Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Carpe Diem

ThinkingSpringinLegoClub

Summer is surely fleeting….although I’ve been preparing for our new school year slowly but surely throughout the summer, I have more recently begun to get our school courses really ready, our home clean, some  cooking/freezing done, and stocking up on school supplies.

As I pour over the curriculum, pulling select books off the shelves, taking inventory of supplies, I realize how much I have adored being able to impart an excellent education to my children.  What a blessing.  How did this happen??  How is it my heart grows ten times bigger with gratefulness and awe each year? While it is a lot of work, it is work that is worthy and noble; it is full of depth and breadth and heroic effort.  This moment makes me want to stand up and applaud every parent out there that has done this, is currently doing this, or has an inclination of stepping up to the plate and giving it their best shot.  

PffmeEasterFamImage

If anyone would have told me 30 some years ago, I’d be married in Ohio, with four children and home schooling them, I would have never ever ever believed it.  Home schooling wasn’t even something on my radar, wasn’t even something I knew anything about.  I was still playing in bands and singing and traveling; I was working a very amazing job at the Utah state capitol and just living in the moment from day to day.  Now, I wake up and realize how God used those experiences to bring me to this place in my life with my own island of people. 

Wow, does God work in mysterious, or what?  Really, HE has a plan…and if you are just open to it, it unfolds beautifully in his timing and perfection.

I know I don’t want summer to end, because….well, I’m selfish and it was a long hard ugly winter, and I know I personally need a super long mental health day summer to recoup.  But, at the same time, I am thrilled to be able to school my own children with a beautiful classical education, giving them so much more than just subjects to be filled in, crossed off on the transcript. 

I am also so grateful that I can let my kids, be kids.  That means the teens can continue to be carefree, with some appropriate responsibilities of course, but not the pressing issues that secular society dictates to them in this culture. Girlfriends, boyfriends, sports.  If your teen life doesn’t consist  of  those ….then you are weird, or nothing.  It’s not what education is about. My children can relax more and prepare more deeply, with consideration and prayer, their God given vocation in life.  After exposing them to noble thoughts, amazing characters of history, cultures and languages, truth, and all that has come before them…they have such a more broadened view of the world and their place in it.  Giving them personal meaning through Christian studies, and how cherished they are by God, helps lessen their burdens of this sometimes very stressful and demanding existence.  They realize their existence is purposeful and meaningful.  Everyone has a place in the choir.  Every person is important.  As the Eleventh Doctor (Doctor Who) so thoughtfully express: “I’ve never met a person yet that wasn’t important.”   Believe it. 

So, as summer winds down, and I prepare to teach again the classical repertoire and Christian studies to my own family, I feel a deep poetic beauty and connectedness to this fascinating world of ours……to our maker and His creation, and to the particular clan of people He has chosen to put me with on this chronological timeline of His making. These are the kinds of feelings, I like to grasp a hold of revel in  forever…..savoring them and keeping them safe in my heart to open up again and again, as a pleasant reminder of a life blessed.    

GettingReadySchoolYearBooks

Bring on the books!  Carpe Diem!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Schultüte

I know I’ve shared about the lovely tradition of the Schultüte before, but it’s worth sharing again.  I mean, anything that says: “chocolate” or “candies” or “sweets” in the description is worth sharing, right? 

I will begin some school supply shopping soon – and for the first day of School at home, I really like to brighten it up and make it special for my children.  While I haven’t always given a precise cone shaped Schultüte, I have given a special box or bag with lots of goodies.  However the cone shape item is still my favorite and I do like to construct my own; my difficulty lies in doing it in secret and hiding them……

This awesome little website, KinderCone,has made Schultüte getting and giving all the easier.  You can order pre-filled ones, or empty ones to fill yourself.  How nice is that?

