Friday, August 26, 2016

My Baby's Not a Baby Anymore : Turning 18

Last weekend was my baby's 18th birthday.

Shake my head.

My husband, daughter, and I threw him a surprise birthday cook-out at camp, with about 40 of his and our friends. He was surprised!  Which is often a challenge!  It was hot & humid, but still fun! I was too busy to take pictures. 

He is awesome. Amazing. Handsome. Funny. Affectionate.  Competitive. Forgetful. Unorganized. Wonderful.

I use similar adjectives to describe all five of my kids.  I adore them all.

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Our Last First Day of School

Reality is setting in, as we embark on my youngest child's senior year of high school.  As much as I said I wouldn't do this, I am marking the "lasts".   Monday was the last first day of school for our homeschool, Cornerstone Academy.  My husband was the one who said it to my face, as I frantically stuck my fingers in my ears, chanting "La la la la la!  I can't hear you!"

"I don't want to make you sad, but do you realize that this is our last "first day of school" ever?"

Oh honey.  Do I realize?  I've been doing nothing but realizing... I've been shoving those realizations down and trying to stuff them back into the box of denial for at least a year.  I've been gazing at my 6'2" baby and blinking back tears.  I've been swallowing around a bowling ball lodged in my throat while sitting in an empty house all summer while he and his sister have worked overnight summer camp, because I know this will be my new normal all too soon.  I have helped my second youngest move into her first post-college apartment, smiling as my insides crumble, because her bed and wall decorations and clothes and stuff are gone from her bedroom now.  The girls' room isn't the girls' room any more - although it will forever be the girls' room.  I have nearly broken down in the grocery store, realizing that a gallon of milk is too much to buy, and reaching for the 1/2 gallon instead. I feel like a crazy person.
Oh honey.  I realize.

I belong to the "school starts after Labor Day" crowd, but the local community college does not. So Jason started his 3 community college classes this week, and I'm still pulling together my plans for his other classes, that will start when they are supposed to start - after Labor Day.  He is taking Writing, Statistics and Spanish at the C.C., so this week he was up and out of the house by 8:30am every morning. This is a big adjustment for the boy who likes to sleep until 11:00am!  I only had to rouse him one of those mornings, when he apparently slept through his alarm.  Not too bad.
I have helped him figure out the online aspect of his classes, which use Moodle and MyStatLab and  Composition Connection for submitting homework, class announcements, etc.  Such a different world from even when my  oldest started college!  I've stroooongly suggested that he use an actual, hold-it-in-your-hand, paper weekly planner to mark down all his homework deadlines, quiz and test dates, project deadlines, etc., since he is a person who NEEDS visual reminders.  I think I'm going to have to go out and buy that planner today and put it into his hands and sit down with him as he fills it in.   He may be turning 18 tomorrow and nearly a grown up and about to fly the coop, but I still have a job to do, and that is to help him gather the tools to be successful when he DOES leave home.  Yes, I still have this job... for a few more months.

It's a whole new world. There is a lot of "letting go" happening around here.  I can see that this is a process and am grateful that the Lord has given me friends and a homeschool community to walk through this with.  Several moms in our homeschool support group have formed an "Empty Nest Survival" group on Facebook, to give us a place  to commiserate and support one another, knowing we are all going through something similar.  My husband is being supportive, he really is, but I can tell he is a bit bewildered by the intensity of my emotions.  He doesn't quite know what to do when I say, "I am NOT okay right now!"   My girlfriends know that I need chocolate and a bottle of wine and a chance to talk it out and possibly even a good cry.

I know God will be revealing the next thing for me, as this year goes on. But I will still be marking the "lasts" and grieving a season of motherhood that is ending, while looking forward to new good things ahead.

*** this post as well as others are linked at  Weekly Wrap Ups at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Jesus Feeds the 5000 for Homeschool Moms

Have you ever found yourself reading a very familiar passage, a well-known story in the Bible, and suddenly God illuminates the page?  Suddenly the words take on a whole new meaning, even though you've read them a dozen times before?! 

In all 4 Gospels -  Matthew 14:13-21;  Mark 6:30-44;  Luke 9:10-17; John  6: 1-15   - we find the story of Jesus feeding the 5000.

This is a story for you,  homeschool moms!

