Truly Seeing

The holidays are over and a new year is about to begin. The stress is over, or should be soon.  Relax for a minute with me.  This is merely a collection of photos from the past year with the occasional thought of what I intend to do more of in the coming one.

Friends are where it’s at-

GrayC-Tom

Take time for golf, even if it’s in the median strip.  Drive your favorite car there, just so it looks like you own the joint. (I don’t golf, but there are so many carpe diem lessons here!)

Golfing

There is beauty around you, even if you have to crop the photo or change your angle to see it.  Morning light is always more flattering.

Horses

HankFlowers

Hens

EarlyMornBarryStreamTrainTree

 
Home

PipsOcean

TomSandcastlesHome is not a place; it’s where those you love are.

Enjoy new places, new things, and don’t worry about your clothes.  Some of the best moments of your life happen when you were willing to just do it and be there. The moment will pass far too quickly.

 BrenKnox

Take the photo, even when the camera seems to intrude.  You’ll be glad later.Butterfly2 Babies are beautiful, in whatever form they come.  All the hope and promise – ColtTree

 

Invest heavily, with whatever you have to give. Raelynn

Lifejackets

Look for God’s glory in the smallest things.  Sometimes it takes a camera to truly see what you were looking at.  And too often, even then, it’s only in hindsight you see the blessings of where you’ve been.

 

May today be the beginning of a new life with your eyes attuned to the glories that surround all of us.

OnionCreek

As always, my photos are copyrighted.  Please do not share them without my express permission.

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Parenting Off-leash

The seasons are changing.  My oldest is gone more than home now, and the next two boys are working out in the gym and growing manly muscles on their lean arms.  My daughter’s turned into a lady with a keen sense of right, a quick tongue and an even sharper wit.

We’re all growing up. Not that I’m crying, mind you. I welcome the opportunity to wrestle bigger challenges than whose Hot Wheel this is.  It’s just a different type of parenting now.  They still need shepherding, just with a looser hand.

I’m reminded of my first parenting lessons, years ago. I had adopted a 100 lb. Labrador Retriever with an assertive streak. What a tough bugger he was in obedience class, refusing to lie down on command unless I body-slammed him and pinned him in my own version of a wrestling hold.  I only outweighed him by about 3 pounds, and he had testosterone and four legs on his side.  He strained to keep his head above mine.  With persistence, he learned to work with me. We moved to off-leash training, where he had to choose to obey lessons like, ‘don’t chase the kitty across the road just because you’re the dog for the job and I’m not looking’.  At the end of the summer, we won 2nd place at the trials.Sandyswim

I wish it were that easy to train kids.  Today, I’d be thrilled to come in second place.  On that day, I felt gypped, and came up with all sorts of consolations.  I was a teen with a large, intact male dog competing against an adult with a spayed people pleaser. She wasn’t at all moved by the lovely mutt in heat that wandered through the final exam.  My dog looked like Pepe Le Pew floating away after a Persian cat.

I didn’t recognize the real point.  That class was a joint effort to develop well-mannered companions, not a competition to see who could produce the perfect show dog.

Education is not about perfection.

I will never be a perfect mother, homeschool or otherwise.  My only charge is to love the Lord more than anything else and figure out how to stir each of my students to choose to follow me in that, daily.  But just like my old Lab, the outcome boils down to a choice that is outside of my control.  Will he follow my path, or not?  Milk bones or a swim in the lake assist with retention, but just like most adults on earth, if it doesn’t pay off, he probably won’t repeat it.

My oldest kids have learned the basics of come, sit, and stay.

It’s now time to go off-leash.  What they know, they know, and what they don’t will show quickly.  We’ll focus there.  Move into the world, my children.  You will fall.  Know that – but know also that falls are not fatal.  You’ll get up and be stronger.  I’ll help you, but only if you need it.  You have the rest of your lives to fine-tune who you want to become.

