Friday, October 2, 2015

Don't Be a Hero?

A few weeks ago someone asked me how our family was doing.  After my standard answer of fine, I was told I didn't have to be a hero and could just ask for help. It was followed by "if you need anything, let someone know!"  Ummm, right.

I am pretty sure I smiled sweetly and gave another standard answer and walked away.

Sometimes it is just easier to give a standard answer.  It's kind of like that whole "how are you doing" thing.  Let's face it, most people don't really want to know how you are doing.  They want a smile and a quick "I'm great."  If we really launched into how we were doing every time someone asked us, I am sure people would run screaming for the hills and never ask again, right?

You see, we don't really need a thing. We need people.

There is a difference.

If I need the lawn mowed or the light changed or the oil in the car changed, I will get it done, even if I have to pay someone to do it.  Yes, it would be nice if someone came to help occasionally, but regardless, I can get that kind of thing done.

But you cannot buy company.  You can't hire someone to fill your quiet house with laughter and fun. Loneliness cannot magically be filled.

Those things require people.  Community.  Friends who are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to include others, even in the mundane of life.  To do life together.

Just for the record, I am not alone in this.  I hear it from single parents, widows, college students away from home, people who are sick or have an injury, and even the elderly.  They don't want you to tell them to call if they need anything.  If you are waiting for that call, then be prepared to wait for a long time.  I also realize that our yearlong situation pales in comparison to so many.  I praise God for what He has taught us through this -- that it has allowed my family to see needs we did not see before, to feel empathy we did not, and to understand people's hearts better.  I pray we will not miss this opportunity that God has given us to make a difference in others' lives.

Wanna make a difference?  Tell them when you are available to come visit.  Offer to pick up pizza and join them for a movie night.  Bake cookies with them.  Show up at their house to help fold clothes or take out the trash.  Pick up their child for the day and give them a rest. Remember weekends are lonely and holidays are worse.  Treat them like family, instead of some anomaly that no one knows quite what to do with.

Stop asking what you can do and tell them what you can do!  When we ask someone to let us know if they need anything, we are simple putting the responsibility back into their court and freeing ourselves of any action.  Yes, sometimes those words come from well-meaning people, I know, but just as often they are a cop-out.  I know, because I have used them.

This quote spoke to my heart months ago during a particularly hard week.  It summed up how I was feeling to a T.  Yes, in some ways I have to be a hero, because it is me or no one.  I don't do it to impress anyone or hear applause from anyone or to gain sympathy from anyone.  I do it to keep this family afloat until my husband returns.  And some days it is simply exhausting.  Most days it is very lonely. But what choice do I have?

Once again, through it all, I am thankful for friends who understand and a God that holds us close, loves us, protects us, and is OUR hero!  In the end, may He get the glory!


Linking up with friends!

A Divine Encounter

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Language Arts- Homeschool High School Blog Hop

You might as well know right up front that Language Arts tends to be one of my least favorite subjects to teach in high school. (Aside from Biology, of course.  Oh, and maybe Chemistry!)  Which is a little weird, since I LOVE Language Arts.  All parts of it, really. The writing, the reading, and even the diagramming sentences.

BUT, and yes, that is a big BUT, it has been my experience that finding good, solid language arts programs for any age, but teens in particular, is just plain hard.

We have done many.  Just take my word for it.  Many!  But after 17 years of homeschooling (oh my word, that is a long time!) I think we have pretty much got it figured out.  For our current teens at least!

Let me start with a quick look at what I recommend, but then I want to talk to you about a few duel credit ideas.

Writing- IEW- If you are not familiar with the Institute for Excellence of Writing, now is the time to be.  Yes, I do use several other writing programs for younger ages, but by high school I believe every child should do an IEW writing course. At least one.  It is a great foundation for college writing.  I am going to admit to you that I am not a teacher who requires tons of papers and reports in my coursework, so I am thankful Mr. Pudewa is a great teacher that the kids actually enjoy learning from.  He is funny and funny just speaks to teens!

Sharon Watson's courses are also amazing and are great to add in after you have completed IEW coursework.  Look into Writing Fiction (In High School)

Literature- Lightning Literature- We have just begun this program in the past few years after having transitioned out of Sonlight.  I like that it spends more time on fewer books, I like the book selections better, and I like that you have more options in the areas of study you can choose.  It has been a huge blessing to us for 7th and 8th grade, and I look forward to the upper levels.
Most colleges want you to have American Literature, World Literature, and British Literature.  We also add in a year of Christian Literature.

Grammar- This is where it gets a little messy.  It is my belief that if your child does not have a strong foundation in Ggammar by now, you may have a bigger problem on your hands.  I also think that at some point it is time to stop diagramming sentences and put that knowledge to the test, which is where writing comes in.  So, no, we do not do formal grammar at this level anymore.

