March 31, 2005

Favorite Blogs

I haven't quite figured out how to link these blogs to mine, so I will just post them here. If you are looking for some great blogs with loads of articles to ponder:

http://heartkeepercommonroom.blogspot.com

http://beehive5.blogspot.com/

Happy reading!

March 30, 2005

Well, it finally happened...

It happened last week. I was chatting with an acquaintance, when it was said. "What was said, you ask?" Well, the "why I could never homeschool our children" speech and "why you are obviously weird, fanatical, and downright snooty because you do." As mentioned on this blog before, this is our first full year of homeschooling. I learned very quickly to never answer the following questions posed by friends, family or interested parties:

1) So WHAT curriculum do you use?
2) So WHAT kind of special training do you have?
3) So WHO monitors your schooling?
4) So WHY did you decide to homeschool?

As new homeschoolers, I will admit that we tend to be a bit zealous about it. I cannot help it, I just love it and wish that I would have done it years ago. I am considerate of others who do not share my exuberance for the subject, of course. I guess, though, that I just don't seem to get the same kind of treatment from those who question the whys and whats and whos behind our decision.

I digress. Back to last week. I was standing there when the first question was posed..."so how old is your son?" This was followed by, "what grade is he in?" Which quickly led to, "and what school does your son attend?" I never quite know how to answer these questions any more. Last year, before HS, I would have replied without thinking but this year it is different. In part, it is because of the mixed reaction I have received whenever I mention that I homeschool my child. I have found that most people are very respectful to me. But occassionally, I get comments from people who are either anti-homeschooling, ignorant of the whole subject, or are just down-right insecure around anyone who chooses to do something against the norm.

After a quick breath, I answered with "um...we homeschool." I could tell that this person fit into that later category of people who were uncomfortable with the subject. There was a bit of fidgeting, some squirming, and then awkward glances left, right, up and down. And without saying another word on my part, there it was. "I could never homeschool my two brats. They would just drive me nuts and I would have to kick them outside just to keep my sanity." I had never received this response before and, honestly, I was speechless (a rare feat for me, one who proudly wears the label "verbose"). I thought to myself, "Is that really how you feel about your children?" "Don't you realize what you are saying?" It was a good thing that her 'brats' were not present at that moment. I mean, let's just consider the damage to their self-esteem.

The conversation quickly turned away as a mutual friend arrived and started conversing with this woman. I never had the opportunity to respond with anything remotely appropos. Not that it would have helped much, but at least I would have felt a bit better. So I walked away and thought about this woman's words. I thought about her children, her life, her choices, and why she views her children with such disdain. In truth, this woman probably didn't even consider her words (isn't that the truth with so many people) and if she could hear them , she would take them back and say that she 'loved' her children very much indeed.

The problem is that 'words do matter.' You cannot take them back and once they are out, they are out. I decided to keep this episode as a reminder to myself to watch my own words and to carefully choose them. I long to be thoughtful, articulate, and slow to speak rather than the oft-opinionated, woman that I am.

Food for thought...and words to keep.

March 26, 2005

Even if you're on the right track...

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
- Will Rogers

How appropos? I often find that when I seem most frustrated, it is because I have stopped moving forward and have decided instead to sit down and drop out. It reminds me of when I was in high school and decided that I would go out for the track team. There was a friend in my Earth Science class, her name was Debbie, and she had long blonde hair and a very slim, lithe body. I, on the other hand, had short croppy hair (this was before blow dryers and gel), and was as skinny as a rail. Not to mention that I also wore thick glasses and had metal braces on my teeth. I thought Debbie was the epitome of health and fitness and was just so beautiful. She was a year ahead of me, a sophmore, and was a star runner on our school's track team. She was bright, an A student, a member of the National Honors Society, French aide, and all-around super gal. She was everything I wasn't and back in those days, that meant that I spent most days passing by unnoticed (you could call me a wall-flower). I wanted to be just like her and so with her encouragement, I went out for track.

Well, all my dreams of running track, soaring over the high hurdles, and coming in 1st place to the cheers of my school, never materialized. My short stint on the team included shin splints, tossing my cookies after a particularly long run, being humiliated by the boy's track team and coach, tripping over the hurdles, landing flat on my backside during the long jump, and just generally being miserable and cold (did I mention that we were running in the spring, in Illinois?) On one particularly bad practice, the boys team had taken to heckling the girls team, and in particular, those of us who were not very good at running or jumping. We were running 880s and as I rounded the turn, I pulled a hamstring muscle and ended up down on the track. The boys team howled (this was before PC) and I just sat there are started to cry. Crying is not the best thing to do when you are trying to be a star athlete but between the pain and the frustration, it was all I could do. So I sat there and watched as the other girls and boys just passed me by. The next day, I told my coach that I was quitting track. It would not be the first time that I decided to sit down and drop out.

