Thursday, October 6, 2011

When Grace is Enough

Another homeschool year has started in our house.  As I sat down to start documenting our home & school life again on this blog, I realized that first I must share the event that has shaped the months since my last post.

I want to tell you the story of my Dad’s death.  That might sound like a harsh way to put it, but that is exactly what it is.  People always feel so free to share birth stories, so I ask you, why not death stories? Death is just as natural a part of life as birth. I know, we just don’t like to think about it, but it’s still there. If you have ever been with a loved one in their final weeks, than you will know what I mean when I say that a person’s passing can be just as precious as a person’s birth.

I write this for a few reasons; first, to honor my Father, secondly in hopes that it can encourage others going through similar circumstances, and lastly, but most important of all, to give The Lord all the glory & credit for everything He did for us during this time.

My father was diagnosed with lung cancer on Dec. 1, 2010, his 62nd birthday.  He went right into treatment and things started looking up.  By spring it looked as if he just might beat it. All of his tests were coming back with encouraging results, then he started having trouble breathing.  This was followed by a series of hospital stays, which eventually lead to a diagnosis of a rare pneumonia only seen in persons with deficient immunity, a side affect of chemotherapy & radiation.  My Dad fought hard, was put on a respirator, but in the end he could not fight this pneumonia.  He passed away on June 18th, the day before Father’s Day.

Those are the facts of my Father’s death, but it is only the beginning of the story.  The heart of this story is the grace & mercy of God’s wisdom & love.  As you can imagine, this was a very difficult time for my Mother, her children, children-in-law & grandchildren.  A nurse at the hospital asked me how it was that we were handling this “so well”.  She was not the only one who asked me similar questions during this time.  This got me thinking.  What kind of behavior did they expect from us?  We were sad, crying, praying – just what I think a mourning family would be like.  Then I realized what it was. In the midst of all our sorrow we had peace and hope.  The kind of peace and hope that only comes from faith in Christ alone.

Many asked how I could have faith in a God who would allow this to happen to my Dad at such a young age. That’s a good question.  For many people it is the ultimate question, and there are many answers, but I like this one the best.  To answer this, I look at Jesus, God’s own son.  What did God the Father allow into Jesus’s life on Earth?  He was homeless, penniless, mocked, ridiculed, challenged, betrayed by those he loved, arrested, beaten, tortured, publicly humiliated, and murdered in the most gruesome way imaginable at that time.  Now this is just the short list of what Jesus endured in his earthly life.  Why did God allow these things?  He allowed them to accomplish his plan, to make a way for us to choose to come to him and be with him for eternity.  If God can allow these horrible things to happen to his own son for my benefit, surely he is willing to allow these things in my own life for the benefit of others and myself!  Simply put, God allows things he hates in order to accomplish what he loves, our salvation & growth in him!

What did my father’s struggle accomplish? How can I count it as grace?  Well, I don’t know everything God is accomplishing through this.  That’s how big God is!  His plan is so big I cannot begin to comprehend it all, but I will share with you a few things I am aware of within my knowledge. 

·      The Lord showed up in many personal ways during this time. Showing us that he was there with us.  Some are too personal to share here, but I will share one.  My father was the kind of guy who said the day was over by noon.  He got upset that doctors didn’t make appointments before 8am.  He would say, “If you are not up by 5 am your day is shot.” Well, on the day we had planned to take my father off the respirator and let him go, we were all going to meet at the hospital around noon, but that was too late in the day for my dad.  He passed away a little after 6am on that day.  We laughed about this right from the start.  It was the Lord showing us he knew the man my dad was. Even though my dad was on life support and was heavily sedated that whole last week, God preserved my dad’s personality right to his last moments.

·      My family came together in a new way.  Joint suffering is a crucible for relationships.  We all grew closer.

·      Family members and friends who are not believers in Christ got to see our faith in action.  Now I am not saying we were perfect examples at all, but I do believe that we were used by the Holy Spirit to plant some seeds of faith that I am praying will continue to grow.

