Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Exploration pre-review

We received our huge box of books from Geography Matters company last week with the complete year of Paths of Exploration curriculum. It was like Christmas around here! Books were divided into stacks and each stack was wrapped with tissue paper. That made it even more fun to open!

The entire box contains Jake's curriculum for next year except for math and a few add-on subjects/activities I'll be including. If you are unfamiliar with Trail Guide to Learning Paths series, they are a complete curriculum package (minus Math) that centers around U.S. History. All topics learned tie into the overarching theme of Exploration. So, his science, art, nature study, English, and, yes, history, will focus on exploration as part of U.S. History.

We plan to start using this curriculum in the Fall, however, I wanted to get my hands on it so I can peruse and begin planning now. Much to my surprise, though, the curriculum is already well laid out and organized into daily chunks. They've even thought of a built-in "catch up day" each week! So, my planning time has already been cut down considerably! LOVE THAT!

I chose this curriculum for Jake because of his style of learning and for his unique needs that have presented themselves as hindrances in typical learning environments. This curriculum is VERY hands-on and compliments the "learn by doing" style that Jake really needs.

We've never used a "boxed" curriculum but I hesitate to call Paths of Exploration that because, in reading over the teacher's guide, it is extremely flexible, it seems, in letting me add or subtract in whatever way I deem fit. One of the first sentences in the teacher's guide stuck with me and seems to be the "motto" for this company's curriculum. The preface says, "...this curriculum is your servant not your master." Wow! Why hadn't I heard that before?? So, did the whole thing come in a box?? Well, yes. Did someone spend countless hours pulling together this curriculum to cohesively blend and flow? Yes and for the first time, the pressure for me to do that is off (well, I still have to do it for my other son going into 8th grade).

The curriculum is set in a Biblical worldview and instead of all core subjects being separate, categorized topics, they cohesively tie together. I'm nervous and excited about that! Nervous because for the past 4 years, I've taken a "school at home" approach to our home school but, honestly, that isn't totally working. I mean we took the boys out of the public school structure for a reason - it wasn't working. So, should I be totally surprised that the same format isn't quite cutting it for us at home?? Thus, a different approach to education; one that reminds me of my days in GATE and AP classes with more hands-on learning, creativity and challenging ways to approach a subject other than cracking open a textbook and reading or whipping out a workbook. Out of insecurity and fear, I copied what I knew best and was familiar with but that doesn't make it the best route. As we approach the end of our fourth year homeschooling, I am growing in this area and have more confidence to shed the textbooks and workbooks (not that they are bad things but they should dominate education) and try something new!  So, I am committing to thinking outside of the box when it comes to education and I believe this curriculum is the first-step in that direction! I couldn't be more excited about that!

Time will tell on how well this curriculum works for our family, though, since we won't begin for several months. I'm hopefully optimistic that this will fit my child's learning style flawlessly and I am encouraged that the planning has been done for me in a thoughtful, tied-in kind of way! I love, love, love the large amounts of creative, hands-on activities built into the curriculum too!

Follow me as I travel this path in discovering a new way to home school with a new type of curriculum!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


When you think about how much others have influence on you - your thoughts, decisions, opinions - it begs the question if that is God's intended purpose for our lives. If I'm not careful, I find that I am thoughtlessly following along with the crowd that has chosen to speak the loudest,most convincingly or most urgently, without actually weighing the truth of the situation. It is only when I step back from the noise and emotions of others, that I can begin to hear His voice through it all.
It is so easy to get swept up in the thought of other-mindedness - living and deciding based on those around us, instead of the One who should guide our thoughts and decisions. I would describe other-mindedness as caring more about what others think of me, my children, my family, my decisions, my life - than what God thinks. When we find ourselves in other-mindedness mindset, we need to flee from it.

Time and again, I'm reminded of this lesson and He asks me "Who are you listening to?". When I respond to others' emotions, thoughts, even demands, particularly without His input, I step out of His will. He wants me to consult Him on everything. And last time I looked, everything means... everything. So before I respond to someone's demand, opinion or thoughts, I need to remember to first consult Him.

The demand of other-mindedness can be so loud and overwhelming and sometimes it can be subtle and sweet - both dangerous to our hearts if we aren't careful. For we are not called to agree with men nor are we called to follow the 'majority'. We aren't called to live by consensus. We are called, as believers in Christ, to live out our own call on our lives. While there are universal principles that all believers must follow, each life, each family, each ministry will look a bit differently because of the manner in which God is leading that person or persons.

