Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!
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The Daily Load


I often use the common phrase "what's on my plate," to describe the variety of tasks, chores, responsibilites and deadlines facing me. Just considering the load sometimes makes me feel defeated before I even start: "How can it all get done? How will I ever find the strength and will-power to keep going when the mountain of work looms higher than my energy level?? What about all those things that I would really LOVE to do, but can't take the time or don't have the money to do???"



Down, down, down the slippery slope to discouragement, self-pity and defeat. . . It's so easy to go there. It seems like such a reasonable way to view my "reality."



But then I open my Bible. In a slope-changing, breath-taking, bonds-breaking sentence, Psalm 68: 19 states, "Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits. . ."



He daily loads us with benefits. If I can focus for just a minute on what that is saying, on the truth it is revealing, my perspective—along with my attitude, energy, joy-level, and approach to "what's on my plate"—will dramatically change.



I've been pondering this for days. Asking the Lord to open my eyes to see some of the benefits He's loading on my plate.



Oswald Chambers wrote, "The things that make God dear to us are not as much His great big blessings as the tiny things; because they show His amazing intimacy with us; He knows every detail of our individual lives."



So, in considering both the great and small blessings and benefits of my life, I have begun a list.



I have been married for more than thirty-two years to a man who is my best friend, who has shared this journey of faith, who loves me, laughs at my jokes, and eats what I cook with great enthusiasm. (I laugh at his jokes, too. They are usually much funnier than mine!)



I have had the precious joy of knowing my three children from their childhood to adulthood, and it has expanded my understanding of love, laughter, pain, togetherness, family, sacrifice, learning, friendship—beyond what I would have ever dreamed possible. I have in-laws and grandchildren who enlarge my love and family and hope and kindness and change and growth.



I have good health. I have a roof over my head. I have food to eat and clothes to wear. I live in a country where going to church does not put my life in jeopardy, where voting for government leaders is my responsibility and privilege. I have work that is meaningful and ongoing.



I have eyes to see and ears to hear and fingers to type and feet to stand and legs to walk and arms to hug.




I live on a planet where the sun warms, the rains cool, the grass grows, and the birds fly. . .Where flowers burst into gorgeous shapes and colors, and hummingbirds visit them within my range of vision. . .Where waves roll and fish jump and snow falls and spring comes. . .Where the beauty of sunrises and sunsets and storm clouds take my breath away.



I belong to Jesus because, in His great love, He reached into the prison of my darkness and set me free.



The list goes on and on and on, encompassing every aspect of life. And as I begin to consider it, thankfulness and joy and amazement and awe well up in my heart.



From macro to micro, day-in and day-out, His innumerable blessings are loaded on to us every day. I want to keep my eyes focused on this load as I continue to deal with what's on my plate.



I invite you to join me in the journey.



 



 



 


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On becoming quotable

After reading and appreciating Winston Churchill's histories for years, I recently happened upon some online sites which list quote after quote of his most famous sayings. For instance, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/winston_churchill.html




It got me thinking about the qualities that make for an eminently quotable personnage.



First, to be a truly quotable person, one must be well read. Now I realize that there are some exceptions to this, but, in general, we become masters at language (and, thus, worthy of being quoted) by reading other masters of language.



In case there might be some question, reading Cliff Notes, graphic books, or Reader's Digest is not the same as reading books by the masters. It means reading the best, the notable, the classics, the stretching-our-vocabularies-and-minds type of books.  (By the way, I would personally place the Bible at the forefront of the list of books worth reading. Immersing oneself in its words and thoughts—and yielding to its Truth—brings a clarity and grace to our lives and our words.)



A brief pause for Churchill: "It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations."



Second, to be a truly quotable person, one must think original thoughts. Having digested great books—considering and pondering them, arguing with and dissecting the authors' writings—will break up a fallow mind, much like a plow through spring soil.



