If You Build It, It Will Come…and It Did!

My son is turning 10 in December. He has not had a single pet. Every boy needs a dog. I finally broke down and got him one.
My husband was set on a puppy. (ay, yai, yai) I was set on a German Shepherd.

My son spent some homeschooling time building a doghouse himself (great measurement lesson!). It is almost finished. Phillip (my son) and I laid hands on it and prayed earnestly that God would bring us not just any dog– the perfect dog for our family.

I believe we definitely found him! We found a 1/2 Golden Retriever 1/2 Black Lab puppy. He is so gentle, fun, and 90% housebroken. (We let him rule the “finished” basement while he’s adjusting. It has no carpeting.)

My son is so smitten that he wants to sleep down there with him. (The basement has actual bedrooms, too)
My heart is thrilled.

Following his human–his best buddy

Government Unit Lesson: Glad It’s Over

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Some subjects really are as boring to teach as they are to learn. I know that’s one of those things I’m not supposed to say. But man, government is dry. We finished it up just in time to go and vote so it worked out well. I’m just very glad to be moving on. Of … Continue reading

If You Build It, It Will Come… ?!

I made a deal. (Right there, you know it was a mistake. ;))

If my son applies his math skills to the task of building a dog house during the winter, then in the Spring I would get the dog to go inside it.  We have a heated garage so he could work all winter and his dad used to be a carpenter so I knew he could teach him. I didn’t realize that they would both get so excited that it would be almost done within two weeks– it’s not even winter yet!!

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(I have to wonder how much my husband is “teaching” him: the “why’s” of what he is doing instead of just the “how’s” of how to do it?!)

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda Week at Homeschool

I’ve fallen into the trap.  I’m a little over a month in and I’ve caught myself making it more and more traditional-school style.  Yikes!!

We started off fun and hands-on and have somehow slid into sitting-at-desk-reading-out-of-textbooks schooling. No, no, no, no, no! Adhd + sit-at-desk-textbook-reading = my son feeling tortured.

Then– 

We had a rough week. We didn’t get anything done– that sent me into overdrive trying to catch up.  Every day I added more to what we needed to cram in.
He and I started bickering.
I started getting crabby.

I coulda stopped the train in it’s tracks the first day I noticed it was going so very wrong and avoided the inevitable chain reaction. I shoulda nixed that day altogether and just read aloud together snuggled on the couch to reinforce the nature of our education and our emotional bond. I woulda, except we would have then fallen behind.

I coulda corrected my attitude to avoid hurt feelings,  a lower self-esteem, and an overall feeling of unhappiness in our school in both of us to stop the bickering in its tracks.  I shoulda made it a point to have special alone time to read my Bible and center my chi because I let the task become more urgent than my source of strength. I woulda, except I had to go to work every night and that would have taken even more time away from studying.

Parenting Fail.

I coulda wallowed in my guilt and self-pity, which would guarantee that the next week was just as rotten and the Enemy could get a good laugh knowing he was tearing down our school from the inside out.  I sure did use the opportunity to discuss Grace, accepting responsibility (both of us), and regain a mutual perspective of our overall mission. I woulda pretended it just never happened and gone on next week as if it had no consequences, but hey, that’s not my style. 😉

I would value any feedback from all my dear family in Christ out there about how to prevent such a downhill slide in the future!!

(Side note: I feel like I know most of you personally!)

Marriage: Conjunctions Can Change Your Life

I am celebrating my 3rd year of marriage. My favorite new saying is “Nothing will bring you to Jesus like trying to stay married.” As a married woman and an English major, I came to realize that conjunctions often get substituted. “Or” is often considered interchangeable with “And”.  It really shouldn’t be.  That little conjunction can change your whole life.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not trying to make a grandiose argument or anything. This is just a random observation I had one day. So if you think I'm completely off my rocker, you're probably right and therefore starting ruckus in comments is probably extraneous.