If I'm not careful, other-mindedness (caring more about what others think of me, my children, my life, than God) can be a tyrant, ruling my thoughts and then trickling to my decisions in order to not stand out, not 'rock the boat', not hurt someone's feelings. Yet, when God leads, usually all of the above happens. Not out of purposely being rude or mean. Obedience to God calls us to forsake our family, our friends and our very life, if necessary.

The voice of others cannot be more important than the voice of God if you want to live a life of obedience. With each step in following Christ, the sound of others grows quiet and distant, as His voice grows stronger and louder. May I train my ears to only hear His voice amongst the crowd of others so quick to weigh in on me and my life.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Email, Shmemail...

Despite not writing about it for a week or so, I assure you I am still on my "7" purge (well, "6" for me... but whose counting??). If you are unsure of what I'm talking about you can go here and here to read all about it!

This week, I tackled the overwhelming downer of my Outlook inbox. JUST my inbox. You see, my inbox had over 32,000 unread emails in it. That is NOT counting all of the emails that HAD been opened and read. So, I spent several hours clearing it out.
I saved every stinkin' email that ever came in to me because of the olden days when email was new and the thought was to save every conversation "in case you need it again". Well, isn't that technological hoarding?? That is the same justification that hoarders use in explaining the condition of their homes.

So, here I sat freeing myself of the years (yes, years) of emails sitting in my Outlook inbox. I took a no holds barred approach and just began deleting! Deleting everything and anything (well, I saved a few things). Once I got to January of this year, I slowed down my pace of hitting the delete button to really comb over what needed keeping such as confirmation emails of upcoming field trips, email 'receipts' of orders recently placed, several homeschool emails that I wanted to keep.

When all was said and done, I had 200 UNOPENED emails sitting in my inbox! Yay! I also took the time to unsubscribe from many email newsletters.

What a freeing action! I actually enjoy looking at my inbox now and I am challenged to keep it clean of clutter and free from getting bogged down again!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up March 19-23

This week has flown by so fast! After not feeling great last week and weekend, we entered into this week rather slowly. Or, at least I did. Looking over the boys' work, though, they jumped in with both feet!

We are lingering on the pioneers and settling California for a bit in California History. Our co-op has a Pioneer party scheduled for next week. Even though one had nothing to do with the other, the timing has ended up being perfect! We SHOULD have hit all of this pioneer/gold rush days in January but with illnesses and breaks, we just arriving to it!

We watched a great PBS documentary on the Donner Party and we are continuing with our read aloud, "Be The Great Horn Spoon". Jake finished his Cobblestone reader "California Trail" and we have started the introduction material for "Patty Reed's Doll". I can't wait to get started with that book! Jake and I drew out a map of half of the U.S. to track the typical California Trail and then the one the Donner-Reed Party took. We are going to move a wagon traing along the trail as he reads the book. Not too shabby for freehand drawing, I say! Our California is a little anorexic but we need to tighten our belt here anyway! :)

What is a home schoolers kitchen if it doesn't have some science experiment set up, right?? We have our root viewer that Jake started a month and a half still going, although, the carrot and onion seeds haven't produced any plants. The radish seeds have taken off! We also have baggies of radish seeds in various states of wet/dryness to see what happens to the seeds in different environments. We are inadvertently growing pink-dotted mold in these said baggies too. Gross and cool all at the same time!

Josh is chugging along in World History, Intro to Physics and Math. Here he is trying out Time4Learning website. He's working on exponents (and is not very thrilled about the picture taking, as always).

In addition to beginning "Archimedes and the Door of Science" book, he also began "Where the Red Fern Grows" book this week. We didn't get to it last year in 6th grade, so I figured we'd squeeze it in now. He's not very thrilled about it as he knows it's going to end sadly. This is his 15th and 16th books for this school year (so far)!

Jake is continuing with Ramona Quimby, Age 8. He's digging her style and loving this story! I just hope he doesn't pick up any ideas! Oh boy!

