Friday, March 20, 2020

Spring dared to return even when everything else was canceled

Many of the blossoms of the tree have blown off and settled just beneath it. The white petals lie on the green grass yet some still cling to the branches. The wind is blowing and pink and purple flowers wave to gray skies.

Even though there have been cancellations, isolations, and empty store shelves, Spring has returned.

Cancelled plans scattered on the lawn, making its own temporary beauty out of deep disappointments. Clinging to the branch of hope that lives will be spared due to the cancellations. While we hunker down and wait for the oncoming storm, there are flowers waving in the wind like Italians singing from their balconies with tambourines and accordions.

Unlike tornadoes that come quickly, this storm is taking a long time to arrive. We wait and wait. How can time seem slow and ever-changing at the same time?

The storm is coming. Another burst of wind, another batch of cancellations. Soon it will be people we know with the virus, maybe even us. In a time when nothing seems certain and everything is changing daily, Spring arrives.

A reminder that there are a few things that remain constant: the seasons, the sun’s rising and setting, and a God who never changes.

May we cling to the hope that doesn’t disappoint: In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade - kept in heaven for you. I Peter 1:3-4

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Six Things I've Learned This Fall

Six Things I've Learned This Fall 

After a three and a half year hiatus, I'm dusting my blog off by joining Emily P. Freeman's Quarterly Link-up about 'Things I've Learned.' The encouragement is to reflect and observe one's life as to gain the most from our experiences. Perhaps these musings will prompt reflections and observations you've gained in your own life. 

1) Mushrooms are key.

Apparently mushrooms are what make the omelette for me. I'd forgotten mushrooms at the store for several weeks; I also had not been motivated to make my morning omelette for weeks. Then one day, I remembered the mushrooms, the next morning I made an omelette. 

Note to self: Keep mushrooms on hand to motivate me to make my high protein breakfast. For a long while I have loved my omelette and coffee with half & half breakfast, knowing I've started my day right. I've enjoyed the ritual of making it and eating it but it lost its luster. Now I know that I'd just lost my mushrooms. 

2) It's easier to cook for three than for six. 

It really cracks me up that this came as a surprise for me! I must admit that I like that the house stays more orderly, that we're staying on top of the laundry, and that we have leftovers in our fridge frequently now that there are only three of us that live here full time.

3) Six people go through more soap and shampoo; not just food.

In other transitional news, apparently six of us go through a lot more soap and shampoo than four or three of us do. This was more difficult for me to adjust to this past summer than the feeding more people part of the summer. Weird, I know. I have no idea why this bothered me so much.

4) Sometimes transitions and change are okay.

I am a pre-griever. As I spend time thinking about upcoming changes, I get sad. So for the two to three weeks before the older three went off to and back to college this fall, I was really sad. During the actual drop-offs, I hugged, prayed and waved. I don't typically cry at good-byes and this was no exception. I felt all the feels for a day or two when we got back. And then I was good. I've been peaceful. I haven't ached or longed for the hustle and bustle of a full house or for the individuals. 

5) A six of us camping trip did put the ache and longing into missing them. 

Missing us. It was so good to be just the six of us. Camping in the cold. We cut wood. Built a fire. Cooked over a camp stove. Hiked. Tossed a frisbee. We reminisced. We talked about current events in our own lives. We connected better than we would have if we'd stayed at home together. This is when I felt the ache and the longing, not during our new day-to-day normal of just three of us. It was so wonderful that I came home and started  planning a summer vacation for just the six of us.

6) Be open to learning. 

The idea for the camping trip came as a result of the parent session at the college drop-off for child number three. The one where the colleges help parents cut the umbilical cord. I had thought to myself, 'Do I really need to go to this?' The answer to that question is yes. Yes, I did. After years of college visits, I was pretty burnt on another academic speech (which are only moderately inspiring or informative at this stage). But it was at this session -- where I thought I had nothing to learn -- that I gained a vision for my role as a mom to college-aged kids: one of my roles is to help us -- the six of us -- stay connected as a family in our adult lives. Hence, the inspiration to make a two day camping trip happen for the two days that their fall breaks overlapped. Note to self: You always have things to learn; be open even when I think that 'I know it all' already. 