Wedding vows: For Better- OR-  for worse. For Richer- OR- for poorer. In sickness- AND- in health.

I was randomly noticing one day that all of a sudden the conjunctions in wedding vows change.

OR, means that one or the other things can or cannot happen. I think that this means there is a chance that we are entering a covenant that may be ONLY worse the entire time and that better will never come. Now, I don’t want to sound like Debbie-Downer so let’s remember that this could also mean that better could come the entire time.  My point isn’t to abase the institution. Really. I’m simply realizing that God did not leave out “the fine print.” In deeper reflection, I think it makes entering the covenant even more sacred. God meant marriage to be so lasting that even the conjunction is perfectly chosen to stress the no matter what.

The hardest part of that is accepting it and staying married anyway. (This doesn’t apply to abuse– duh.) I have found in my own relationship that the first 3 years have been difficult. I am not implying that my husband is a bad husband– he’s not. I have found that I give out 50% and then wait for his 50% and am disappointed when I think I haven’t received it. (I also have the ‘comparison’ problem, which is my struggle not of his doing.)

I read in a book recently about a spouse giving 100% and not expecting a return from the other spouse. Simply put, true love is giving our all despite what we get in return. True love is wanting the best for the other person even at your own cost- no matter how angry, unsatisfied, or lonely you feel at the hands of your spouse.

Only Jesus can really do it all the time.  My human nature just keeps killing my best laid plans to be that wife. And guess what – my spouse is human, too. He mucks it up. Just like me.

God gives us spouses as leaders, helpmates, and overall another imperfect human to help us practice the 100% love. He knew what he was doing when he planned it this way.

I toy with this thought all the time:  Marriage is the opportunity to fine-tune our character qualities.

It’s easy to demonstrate integrity, true love, and grace when everything is going great. That doesn’t really speak  much to one’s true character. It’s the reactions and choices one makes when all is shaken loose that shows our areas of weakness that need improvement. And hey, practice makes perfect, right?

Marriage gives us lots and lots of practice.

For some, not all, matrimony also gives us someone on our side to help us when it’s the outside world that’s beating us down. (It’s kind of like when you were a kid and had siblings or a best friend that you fought with all the time but if someone else fought with you they would whoop their ass. Same principle, only stronger bond.)

And the outside world will come. I have learned this– The Enemy wants our marriages to fail. He wants our Homes to be Broken. He wants our Children to suffer from divorce.

I’m going to share some of my ugly character flaws with you- much to my chagrin.
For me, even so much as entertaining the thought of divorce leads to wrong action in little ways. I listen to him just a little less. I make a few more snide comments just a little more often.  I get quick to anger a little more. Guess what all that does for me– provokes him to do the same.
Voila!- A vicious cycle. Voila!- Satan’s foot is in the door.
(Biblical example of this: David’s first accidental glance at Bathsheba. He entertains the thought of her. We all know the next step: Thoughts=Action.)

  • I throw myself face down on my bed, sobbing, telling God that I give him my marriage broken and to return to me fixed. I make sure to stay deeply in touch with God.
  • I try to change my actions with nothing but the hope that it will inspire him to change his.
  • I choose my hills to die on and let the rest go– no matter how hard it is. Then I take my resentment on some of those to God.
  • I continually seek out wise counsel and Christian literature to help me.
  • Every day I think of one wonderful quality in my husband that I love and speak it out loud to myself. On really bad days, I speak it and then write it down. Yes, sometimes it feels difficult to think of even one, but it’s really not that hard once you get started trying. Even “he didn’t do anything stupid TODAY” is a start. 😉 Ha-Ha.

All I know is that I knew what a conjunction was when I chose to say it.  All I know is that today is not the day I get divorced. All I know is that tomorrow is not the day I get divorced.  And so on.

For the record– my husband is a really good man. He tries really hard to be a good husband. I did not share this post with you as a complaint about him— it is about the reality of how difficult dedicated marriage is.

