We Can All Do Something

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Freedom Walk 2014

Freedom Walk 2014

In my last post, I wrote about the struggles and lessons we had from living at Matthew House.  This post is about the fear I had leaving.

We knew we were done. We had fulfilled our commitment to living at Matthew House for a year and knew we needed to rest and refocus.  Our kids were getting older and I was ready to start homeschooling and have another baby.  But with all of that to look forward to, I was apprehensive to leave.  We had been living a ministry we couldn’t hope to maintain once we had moved to our own home. We knew we needed to take a step back from front-line compassion work and so we stepped into the Compassion Coordinator role at church.  It was nice to facilitate compassion activities for a change.  But I was already anxious we were going to lose the nerve to take risks.  We had bought a home in suburbia and the appliances and furniture to go with it.  We had been living so simply for so long it felt stressful to have so many new things all at once.  We were expecting our third child in three months.  I was aware of the lure of comfort, the normalcy of it and the necessity of taking a break from some commitments when you have a new baby.

But I felt (and still feel) that compassion is like a muscle that will atrophy if you don’t exercise it. We had been fit when we moved into Matthew House.  We had a lot of momentum from our home church and were well-placed in life to make such a move.  We had been living in a two-bedroom apartment paying month-to-month rent.  We didn’t have a lot of stuff to move or a lot of logistical considerations around housing and bills. We were nimble and we liked it.

But now I was worried we would be weighed down by our own comfort and possessions. Would we be willing to make a significant move like Matthew House again?  We did need time away to focus on our family and regroup.  Eugene Cho says compassion begins in your homes and families, and he’s right. But it doesn’t end in your homes and families, either.  There is no caveat in the Bible that says parents of small children are exempt from participating in or prioritizing compassion.  Sorry, moms and dads, we are not off the hook.

But because we focus on “doing compassion” instead of “living compassion” we end up limiting our creativity when it comes to including our children in being the hands and feet of Jesus. This came home to me when Bruxy and Sarah talked about youth as being the church – not the “church of tomorrow,” just the church. We can begin equipping our kids to live compassionately now.  We don’t have to wait until they are old enough to help out in a soup kitchen.

Now, I’m no stranger to the challenges of trying to find compassion activities that allow for kids to participate.  Many organizations don’t allow kids for safety reasons.  Fundraisers are great, but it is still a fairly abstract idea to raise money to give to an organization to help find a solution to a social or medical issue.  I will say I enjoy the rallying of community around a cause and the kids can feel that as well.

But the best way I’ve found is to really practice compassion every day: Bringing a meal to a new mom, shoveling a driveway, bringing in a neighbours garbage cans, picking up the recycling that is blowing down the street.  Try to create and take advantage of opportunities to make your kids aware of the needs of other people. Demonstrate that other people are worth our inconvenience, our time, our talents. Put your neighbours needs above your own and expect them to learn to do the same. We have to train ourselves to notice others.  We also have to learn how to accept the help of others – even ask for it. Your kids need you to set this example, too. If we really are a community, then we belong to each other.

So, if you’re a parent and you’re wondering how to “do compassion” with a kid in tow – remember, compassion opportunities happen every day. You don’t even need to get in the car.

For a couple of great books to help talk to your kids about compassion, check out Tim Huff’s Compassion Series: The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge: Helping Kids Understand Homelessness , It’s Hard Not To Stare: Helping Kids Understand Disabilities, and coming in 2016, The Honour Drum: Sharing First Nation Truths with Children.

Coldest Night of the Year

Coldest Night of the Year

AIDS Care Kits

AIDS Care Kits

Friendship Prom

Friendship Prom

 


Daily Bread…

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DSC_4230I’ve been reflecting on my own experiences in compassion over the past couple of weeks as we prepare to move into another season of home church and service projects.  I’ve been reminded that sometimes these experience don’t look or feel the way we think they ought to.  So, I thought I might write about a time when Keith and I began to learn a lesson neither of us expected.

Five years ago, God had whispered this crazy  “what if you lived at Matthew House?” idea into Keith’s ear on a drive home from Kingston one night. We had been praying about an opportunity to live in community – to be in solidarity with the poor. We had thought about the MoveIn projects starting up in Ottawa, we thought about sharing a house with friends – but neither seemed right for us until Matthew House.

