Saturday, November 8, 2014

what we've been doing outside of the classroom

A couple of weeks ago I was asked about my philosophy of home education.  I’m not exactly sure what I said, but I am pretty sure that it sounded as dumb to those listening as it did to my own ears.  I have since come up with a better answer.  Here goes …

I want to squeeze as much fun … as many good memories … as possible into the years I have my children at home with me.  Now, many of those memories need to center on your basic, sitting-at-the-desk-doing-math, kind of days.  Many days yes, but certainly not all.  So, with that in mind, here is a look into what we’ve been doing outside the classroom lately.
all three smiling ... quite an accomplishment for my non-photogenic family

my beautiful girl

the boys playing in the corn bin ... 
I guess you never get too old for this kind of fun

a rare picture of me ... sitting in the very stinky hay

ain't he cute?
 A few weeks ago we made our somewhat annual (read – we want to do it every year but don’t always get to) trip to the pumpkin patch.  We’ve been doing this since our very first year homeschooling … as a matter of fact, I think the pumpkin patch was one of our very first field trips to ever attend and I know it was the first one I ever planned.  This is not something that I ever did as a child (did they even have pumpkin patches way back then??), but I have loved how much my children LOVE this super fun fall activity.  I am sure that they have learned a few things over the years, but honestly, we aren’t taking this field trip to claim school hours learning … it is just FUN!
JW chose a flat one for the
pumpkin stack that is now
next to our front door.

D and his so-ugly-it-is-almost-cute pumpkin

Of course, some field trips are both educational and fun.  This was certainly true of our recent trip to the Grand Gulf Military Park in Port Gibson, MS.  The children were given the history of the Civil War battle fought there and then sent off to explore the wonderful park.  Oddly, one of my favorite parts was exploring the old cemetery.  Roaming through weathered tombstones is always such a poignant reminder of our connection to the past. 

Our history teacher - the park director

The kids wandering through a section of the cemetery

The group - taken by LB from about halfway up the
observation tower ... no one in my family
wanted to go any higher.

JW and his best friend

One of my favorite views of the day.

We ended our day with a visit to Windsor Ruins located somewhere near the Natchez Trace, not too far from Port Gibson.   Windsor is the remains of what was once a beautiful antebellum home.  This massive home has a sad history ~ the man who built it died within weeks of its completion.  Later, it was used by both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War before it burned down after a guest dropped a lighted cigar or cigarette.  
Just a little perspective on the massive columns

I took several of these just because the day was so beautiful

As we walked among the columns (which we probably weren’t supposed to be doing), one couldn't help but think of the lives that were lived inside those now imaginary walls.

A beautiful old tree that was probably
there when the house was built.
A very serious D climbing the jungle gym tree
While the adults and teens enjoyed the actual ruins, the younger kids found a tree that looked just like a jungle gym to them.  What a perfect way to end a wonderful day.

A bonus for the day ... my friend Marie (and her children
Izzy and Max) rode with us, just to make sure I didn't get lost ;)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Galatians 6:2

Tonight, I stood in my kitchen frying chicken as the tears fell ...

I miss my Mama.

I've been looking back through blog posts that I have started and not finished.  I figure it is time to finish this one since it has been on my mind lately ... I'm not sure how long it has been since I started this post, but I do know that nothing has changed.

In less than a week, we will mark 18 months since my Mama died.  Not a day goes by that I do not think of her.  At least once a week, I almost reach for the phone to tell her something ... anything.  There are so many things I wish I could ask her ... things I wish I had asked when I had the chance.

I know in my heart that I am no different than anyone else.  Everywhere I look, I see hurting people ... and in this fallen world we live in, death isn't the only thing that brings grief.  If I have learned anything over the last 18 months, it is that grief is an intensely personal journey.  A path that we all walk a little differently.  

But it is not meant to be a private journey.

Galatians 6:2
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Stop and let that sink in a minute.

We were never created to walk through our trials alone.  As Christians, we know that we always have the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us (see John 14), but God also commands us to be there for each other ~ to help in time of need.  God doesn’t tell us to fix the problem, He simply tells us to share in the burden.

I am not very good at this ~ in either direction.  My tendency is to be a hermit.  I want to hold on to my personal pain and I often shrink from the pain of others.  But this isn’t what God intended. 

I have often heard it said and probably even said it myself, that God will not give us more than we can handle.  I no longer think this is true.  I believe that God allows situations that we absolutely cannot handle on our own ~ whatever form they may take ~ in our lives that are needed to help us to grow and mature in our faith.

When I think back 18 months to the time when Mama was home on Hospice care and then to the day she died and the days following, my mind doesn’t always immediately go to the pain and grief.  I can also think of my sweet friends in our homeschool group who provided meals for my family in a time when they would have been living on peanut butter and jelly had it been up to me.  And then there was the amazing “coincidence” that my dear friend from church was in town the day Mama died despite the fact that she has moved a couple of hours away.  Amy chose to come sit with me during one of the most difficult days of my life.

My friends didn’t have to bear my burden, but I will never forget that they chose to be the hands and feet of Jesus for me.  I pray that I never miss an opportunity to do the same for someone else.