Homeschooling: Phew! A Few Weeks Down

So I’ve found that doing a college style block system works best. We do between 1-3 subjects Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the other 1-3 on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. (Yeah, I’m harsh making him do work on the weekend; ha!)

This seems to really help with him not getting burnt out on any one subject.

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As a “reluctant reader,” I have found that the combination of audiobook & book works so great!! Especially when they are books about Babe Ruth– he finished it within 1.5 days. We take turns with just-for-fun reads and classic literature.

Life skills: Keyboarding (two hands, please!) . Laundry (so my future-daughter-in-law doesn’t hate me), and we did budgeting and check writing (but our exact address was visible so I didn’t post it)

The old-school “Schoolhouse Rock” — I  love it!!

We have already covered local/state/federal government, reading maps, Nouns, Math rounding, and Nutrition (myplate). He had a blast with the nutrition!!

We even threw in a weekend of having his best guy friend over for some “socialization.” We’ve been doing a lot of character study which has included proper interaction with friends and proper communication techniques when you are angry so I thought having someone over would be a really great chance for him to practice it. He did great!

God FedEx’d Supplies To My Homeschool

Our first year of homeschooling started today and I’m excited, prepared, nervous, and unprepared. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I don’t think I truly recognized the herculean task that was before me when I started this in motion. Not that I am second-guessing–I’m not. I just didn’t realize how different and difficult it would make everything else in my life.
But, as I always say, these are the times that I see God working most clearly.
I had to share this with you.

In order to work out a schedule that did not require a babysitter at some juncture halfway through the day/week, I had to switch my schedule to nights. (Dear husband {DH} works normal hours in the daytime.) Seems simple and logical enough, yes? Good heavens no; trying to switch from days to nights was more difficult than trying to get a camel through  the eye of a needle. My job has 32 employees, 95% are part-time (just like myself), and in order for it to be fair to everyone my management would have had to change/rotate everyone else’s schedules every semester. This did not really work out for anyone. The other employees, my dearest friends, were super supportive of my decision and have been helping me all along so they did not grumble about this at all but none of them were really excited about having to uproot their long-running “set” schedules every couple months. And, quite frankly, I felt it was unfair to them anyway because I chose this– all of their kids are long since grown. They already made their sacrifices.

It seemed that I would have to quit my beloved job in order to homeschool.  I cried. I shook my fist at the sky. I cried some more.

God Met Me There: Not even a week after I gave my tearful resignation, the part-time night position in the computer lab opened up. The teen worker was leaving for college.  I was originally hired as the day person in the computer lab and was then promoted up to the front circulation desk so this was not a new area to me! I was basically just going back to where I came from.  It dropped my hours, sure, but it also gave me 4 hours of quiet time to create lesson plans, do research, regain my composure after a day of homeschooling (ha!), stay with the company I love, and get back to my blog!!

(I also have another part-time night job at an upscale restaurant.)

I’ve committed to the choice. I’ve gotten my work schedule figured out.  I have spoken to some church family that homeschool as well to get an idea of where to go from here. I research for materials that I think would be interesting. (I have phenomenal access seeing as how I work at a library, ha!) I really have no idea what we should be studying or what a real lesson plan looks like–I’m basically flying by the seat of my pants.

God Met Me There: A patron comes in and asks if we accept old textbooks as donations or if we can recycle them for her. We do not do either. Casual conversation leads me to find that they are 4th grade textbooks from last year.  She even went home and brought back some of her classroom supplies- whiteboard and all!
Did you just get chills? This is just beyond my ability to accept as “coincidence”. God purposefully placed the right person in the exact right place at the exact right time.

I was reassured and now fully equipped. I was on task now like a starving woman at Krispy Kreme.

You can always count on God to deliver when you’re doing the right thing.

1 John 3: 22 “And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”

2 Chronicles 31: 21 “And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.”

Leviticus 26: 3-13 “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. …”