And so, a few months later we gave our two-months notice to our landlord and Keith, myself, and our two small children moved into Matthew House Ottawa as the first host family. We were a little nervous but mostly excited. We had two tiny adjoining rooms upstairs packed to the brim with all of our possessions. Keith built us a bed that had storage underneath and shelves for our clothes, tv, and even a clothes hanging rod so we weren’t perpetually wrinkly. IMG_1047

For an entire year, we got to sit and eat dinner with people so new to Canada they still marveled at the dishwasher and microwave. We were  the ones who asked them about their day, helped them practice their English and introduced them to Canadian comfort food like meatloaf and mashed potatoes on those cold February evenings.  It is a bit easier to romanticize what our lives looked like for that 15 month period now that four years have gone by since we moved on.  But disillusionment is a tough feeling to gloss over with rosy colours.  When we pitched the idea to the board of directors,  we knew it would be a challenge –  but we were confident God would meet us in those hard places and give us an abundance of strength and love and joy. In truth,  some days He did just that, but most days we got our daily bread: strength for the day. No more, no less.  Many people came alongside and supported the ministry and the refugee claimants, but we felt isolated.

Looking back, I think I expected others in our community to start housing claimants in spare bedrooms or selling their houses to live in lower-income neighbourhoods. We had taken such a big risk I was disappointed that others weren’t willing to take a risk, too.  It  got really hard to hear people say “I could never do that – but good for you! You’re doing a great job!” As well-intended as the encouragement was, we didn’t always feel we were doing a great job.  We were just a young couple with two little kids. Some nights we hid in our rooms after dinner and binge-watched Netflix.

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Sometimes I wondered if we had squandered our opportunity.

But God didn’t call us to serve at Matthew House perfectly.  He called us to serve faithfully.  And God didn’t promise to give us an abundance of energy so we could complete all of our own goals of service. He didn’t promise us that He would be a keen and comforting presence because we had taken on this role. To be honest, we didn’t really feel God’s presence any differently at Matthew House than we did before we moved there.

Keith (the-ever-discerning) likened the isolation we felt  to that of Mother Teresa – who felt a strong call to serve the poor and orphaned in India and spent the next few decadeswondering if she was doing what God wanted her to do.  Our experience was on a much smaller scale but was no less real. Sometimes God calls you loudly and then expects you to just follow without a lot of reassurance along the way. You know, an “unless you I tell you otherwise, just keep doing what you’re doing” approach.  He was faithful, the ministry was fruitful, and our own sense of accomplishment was not what was most important. It was a lesson I don’t think we could have learned if we hadn’t lived through it. It was a lesson in trusting God’s sovereignty. It was a lesson in humility that produced a level of maturity.  We do not require mountain-top experiences to serve God faithfully and in difficult times.  We can trust in God even when we can’t feel Him. We may have even had a glimpse into the isolation Jesus would have felt when he was alone on the cross. Clearly, our experience was small potatoes in comparison – but it was a glimpse into the heart of Jesus we hadn’t had before.

When I think of what my expectations were, for God, our community and ourselves, when we moved to Matthew House, I smile to myself.  Because they are lovely and good but rather presumptuous. It is nowonder He had something else in mind. Something simple, and sustaining.  Something like our daily bread.IMG_2274

 


2015 Reading List

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IMAG0384_1As many folks do, I try to come up with a list of books I’d like to read in the year ahead.  This year, I thought I would post the list, and invite you to do the same!  My list last year was pretty ambitious but I got through a few of them and made a good start on others.  Here’s the list for 2015.

The Leftovers: Books I didn’t get to in 2014.

The Politics of Jesus by J. Howard Yoder.  (The intellectual-stretching book)

Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.  This book I borrowed before last summer and have made a good start.

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequest

A Peace Reader by E. Morris Sider and Luke Keefer Jr.  I’m 1/3 of the way through.

Anne of Green Gables

by L. M. Montgomery – I’ve never read it.  Don’t judge – it’s on the list.

The Newbies

Manhandling the Deity by John F. Deane.  It’s a collection of poems and isn’t too long.

