Friday, July 31, 2009

VBS: an Encouragement to Homeschool

There are a few questions that, if I had been paid a dollar for each time I was asked them, would have made me very rich by now. I’m sure you’ve heard the same: “Are you certified to teach?” “What about socialization?” “What about Physics?” “You’ll send them to real school at some point, right?” and if you have a larger family “Are they ALL yours?”

But the real money-makers for me would be “You must be so organized” and “You must have the patience of a saint”.


Now, you are welcome to come to my house someday and see my snazzy bookshelves where the books are ordered by subject. You can see my attractive baskets, one holding all things adhesive, one holding all things that cut, and one holding all things that mom isn’t sure what to do with or how to categorize. We live by what we call “a flexible schedule” which means our days have a rhythm and an order, but with the freedom to stop for the diaper changes, the runny noses, and the unexpected friend dropping in for tea.

Sounds pretty organized to me.

Then comes VBS. You know, really, this is my worst nightmare. I have to allow myself to see my kids enjoy being taught by someone way cooler, significantly younger, doing messy paint-water-glitter-glue-sand-and-playdough crafts that, clearly, have no place in my home. To feel the pressure to live up to all that fun and frivolity come September is, in a word or two, painfully humbling. And totally unrealistic, but I digress.

But that ain’t the worst part, sister......

Please read the rest of my article here at Heart of the Matter Online, a great magazine/blog/brilliant amount of information site for homeschoolers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

It is WAY past my bedtime but I do want to post this before Wednesday is over. So, here is this week's video.

Not much needs to say about it really except that when I first heard this song as a young girl I remember thinking she was SO BRAVE to do a song like this. Her voice is really pretty fantastic, and anyone who is willing to stick herself out so bare and vulnerable vocally like this gets a big thumbs up in my books.

Love this song. Love this original better than the remix (although it was great too).

Suzanne Vega (remember her?)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy New Year!

I don't know about you, but September is so much more the beginning of the year than January in my books. And August is the time to be planning on New Year's Resolutions. Mind you it is only July, so let's just take a moment to sit in awe of my outstanding ability to set goals and plan ahead.


Now that I've wiped the tears out of my eyes and stopped laughing, let me continue.

Every school year in our home, as it approaches, is carefully considered and planned. I typically use June to plan for September, but this year was a little cluttered in May and June, so now we are planning for September in August. Which makes me feel a bit behind the eight ball. But it also means all my enthusiasm for planning (which I truly really love doing) will be immediately realized as I get to act on my grand intentions sooner than later.

And don't we homeschoolers all have grand intentions for the fall? I'm sure this is universal, but let me speak about what I know right now. Here's what I imagine my 2009-2010 school year to look like:

Each morning I will wake at 5am to exercise and have time for Bible reading and prayer. I will dress and do hair and makeup as if I were going out with friends so that I feel like a 'real teacher' with a 'real job' (and then hopefully act like it!). Our schedule will keep us running like a well-oiled machine, completing 7 subjects everyday, in addition to some outside play time, out-loud reading with mom, and some messy crafts.

Each night I will put a Crock Pot of soup on for lunch the next day, and I'll involve the kids in supper meal prep and menu selection.

And all of this will magically fit around regular housework, spontaneous visits with friends, children who may not be feeling well some days, toilet training, and errands to run.

Plus, I'll be constantly at peace and full of gracious speech and patient demeaner, because I started my day with prayer.


Ya. Right.

Wow. So seriously, how do we not feel like a colossal pile of failure when we set that kind of beautiful, appropriate, worthwhile, godly goal sheet ahead of us and find that we really can't do it, just like that,

Step 1: Go into September with High Goals and Big Plans (that have come out of some serious time of listening and praying). There is nothing wrong with shooting high and hoping for the Ultimate Best. God has big, beautiful plans for my family. I need to seek those out and as He shows me, have the faith to walk in them. He never calls us to more than we can handle, and He always give us enough time in the day to do what HE calls us to do (there will be a post specifically on that soon. Something I need to continually remind myself of).

Step 2: Stop Being a Lazy Pessimist (okay, talking to myself now). I have a fairly bad case of Eeyore Syndrome (or Puddleglum if you prefer Narnia to Winnie the Pooh). You know what I mean right? "Well, I guess we can try it. I'm sure it won't work and we'll probably look like fools trying, but we can use our abyssmal failure to teach us a lesson about keeping our heads out of the clouds. In fact, the fear of that kind of train wreck of a day makes me want to pour a tea and just sit with a baby on my lap all day. Let's do that instead." Ya. Barbara, stop doing that.