Someone asked me today how I parent high schoolers.  I couldn’t help but chuckle under my breath.  I’m really not the one to ask.  But yet I am – I can answer from experience that there comes a point when you must trust that what you’ve done has made an impact and that your children are competent to think and move on their own.  But you’re not done.

You must still pray.  Pray for quiet patience that exudes faith, in God and in the child.  Pray for safety and quickly growing wisdom.  Know that God is there, and won’t blink, even when it’s midnight and you haven’t heard from your son since lunch.

If you’ve been diligent with your time when you had it before you, you will not be disappointed now.  The Bible doesn’t just spout cool maxims that encourage us emptily.  When the proverb says, ” Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – it’s a promise you can lean on.

I found this interesting elucidation in Clarke’s Commentary:

When he comes to the opening of the way of life, being able to walk alone, and to choose; stop at this entrance, and begin a series of instructions, how he is to conduct himself in every step he takes. Show him the duties, the dangers, and the blessings of the path; give him directions how to perform the duties, how to escape the dangers, and how to secure the blessings, which all lie before him. Fix these on his mind by daily inculcation, till their impression is become indelible; then lead him to practice by slow and almost imperceptible degrees, till each indelible impression becomes a strongly radicated habit. Beg incessantly the blessing of God on all this teaching and discipline; and then you have obeyed the injunction of the wisest of men. Nor is there any likelihood that such impressions shall ever be effaced, or that such habits shall ever be destroyed.

I’ve not done everything right.  But that’s where the prayers come in: God is the perfect Father.  He can instill in each of my children what I never taught.  They’re in good hands.

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Family Christmas Letter, 2012

Swim LessonsThis year, I wanted to get the kids involved in activities outside the home.  So in February, we joined the YMCA.  Tommy and Rachel initially took swim lessons and are now in a Homeschool Fitness class, which teaches a new sport each month and also refines their pool skills.  Tommy’s already qualified for swim team!  Their schedule has pretty much determined the rest of our calendar, because of the early hours and regularity.  Most of us try to work out several times a week, either with weights in the gym or lap swimming during the kids’ classes.

Michael presents his billThe older ones have become involved in the Youth & Government program through the YMCA.  Michael is a youth legislator, writing and presenting bills.  He did NOT want to do this, but quickly discovered that public speaking isn’t all that hard and was actually fun, especially if you get to dress up.  His bill was featured in the first newsletter and he is enjoying the feel, if not the workload, of being a nearly high school student.  Dave and Faith signed up for media, being everywhere and writing up everything that happens around them (hence, the highlight on Michael for their first subject!).  Faith won a distinguished delegate award for her role as editor in chief of the newsletter at their first meet, and all three of them were recognized on the YMCA’s Facebook page as being notable representatives of our team.  At the state meet in January, they will convene in the Austin Capitol building where Dave hopes to merit a spot on the camera crew televising the event locally.

Jon at work Jon began work full time at Walmart in electronics as they moved into a new superstore, quickly distinguishing himself as capable of accomplishing whatever needed done.  He’s really developed his people skills in just a few months.  As his schedule permits, he still runs the sound system for church on Sundays and volunteers his free time at the fire department.  Just this week, he assisted with a county-wide reprogramming of all emergency radios to meet FEMA standards of compatibility.  He is working toward EMT certification (still – don’t ask!) while he figures out where he ultimately wants to go and how to finance college to get there.

Editor in Chief FaithOver the summer, Faith had a great time visiting all major SoCal points of interest with Grandma and Grandpa Elving before flying to help Grandma and Grandpa Bryant move to Uncle Barry’s property near the Central Coast.  I met her in Phoenix and enjoyed a brief visit with Amy, Kolby and Mia over moving boxes and sandwiches.  Dave flew into Cali in time to unload the truck with us on the other end.  He and Faith stayed with Barry’s family to help Mom settle in and I started back home, stopping briefly at my mentor/best friend’s home in Santa Cruz.  I was greatly inspired to see the achievements of homeschoolers grown up and what they still had ahead of them.  By fall when my wayward teens returned, Dave had a more surfer-influenced style and an appreciation of clean cars; Faith came home with a Starbucks habit and a personal strength she never realized was inside.

