Thursday, July 29, 2010

Have a Mary day...

My middle daughter will soon be sixteen.  Wasn't it yesterday she raced around the living room in her slippered sleeper? I am joyful and sad at the same time. My beautiful girl is smart, funny and compassionate. But my baby, my baby is left to my precious memories and photographs.

When she was a toddler, I strapped her into the cart at the drugstore so I could look through the birthday cards. Soon she grabbed every card on the racks, opening them up, quickly shutting them and stuffing them back into their slots, not very neatly I might add. I was mortified wondering how many cards were ruined and what was she thinking? As I went to scold her, God flashed me some understanding and I realized she was copying me. I stopped myself from berating her and simply watched in amazement. She was having a great time doing what her mom was doing, and he spared me from ruining her moment of joy.

Another time I brought the laundry upstairs and placed the neat pile on a chair in the living room. Within minutes my little cherub was shaking the folded towels, and throwing them into piles on the floor. Acting up? Deliberately undoing what Mom had done? No, not any of these things, she was copying her mother doing laundry. All she’d ever seem me do was separate the clothing. She displayed a great amount of intelligence – here was a pile of clothing and that meant time to sort it. Copying, imitating, mimicking are all so very necessary to growing up. I wonder how many times we berate our children for doing things that seem wrong, when all they are doing is trying to follow in our footsteps?
One time I found a friend of mine scrubbing my bathroom sink. I asked if my sink was really all that bad. Sheepishly he told me his mom insisted the sink be cleaned after every visit to the washroom and now as an adult, he couldn’t seem to let the habit go, even when it wasn’t necessary. It was a cruel reminder of the damage I can do as a parent. No wonder God advises us to be temperate in all things. There’s nothing wrong with a clean sink but this person was slammed to the point they relived the childhood incident continuously as an adult.

I cringe to think I almost berated my precious baby for jamming cards into store racks or messing up my laundry pile. At some point I had my wits about me long enough to realize it was my driveness trying to replicate my sin in my children and I was able to stop it with God's help.  It's only by the Grace of God we can see these things because they masquerade as such worthy goals like peace in your home, or training your children to be good Christians, or godly discipline; you often see this with bible memory verses...  need I say more?  Little Johnny knows every verse in the book of Psalms but he flinches when it's his turn to recite and he can't keep his eyes off the floor or mom's wooden spoon. 

The old man is dead and beating him into submission makes, well, a mess.  Oh, the floor will be clean enough to use as a dinner plate, and you can have guests over unexpectedly and even bible studies and pass the religious cleanliness test, but the mess is still there... on the inside... in the heart.  You can scrub the outside till it sparkles like the sun but the heart will out, there's a few verses about that.   

There's actually a saying in Christian circles about training the heart.  I didn't realize how insidious that is until tonight as I'm writing this blog post.  We really have to let God give us discernment, and quit trying to do it all ourselves.  Chapter and verse for training the heart?  No folks, there isn't one.  Guard the heart, prepare the heart to worship but even our worship is not our own, he has to help us.  The best we can do is believe unto; he has to bridge the gap.

So if the dishes didn't get washed today, and you didn't train little Johnny to take out the trash on time, and you forgot to have devotions, I think it's ok.  We've been delivered from the god who whips us all into shape.  Jesus busted his act 2000 years ago. 

If your house is falling apart, it may be a sure sign that your heart isn't - because only Mary's will spend time at the feet of Jesus, while Martha's insist that everyone DO something.

You go ahead and have a Mary day.  She chose the "needful" or necessary thing, he says, because nothing else matters.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hey everyone, it's snowing... what?!

Seems like yesterday we ended organized school work.  That's a relative term for homeschoolers.  We do school all the time, everything is learning related so organized school is with books, non-organized school is everything else.  Non-sympathizers gasp and accuse us of pushing our children over the edge in the same breath saying we can't possibly teach them as well or enough as the government schools.  Sigh, it's such a different life we live!

I was in a super store the other day and the aisles were sectioned off with large blaring signs of "Back To School!"  It was July 15th.  About three weeks after most schools stopped for summer.  I nearly choked on my bottled water.  And the panic was palpable as I counted up the weeks I have before getting it all together for high school for both my girls now.  Then I realized I have SIX weeks to do this.  Plenty of time. Back to school, arghh...  but I had to wonder, I'm sure some parents were happy to see the signs, maybe even some children as well.  And the aisles were a mess, they'd been thoroughly rifled...  It's mid July, folks.