Step 3: Realize you probably can't do the new Goal totally perfectly (but that isn't lazy pessimism, that's just realism in a fallen world; and being ready to give myself the freedom to fail).

Step 4: Enjoy not only the Successful End Result, but also the Trying along the way, seeing that sometimes Plan A (as good as it was) needs to give way to Plan B (which is sometimes better anyway).

All in all I intend this coming school year to be fabulous. I love homeschooling my kids. I love planning and preparing and teaching. I love being here to watch them learn and grow. I love seeing them struggle with something until one day that light goes on and it is smooth sailing in that subject again. Love my job. And I do intend to be more committed to my schedule and routine. I plan on having a whole lot more done the night before so that tomorrow is smoother. This is all really good stuff.

I do also pray that the Lord would give me the grace for myself that He has given me for my kids. Do I expect they get long division the first time? What about spelling rules? Do I freak out and label them failures because they forget to double the consonants before the suffix? No, of course not. They have time and freedom to get it right and to work it out. Same with me. This year, mom gets to give herself a little space. Just because we have a few days of messed up scheduling doesn't mean I'm a total write-off in the homemaking department.

So my New Year's Resolution? Look to Jesus.

What? Where did that come from? Well, He is the One who has written my life story so He knows what is coming up this year. I should maybe ask Him to guide me through what is around the corner, don't you think? Plus, the Bible says that I can do all things through HIM who gives me strength. Not through the perfectly written schedule. Not through sheer determination and self-talk junk. Nope. Through Him, and His Spirit living in me. And when I make a mess of my day and have not enough grace for the kids or for myself, He is the one who makes restoration possible between any relationship that has been wounded. And finally, any successes I do have, if they aren't done to further His Kingdom, and to make me and others more like Him, then I have missed the point and it is all for naught.

So, I'm going to Look to Jesus. That's my plan for 2009-2010. How about you?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

I love the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance". Sad for me, I don't have cable. Nor do I have rabbit ears, so I only live vicariously through people who tell me what happened, or I search it on YouTube when I'm feeling really pathetic. My dear friend Melissa sent me a link to an unbelievable recent dance. It left me in tears. Stunning. But even if the dance had been mediocre, I likely would have been moved because of the song choice. Man alive. This woman can SING. She can write lyric too. Wow. On her iTunes bio it says that she is a self-taught singer songwriter. I'm taking that at face value and assuming she has never had a lesson or a degree or a whatever in voice. Not sure if that is a comfort because then even a hack like me has potential with alot of effort, or if it is a real devastation because, seriously, who is just naturally born with that much talent? (now that, my friends, was a run on sentence. Go try and parse it if you like, but I assure you, it is bad grammar. As is this paranthetical interjection....I digress).

So without further ado: Sara Bareilles singing Gravity.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

True Love

What a song of rejoicing! What a song of hope!

I am blessed and moved by this song each time I hear it. Especially this paired down version with the Body of Christ joining in with one voice to celebrate the one, True Love that Christ poured out for us.

Phil Wickham (an artist you should really go listen to a whole lot of) singing True Love.

Come close listen to the story
About a love more faithful than the morning
The Father gave His only Son just to save us

The earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt the Father's Broken Heart
Tears were filling Heaven's Eyes
The day that True Love died, the day that True Love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn't move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that True Love died, The day that True Love died

Search your heart you know you can't deny it
Come on, lose your life just so you can find it
The Father gave His only Son just to save us

The Earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt The Fathers broken heart
Tears were filling Heaven's Eyes
The day that True Love died, the day that True Love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn't move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that True Love died, The day that True Love died

Now, Jesus is alive

Jesus is alive
Jesus is alive
Jesus is alive
Jesus is alive
Oh, He is alive
He rose again

When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn't move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that True Love died, The day that True Love died

Come close listen to the story

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Really really cannot get this song out of my head. She is such a stunning vocalist. Her slight accent just kills me. And the lyric is lovely. This is from a movie that I highly recommend (for those of you who can handle a fair chunk of cursing). "Once" is the title of the film and I found it highly encouraging and inspiring. If for no other reason than to find out that music like this exists. I first watched it nearly 6 months ago and still have a few of the tracks rolling around in my head and passing through my lips while I wash the dishes after supper. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Who knew that Pixar could bring me to my knees in prayer and thanksgiving, speaking a Word of reminder and purpose and encouragement to my weary heart?

We took the kids to see "Up" on Canada Day. Yes, that's right. All 7. I'm sure the folks near by wondered if they would survive the film when we walked in, or if they'd be able to hear anything over the noise of our raucous bunch. Little do they know that when you don't give your kids a whole lot of Tube Time, when you do sit them in front of something, they sit. And listen.

Except of course for the 6 year old who at one point nearly screamed "I'm scared because this is scary!" That was a bit distracting.

Regardless, despite my friend Bethany saying that she welled up with tears in "Up", I came unprepared. I, too, found myself with lump in throat within minutes of the opening scenes. And several times in the middle too.

I did mention this is by Pixar, right? Animation? Yup. Real tear-jerky. Or at least, you wouldn't expect it to be. But they told a story. A real, moral tale. Quite lovely.

Without wrecking the whole movie for those of you who have yet to see it, let me just say this: it is a movie about following dreams and pursuing adventure.

Now hear me: I am not one to say "follow your heart" or "be true to yourself" or "listen to your feelings" because I know the heart is deceitful above all else (Jer.17) and have found that to be true in many cases in my life, as I have followed after what "felt right" and been nearly irreversibly damaged by it.

Still, we all will agree that at times there burns in our soul a dream or a desire to do something of import. Something memorable. Something that will make a difference.

We know, when we are being reasonable, that we cannot all be gold medal olympians. We cannot all be Nobel Prize winning scientists. We cannot all be Billy Graham. And yet we want our lives to count for something.

Here is what I walked away with from "Up" on that note: sometimes our 'dreams' get absolutely in the way of the most important thing that we have been called to do. Our perceptions of what makes a life count are often wrapped up in all the wrong things. Things that are not of lasting worth. Things that are not truly beneficial after all.

Here is what great landscape the Lord has for me to conquer: 7 children whose hearts are malliable and still humble enough to learn from my husband and I. Will I waste this time chasing some other "big dream" or will I take this most precious, generation, world changing opportunity while it is right in front of me?

And with that comes a mountain to scale: my own selfishness as I seek my own desire and comfort above the joy of serving others by doing the menial tasks of my day. Does laundry and meal making seem like grand Kingdom work? No? Then my heart is in the wrong place and my attitude is one of despising the "least of these".

I want to carefully seek out what tasks the Lord has for me. I may never be a name that generations remember outside of my own family photo albums. I may never be someone noted in history books for making a difference. But I can, today, make a difference in the lives of 7 children and one wonderful husband, and in whatever opportunities to serve in my church and community may come up.

Lord, I pray that you would make me faithful in the little things before I expect to be used in the "great" things, knowing that the little things often are the great things in your eyes. And help me to remember that these busy years of parenting will vanish far quicker than I know, and then I will have years of "retirement" to work for You and to serve Your kingdom in ways I am unable now.

I wish I could find a video to go with this, but for now I hope these lyrics speak to you about what I am fumbling to express.

Kingdom Comes
by Sara Groves
When anger fills your heart
When in your pain and hurt
You find the strength to stop
You bless instead of curse

When doubting floods your soul
Though all things feel unjust
You open up your heart
You find a way to trust

That's a little stone that's a little mortar
That's a little seed that's a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom's coming

When fear engulfs your mind
Says you protect your own
You still extend your hand
You open up your home

When sorrow fills your life
When in your grief and pain
You choose again to rise
You choose to bless the name

That's a little stone that's a little mortar
That's a little seed that's a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom's coming

In the mundane tasks of living
In the pouring out and giving
In the waking up and trying
In the laying down and dying

That's a little stone that's a little mortar
That's a little seed that's a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom's coming

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Happy Dominion Day! Let's celebrate some Wow-ful Canadian Women today shall we?

Let's start off patriotic and emotional and overwhelmed with happy happy. Gotta love a Gold Medal Olympic Moment.

And this Wow-ful woman is highlighting her wow-ful man. Do you remember this from CBC TV commercials? Seriously, instantly takes me back to my days in Selkirk, Manitoba.

But on a more "Dominion" note, I will end here. This is my prayer for our cities, and our nation. Happy Canada Day! (I know they aren't Canadian, but Commonwealth counts, right?)