Dave, ready for actionA long-awaited answer to prayer was braces for both Faith and Dave.  We probably won’t see their smiles again for two years.  Dave’s so busy with his senior year he wasn’t smiling anyway.  In addition to working out, Y&G, and core courses at home, he enrolled in Fire Academy, which will enable him to challenge the state exam this summer and hopefully get hired on at a paid department.

Bob and I took a much-needed vacation just after Thanksgiving to Ohio for his company’s Christmas party.  We had a great time all around, including visiting Beth and Paul and attending Bible study with them.  We left all the kids home “alone” with a tank full of gas in my new-to-me Expedition and some cash for expenses.  It was awesome to check on them Friday night and find that Jon had taken them all to the nighttime Christmas parade in downtown Lockhart and arranged for the younger boys to ride on fire trucks in the procession. Rachel waved from the curb with her favorite family friend.  Saturday they hung Christmas lights on the house and watched a Hogan’s Heroes marathon.  Sunday morning, they drove up to church early to set up sound as usual, and enable Michael to meet with his Boy Scout leader to sign off the requirements for his next level, the Tenderfoot.  By the time we arrived home later that evening, my truck and Jon’s were sparkling clean, dogs were fed, cat was medicated and all children ready for bed on time. Awesome.  I love my kids and the opportunity I’ve had be on the front lines of their lives, every day. God has done more in our lives through me teaching them than I ever could have predicted when we first set out.

Family PicWe celebrated our 23rd anniversary as a family this year by sightseeing around the Alamo. It’s getting harder and harder to get everyone together for a photo. I could just merge me in, if I had any clue how to work Photoshop.  But technology is Jon’s gig; I just take the photos.Me

Merry Christmas to all our dear friends and family!

Santa Claus and Christmas

I don’t remember the 60’s nearly at all, but that’s fairly common.  In the 70’s, Pink Floyd and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” set the backdrop for my first memories of levitating sleighs, flying reindeer, and the fat guy slipping through chimneys.   When I was actually introduced to His Eminence, pipe-smoking childhood heroes were still considered normal and flying was something a lot of teens did regularly.  There was no doubt about his reality.  Besides, he also had his own Little Golden Book and I had a signed photo with him.

Some years later, though, I grasped that people don’t wear disguises unless they have something to pull over on me.   The fake beard just seals the deal.  A full-blown panic attack is not out of line when encountering a disguised man who wants me to sit on his lap.  Maybe I’m delusional.   I did have to apologize for knocking down my boys and dragging them under the stroller that one year.  To this day, if I must pass the mall’s “North Pole”, my older sons will intone: “Breathe, Mom. Breathe and walk.  You’ll be fine.  We’re here for you.”  I just don’t get the whole concept of Santa and Christmas.

We as a society go to great lengths to introduce our children to Santa Claus and make sure the impression is real.  In our house, we baked cookies for him and set them out with a glass of milk before bedtime.  In the morning, there sat the plate with only crumbs and the empty glass with distinct, pudgy lip prints on its rim.  The stockings were suddenly stuffed to overflowing, and the tree no longer sat on the floor for all the pageantry underneath.  At least my dad didn’t go tromp around on the roof, like some of my friends talk about.   As teens, we began helping Mom with the baking and she showed us how, at our midnight snack,  to dust the crumbs onto the plate and poof our lips up to make the appropriate prints on the glass for the little ones to see in the morning.

So why do we work so hard to instill this fantasy when it is expected to be discarded before puberty?  They must have Halloween rules at the North Pole; if you look older than about 10, you are no longer allowed to participate.  The innocence and sweetness of a child’s faith in goodness would be seen as gullibility in someone with mental acuity.  Maybe if we keep the idea in the children’s court, we can keep it around.

The story as presented just doesn’t add up, even for children.   Christmas is about  Jesus coming to earth as a baby, born in a stable.  He is God’s own Son come here to show us what He is like.  He taught about true love and demonstrated what it looked like.  After He went up to heaven, he sent Santa Claus back in his plush red suit every year at Christmastime to remind us to love one another by buying expensive presents for everyone we know.  As long as they’re nice, go to church, and don’t otherwise deserve coal.  Glory to God in the highest – uh, yeah.

So the kids and I read Clement Moore’s delightful story again over eggnog.   No brandy needed; this is good stuff by itself. While the original poem is great, what it sounds like today is another story altogether.  The star is introduced as St. Nick, who historically resembles our modern yuletide hero not at all, although the names have become synonymous.  “When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.”  Reindeer are fairly large – this is a cool trick.  I’m not understanding why someone who’s gone to all the trouble of acquiring reindeer for a PR team would shrink them.  What does all the resizing do to my gift?  For that matter, to Rudolf?  Where’s PETA in this?  “He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work.”  Then, “Dash away, dash away, dash away all!”  Man, this sounds like we’re in East LA, ripping off cars.  Look small, work smart, run fast.  “And laying his finger aside of his nose” – uh-oh;  I’ve seen this kind of thing at college parties.  “And away they all flew like down on a thistle.”   Yep – it’s a flashback from the way-back days.

But really, Bren, it’s just a childhood story!

Just so my mother knows that it’s not just me being overly weird, I had the help of my sons, daughter, and three of their friends online for these ideas.  The jolly man with the goods sits up in his invisible house someplace where no one has ever found him and then goes over his list.  So He sees you when you’re sleeping… and knows what moral choices you make.  Then he comes out to each kid’s house.  My favorite remark, from Kyle:  “You best make morally straight decisions, for the sake of goodness.”  This is creepy; Santa is the ultimate stalker.

Not to mention his obvious unreliability.  The little bully from the playground received and destroyed more toys from Santa every year than any of us ever got.   We dutifully cleaned up our acts for an entire month before the big day and still got stiffed.   Nobody has ever found any trace of toy manufacturing at the North Pole.  And yet the multitude who question God’s veracity simply because they can’t see him celebrate Santa prominently every year with impersonators.

Granted, it really was a fun story to tell my little brother when he was young.  (“Honestly???  Did you really think you were going to get the dune buggy just for being GOOD???  BWAAhaaHaa!!!”)   Now, though, these are my children; my integrity is at stake.  I must teach them all about stranger danger and I expect – nay, need – them to take me at my word.  So once a year, I pay cold, hard cash to set my sweet young thang on the lap of a man whose name I do not know, is admittedly introduced with an alias, and then graciously step out of arm’s reach?  Between the hat and beard obscuring over 2/3 of his pudgy face and the stage-pillow in his shirt, I can’t identify him even with the photo of his hands on my little abductee.

Uh – how, pray tell, can I expect my children to discern the truth from my lips? When I’ve assured them of an obvious fantasy that is uncovered and recovered before their very eyes while still in their most impressionable years, how are they supposed to understand when I teach them historical fact?  Why would they ever trust me with their little hearts, when I’ve played with their fondest dreams?

They know the truth, you know.  They know there is a gift to be had at Christmas, and it is free.  Santa is just an imposter, sitting on a throne that is not his.  It turns out to be only the adults that grasp for him and confuse the players:

“Please God, I know I didn’t do too well on the first half of your rules this year, but I did stop coveting my neighbor’s ass and I never murdered my wife.  That makes 5 out of 10 this year, which means my batting average is approaching awesome.  Please send that big promotion at work.  I ask in Jesus’ name, as you’ve promised in John 14:13: ‘You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it.’  Amen.”