Homeschool is a very different concept in today's society.  The idea of having your children with you 24/7 is distasteful to many parents because of our social conditioning, I think.  Most of us are trying to get the baby away from us as soon as birth, by following well meaning advice of self comforting rules and the almighty time for yourself as a human being.  I think my time to myself is with my children.  Granted the occaisional hour or two to read a book or go out with my husband to a movie is nice, but days and weeks to myself, no..., that constitutes neglect.  And the self comforting thing really drives me wild.  If we were supposed to learn to self comfort ourselves from birth, why did God give us parents?   He calls himself the God of all comfort in Corinthians, so don't we as parents, following God's nature, have an obligation to comfort our charges?   That's not going to happen by banishing the children to another room or a camp or someone else's house or someone else's school.  We've become long distance caretakers.

No, it's not back to school time or that most wonderful time of the year as that funny commercial suggests.  That happens for some children in about six weeks but not for mine.  Mine are in school all the time because they are engaged in life learning.  But in September we pull out the books.  My me time is spent with my children, how else will they learn to do what I do.  If they aren't learning it from me, they're learning it from someone.  They need me and I need them and it's ok to need people, especially those who are your own flesh and blood.

Our society is weird, I think, and warping at dark speed into a robotic orphan generation.  No wonder the child crime stats are up and parents feel hassled, harried and overwhelmed.  Who wouldn't with the media constantly telling us we need more time to ourselves and guess what, it's back to school time even though it's six weeks away.  That's called gaslighting in some circles.

Guess what?!  It's Easter!  NOT...  Someone's gotta tell this market driven society to cut it out.  I don't want to be led around by whether or not I have enough notebooks I won't even need until next September.  But the vendors are probably freaking because the market place is losing a lot of lovely spenders since homeschool is taking off like wildfire, and we're not buying all the school commercialism anymore.  We're content to stay at home with our children and don't need the mega paychecks to pay for mega clothes and fancy cars and power lunches. We're letting our children grow up in a natural way, with Mom and Dad loving them and taking care of them and teaching them about life and their abc's.

I don't need Calgon to take me away because I don't want to leave.  :)

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Get down & funky, change is in the air!

For a few months now I've been comtemplating a new blog/website.  This first one started out late last December as a writing/homeschool/devotional blog.  I know some of you prefer reading more about writing while others prefer reading more about the homeschool journey with God.  So... what's a writer to do?  Twist my arm, why don't ya!  ;) By the way, Get Down, Get Funky is a country western line dance, who knew?!  Little bit of trivia to brighten up your day. 

This post is the official blog announcement of my new blog Boston daydreaming...  You will notice the name is very similar.  When Paul and I chose the title for Boston dreaming..., we had in mind that God reveals things to us in our every day lives because he loves us and wants to communicate with us.  Since my writing is naturally an extension of that, I wanted to keep in the same line and keep the branding united. 

I love C.S. Lewis' answer when someone asked about his writing process.  He said he saw a faun in his mind one day and wrote about it on paper.  From that we have the Chronicles of Narnia and the world is far richer for it.  If I can take dictation half as well as he did, I'll be so thrilled when I stand before the Lord.

So what does this mean?  This blog will continue as is minus the writing tips which will be on the writing blog.  We'd like to get some of you homeschooling pros on here for interviews sometime soon.  It's human nature to be curious about others, we are social creatures at heart, so please share.  Send us an email if you'd like to participate, or comment on this post.  Paul and I will continue blogging here about the highs and lows and political happenings in the homeschool community.  We will also continue blogging about Jesus and the myriad ways he makes himself the Hero in our lives.

We've added a few things that we think are kind of cool.  There is a news feed with information on taglines for homeschool, including HSLDA, which, as you know, is helping that Swedish boy reunite with his parents.  There's a Facebook page for updates on what's going on in the courts if you want to stay connected with that. 

The other thing we've added is a National Geographic vidio gadget at the bottom of this page.  Very fun!  You'll see at the top, under the Boston photo, there some new pages.  The "About Us" will eventually have our contact information.  Also we've added a page for my published works and a page for my editorial services.  The links page is divided up into categories so you can find things easier.  If there's a category you'd like to see, please let us know. 

