Archive for Successful Homeschooling
Have you ever fallen prey to one of those crash diets to lose a few pounds? Have you ever been tempted to pick up that diet pill in the pharmacy that promises to melt away cellulite? How about send away for the newest craze in exercise DVD’s that promises to shape and tone your body- including your BIG TOE- in only 10 days?
In our microwave-it, smart phone, DVR-it society, we tend to want the quick fix. Our time is seemingly precious, yet in America we are go-go-GO all the time and all over the place. The very things that are supposed to save us time, are also our huge time wasters. How can this be?
I am going to call myself out on this one. I do like me some Facebook. A few years ago, when my teens wanted to sign up for this social media site, I figured it was the “responsible mom thing” to get my own account and “friend” my children- keep some tabs on what they were doing online. Little did I know what a hook it would be for me; I can now catch up with friends from elementary school, for goodness sake. As much as I like to spiritualize Facebook by praying for needs that are posted- don’t get me wrong, I do love that aspect- I spend WAY too much time trolling around on there, seeing what the peeps are up to. This “good thing” that connects me to people near and far that can get me information immediately- sucks away my minutes and even hours sometimes. That is embarrassing to write, let me tell you… Read More→
I am a new runner. Well, maybe that is a little grandiose. I ran a 5K last fall, and the owner of a shoe store said that made me a “runner”. I look nothing of the sort, I don’t like running, but I miss it if I don’t run…I’m a confused jogger on a good day, really.
I am in the midst of training for another race (against myself, mind you). All this thinking about running and training and finishing caused me pause considering the last couple months of homeschooling for the 2012-2013 school year. I don’t know about you, but I think I start to experience cabin fever, or spring break, or something about this time of year. I just want to be DONE.
I got to thinking about how great encouragement has been to help me run the race. Might I “run” alongside you for a spell and lend you some encouragement? I know it gets lonely sometimes. I know we sometimes can’t see that luscious educational forest for the pesky math assignment trees. Sometimes we need a bit of an airlift to gain some perspective. Let’s take this snazzy running analogy and well, uh—jog with it.
I’ve decided that long before there was a show called Hoarders, I grew up in such an existence. Granted, the main floor of our house looked pretty “normal”, but in the basement there lurked boxes and file cabinets and nooks and crannies stuffed with paper products.
I’m not sure if it was because my mother was born during the Depression, or because she was also an educator, or if she just had issues. We just had piles and files and bins and tins stacked high, and don’t you touch it. Ask my mom, it was “organized” in her own way.
It might be in my blood, but I have my own demons with paper clutter. It is a struggle to manage the abundance of papers in running a household. Add to the frenzy the fact that we school at home. Yeah. I occasionally feel like I’m losing this battle.
Have you ever marveled at the vast differences in your children? Like- how can children- four in my case, share real estate in the same womb, and come out so completely different? They share parents and genes- they have ten fingers and ten toes each- but they are completely unique works of art. And tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor in His artistry…. I have one brown-eyed, brunette daughter- and her sister is red-haired and blue-eyed. Ha!
Of course, there are those other pesky differences, too. Kids come with different temperaments, and for us home educators- varied learning styles. Wha? You mean one way of instruction is not ideal for all my students? The common-womb-dwellers foil us again! Read More→
I love the simple games of childhood; the ones that you can sit down and just PLAY. Give me Candy land, Connect Four, or Battleship any day over games that almost require you to read the instructions at bedtime three nights in a row before you can adequately get started. I pretty much hate “Risk”- I extend my condolences to my 12-year-old son.
In my childhood game closet, next to the box of “HiHo Cherry-o”, I could find my prized game of Chutes and Ladders. Now there is a fun game! Even if you have to “chute” all the way back to the beginning of the game by landing on space #87, you could spin a “4”- and then climb the ladder to space #84- and win the game. Woo Hoo! If your outcome isn’t so winning one game, chances are you can play a few more times and WIN.
It seems, even as adults, we really crave that climb up the ladder- BEST….FIRST…..WINNER. In the world at large, that usually means popularity, prosperity, and possessions. In the Christian community, we might care about these things almost as much as those worldly folk. We just call a job promotion, an award, or a new car “blessings”. Sometimes I think that we in home education tout our creativity, our abilities, and our child’s (or our own) intellect as a reflection of “the climb up the ladder”. Successful Christian. Successful Educator. Look at what God does for the faithful….
Please hear me- those things aren’t wrong in and of themselves. We should look at those as blessings. We should overflow with gratitude for such things that God allows. But what if God has more for us? What if it is A LOT more- in the chutes of life?
I think we have heard all the references to “the first shall be last” (Matthew 20:26-28) and “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5b). How do we live that out? How do we truly apply that to our lives? After all, are we to believe that those that experience suffering around the world- or our financially poor Christian neighbors across town- are not blessed? They can’t be a “success”?
Oh, dear friend, let us not fall in this trap of MORE….BEST….FIRST. Let’s unpack this a bit and identify some traits of those that live in God’s favor:
Humility- The Bible has much to say about humility. Jesus said the humbled will be exalted (Matthew 23:12), the Lord esteems the humble and contrite in spirit (Isaiah 66:2), and with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2). Our pride seeks The Ladder; the Lord is not there.
Contentment- God wants us to be content with what we have. In 1 Timothy 6:6-9 it says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” Our discontent has no good end; and again, the Lord is not there.
Thanksgiving- In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp tell us, “Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”. Our loving Father desires that we are thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). A heart focused on gratitude is less likely to seek out accolades, recognition, and the “stuff” of life we hope will make us happy. Be sure that God is near the grateful heart.