What observations and reflections do you have from your own life lately? Share in the comments.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Kindness matters

Last Friday night, our family participated in a contra dance -- or square dancing in a line. It's fun because it involves everyone: young and old, experienced and newbie.

When the dance is about to begin, the caller calls out to find a partner. My husband grabbed my hand for most of the night. Near the end of the evening, my husband noticed that there was a little girl crying because she had wanted to dance but didn't have a partner.

We'd already begun to dance and swung to the steps being called out, but he was distracted because he kept noticing the crying girl. He tried more than once to get the attention of the caller to help her find a partner. But the dance danced on without her.

However, at the end of this particular dance the caller put herself into the circle and begun to lead us all around the room. As we passed by the little girl who had dried her tears, my husband grabbed her hand to include her in this part of the dance that didn't require a partner.

After that song, the next dance was a waltz. One of my daughters wanted to dance with her daddy but I stood my claim as his partner. I wasn't going to miss out on dancing with my husband, but shortly into the dance, a little girl cut right in on our dance.

It was the girl who had been crying because she'd been left out. She began to dance with my husband.
I let her cut in.

I understood. She had been drawn to his kindness.

He had seen her need and reached out in a small, seemingly insignificant way. But it touched her.

Kindness drew her.

Kindness matters even in the smallest ways.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

When memories stir the deep places

On Tuesday night, I walked the halls of an ICU for the first time in a couple of years. It was a different hospital, but the sights, the sounds, the smells and the somberness of the situation were the same. In the beeps and the attentiveness of one-on-one nursing, hope clung tight in spite of the raw thin battle line between life and death.

It stirred the deep places in me. My youngest daughter could sense it as my husband and I headed off to visit a friend this time, instead of my father-in-law. As we dashed off with no real dinner plans for anyone,  the children asked, "How long do you think you will be gone?" We replied, "We don't know."  My youngest daughter said, "Mommy...your emotions..." I didn't let her finish.

There were so many unknowns. We didn't know what we were eating for dinner; we didn't know if we'd be able to see her; we didn't know how she was doing, we didn't know when we'd be home, and I didn't know what my emotions were doing. It was the familiar, but uncomfortable dance of the unknown. Familiar. Accepted. But still uncomfortable.

And so we waited in the halls of the hospital for news, for change, for an update, for good news. Medical crisis teach the good lesson of living with the 'I-don't-knows'. They are also good for bringing friends and family together. Even while life hovers between suffering, hope, and breathing machines, there is laughter, hugs, stories, and reminiscing. The waiting room camaraderie is good for the soul. It is good not to be alone.  

On Tuesday night, not only were we reminded of the somberness of ICU journey from a couple of years ago, we were also reminded of the goodness of the Lord, particularly in the waiting room vigil that was filled with hugs, reunions, laughter, catching-up, and waiting for an opportunity to see our friend. I remembered how God touched us many times by sweet friends showing up at just the right time being His hands and feet.

I remembered how He is good even when it's hard.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Twenty three years ago today

Twenty-three years ago today I arrived in Tennessee in my shiny, bright, blue Toyota Tercel, loaded with most of my worldly goods.

I drove up a big hill and unpacked my belongings into Jill & Jane's place, where I lived for my first month in Tennessee. I secured an apartment for Tammy & I; we had mutual friends and had spoken on the phone. Our mutual friends said we had met at a retreat during college, but on that July summer day when Tammy opened the door to our apartment, we both agreed that we had never seen each other before that moment. A month later, Suzanne would join our apartment, making it a trio.

A year after I arrived in Tennessee, both Tammy & Suzanne had moved back to the Upper Midwest and I would be married to 'my friend, Kip.'  When I think of those early days of Tennessee, many, if not most, of those friends have moved away.

Growing up in Minnesota, I had always wanted to move South, where it was warmer. I had wanted adventures, to see places, to live overseas. After college I began my quest for adventure by applying for jobs outside of my home state. I interviewed in California and Michigan. I landed the Michigan job, where I spent my first year out of college. It was a trying, difficult year, but it honed my desires, specifically I realized that I didn't care as much what I would do for a career or what kind of adventures that I would have or where I would live but I definitely knew who I wanted to be with: Kip.