If you'd like to exchange links with us (our link on your page/yours on our page), we're happy to do that.  We also have a section for the Dedham Area Homeschool Group's websites. 

That's the scoop, mi amigos!  Have a great week!   many blessings, Karen  :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Testing One, Two, Three, Can You Hear Me?

I've heard a lot of people talk about writing voice lately and thought I'd throw my two cents in.  It's not as complicated as you might think. 

I lived in Kentucky for awhile when I was in my twenties, doing missionary work.  One day I needed to call the operator to get a local phone number for someone named Chris.  I have a Rhode Island accent, more Bostonized now that I've lived here longer than anywhere else.  I told the man on the line that I needed the number for Chirs So and So, pronounced Kris.  He didn't understand me.  So I said it again.  No recognition...  Finally feeling stranded in another country, I realized it was my accent he didn't get, so I put on my Southern drawl and asked him if he could please give me the number for Kree-iss So and So.  Immediately he relaxed, apologized and gave me the number.  It was a great lesson in communication for me.  He couldn't understand my voice, although he knew for sure that I had one.

The next time you are thinking about your writers voice, try inserting the word accent instead.  What's your writing accent?  If someone had to compare your work with someone else, like one of those soda tasting commercials, would they know it was you if you didn't sign your name?  This is what you are aiming for.  It's the way you use your grammar unconsciously, the way you describe a mountain or an ocean or a prisoner. 

You can't run away from your voice, it follows you wherever you go.  When editors or publishers tell you you voice is not developed, they don't mean you can't write well, what we mean is your writing needs more time to evolve from the mechanics of writing to the point where writing becomes the tool used to communicate your writing speak.  Keep writing is an old mantra but it's so true.  The more you write, the more your voice will spill out onto your pages.  Kind of like your home.  The more you decorate the more your style evolves.  Some people have that Victorian look going on, others are eclectic.  Some are minimalists and some aren't.  One thing is for certain, none of us is exactly like another. 

Can you tell a Stephen King novel from Tolkien?  Most people will say yes, maily because of the genre.  Can you tell King from Poe?  If you studied Poe in high school, I bet you can tell the difference.  That is voice.  The genre, horror, is the same but the writing and description and tones are very different.  You can't hide your voice but you can obscure by trying to write like someone else.  Give that up quick.  You are you and only you can write like you.  So let the world hear your voice.  If it's an abrupt voice, that's fine.  If you tend to be flowery, go ahead.  If you don't like your voice, do it anyway and you may find the reason you don't like it is because you've never heard anyone else similar before.  That just means your voice is unique.  So go for it.

Testing one, two, three, Ok, your turn to speak on paper.  Go for it!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America

The other day we were driving in Quincy near John Quincy Adam’s house. The streets were lined with American flags in anticipation of today, the 4th of July. Each lamp post had one. The wind was whipping that day and when we stopped at a red light, one of the flags plummeted to the gutter.

We were pressed for time but Paul pulled over in the dense traffic to pick it up out of the street. He didn’t lay it on the sidewalk or place it on the electrical box nearby which was perhaps the easier thing to do; he wrapped it carefully around its pole and jammed the pole in the ground so it would stand, leaning it against the box. A passerby offered to take it to the bus station but it was fine where we left it, standing. We didn’t get to our appointment on time but I can’t think of a finer reason to be late.

There were people stuck at the lights watching us and I happened to notice some were from another country. I wondered what they were thinking as they stared us but I shudder wondering what they may have thought if we’d passed it by. It was inconvenient to stop but we considered it more inconvenient not to.

When I was a child we pledged allegiance to the flag every morning before school. We hung up our coats and hats and quickly hushed while the principal turned on the PA system. We each placed our hands over our hearts and said the pledge of allegiance facing the American flag that stood next to our teacher’s desk. Not one child failed to do so. It was a social embarrassment if we didn’t, this was, after all, the land we lived in by our parent’s choice. The words sunk into our hearts, this land is blessed by God. As children we realized the flag means something, we are a nation under God, there is liberty here, and justice…our lives became larger than just our own families and we felt a responsibility to carry on in like manner.
When I was a teen I was invited to participate in the Color Guard for the town of Wakefield, RI. I considered it a great honor and practiced marching once a week at the library making sure I was available regardless of my summer plans or school activities. I carried the RI flag in parades all summer long. I wore a navy skirt with a white blouse and a navy hat and white gloves. Those of us in the Color Guard were told it wasn’t an option to drop the flag, unless, of course, we were fainting and in that case we were instructed, not to help, but, to keep the flag off the ground so that it wouldn’t get trampled. Our instructor watched over the fallen.