And while I really don’t want to say good-bye to summer quite yet, I do need to plan ahead, because the start of our school year will be here before we know it.  And yes, older students can enjoy and benefit from a  Schultüte also, filled with say….a scientific calculator and geometry tools, their favorite chips and snacks and gel pens……Schultüte is not just about the Kindergarten folk :)

Friday, August 08, 2014

Keep praying

The things I feel grateful for lately seem so frivolous compared to the basic freedoms of the people in the middle east.  While Christians in the middle east are being systemically killed, men, women and children, in a horrific genocide I feel pathetically helpless and frozen, wondering what will our government do?  Just today I saw a news headline regarding the President having okayed humanitarian air drops.  That’s all fine and good, and yes, we have to do something ….I realize are military was just pulled out of that area and all hell broke loose.  Who on this planet is going to return there and help them?  I know this has been going on for literally centuries, back and forth, waging war against one another. .I just pray and pray and pray for those that are truly innocent and good people.  What horrible persecution of Christians, penalty of which is torture and death, even of the smallest child.  God please come to their rescue.  I have to believe if the scriptures were to be written today, these stories would be included because they are so monumental.  Could a new Moses arise to set these people free?  Send them someone Lord.

Meanwhile we are moving through our daily lives with an enormous amount of free will, many choices and freedoms that I think we take all too much for granted.  When I think about how I, how we, can just go about our way each day, grocery shopping, stopping into the church, reading our bible, or proclaiming outright on social media snippets of scripture, or saying God’s name aloud……I realize how free we are.  Each morning I arise to this freedom, with hardly a fear in my heart for anything major.  Yes, we have the unexpected things, tragedies, accidents, heartaches and heartbreaks, which are part and parcel of every one’s life.  But this country, our country,……think how we can count our blessings, in contrast to the larger world.

So when we quibble and complain and whine about every last little thing…..let’s not!  Let’s instead put in our mind’s eye the image of those families across the globe being so traumatized and stripped of any of life’s comforts and beauty; families torn apart, being cruelly treated, tortured, killed for their very existence, because they are a different culture, live in a conflicted area, or are Christian; Christian….something we take for granted here.  When we are persecuted or believe to be targeted as Christians, through health care reform, or by atheists or secular society’s prevailing viewpoint and pressure,  we are still so much more free than the person on the next continent. 

I know it is not perfect for every one, I know some people are born into a poverty or abuse that doesn’t end…but I know, we aren’t kicking the underdog either…and if identified, these people can be helped, help is there for them, no matter what race, religion or creed they profess.

So, my whiny post about summer going too quickly, not being hot and humid enough, and how horrid the last winter was, and how we need more nice weather to make up for it…….and how I really don’t want to start school too soon…..It is all turned upside down on its head.   The freedom to even home school, and hold off and not even start until say October if I want….is a generous freedom.   I am so much in control.  There are laws that protect my interests in ways that would seem very indulging to others’ feeble freedoms in other countries.

Grateful doesn’t even describe it.  Indebted to how God has put me and those I love on this timeline in this era and place….is forever written on my heart, and yet my heart weeps a great pain and sadness for those others that find themselves in places other than this land of the free, home of the brave.  May God stop the horror in those places.  May God heal the people, his people, every where.  May God make Himself truly apparent and reveal His greatness and send a miracle.

A miracle is what is needed.  And God can supply it.

Keep praying.

Monday, August 04, 2014

"We do not want a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world." (G.K. Chesterton)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Words worth reading…My favorite Books

I’m not sure why I have been devouring copious amounts of books this summer, but I am loving every minute of it.  I am more busy than ever, and yet I find the time to read – at least I have my priorities straight, right? :)

Smile  I think I have long neglected my reading self, and it’s now catching up on me.  Sure, I read the lesson plans and some snippets of literature here and there pertaining to our home school ~  I read the headlines, the social media news feed, and my prayer devotional/scripture. 

I have blogged recently about several good books that have crossed my path and I have very much enjoyed them, and enjoyed sharing them with others.

I just spoke to a mother with a special needs child last night and help formulate her educational plan, and I referred her to the book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child, by Cheryl Swope, which I just adore. I think it gives mothers of special children such hope and lightens their hearts with joy that these special children can receive a more excellent and beautiful education. 

When I read, even for pleasure, it just has to be edifying and deep, else I feel I am wasting my time.  There are so many out there with their minds in the gutter, unfortunately.  The old saying, you become what you surround yourself with, bears such truth.  I wish to elevate and enlighten myself, so even with fiction, and am very picky.

So, I thought I would post here some of my “books worth reading” that are my all time favorites, those that have changed my life for the better and changed my perspective of things (not necessarily in order of prevalence):

The Language Police, by Diane Ravitch

The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker

Protecting the Gift, Gavin de Becker

Children of the Last Days books by Michael D. O’Brien (not a left behind series!….this is a series you can really sink your mind and soul into…)

 

There are several more also if you follow the link above…..

Grace-Filled Moments, Johnnette Benkovic

Forming Intentional Disciples,  Sherry Weddell

Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, Laura Berquist

Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child, Cheryl Swope

The Way I see It,  Temple Grandin

If Aristotle’ Kid Had an Ipod, Conor Gallagher

Finding Family, Richard Hill

Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster (yes, a children’s book, my favorite all time book – a joy for adults to read also :)

Finding the Meaning in the Second-Half of Life, James Hollis

My favorite read aloud series to my children – all the Oz books, 14 of them; and if you get them, get the vintage reprints with gorgeous artwork by John R.Neill; a few samples here and links:

Ozma of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Glinda of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Remember there are 14 in the series……..

And lastly, many books from Bethlehem Books, but a few of our favorite are: Bantry Bay, and The Mitchell’s series…. fun for adults and children a like to read aloud.  Anything by Hilda van Stockum, in my opinion is worth reading and owning. You must own A Day on Skates: the story of a Dutch Picnic! – so beautifully written and illustrated by this amazingly talented woman!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Excellence in Education for Any Child

I have had so much fun reading this summer.  I have read several excellent books, some of them I’ve blogged about.  The latest is called:

  Simply Classical, A Beautiful Education for Any Child, by Cheryl Swope

Such a beautiful story, and so welcome in my heart. It  is just fantastic what this mother did with her adopted impaired twins with an integrated approach of therapies and classical education.  To see how the daughter went from an I.Q. in early grade school of 75, to testing at 8th grade, with results of either right on at an 8th grade level, or in many categories, levels of 11th, 12th grade and post secondary.  Such proof that a classical education can do so much for special needs children. 

I can not stress enough the Latin, the beautiful language of the ancient literature, the scriptures, beautiful literature overall, the purposeful instruction in Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric, the seven liberal arts, and the exposure to all things, good, true and beautiful.  Modern day education has strayed so far from anything resembling these attributes and is such an ugly mutation of the beautiful, dignified manner to educate with excellent content, while within the stages of human development.

I applaud Cheryl Swope for taking on the task of truly educating her special children with excellence.  I have always subscribed to the idea that you have them home, do something excellent with them.  You are not doing them any favors by keeping them home, and not helping them excel and truly filling them up with all things true, good and beautiful that are at your disposal. 

It’s true Cheryl had a MAs in special education, and it’s true she didn’t know how to teach children, had never really learned in her studies and field work, and wasn’t even close to understanding what classical education was about.  She herself was the product of the public school system, and university, that eroded away all classical thoughts and Christian teachings.  It was a sheer blessing she emerged with the seeds deep inside of her, the yearning for something more beautiful and substantial to enrich her children’s education and progress, as well as herself. 

If this author can do it with two children very greatly impaired, you can do it with your children that are not cognitively and physically impaired.  And you can do it with your child/children that are impaired.  This story makes my heart leap for joy as I see my own autism spectrum disorder child grow so much this last year with our own homegrown integrated approach of excellent school and therapies.  I am so blessed and glad to be giving him an excellent high quality classical Christian education that is so hard to find out there.  What is pawned off as education today, with all it’s progressivism and serious anti-Christian garbage is such a sad state, through charter schools and public schools and sadly even tuition paid private schools, it’s no wonder children are so confused and emotional and trying to grasp onto something of substance in their lives and souls.   Integrating the Christian faith with your classical education is the only way to go.  It will make so much more sense.  When history is a true account, from the ancient pagans to the gospels….your child will know the truth of his salvation history, he will see the “big picture” and have the scriptures at his disposal as an every day way of life and living.

You are the example also.  By our children seeing us praying, reading the scriptures, attending bible study, and encouraging beautiful hymns and church practices, we give them a higher and better standard to mark their lives by.  Let’s face it, there is so much they can fall into if they are not solidly and truly grounded in the Christian faith.  I feel I have fallen short in some areas of my child education/raising (by not sending my children to a very Christian oriented university).  I’m grateful they didn’t fare worse, but I can see where some of their Christian formation has been eroded by the experience.  I only pray they are healthy enough and infused with the Holy Spirit plentiful, to make a good recovery and move forward, perhaps even stronger.

So if you are at all interested in education and home education,  and want to read something truly inspiring, truly real life….this is an excellent and informative, beautifully written book. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Let’s talk about Jesus

Let’s not only talk about Him, but let’s consider Him as central to our faith belief, as He is the way, the truth,and the life [Jn 14:6].

When I was an older teen attending Catholic schools in Utah, I use to go on retreats to one of the convents in downtown SLC.  At my confirmation, around age 12, I began to discern the possibility of a vocation as a religious, and all through high school, I made good on that discernment.  I lived at the convent for two months one summer, the year before my senior year.  I was very inclined to join the Daughters of Charity. Very.  Then my mother came up with breast cancer, my father’s job was causing him much travel time, and I decided to put the strong inclination on hold and take care of things immediate to me. I guess you could say the rest is history…..my personal history.  But, my inclination toward religious life did not end, in fact, it was only just beginning and growing stronger.  When I look back now, I realize how God fulfilled my desirous inclination – my very deep want of relationship with Him, through a lay vocation.  All the talents and charisms I was blessed with have been used abundantly in my lay life, among my family, my church, with the education of my children….exhaustively so, and yet they keep coming….they keep flowing.

I never stopped working with priests and sisters, and with religious education in those earliest years – in fact, little did I know that my working at CCD [Sunday school] on the weekends in our parish, was the beginning of my formation for something God later had in store for me; (because I attended Catholic schools, I didn’t need to go to religious instruction at the parish on weekends). Seemingly by default, I fell into teaching our 2nd grade at our church during my married life, and eventually was asked to serve as director of religious education, which I continue today. 

I can do all things in He who is my strength. [Phil 4:13]

.The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have rivers of living water flowing from his heart. [Jn 7:38]

When I was also in my older teens, I committed myself to Jesus, I accepted Him as my Lord and savior (yes, protestant sounding, isn’t it?) 1 But the truth is, knowing the person of Jesus and following Him is what our Catholic faith is about.  All else falls into place thereafter. It isn’t a foreign notion, or non-Catholic notion to accept and take up a relationship with Jesus.  If more people consciously did this, think how transforming our churches and communities could be.

There is a marked difference between being an intentional disciple, or a cultural one…an intentional Catholic, or a cultural Catholic, the latter being one born into the faith, but never really making it their own – never really taking up a relationship with Christ and becoming a true disciple.  Never really opening up and unwrapping the charisms given to one in the awesome outpouring of the Holy Spirit through baptism and confirmation. Think how true disciples of Christ can change the world……can change your church, your community, your family. 

When I was a young mother, still bearing children, and beginning to home educate my own, I founded a mother’s nurture group for Catholic home schooling moms in our parish, and the motto I adopted to it was from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, also a mother, and the founder of a religious order…..”Women building the kingdom of God through home schooling; women of faith, women of hope, women of love.”  My heart felt desire was to bring out in myself and these mothers the sharing of spiritual property, as one would gather to share intellectual property for the betterment of a cause, I desired not just that (for the good of home schooling) but for the building of the spirit and strength in these godly women.  We read our bibles together a lot, we studied church encyclicals, we prayed together (the best part!), and we grew in our relationship with Christ.  I still take away fruits from those meetings, to this day, although the group no longer meets.

I wanted to share with you a bit of my personal journey, to lead you to a wonderful resource that helps Catholics in particular revisit their baptisms and confirmation, and reawaken, renew within themselves the very gifts they’ve been given, and how they can live them out as true committed followers of Jesus Christ.   The book speaks for itself and much more eloquently then I can, so I leave you here with the information regarding it.

God bless –

Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus
by Sherry Weddell