So I swallowed my feminine pride that wanted him to chase me, took a risk, and moved across the country to see if this friendship with Kip Jaeger might work out. And work out it did! We'll be celebrating our 22nd anniversary next month.

I needed to fly away from the home and family that I love dearly to find my own wings and to become my own person. I had no idea all that the journey would entail. Of course, none of us know that when we begin any journey or adventure. The unknown is part of the thrill & the excitement.

During these twenty three years, I have grown roots here in Tennessee and call it home. I have two homes now: Minnesota and Tennessee. Although the picture book Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say depicts a man torn between his two homes of Japan and the U.S.A, it accurately describes the emotional part of my story: both places are home, yet neither place is fully home.

Yet, perhaps that is as it should be. I am an alien and stranger on this earth waiting for my heavenly home, my true home. Although I have never been there, it is more home than any place I have ever been.

Twenty-three years ago today, this Minnesota lake girl landed in Music City to be near the love of my life. My journey here has been so much more but that's how it began and I'm celebrating that beginning today. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

The words I think

A million words run through my brain
Some of them I think
Will make it to the blog
But mostly they stay in my brain.
It  seems the thinking is stronger than the writing

The words do not come to the blog.
Instead they run havoc inside my thinker ,
rarely shutting down.
I may not write them, but I surely do think them:

I think about writing these things:
* teaching math to children
* the year that I was glad to leave and how it showed that I made no worthwhile connections,
* how we can be certain whether or not we are going to heaven
* my heart as a mom with one child home catching a snapping turtle in my backyard while one was on a college exploration trip
* the lesson I am learning about the gift of now due to two dear people that are now engaged in battle against cancer, and
* how our lives are significant whether or not we ever write a book, or a musical, or give a speech but that there is great value in being faithful in the everyday ordinary things,
* how I have three homes: my hometown, my current town and my future town in heaven,
* how God transformed the most difficult thing in my life into a love letter,
* how He sees me. Really sees me. 

Oh, how many thoughts I think.
Oh, how often I think of writing them.
But writing and thinking them are not the same thing.

Friday, May 1, 2015

7 Tips for Buying Homeschool Curriculum

It is spring and the end of school is near; the planning of the next year has begun. Auditions, registration deadlines, and curriculum fairs abound along with the sunshine, rain, and flowers.

On the one hand, it is hard for me to plan for next year because I am so focused on finishing this one; it takes most of my energy just to do school daily because my attention is divided by the many year-end events, the need to finish high school credits, and the sunshine begging us to come out and play.

Yet, on the other hand, I am still in 'school mode' which makes it easier to know where we're at in our different subjects. I have a much better idea than I will during summer about what needs to get done: whether it is just simply ordering the next level or that some area has been unduly neglected and is need of serious attention. 

Another benefit of having the coming school year planned before this one lets out means my books are either here, or will be soon, and then I don't get stuck in the back-orders of August, and we can begin school right away in the fall. With that reward in mind, it is worth the effort to do a little planning now.

This is my list of 7 tips for buying homeschool curriculum, or some thoughts on buying school books. My background is this: a homeschool mom who is finishing her eleventh year, who loves a Carole Joy Seid approach, and who is eclectic and literature based.

1) Embrace that there is always something new, no matter how long you have home-schooled.

Every year that you homeschool, you will need to buy books for the next school year. There is always something new  because, until you've graduated a student that you have home-schooled from birth to graduation, you are at least teaching one new grade each year. There is always something new because you're children's needs change as they grow, silly little creatures that they are.

However, after a few years of schooling, you will begin to gain confidence in how to pick books that work for your family's schooling style, even if it is new to you at that moment at the curriculum fair when you pick that book up. You've never seen it before. You haven't spent hours researching that curriculum on-line and then asking your friends if they have used it. Instead, you pick it up, look at it, buy it, bring it home, and it works. Wow! What an amazing sense of accomplishment and a gratifying feeling of success. If this hasn't happened yet, it will come after an unknown amount of failed decisions. They won't all be great but you'll eventually find your groove.