“It’s Christmas Eve. And reverberating in our hearts is the reality of 2 Corinthians 9:15. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” Christmas is about giving, because Jesus is a gift. It is not hard to make Romans 6:23 a Christmas text. “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The first Christmas was the gift of Christ coming into the world to purchase for us eternal life by dying in our place and rising again. And this Christmas – as every Christmas – is a time when God is still giving.”   (John Piper,  DesiringGod.org)

Legalism in the Homeschool

Teaching a one-room schoolhouse is not just a job – it’s an incessant mental workout, plotting, overseeing, and enabling the intellectual pursuits of multiple children simultaneously while clarifying my own motives and methods for doing so.  Mothers can be a bit insecure holding the future in their hands and incessantly look for clear direction.  It would be really nice if there were a manual to follow which would guarantee well-rounded adults.  I found a really viable one once, but couldn’t afford it.  That frustrated me.  But I saw recently that many of its graduates are now hopelessly mired in hypocrisy, torn by an inability to be true to their professions of faith and morality.  I cannot imagine the parents’ remorse as they hear that their students feel cheated of the truth.

I’m sensing that this curriculum, like every other one I’ve seen, was incomplete.  Children need to understand the Law and the Gospel.  I was raised with plenty of Gospel mercy and very little Law to give a reason for Jesus’ death and resurrection.  My biggest problem has been an inability to define sin.  The students I saw in that program had the absolute truth about sin, but no redemption from it.  I didn’t see that then.

I just knew I was winging it and was really dissatisfied with my progress.  The irritating little girl in the sandbox angrily threw sand into her mate’s face while yelling, “Sorry, Molly, I didn’t mean to do that!”  loud enough so Mommy heard her.  I was humiliated to see it was my own child.

Homeschooling seems to have a special knack for breeding legalism, which, according to Webster, is the “literal and usually too strict adherence to the letter of the law.”  Yep, that would be my little Pharisee.  In my quest to produce Rhodes scholars, I’ve drilled rules into them.  Any failure rests on my shoulders, and I am plagued with doubts:  “I must be lazy or using the wrong organizer; something I’m doing isn’t working!  These kids are smart, but I’m too inexperienced for the job.”   There is no going back.  The serious Christian has no business sending her children to government schools if the truth be told.  Separation of church and state, you know. 

“A Day in the Life” articles show others achieving everything God apparently requires:  Socratic method, elementary Hebrew, plane Geometry, and concert violin are all taught to umpteen well-mannered children in a well appointed home.   The goals themselves were way beyond me.  I threw my hands in the air and told the world to go to hell.  Or something like that.  I’m certainly not making it, so I guess we’re all doomed.  I obviously don’t have what it takes to be an educator and a chosen one simultaneously.  The call I heard to do this, not to mention the Christianity that invoked it, was a sham – and it was high time I admitted it.  Honestly.   I have always said that where God puts a lamb He will also provide the pasture, but I had obviously missed something.  Everything I stood for was crashing around me and my flock.   I took the summer off.

I read Scripture and prayed.  Not the “Hallowed be Thy Name” kind of prayer – the “What the hell’s going on here?” and the “What do you want from me, God?” kinds of prayer.   Prayer becomes very powerful when you finally get honest with God.  I found out I was right – what I’d professed was a sham.  What Jesus taught and the Christianity I practiced bore no resemblance to each other.  My faith was badly warped.

In seeking the perfect curriculum and implementation, I’d been combing Scripture for which rules to uphold, never seeing the real good news.  (Who’s the Pharisee?)  “When our salvation is based upon something WE do rather than what GOD does, eventually a person will grow disillusioned, frustrated, and spiritually suicidal.”  I wish I’d read these anonymous words years ago, but I had to experience them for myself.  The same writer went on:  “…true freedom doesn’t come from moral behavior, but rather by complete abandon to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

But how to teach my children the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy  6:6-7) while pointing to Christ like John the Baptist (John 3:30)?  They need to know the rules so they know how awesome the pardon is.   Rules broad enough to apply to everyday life will never address the situation at hand, however.  I can’t look to these rules as a checklist of what to do.  That’s not their purpose.  The purpose is to show us how frightfully inadequate we are to live up to the standards so that we will look for help from our Creator.  And His work is already finished.