Matthew 14:13-21

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; iyou give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

So, I imagine it going something like this:

[Disciples}  Hi... Jesus. Ummmm. I don't know if you've noticed but { tapping watch )  it's getting kind of late.  It's been a long day;  I think it's time to tell  these people to go back home for dinner. I know we're getting kind of hungry and could use a little rest....

[ Jesus ]  No, they don't have to go home.  You feed them.

[ Disciple ]  What?

[ Jesus ]  You do it.  You feed them.

[ Disciple ]  With what?!  There have to be at least 5000 men here, never mind all the women and children with them!  We don't have anything to feed them with!  It would take ,  I don't know....  8 months wages to buy enough food for all these people.   I mean,  we have ... like 1, 2, 3, ... 4, 5,  loaves of bread and a couple of fish!

[Jesus]   Bring that here to me.

[ Disciple ]   What?

[ Jesus ]   Bring me that little bit of food you have there. 

                        Jesus gives thanks and blesses the food.

[ Jesus]  Okay, here, now take it and feed them.

[ Disciple ]  What? 
But... but.... how?  There is still only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.... and all those people look really hungry!   I don't understand. This is just an IMPOSSIBLE thing you are asking us to do!

[ Jesus ]   Trust Me.

Verse 20  : They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Now, we are going to change the characters a little.

[ Mom ]  You know, this has been great. But she's school-age now sooooo..... it's time to send her off to school.  I'll miss the little booger, but... well, she'll be fine.  Right?  I'm sure the teachers are great and she'll make lots of friends and....

[ Jesus ]   Don't send her away.  You do it.

[ Mom ]  Wait.  What?

[Jesus ]  Keep her home with you and homeschool her.

[ Mom]  Hahaha!  Me?  I don't know how to do that.   I'm not patient enough for that.... or smart enough... or creative enough.  Never mind that we don't have a lot of money and I was thinking of going back to my old job...   no. really.  There's no way.  I'm not equipped for that.

[ Jesus ]  Bring me what you have.

[ Mom] what?

[Jesus]  I know all those things about you.   Bring me the little that you have.

                                   Jesus gives thanks and blesses her.

[Jesus]  Okay, now you're ready.

[ Mom]   But nothing has changed!  I'm still unorganized, stretched thin, tired, poor.... how will this work?  Where do I get curriculum?  How do I know what to teach?  What if I ruin my kids?  What will my mother say?

[Jesus]  Trust me.    
Take a deep breath.   
Take baby steps.  
I have placed helpers around you.   
You have more resources at your disposal than you even know.   
This isn't about how much you are bringing to the table, but about how I can bless and multiply what you have when you give it to me and TRUST ME.... and then step out in faith.  We'll do this together .... side by side.

Do you know what my favorite part of that story is?  The 12 basketfuls of broken pieces gathered up at the end.  

Jesus didn't just provide enough.  He didn't JUST satisfy.  He provided ABUNDANTLY.  MORE THAN ENOUGH.   MORE THAN THEY COULD EVER ASK OR IMAGINE!

The people were well-fed.  Your children will be well-educated, in line with the unique gifts and abilities God has placed in them. 

Jesus cared about the hungry people, and he cares about your children.  But think about this.  He could have said to the disciples, "Sit back and watch what I can do!" and just had the food appear.  But instead he said, "You do it", and he handed the food TO the disciples and THEY gave it to the people.  Why?   Because the real blessing was as much for them as for the hungry people.   The people really had no idea that there was so little food to begin with...but the disciples...

No, they didn't just WITNESS a miracle,  they TOOK PART in a miracle.  God used them and the little bit of lunch they had, and made a feast for thousands and thousands of people!  

Just as he can use you and the little bit of knowledge, organization skills, patience, desire, time, money, space that you have and multiply it in ways you cannot imagine. 

Prayer -   Father, thank you for your Word, which shows us so clearly that you are ready and able to provide ABUNDANTLY for our children, for our families, if we will just set aside fear, set aside disbelief and uncertainty, give thanks for what we DO have, and  trust you.  We are thankful for the freedom that we have to homeschool. We are thankful for the freedom that we have to read your Word and pray together and encourage one another. We are thankful for the families you have blessed us with, for the friends you have placed in our lives, for the abundance of resources all around us, for the many good gifts we enjoy each and every day.  We pray in the name of Jesus our Savior.  Amen