St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

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… 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

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Freedom, gratefulness, ordinary life

It has been a beautiful beginning to this month.  Coming out of June where I helped a friend find her birth parents, knowing she is still floating on cloud 9 and will be for some time (!!); and now, getting ready to celebrate my favorite daughter's 21st birthday.  (er ahem, my only daughter, :) )  Life is good. 

I have enjoyed the sunshine (even the rain) more than anything this year.  Maybe it's my age/aging, but that last winter was a beast!  This has caused me to really appreciate the clearer more moderate months.  

I am heavily into intense preparations for our Vacation Bible School at the church, that is too take place the week of July 21st.   I am working hard to get our volunteers organized and the pre-preparations in order.  It is always a lot of fun kids of all ages, but is truly an exhaustive endeavor.  

I also ask that you keep me in prayer as I have a special prayer intention, that really can't go out there on the cyber waves, but all the same, God will know.  Thank you in advance.

Have a beautiful weekend!  Continue to be grateful for this great country, land of the free, and home of the brave.  

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

So beautiful......St. Joseph

Raising (& Teaching) Little Saints | Catholic Homeschooling & Traditional Catholic: Foolproof {Catholic} Homeschool Days

Whether you're Catholic or not, homeschooling is a blessing and an organizational pursuit!  This was wonderful, simple advice on how to really make progress.  Going on 19 years of home education, I know I can personally STILL use and NEED every bit of wisdom possible.  Discipline of one's self is the biggest thing.  Putting prayer and God time first, getting up earlier and getting ready....and having done your homework before presenting the children with their work, and really sitting down and schooling them, are givens.    God bless you on your mission!

Raising (& Teaching) Little Saints | Catholic Homeschooling & Traditional Catholic: Foolproof {Catholic} Homeschool Days: