent out.


There is my book, written and waiting for illustrations so it can be sent to publishers to consider.




There is Levi, working on his math page, drawing the numbers into imaginative creatures,
even though the 6 and 2 are still being written backwards.


There is the memory verse pages for the kids, waiting for the illustrations to be outlined.



The mountain of laundry never reaches the bottom and it makes me frustrated that I can never conquer that goal.



Life today is not like it was 100 - 200 years ago.
We lacked for "things" back then.
Bare essentials and food were priority, not luxuries.

My life is just the opposite.
Too many things clamber for my attention.
I need to get rid of the things that steal me from those that are most important.

I don't need resolutions and goals of more things to squeeze in.

I need to cut things out.
Who has time for resolutions and goals in a life cluttered by a thousand little things?

My resolution must succumb to what is actually needed in my life:
not more, but less.
Elimination.

I like that idea.
Every day I will chose something to eliminate in that day:
I will take something from the mending pile and throw it away.
If it isn't mended, it will get tossed.

I will reject a food I don't need to eat so I can choose a healthier life and make wiser choices.

I will eliminate one unfinished project at a time,
striving to conquer a little thing and not allowing anything new until this list gets finished.

I will eliminate something every day:
an unworn piece of clothing,
an unneeded tool that gets stuck in the overstuffed kitchen utensil drawer,
an unneeded toy underfoot,
an angry word that doesn't need to be spoken,
an extra 5 minutes on facebook that could be used in a better way,
an evening of no television or unnecessary distractions,
an unnecessary word of unkindness about somebody I am either jealous of or offended at,
a  moment of hasty frustration at the grocery store when my lagging child tempts to make me forget the wisdom of a quiet reproach:



little measures of elimination,
one powerful moment of choice each day.

As I read the Proverbs 31 woman,
that is what sticks out to me this time around:

"She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night."
Proverbs 31:18.

My candle seems to always be lit,
but that measure of good isn't.
I want my life to have content that is good.

Good comes sometimes when there is an empty place for it to fit into.




As the moments become little victories for each day,
those unwritten goals of a better life will unwittingly fall into place.


I think that is a goal I can like for the year...

now if I can just find those scissors and trash cans to start tossing the bad into.



What about you?
Do you have a word for the new year?





Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Good Sale.


Hi!

I don't normally do store advertisements on my blog,
but I just had to share this one.

One King's Lane is having some great sales right now into the weekend.

Some of the prices are just incredible!

The other day, they even sent a coupon code for 30% off everything for that day.
That was a GREAT savings, so if you see anything there that you might like,
signing up on their email list is a great idea!

Here are just a few of the fun variety that is on sale there right now
(and if you are a new shopper, you will get 15% off).



$18


$22







(Indoor and outdoor rugs: a fun selection of patterns
as well as a variety of sizes)
$19- $249


$19


$39




3/$19




2/$26






(This is a set of two sweater driers: I couldn't resist this one when I had the 30% off code!)
2/$16






(Lots of really pretty scarves!)
$22



(There is a large variety of unique items like this branch candle stand).
$29



This is just a small listing of the items on sale.
There are also vintage items, other storage containers,
jewelry, pillows, indoor rugs, towels and sheets and fun faux fur throw blankets,
even furniture.

If you use the link below, it will help me out, too,
but really, I am just sharing this sale because it has some great items.
I just couldn't keep it to myself! 



I won't do this often, and if you aren't interested, just ignore this post.

Have a great weekend!