Several years later, I did the same thing when I decided to forgo attending San Jose State University to study Art and chose instead to attend the local Junior College. My grades were not the best, but they were good enough to get me into the University. The very idea of attending the "U" was more than I could handle. I worried about how I would make it from one side of the campus to the other, how I would handle all the courses and assignments, how I would make friends, and how I would make grades. More importantly, I just knew that my artistic skill could in no way compete with the other artists studying in the program. It didn't matter that I was constantly being told that I was very good and had talent and that I should consider studying in Paris or Chicago or San Fransico. It was too much for me and instead of staying the course, I chose to sit down and drop out.

It wouldn't be until 10 years later that the desire to return to school would resurface and I would finally make the choice to finish my education. A lot had happened to me in the ensuing 10 years : I had gotten married, I worked at a number of high-tech jobs, I took on a lot of responsibility, and I matured and came to see that I did indeed have gifts and talents and that God had a plan and purpose for my life. No, I was not destined to be a track star, and no, I was not destined to be a fine artist.

I read once that motivation comes in all forms and that it doesn't take some lofty goal or vision to motivate us to change. In fact, any thing can be used as a motivator -- even things that we consider to be vengeful or spiteful. For me, while the desire to finish my education was important (it was more important to my parents) it was really the desire to prove to my co-workers (those with degrees) that I had what it would take to be successful. You see, back then (again before PC), it was not uncommon for certain levels of employees to make rude or snide remarks to the support staff (secretaries, receptionists, etc.) It was as if we were not as good as they were because we lacked 'education.' I had had my fill of this type of treatment and even complained to HR. While sympathetic to my plight, HR refused to do anything about it and instead suggested that I take night classes to 'further my education.'

When the opportunity presented itself to return to school, I jumped at it and make the committment to graduate with honors and receive no grade less than an A. Now, I wasn't a solid student in prior college courses. I had the wits to get As, just not the determination to do it. This time, though, I was giving it my all and my motivator was the 'payback' of those men and women who had sneered down at me and at all of those who did the same type of work.

But something wonderful happened to me during my time at the University. I realized that I did have what it takes to be successful. My desire for payback soon faded and was replaced by an internal fire , a deep desire to gain knowledge and understanding. I longed to be 'educated.' I achieved my goal in 1993 and graduated with honors. I made all As except for one B -- which of course I blame on the tiny, beautiful baby that was growing inside me at the time (yes, I was pregnant during my last semester of school).

I found my calling that year, I found my motivator. I found my reason for living, for believing, for growing and changing. Instead of finding joy in my pursuit of knowledge, I found it in the tiny hands and feet of my precious child. I have never lost the desire to learn and I still paint and draw and create (now using the computer rather than paper and pen). But my love is in the time spent with my child and my husband and in living my life in pursuit of God. It is an amazingly wonderful thing when you find your purpose in life and you embrace it.

Yes, I am on the right track and I am moving forward, daily, as I grow and mature and become the woman that God had planned and purposed me to be. Praise God for He is so good!

Grace to Forgive

The Lord has really been convicting me of a bitter root in my spirit. At this time of celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection, now more than ever, do I need to release this root and claim the forgiveness that is mine through Christ's redemptive work on the cross.

Grace to Forgive
published in Our Daily Bread


It is difficult to understand how the Lord Jesus could pray for His brutal executioners to be forgiven (Luke 23:34). We often try to excuse our unforgiving hearts by arguing that He was God, whereas we are sinful creatures. But Jesus calls us to follow His divine example.

Putting into practice the Bible's directives isn't easy. For example, it's hard to pray sincerely for God to forgive our enemies and those who humiliate and belittle us. Yet God's Word is crystal-clear: "Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

As we lift our eyes to the Lord in prayer, we can be Spirit-enabled to put into practice His most difficult directives. Think of someone toward whom you have harbored a bitter spirit. Ransack your memory if necessary. As you consider that your feelings for that person, pray: "Lord, flood my heart with compassion, and purge away my unforgiving spirit. Help me to 'live peaceably with all men'" (Romans 12:18).