As part of his monthly Little Passports package, Jake received a "artifact" from Egypt (if you don't know about Little Passports, it's a monthly package club that sends your kids neat packages from a different country each month and they get to learn about the country, its culture and geography. It's pretty cool!). So, Jake decided on Thursday night he wanted to unearth his pyramid. It was pretty fun! He really got into it, too, thinking he had discovered the latest Egyptian find! (I'm not sure why Blogger reversed the order of these pictures.. sorry about that!)

Much to the delight of both boys, the iPad entered into our educational time last week. They brushed up on fractions, took their spelling test with a neat app., tested their knowledge of world and U.S. geography with Stack the States app, Stack the Countries app, and GeoQuiz. Their favorite is probably Presidents vs. Aliens though. Man, that game really challenges you to know your presidential facts! I even enjoy it!

We cancelled our trip to Marshall Gold Discovery park, not knowing if it would rain, and my need for a day at home to prepare for a birthday party sleepover. We also got to hang out with two of my brothers and my nephew and then Josh, Chris and I got the chance to see "The Hunger Games". They did a great job! They left out some details but stayed close to the main events. Chris hasn't finished the first book let alone the series yet, and he really enjoyed the movie! We left Jake with Nana so we could preview it before letting him watch it. They did a good job of displaying the violence in a way that wasn't horribly jolting or traumatic and that is saying a lot because lets face it.. at its core, The Hunger Games is violent. It was a very busy, crazy, fun week!

Happy Birthday to our oldest!! I can't believe how big he is! Oy Vey! Both boys are such a joy and blessing! So glad they are in our life!

I'm linking up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for their Weekly Wrap-up!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up March 12 - 16 and review

We've had a pretty rainy week here in California, at least where we live. I've enjoyed it, though, and it is much needed rain to help prevent a drought come summer.

Blame it on the time change last weekend and/or the drastic change in weather, but I've not been feeling well this week. So, we mainly focused on reading and a few documentaries to get us through the school week.

We SHOULD have gone to the theater on Tuesday but opted out as a way to nip this icky feeling in the bud. We did our piano lessons on Wednesday and that's about it.

I DID order Jake's curriculum for next year! First time I've ever purchased a 'complete curriculum set'! I've always pieced our curriculum together but I am really looking forward to trying this out after all the great reviews on it! We have chosen to use Trail Guide to Learning Paths of Exploration by Geography Matters! I'll be reviewing that off and on as I familiarize and plan for next year!

Here and there, I've been scouring apps for our iPad that will be in our possession this evening!! Of all the apps I've downloaded this week, I told Chris last night not one of them was for ME! LOL! They are all for our school! We can't wait to incorporate that into our schooling!

Last but not least, I've got some reviews coming up that I am excited to share! The first being!
Time4Learning has invited me to try their online curriculum for 30 days in exchange for an honest review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experiences. Visit them for information about lesson plans, homeschool portfolios or writing your own curriculum review.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pride, Prejudice and Purging...

I may or may not look like a crazy Californian. I may or may not look like a crazy Christian. I may or may not look like someone playing with all of their marbles. I mean, really? First I'm talking about unplugging the t.v. and walking away... what's next?? Facebook??? Food??? Commune living?? Aren't those things un-American? Sacrilegious??

God is calling for more discipline in my life, so that my time with my family, friends and on this earth is more meaningful. Yes, I get the irony of my blog title.

Here are the areas of my "6" (I wasn't convicted of a seventh area, sorry! That might come later.. haha!) that I need to focus on. These are areas I need to decrease consumption of and establish guardrails and discipline... (these are listed in no particular order):

* Stuff
* Media
* Food
* Approval
* Finances
* Negative Thoughts/Stress

I am starting with stuff and, well, media. I guess in many ways I'm starting with them all in small steps but making big steps in one or two areas at a time.

On the first day I began purging of excess, I discovered I had 9 purses! 9! Um.. for those that know me, you have seen me carry the EXACT. SAME. PURSE. for the past 4 years or so (until recently when I changed it out). Seriously? ME? 9? I'm not an accessory kind of girl or even into clothes, so I was surprised that I had 9 purses in my possession! So, I kept 3 and gave the rest away!

I also purged us of 15 cookbooks. I love to bake. I love to cook... And I am the first to admit I have way too many cookbooks. So, round one began with this area of our house and I'll be doing round 2 by the end of next week! I need to take a harder look at the ones I have kept (which is still WAY too many) and get rid of the rest.

