Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mom, What Does Encouraging Mean?


To come alongside, to carry, to take up another's burdens: to encourage.  There are many moment that I can recall when I have been there to encourage another.  I have dropped my life to shoulder another's.  To be the encourager is a comfortable place for me because I am giving aid while remaining strong.  It is joyful to meet another's needs.  And safe.


To make yourself available, to need, to reveal: to be vulnerable.  To say that I bristle at the mention of needing help is kind.  Typically, I would rather hurt myself trying than ask for help.  But when Jesus described his Kingdom, I am not sure he envisioned the most-of-these swooping in to help the least.  There is no class system in the Kingdom of God.  We are called not only to serve, but to be served.  Before Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, Jesus's feet were washed by a woman so low his disciples, who were common workers, were uncomfortable around her.  But our Lord, our incarnate God, submitted to encouragement and the embrace of a forgotten, unlovely woman.  Be dwell in God's kingdom is not a string of service opportunities, but an invitation to be known and to seek to know.  Through that knowing we find community.  


To love, to train, to cry, to worry, to need: to parent.  Children are needy.  Relentlessly and unapologetically so.  They are willing to stop and ask and cry and demand.  They love unreservedly because they don't imagine that they could ever be rejected.  Their joy is just as full as their pain, and I should learn from them.

So, I promise to follow in the footsteps of my children into God's great and glorious kingdom.  I promise to strive not only to know but to be known and refuse to allow my need to be sufficient to deprive myself the joy of living in the sufficiency of God's grace.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Disease

Homeschoolers, new or old, are immediately afflicted by the same disease.

Are we doing enough?  

Will my children be able to function socially?

Am I going to cover everything my children need to know to give them the opportunity to go where God leads them?

Doubt is a dreadful disease, and it can steal the joy that makes homeschooling so special.

I graduated from my mother's homeschool and went on to a successful post secondary career where I felt prepared to explore the academic choices available to me...and I can hold down my end of a conversation...or I could until I had 539 children.

Did I do everything, read everything, play with only wooden toys and end my days snuggling hand-felted, neutral-expressioned dolls.  Nope.  And we worried and fretted every year about whether or not my bothers and I would be able to assimilate to higher education...


Homeschooling family, I give you permission to sink deeply into each day, love each other more than your schedule, stop looking around in fear and learn to see the moments in each day that matter.

Yes, you must slog through the basics, but after you check that box, there might just be a honeybee on a flower that unfolds a science lesson before you in just the gentle way that will capture your child's mind and heart.

Of course this life is hard.  Of course kids will cry and pitch fits.  Of course you will worry and wonder.  Of course the little ones will bother the big ones.  Of course the laundry will pile up.  But, perfection is not why you entered into this path.  Graduation is not the real goal.

When I graduated from my homeschooling experience this is what I found: the sum total of the facts I learned were secondary to the slowly, quietly, peripherally acquired skill of wonder.

So, from time to time the lesson plans, sensory bins, extra-curriculars and perfectly coordinated unit studies get trampled by life, but school is long and durable and children grow and change each day.  

When doubt threatens your joy, look at those faces so prone to wonder, and find a honeybee


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Life is snickering at me

For those of you who do not know (my children), I have a four year degree in music during which I studied piano.  I have about 26 years of experience in classical piano including one year of a masters in music theory.  I have about 15 years of teaching experience and have special training in early childhood music.  I spent my collegiate summers doing music internships and intensive immersion programs.  

And, my kids picked...the VIOLIN!!  Laine begged for two years to play the violin.  We said maybe, drug our feet, offered piano (you know, MY instrument) and finally gave in.  Now, we have a line in front of the dusty piano for a turn on the Suzuki violin foot chart.  

Yes, I am a classically trained piano teacher, and my children are fighting over their turns to play the violin.

My brother played the violin.

I play the piano.

I have already been through beginning violin and still remember vividly that tiny violins tiny violins.  I remember listening to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in an interminable loop.  I remember, smugly thinking, it's a good thing that I teach tiny violins in my future.

Annabel had her first violin lesson this week.  She was thrilled!  She needs a 1/32 size violin (if anyone has one...), which, for those of you keeping score, is the tiniest of the tiny violins.  Basically it is a key chain with strings.  

So, I bummed my brother's old violin off my mom...and decided to join 'em!

And you know what...I was mistaken!  Tiny violins sound like happiness rolled in fairy dust.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Our Little School

Our school pace sorta matches my pace these days...slow.  Our days are full of absurdly huge worms, counting, music...lots and lots of music, and all kinds of ways for Mama to run the fire out of these cherubs.   I think they are having fun, but I am seriously dominating kindergarten!!  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

In My Weakness

Confession: I fell flat on my face this week.  It wasn't pretty and I wasn't super.  I was tired and frantic and overwhelmed.  I got the hard news that I am at the end of myself.

But, it is actually wonderful news.  My strength has failed.  Utterly.  And here in this place I must ask for help.  Simply and humbly.  I can not paint a picture of how beautiful and charming my life is because I get up finished and stagger from one rest period to the next.  I find I haven't written because writing blossoming words about bread-making and nurturing children and vegetables echo in the emptiness of my self.  It seems that out here in the world there is no place for feebleness and limping, but I am feeble and I waddle when I don't limp.  I have struggled forward because what hounds me is the desire to be sufficient and the guilt of need.  Help is a beautiful, terrible word because it implies need and vulnerability, and it took just a bit more than everything I had to learn to whisper it.

Often people ask how I do this life, and truly, today, I do it soaked in prayer, but not in my own feeble prayers but in those who have come along side me and shown me what community means.  This week, I have known what it is to be carried, and it hurt--it hurt to know that I can't.  The stubbornness that marbles my bones threatened to make me miss this opportunity.  It is uncomfortable to be needy.  It is wretched to be unable.  It is beautiful to finally, gratefully come to the end of myself and reach out and find the hands that are always there and will always be.  

I am not pressing on, I am pressing in.  Grace and mercy have found me and I have met them with joy and pain.  I am a very slow learner and sickeningly stubborn, so it is with great relief that I travel here to the end of myself and learn to be quiet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Just a bit more full than I ever imagined

I can't juggle.

In fact, I can barely catch.

So, balancing this wild crew is a full-brain activity for me.  

Part of me wants to apologize for writing so infrequently, but, the truth is, in my absence from this place I have been present in another.

A few updates:

  1. Plants in bags don't do that well.  Probably fertilizer would have helped.  
  2. Our new little arrival is being impatiently awaited by her brothers and sister (and parents).  Names in the running: Tigger, Squirt and Annabel Laine...
  3. Laine has lost two teeth and learned to ride a two wheeled bike this summer.
I am almost sure this doesn't make me old, but it might.