If multitudes of Christians did that, what a transforming difference it would make in our marriages, our homes, and our churches. We could have a big influence on our hate-filled world. —Vernon Grounds

When others we will not forgive,
God's blessings are denied;
We must forsake our stubbornness
And banish sinful pride. —Sper

Ground that is filled with roots of bitterness needs to be plowed by the grace of God.

Read:

Romans 12:14-21

Love your enemies, . . . and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. —Matthew 5:44

Spiritual Vision Through Personal Purity

(Reposted from Oswald Chambers wonderful devotional - My Utmost for His Highest)

Spiritual Vision Through Personal Purity

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God —Matthew 5:8

Purity is not innocence—it is much more than that. Purity is the result of continued spiritual harmony with God. We have to grow in purity. Our life with God may be right and our inner purity unblemished, yet occasionally our outer life may become spotted and stained. God intentionally does not protect us from this possibility, because this is the way we recognize the necessity of maintaining our spiritual vision through personal purity. If the outer level of our spiritual life with God is impaired to the slightest degree, we must put everything else aside until we make it right. Remember that spiritual vision depends on our character—it is "the pure in heart" who "see God."

God makes us pure by an act of His sovereign grace, but we still have something that we must carefully watch. It is through our bodily life coming in contact with other people and other points of view that we tend to become tarnished. Not only must our "inner sanctuary" be kept right with God, but also the "outer courts" must be brought into perfect harmony with the purity God gives us through His grace. Our spiritual vision and understanding is immediately blurred when our "outer court" is stained. If we want to maintain personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ, it will mean refusing to do or even think certain things. And some things that are acceptable for others will become unacceptable for us.

A practical help in keeping your personal purity unblemished in your relations with other people is to begin to see them as God does. Say to yourself, "That man or that woman is perfect in Christ Jesus! That friend or that relative is perfect in Christ Jesus!"

March 25, 2005

Psalm 63

1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth
for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no
water is;

2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the
sanctuary.

3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall
praise thee.

4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in
thy name.

5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my
mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:

6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the
night watches.

7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy
wings will I rejoice.

8 My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

9 But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the
lower parts of the earth.

10 They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.

11 But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him
shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

March 23, 2005

On the Book Shelf...

Did I mention that I am reading as part of the ESO Reading for Life program? No, well skip down a few entries to the article on ESO (just make sure to come back here when you are done, ok?)

Here's a brief review of some of the books I have finished:

How to Read A Book by Mortimer Adler

This book is a required read for my ds who will be entering Year 7 in September. In fact, he will be reading this scholarly book for several years so I thought I had better do some pre-reading to check it out. It is a GREAT book! If you have never thought about the process of reading and would like to get more out of your reading, then visit your local library and check this book out.

Adler details the four levels of reading: Elementary (basically learning to read; k-6th grade), Instructional (Jr. and Sr. High reading), Analytical (this is where you actually start to read deeper and begin studying), and Synoptical (literary criticism - drawing from more than one source and then comparing and contrasting differing author's viewpoints). In this book, he gives you the study tools needed to move from an elementary reader (many adults are elementary readers) to an analytical reader (college level reading). I would rate this book as an imperative study for any Jr. High-High School student who plans on attending college.

The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

Ms. Bauer is the author of the very popular "The Well-Trained Mind," a resource how-to book on classical education. TWTM takes you explains the trivium and illiustrates a well-planned course of study for children K-12. The Well-Educated Mind is written for parents or any adult who would have liked to have been schooled 'classically.' In this book, Ms. Bauer outlines a reading program to help even the newest readers tackle the cannon of classical literature.

I checked this book out of the library because I was interested in seeing her reading list. Reading lists are the 'big' thing these days and seeing what other people, people in the know, think are worthy reads, well, is just interesting. Anyway, I found this book to be very dull, dry and boring (much like the TWTM). Again, Ms. Bauer has written an how-to guide and as such it is rich in detail and would make a good reference volume to keep on one's shelf.

It's A KEEPER

A friend shared this with me...it is DEFINITELY A KEEPER!

http://wandascountryhome.com/mywindow/index.html

March 22, 2005

Fleas and other vermin

Well, I believe I have fleas. I cannot think of anything worse than having fleas and can only surmise that our recent addition (aka Caesar) has unleashed this vermin upon us. I shall chastise him tomorrow but for now I think I will retire to the boudoir and verify the cause of all this itching...

Good night and farewell.

ESO What?