We purged video games, books, movies, and all kinds of other random items BUT we still have a lot more to go! One area I need to desperately purge is our homeschool supplies! Oy Vey! That will be in round 2!

It felt so good to be rid of so much stuff that had stolen my time (to maintain or move around when not in use), money and thoughts!

I'm beginning to like this purging thing!

Next up, more media purging!

Weekly Wrap-up: March 3 -6 and field trip Friday!

We had a full week last week! So much so, that I'm just finally getting around to posting all that we took part in!

We are plugging along in math and I've been exploring a few options for online math drills besides what we already have which is IXL
I came upon a math site that, so far, I'm really digging! It's called dreambox . We are currently using the 14 day trial to give it a whirl before purchasing. If interested, Homeschool Buyers Co-op has it on sale until 3/31 for a SPECTACULAR discount!

Saturday, the 3rd we had friends over for dinner and owl dissecting! Sounds fun, huh?
My friend found an awesome printable online of an owl pellet chart and we used that as our guide for when we found tiny bones in the pellets.

If you are unfamiliar with owl pellets, they aren't poop, as some believe, but really Owl hairballs. Owls do not have teeth to chew, so they swallow their meal whole and digest the meat. All other materials - fur, bones, seeds - are indigestable and so regurgitated back up in these nice, tight fur balls. Within the fur balls, contain different bones. It's pretty fascinating really!

Monday saw us slow down significantly in school in order to tame the excess beast. We collected a HUGE pile, which I affectionately called "Ruthless Purge, part 1". This pile went to our church's rummage sale and proceeds helped the cost of sending a group of people to go build two homes in Mexico in a couple of weeks!

This pile grew to about 2 to 3 times this size by the end of the week.

Tuesday and Wednesday saw us with a horrible bout of seasonal allergies which slowed us down greatly.

We finished the Read-aloud, "The Hunger Games" and my oldest went on to read the trilogy within the week. Josh and I had an excellent discussion about the series (which I had read in three days the week before) including thinking through critically the belief systems within Panem as well as within each character. Deep thoughts came out of that! Good stuff! If you are unsure about whether you should read this book or have your kids read it, go here: Redeemed Reader for an excellent review!

We are still working through "By The Great Horn Spoon", our other read aloud!

Friday was our field trip day with our co-op and it was a blast! It was a long day but so cool!

First, we had a school lesson in the Old Schoolhouse in Old Sacramento.

Each student got to ring the school bell on the top of the building as we left.

Then, we walked over to the Wells Fargo building, where the Pony Express stop was for Wells Fargo bank and had a great history lesson there as well as given lots of opportunity for hands on learning!
We met outside at first and moved in. Our group numbered close to 35 which made for super tight quarters! Those stairs, behind the guide, led to California's first Supreme Court!

A drawing of Old Sacramento during the Gold Rush

This is a model-size replica of a Wells Fargo stagecoach. Did you know that they fit 20 people in these things?!?! Ugh! Talk about a rough ride!! Did you ALSO know that the shout-out "shotgun", when someone wants to ride in the passenger seat comes from our stagecoach days. The guy who rode next to the driver was the guy carrying the shot gun and protecting the loot that was placed under his seat, near his feet!

And this... this is Black Bart... famous in Sacramento and all the gold rush hills surrounding Sacramento. Wells Fargo history would not be complete without mentioning Black Bart!

We had gorgeous weather and about 1.5 hours for lunch, so we picnicked in the middle of Old Sac in a green, grassy field and let the kids run and play and hang out while the moms got to chat and catch-up.

Finally, with our group dwindled, the remaining 20 braved the Underground tour of Old Sacramento and I have to say, it was AWESOME! We had an excellent tour guide and learned SO much! Because Old Sac was built right next to the river, it would be flooded every year, until they created our levee system. They also raised the town 9.5 feet up from it's original spot! So, we got to see old buildings, archeology digs, interesting findings, etc. under Old Sac! Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any pictures under there due to private property laws or something. Too bad because they had some great pictures of people rowing down J st. back in 1860!! So, all we got was this group picture before entering the doors behind them and going underground!

It was an awesome day learning with friends!

Josh and Jake in front of the Pony Express memorial

Saturday brought a watercolor lesson for me, rummage sale at our church for Chris and the boys, a stun gun purchase, and the Rock and Worship Road Show!!!
We saw Sidewalk Prophets, Rend Collective, LeCrae, Disciple, Tenth Avenue North, and Mercy Me.

