Posted tagged ‘Parents’

The Gift of Memory

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!  The holiday season is just about over, except for cleaning up the confetti and pine needles, which could take months.  In my house, the only thing left to do is take down the Christmas tree, which will happen today at some point.

Christmas may be over, but I will carry many memories away from this year’s celebration of Christ’s birth.  Some of the stories from this Christmas season are only the prologue to longer tales, and one of these is what I’d like to share with you now.

Remember not so long ago I wrote about the lunch conversations my siblings and I have so enjoyed?  Well, one of my gifts this year consisted of two letters, written by my mother, each sharing some of the wisdom she has previously shared verbally.  Along with these letters was a promise that she is going to add to the collection, sometimes writing to one child, sometimes to another, but we’ll each get a copy to add to our binders.

I can’t begin to express how special this gift was to me.  The memories it conjures up alone are priceless, and when you add in all the counsel the value of this gift skyrockets.  I usually get one gift that makes me so teary-eyed that I cannot speak, and the letters were it this year.

But that’s not the end of the story.

I was not the only one given such a gift.  My sister also got the gift of memories, only in different form.  She has already been dubbed the Family Historian and is the official keeper of the family newsletters, so this year, Mom began writing out the family stories.  Beginning with the story of how our family got started – how she met my dad.

We’ve heard the story before, but it’s special to have it written down in her voice, and we can share it with our own families someday.  Again, the idea is that Mom will continue to write the stories, and we will all get copies of them.  She seems to have found a topic for that book we keep joking that she should write when she retires from homeschooling . . .

And the story is still not done.

3G also got a gift that will be treasured by each of us.  My father has been teaching, whether in a Sunday School setting or a Bible study, for as long as I can remember.  More recently, he began a practice of writing out his notes so that he could share them with our college siblings while they’re away.  So what was 3G’s gift?

3G’s binder was the fullest of the bunch, because he got the first copy of Dad’s notes from the Kingdom books (Samuel through Chronicles).  Once more the idea is that we’ll get installments as the years go by, and we are all excited about this gift too.  By the time he gets done, we may have a whole commentary!

I feel like the cup that is running over with blessings.  With all that blessing, however, comes responsibility.  It doesn’t matter so much how much you’ve been given, but what you do with it.  All these blessings will not do me much good if I do not turn around and use them, and share them.

So, I’d like to leave you with a thought.  As you’re going forward in this new year, what memories of this Christmas will you take with you?  What lessons from childhood?  What teaching that God gave you last year?  How are you different from the person who began 2012?

May God richly bless us in the coming year, and may we learn to appreciate His blessings more fully with each passing day.

Happy New Year!

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Grown-ups: A Rare Breed?

May 23, 2011

Nation Down To Last Hundred Grown-Ups / The Onion.

According to recent data, the grown-up population has plummeted dramatically since 1950, when a Census count found that more than 24 million Americans could both admit when they were wrong and respect a viewpoint other than their own. Today, only one in three million citizens can provide thoughtful advice to a fellow human being instead of immediately shifting the topic to their own personal issues or what they had for lunch.

I knew about the rise of the Kidult, but apparently Grown-ups are not only rare, they’re dying out.  Defined as people who have foresight, are rational, personally responsible, and self-control (among other traits), grown-ups are, according to “the experts,” disappearing and could be gone in the next 50 years.  Personally, I find it hard to believe that only 104 grown-ups are left in our country.

The article does bring up the question, “How did we get to a place where this statement might be made?”  Why haven’t foresight, personal responsibility, and the other traits of grown-ups been passed on to younger generations?

I honestly think that some grown-ups have indeed been working on passing on those traits.  My parents for instance.  The reason why it doesn’t show up in the statistics right now?  Probably because none of their children are out on their own in the world yet, buying houses, running households, having families.  That doesn’t mean that my parents and other grown-ups haven’t been teaching the traits of grown-up-ness to a new generation.

Does that let others off the hook?  Nope.

So what are your thoughts?  Do you have a different idea about what constitutes a grown-up?  How are you coming, whether on being, becoming, or training a grown-up?

Thanks to Tim Challies for the link to this article.

My Father’s Daughter

June 16, 2010

Many people will tell you their father is awesome.  I’m one of them.  My dad is not perfect, but he keeps trying, and he knows how to help me keep trying too.  I’m my father’s daughter in a lot of ways.  I’ve been told since I was small that I look like my dad; I have his (near-sighted) blue eyes, his curly hair, and his light build.  I’m like him in several personality points as well, but my favorite similarity is our musical talent.

I remember the first time I did special music with my father.  Dad did special music on a fairly regular basis at church (the same one where I was baptized), and one day when I was eight or nine, he asked me if I would like to sing with him.  Of course I wanted to.  I loved to watch him do specials, and I had dreamed of doing one too.

We decided to do “Amazing Grace.”  A very original song choice, I know, but it was my favorite song at the time, and one that I already had almost memorized.  We rehearsed for several weeks.  I remember being nervous in practice because I had difficulty picking out my cue to begin.  You see, Dad had me sing the first verse solo while he accompanied on his guitar.  Then he sang a second verse solo, and we both sang the last verse. 

But I couldn’t seem to figure out where to come in. 

I would start the first verse too early, or I would be late.  Finally, Dad began giving me a visible signal, dipping his guitar toward me just a little so that I would know when to start singing.

The day we did our special, I was pretty excited.  I don’t think I remembered much of the rest of the service that day.  I was too focused on being ready when it was our turn.  We had checked out the microphones before Sunday School, so that was all set, we just had to walk up, and Dad had to get his guitar ready, and then we could sing.  That was plenty of time for me to get nervous, however.

We weren’t going to a huge church, but it was big enough to be intimidating to me.  I looked at the congregation and was glad I wasn’t up there alone.  As it was, I suddenly developed nerves.  But Dad started his introduction, and I turned my head enough that I could see his signal when it came.  I certainly didn’t want to miss that in front of all those people!

I got through the song just fine, and I became more comfortable as we went on.  Once it was over, though, I think I felt like running back to my seat.  Several people said nice things to me afterward, but I was so shy and nervous that I could make little response.  I did want to know that people liked it, but I wasn’t sure how to respond.  After all, this was new territory for me.

I’ve done quite a few specials with my father since that first one.  Our specialties are hymns and some old choruses.  These days I usually have my guitar too.  Yes, I learned to play from my father, using his old guitar.  We’ll have a double duet, my father and myself, and Betsy and Marie.  I used to wonder why my sister got her tendency to name everything; I don’t wonder after I learned that my Dad named his guitars. 

My singing sounds much better now (especially since I’ve been taking singing lessons), and Dad sometimes will sing harmony beneath my melody.  I have to smile sometimes because I may carry the melody in the vocals, but Dad definitely has the cool guitar part.  I just keep the rhythm going.  Still, I know I’m contributing in both ways, and it sounds pretty good to me, even though I don’t hear it in the correct balance because I’m one of the performers.  For our latest special, I even sang solo with Dad accompanying on his guitar.  Singing solo has been a major hurdle for me, and I’m glad to have finally made it over.

I’m my father’s daughter in another way; I seem to have inherited his songwriting gene.  Dad has written a dozen or more songs, some of which I like to play with him and others which he sings alone.  I sometimes feel like I have a song simmering inside me, but as yet, only a few have come forth.  For every good song I’ve started at least three that I couldn’t get right.  I doubt that my songs will ever end up on the top 40 list, but they are one more way that I express my joy.

Some of my favorite times have been playing guitar with my father, learning new songs and coming up with different arrangements of old ones.  Thanks, Dad, for giving me a new outlet for the music in my heart.

Homeschooling: The Good, The Bad, and The Next Generation

April 24, 2010

My mother asked my siblings and me some questions recently about our homeschooling experience.  She wanted to know whether we had enjoyed homeschooling, and what were our favorite and least favorite parts of it.  And she wanted to know whether we would homeschool our own children.

I loved my homeschooling experience, as you can guess if you’ve been following the blog or have read the archives.  I had lots of freedom within the system.  For instance, my mother would give us a sheet each week listing all the assignments we had to do for the week in each subject.  From there, I could pretty much choose which assignments I wanted to do each day, so long as I got it all done in the week’s time.

What did I enjoy most about homeschooling?  Well, that might be a tough call between having lots of free time after schoolwork was done and spending so much time with my mother and siblings.  In my free time, I’ve pursued many hobbies, such as sketching, crochet, guitar, writing stories, and painting.  Some of these and my other hobbies I first learned as part of school, whether for art, practical arts, or music, but I took them further even after I’d finished the assignments.

I also got to spend a lot of time with my family.  As you may have guessed (or did I already tell you), we’re a tightly knit bunch.  My sister and I loved to play together, acting out stories with our dolls and stuffed animal.  I played many different games with 3G, some indoors, some outdoors.  I like to spend time with the twins, especially now that I’m giving them singing lessons.  I spent many a happy hour talking with my mother as we prepared meals, worked in the garden, or shopped for craft supplies (or many other things).  In the evenings, my father would read aloud to us, usually a history or literature book Mom chose that complemented our studies in those areas.  Later, Dad taught me to play guitar, and we currently do some volunteering together once a month.

What was my least favorite part of homeschooling?  That’s a tougher one that the favorite part.  I don’t think I came up with anything when she asked the question, and I still cannot think of anything now.  There were parts of homeschooling that I didn’t enjoy, but they were parts that would have been the same in public or private school too.

The last question was about whether or not we would homeschool our children someday.  I cannot say with 100% certainty that I will, but it will take some convincing from the Lord to show me that he wants me to send my children to school.  I cannot fathom putting my children on a bus and letting a school educate them.  I believe that I’ll be better qualified to teach my own children than any teacher, merely because I’ll know my children better than any set of teachers could ever know them.  For this reason if for no other, I would homeschool my children.

The fact is, though, that I have plenty of reasons to want to homeschool.  Chief among them is the desire to train up my children in the way they should go.  The public school system no longer acknowledges God.  Trying to counter the teachings of public school in what little time I would have my children with me would be tough.

Private schools may not undermine the foundation which I am trying to build for my children, but they still have other issues, such as too much peer influence, too many authority figures, and too little time spent with family and mature adults.  In addition, private schools tend to be fairly expensive; I know homeschooling can be done for considerably less.

Will I homeschool in precisely the same way that my mother did?  Probably not.  For one thing, I’m not the same kind of person nor the same kind of teacher that my mother is.  My strong subjects are quite different, and my methodology is different.  I would be able to use different types of curriculum sometimes than what she used.  For another thing, I will not have the same kids she taught.  Homeschooling is best when tailored to the child, so I will choose methods and materials for each subject that are best suited for each child.

The children of the homeschooling pioneers are just reaching an age where their children are old enough to start homeschooling.  I think it will be interesting to note the way homeschooling changes as more and more second generation homeschools begin to influence the way homeschooling is carried out and the way it is viewed.

I can’t wait to be a part of that!

Who Needs Socialization?

April 13, 2010

Socialization is one of the big bugbears of homeschooling.  Why does everyone worry about socializing homeschoolers?  Does no one realize the dangers lurking in those waters?

What most people mean when they say socialization is peer time.  While I have had many a happy hour with friends, I recognize that spending time with peers did not help me grow up.  At least not after a certain point.  I did learn some things from interacting with friends, but I was learning the same lessons from myparents and my siblings.  My friends could only teach me how to act like a child because that’s what we all were, children.  Since growing up is the main business of childhood, peer time does not seem all that important to have during childhood.

Now move to middle and highschool.  Here, I learned even less from my peers.  And think – the peers I am talking about were all either kids I knew at church or from the homeschooling community, and in most cases, both.  In my opinion these are the peers from whom I was most likely to have learned something.  And I only learned that I am not interested in typical teen conversations.  Some reflection on homeschooling if homeschoooled teens are hard to tell apart from any other teens!

I was pretty well off in regard to my friends.  I did not learn much good, but I also did not learn much bad.  The stories I hear from other people indicate to me that other teens learn some rather bad habits among their peers, including cliquishness, flirting, and the running down of both siblings and parents.  Why on earth do parents seek this for their children?

Socialization is not inherently bad.  The trouble is that most people assume it should be done among those close to your age.  Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.  Childhood is actually a very small portion of the normal life span.  Now, when we reach the adult world, who are we going to socialize with at work, at church, and in the community?

The answer is people of all ages, and mainly adults.  While we may find friends who are very close to our own ages, the fact is that many of us will also have very close friends who are some years older and can give us advice.  We may also eventually be the older friend giving advice.  Does socializing with our peers prepare us for this?  I think not.

Why should we worry about socializing with peers when we have siblings?  One of the main benefits of homeschooling is that brothers and sisters can interact with each other, develop good relationships, help each other learn.  I know some siblings can’t stand each other, but I don’t think we are born fighting with our siblings.  I think it’s often learned from our peers.

Why should we worry about socialization with peers when we have parents?  We learn most from those who are modeling adulthood.  Our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and their friends can all show us much more about how to be an adult than any teenager knows.  Of course, parents have the most influence, being on the spot all the time, but others in our families and at church are also good candidates for socialization.

Growing up, I always socialized with adults.  I liked to tag along with my mother after church, listening to her talk.  I did not understand half of it when I started, but in time I could follow pretty well.  Later, I started my own friendships with those same friends of my mother’s.  They were interested in my life, and they were always happy to talk about themselves too.  I learned how to converse with adults much better than I understood how to interact with my peers.  Maybe that is part of why I never fit in with my own age group all that well.

In any case, I loved to talk to those who knew more than me.  Picking up bits of wisdom was much easier when I did not have to do the thinking all by myself.  I learned much from interacting with people of all ages and from all manner of backgrounds.

Granted, associating with other Godly young people can be a good thing.  We can benefit from having someone near our age who is pursuing the same path we are.  Not everyone who is young is as immature as the rest.  A few among us have benefitted from our seeming isolation to become stronger individuals with less inclination to follow the herd and more inclination to think on the things of life and Godliness.  When you find a friend like that, cultivate that friendship!

Still, since generalizations are fun to make, I have indulged in one of my own. 

Associating with youth makes you younger, only those with years to spare should engage in it regularly.”


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