"Probably the chief source of weakness in our attempt to formulate a science of education is that we do not perceive education is the outcome of philosophy. We deal with the issue and ignore the source. Hence our efforts lack continuity and definite aim. We are content to pick up a suggestion here, a practical hint there, without even troubling ourselves to consider what is that scheme of life of which such hints and suggestions are the output."
Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children, Volume 2, page 118 (italics mine)
Last time, I shared this quote and how considering what education philosophy to follow is the important starting point when we make the choice to homeschool, leading into curriculum choices. But after we decide that yes, I need to figure out where I stand on educational philosophy, and yes, I am capable of doing this as parent, where do we go next??
First, let me give the disclaimer that I am in no way an educational philosophy expert. My research and study have been done on my own, for my own benefit, mainly because I am fascinated by the wisdom and gift of explanation that God gave Charlotte Mason, which has led me to read and go down many rabbit trails of thought along the way. So while I want to share with you my journey, this in no way is an attempt to try to sound scholarly or to convince anyone- I am strongly aware of my gaps in grasping such a deep and wide subject, and that there are an incredible amount of books, blogs, podcasts and other resources out there!
If you do an internet search, you will come across some $100 words like, "essentialism," "progressivism," or "perennialism." Did I lose you there?!! Don't run away yet- if you are a research nerd (I am raising my hand, yes..), then by all means, go for it and see where you stand. There are even quizzes you can take to let someone else tell you what philosophy you fit under! But it does not have to be that complicated- we can summarize the question like this: what are your core beliefs about how children learn?
Maybe, especially if you are a parent new to homeschooling, you have no idea what you think about how children learn. Maybe even if you are a veteran homeschooler, this line of thought hasn't been on your radar. I believe, as did Charlotte Mason, that this is the vital beginning to educating your children in a way that does not feel haphazard or as if all you are trying to do each day is just GET THE THINGS DONE so that you can move on to whatever is next. Yes, we absolutely have those days at our home, and have for the last 16 years, but they are not the norm for us, and part of that is that I really work to keep the "why" of our methods in front of me every day.
This is where I find myself cozying up to Charlotte Mason and alllll the things she talks about concerning how children learn, contained in her 20 principles. I am going to summarize here, and encourage you to read the resources at the end of this post as you have time, but here is a super simplified summary for the purposes of this discussion:
Children are born people and need to be educated with a view to the whole person, not just the mind. So parents should consider the spirit, the body, the mind all in some way in their choices.
The atmosphere that a child is educated in makes up a large part (1/3) of that education; it is what he or she will absorb as they are taught.
Good habits, or good character decisions, (not just making the bed or taking a plate to the dishwasher but the parts of a person's character that make them do these things consistently), are another 1/3 of educating a child.
A child's education should be "living"- not just facts or figures but ideas and concepts behind those facts and figures.
The parent's job is to provide a "plate" of choices that will stimulate ideas- not to be an expert in every subject or topic.
The student's job is to take from that plate what he requires, what his appetite needs; so a true education is a self-education.
Next time I will discuss how these concepts in her philosophy might look in a normal day in a normal family- but is there such a thing?!!! Certainly not in the Kemp household!!
Resources for further study:
The word "homeschool" is in the air right now more than any time that I can remember in the 16 years that our family has been educating at home, and I am getting multiple messages and texts each week about people who are looking into this option for the first time and all for a multitude of reasons. Earlier this week I held a little get together at my home for moms who are interested in the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling, and while some of them are veteran homeschoolers, in some of them, I recognized the "look": the wide-eyed, crinkled brow, with a little sweat on the forehead that means, "What in the world am I getting into here?!"
It's overwhelming, I get it, and I remember the feeling so very well. It seems as if there are so many decisions to be made, and the responsibility of a child's education can feel like a huge burden on your back. I have seen the same look in the eyes of many families in the Vendor Halls of homeschool conventions: "so many history options! And then what about grammar? Let's don't even get started on writing or math...maybe let's just buy one of these cute overpriced "educational toys" and try to figure it out when we get home..." or there are the moms who buy 3 history books and a boxed curriculum and 4 writing programs and alllllll the Lamplighter books... it's swampy when you start to slog through the choices!