I LOVE Tenth Avenue North so I was most looking forward to seeing them and they did not disappoint! What amazing truth was spoken by that band, in song and word. At one point, the lead singer, went into the crowd and ended up two rows down from us! Mercy Me was also amazing, as usual! Bart did a talk and then they performed and it was moving and challenging. We walked away with a renewed spirit and a song (or two or more) in our heart! We also walked away with a new band that we Chris and I love - Rend Collective! Awesome, God honoring band! We had an incredible time! Check and see if the Rock and Worship Road Show is coming near you! If so, DON'T MISS IT!

I hope you had a great week too!

I'm linking up with
Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

...Of Media and Men

Prior to my latest read, "7; An experimental mutiny against excess", I was already on this path. I was already being stirred to consume less, consolidate more and to let go of some habits and traditions that have just always been.

At the beginning of the new year, I began a purge of all things negative in my life; those things that brought me down emotionally, in attitude, or in my behavior. I started with what I consumed in media. Chris had already begun doing this, months earlier, which caused us to watch less t.v. at night because he felt so many shows on now were negative fluff that promoted a critical, negative spirit. I have to say I agreed with him... I just happened to be "addicted" to some of that negative fluff.

Chris and I are huge media consumers. At least we were. Ever since our dating days. I mean, think about it. Chris works in media, his degree is in Communications - Mass Media. He works in a field that needs to stay some what on top of what is trending. He needs to have some knowledge base for cultural interests. At least, that is what we told ourselves, to justify the huge amount of media he and I would consume.

Slowly, over the past couple of years, we've not stayed on top of what is popular, some out of pure dis-interest and some because we were overloaded on the media we had "committed" to already.

While sick this past fall, I decided to see what all the hub-bub was about with Mad Men, a show we had never watched before but had heard many, many people discuss. I'm not sure how I got to the beginning of Season 3, Episode 1, when I look back on it. Seriously. I am sad to say I wasted that much time on this crap. Chris watched the first episode with me and was completely turned off, as was I but I kept watching hoping it would redeem itself. The characters would redeem themselves. They would turn from their ways of unhappiness, filandering. They did not.

I was so frustrated by Season 2, I honestly don't know why I kept watching. I couldn't understand why so many people had been raving about this show! Everyone on that show, not ONE. SINGLE. PERSON was happy with their life, job, wife. Not one. Chris and I counted. Plus, you throw in the affairs and the integrity of a louse and you have the main character. Never once exercising any redeeming qualities. Not once. He was a horrible husband, family man and in many ways business man. What's to love about that?!? A main character with no morals, no integrity. No attempts at even scrouching some up?!? Ugh. I kept hoping Don Draper would turn a corner. Would grow a heart for his wife. His kids. Any of them even, but alas, none did not (at least by episode 1 of Season 3). I was so irritated that I had been sucked in to something so unworthy of my time. I swore never again. That's when I began to look at all that I viewed with new eyes.

I had an ah-ha moment with God while having a conversation about media, in general, with Chris and from that point forward, I got rid of "my shows". I stopped DVR'ing them (is that a word?), I deleted the backlog that had collected on the DVR and I walked away, cold turkey. No more Parenthood. No more Grey's Anatomy (my guilty pleasure). No more Revenge (even more guilty pleasure). And you know what?? I didn't die! I actually no longer cared about what was happening on them.

Now, I do have to say that our t.v. was only on during the evening after the boys went to bed. Since September, we instituted a no t.v. unless its the weekend rule due to someone (no names to protect the accused) was rushing through school work (with it usually being wrong) to watch t.v. No Bueno. So, we moved all t.v. viewing, other than documentaries and school related watching, to the weekends. Occasionally, as a reward, we may watch a movie but that was the exception not the norm. We monitor the boys' intake of media but once 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. rolled around, Chris and I indulged.

At the beginning of February, we went a step further and cancelled our Satellite t.v. subscription, which includes local channels. So, we are left with Netflix streaming and DVD, Redbox and we are trying a subscription to Puritan Picks online Christian DVD rental site.

It's been over a month since we have had t.v. channels and while I do miss the documentaries we'd record for school and the occasional food network cooking show, I am loving the time that Chris and I have gained back.

Even though we read daily and love books, more reading is occurring in our home now. From us and the boys. More Bible reading is occurring too and that can never be a waste of time.