Compassion- Oh that we would care more for the needs of the poor, widowed, and orphaned! When we get our eyes off of our petty desires for greatness and physical wealth, we can see the world through God’s eyes. It is a world rich with the need for His people to reach out to the lowly and brokenhearted. This is where Jesus came to dwell and sit amongst the outcast. Be sure that in this version of Chutes and Ladders, He is at the base of the chute.
That means, true success is completely inverted in the eyes of God. MORE is LESS.
FIRST is LAST.
WINNER is LOSER.
Let’s save “The Ladder” for childhood games.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathy Swartzfeger is a wife to Harry and a biological mother to four children, AJ, Melody, Sierra & Isaac. She has been an avid reader since her first opening of The Velveteen Rabbit- and a noted writer since winning a short story contest in the 2nd grade. Besides being a home school mom, Kathy is a Christian, a breast cancer survivor and a foster parent to several who call her “mom.” Her interests include singing, crossword puzzles, photography, and of course, copious amounts of reading and writing.
It didn’t just happen once, it occurred twice. For many years, we had a plastic, light-up Baby Jesus-in-a-Manger in our front yard at Christmastime. He sat underneath a large plastic star. It was our family’s way of attempting to demonstrate Who we were seeking at Christmas.
We blissfully set up the Little Holy One year after year without incident. We rarely even had to change the bulb- Yea, Jesus! But then- it happened. I’m not sure which one of us noticed first, but Baby Jesus-in-a-Feeding-Trough was missing. Did he blow away? Nope. He was just gone. We as a family were unspeakably sad. What were we going to do? On our budget, we couldn’t afford a new plastic babe. That year, we finished out the season with a star.
Meaningful- yes, but we missed our Jesus!
So as the story goes, we looked around for a replacement, but couldn’t find the same Holy Child. We didn’t want to pay for Mary and Joseph either, and most everything we found was a trio. Being a resourceful home school family, we decided to utilize our secret weapon- the thrift store. The kids and I located a sturdy plastic baby doll and a receiving blanket for the divine swaddling clothes and we were set! We swaddled up that doll, sat it in a bed of lighted fresh evergreen boughs, and placed it under our trusty star. O Holy Night! Read More→
Anything at all?
It seems- at least in American society- that we lack any smidge of anticipation or delayed gratification in this era. If a “gratification” must be delayed for some reason, well- it seems that it becomes the tragedy for our evening news.
These days (and maybe it’s just little ‘ole me) I scratch my head at how casually things are doled out to kids. Take modern birthdays, for instance. Well, they are just not “special” enough with a homemade sheet cake, still in its 9×13 pan, baked by mom. That is SO 90’s! Now, it seems kids are bored to tantrum-y tears if their sixth birthday lacks a bounce house, petting zoo, and a cake that was chiseled meticulously from a gourmet bakery (cha-ching!). Not to mention the wrapped game system, computer or cutesy cell phone expected as gifts.
I look back on my childhood and recollect several milestones. I can reflect upon my single (GASP) birthday party on my 10th birthday. My eighth grade graduation, when I was allowed to get my ears pierced. Completing two hundred hours of driver’s training (with my dad in the passenger seat) before he would let me get my driver’s license at age sixteen. These were things that were anticipated- and not always very patiently- but nevertheless, they were things to look forward to in my youth. Read More→
Once upon a time, there was a little girl. This small girl played with her dolls and dreamed of one day housing the nation’s stray dogs in a large, warm barn with nothing but love to buy food and supplies, individual attention given to each fuzzy critter daily, and there was no poop or other gross clean up. Because well, she was a little girl and dreams don’t include icky realities sometimes. By the second grade, Little Girl’s dreams changed to serving God by being a missionary to Africa; must’ve seemed easier at the time.
Eventually, the little girl grew to be a teen. In the teen girl’s world, she played volleyball and discovered singing as a passion. Her dreams changed to include marriage (mental note made- make sure suitable candidate doesn’t have problem last name like “Butts”), children (at least one set of twins, identical girls to dress oh, so alike), and a career teaching vocal music (never mind the plague of nasal allergies that wreaked havoc with the vocal chords).
Soon enough, the teen girl blossomed into a young woman. Duly noted, the young woman was still a teen as she stood with her new groom at the altar (suitable candidate managed not to have the last name “Butts”, however he did come with a surname consisting of eleven letters of German-American confusion). The young woman birthed four children (imagine no twin girls, but two children separated by fifteen months and seemingly never-ending diapering), and the career dream became stay-at-home motherhood versus reality- photo lab manager. The stay-at-home mother would of course, sing to her children and teach them songs (A, B, C, D……………..). Read More→
My name is Kathy. I’m a fellow home educating mom, and I was wondering if could squeeze in at your dining table for a few minutes? No worries, I don’t mind the clutter!
I wanted to talk with you a little bit about being relevant in this world. Not that I have achieved all there is to achieve, by any means. Goodness knows, on an “up” day, I’m wondering if I have food in my teeth or a tag hanging out just like the next person…
What I would like to draw attention to is walking that two-fold walk that Jesus walked. He was righteous and blameless, but yet He rubbed elbows with sneaky, slimy, and even sensual sinners. I think it is a careful balance, and one that- if we aren’t careful- will lean too heavily on “righteous” and “blameless.”
I don’t want to step on any toes here, but yeah, I seem to be artful at it- so here goes (think “iron sharpening iron” here). As Christian homeschoolers, we can insulate ourselves from the world pretty skillfully. We can choose not to have a TV, we can choose to only go to church activities. We can read our Bibles for hours a day and wear clothes that cover from ear lobe to ankle. We can own our own businesses and choose to patronize only Christian businesses. Aside from an occasional trip to a discount or grocery store, we may never lay our eyes on “The World.” Read More→