Outside my window...
It's beautiful. Truly. So green, so lush, so sunny and bright.
I am thinking...
At the church nursery Sunday I worked with a mom who will begin homeschooling her children next fall--all of whom have been public schooled up to now. She has one sister who homeschools, and three other sisters who are strongly against homeschooling because of the "socialization thing". Oh, my. This gets more irritating as the years go by.
At the thrift store recently my son Paul was confronted by an emboldened boy about 9 years old who questioned Paul mercilessly about what electronics we have around here. Do you have this game or that game? Do you have this hand-held thing or that one? You mean you don't even have this? Or that? Paul has no desire for these things because he's not bombarded with them for one, and because I've explained that they're addictive. He has heard an AWANA friend talk about playing computer games until late at night with his dad, so Paul believes me that these games are addictive. We've talked about how addiction can rob people of motivation and prevent them from setting and meeting important goals.
If school is completed, my kids are allowed 24 daily minutes of computer games Mon - Sat from CoolMathGames.com or PBS.com. That's it for electronics...our desktop PC with no software but World Book Encyclopedia.
So I was a bit surprised to find Paul somewhat frustrated and teary-eyed after the boy walked away. He explained that it wasn't about the games, but about the way the boy treated him because we didn't have them.
All I could think was, thank goodness we homeschool. My kids can be who they want to be without harassment. They can live smartly without being ridiculed for it. They can live in a state of personal peace, listening to the voices of God, of parents, of those who love them. Why is any other voice necessary at this stage of life? These are the discipling years. There are enough dissenting voices at church, at AWANA, and from neighbors to give them enough of a challenge. They wouldn't benefit from a challenge 30+ hours a week from peers.
When kids graduate from high school none of the social hierarchy matters anymore. Most of them based their identity on peer evaluations, and where did it leave them after graduation? Not knowing who they are, or what they stand for. (A minority could have been strengthened by the intense challenge, yes.)
Parents socialize their children, not peers. To be socialized is to be taught how to behave and react in a variety of situations, among people old and young, poor and rich, healthy and sick, functional and dysfunctional, educated and uneducated. All children and teens are trying to find their way and they can't help one another very much, but they can sure harm one another. They need an adult discipler, not an age-based peer group. Where else in life are there age-based peer groups?
The young man who killed six in Santa Barbara was mentally ill, but he was also distraught over being a 22-year-old virgin who didn't have a smooth way with women. He never fit in. All the shooters over the years failed to fit in. The money and privilege and sense of entitlement they suffered from was certainly part of the problem, but we can't discount how broken they were simply because they didn't fit in. God simply didn't create all of us to fit in. That isn't His system and I don't believe he wants us to create a system in our hearts or in our institutions whereby we force people to fit in. No wonder our institutions and our children are sick. The in-crowd is a bit like Hitler and his chosen people. God help us.
Children should grow up in a safe, loving environment. Daily concern over how they fit in is not safe, it's not loving, it's not healthy. Even the ones who do fit in, either because they have the right clothes, the right gadgets, the right interests, have to watch those who don't fit in suffer, and wonder if they themselves might ever fall out of grace. What if my dad ever loses his job and I lose my iPhone? Everyone who's anyone has an iPhone. What if I act too good or kind, or too smart or too conscientious? What if the teacher seems to be proud of me and the other kids sense it?
The goal becomes to be like the mainstream, not because you think the mainstream is smarter or better than you, but because to be different is risky. Some kids can handle it--and public school is a great option for them and their families--but far too many cannot.
Incidentally, if public school is the only option financially, I believe God's grace, through parents' prayers, will cover a multitude. God is faithful.
I have great respect for some local Christian public-schooled families, knowing they gave the decision lots of prayer and the Lord led them to it. And I don't have the energy for education soapboxes until I hear that homeschool is not a good option because of the "socialization issue". This is so far from the truth that anyone who utters it, especially in this current climate, embarrasses themselves, truly. I stay out of these discussions verbally, but oh, how they stir the fire in me.
Tim Challis wrote a wonderful 3-part series on homeschooling reminding the church that educational choice isn't an issue that should divide Christians. The text he uses is Romans 14 about the weak and strong brother and the holy days and the meat sacrificed to idols. His is a public-schooled family, and when he penned the article in 2011, he was increasingly seeing Christians exit the public schools so that the majority in many churches were homeschooling families.
Around here, that is far from true. Only in the last 9-12 months have homeschool families come to our church. We've been in the vast minority in our area for the 7 years we've homeschooled. Apparently, this is not true for some parts of the country.
I read all three parts of Tim's article and there were many nuggets of wisdom. And the comments section was...well, memorable. Here is a nugget of his wisdom that relates to what I'm trying to relay here:
The man who enrolls his children in public schools without counting the cost and without carefully shepherding them along the way is not weak or strong—he is stupid. The person who homeschools his children because he thinks that the 4 walls of his home will protect them from sin and worldliness is not weak or strong—he is foolish.
Our original decision to homeschool was based on a respected study indicating that 93 % of homeschooled Christians kept their faith after high school, as opposed to less than 30% of public-schooled Christians. That really spoke to us 7 years ago, but now it isn't the primary reason. Many hidden beauties of homeschooling having to do with home being where the heart is, now shine brighter. These reasons can't be explained, only felt.
I do not think and would not tell someone that homeschooling is a primary way to ensure the salvation of children. First of all, nothing can assure that, except the Holy Spirit himself. While homeschooling is helpful because of the time available, it's far less important than the father of the home being the spiritual leader. Research supports that point--that fathers make the most impact.
My advice to any parent is to know why you feel the way you do, and pray much. Be able to give a reason for your hope, either way.
I am thankful...
~ for the sweet, wonderful taste of the strawberries this year. So divine and perfect.
~ for the joy of serving dinner to guests.
~ for the privilege of being a mom.
~ a long letter from Sheila from Uganda.
~ In the warm months, blogs can get as little as a quarter of the regular traffic. So if you've actually read this far down, I'm thankful for that, friend. :)
~ the simple joy in a child's heart over park visits.
~ ground turkey--even lean ground turkey--is cheap, and there are never-ending ways of preparing it. There, I said it.
~ that I've relaxed enough as a teacher and mother to allow my learners to be what God created them to be, rather than what an arbitrary system says they should be.
~ that to my five year old there is nothing better than a cuddle in Momma's arms with a story.
~ for the power of story.
~ for the glorious old movies, for all their depth, charm, and for the way they stick with you and make you smile during the day, long after the reel stopped.
~ for my husband, who will stay up with me to watch old movies like "An Affair to Remember", and like it as much as me.
In the kitchen...
Am I the only one having trouble cooking with joy in the humidity? We do have central air, so saying this makes me a spoiled brat. Our outdoor grill has issues so I am praying for inspiration. I must cook 7 nights a week, grill or no grill.
~ taco bar, fresh grapes, strawberry shortcake
~ steamed veggies, ground turkey macaroni (brown ground turkey with spices and mix with some tomato sauce. Combine cooked noodles with meat mixture. Heat milk and some flour until thickened, turn off burner, add some grated cheese, mix until melted and smooth, combine with meat/pasta mixture. Add some grated cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes. Kid-friendly and easy. Leave a comment if you want the complete recipe.)
~ chili, cornbread, fresh fruit
~ garlic cheddar chicken, brown rice, spring mix steamed veggies
~ bowtie pasta with turkey sausage sauce, salad
~ crockpot chicken enchiladas, black beans, brown rice, thawed berry mix with vanilla ice cream
~ homemade whole wheat pancakes, fresh fruit, turkey bacon
I am wearing...
Liz Claiborne rayon thrifted skirt in navy and tan with navy tee
I am creating...
a God-centered home, I hope. Daily human capacity is not always equal to daily human goals. But God's grace fills the gap for the Christian. Praise God.
I am going...
Monday five of six dental cleanings were finished up. Tuesday we drive 30 minutes one way to give Rudy the beagle back to his foster mom. Sniff. Sniff. I finally narrowed it down to fear aggression as his main issue, after talking to a resource person the rescue operation referred me to. It's the most unpredictable type of aggression, and thus the most dangerous.
Wednesday is Beth's rheumatology check-up. Friday is a library visit. Next week we have only a speech therapy appointment and that's it. Now you have a little insight as to why we school year round. Appointments definitely tend to get in the way.
The boys and my husband and a neighbor boy have a fishing derby this Saturday morning.
I am wondering...
...what novel to have Peter read next. He's been done with Sonlight for several weeks and reading what I hand him next. He's currently reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, a 1956 Newbery Medal Winner by Jean Lee Latham.
Synopsis: Readers today are still fascinated by “Nat,” an eighteenth-century nautical wonder and mathematical wizard. Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a sailor’s world—Salem in the early days, when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. But Nat didn’t promise to have the makings of a sailor; he was too physically small. Nat may have been slight of build, but no one guessed that he had the persistence and determination to master sea navigation in the days when men sailed only by “log, lead, and lookout.” Nat’s long hours of study and observation, collected in his famous work, The American Practical Navigator (also known as the “Sailors’ Bible”), stunned the sailing community and made him a New England hero.
I am reading...
Still reading 1 Corinthians with the children in the mornings. Started Carry On, Mr. Bowditch but I'm not too far yet. My husband is reading The Hobbit to the boys every night after the girls go the bed.
I am hoping...
(and praying) that each child will court someone here in our home or in their beloved's home, and never consider dating.
Around the house...
clean because Sunday was Bible study and a dinner party.
Scripture to Share...
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.