For us, ridding ourselves of that constant negative voice - that one that tells us we NEED more things, isn't measuring up to the likes of reality t.v. stars (don't get me started on reality t.v.), is so critical of every.stinkin'. thing. - it's lovely not to live with anymore.

But for me, the biggest difference is this: I am no longer WATCHING other people living their life (fake or 'real'). I'm no longer wasting my life investing emotionally into people that either are imaginary or I don't even know! I'm no longer sitting on the sidelines of my own life while another's plays out before me, while mine passes me by. THIS. IS. FREEDOM. Until I had broken that tie, I didn't realize how much t.v. (and other media I'll get to later) was affecting my personality and attitude! And while that totally seems illogical, it was truly bringing me down! I am now free from the trappings of someone else telling me how and what to purchase, how to behave, what to think about an issue, and being spoon-fed other worldviews that I have never agreed with, anyway. FREEDOM. I love it so far.

I suppose you could say this new purging is Lent on steroids but, no, I don't want these changes to last just for 40 days. I want them to be permanent changes. If the things I am giving up aren't good for me for 40 days, or distracts me from God's voice and calling on my life, then they certainly aren't good for me the remaining 325 days either.

I've only scratched the surface of my media purging... t.v. is the first of many.

What t.v. shows, when looked at with an objective eye (not emotional attachment), could you give up? Can you see any negative effects on your thought patterns coming from the shows you do consume??

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." - Phil. 4:8

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ok, God...

Ok, Ok... I'm listening.

Between the conviction that I keep receiving as I look at the state of affairs in our family and life, a recurring prompting keeps hammering at my brain. Too much stuff.

Then, I pick up this book at Sam's Club last week called "7; a Mutiny against excess". I'm about halfway through it and it has only added to the confirmation of what God had already been speaking to me about.

THEN, we arrive on Sunday to church, only for Pastor Chris to preach on the very thing I've been discussing with God. Consumerism and the Christian (well, finances was the sermon but the focus was putting up guardrails, boundaries if you will, on our consumerism and hoarding with our money. Consumerism and the Christian. That could be a book!?!).

We are called to live differently - MUCH differently - than the world, once we've said "Yes" to God. Yet, my consuming habits - be they food, shopping, possessions - don't look that much different from my neighbor (well, maybe it DOES with the neighbor across our court that has ZERO items in their garage. ZERO. I want to be like them.).

Without setting out to do so, I have fallen into the trap of consumerism and dare I say, hoarding. (Y'all who've seen my garage are nodding your heads, I'm sure). Yikes. This is not aligned with God's words. In fact, it blatantly contradicts God's words.

"If you have two coats, give one to the poor. If you have food, share with those who are hungry." - Luke 3: 11

"...You cannot love both God and money" - Matt. 6:24

I never considered myself as a lover of money. We've always had just enough to meet our needs and do some fun stuff each month (if we're careful in spending). You know, just enough to keep us humble and remembering that God supplies our income, ultimately. Yet, here I am, surrounded by stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.

Did you know that if you make $35,000/year, you are in the top 5% (read rich) of the global population?? You make $50,000?? You're in the top 1%!!! (Thanks, Jen Hatmaker for these statistics. Learn more here -

To quote from her book, "7":
Excess has impaired America (dare I add,specifically, the church); we are the richest people on earth, praying to get richer.
We're tangled in unmanageable debt while feeding the machine, because we feel entitled to more. What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2 a day, and we can't manage a fulfilling life on twenty-five thousand times that? Fifty thousand times that amount?"

Ouch. That was just in her introduction!

So, today, after many, many promptings (I told you I can be thick-headed)... we are heading into a life of radical change, to align our life to look more like Jesus, who possessed nothing and gave it all away.

School has been postponed to the afternoon today after an amazing talk with our boys about changes we believe God is calling us to in our life. They have responded with enthusiasm and desire to embrace giving more and more of our life away.

Join me on this journey, won't you? (besides, I can use some accountability)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I don't want obedient children...

Sometimes my kids struggle with impulsiveness. As I spoke to one, yet again, about an impulsive move this week, thinking in my head of how weary I am of repeating myself on this subject, the thought hit me like a ton of bricks.