To further my goal of self-education, I have decided to become an honorary sorority sister in the ESO - Epsilon Sigma Omicron Society. Epsilon Sigma Omicron is an Honorary Sorority reading program, a part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs Education Department.

Mrs. Quincey A Meyers of Perrysville, Indiana founded ESO in 1928 with the assistance of the Indiana University. ESO became a part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs in 1950 and the California Federation of Womnen's Clubs received its ESO Charter in 1954.

The purpose is ESO is:
  • To encourage a woman's pursuit of higher education
  • To improve current and develop new study skills
  • To stimulate systematic home reading and study with minimum supervision
  • To encourage the establishment of home libraries and greater use ofpublic libraries
  • To encourage the formation of reading/study/discussion groups
The Sorority motto, "Enlighten Thy Own Pathway" is translated from the Greek "Epilame Ten Saudow Hodon."

The levels of acheivement in ESO are:

Pledge; Member; Century (some chapters add other levels)

To pledge, I will be required to read 16 books and prepare a short summary on each. To become a member I must read 48 books and to achieve a century rank, read 100.

While I will be pledging membership within my own woman's club, I am planning on starting an ESO Yahoo Group that would be open to anyone interested in becoming and ESO Reading for Life Member.

Stay tuned for more details...

What are you reading...

I have decided to pursue self-education as a means to an end. What end, you ask? Well, the end of the book, I guess. Charlotte Mason, a 19th Century British philosopher and educator coined the phrase "education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life" and believed that the process of learning never stops. She encouraged self-education for women at a time when women possessed very little rights and few were educated at all. She started one of the first teaching colleges for women (in England) and her teaching methods have gained tremendous popularity among Christian Homeschoolers (of whom, I am one) in the last two decades.

Miss Mason was an highly educated woman, well-read, and able to speak with authority on par with the notables of her time (Dickens, Darwin, etc.) There is a wonderful article that addresses the value of mothers pursuing self-education. I am posting it here as it is well-worth reading:

Mrs. Alfred Booth offers the following commentary on the subject of "The Influence and Teaching of the Educated Mother," in a paper given at the Bristol Conference of Women Workers, 1893/4:

What, then, is education? Who is the educated mother? What ought her teaching and influence to be?

What is education? We are apt to think we know very well what education is, and when asked this question give an answer which we hope will satisfy ourselves and others. When, however, we begin to think seriously on the subject we are surprised to find how dim and hazy our opinions are, and we cannot be satisfied until we try to classify them and arrive at some definite conclusions. Speaking of education therefore in reference to women as mothers, I should venture to say its first and prime object ought to be to make women think, and that all education which does not tend to make thinking easy and natural fails of its object and is not education.
The original meaning of the word educate is to draw forth; education should therefore aim at drawing forth all the different powers of human beings. True education should train the intellect, establish principles, and regulate the heart. In answering the question, what is education? --especially in reference to girls --I would strike this threefold cord, believing that if the intellect is trained to habits of thought by the development of its faculties, the conscience to the perception of the reasonableness of principles founded on intelligible moral laws, and the heart to a wise regulation of its spontaneous action, we may hope for results which will be most likely to prepare women for the particular duties and responsibilities which motherhood brings.

She continues with...

Who, then, is the educated mother? The educated mother is pre-eminently a woman who thinks, and the results of her regulated thought will be seen in the daily administration of her home.

The educated mother must, however, be much more than a nursery machine and a technical instructress. Realising that the children of to-day will rapidly develop into individuals keen to learn and be taught, she will always be alive to the necessity of cultivating her own mind, and the work of self-education and improvement will go on for her while life lasts. It is absolutely necessary a mother should know how to care for the small bodies, but it is equally important she should understand and satisfy the unfolding intellects of her children. It is a painful spectacle, that of a mother who has allowed her children to outstrip her as thinking beings, and can no longer keep pace with them in their pursuits and interests.

The educated mother knows this, and will keep well in touch with all the interests of life. Religion, politics, social and philanthropic problems are all of absorbing interest to her, and she recognises she can keep her children's confidence, some of whom probably are cleverer then herself, only by habits of thoughtful interest in all which concerns humanity. Beyond this the educated mother will seek to prepare her sons and daughters for that trying period in their lives when, emerging from childhood, they stand on the threshold of woman and manhood, oppressed often by new, bewildering thoughts, and open to guidance in a peculiarly sensitive and receptive manner. For this critical period the mother has already prepared herself by her knowledge of laws human and divine, and she earnestly endeavours to be herself the guide of her developing children.

and concludes with the following remarks:

In conclusion, the influence and teaching of the educated mother is all for righteousness; and the formation in her children of character, based on self-control and self-sacrifice, the daily object of her life.