At this point, I must stop and ask how your child's education is encouraging original thinking. Consider this startling concept: in standard curricula, whether in public school, private school or homeschool, the point seems to be to think INSIDE the box, coloring inside the lines, if you will. We all know this is excellent training for mindless, repetitive work in a fast-food shop or factory, but it certainly cramps one's ability to become quotable.



"What do you think?"



"Uh. . . About, um, what?" Shuffle, shuffle.



"About the universe, or war, or God, or any of the BIG questions of life."



"Uh. . .Well, um, I don't know. I mean, is this a test or something?"



Sigh.



Churchill said, "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." cheeky



The third thing that makes for extremely good quotability is to do something.  Do it well, whatever it is.  Shakespeare, who is one of the most often quoted writers of all time (despite the fact that few today know that those cool quotes are from him) wrote well. . .and often. Churchill kept England toe-to-toe with one of the biggest bullies in history until Hitler was finally knocked out for the count. George Müller, whose quotes are among the most encouraging in Christian literature, ran five orphanages with over 2,000 orphans in Bristol, England—funded by prayer alone.



Churchill's quotable thought: "To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day."




Fourth and last, recognize that it's quirky people—fully given to their quirkiness—that are quoted. Average is boring. Quirky is interesting.



If this last point gives you shudders, let me quickly point out that we are all, every single one of us, as quirky as they come.



It's part of the design. It's part of the humor and part of the challenge of being unique.



As parents, let's stop pushing our children into tightly controlled boxes where their quirkiness is squished to the bottom. Instead, smile at it. Enjoy it. Revel in the amazing way each one is uniquely designed.



And some day, we may find that our children have become notable. . .and quotable.



"For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself." Winston Churchill—who went on to do exactly that.



 


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The deal with growing


Many years ago, I was hospitalized with a bad case of pneumonia. Traveling around the country for 10 months can do that to you.



In response, our small church in South Dakota graciously bought me a small rubber plant to brighten the hospital room.



Normally, I'm a lover of bright-colored, audaciously gorgeous flowers, but since this wee plain plant was given in love, I took it in and gave it a home. smiley



For years, the plant did nothing. Sat there with its two or three boring leaves, just taking up space.



Then we moved to the Pacific Northwest—books, musical instruments, plants and all. For about four years, my rubber plant sat quietly, unobtrusively, tucked away in the corner by the dog food container. That's what I had come to expect from it. Though it was the least interesting of all plants I had ever seen, I love growing things, so I didn't actually mind watering it and giving it a bit of space in my home.  Honestly, however, I wasn't at all impressed.



And then something changed. Neither of us has any idea what happened inside that little rubber plant's system, but for some reason, it began to grow. . .and Grow. . .and GROW.



After three years, we noticed that the crazy thing had branches coming out the side, new leaves constantly unfolding, and was completely outgrowing its little pot. As it took up more and more of our dining room space, we kept looking at each other, wondering what on earth it was planning to do. When our kids would come home for a meal, they would frequently stand and gape, distracted by its huge increase in stature. "Uh, Mom, what's happening to this plant???"



Now, I'm not always real quick on the uptake. Real gardeners might have realized years ago that the poor thing needed more dirt, more space, more support and structure. But as we were walking through a hardware store yesterday, I was suddenly inspired with the idea of transplanting it into an old pottery outdoor pot, whose previous occupant had sadly frozen and died last winter. All we needed was some potting soil, and a water catcher underneath to protect the rug. For under $15 and about 15 minutes of my time, our rubber plant—which has now morphed into a tree!—received a new lease on life. A welcoming place to be rooted and grounded, and, as they say, a place to stretch its wings.



Now, here's the question:



Is there anyone in YOUR home that needs a little time and attention?  Maybe you've noticed one of your kids, who has always been quiet and unobtrusive, starting to bloom, talk, and be social. I encourage you to give them room and encouragement to become all that God has set within them—even if it's different from what you thought it might be.




Or, perhaps it's you that is unexpectedly growing, having new, healthier responses, finding interests in increasing areas, I applaud you! And, as one who just learned something valuable last night, I would encourage you to make space to become all that God has set within you. Give yourself permission to grow and change.