"That's not how I feel about your impulsiveness". Wait. What? Are you talking to me, God? As I pondered this interfering thought worming its way through my brain, my initial resistance was "I'm not impulsive". Yeah. Right.

That was JUST the thought needed to trigger example after example of impulsive words, reactions, thoughts, actions, attitudes, decisions, purchases to come flooding into my mind... Ouch. Impulsive? Me? Mmm-hmm.

Yet, here I've been 'correcting' this behavior in my own children without having the insight of correcting it in myself. Double ouch.

We are learning how to exercise and grow the spiritual muscle of Self-Control this week in our studies (thus, my particularly long-winded talk with my boy on an impulsive move. Grab those teachable moments, right?! UGH).

But it's so easy for me to take the role of abstract teacher, above the lesson, and not apply this lesson I want my children to embrace to myself. Say it with me now - hyp.O.crite. Yep, bona fide and convicted.

So, when I begin to lecture about the benefits of shaking off impulsive choices and behavior, who am I talking to? If it is to my children ONLY and not to my own heart, what does that do but drive a wedge between my children and myself?

When the onion is peeled back, we see that what drives my motive is for my children to be seen as obedient. Yet, again, who is the audience of this obedience? Friends? Family? Strangers? Big deal. Those people, and their opinions of me and my children don't matter (no offense, family and friends; hang in here to see my point). My concern should ONLY be with the one audience that DOES matter - God. So, if I have obedient children on the outside but their hearts are standing in rebellion, is that considered successful parenting?! I think not. If I orchestrate obedient children and garner praise from others but have a disobedient heart myself? What have I gained? Nothing. I have taught my children an empty faith and an empty relationship with our Creator God.

I should want more than an obedient child. I should want more than a outward appearance of obedience but harbor rebellion in my heart. And in my children's hearts. I cannot worship at the altar of obedience as though that is THE pinnacle moment in parenting. Or in my own life for that matter.

Is obedience important? Required of us by God? You bet'cha. But more than focusing on obedience I want to embrace - for myself and my children - virtues of God. In fact, John 1:53 says "this is love for God; that we obey His commands". Obeying is important. But like God, I want it to come from a place of love and desire to do so willingly, not forcefully. And not without developing other virtues of God. It's silly to think that we can teach our children - or ourselves - obedience in a vacuum. As though it is not connected to any other action or virtue.

So, here is what I desire of me and my boys:

Think David. God wants a heart that is after His own. Does that mean he demands perfect obedience from us? No. It does mean, though, that He wants us to want what He wants? Yep. He wants us to strive, knowing we are imperfect, for obedience and self-discipline. Does he want perfection? Does he want an outward appearance of obedience but an inward slant toward rebellion? Not a chance.

Grace. If the message of grace isn't picked up from Genesis to Revelation, I think a re-reading of the Bible is needed. There isn't a book of the Bible that doesn't gush with God's undeserved grace toward us, broken sinners. He gives us chance, after chance, after chance, after.. well, you get my point. If we struggle to extend grace to others (extending understanding of imperfection - both mine and theirs), then obedience is empty and hollow. Where does that get me?? The Pharisees obeyed. Right down to the very last law yet Jesus looked down on them for their empty hearts, unable to extend grace.

Love. It seems like this has been overemphasized in our church collective lately (and I would agree) but one can't get away from God's unconditional, mercy-giving, slate-wiping, erased memory kind of love. You just can't get away from it. The greatest of these IS love.

Joy. If I have taught my children to obey (or myself) but am empty of the sweet, redeeming joy that comes from the release of sin of the great things He has done for us, then.. well, I've missed the boat, folks. To rob myself and my children of the joy only Jesus can bring in my attempt at worshiping a standard of obedience is ludicrous. Seriously. Think about it. Big deal, my kids (or I) obey but I am rude, mean-spirited, IMPULSIVE in word and deed, grumpy, impatient, negative or complaining... then I have missed Jesus' words. I've read them but not absorbed them in my heart to make the necessary changes.

And finally... obedience. (yes, it DOES seem I'm contradicting myself here). Let me explain. I want obedience from my children JUST as God wants obedience from me, His daughter. But He doesn't want the first-time, robotic obedience that a moralistic formula tells us how to train. He wants my heart. He wants my joy. He wants my love. He wants my understanding and remorse over having done wrong. VOLUNTARILY. NOT Formulaic-ly (yes, I just made that word up). He wants voluntary obedience, not dictated, empty obedience. He wants me (and my children) to get to a point in my relationship with Him that I obey BECAUSE I WANT TO. NOT because He told me to or "it's the right thing to do as a Christian" or to keep up appearances and earn praise from others. He doesn't want empty obedience.

He wants my heart. It all starts and ends with the condition of my heart.

True obedience can get messy. Matters of the heart, well, they are messy too. Sometimes I don't hear Him prompting me to obey. Sometimes - oh, I hear him alright but... I ignore Him, thinking I know better. Sometimes.. well, I just choose to openly rebel. Sometimes (often times for me, actually), it takes SEV.ER.AL times for me to learn a lesson in obedience. Several. As in 7x70. Call me thickheaded. It's ok, I won't be offended. It's not always first-time obedience. Let's get real, it often NOT first-time obedience. Yet, He waits. He engages me... if I engage back. To soften my heart. To transform meTo be open to radical change in my heart, until finally, I conform to look more and more like Him - in word and deed.

More than immediate obedience to do what I say or be appropriate, I want a heart that embraces His love, joy, grace and from that, out of a true desire to follow, obedience. In me. And my children.

I leave you with an Anthem Lights song that captures what I want me (and my response) to God to be... Who wouldn't want to move to a closer heart of voluntary obedience when you think about His love and grace?? (Pardon the big hair in this video).

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Weekly Wrap-up: Feb. 27 - Mar. 2

We started this week off with rainy weather, which for California (where we live), this is a MUCH needed component. It was nice to have a couple of days of rain squished into this week. Lord, bring the rain and spare our friends in the rest of the country!

School has been humming along this week at a nice pace. We finally found our groove after a rocky start to February! Of course, we found that groove right at the END of February! Ah well!

Here's what our week looked like:

We are progressing in our math and science lessons nicely. Perhaps it was the weather, or perhaps it was the realization that I haven't highlighted much of what we've been reading lately (particularly our read-alouds)so I thought I'd mention it.

Jake finished "The Ballad of Lucy Whipple" this week and came to the conclusion that he liked the book! He wasn't too sure through most of it but by the end, he enjoyed it! This is a biggie for him!
In keeping with his study of California history, his next book, "The California Trail" is a quick Cobblestone read. It's very informative about traveling the different trails, the reasons why and life in early California.

We finished our read-aloud "The God King" (World History for Josh) and moved on to a read-aloud for California History, "By The Great Horn Spoon"! Cute book so far!

Even though they were books my husband purchased long ago, in anticipation of the release of the movie, I picked up "The Hunger Games" on Monday night and by Friday morning before co-op, I was done with the trilogy! Very easy read (written for jr. high/high school reading level) but it stirred up many emotions for me. I grew attached to Katniss and Peeta and even Gale. Because the boys want to see this movie, I wanted to preview the books first. After reading, we began a SECOND read-aloud of "The Hunger Games" together. This gives me a chance to explain, discuss and teach the boys through it. We are half way through our reading and hope to finish early next week!

The boys are still moving along nicely with their piano lessons. I've enjoyed listening to them play and reminisce about my childhood years of playing. Am I old enough to reminisce?!? What the heck?! (sigh).

On Friday, our co-op gathered together for another lesson. One of our moms, who happens to be a biology professor, taught on the properties of air and wind. IT. WAS. AWESOME!
She began with a cute skit about wind and had several volunteers help act it out.

She had the entire group split up into hot air molecules and cold air molecules and we learned about the properties of those through this demonstration and other demonstrations with a candle, smoke, a balloon game and dry ice!

The kids LOVED it! The parents did too!

The kids got to try to catch what was in the wind with paperplates and vaseline! Awesome project!

Lastly, we had the kids make their own kites as a story was read! Jake and some friends are trying theirs out below. Who knew the properties of air and wind were so fascinating?!

We ended our time at the park and she brought a wind parachute that helps build strength, so the kids could feel the power of the wind and the resistance/drag when you move through it.
Very awesome co-op lesson day!

Once Chris got home, we paid tribute to Dr. Seuss' birthday by taking the family to see "The Lorax". Cute movie, although, I think I liked "Horton Hears a Who" a bit better. It was nice to see "Geisel" family members involved in the production of the movie. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
I hope your Friday was an awesome one!

I'm participating in the Weekly Wrap-up here: