Friday, November 28, 2008

The Inadequate Homeschooler

Dana, over at Principled Discovery, recently had a post titled "A Homeschooler's Guide to Unhappiness". In the spirit of "misery loves company", she shared several of the pitfalls that are common to homeschool moms, suggesting that they are fueled primarily by feelings of inadequacy!
These would include things like:

  • trying to recreate a school classroom experience in your home
  • choosing curriculum based on what is most popular or what that "ideal homeschool mom" is using
  • zealously separating "school and educational experiences" from real life in your family
  • assuming that everything that goes wrong, or every flaw you see in your child's training or character, is the fault of his or her being homeschooled
If you have homeschooled for any length of time, then I'm sure you could add to this list. How about:
  • insistence on complete mastery of every lesson in every subject for every child
  • signing up for every class, field trip, club, sport, etc. so your child won't be "unsocialized"
  • OR withdrawing from all interaction with other people because of potential negative influences on our children
  • ignoring the benefits and encouragement that come from networking with other homeschooling parents, either locally or in online communities, and being a "lone ranger"
  • assuming that everyone else does this homeschooling thing perfectly, and you alone are a failure at discipline... lesson planning... discipleship...record keeping...parenting teens...etc.
Feel free to chime in....

We live in a society that reveres experts. We need experts to paint our homes, fix our cars, plan our menus, file our taxes, cut our hair, decorate our rooms, plan our weddings, fertilize our lawns, and groom our dogs.

People today seem to feel inadequate for just about everything - just look at the self-help section of the nearest book store! There are books to teach us how to stimulate the minds of our toddlers, keep our children from getting fat, talk to to our teens about sex, and get our kids into the best colleges. We read books telling us how to read the Bible. We listen to radio programs telling us how to manage our money. We watch TV shows telling us how to dress stylishly. We look to "experts" to tell us how to have a good marriage or be a good parent. Of course, only a trained expert could possibly raise and educate a child properly. Right?


If we go back about, oh, maybe 50 years, I think we'd find that all these things (and a good many more ) were handled at home ... by a "regular person".... who didn't have a whole lot of specialized training, but maybe had helped his or her mom or dad do those things in the past, or maybe even figured things out on their own. There was something called "the pioneer spirit", which caused people to believe that they could do things they had never done before... and succeed...even overcoming extreme difficulties and obstacles to do so!

How often does fear cause us to hand over the most important things in our lives to others, because they can "do it better"? Feelings of inadequacy can cripple us. They can cause us to cave in under pressure. They can distort reality.

It is also possible for feelings of inadequacy to be a blessing when they drive us into a greater dependence on God, our Creator!
Pastor Charles Stanley has an article called "Inadequacy: A Barrier or a Blessing?" that explores this very thing.

I am an Inadequate Homeschooler. But I rejoice that I have the Holy Spirit living within me, who gives me the power to do all that God would have me accomplish. I do not have to rely on my own feeble strength.

Ephesians 3:16-21
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Donate to Salvation Army this Holiday Season

Do you have people in your family who are hard to buy gifts for? Why not make a donation to a worthy charity and then write them a nice note letting them know what you have done in their honor? I bet they'll be pleased.

Personal fundraising widget for 2008 Red Kettle campaign

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tech Trouble and Interesting Article on the Election

I love history, and reading about life in days gone by. "Little House on the Prairie" seems so simple and nostalgic. But I really like my modern tools and conveniences! I am in no way inclined to give up my vehicle, my KitchenAid mixer or microwave, my washer & dryer, my internet connection.... you get the idea. But this week I am SUFFERING through a broken computer AND a busted cell phone. Agh! The family desktop computer has been limping along for several months now, with apparent difficulties in the start-up mode and a propensity to just freeze or shut down at random moments. Now it won't start up at all. And my cell phone has suddenly lost the ability to power on, even though fully charged. Since Amanda and I share that phone, and both depend on that desktop for many things during the day ( I didn't realize how MANY things!), we are feeling very deprived and isolated - and are both waiting at the door for poor Mark when he comes home from work at night, not to greet him with slippers and a nice hot dinner, but to grab his laptop and run!

So as I'm quickly scanning headlines and emails this morning before Mark takes his computer to work with him ( good thing I get up early!), I read an interesting article by Reb Bradley on World Net Daily - Conservatives for Obama?
In it, Mr. Bradley expresses a theory as to why so many professing Christians and conservatives voted for Barack Obama in this election. He
attributes this to the fact that Obama won people's hearts, because we as a people have become ruled by emotion and feeling and passions rather than by reason and constraint. We live in a culture that prizes self-gratification and self-indulgence and actively avoids the suffering of consequences, at both a personal and corporate level.
Interesting perspective. What do you think?


Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm Sleeping With Darth Vader!

Mark got his CPAP machine yesterday!

CPAP = Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

A couple of weeks ago, Mark went to the doctor for a minor ailment, and happened to mention that he was TIRED all the time. The doctor asked a couple of questions, and decided to send him for a sleep
analysis at a local "sleep lab". Up until this time, I didn't know such a thing existed! Well, he went for an overnight evaluation, where he was wired up to electrodes and sensors while he slept, and the results indicated that he does indeed have sleep apnea! I am a pretty light sleeper, and for years I have heard him hold his breath at night, at which time I would poke him in the ribs and tell him to "Breathe!" But who knew there was a real medical treatment for that?

The CPAP machine is about the size of a shoebox. A flexible hose connects the machine to clear plastic face mask that covers the nose and mouth, and straps around the head. It works by pushing air into th
e airway at a pre-set pressure, determined by the respiratory technician at the lab, in order to keep the airway open and prevent apnea ( episodes when breathing repeatedly starts and stops).

Mark is SO excited about the possibility of not feeling tired! He said he feels as if his head is in a fog half the time. He is usually fine in the morning, but by mid-afternoon he really starts to drag, and generally falls asleep on the couch every day after work. The doctor described a whole list
of conditions that could be related to sleep deprivation and sleep apnea, so "the machine" is very welcome. But it is kind of "space-age" to get into bed with someone wearing a face mask connected by a long tube to a machine that is humming along - not loudly - sounds pretty much like a humidifier running. When he talks while wearing the mask, he sounds like Darth Vader....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remember and Say Thank You

Alex was just home for a long weekend visit! He is a 2nd Lt. in US Army, stationed at Fort Hood, TX. Here he is, hanging out with an Army buddy.

Sarah and Eric both came home from college for the weekend, so the whole family could hang out together.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Creative Gift Giving - Part I

Although I intend to savor the sights and smells of Autumn for as long as possible, I do recognize the need to start planning a little bit early for Christmas gift-giving. Here are some gift basket ideas from Craft Central Station that are clever, economical, fairly simple, and thoughtful:

Keep In Touch basket ( in a square basket )
  • note cards
  • envelopes
  • nice pens
  • stamps
  • letter opener
  • personalized seal and sealing wax
  • personalized return address labels
Crafter basket (in a plastic storage container with a lid )
  • glue gun & glue sticks
  • tubes of acrylic paint
  • assorted paint brushes
  • assorted craft supplies - beads, buttons, pompoms, stickers, etc.
  • craft how-to book
Dog-lover basket (in a lg dog bowl )
  • squeaky toy
  • dog collar
  • dog biscuits
  • dog brush
  • acrylic dog bone
Baseball Lover basket ( in a baseball cap )
  • baseball trading cards
  • batting gloves
  • baseball
  • chewing gum
  • glove oil
  • baseball video
Car Care basket (in a plastic bucket)
  • chamois
  • squeegee
  • tire pressure guage
  • ice scraper
  • quart of oil
  • car wash coupons
Gardener basket ( in a flower pot )
  • garden gloves
  • hand trowel and rake
  • bottle of liquid fertilizer
  • Gardening magazine
Relaxation Basket
Nostalgic Childhood Basket
  • a classic children's storybook
  • packets of hot chocolate
  • stick candy
  • a teddy bear
  • a coloring book & crayons
  • a potholder loom and colored loops
  • a Slinky
Workout Basket ( in a sport bag )
  • pedometer
  • water bottle
  • shoelaces
  • sports socks
  • sweatband
  • Power bars
  • jump rope

Thursday, November 6, 2008

First Christmas Purchase of the Year and Online Shopping

Well, I did it. I placed my first mail order of this Christmas season! I am not a Christmas in July kind of person. I really dislike focusing on Christmas before the leaves even start turning color! But I also HATE to shop, and prefer to do as much as possible by mail, which means thinking at least a little bit ahead.