He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,



That brings forth its fruit in its season,



Whose leaf also shall not wither;



And whatever he does shall prosper.



Psalm 1:3



 


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Eyes to See


Last Saturday, my husband and I took a boat trip from the harborfront in Seattle, through the Ballard Locks, and into Lake Union. What a treat! It was a beautiful afternoon, and I had my camera ready and waiting for some gorgeous shots.



You know, living in the Pacific Northwest means that we have rainy mist and clouds for much of the year. Mt. Rainier, which is our premier mountain, is often invisible due to weather. But when it shows itself, the sight is spectacular!




Notice the difference between the photo on the left and the photo on the right.  What is missing?  You can barely see the outline of Mt. Rainier on the right. In fact, if you didn't know it was there, you might not even notice the "smudge" that is a mountain.



So what's up with that? Where did the mountain go?



It's something I'm learning about my camera. If I hold the lens in a certain way, I can capture the lighting just right, and the photo will be amazing. If I hold the lens less carefully, the view is completely different, pedestrian, and even boring.



Weird.



And, yet, it is a fabulous analogy of how we view our own lives.



When I look at my current circumstances, if I hold the lens of my heart just right, I can see God's fingerprints, His goodness shaping my experience.



If I hold the lens of my heart less carefully, the view is completely different. In fact, it might seem as though God was nowhere in sight.




I had a similar experience two weeks ago.



We went to Gasworks Park in Seattle, to celebrate my son's birthday. I had hoped to get some spectacular sunset shots on this gorgeous evening, but my first attempts were less than satisfactory.



As I kept fiddling with my camera, trying different angles to catch the light, I found that if I was very careful, with my camera turned to the right exposure, I could actually capture something breathtaking.



This is what keeps coming to my heart about the reality of life on this planet. It is like the analogy of the two photos. From one angle:



Difficult things happen.



We may be discouraged, diasppointed, tired, broke.



Life may look dull.



Our prayers may seem to hit the ceiling and splash back into our wounded hearts.



From another angle:



He is faithful.  He is merciful. He is kind. He is good. He loves us completely and without measure. He is wise. And He is working something good for us in the midst of it all.



May He give us the grace and courage to adjust the lens of our heart to see His work in our lives.



 




     Psalm 34:4-8



I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.



They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.



This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.



The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.



Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him."



 


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Permission to Play


Dear friends of ours host a family farm day every year, where literally hundreds of people come to play. Young and old alike enjoy the opportunity to taste, touch, see and experience things that were once a familiar way of life, but now are fast disappearing. If you had come last Saturday, you could have dug potatoes, played tug-of-war, eaten organic beef, ridden on a horse-drawn wagon, sat on hay bales, tapped your toes to fiddle music, and, in general, had an absolutely FUN day. Here's a link to see what they had lined up.



But, the trick is, of course, that you would have had to take the time to actually stop whatever else you were doing and go.



I almost didn't. Too much to do, too far behind, couldn't justify the time expenditure. That's been my thought pattern every year for the past few years.



And then, suddenly, I remembered that these precious and supportive friends took time off to drive several hours to attend my son's wedding. With that in mind, and the thought of catching some golden photo ops for this blog, I grabbed my camera and we dashed out the door.



Of course, by the time we got there, it was basically over. I missed the digging potatoes, tug-of-war, organic beef, horse-drawn wagon, and fiddle tunes. I missed the excited groups of city children playing on a real farm, the happy families enjoying an amazing opportunity, and the chance to actually enjoy the day.



But, I did come face-to-face with the reality that I have relegated play to the lowest priority. As an over-achieving adult, I've believed that play is what we do when we get everything else done. Kind of like getting to eat dessert only after you eat all the brussel sprouts and raw oysters.



What a mistake.



Next year, I plan to show up at 10:00 a.m.—when they open—and participate whole-heartedly in playing on a farm.



If you need permission to play, I hope this blog has provided it.  smiley






Learning a lot,



Diana


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