So how do we proceed when all of the choices paralyze us? Where do we even begin?
The concept of what my role should be in the education of my children is one of the ideas that kept me on the path of Charlotte Mason's principles and methods when I was led there, as so many others have been, by the book For The Children's Sake. And since then, I have been a student of her volumes and articles, and because there is so much to learn, I doubt that I will ever be finished! Currently I am reading again through Parents and Children, Volume 2 of her six volumes of books, and her answer to "where do we start?" is simple and profound in the same statement:
"Probably the chief source of weakness in our attempt to formulate a science of education is that we do not perceive education is the outcome of philosophy. We deal with the issue and ignore the source. Hence our efforts lack continuity and definite aim. We are content to pick up a suggestion here, a practical hint there, without even troubling ourselves to consider what is that scheme of life of which such hints and suggestions are the output." (page 118) (italics mine)
So if we are going to educate our children, where do we start? While most of the question that I get are along the lines of what books to use for different subjects, I propose that those questions are ones to be asked further down the line...and the starting point in order to be successful in educating our children and to do so peacefully must be this question first:
What philosophy of education do I want to follow?
Most parents want someone else to think about this for them- not because they are not intelligent enough to consider it for themselves, but because we have been "brainwashed" (yes, I used that word but I feel its appropriate here) to believe that only a "professional educator" is capable of thinking about such things. I was a professional educator, and I will tell you that there is very little consideration or training about philosophy in teacher training, and when I entered the classroom, most of that went out of the window as I was just expected to teach from what they provided for me to use.
With that point of argument dealt with, how do we begin to figure out what the philosophies are and what in the world does that have to do with what we are doing around our dining room table on Tuesday mornings at 10 am? I believe, and so did Charlotte Mason, that it matters a great deal, and how peaceful and contented mom and dad are as they educate their children, depends much on how their curriculum choices match the philosophy they actually believe in.
I have spoken to so, so many moms through the years that have purchased online plans, boxed sets, paid to go to very expensive co ops, and still are not settled... so they move to the next "thing" that is popular or promises great results. I realize that some of that is due to failure to implement the programs effectively, as well as other factors, but I am convinced that much of it is the mismatch of curriculum choice to philosophy.
Next time I will talk about what a philosophy is, and why I believe in Charlotte Mason's approach...I hope that you will join me!
We just finished our school year, and my mind is already on to how to make the summer one that is laid back and fun but consists of more than me telling my children that they have used up all of their screen time by 9 am and now must find a way to occupy themselves!
I don't want their summer days to be full of school work- although we do complete about 15-20 days from the middle of May to the "official" start of school in August so that we have plenty of flexibility for days to take off during the school calendar year. I love the months of October and April and like to be able to just enjoy beautiful days without putting them onto our school schedule!
I have done lots of different summer plans in the past, but this year I created a Summer Fun Binder for my kids that includes some daily activities and then some choices that can prompt them to some activities. Because we use very few worksheets in Charlotte Mason, this is not a binder of math or writing or science pages, it is more of a place to give them some ideas when their minds are just blank...which some people call "bored" but around here, saying that word means that you get assigned a chore, so it is rare that we hear that word!
The lists for my rising 4th grader are much more detailed, and my plan is to be able to guide her into some different ones by checking them off as she chooses them, and then just print another sheet. This way she is encouraged to try something different than she did the day before- otherwise, let's face it, she will probably play LEGO all day! While I don't necessarily have a problem with that, since it is a type of "masterly inactivity" as Charlotte Mason talks about, I do want to guide her into some areas that she may not go into on her own without a little prompting.
The choices page is in the front of the binder, and behind that are some printable multiplication games (our goal is to learn them this summer since that has been a struggle for her this year), some LEGO challenge pages, some journaling prompts, comic strip templates, etc. I hope to add to it as I continue to find things that can give guidance but encourage free thinking.
The choices for my rising 9th grader are much more general- and she is great at finding lots of things to keep herself busy, so I don't need to give her as much guidance. It is a way, however, to have something to send her to when I have to say, "Enough Gilmore Girls for today...let's find something else to do!" and for her to understand what my daily expectations are for her.