Orthodoxy

by G.K. Chesterton

Overrated by Eugene Cho

Compassion by Henri Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglas A. Morrison.  I’m about 20 pages in.

The George MacDonald Treasury by George MacDonald.  This is my favourite genre – fantasy fiction.  The only way I’m going to get through all of that non-fiction is with these delightful and insightful stories mixed in.

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander

And, in case you’re wondering.  This is what I read in 2014.  I think I might have re-read the Harry Potter books again.  Sometimes that happens.

The books I finished in 2014

Little Women by Louise May Alcott

History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer

The Chronicles of Prydain (1-5) by Lloyd Alexander

The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

The Penderwicks (1-3) by Jeanne Birdsall

Adam by Henri Nouwen

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

A Place at the Table by Chris Seay

There were a few others on the 2014 list I abandoned.  Like Flannery O’Connor.  She’s brilliant and her writing is so honest and I wanted to read 15 short stories by her last year but I could only read a few. That was all my poor heart could take.  In hindsight, I shouldn’t have attempted to do them back-to-back and right before bed.  She writes about the human condition in such a raw fashion that you can wind up a horribly depressed insomniac.  She I put her down and picked up some good teen fantasy fiction :)  Nothing like burying your head in the sand.  I was also ambitious enough to put The Brothers Karamazov on the list last year.  The endless similar-sounding Russian names with all of the various diminutives don’t intimidate me, but the reality of my life does and I just don’t feel this is the year for Brothers. Pride and Prejudice didn’t get carried over for similar reasons, although if I run out of fiction distraction books I might throw it on there.

Clearly, I did much better on my list of fiction books last year and seemed to skip right over those more difficult reads. Since Keith has some pretty academic reading ahead of him with his PhD studies this year, hopefully it’ll rub off on me. :)  I’d love to know what you’re reading and what you’ve read!

 


The Upside-Down Kingdom

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A couple of years ago I mentioned this treatise Keith wrote back in 2010.  I was reminded of it during our home church discussion last night.  I thought I’d post it as food for thought.

Constitution of the Upside-Down Kingdom

We the people of the upside-down Kingdom proclaim a revolution of repentance. We will no longer be conformed to the counterfeit-power of politics but will stand transformed in the resurrection-power of the Prince of Peace. We bear witness to His strength made perfect in weakness and the joy that is perfected in suffering. His Kingdom dwells among the dead and the dying, the wounded and the helpless; for it is not the healthy that need a doctor and not it is not the living that need new life.

We refuse to legislate life and death but instead join in the death-to-life renewal that begins with poverty of spirit and ends in richness of faith. It is not we who decide where the sun shines or the rain falls, nor do we bless or curse. The gavel of judgment is too heavy for our feeble human hands to hold.

We renounce the world as it has been told to us, the world of kings and princes, and look instead to the world of slaves and paupers, of widows and orphans. Here the least are the greatest and these are our masters, our monarchs. From the eyes of the one without a home a palace is commissioned. From the whisper of a muted voice, a herald is ordained. As I look into the soul of my neighbour-other, my response signs my soul. It is at this moment that I proclaim or betray my allegiance to the Kingdom of repentance.

We reclaim the back alleys, the crack houses, and the minefields as holy ground. We sanctify the shelters, the ghettos, and the street-corner grates. Our war is not with flesh-and-blood, but within each kingdom-citizen. We obliterate indifference and apathy. We attack hatred, spite, and judgement. Even the will to justice succumbs to its fulfillment in mercy, and other-love submerges a legion of sins.

We mourn together the loss of the garden, the birth of god-lust, and the claiming of the power of good and evil. It is only the fruit of life that fills famished souls, not knowledge-power wielded over one another. As Adams and as Eves together we stumble back to the gardens of humankind, tending to the withering and dying and tearing out the weed of desire to be divine found festering in each soul.

We demand no earthly King and call for no holy war. We ourselves are the infidels and the pagans, who know not what we do. Were we even to recognize an enemy, we seek not victory but the martyrs death: To be witness, to proclaim the King’s death, to hear “Well done.” This is our battle cry.

We dictate no foreign policy or trade embargo; The choices we make are of conscience not control. We refuse to condone the violence of economic oppression or knowingly enslave our global neighbours for the sake of passing popularity or the latest lust. In each transaction we relate not to an ‘it’ but to a ‘you,’ not to a brand but to a brother, and each dollar is either a helping hand to bring one to their feet or another drop in an ocean of indifferent economic subjugation.

We believe that giving our children good gifts means not comfort but creative compassion, not fortification but the strength to forgive. It is not weakness that prevents our hands from lifting the sword to protect those we love or ourselves, but the assurance that the victory lies in having fought the good fight and finished the race. Defeat lies not in death but in words betrayed by actions, for each enemy we encounter is both a stranger and a friend, a foe and a brother to whom we are bound. Uncompromising love is what we have witnessed and unrelenting mercy is our prototype. To abandon our Saviour-King at the call of His cross is to be found unworthy of His Name.

We are the few and the foolish. We will never be the majority, the crowd, or the many. Narrow is the path we walk, a path not of practicality but of passion, not of wisdom but of weakness. It is the foolishness of the cross to which we cling; the madness that to suffer is better than to sin; the absurdity of relinquishing rights rather than resisting. To watching eyes we bewilder and confuse, but we are a sight that will not be quickly forgotten. Our dying prayer is that every adversary’s eyes will eventually rest upon the crucified Christ.

We the people of the upside-down kingdom work expectantly through the night, confident that the dawn of a new day will soon be upon us.


The “Typical” Day in the Life…

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Jolene, over at Of Jelly Beans and Belugas recently blogged about what a typical day in homeschooling life looks like in their house.  She was curious to hear from other homeschoolers about their day so I thought I’d contribute.

We changed things up around here a couple of weeks ago and things seem to be running more smoothly. I used to try to get Isaiah to finish all of his school work before lunch time.  I thought it would take some time for Isaiah to adjust to staying focused for that length of time, but I thought he could do it.  Instead, five-months later I still found myself saying “Hurry up, hurry up!” most of the time.  It was unfair to all of us.  He was very nearly being bullied by me to get his work finished in a timely fashion (since Charity was waiting in her room to come out and play), he was feeling over-taxed and restless (since he is an active six-year-old boy with an enormous imagination) and Lucy missed her playmate and her mum since my mornings were tied up with “school”. So, now our days look more like this:

We start around 8:30 – this is the time the kids get sent upstairs to get dressed and make their beds.  If they’re quick, they get to return to whatever game I interrupted until 9:00.  I get the lessons organized (takes about 15 minutes) and then take Charity upstairs and read her a few books before I leave her in her room to play or nap as she sees fit.  We don’t see eye to eye on this part of the day. There is usually five minutes of anger flowing through her before she settles in.

Downstairs in the kitchen we begin with History or Science (depending on the day). We do Science once a week right now.  We’re doing a unit on animals so Isaiah picked out 20 he was interested in studying. Each week we learn about one animal, writing down facts and visit the library to take out books for additional reading if he’s interested. Library day is Tuesday.

On Monday/Wednesday/Friday we do history.  I read out loud to Isaiah (and usually Lu) from his history textbook.  It is an awesome book that focuses more on the people throughout history than events.  It still talks about the events, but uses the interesting people as hooks to hang those other facts on.  Super engaging and highly recommended. He answers some questions afterward to make sure he was paying attention and then tries to summarize the story in two or three sentences.  Typically, he has a colouring page and some map work each week and we try to do one or two of the other activities explained in the book.  These other activities are the things that were sorely neglected before due to the lack of time and presence of Binx. They really make the history lessons fun, though, and I’m glad we’re getting to more of them now.

Below are clay tablets Isaiah made for the library of Nineveh King Ashurbanipal built so he would be remembered in 100 years. Isaiah’s story is about a spider.

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Each chapter also comes with lists of corresponding literature (from or about the time period and region) and art/craft projects.  Today we did some drawings with water colour crayons of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Here is Lucy’s.

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After 30 – 40 minut es of History, we do Math.  Lucy does this part of school with us and has her own math workbook and lessons at a kindergarten level.  I agree with Jolene, that it isn’t really necessary to do any formal math curriculum before first grade, but it is important for her to learn to sit quietly, work independently, and for Isaiah to feel that his sister doesn’t get out of school work COMPLETELY. Lucy’s lessons take about 5 minutes and her worksheet (if there is one) takes about the same amount of time.  Isaiah’s lessons are about 20 minutes of instruction/review and the two pages of work take him anywhere from 20 minutes to an ETERNITY to complete. I usually wrap things up by 10:30 and release Charity.

The kids resume play/fight/make giant mess-time until 11:30 or 12:00 and then I let them watch one show while I make lunch.  After lunch it is mandated QUIET TIME – which is a total oxymoron because it is anything but quiet.  Isaiah does well since he has found love in the form of audiobooks and Lego.

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We bought “How to Train Your Dragon” from Audible and one day he stayed in his room for like – 5 hours.  He’s a bit obsessed with that story right now, actually, and has started to say things like “Better than feeling dragon’s teeth in your bottom” with a rolling Scottish accent.  Lucy shares a room with Binx which generally means I hear a lot of “No! Bad Sister! Charity! Mom, Charity broke…climbed…dumped…hit…ripped…threw…!”  You get the point.  I try to cut them both some slack and let Lucy hang out in my room if she’s played quietly with her nemesis for a little bit.  Cultivating sisterly-love is a delicate matter and requires a steady hand and a clear view of the end goal.

During quiet time I get a shower (most days..ahem.) and then pay a visit to Isaiah for Language Arts. We do a grammar lesson and some reading practice and then I leave him with either some copywork to complete on his own, or I read him a narration and he has to answer questions in the form of sentences.  Copywork looks like some variation of this: an excerpt from a children’s story.

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But some days it looks like this:  Because some days he REALLY needs the reminder.

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Lucy doesn’t do any formal language lessons right now.  She is a quick study and would likely read at the same level as Isaiah fairly quickly.  She doesn’t need to read yet, so I’m giving him some time to get comfortable reading and feeling like he has some mastery over it.  He’s a reluctant reader, but LOVES a story.  Isaiah has to have all of his “seatwork” done before he gets to have any more screen time – so that acts as a good motivator.  And that about wraps it up.

Homeschooling is a lot of fun much of the time.  It really has been a joy to watch all of the kids learn, to know them better through discovering their interests and talents, and getting to discover my own too!


Yarn Along

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Linking up with Ginny again for Yarn Along.

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I’m still reading Little Women, so I thought I’d show you some other knitting, you know, to “spice” things up a bit. This is the Guernsey Wrap by Brooklyn Tweed.  It’s been in the works for a couple of years now – getting buried and dug out again as it suits me. I pulled it out a couple of weeks ago and made it to the half-way point so I’m pleased :)


Yarn Along

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I know.  I said I was going to follow-up my last post with a post on Advent – and I wrote that post.  But I don’t like it yet so I think I’ll save it and work it into an Advent post since they are along the same lines.  So, in order to move forward in the blogosphere – I’m linking up with Ginny’s Yarn Along!

Yarn Along Jan 2014

One of the bloggers I follow posted her reading list for 2014 and I was inspired to make one of my own.  I’m not brave enough to post it though. :)  However, I have finished one of the books on my list (Peter Pan) and have started Little Women.  I am ashamed to say I’ve never read it before.  I love it.

As for the knitting – that’s a wee baby cardigan in the works. The Baby Tea Leaves, to be exact.  I’m knitting it out of Patons Canadiana so it’s as washable as the baby who will one day wear it.


Part 1: Christmas, Community and Why I don’t think Jesus is ever left out in the cold.

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We never went to church on Christmas Eve.  We never really went to church at all, but we weren’t the obligatory holiday church-goers either.  Christmas was about Santa and gifts and family and two turkey dinners on Christmas day (so no Grandma felt left out).  When I was a teenager I started going to church and so for me, the focus of Christmas started to shift away from Santa and toward Jesus. I always asked if we could get to church on Christmas Eve, but traditions are hard to break and it took a few years before it became something we could do as a family. In those years before we started getting to a Christmas Eve service, I longed for the quiet reflection on Christ’s birth.  I wanted to hear O Come, O Come Emmanuel and feel the anticipation of his coming.  I wanted to light candles and sing hymns about Jesus – but I loved my family and didn’t want to spend Christmas Eve apart from them. And I don’t think Jesus minded one bit that I compromised being at church on Christmas Eve to be with my family.  I think He rejoiced in a family unified.