The Influence and Teaching of the Educated Mother By Mrs. Alfred Booth [Paper read at Bristol Conference of Women Workers. Reprinted by kind permission of Bristol Ladies' Association for the Care of Girls.] 1893/4 Parents Review Volume 4 pgs 081-090

It is this mother's desire to continue to educate herself through a classical study program. With the invention of the Internet, the canon of Western thought is now readily available and easily accessible. There is therefore no reason for this or any mother to not be able to continue to enrich and enlarge her education for any reason: whether cost, inconvenience, or lack of compansionship.

To help me accomplish this goal, I have formed a reading/discussion group on Yahoo. It is called the Arete Classical Study program and is open to anyone who desires to self-educate through a systematic reading of the great books of western civilization.

http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~cheps/arete/index.html

Blog, Blog, Blog

I have another blog where I am the blog mistress. I am a member of the GFWC Paradise Valley Woman's Club, a non-profit volunteer organization that serves those less fortunate in our local community. GFWC is an international organization and our club is just one of many in the state of Arizona.

Visit our blog to learn more about what we do:

http://gfwcpvwomansclub.blogspot.com/

We also have a website that I maintain on behalf of the club:

http://www.gfwcparadisevalley.org

Creature Comforts

Today we added a new kitten to our cottage home. His name is Caesar and he is an adorable black short hair with little white flecks sprinkled through out his coat. Caesar (formally known as baby kitty) was a stray that landed on our front porch shortly after the Christmas holiday. His mother, a lovely white and black spotted Tabby, gave birth to two black kittens sometime in December. The first we noticed them was when they peered out at us through our Honeysuckle vine in the front yard.

We are not strangers to stray animals. In fact, over the past 40 years, I have had 10 cats (stray cats seemed to know we are a feline-friendly home) adopt us. This one was no different. After about a month or so, we noticed only one baby kitty following the Momma cat in the evenings. We are not sure what happened to the other one, but have sweet thoughts that a dear family down the lane adopted him or her and that he or she is safely lounging on some comfy chair or sofa. The Momma cat is quite feral. She will not come up to our house but will stay within 10-15 feet of us and any wrong look will send her hiding under the neighbor's bush. The baby on the other hand has taken to us like glove-in-hand. He has adopted my husband and allows only him to pet and stroke him. He is not too sure of us yet and we have spent two months trying to socialize him to the point where we could scoop him up and carefully bring him inside.

Today seemed to be a good day for such a manuever. We had noticed some warming signs the past few evenings. He would allow my husband to sit near him and would return several times for strokes. He would eat some kibble while my husband's hands carefully tussled his ears. So this afternoon, after some discussion on how we would actually do the deed, we decided that I would be the front man and do the scooping and rescuing. I should mention that we already have one other cat, a black short hair named Zachary. Zachary was a stray way back about 15 years ago - we rescued him and his tiny sister from under our front porch. Zachary is what we affectionately call our "psycho cat" as when he was younger would turn on a dime and swat you just for looking at him the wrong way. He has mellowed with time and is quite loving now. The problem, however, is that shortly after the Christmas season, our very beloved 16 year old cat, Peanut, passed away from Liver cancer. Peanut and Zachary were buddies, sleeping, eating, and just hanging out together. Being the solo cat has proved difficult for Zachary and we have been thinking for some time that a friendly feline might just perk him up.

So to make a very long story short, we did it. We rescued Caesar today and while he doesn't seem very grateful right now, I know that in several weeks (when the weather starts to turn hot), he will be very, very happy to be inside an air conditioned home and lounging on a comfy sofa or chair.

Catching Up...

You know how when you get a new toy, you just get so excited and want to start playing with it. Sometimes you play with it to the exclusion of everything else. Well, when I found blogspot.com I just went crazy and jumped in with both feet and setup a blog. I added my first article and then...nothing! AGH!

Well, life has gotten a bit smoother thanks in part to http://www.flylady.net. I have created my control journal, planned my morning and afternoon routine and even shined my sink. My life has gotten organized (well, let's just say more organized) and I actually have some free time.

I promise to be better and post regularly to this blog. I know that there are a whole lot of people out there just waiting to read my rambles. Yeah, right!