I see now that this was because I kept thinking that everything depended on what we should do, for when I saw so little of true repentance and victory over sin, helplessness crept into my heart. I counted and summed up all that they did  [to clean up their act], and not the smallest percentage of debt was paid. But now I see that which is done, and  I see that the whole debt is paid. Now therefore I go about my duties as might a prison warden who carries in his pocket a letter of pardon for all  his criminals.  (Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God)

Not that my school is a prison.  Good grief.  But the children are human, just like me.   Christopher Columbus said,  “I am a most noteworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous Presence.”

When I cried out to the Lord for help and stayed on the floor until He provided, I found the secret.  Those prayers I utter in the morning are more important than the lessons I spout in the afternoon.   Inspiration – breathing in the breath of God – is what brings everything else together.  Until I see the joy of Christ’s resurrection and what it means to me, I can drive the children all day and they’ll never go.  But they will catch my fascination with my Savior if it is real.   The curriculum becomes just a medium to work with on the way to mastery of everything in God’s world as we seek to know and understand Him together.

The frustrations we encounter turn out to be pointers redirecting our steps, gifts to be welcomed.

Kara Murphy, creator of Organic Homeschooling, sums up my point perfectly:  “If Satan can keep us in constant turmoil about what method or curriculum to use, he can keep our focus away from the most important work of discipling our children. Don’t fall into his trap. Renew your mind by the washing of the Word and move forward, confident of the work that Jesus Christ is doing in you and your children.”

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.   (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)

Socialization: A homeschooler’s perspective

I saw this great quote about homeschoolers the other day in Jim Mullen’s article at Hanford Sentinel.com.

“Those kids are nothing but problems…. They’re not socialized. We had one boy who wanted to go out for football because that’s something you really can’t do at home, and when he got to the locker room, the other kids found out he didn’t even know how to snap a towel or give a wedgie. That’s the problem with homeschooling.”

Hmmm. I never thought about the things that truly matter in adult life and make boys into men like towel-snapping and wedgies. For the record, my boys are accomplished at both. They’ve also found time to master important social skills like Indian burns and ice cubes down sister’s back.

That’s not exactly what I’d envisioned as the marker of success.  The original definition of socialize is ‘to render social, to make fit for living in society’.  I haven’t seen that my knowledge of these skills has made much difference in my social status.  The fact my kids even do these things at all embarrasses me.

Last week, the topic of Justin Bieber came up.  I have no clue what this kid does to create the kind of stir he has.  Boys seem to despise him en masse, girls catch their breath at the mere mention of his name and then apparently are rendered deaf.  I heard a mother utter death threats on anyone humming a song of his “because none of us will get it out of our heads before Friday.”  I’m afraid to click on his name on YouTube.  I have things to accomplish before Friday.  Other than appearing to be a younger, more synthetic version (if possible) of Shaun Cassidy, I think he just needs a haircut.

His photo on IMDb made me think of the kids who ask Mom to drop them off blocks before school, so their friends won’t have to see that they have parents. I never did this of course, but you remember the drill:  even in pouring rain, if the friends didn’t witness a mother, you can deny she exists.  Hmm.  If my son ever thinks the way to win girls is to look like this kid, dropping him off several blocks away from wherever we’re going might be a good idea.  It would allow me to deny my part in his upbringing.  Sorry, kid, you mess with my image.

Socialization is the biggest question I answer to those who have no stake in our future.  Am I not worried they’ll grow up to be social misfits?  If knowing and looking like the current teen heartthrob is integral to growing up properly, then that’s exactly what I hope.

In high school, I belonged to the Latin Club.   It branded me a nerd.  Even after touring Italy and Greece together, sitting through class after class with intelligent people, I was afraid of being identified with them.  And those same geeks are the successful business moguls I wish I were with today.    I had so much in common with them, but the popularity contest kept me away.   It was all about popularity and appearing cool.  I am shocked at the vast majority of high school graduates I’ve spoken to who readily admit their total lack of understanding of higher math, grammar, or even American history and consider themselves responsible adults.   What was school about, after all?   Paul Simon sang (about the generation before mine), “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.”

