3.27.2011

Some thoughts from a high school seminar

We ended a very busy week with a full day yesterday attending a homeschooling-high-school seminar put on by our state organization.  I'm a semester late on it, but c'est la vie.  Better late than never!

Thankfully, I'm not too far off track in what I've been doing for record-keeping, grades, etc.  However, we got a lot of new information about after-high-school options, testing, etc.  Right now I'm overload about all the stuff you have to do for a college degree, but at least we have a lot of choices now as to how to get that done.  I'll cross that bridge a bit later.

In no particular order, these were some of the points about high school I thought noteworthy:
  • All the same reasons you chose to homeschool for the elementary years still apply.  Don't give in to fear.
  • Don't let 'college' drive your life or your homeschool.
  • Don't be driven by the calendar--consider a 'gap' year after high school.
  • At Ivy league schools, 1% identify themselves as born-again Christians.  If you send your children to Rome, don't be surprised if they come back Romans.
  • Character is pre-eminent!
  • Whatever character flaws your child has will come out even more in high school.
  • Any tendency to laziness and other character flaws in your child really show up in math.  (Good heads-up.)
  • Education is discipleship and all of life is education.  Do as many field trips as you can.
  • Don't spoon-feed them.  Make them take responsibility for their own education, help make them to be a self-motivated problem solver.
  • In public schools, they cover only about 80% of the math textbooks--so don't feel you have to complete a book in a year.
  • There's a huge dearth in America of students headed for STEM--S=sciences, T=technology, E=engineering, and M=mathematics.
  • Enrollment of students in military service academies who were homeschooled is 5-10%.
  • Attach the Word of God to everything we teach.
  • To quote Vodie Baucham, "If you need to go to college, do it fast, cheap, and close to home."
  • We need to teach our children how work; we need to change our definition.  When you work, you bless someone and bring glory to God.
  • CLEP test scores are good for 20 years.
  • Kids will rise to high standards if you set them high.
  • Colleges look for students to have had American, British, and World Literature.  Always teach literature in the context of history.
  • Outlining, timed essays, and research papers are important to learn.  Homeschooled students are typically not good at taking notes--make 'em learn!
  • Engross your children in the book of Proverbs.
  • In a study, millionaires said their reasons for success were 1.) honesty, 2.) supportive spouse, 3.) self-control, 4.) hard-working, and 5.) gets along with people.  Having a college degree was #16 on the list.
Well, there was lots more.  I came away filled with thankfulness once again that we have had the privilege of homeschooling, and with a renewed sense of 'God is with us'!  I don't have to do this in my own wisdom.

Onward and upward!

3.20.2011

Jesus' secret

For the longest time I've pondered a question about the incredible way Jesus had with people--how did He do it?  What was His secret?

Obviously, He healed them.  When you're hurting, sick, and desperate, that would drive you to someone with a reputation for 100% success, whether or not you understood His mission or message.

And He delivered them.  He tackled the root causes of devilish oppression, spoke the word of authority and command, and people were set free, totally and permanently.  Fear and torment melted in His presence, destructions were halted cold, and hope sprang to life in the wake of instant restorations.  Yes, I'd join the crowd, too, running.

I think the most compelling quality we'd all say He had, though, was His love.  Somehow, they knew He loved them.  Many's the time I've tried to picture the scene:  His smiles and glad welcome, an open-armed approachableness that made each one in the crowd feel they were special, that it was them He loved.  He must have exuded patience and an unflappable peace that made them feel He had all the time in the world to meet every need.

I've known a few people who love like that.  I'm drawn to them, I want to be with them, because--yes, I'll admit to the selfishness of this--they love me.  They welcome me with unfeigned approachableness, I don't feel like I'm wasting their time with my stuff (even if I am).  I just know that they care.  I want to be like that.

But this morning in church, on a teaching about love, I saw another profound aspect that I think answers my question about Jesus.  Yes, it was Love that drew people.  But a fundamental expression of that Love was no condemnation.  "For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."  (Jn. 3:17)

To condemn means to pronounce guilty, to declare wrong, to be weighed in the balances and found wanting.  Yes, I was guilty and wrong and lost in that, but Jesus, in giving me the gift of no condemnation, showed me what Love really looks like.  No longer are my failures and shortcomings the issue--it's that He wants me.  He loves me.  He has time for me.  He wants to give me everything He has, to meet every need.

The hang-up seems to be really believing that.  I still don't let myself off the hook that easily; I feel guilty over things real and imagined, I blame myself for whatever, and can just hardly accept that God (or a person) isn't holding up a measuring rod over everything I do.  And I know I have an enemy whose purpose is to bring accusation against me in any and every way.  BUT...when I can operate from a position of God's total acceptance and love, I can turn and love others like Jesus did.