Some of my favorite online shops are:
Don't forget homeschool businesses when shopping for Christmas gifts. Rather than trendy fads from the discount store toy aisle, buy enduring, educational items with real play value!
  • Home Science Tools - science kits, butterfly garden, binoculars, telescope, weather station, magnets, robot kits, K'nex, books
  • Miller Pads and Paper - paint sets, flesh tone colored pencils,watercolor pencils, scrapbooking paper, art kits, clay, etc.
  • Vision Forum - wooden pop gun, leather cowboy hat, spy kit, replica swords, tri-corner hat, Continental soldier's drum, toy knights and castle, wicker doll carriage, silver tea set, Beautiful Girlhood dolls, play tepee
  • Keepers of the Faith - kits and books for learning skills such as sewing, cake decorating, quilling, woodburning, leatherworking, latchhooking, etc.
  • Great Homeschool T shirts - you guessed it! homeschool t shirts and sweats and tote bags
  • Hands & Hearts - Aristoplay games, Lauri puzzles, hands-on history kits, Color & Learn coloring books
You can also support worthy causes:
  • AHOPE for Children - purchase tshirts, hoodies, silver jewelry, coffee,& cards and help care for orphans with HIV in Ethiopia
Leave a comment to tell us about your favorite place to shop online.


Challenge for Unity

Thank you to my friend Renee for pointing me to Beth Moore's Living Proof Ministries blog this morning. Beth is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher extraordinaire. She issued a challenge to Believers to do the following:
  • pray faithfully for the president-elect, his wife, and daughters , 1Timothy 2:1-4
  • actively pursue unity and purity in the Body of Christ, and to have ZERO tolerance for prejudice of any kind; a united house stands, but a divided house falls, Matthew 12:25
  • to reflect the character of Christ through our response to people - how we speak, how we act, what we print on our blogs...
  • to stand Shoulder to Shoulder with other Believers to resist the devil and to serve the Lord wholeheartedly!

"Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve Him shoulder to shoulder." Zephaniah 3:9

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peaceloving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." James 3: 13-18

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After...

Well, I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone who reads this that I was profoundly disappointed by the election results last night. Not surprised. But disappointed all the same. There are a few issues that cause me serious concern when contemplating an Obama presidency - the well-being of our troops and the ability of our nation to combat terrorism; the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; Supreme Court Justice nominees. There are so many more.


As I watched the celebrating crowds listening to Obama's victory speech, I was struck by the emotion that was more than gleeful gloating and "we beat them" exhiliration. I saw Joy. I saw relief. I saw tears of gladness. I started to feel compassion for these people, who have pinned so many
hopes and dreams and expectations on the shoulders of this man. And I started to feel sorry for them, because I believe they will be disappointed. Not because Barack Obama doesn't have the ability to be a good leader. But because he is not perfect. He isn't "The One" that they REALLY need. He is human and will fall short. There is only one real Messiah, and he wasn't born in Hawaii ( or Kenya, depending on which version you believe)

The nosedive of the Republican Party has for me illuminated the fact that we cannot look to any politician or party or human government for our happiness and security. We must look beyond our present circumstances, whatever they might be, and place our trust and hope in Christ and Christ alone! He will never change; he will never forsake us; he will never disappoint us.

I do believe that we are to do what we can, through our participation in the institutions that exist, to establish good government that will protect us and allow us to live in peace. But no matter who is in power, we must continue to love our neighbor as ourself, to reach out to the poor and downtrodden, to teach and disciple our children, to live humbly, to be a light in the darkness as passionate followers of the living Christ. So in that respect, today is no different than yesterday.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Unexpected Blessings

We got a phone call from Alex this evening, telling us that he had 4 days off this weekend for the Veterans Day holiday and he was booking a flight home from TX! Woo Hoo! I promised him homemade apple pie, so I better get baking!
The cool thing is, we immediately called Sarah and Eric at college to let them know that their brother was coming home, and they both changed their weekend plans and are coming home too! Both had friends from Raleigh driving out to Boone this weekend, but they called them to tell them to stay put - that they'd be coming here instead! How awesome is that? I feel blessed beyond measure, that my children have such a close relationship. And I CANNOT WAIT to have all 7 of us under the same roof, even for a day! Yes, I know, I'm a sap. Completely and unapologetically. I love my family.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fear Not Party 08