I love the freedom of summer for me as much as for my kids, but I have found with absolutely no structure during our days, things seem to fall apart and unravel pretty quickly. Flexibility within structure is really the only way that I have found to function well around here, so there will be plenty of days that we will swim, play, read, hang out with friends, shop, etc and the these binders won't be touched! But they will be here for the days that we do need some guidance and some ideas.
Feel free to adapt these for you own kids- and I would love to have ideas that you are using with your own kids for the summer!
Click the link to be taken to the Summer Fun Choices pdf!
Over the last week or so, David and I have been working out our disappointment and sadness about missing out on our trip to Europe by working hard to clear the woods at our house. Since we aren't in Paris and Zurich and Venice and Rome, we might as well take some time to make our own little acreage more beautiful.
We have encountered an incredible amount of brambles and thorny vines that have entangled the trees and basically taken over the edge of the woods, and had to protect our arms and legs with long sleeves and pants, and our hands with thick leather gloves.
Our forearms are sore from pulling down these strong vines from the trees and from dragging out pile after pile of brush all wrapped up in thorny branches.
We used all sorts of tools to clip, saw, dig, rake and trim back the thorns to free the trees and to open up these beautiful woods.
While we took a water break from working one afternoon, David commented, "I understand why Jesus wore a crown of thorns on his head. This is just like sin- it tangles all into our minds... it takes over."
I couldn't shake that thought- it has been in my mind ever since, and we have had so many conversations about it as we have continued to work...bringing an even greater gratitude to us for what Jesus has done.
Sin creeps in- we have been sitting on this porch for almost 10 years and knew there were brambles and thorns in the woods, but it is so much easier to talk about it than to deal with it.
Sin entangles us- it sneakily wraps around all of our thoughts and perspectives, wrapping us up in lies and fear and bitterness and doubt, and covering over all of the beauty that God put there.
Sin hurts- it catches and pricks and tears at us at our most tender places, and we tend to put on tough coverings to protect ourselves from the pain of it.
Sin wears us out- we can pull at it, tug at it, struggle and fight with it, and still the roots will remain.
This is why we need a Savior.
He wore as a crown the very thorns that entangle and torture us, He knew that we would have a battle in our minds that was a thorn fighting battle, and He turned those very thorns into a crown... His blood trickled down and covered them, so that we could rest in what He has done, and give up the fight.
Jesus, and Jesus alone can jerk up the roots of the thorns in our minds, our lives, and reveal the beauty there, free us so that we can breathe and grow unhindered and unencumbered.
He has done it, and He offers it to us, and He will always, always come to set us free.
I am headed back out to the woods to work again this afternoon... I will suit up in my protective clothes, I will wear my leather gloves...but my heart is able to be open, to be more and more free, because Jesus has done this work in me, and continues it by His grace and mercy...
and I will worship as I work.
"Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature."- Charlotte Mason
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."- Albert Einstein
"Curiosity killed the cat." Anonymous
Curiosity is curious- we want our children to be motivated learners, yet often times we can resort to making the majority of their education based regurgitation of information that requires very little effort on their part. Curiosity can be messy, and inconvenient, and can take lots of effort, and it can often interrupt our schedules if we decide to let our children go down the path where the interests lead them! I could share plenty of stories about my children even putting themselves in danger's path because they were curious enough to ignore safety and common sense!
One of the benefits of a Charlotte Mason education is the permission it allows us to give our children and ourselves to "own" our education in any subject or topic, and the result of this ownership is motivation to learn more and dig deeper.
I wanted to make a deliberate effort this January to encourage my kids (and myself!) to choose a particular topic to learn more about, and to let the journey of learning lead them wherever it might go, rather than me giving them a prescribed project or learning path, so I came up with this little "Curiosity Project" that we are working through together this term.
The idea here is to gently guide them with some tasks and conversations that will encourage them to ask questions, look deeper, seek connections and then share their findings- and I am linking it here to share with any of you that might want to try it with your children as well!
Your process and results might be messy and you may end up with more questions than answers- and I truly believe that is perfectly fine! I gave each of my girls a composition notebook to record their progress, results, questions, drawings or to print and glue in anything that they think might be relevant.
