Thursday, January 22, 2015

'Veteran' Homeschooling Moms

Deep in conversation her name is mentioned with awe and respect.  She's the 'Veteran Homeschool Mom'  I feel like I'm back in middle school looking at the cool kids across the cafeteria, sigh... 

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not consider myself a 'Veteran Homeschool Mom'. 

PE class at my house may or may not consist of ' go outside'. 
My kids have not always used vitamins, supplements, essential oils, and we do not grow all of our own food or bake all of our own bread.
We don't eat all organic, crunchy, gluten free all the time. The only real reason that my family eats healthy AT ALL is that my 13 year old SON cooks dinner more often than I do - and has recently traded recipes with some of the moms at co-op. (I am so embarrassed).
I have made mistakes, I have raised my voice, lost my cool, been a 'smother', and actually threw a computer once (it was really more of a forceful drop). 
I didn't start homeschooling my kids until AFTER I put them in the public schools and witnessed the damage. I have believed lies cunningly told by school officials and then later been super embarrassed (and angry) when I realized my error.
I have gotten suckered into 'but this is the best curriculum ever...' sales pitches.  I hate, Hate, HATE lesson planning!  I don't design and organize my own curriculum from scratch.  I don't even like unit studies (gasp!) and I once spent $200 on a unit study curriculum under duress (hubby liked it, there was a sales pitch involved!) which I gave to another family a year later without even opening the book!

What I do know is that I have found and been utterly blessed by some trusted homeschool mentors who I call whenever I need some help in one area or another.  I have been homeschooling for 9 years, I have 2 kids in high school, I lead a wonderful, messy, beautiful co-op with some of my closest friends, yet even I am really not a homeschool veteran.

Here's why...

Being a homeschool veteran means a few things in my book.

1.) She may not always have it all together, but she did homeschool a child, from kindergarten through high school and that person has graduated and become a functioning adult.  Maybe they went to college, maybe not, but this adult she helped create can read and write and hold a job and dress themselves in the mornings and have 'normal' conversations with people.

2.) She's nice.  The veteran homeschool mom knows how to be in community with other people.  She understands when your hair is standing on end and you have baby vomit on your pant leg.  She is approachable and understanding. In fact, odds are she will approach you. She hands you a tissue when you are crying and a cup of coffee when you need an ear, not because she's selling curriculum or trying to change your homeschool style, but because she's been there and she understands.

3.) She has standards without being judgmental. She understands that being a 'homeschool veteran' doesn't make her better than you, and she remembers the difficult days and encourages you through them.  At the same time, she didn't forsake her calling, and she isn't going to advise you to quit or give up or let someone else handle your children for a while because you're having a hard time. She knows that path leads to destruction! She may however, give you a firm kick in the rear if you need it!

4.) She may not have all the answers, but she knows where to find them. The VHM knows a LOT about homeschooling.  But she also understands that she doesn't know EVERYTHING about every homeschooling situation and she is completely willing to refer you to the right resources if she doesn't have the answers. Maybe you have a child with special needs, or a husband who travels for a living, or are a single mom - and she isn't.  She won't pretend to know what it's like to walk in your shoes and try to give advice because she likes the sound of her own voice. She will give you a link to a support group, or the number of one of her friends/mentors for encouragement.

 Knowing some AMAZING homeschool veterans,  and listening to their wisdom and advice, has been invaluable to me as a homeschooling mom.  If you homeschool, I encourage you to find a homeschooling veteran mom, and/or be open to the opportunity of mentoring if she should approach you.

And to my dear friends Tami, Cherie, and Peggy - Veteran Homeschooling Moms Extraordinaire - THANK YOU for all of your love and guidance, I don't know where I would be without you!

Katie took us to the zoo today.  So I took us to lunch after.  We decided to try Noodle & company.  When we were headed in the door a lady handed us a coupon that she couldn't use.  It said something about sharing lunch for 4 people.  I figured we would order our bowls and share this other bowl.  The guy at the register said it would cover whatever we wanted to order up to $50!  We ordered large portions (extra to take home), drinks, and still didn't spend $6.   Thank you Katie for a special day!   Thank you Lord for a generous and free lunch!Lunch with my boy!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pressing in

I recently Googled the phrase "Build community"

Here's what I found

"Create community on Google +"

"Yuku - start your own free forum, social network..."

"Mixxt - build a social network for free"

When I think 'Build community' I think a real living vibrant thing that is meaningful, connected and generally meets in real life, not that an online community isn't sometimes helpful.  

I wonder how many of us, myself included, decide to live life in that online community more so than the real life community.  How safe it is to live online, how easy, how comfortable!  I can stay in my PJ's all day and still have online community.  I can white wash my life, I can share a thousand happy photos, I can 'block' those I don't want to see and 'friend' those I do want to see - all from the comfort of my living room!  Why on earth would I ever want to venture out into the messy world to have community with people?

But plastered over with a thousand pictures of happy times and smiling faces are real lives. 
Real life isn't always happy and smiling.  Real life is hard.
Sometimes it's sitting up late to by a bedside, or getting the results of your blood work left on your answering machine, or finding out your debit card isn't going to work in the grocery store line - nobody snaps a selfie at a moment like that.  
Maybe your real life is your kids are all sick and your pregnant and you just don't feel like getting up today.  Or your husband lost his job and you don't know how you're going to make it.
Maybe your real life is like a dark tunnel and you don't know how or when you will claw your way out and a thousand smiling pictures just make you feel like more of a failure.

So often we don't want to hear about the hurting and the sick and the lonely because that might just kill our thousand picture high. We want the false, we want it so bad we will chase it like an addict chases their next big score.  We're addicted to it.  We crave it.

This striving for the perfect false image isn't just limited to online realms, but manifests itself often in day to day life.  First, an individual or a family joins a community thinking that the program, worship, fellowship, etc. is great. They give glowing recommendations to others. However, after a few years (or months) they begin to be dissatisfied with the leadership, they quarrel with others or find some other fault. They leave and move to another community where the cycle starts again. They have again found the perfect place to belong. But, no, after a time it is not perfect. So they hop from place to place for the rest of their lives or just give up.  We worship the false god of acceptance and seek the approval of man before seeking that which is holy.  

Community is the only thing I have found to combat the addiction.  Community with other believers.   Real community may not look too saintly to the Pharisee.  I doubt the real community that Jesus had with former tax collectors and prostitutes and big hairy ugly fishermen didn't really look like those last supper paintings.  Real community is built around real lives.  Real community is hard.  Real community is full of love and joy and happy but it is also full of sorrow and pain and tears.  Real community finds that line between grace and the law, and then walks it.  Real community figures out how to love the ones who are difficult and how to forgive the ones who are flawed.  Because real community realizes that we are all lost in need of a Savior, and that none of us can earn it, and we all need mercy and a love that will cover our sins.

Didn't Jesus live and die to see us in community with God?  Was it easy to be scorned and ridiculed by the self righteous? We lived life like one looking through a thick veil. We were separated from God and couldn't understand our lost and lowly position.
Jesus taught, he tried to persuade, and he strove to accomplish the removing of that veil.  And only through his death, Jesus removed that veil - both in the temple and the veil over our minds that we might clearly see ourselves, our sin, our inability to be anything good and Holy and perfect,
and despite our wretched condition, He might reunite us with a Holy Righteous God. 

Hebrews 10:19-22
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

That kind of Holy, that kind of take your shoes off, fall on your face and worship at the feet of Jesus - Holy.  That is our high calling, and yes it was painful and hard, but it is also life giving.

Doesn't that kind of Holy challenge us to commit ourselves to a particular body of believers?  Jesus's example should teach us then to press in despite obstacles, go through the sometimes painful act of loving, in order to gain the deep abiding relationships in community.
That kind of Holy tells us we need to forgive and be reconciled, even when it hurts.
If all this is true, then our high calling is to be life giving rather than walking away alienated from others.

Hebrews 10:23-25
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

This is how we survive life without the false high of a thousand smiling, white washed tomb, photos. We hold tightly to hope, even in the darkest days, and encourage one another to acts of love and good works.  Living in community, letting others know our needs, being willing to be vulnerable and ask for help, as well as not shunning those who need encouragement.  Seek out each other to be good to one another, this is how we survive the hard days even though the day draws near. 
We choose the hard Holy and love like Jesus.