Last night was our 2nd annual Fear Not Party! Well, not exactly annual, since our 1st one was two years ago, and we skipped last year. Since Halloween fell on a Wednesday night in 2007, most people we know had church activities ( you understand this if you are Baptist or live in the South). But my youngest son begged me to plan another party this year, because the first one was SO much fun! So it WILL be an annual event from this point forward!
What is a Fear Not Party? It is an idea I got from an article on, about a book called Redeeming Halloween.
I have always been uncomfortable with the scary, spooky, gruesome, shocking and demonic elements of Halloween. So for years we have attended fall festivals at various churches, so the kids could dress in costumes, play games, and gather candy. But it never quite felt right, for a few reasons. #1 Most of the time, we knew few if any of the other families in attendance - rather a solitary time in a crowd of people. #2 I dislike crowds of people. #3 It was worrisome to try to keep track of small children while weaving through crowds of people. See #2. and #4
I never felt that the kids really saw the difference between this kind of Halloween celebration and any other kind, even though we talked about it at home. Although they are held at churches, most fall festivals we attended were not God-focused.

So we invited some friends to come to our house from 6:30 - 8:30 on Halloween. The weather was perfect - a clear night, cool and crisp. The children were invited to wear non-scary costumes, and the suggestion was to come as a hero.

We decorated the doorways and deck with white lights and set up a couple of spotlights, so the driveway and part of the yard were well lit. That is where we set up games and tables for carved pumpkins. I also had a table with a pile of plain white gift bags with handles and a box of markers, and the kids decorated and labeled a bag to use for holding their candy.

Everyone brought a bag of candy, and we divided that among the game stations, which were manned by the older kids and a couple of parents.

Our games included the following very elaborate and professionally created {cough} games

  • Bowl over your Fears ( 10 water bottles, 1/4 filled with water and covered with construction paper on which we'd written some common fears, like "Spiders", "Sickness", "the Dark", "War"; a soccer ball to knock the bottles over with)
  • Clobber the Giants in your life( a scarecrow-type figure with a bucket head; the kids try to knock off the head with a tennis ball :-)

  • Widows Mite : Be a cheerful Giver! ( toss pennies into dishes

  • Armor of God Relay ( 2 teams, 1st person in line puts on suit of armor - think aluminum foil and cardboard - and runs around a cone and back; then takes off armor and passes to the next person in line )

  • Come Out Lazarus ( i.e. Toilet Paper Relay; partners - one wraps the other in toilet paper from ankles to neck, and then that person must hop across yard and back

  • Jesus Fed 5000 - and will provide for you too! ( eat donuts off string, no hands allowed )

  • Extinguish the Fiery Darts of the Devil (use squirt gun to put out candle flame)

After playing games for a while, everyone went in the house to get some food - caramel apples, brownies, popcorn, sugar cookies, chips & dip, little bbq hot dogs, pumpkin bars, - and drink - hot chocolate, lemonade, apple cider...

Then it was out backyard, where Mark had a campfire going. Our friend, Mr. Rob, gave a great devotion about the origin of Halloween, and also told the parable of the pumpkin - how our lives are filled with all kinds of yucky stuff called sin - greed, selfishness, disrespect, dishonesty, impatience, anger - just like the pumpkin is filled with slimy guts ( accompanied by hands-on demonstration!). When we accept Christ as our Saviour, God removes all that slimy stuff from inside of us, and replaces it with the Light of the World, Christ in us, his Holy Spirit! Now that Light can shine through us, like a candle in a carved pumpkin,
bringing hope and comfort and love to a dark world.
Finally, the older kids played flashlight tag while the adults helped clean things up. Another great party!

At our first Fear Not Party, we had 12 kids and their parents. This year we had 28 kids. I wish we could have invited ALL our friends! But my little house and yard can only hold so many people! Maybe more of you can plan Fear Not Parties next year, and spread the FUN - and the message!
Joshua 1: 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.