·      Personally, I came to a new place of faith.  I have always had one favorite Bible verse. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11. Before this summer, I had a very juvenile way of clinging to this verse. To me it meant that God would take of me and I would always be OK. It does mean that, but I understood in such a childish way.  For example, if I lost my job it was because a better one was right around the corner.  Instead, I think it can mean something more like this, I lost my job and it took me 6 months to find one, but during that time, my family and I grew closer, learned to be much better stewards of our blessings, and grew closer to and more reliant on God as a family and individuals. Like the song, “Blessings” by Laura Story says ~ “What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know You’re near?”  I’ll take the sleepless nights.  Through this I have gotten to know the Lord so much better, and come to this place of complete trust.  I am starting to understand that my hope and future are all in Jesus and developing my relationship and dependence on him!

·      Jer 29:11 brings me to another way God showed up personally for me and my Mom.  The morning Dad was put on a respirator; Mom & I took a walk the healing garden at the hospital.  In the middle of this garden is a big metal tree sculpture with metal leaves.  As a fundraiser the hospital sold these leaves and engraved them personal messages. Most say In memory of so and so, or have names of the donors on them.  They also scattered a few leaves sticking out of the ground on metal branches along the path.  For, me this was my lowest point emotionally.  I knew I might never be able to speak to my father again.  As Mom and I are walking, we turned a corner in the path and right in front of us is a leaf engraved with “Jer. 29:11”.   There were no other leaves that I could see with scripture references. I wish I could let the person know who paid for that leaf how The Lord used them to minister to me at that moment!

·      Lastly, and most importantly, is what this experience did for my father.  My Dad needed to look his mortality in the face in order to come to complete faith in Jesus.  He had to see the possibility of his life in an hourglass.  He had always believed in God, but facing this moved his faith from head knowledge to heart knowledge.  My Dad still kept his faith a personal thing, but I know he accepted Jesus as his savior.  And when you have a loved one facing their death, eternity is all that matters. Really, it is all that matters at any time!

So, I would have loved to have my Dad longer. 62 feels too young to die, but I trust that this was God’s will for him.  I gladly trade time here on earth with my Dad for his security and eternal life in Heaven, and I know he is there alive and well! I am so thankful for all the blessings that come with the pain of not having my Dad here with us anymore.  I also know that my list of blessings is just a small part of what God has done and is doing through the circumstances of my father’s death.  God is so big, I cannot even begin to comprehend his entire plan. However, I do know one thing.  While I will miss my Dad for a little while, he is a much bigger part of my future than he is of my past.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Catch-Up Wrap Up!

Me ~ The Yearling, well I am suppose to be reading this for book club but have only done the first page. Can I get it done in 2 weeks???
La ~ The second book in The Berinfell Prophesies, Venom & Song ~ these are Christian fantasy YA fiction books. She loves fantasy books like Lord of the Rings and the like. She gets that from me!
Morning Read Aloud ~ A Wind in the Door, Second in the A Wrinkle in Time Series ~ more fantasy!

Learning & Living at Home ~
I have lots to update since I haven’t written one of these in a while. I will try to be brief! La has been bouncing around topics in her study time. Her latest bounce was from Planets to Egypt. She found a book at the Library in Scholastic’s series Horrible Histories about Egypt & loves it. It’s history with all the gruesome details. Kids love the yucky stuff. Some people worry about this being an expression of our sin nature, but I think it is more about a safe way to deal with and process the yucky stuff in our world that they need to deal with. Like dressing up in a scary costume ~ it’s a safe way to confront these issues.

La has also taken it upon herself to learn her times tables. She works on it everyday. We purchased for her a copy of the Timez Attack program, of which you can get a free version here. She is over half way through it and is really getting them down. After she learns these & masters long division she will be able to restart Life of Fred. This is a really engaging math program that we both love! She has also been very diligent in her spelling work.

Out & About ~
Firefly Corps is still going on along with art classes at Kimball Art Center & PE Class. Farm Team is over. I can’t believe I missed blogging about the whole Farm Team season! La had training every Saturday & Sunday & a few night trainings. She also Had 4 Giant Slalom & 1 Slalom race. She is the only kid in her coaching group that did not miss a single practice or race! Last week we got to go to the US Ski & Snowboard Association’s Center of Excellence and take a tour. This was such a treat, because it is usually only open to US Ski & Snowboard Team Members & Coaches. It is literally 4 miles from our house and the only one in the country!
The kids going crazy in the ramps & tramps area!

La & her friend in the foam pit
 Video Below of YSL (Youth Ski League) Finals

My Journey ~
In book club we have read Jane Eyre & David Copperfield. I have taught myself to crochet & opened an Etsy shop. I also started a blog about my crocheting and shop. I’m trying to do 2 tutorials a month on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday. I am also coming up with my own unique patterns which I plan to sell. If you crochet you can go to Facebook & like my fan page here. I will be looking for pattern testers soon!

I am also in the throws of planning Vacation Bible School. This year I wanted to do something different. I have been inspired to do an Extreme Creation Science Camp! The ideas are coming along nicely. It should be a lot of fun.

Hopefully I will get another update done next week. I am already thinking about next year - school wise. So I will share some of that. Can you say Homeschool Co-Op? :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm Back

I cannot believe how long it has been since I have posted on this blog. I wanted to be so diligent with my weekly wrap-ups.
Well here is the last few months wrapped up!

Ski season stared & La started on the her racing team. Her racing season is over & ski season is almost over! I went back to Mt. Hosting once a week and that is almost over! La has been very good about making weekly goals & her daily study list. Her main goals right now seem to be reading about science, getting her math facts down & playing her tin whistle. I see little glimpses of an emerging scholar in this new ability to set goals that take more than one day to accomplish.

I have started an online Etsy shop. It's going slow but I have learned a lot about crocheting. I also started a crochet, crafty blog. Links to these are on the sidebar (or will be soon).

Snow is melting & spring birds are back. Mud season is upon us and I cannot wait until we dry out a little. Hopefully from now on I will be faithful to my weekly wrap-ups & ponderings about our homeschool life.

Until my next epiphany or weekly wrap-up, whichever comes first!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bloggy Moms Blog Hop

Bloggy Moms is Having a Blog Hop.  I can't wait o find some time to look at all these blog. I have been very absent these last few weeks. I will explain in a later post. I'll be back soon!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 11/8 to 11/12

Me ~ Pride and Prejudice
La ~ Finished Shiloh Season & Started Percy Jackson ~ The Sea of Monsters
Morning Read Aloud ~ Finished The Silver Chair & Started The Last Battle

Learning & Living at Home ~
Lots of reading and math games this week. La finished one book and is halfway through another. This is amazing to me considering that she only started reading beyond “cat, mat, sat” a little over a year ago. When it clicks, it clicks!

The math games are really helping La get her facts down. One game we play involves adding and subtracting negative numbers. She uses a number line, but is really getting this concept down! It’s funny because I never intended to teach this. It makes me wonder what other things she is learning incidentally. You just can’t stop kids from learning! Why would you want to?

We are enjoying The Last Battle. So, far it is a pretty dark book for the Narnia Series. It is reminding me of thing going on on our society today.

I tried my hand at making fabric flowers. My sister in law directed me to some  great tutorials at Snazzie Drawers. This is my first attempt. If I can get good at it & faster, I am going to open a shop on

Out & About ~
Our Firefly Corps meeting was on Monday. It was our first meeting on Israel. We learned about kosher food, Hanukkah, and the Uzi submachine gun (which was invented by an Israeli man).  Lots of fun & matzo ball soup!

My Journey ~
This week we I had my book club meeting on Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto.  It was a great discussion. It made me think about what a real education is and question all my assumptions. I hope to write about that soon. Now we are reading Pride & Prejudice for our December meeting. I have been looking forward to a novel! I am enjoying it so far.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review - Weapons of Mass Instruction

What It’s All About

I was very excited to read this book as I enjoyed the authors other book, Dumbing Us Down.  I was not disappointed. As with Dumbing Us Down, this book is more like a collection of essays. Each chapter can stand alone or be read together. Occasionally JTG (John Taylor Gatto) does reference previous chapters, but not to the extent that chapters cannot be read independently. As I read I discovered some central themes running through most chapters.
  • The belief (with evidence to back it up) that the public school system is purposely designed to retard human potential.
  • The idea of school extending childhood into teens, 20’s & beyond.
  • The idea of open source learning as the best option. In a nutshell this is the idea that education can come from a variety of unlimited sources.
  • The value of dialectic reasoning & how it has vanished from our schools.
  • Schooling & education are mutually exclusive

There are many others but these stand out in my memory.

What I Liked

This book got my questioning all my assumptions about education. Which is the essence of dialectic reasoning. I realized that I am still affected by my own school experience & it has an influence our home education. I am now thinking about what a true education is and realizing it has nothing to do with knowledge base and everything to do with knowing who you are and being able to use your brain! 

This book, unlike Dumbing Us Down, uses evidence and facts, that can easily be verified on the internet, to support his conclusions. Now I know about the documents and evidence that support his experience with the dumbing agenda of schools. I can reference these and speak intelligently on the topic.

The aspect of this book I enjoyed the most is stories of those who did not fit into school, devised their own plan and achieved success.  Many of these stories showcase very young people, as young as nine, doing what we would call adult things. They are making a contribution to their families & communities. This has got me thinking about how to incorporate this aspect into our lives.

What I Didn’t Like

I did feel some of the book was rather self-indulgent. One chapter is a letter to his granddaughter, but it reads like it is for the book, not written by a grandpa giving advise.  Also, as much as I enjoyed the stories of success without school, some of them where undeveloped or depicted immoral behavior. One example is the 16 year old girl who sailed around the world alone without any sailing experience. He tells the story in a paragraph and you are left wondering ~ How did this girl get food & supplies in the 2 years she was out there completely alone? Another example is the pornography website owner & stripper who dropped out of high school and wrote the script for the movie Juno that won her an academy award. It seemed as though he was condoning her involvement in the sex industry because it contributed to her success.

Lastly, I feel JTG can be a little too extreme. As if there is no hope for kids in school. I think that is a little extreme. While I do agree that schools have an outright agenda to stifle creativity and personal growth, I also believe that the human spirit is too strong in some to be quenched. After all, I was the kind of kid who did well in school and liked most of it, yet here I am a free thinking, always questioning, homeschooling libertarian. Explain that. I cannot.

The Bottom Line  -  My rating - ★★★★☆

This is a great read for everyone. There is enough information and examples to make the most committed standardized schooling believer think twice.  I think it is a must read for all parents. The problem with books like this is that it will not be read by books those who need to read it. As a homeschooler, you will find it encouraging and affirming. You may find yourself making a pledge to NEVER send your kids to school!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 11/1 to 11/5

Me ~ Weapons of Mass Instruction & Pride and Prejudice
La ~ Shiloh Season
Morning Read Aloud ~ The Silver Chair

Learning & Living at Home ~
Poetry & Projects
This week we spent a lot of time reading poetry.  La always says she doesn’t like poetry which I thought was due to her lack of exposure to it. I was right. I took several books out of the library on poetry. I checked out a large variety ~ silly kids poems, Robert Frost & Edgar Allan Poe to name a few. La really liked Edgar Allan Poe!  This interest is probably because of due Halloween. The Poe book had a small biography which gave us a chance to talk about his alcoholism & how that effected his poetry. It’s amazing how insightful a 9 year old can be! Now she wants me to read her The Pit & the Pendulum & The Cask of Amontillado! I think she needs to wait a few years for those!

We also did a few projects. I had bought some flannel to make La some jammy pants. When we went to start the project, I discovered I didn’t buy enough! So we made a pillow case instead.

Isn't this the cutest flannel!

La also made & designed a cat toy. The cats loved that!

We learned about Nov. 5th being Guy Fawkes Day in Britain.  We talked about whether the men in the Gun Powder Plot were traitors or freedom fighters.  It’s a good topic for discussion! I highly recommend the movie V for Vendetta for adults & youth on the topic of tyranny & freedom. (Warning - it’s very comic book style violent, but great themes.)

Out & About ~
This past weekend was Halloween! La was a Zombie. We had 3 little girls ages 4,6 & 8 spend the weekend with us! It was a lot of fun & a great learning experience for my only child! :-)

Firefly Corps met on Monday. It was our second meeting on India. The girls presented on Indian food, Henna & traditional dress.  This club is something we look forward to with great anticipation!

My Journey ~
I have been reading Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto.  It is really challenging my assumptions about education! He relates all these biographies of people who were out in the world contributing to their families & community at very young ages. It has made me think about whether or not we are living in a homeschool bubble & how to get out of the bubble!  I am considering adding a lot more community service type activities to our lives. I am not sure the final form of this yet. My book club meeting for this book is Tuesday. I can’t wait to discuss it!
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