Of course there are some people who live here who do not understand this and will wonder why it matters, it’s just a piece of colored fabric but it’s the significance. The flag is our standard of faith for our country, our symbol of freedom. If the flag is flying we are a free nation. If the flag falls, we give our lives to save it and our country. God watches over our fallen. I cannot fathom children not learning patriotism. I suppose if I lived in a country I disagreed with, I certainly wouldn’t pledge but then I’d move. Why stay in a land you don’t agree with? No one is forced to live here because it’s America.

Today, I had an overwhelming urge to get some coffee while picking up burgers for the grill. I ran to a local Dunkin Donuts and a man yelled to me about my hat, he wanted to know if I could see anything with it on. I laughed and told him sometimes, and then he laughed. He said he hasn’t seen a hat like mine since the rice patties in Vietnam, to which I asked if he’s a Vet and he replied “Yes, ma’am.” I said, “Thank you for serving.” His jaw dropped open and easily twenty years fell away from his face as he relaxed and his blue eyes shined. He wanted to know where I’m from. He said not many people around here thank him for serving.

So let this Bostonian now say that if you’re a relative of John Quincy Adams, any of our founding fathers, or a member of our Armed Forces or a relative to one, thank you for serving. Thank you for standing up for American ideals that allow non-Americans to flourish here as well. Thank you for guarding my freedom and my children’s freedom with your lives. Thank you for teaching us by your stand that this 4th of July day is so important that you’d risk everything for it. I hear you.

Others went to the beaches and the cook-outs and lined the streets to eat their popcorn as we walked by, but this little girl was more than happy to put on her gloves and sweat in the summer sun for the opportunity to carry the standards of freedom and hope, and I still am.

To every citizen of this great country, thank you for not dropping the Flag.
Happy Birthday, America.

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

Let Freedom Ring.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

This is one of my more emotional holidays, this and Memorial Day. It's a time when I reflect on the liberties we have, the meaning our forefathers tried to convey hundreds of years ago when they first came to America for religious freedom, and what I am doing to contribute to that freedom. Prayer is one of my contributions, for our nation and for the families who have sacrificed to safeguard our freedoms and our sovereignty.

Freedom of worship is the single most important social issue to me as a believer. That means I will also fight for others to worship as they choose. It just never seems to be an issue if someone wants to believe in something other than Christianity, why is that? The god of this world doesn't seem to mind worship of anything else... Thank God this world is not our home.

Two years ago the girls had a concert with the Boston Children's Chorus in a church where the congregation was encouraged to worship in the style they chose. I knew they frowned on certain denominations but it was their motto. As the children were singing a beautiful song in Hebrew, I was so inspired to raise my hands in worship. It was not a Jewish congregation, by the way. We are Christians who have learned we are Jewish but that’s another post. As a guest, I didn't want to offend, but I quickly remembered they encouraged freedom of worship. As I stood and held up my hands in silent praise to the Lord, a wave of whispering swept behind me. I had to fight the peer pressure I felt and realized how strong that can be.

I had a choice in those moments, to accept my status as an American and express my worship or cave to the surprise and perhaps chagrin of some of those around me. I chose to worship because I live on free soil. Others stood as well and it was a moving time for me personally because I fought for my freedom to worship internally and that is where it all begins.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Psalm 100:4  KJV

We live in these United States; this is still a free country regardless of her many enemies within and without. If I enter a building here, I am not changing allegiance to my country or my God. Of course, I will abide by the rules of my hosts, but if those rules offend me, I don’t have to visit.

On this 4rh of July, I will be expressing my worship on the streets of Boston and thanking God for my forefathers who had the wisdom and foresight to create a country around the most important nucleus of the heart, freedom of religion. I will never forget what they have done for my family and my children will never forget either.

You are free to worship the Lord as you choose in this country. No wonder we’re such a target and no wonder we are so bountifully blessed.

God Bless You, America.

I have a special post for Sunday.  Please stop in if you have a moment.  Many blessings, Karen

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