What does that look like?  Not condemning...not being judgmental (my way or no way), not being critical (how far below my exacting standards do they fall?), not blaming (then I don't have to change--it's their fault).  It means I can offer forgiveness with no strings attached, no manipulation or retaliation in mind, no effort to control, because I have no agenda other than their best interests and their highest good.

Seems impossible to just live like that, every day, in every encounter.  But I can see that this is what will win the world, one person at a time.  Just letting them know, 'I hold nothing against you, I don't blame you and neither does God.'  That's how they'll see the heart of the Father and be free to come running to Him. 

3.12.2011

A pair of mini-miracles

When God does something really BIG in your life, you're awestruck at His power and faithfulness and mercy.  A breakthrough, a healing, an answer to a long-term prayer, they're the memorable milestones of walking with our incredible Lord.

But I find I'm just melted by His love when He does something little.  Something that isn't important in the grand scheme of things, but that means something to only me.  Personal.  Loving.  Oh, my, it's those times I'm overwhelmed to realize how much He cares about me, about every detail of my life.

I had two of those this week, and of all the crazy things, they were about earrings.

A couple of months ago I lost one of a pair of my favorite earrings, french earwires with dainty round pieces of abalone shell.  They went with so many of my favorite outfits.  Not a clue, just gone.  Chagrined, I asked the Lord to help me find it, but after all this time, I was thinking I'd try to get stuff from the craft store to make a new one.

Then a few weeks ago, I received a gorgeous pair of turquoise-and-silver danglies as a gift from a dear friend.  Again, they were instant favorites.  I wore them two weeks ago on a shopping outing--and alas, I didn't realize I'd lost one while trying on clothes in a store until an hour after we'd left.  We drove back and retraced my steps, looked in the fitting room, asked at the service desk, but nothing.  I felt sick at heart to have lost part of a loving gift, and so frustrated to have this happen a second time.  It seemed almost too much to believe it could be found, but I asked the Lord to please find it.

Well, miracle #1...while shoving my sofa across the room this week in my fit of rearranging--there was my abalone earring right on the floor where the sofa had been!  It hadn't been a good day so far, and you can't imagine my joy over finding that silly earring.

Miracle #2, today!  We were out shopping again today, and on an impulse I grabbed the lonely turquoise-and-silver earring and stuck it in my pocket as we left.  Back at that store once more, I showed it to the clerk at the service desk.  She remembered me, said no, it hadn't been turned in.  As I turned to go, she mumbled something and rummaged around in a bin on the back counter.  "Wait!" she cried in surprise, and held up my missing earring!  Incredible.

He didn't have to do it, but He did because it meant something to me.  And I feel so loved!  Just at a time I really needed it, He reminded me that if He can take care of the teeny stuff with such perfection, how can I doubt that He's got the answer for everything else I need?

3.10.2011

This 'n that

I'm glad tomorrow is Friday!  We've got sunshine and mild temps and it's nigh onto impossible to settle down to Duty.  My restlessness (cabin fever?  spring fever?) drove me to rearrange the living room this week, a satisfying set-up that put my favorite sittin' place in front of our sunny window.  My cup of jasmine green tea, my book or Bible, and I'm happy.

Our school is going well.  SweetPea plugs away faithfully and has hit a 'good spell' in Algebra, for which I'm grateful.  This week's literature is wonderful:  a beautifully written story about a young girl in the Dust Bowl era, Out of the Dust, and our read-aloud, Christy, by Catherine Marshall.  I'd forgotten what a good writer she was, and we're savoring the rich characterizations and vivid descriptions.  One of the things I have just loved this year using WriteShop to teach composition is how it has provided such specific and clear understanding of the mechanics of good writing, demystifying it and enabling us to do a better job of literary analysis.  Both of these novels are giving us some good practice at that.

Thinking about spring cleaning...raking & pruning...planning and planting...camping and fishing and roadtrips.  This year I want to include some new items in my garden, including collards, okra, and some kitchen-garden herbs.  This candida diet I've been on for the past two years has introduced me to veggies I never dreamed I'd eat, much less like.  Makes my mouth water to think of picking and cooking them fresh!  What with the cost of produce right now, I'm very motivated.

But first things first.  I hope I can stay focused long enough to get the mending and basement and filing and school year done.

On the other hand, maybe we'll knock off and go nature journaling tomorrow!

3.01.2011

My keeper!

We are in such an incredible place as children of the King, every day, every minute, in every situation.  I was so blessed to be reminded this morning...

"My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved;
He Who keeps you will neither slumber or sleep.
The Lord is your keeper...
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore."
~ from Psalm 121

Amen!