Vocabulary- This is where I DO think we should concentrate instead.  Because of that we use two different things.  We continue Wordly Wise because it is quick and to the point but very thorough.  We also spend two years using Vocabulary From Classical Roots.  Again, a simple format, but a great program!

And about those foreign languages!
There are lots of good ones out there, so the best advice I can give you is know the learning style of your child and find what fits them best!  Most colleges ask for two years of one language, but some prefer three so make sure you are aware of the requirements of colleges your child might be interested in.  Also note that sign language is a new one that some colleges are accepting, but that is still a new trend so be knowledgeable!

Some to look into are-
OK, so about Dual Credit.  It is my belief that you should not teach a subject that your child is just going to repeat at a college level.  Mostly.

Here is what I mean.

I have my kids dual-credit classes their junior and senior years to get a jump start on college and as a way to save some money.  If your child has the opportunity to take that American Literature class at a college level and can dual-credit it, then there is no reason for you to teach it and then them take it again.  Ask me how I know this!!  Lesson learned!  It looks ridiculous to have American Literature on your high school transcript twice.

Now consider the "mostly"- If your child is going to be an English major, there may be a need for them to take the course through you and then again at their college.  I certainly feel that way about Biology.  It can never hurt to be covered, just be careful not to create more work for yourself.  Plus, in many cases those college courses can be completed in less time and therefore allow your child to take even more classes.

That is how I have a high school senior that has no classes left to take with me, but is taking multiple classes online currently.  Yes, she is still a senior, but the classes she is taking online count for high school credits AND college credits.  Yes, she will graduate with more credit hours than she needs for highschool, but she will also have her first two years of college close to completed.

Please remember, there is more than one way to slay this dragon and every child is different. Hence the reason that all of my children's transcripts and course loads look different.  Above all, I suggest you know your child, ask for their input, and then help them to be successful!

Visit our Homeschool High School Bloggers this month-

Carol from Home Sweet life shares Homeschooling High School- Language Arts (&History!)
Tess from Circling Through This Life shares Teaching High School Language Arts: Resources
Wendy from Life at Rossmont shares Highschool Language Arts
Erica from Be the One shares Language Arts Resources
Kym from Homeschool Coffee Break shares History in the Form of Stories
Debbie from Debbie’s Homeschool Corner shares Teaching High School English
Laura from Day by Day in Our World shares How to Teach High School Language Arts Without Tears

Join us next month for "How Am I Going To Teach High School?"

Linking up with friends!
I Choose Joy!

Hearts for Home Blog Hop


Monday, September 28, 2015

Ashton's Fall Capsule

Hello! This is Ashton, and I'm back with yet another capsule wardrobe to share with you.
First, I have a confession. When I first decided what months to put in each capsule "season," I had September, October, and November as fall and December, January, and February as winter. Well. You might have noticed that I'm posting this at the end of September. That is because I just switched my wardrobe over Friday. That is because it was still hot way back in the beginning of September. That is because...I honestly don't know. Anyway, after doing some thinking, I realized that SD is actually a fairly cold state compared to most places, including where we are moving next (see this post if you missed that announcement). So if it is too hot to wear fall clothes here, it is definitely going to be too hot to wear fall clothes elsewhere. Thus my confession. I made a mistake, and have decided to mend my ways. Thus, my new and improved capsule schedule looks like this:

Winter: January, February, March
Spring: April, May, June
Summer: July, August, September
Fall: October, November, December (as a reminder, mom does two capsules instead of four)

OK, now that I have that off my chest, let's get down to the actual capsule. This capsule is probably the most unique of my capsules in terms of how different it is from my "look." Mom actually said to me, "I like your fall capsule. There isn't as much blue or plaid." I'm still trying to decide how to take that but she is right, there is hardly any blue (I know, right?!) and only a handful of plaid pieces. This capsule will also carry me through the most varied season temperature-wise. Right now it very warm here (in the 70s and 80s) and I will still be wearing this capsule in December, when it is COLD. I will let you know how that goes.

So, for fall I have:
11 shirts
5 pairs of pants
9 skirts (4 church, 5 everyday)
3 dresses
5 sweaters
2 vests
1 jacket

Total: 36 items, my smallest capsule yet!
Again, this doesn't count things like exercise clothes, old sweatshirts I wear around the house, or accessories or shoes. It also doesn't count camisoles or the plain long-sleeved layering shirts that I wear under everything when it gets cold. I do have quite a few of those, but since I can't wear them as shirts by themselves I'm not counting them.

Let's talk numbers for a minute. I looked back and my spring capsule was 50 items, while my summer capsule was 37 items. Obviously there is no perfect number and everyone and every season is different. That being said, I live where it gets COLD in the late fall, winter, and early spring, and I am a firm believer in wearing more clothes then, especially because I am usually cold.