Right now this is a simple plan- when time allows I am hoping to make it into a more polished product, but here I am sharing it with you exactly as I typed it up to use with my own children. It is very flexible and can be used with lots of different ages- I have an 8 yo and 14 yo that are enjoying the journey it is taking us on- and I hope to share some of that here as well.
I hope that it will help you to let go of some of the
Just click on the link below to go to a pdf- and please share any questions or comments here!
Blessings and virtual hugs-
This is our 16th year homeschooling, and while many of my friends are homeschoolers as well, I realize that many of you are not. For some of my friends, they don't get my love of discussing education, and especially Charlotte Mason, even if they do home educate their own families!
But because the methods and principles of Charlotte Mason (CM) have become so important to us, and because I so strongly believe in their effectiveness, I think that it's worth a few words to explain why.
Let me say this in advance- there are much more eloquent descriptions and deep discussions about this topic by home educators much more intelligent and more experienced than I! So this little post is simply my attempt to speak in my own words about how my family and I have been affected and our schooling enriched by CM.
First, a little background information about Miss Mason. She was an educator in England at the turn of the century and believed that all children deserved a deep, beautiful education. There are plenty of available sources that tell about the details of her life, but for our purposes the important points are that she provided valuable resources for parents as they educated their own children at home, called the Parents' National Educational Union, and created a school where her philosophy, methods and principles were used in Ambleside. (I am going there in April and I can promise there will be plenty of blog posts about that trip!!!) She wrote 6 volumes that are an explanation of her philosophy and these are so valuable for those who want to understand the CM way of life, which can be simplified by two of her mottos: "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life," and for students, "I am, I can, I ought, I will."
So WHY does this philosophy resonate with me, personally, for my own children? I will save how we got started with CM for another post, but there are mainly 4 reasons for our choice and why we continue to love learning by her methods.
1. I love learning alongside my children.
One of my most favorite things about learning in this way is that it is not a "top down" teaching style. I do not need to be an expert in every subject or field, nor do I need to spend hours preparing lessons for my children in order to capture their attention. We trust the "living books" that are written in engaging ways by the actual experts, and as we read, we all learn together. Then we share what we are learning, which may be different for each of us. For us, it has fostered a lifestyle of learning, and an expectation that my children are the owners of their education. As I have progressed through the four year history rotation with them, I have learned more and more each time, not only from what I read with or to them, but also from their perspectives on what we are reading together or what they read on their own.
2. Living books make the time periods and topics come alive.
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOOOOVE books- and have them in every room of my house, which can sometimes drive my family a teeny tiny bit nuts. But learning about the living books that CM espouses has changed the kinds of books that I buy, read and that we use in our homeschool. The term "living books" is one that has had some discussion around it and there are some varying specific definitions as to what they are, but this simple explanation is from Simply Charlotte Mason: "Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in a conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it's easy to remember the events and facts." When we read a living book about WWII, which we are studying now, they naturally grab onto the interesting characters and their life stories, and remember so much more than a dry textbook of facts and figures. Just the topic of living books has inspired so many writings that I could never summarize them here, but in our homeschool, the beauty of reading these books together makes each day a window into another time period of history or a life of someone who lived then, a topic of science, or someone who discovered an invention.
3. Simplicity of the methods.
Again, there have been multiple books and blogs and websites dedicated to discussing the methods of Charlotte Mason, but in reality they can be explained simply: read living books in each subject and narrate what you learn, copy passages from these books to practice handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar, spend time outdoors interacting with nature, and expose your students to great composers and artists. There are other aspects and descriptions that help home educators understand how to implement these in their own families, but for me it is so freeing to keep going back to these things and simply do them week after week. It makes each day for us exciting and different, and within these simple methods there is a continual variety of things for us to learn- flexibility with a dependable structure and stable schedule. For several years I attempted to set up a schedule and choose books for them on my own, but now I am so blessed to use A Gentle Feast, which has EVERYTHING laid out for me! (Check out the link in resources if you are interested in learning more!)
4. Developmentally Appropriate
20 years ago, I was a public school kindergarten teacher, and have some friends today who are still in that field. The skills that they expect from five year olds today are what we were expecting from first graders when I taught school, and many of my teacher friends are frustrated by how unrealistic these are for the children. Even some of the homeschooling curricula available now don't match up with what science itself tells us about what children at each age are capable of mentally and physically. This has always been a real passion of mine, and a frustration as well. Once when my son was 3 years old, I went to pick him up from his preschool class at co op where I had been teaching a literature class. His teacher told me that he had given them trouble that day and would not sit still at the table to complete his worksheet on gravity. WWHHAAT????!!! Needless to say, he did not attend that class again, but I have seen similar practices all across the board in education. When I follow the CM philosophy, I don't have to worry about that. My children at each age pick up what they are capable of understanding and narrate it to me in their own words in various ways that are appropriate. Right now my 8 year old is into reenacting scenes from WWII with her Avengers action figures. Makes for an interesting interpretation, but she clearly understands who was an Axis Power and who was an Ally!
Thanks for sticking with me for this explanation of why I am so passionate about Charlotte Mason's way of education. I am continually amazed at how the Lord blesses our schooling as we continue on the path, and it was so hard for me to choose just 4 reasons that I find her philosophy such a great fit for us. If you have questions or comments, feel free to email me or comment below!!
For those of you who have somehow found your way to this blog- welcome and thanks for all of the grace and patience I hope you will have as I learn to navigate my way around this new venue for me! I am definitely a "books over screens" type of girl, but at this point in my life it seems that in order to share some of my passion about helping other families in our homeschooling and parenting journeys, I need to learn to make my way around the blogosphere...so here we are!
Years ago in a store in the foothills of NC I saw a sign that proclaimed "Passersby Welcome" and I knew that it said in two words the vision of my heart- that our home, our family, would be a place where passersby might feel drawn to stop and rest awhile, to change from strangers to friends, and where they just might feel comfortable enough to return again soon.
My hope and prayer is that you will feel welcome here to (virtually) have a seat on my front porch with me, let me put a steaming cup of coffee or tea in your hand, and we can enjoy the view from the little farmhouse where I live with my husband and the 3 of my 5 children that still call this home. I live for scruffy hospitality- where the floors are never completely clean, there are usually a few dishes in the sink, some folded laundry on the chair, and always a stack or two of books on most surfaces.
What I am interested in is you- your story and your journey, where our stories and journeys might just intersect in homeschooling or this hard and beautiful path of mothering our children. I hope you will feel comfortable enough to sit on my swing for a while and let's get to know each other!
So, the wreckage of the '88 300zx has been in the yard since September- the heartbreaking reminder of the wreck I wrote about in my last post. It has been one of those events that causes an ache in my heart everytime I think about it because of the disappointment of my son.
For a few months, the wreckage heap was ignored. It was an eyesore but my son and husband didn't have the heart to touch it. The plastic wrap and the tape remained in place through all of the October rains and I was glad for the excuse that it was too wet to work on figuring out how to handle the pile of metal.
Gradually, Joseph began to check on the websites he follows to get an idea of what price he could get for the good parts of the car. Now mind you, when I see this car, I see no "good parts", and a mess is about the only way I know how to describe it.
One day as I over heard Joseph talking with his dad about what they could salvage, what was useful, and what people would pay for it, I expressed my doubt about anything really bringing in any money.
"Come here, Mom, let me show you," he said, and turned the computer screen so that I could see the list of items people want from a car of that type. Dashboards, dials, bolts, pieces of automotive things he named that sound like a foreign language to me- all desired by others who were looking for them and had money to spend.
I was amazed, and have remained amazed even as he and my husband have stood true to their word. This week they transported the engine to NC to a customer who was thrilled to have it and so pleased at the state it was in. They have used every little part of that car to bring in money so that now his "new to him" car, a '91 300zx z32, is now not only paid for but he is going to have money to do the changes to it that he wants to make it "his".
2015 was a rough year for us. I started and stopped several posts about the things I was facing and going through, but never finished them because they all sounded like whining, and I felt God was saying to me to lay it at His feet and no one else's. The truth is, however, I don't remember when I have been so glad for 12 PM on December 31st... just to have a milemarker for a new, fresh start, and a chance to say goodbye to some very painful things. It was truly, a wreck of a year, with desctruction in some parts of our lives that left us shaking our heads and wondering what happened. I felt, and my husband felt, that we had been left with wreckage.
