Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Education & Enlightenment in the new Millinium

"How does home schooling educate & enlighten students today vs. our public school system in the 1980's when we were students?"

This question posted on my Facebook status surprised me this morning and I knew it would take more than a normal "comment" to really answer.  First let me begin with a little history, I have been a homeschool Mom for 16 years.  When we started our sweet College Girl (who is entering her senior year in college in just a few days) was 5 and just the right age to begin kindergarten.  She wasn't your average 5 year old because she started reading when she was 3 1/2 (at 5 she was reading Harry Potter) and was doing math on a 3-4th grade level.  She wasn't a prodigy, she had just been in a Montessori school for 2 years.  While we no longer wanted her to attend Montessori we were faced with the dilemma of placing an eager learning child into a classroom learning ABC's , colors and shapes.  She needed more than kindergarten could offer so we decided to try that "homeschool" thing.  We quickly fell in love with the ability to find the curriculum that fit her learning styles, the things that could be "education" and the flexibility for field trips, family visits, etc.

As Melissa and Jessica arrived we became even more firmly planted in the homeschool lifestyle.  It works so well for our family and our children seem to thrive.  I've been asked so many times about socialization, making friends, fitting in, "are you still doing that homeschool thing" because I can't stand being around my kids all the time, do you wear your PJ's every day, etc. so on and so forth.  But I've never been asked how it educates and enlightens today vs. public school in the 80's.  perhaps because I strive to have my children fit in and live with the kids in this millennium.  We do not homeschool to protect our children from "society" or the evils of the public school system.  My kids watch the news with me and we actively discuss and explore current event topics.  They are familiar with the LBGT community, are aware of the abortion debate, they know what GMO's are and love the freshness of raising veggies, we celebrate Christmas AND Halloween.   My kids are well spoken, are confident young people who engage in conversations with people of all ages.  At a recent shooting competition, my 10 year old Jessica walked up to one of the discipline organizing volunteers, stuck out her hand for a handshake, introduced herself and thanked him for his time-they then engaged in a conversation about air pistol with him giving her some pointers.  My college daughter, Anna began participating in classes and activities at our local community college when she was 14.  By 16 she was singing karaoke with them learning first hand the difference between the college kids who didn't drink, had a drink or two and those who drank to stupidity-she learned to drink water and ask for a new drink anytime her drink was left unattended.  She learned that it's not a big deal to call mom or dad for a ride home when your friends have been drinking.  She went on to attend a women's college (her choice not mine) in Missouri where she flawlessly transitioned to college life graduating with her associates degree then transferring to the University of Arkansas where she moved into her own place, paying her own rent while working 2 jobs all the while maintaining a 3.85 gpa.  Melissa loves volleyball and this year asked to "Tim Tebow" into our local junior high where she made the team.  She recently had her first school bus ride and is learning just how 2-faced some girls can be and how to stay neutral-out of the mess!  Her coaches usually commend her for her ability to listen and follow directions which seems is something that seems to be becoming a scarcity.

I would say my kids are better educated because they are so well rounded and are used to spending time playing, communicating, learning and living with a wide variety of ages-not just in a classroom with 20-30 kids who are within a year of their age.  They have projects through 4H, church, shooting club, and volleyball where they are responsible for communicating with peers and adults.  As far as enlightening, I don't think the responsibility for that lies solely on the public school system.   There are plenty of kids we went to school with (me included) who were not "enlightened" about so many things!  I was shocked in college when I learned that there were parties with drinking and carousing in high school-I knew nothing of them.  I was very sheltered and many worldly subjects escaped my radar until I was in college.  So I suppose I would say my kids are more enlightened than I was at their age.

Is our home a typical homeschool?  No.  Through the year finding groups and connecting with people who are not homeschooling for religious reasons has been a struggle.  My God is an awesome God but it's not my ringtone-I strive to live and teach my children to live so that people can see the love (kind of person you are) by the way you act, speak and live. Many homeschoolers are the long hair, skirt wearing, anti-LBGT, anti-Halloween, anti-anyone who doesn't think and believe their cookie cutter brand of Christianity.   We are definitely NOT cookie cutter Christians displayed prominently in media-we are the ones who truly have open doors, open hearts, open minds.  (Disclaimer...We are crazy blessed to be part of a relatively new group here that are largely secular-we all have our religions and our beliefs but everyone plays nicely!  While we don't make it to as many events as we'd like because our schedule is so crazy we love the ones we do make!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

You've got a friend in me....

I'm pretty sure we all have friends.

I'm pretty sure we all have friendships that we have neglected.  Now I don't mean gross negligence like being rude, saying mean things or other less than pleasant actions; I'm talking about just getting so busy with life that we fail to call or contact them for a few weeks and before you know it years have gone by.  Kids have graduated from schools, hair has changed color and maybe you've even gained a few pounds.  You didn't mean to let all that time slide by but somehow life got in the way.

I know first hand how easy it is to let those friendships slide.  It seems my time belongs to everyone else in my life besides me!  Sure I go to volleyball things, run kids to the dance studio, attend 4H meetings and even ladies groups at church; at all those places I have friends.  I know their names and with many of them know their "stories."  Some of them I'd call up to have coffee or lunch but most are just the "smile and wave" kind of friends.  A few months ago I came to the realization that many of my friends who no longer fit into one of the above categories I hadn't seen in ages...some for years.  Sure we do the "like" thing on Facebook and occasionally have a cyber-conversation but we haven't seen one another s actual faces in quite sometime.  I knew that I had to change things so I made a conscious decision to reach out.  No, not just reach out but reach out and follow through.  It's easy to send a text, a Facebook message or post on their wall about missing them but that doesn't really get you anywhere.

There is something refreshing about reconnecting, sitting across the table face-to-face with genuine interest and concern about another human being-one you have known for years.  It's funny how easy the conversations twist and turn then before you know it hours have gone by.  So today, I'm adding a new simple prayer to my list and it is "make me a better friend."  My goal is to at least once a month connect with a friend who is outside my weekly routine-a cup of coffee, the Indian place for lunch or perhaps a simple walk on the Crystal Bridges trails.  So if I don't hit you up for some friend time soon, please give me a shout because I'm missing you, too!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Desperately seeking Shalom at 45

When I was a child, there were two sacred places in our home.  The first was my Mothers green Lazyboy recliner which was next to the east window in our living room with the rock fireplace prominent along one whole wall, shag carpet and fashionable 1970's brick columns.  In the window hung a giant Hoya which would blossom, when you entered the house the smell was almost intoxicating because it was so deliciously sweet.  I wish I had a picture of my Mom in that chair because in my minds eye I can still see her there perched with her bible in her lap and her brown prayer notebook.  Many times when you would see her there, her lips would be silently moving as she prayed deeply over all the names, problems, joys, etc. that were scribbled in her book.  I didn't understand but I accepted that it was who she was.

Some days life would be hectic or there would be something urgent that required even deeper prayer and meditation; it was then she'd head to her closet.  A large walk in closet in the master bathroom (really cool his & hers bathroom-the toilet and shower were in the middle with two doors, one opened to his vanity and closet the other to her vanity and closet).

When Mom was in there praying you knew not to disturb her because I'm convinced she heard the voice of God in that Lazyboy chair and her closet!

I'm not really sure what happened but it seems I've found myself smack-dab in the midst of middle age!  Wow how can I be 45 when the memory is so vivid of when my own parents turned 45.  But here I am, I find my days so full yet I'm left feeling so empty.  There I said it...I feel empty inside so much of the time.  Right in the middle of being a homeschool mom, wife, daughter, Master Gardener, 4H leader, church goer...So today when my Handsome commented that I have a lot of church meetings I was almost overcome, I wanted to somehow let him know exactly how important "church" is to me.  Now don't get me wrong, I adore my Handsome husband, incredible children and the life I have.  I'm crazy blessed to be a part of a really unique congregation and I've gotten more involved.  Leadership meetings, ladies meetings, food deliveries to the pantry...serving others, caring, having a community are all helping me to feel full.  Giving me a sense of purpose and of belonging to something that is making a difference in this world.

You see I'm searching for my sacred place.  The one where I'm not only striving to be the hands and feet of my Jesus but the place where when I talk I can hear Him speak to me as loudly as my Mom always has heard Him.  So Handsome, this one's for you...I hope you understand.  I love you, thank you for letting me search...

Borrowed from therefinersfire.org,

Most know that the Hebrew word shalom is understood around the world to mean "peace." However, "peace" is only one small part of the meaning. "Shalom" is used to both greet people and to bid them farewell, and it means much more than "peace, hello or goodbye"....
Hebrew words go beyond their spoken pronunciation. Each Hebrew word conveys feeling, intent and emotion. Shalom is more then just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony.

According to Strong's Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. In modern Hebrew the obviously related word Shelem means to pay for, and Shulam means to be fully paid.
Of course, there is only one way to find TRUE shalom - and that is in the Word of YHWH. Many search for fulfillment, happiness and contentment in material possessions, money, sex, entertainment, etc. But those things do nothing to fill "that little hole in our soul" that only GOD can fill! Those things only serve to distract and prevent us from finding true peace...the shalom that can only come from Him who created and put all things into place.