And finally, the least wordy part of this post! My friend Sarah and I put together some outfits for you to see!

Until winter, 

Linking up with friends-


I Choose Joy!

Friday, September 25, 2015

God's Dream! (Moving Announcement)

There have been times in our lives (like when we are on the road and living out of suitcases which is quite often don't 'ya know) that my mind wanders to the what-ifs and how-abouts!  Not sure if I just have too much time on my hands or if freedom from responsibility gets my creative juices flowing.


Maybe we should retire, buy a RV, and travel across the US.  I love doing school on the go believe it or not, and get excited thinking about all the places we could see and learn from.  What fun it would be to blog about life on the road with a family of 6 in an RV with two dogs, little space, but lots of love and laughter.  Hey, maybe I should pitch that to a RV manufacturer!

Maybe we should buy a piece of land, settle down and do the homesteading thing.  With the help of friends we have already learned how to butcher cows, pigs and chickens.  We enjoy gardening and the outdoors and there are times I can close my eyes and see the family sitting by a fire pit, relaxing after a hard day's work on the farm.

Maybe we should close our eyes and just randomly pick a place on the map to move to.

Oh, wait, that was just done for us! ;)

Yep, word on the street is that we are moving- this time to Omaha, Nebraska.

No details are in place.  No decisions of any kind have been made.  We just know that we will trust God and go.  His dream is undoubtedly bigger and better than ours.

So those other dreams will be put on hold while we allow a new dream to take hold in our heart.

After all, it is God's dream!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Context of the Heart

During this very busy month a dear friend of ours offered to write a post for the blog, and I hastily took her up on it! We have known her for years and she is a fabulous writer. So, without further ado, here is Kelli!

Earlier this summer, I was in my room studying for the Pharmacy College Admissions test I am preparing to take soon. I opened up my study book to an impossibly long vocabulary list and a section that might as well be entitled, "Memorize the Dictionary Until You are More Literate than Merriam Webster Himself." My eyes wandered down the list.  I came upon the word "cavalier."  It was a word I was already somewhat familiar with.  It was used as the mascot of several small, rural towns as an alternative to the cliché "Roughrider" (a reference to our 26th President who my home state of North Dakota has claimed like a native). Like Roughrider, the word cavalier also conveyed the rugged, cowboy gallantry that had, through history and tradition, become our state's trademark.   After reading the concise definition in my study book, "carefree, happy" but underneath "lordly disdain," the word's complexity prompted me to cross-reference it further using an online dictionary.  I found that cavalier used as a noun referred to a knight or gallant but when used as an adjective it was defined as "haughty" or proud.  The same word acts like its own antonym depending on its part of speech.

 I suddenly felt the prick of my conscience that I was no stranger to.  God, these words are written black, not red! I thought. Besides, I am trying to study for a test, not be tested by You.  God didn't listen.  As I have learned, He does not provide conviction at convenience.  I put down my pencil and reflected on my own shortcomings.  I had been moping around the house all that week with a cavalier attitude.  I had made a sacrifice for others and was having to forfeit my own plans on their behalf.  The gift was given willingly, no one forced me to do it but when it came to giving it up, I didn't want to let it go.  My offering was not made directly to God and yet I was treating Him as if He owed me restitution for a tithe as recorded in Malachi 3:10-11, when the Lord promises,"'Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,' says the Lord Almighty."  (NIV)

 My mind then turned to a different passage from Luke chapter 21:1-4 when Jesus saw the gifts of the rich but chose to acknowledge the offering of the widow.  In the last verses of Luke 20, Jesus touches on the authenticity of actions beginning in verse 45.  "Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, 'Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows" houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.'"  There may be a chapter break in this section, but God is making the same point.  The focus is less on the amount and more on the attitude.  

I have read this passage before and noted that the treasury was public place for the rich to pour in money ostentatiously but I had never really considered the humility of the widow.  We don't know much about her but in the word "widow" we find two significant cultural offenses.  Being an unmarried woman would have reduced her to a plight of society.  Reexamining this passage makes me wonder, why didn't she wait?  She only opened herself up to ridicule.  I believe it's because her need for internal glorification was greater than her desire for outward gratification.  She trusted that, although she didn't have much, God could still use her offering. 

My sacrifice was more like that of the scribes and the rich than the widows.  The deeds that I had done, even in His name, had come from a heart full of the wrong reasons.  Like the rich, I knew how to outwardly look good.  I'd say to my Christian friends, "Look at what what God is doing through ME."  While I may have put God first in the sentence, the emphasis in my heart was still on me.  The people that I sacrificed for had received the gift, oblivious to my selfishness.  I prayed that God could still use what I had given to the benefit of others.  

 So today are you a cavalier or do you have a cavalier heart? Because the word, like good deeds, is the same but it is the context that makes all the difference.