Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sharing Stories

I love MOPS! In addition to being a great place to serve and grow beside other moms, it has been a place to share my stories.  You can read one of them on the MOPS blog today:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dishwashers and Detours

Our dishwasher broke last month (right before my mom arrived for a two-week stay).  Normally, my fast-paced husband would have an issue like that handled within the week.  However, we are in the long-term process of building a new home ourselves and I am unwilling to spend a cent more than necessary on this one.  We haven't decided what appliances we will be using, so I don't want to purchase a dishwasher helter-skelter that wouldn't work with or fit in the new space (whose dimensions change on a monthly basis).

So, in addition to the new time commitment of homeschooling this fall, I am now washing dishes by hand up to three times a day.  To say that I lacked enthusiasm when starting this venture is a severe understatement even though I knew it was the right decision. But God was at work behind the scenes as He usually is.

What happened next reminds me of the time two winters ago when my husband was driving to North Dakota for work on treacherous two lane highways.  He was in the middle of nowhere when he suddenly had a piercing pain in his back.  It shocked him and he swerved to the side of the road.  In that moment, two semis crested the hill in front of him  -- side by side.  I got to keep my husband that day because sometimes pain and detours from God have a purpose. 

The purpose in a broken dishwater isn't so readily apparent as the miraculous preserving of a life.  However, I have been noticing a difference in my evenings.  Instead of me being left behind in the kitchen to clean up and load the dishwasher while my husband spends time with the kids, he joins me.  He knows that I've already done the dishes (at least once) that day and what a discouragement it can be to see a full sink again.  Now it is a time of reconnecting and working together that we didn't have on week nights when we had a functioning dishwasher.  I won't go as far as saying that we won't buy a dishwasher when we do build our future kitchen, but I'm beginning to see the purpose in this detour.

The higher you stack, the fewer you have to dry.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

On Homeschooling

We are in our seventh week of homeschooling.  I have not broadcast this information beyond those I see on a regular basis.  I wanted to get our feet under us before I had to deal with defending our decision.

I have many friends and some family members who have taught their children at home.  I've seen the appeal, but at the heart of my own disinclination to homeschool was my own selfishness.  I didn't want to have to give up the time or use the mental energy that I knew it would require of me, the introvert.

Through a chain of circumstances in July, God changed my heart toward homeschooling.  Starting with a sermon, a book and two conversations, my aversion grew into a willingness to entertain the idea and finally into actual excitement.  My teen perception of homeschooling was that it was done out of fear - fear of danger and exposure to the world.  Fear wasn't the motivation I wanted to drive my decision.  And as we each determine the education of our children, no matter what we choose, we need to understand our motivations, intentions and desires.  

As I read, thought and talked this summer, I realized that there were better reasons to homeschool.  For one, maybe my children could actually get a better education if they were taught by someone who knows them well and who can give them lots of individual attention!  So here are my positive reasons for homeschooling:

*I can teach them how to think and not just what to think.
*By following their passions, we can inspire a love of reading, learning and curiosity feeding. 
*We can use school to ignite their heart for the Lord.
*We don't have to waste their time covering material that they already know, waiting for discipline issues with other students to be resolved or by riding the bus for almost two hours a day.
*We get to read real books together.  I am not a player or a crafty mom, but I love to read and this is one great way for us to spend time together.
*We can encourage their strengths and invest time in their interests.
*We'll have time to teach them about adult life: cooking, doing laundry, balancing checkbooks, and caring for their younger siblings.
*Finally, we can strengthen family relationships through all of that time playing and problem-solving together. 

I am seeing the most benefits in my peace, their ability to play together and reading levels.  It is not easy, though contrary to popular concern, socialization is not a big issue.  The idea of public school is so ingrained into us that we believe that children learn to behave like adults by modeling on a large class of their peers.  Last I knew, apprentice electricians still learn under journeyman electricians to wire a house.  So, apprentice adults should learn how to be an adult by learning from adults.

One person said to me that my children shouldn't be homeschooled because they need to know how to function in the real world and that the trials of junior high and high school will teach them through those hard knocks.  Again, the real world is generally not a group of peers.  My husband's coworkers range from twenty years older than him to  ten years younger than him.  Wouldn't he have been better served learning and interacting with a wide age range of students in his formative years - such as a homeschool group and mentor parents or adults?

Anyway, the hard is not the social.  The hard part for me is making sure that that social does not overtake the learning!  I've had to really organize my time and days in order make time for learning and preschoolers and baby snuggling and time for myself to read and write.  Yes, I've sacrificed, but mainly time on Facebook!  Seven weeks in and it is worth it.

I know that hard times will come and that is why I've written out my list to remind myself why our family has chosen this lifestyle.  I'm sure I'll need to read it again.      

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Snow in September

We had a ninety degree day this past week, but last week, we had our first snow of the season. As the fluffy stuff piled up and gardens froze, my Facebook newsreel was awash with white. This is a natural reaction to snow in September, even in the West, but the day was September 11th.

I realized once again that any tragedy eventually becomes old news. On a day that is normally reserved for moving posts about where we were that day (I was on Capitol Hill) and heart-felt remembrances, we were consumed with the precipitation on our decks.

I actually don't think this is a bad thing. Like most people, I have had tragedy in my life - the kind that punches you in the stomach whenever you wake up. It is a relief to know that the immediate can eventually consume death, destruction and terror.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Writing Again

After a two-kid hiatus, it is time for me to start writing again. I have nine minutes left of mandatory quiet time. Only one child naps anymore, so this time essentially means - let me be quiet. Stay in your rooms and don't talk to me. Now eight minutes to say why I've decided to write again. I took a short road trip last Friday and the drive was so beautiful. I had some time to think while the munchkins enjoyed the generally restricted DVD player. My life is beautiful too, but it doesn't seem like it in the middle of it. You know how you can be reading a passage in a book about someone's typical day and it seems fascinating because it is an intimate look at someone else's humdrum? Well (four minutes left), when I write about my life, it seems beautiful again. I can be on the outside, look in, and appreciate what is not apparent to the protagonist, only the reader. I need to write and then read my own life to appreciate it. So perhaps these are letters to myself and no one else. You are welcome to read them though as I start writing again. 2:30 - Time's up.