I recently read a blog comment where the reader said she felt that not only had Santa “stolen Christmas” but that the festivities and family and friends had also upstaged Christ’s birth. She felt that Christ was left “out in the cold.” But when I think about Jesus, I think about him at a wedding, teaching on a hillside, eating with disciples, tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees. I see Him with people, almost always surrounded with people, and most certainly celebrating with people.  So, I don’t think Jesus is out in the cold while you sit by the fire and reminisce with family about the past or plan for the future.  I don’t see him pitifully knocking at the door while you all kiss under the mistletoe.  He’s at the party, folks.  He’s pulled a rocking chair right next to Great Aunt Betty and poured himself out some egg nog – with rum in it.  So if you don’t get an opportunity for some quiet reflection on the birth of Christ because you’re elbow-deep stuffing a turkey, don’t go and add one more item to your “I feel guilty about” list and just enjoy the time together in community.  You are not missing Christ if you find yourself overwhelmed with the blessings of family, feasts, and friends on the big day. They are just one more thing for which to be grateful.

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Which brings me to Part 2: Why I think Advent is Important – stay tuned :)


Homeschooling Questions I Wish I Answered Better In Person…

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Book StackNext week Isaiah starts first grade. He has his first loose tooth. Somehow, he has grown up into an energetic and empathetic six-year-old boy.  I teach him at home.  When people hear that I am homeschooling, usually there are a few common topics that come up. Some folks have strong opinions for or against educating kids at home.  Sometimes I’m not sure what or how much to say.  So, if you’re interested in reading further, below is a short list of questions I wish I answered better in person.

1)Why did you decide to homeschool?

People choose to homeschool for different reasons. One of the most anxiety-inducing experiences for me can be meeting other parents who homeschool because I have no idea what assumptions are being made.  For me, the most compelling reason is I truthfully feel it is the best way to educate our children.  I think it gives them the most autonomy, provides ample one-on-one attention as well as opportunity for independent work and study.  I think a tailored education will allow them to identify and explore their areas of interest and giftedness as well as weakness.  I am very very honoured and excited to be a part of it.  Rolled into this decision is the ability to present history and science in a way that is truthful and honest about God and the Bible and how we believe they fit into Earth’s timeline. It is a very important part  of the reason for me but it is not the main driving force in our decision.  Sometimes I feel this creates unnecessary tension in relationships when I think others assume I think the public school system is rubbish or that it is headed to Hell in a hand-basket and taking our children along for the ride. I came to faith because a new girl came to my class in fifth grade when her parents decided to stop homeschooling her.  I am very very grateful for the Christian kids attending public schools.  They are little lights in there.

2) Do you speak French? 

No, I am not bilingual.  Neither is my husband. Yes, it is a concern that my children may not be able to find work without having French as a second language if they decide to work in Ottawa.  Sometimes, I feel like I do not have enough to offer because I do not speak French.  Sometimes I envy others when I overhear them chatting back and forth in another language.  Sometimes I worry.  But I try to remind myself that the main goal of the education I hope to provide to our kids is not to “get a job” when it is all done.  It is to raise up compassionate, confident and kind people who desire to contribute and use their gifts on behalf of others – as well as to promote a life-long love of learning.  I am not ignoring the language issue entirely, as there is a second (and third and fourth) language component in the curriculum I’m planning to use with the kids.  They will learn to read Latin which will provide them with a firm foundation for any of the Latin-based languages and I hope it will serve them well. But as I said, our hope is that education is not a means to an end but an ongoing experience of growth.

3) “I would love to homeschool my kids, but I just don’t have the confidence.”

Me neither.  Believe me, I am entering into this adventure with a spirit of humility.  I am learning to teach as they are learning diligence.  I almost wrote “learning to learn” but we all know kids are sponges.  What they are really learning  to do is self-regulate, apply themselves, find satisfaction on difficult mental exercise and persevere at it.    I digress. As a new homeschooling parent, I feel a certain pressure from both traditional and homeschoolers that I should be more confident than I am.   Assuming the responsibility for my childrens’ education is no small undertaking and I feel the gravity of that decision but I also feel that there is room for error and exploration.  I try to view this adventure the same way I viewed becoming a mother. I had no experience and I knew the learning curve at the beginning was overwhelming but also that I would learn who our child was and what they needed and no one was better qualified for that job. I say this knowing that there may come a time when I see what they most need is someone with an expertise I do not possess.