Although if you're on a roll, beware because you might be just like me. I was feeling confident in my homeschooling, having found a groove that was working for us. Then, BAM. I came up against something new that caused angst again. It was called high school. It came a bit as a surprise how much angst I had as we began high school and how uncertain and new I felt. It was uncharted territory and I did not like feeling like a new-comer all over again. However, I found relief in trusting the Lord anew, embracing the uncertainty, and then just doing it. It's a good reminder that there can always be something new enough to keep me humble.

2) If it's working, don't change it.

Now, I just said to embrace that there is always something new because it is always changing and now I am saying, "If it's working, don't change it." There is a difference between the changes that come due to children changing grades and having new needs, which is different than changing for change sake. Or changing because we are wondering if it is working, or if we could do it better, or if we're missing out on the latest and greatest new curriculum choices that have created a stir in our homeschool circles.

There are many voices out there saying this is the best curriculum. This can feed my insecurities or my desire for creative change, depending on the day. However, in these 11 years I have come to respect that it has taken a lot of time and energy to find a good homeschooling groove.

If it's working, don't change it.

I learned this the hard way by changing several subjects all in one year.  I couldn't do all of them. It felt like starting all over. We didn't accomplish a lot but I did learn not to do that again.  I have found in general that I only have the energy to take on one or two changes in a school year. So instead of trying to change everything or a lot of things,

3) Only change the part that isn't working.

Keep the parts that are working. For instance, if you buy a full curriculum set, and nothing works but the read alouds, keep the read alouds. Or on the other hand, if everything is working in the set, except the read alouds, skip that part and find some other great books to read.

This leads to the next point:

4) Make the curriculum work for you.

It is only a starting point. It is a guide. It is not the law; it is a help. I have found in the subjects that I am more comfortable such as language arts and history, I can be much more free-flowing in the curriculum. Whereas, it has taken me a lot longer to feel comfortable and find a direction in the math and science department.

My sister-in-law is just the opposite of me. She found math and science curriculum that worked for her and has hardly changed her course in that. But that is because she can adapt the curriculum to make it work for her. Whereas, it has taken her much longer to find language arts curriculum because she feels weaker in that.

Making the curriculum work for you leads me to my next point that:

5) In the world of student-learning styles, you must remember that teacher preferences count.

Being able to individualize education to each student is a wonderful benefit to homeschooling. And exhausting. Remember: you are the teacher; you are one person; and how you are made is an important consideration when it comes to curriculum decisions. 

You, the teacher, are the driving force. The curriculum that has you passionate and fired up, or that simply works for you, is the very best choice for you and your family. Even if no one else you know uses it. Even if everyone else is using a different curriculum. Especially if it is the newest, and latest, and greatest, and you just heard about it. But remember, if what you are doing works, keep doing it. Don't change it. The teacher's enthusiasm and interest count for much more than the individual students preferred learning styles.

You need to do what works for you so that you can get the schooling done.

In time, any teacher can learn to adapt the curriculum to the student. Remember it is a guide, and a help and should work for you.

The teacher makes the curriculum work...not the other way around. So, you need to also remember that:

6) It's okay to hate the curriculum you bought, discard it, and start fresh at any point in the school year.

It is okay to try it and hate it. Eventually you'll be okay with that. The more expensive the purchase, the harder it is to admit that it is not working and that you need to just embrace it as part of your learning curve. Sometimes I have found that I need to just try that bell and whistle. And I do. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it flops. Even now, we have four sets of empty work books on my shelf reminding of just such a decision. I just need to sell it and move on, or give it away and move on so that it can stop making me feel guilty. The sooner you can get it off your shelf, the sooner you can stop feeling guilty for that decision.

Yes, you need to stop feeling guilty and remember that:

7) You'll never have the perfect curriculum but if you keep pursuing the calling that God has given your family, you will have great memories with your children. What an honor and a privilege. That's what we will really remember anyways: all this wonderful time with our children. This curriculum buying headache: it's worth it because it means time with our kids.

What tips and insights do you have to share about buying homeschool curriculum?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...