Most of us are hypocrites.  We look back on the waste of time that was the majority of our education and simultaneously deride those who strive for a more productive use of their children’s time.  And homeschoolers, being human, are just as susceptible to peer pressure as anybody else, for the most part.  If we are the only ones present in the neighborhood all week, I feel left out of the world of important busy-ness.  But I lived on “Homeschool Hill” for a while, too, and I heard several parents there lamenting what failures they were because their only contribution to their students’ education was dropping them at the bus stop.  How much of what any of us do is still the result of peer pressure?  That’s pure foolishness, and has nothing to do with competent, adult citizenship.

I don’t want my children to be part of the crowd doing nothing but griping about the state of the world today.  I want them to make a difference in their world, to think for themselves and stand on their own beliefs.  I want them to believe in God and respect their father.  I want them to read original ideas and deduce their own conclusions.  My textbook and newspaper world prepared me much better to read a review than embark on an original work alone.  I am very aware of my vulnerability to being misled by this.  I also know that, in spite of being an honor student with a 4-year degree, I still have no ability to follow the train of thought in many of our country’s founding documents and make up my own mind about them.

So how well socialized am I, if I cannot join the adult conversation about the most important concepts regarding our native land?  It’s a sad commentary on our society that I am considered an intelligent, competent member of society because I try to research candidates before voting.  Someone actually was impressed that I had a standard for how I voted: could I pronounce the person’s name, and did I prefer a man or woman in this office?  I wasn’t flipping a coin the way they were.

Homeschooled kids know they don’t fit in.  I remember two boys who attended a swim party at our home once and never removed their fishing hats.   At any other swim party, they would have been laughed at as dorks.  But these boys were very fair, and had already learned to put their health before their vanity.  They were wise beyond their peers.  As I look at the college-age kids around me, I see Eagle Scouts, lobbyists, business owners, and museum curators.  They don’t fit in any standard mold.  Yet they are the children of my homeschooling friends.

There used to be a popular book about homeschooling called Hothouse Transplants.   I loved the impression.  Plants raised in a greenhouse aren’t raised in a natural environment.  But when they come out, they have a strength that far outperforms other plants.  I’m doing something different because I want to make a positive change in my world.  And really, wouldn’t that be the ideal definition of rendering a child fit for society?

Godvision Goggles

My head has not been in writing this week. It’s been scattered, unable to concentrate on reading, even. Just as I convinced myself that I was hopelessly lost, we had a baptism and pool party with the church. The words that were spoken at that ceremony touched me, letting me know that it’s not all up to me. It’s not me that reaches out to God to beg salvation. Like a drowning man reaching for the hand of the rescuer, I’m merely accepting the outstretched arm of the one who sought to pull me from the jaws of destruction. He reached out first; I’m merely taking His hand.

That’s what I needed to hear. Sometimes it feels as though I’m sinking in a pool of my own making, and I have no clue how to escape. I pray that God would pluck me out and put me in a better situation. But Jesus said he didn’t come to take us out of the world (John 17:15); he came to give us a new perspective. He gave me godvision goggles. I can wear them on my forehead and look like a pro, but they work best on my eyes, protecting me from injury and putting the true hue on all I see.

The little stuff doesn’t bother me with my goggles on. They allow me to see more clearly than ever before what is going on around me and not be bothered by it. All will be well; I can relax.

But not too much. I still have work to do, and I must use my goggles for all they’re worth. So gently, as soon as possible, he puts me back in the water and teaches me to swim. First in a safe environment, and then in gradually more threatening situations, he encourages me to build strength.


I thank the Lord that He always girds me with the floaties of Scripture. As I gain facility with them and their properties become my own, I am enabled to stay afloat, even in rough waters.