4) Isn’t that a lot of work?

Yes and no. I am not using resources that require a lot of prep work.  As much as I would like to have a colour printer and lamminater, I do not.  I am glad I chose the curriculum I did long ago so I didn’t get swept away by the organizational awesomeness that is some of you out there.  I am not that organized and would not be able to keep up with the prep work of using resources of this type.  I know this to be true because I tried it once. I was reading a Montessori homeschooling blog and it was amazing.  Her activities and the achievement of her little guy were outstanding. I tried to integrate those ideas into our life at Matthew House but it was too costly and required more space than we had available to us.  Isaiah didn’t engage well with the activities I had spent money and time on and that made me frustrated.  It was a good learning experience. I am a bread and butter girl and I picked a curriculum that was solid in the fundamentals and had an engaging style for me as a teacher and I hope for the kids.   I love that some of you are doing “fancy”. It still intimidates me sometimes.  I still feel like I should be doing it too, or that my kids are somehow missing out.  But I hope they have the opportunity to create “fancy” on their own if they want.

5) Do you worry about socialization?

I am reading Little House in the Big Woods right now.  Mary and Laura have seen their cousins once at Christmas and their grandparents once in February and the story has covered about eight months.  Other than those two visits it has been three little girls and their Ma and Pa.  They are polite and mannerly well-adjusted little creatures and no one thinks them socially awkward.  True, it was fairly normal back then.  But my point is that they knew how to behave around grown-ups, how to take care of babies, and how to play with children across a range of ages.

The same can be said for most homeschooled children.  Because traditional school educates in batches based on age, a peer-culture develops that is very exclusive and insular. A homeschooled kid is not likely to fit in with them in a social environment. They appear “socially awkward” but they really aren’t.  If you take a traditionally educated child and put him in a group of students two grades above or below he will appear socially awkward too.

I do recognize that peer-group socialization is important to kids (especially teens) and we recognize that as a weaker point in choosing homeschooling.  So, we compensate in the ways we can.  Isaiah goes to swimming lessons and Sunday school and Awana with other kids his own age.  We try to give him opportunities to play with friends – some of whom attend regular school and some who are homeschooled.  We plan for them to play soccer or go to dance lessons.  But I will not be suckered into thinking they need an activity each night of the week because they go to school at home.

6) You must think I’m a bad mom…

I’m not judging you for sending your child to regular school.  I’m not judging you for going back to work. We all have different priorities and different factors at play in the decisions we make.  Keith and I talked about homeschooling our kids before we were even married.  We planned our life, our finances, our major purchases all around the decision for me to stay home and teach our kids.  I’m not judging you – but understand that I may disagree with you about where you place certain priorities.  I place a lot of value in the time and contribution I can make in the lives of my kids simply because I am there, observing or instructing or mediating throughout the day, everyday.

I have no idea how this foray into home-based education is going to go.  I pray for patience and grace – both for and from my children – and you all.  This post isn’t meant to ruffle feathers but to provide a little insight into the mind of a parent just beginning the journey of homeschooling three small people.


Yarn Along

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DSC_9574Linking up with Ginny today for Yarn Along.  I am nearly done reading Christian Mythmakers by Rolland Hein.  I don’t have a picture of the book, but if you’re really curious you can click on the title and it will take you to amazon and you can see for yourself.  Our copy is very well-loved.  I’ve been reading this book off and on for a year and since most of my reading time is in the bathtub – well, the poor thing has seen better days.

 

The sweater is Odette by Carrie Bostick Hoge and it was awesome.  The yarn is Berroco Vintage Worsted weight in “Pool Party.”  The colour was completely his choice.  I took him to a couple of different yarn stores and showed him shelves of blue but he picked roughly the same turquoise each time.  He loves it.  Well, he loves it as much as any 5-year-old who only wants to wear shorts and a t-shirt can love a sweater. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Lucy has requested her own in purple (naturally).DSC_9576