Wreckage, now I see, is not a useless heap. It might look bad, it might represent some traumatic event, but it is NOT useless. There are parts in there, to the trained eye, that are valuable, and maybe even precious, and needed and wanted by other people. If you know what you are looking at, and you know what you are looking for, you can see past the bent metal and the ruined tires, to the good parts, the useful parts, the parts that can bring life to something else.
And so, that is exactly what I am letting God do to my wreckage of 2015 as I move into this new year. I might not understand quite yet what He is going to do with it, or how He is going to use it, but my faith in Him and the Words I read say to my heart that He has plans for me, and He sees what I don't and can't. Life is going to come from the things that hurt me, and I can trust Him in that.
Maybe you, too are standing back, and looking at some wreckage...of a marriage, or a friendship, or finances, or dreams... and you are wondering if there is any way to make any sense of the mess. Can I call you over, like my son did to me, and say, "Come here, let me show you...Look at this: a Book called the Bible, full of lives that were wrecks, or looked like wrecks, or would face some sort of wreck- and yet God took great joy in using them for His glory and finding something beautiful to salvage." We may have to wait to see how He is going to work, but in faith we can believe, together, that He will.
When they bring the wreck to your front yard
Thank God for tow trucks. I am grateful for the big hooks on the enormous chains and the back end that leans up and slides off a busted up car. They do their job and I am grateful. But this time, I didn't want the wreck brought to my front yard. I wanted it somewhere else, a problem for someone else to deal with, or at least hidden behind some trees so that I didn't have to be reminded of what it represented.
Last Wednesday, my son was in an accident, and when I got the call I threw down the hair color and bra that I was about to purchase in Walmart and ran out the door with my other 4 children to get to him. He was shaken, and upset, but he walked away with a bump on his head and a bruise on his arm after being hit by an 18 wheeler carrying 4000 gallons of gasonline. It was a miracle and I give all glory to Jesus for his safety and I am convinced that big strong angels turned his car just at the right moment so that we could wrap our arms around him and have him safe and whole instead of visiting him in the hospital, or even not having him in our arms at all. It was sobering and frightening and a reminder of what matters in this life and how quickly things can change.
The real heartbreak for him here is his car, a 1988 300ZX that he has spent the last year or so redoing, spending many nights until 4am with his arms covered in grease. Although he didn't spend much money on it, literal blood, sweat and tears went into that car and he had to now see it crumpled up next to a guardrail. I felt sick to my stomach and held my big strong football player son in my arms while he wept. It was hard- I don't care anything about that car personally except that he loved it and now it was gone.
So we waited on the tow truck, and watched it drive off to take the car somewhere for a few days because we had a school retreat to attend the next morning early...we would deal with it when we got home.
And then came yesterday. Somehow, seeing that wreck on the back of the truck coming down the driveway was much worse that seeing it on the side of the road. The last time it had come down the driveway, my son was driving it home from school, T tops out and music playing, walking in smelling like a stinky locker room but with a smile on his face. Now he was expressionless.
We had to find somewhere to put it, and it is an eyesore. Because of so much rain lately, the ideal spot behind some trees was too wet and the tow truck couldn't get back there. The only choice was right near the driveway, in plain sight. I can't get into my van now without seeing it parked there, crumpled and sad, and it's in full view of my boys' bedroom window.
I don't want my wrecks out in the open.
When I see this car, I can feel all the things it stirs within me- fear of what could have been, gratefulness that my baby is ok, sadness at all of the hard work now lost, worry about how to provide him something else to drive, and a million other things swirling around in my heart and head.
I would rather have it hidden and put away, neat and tidy, ready to move on to something else, but there it is and there it is going to stay. I worried about Joseph seeing it right in front of him and how it would make him feel so bad. But an amazing thing began to happen yesterday afternoon, and today, as we realize that wreck is just part of our landscape, for now.
Joseph, and his dad, began to look at it... to really look. To see beyond the damage that had been done to what was salvagable. To use their knowledgeable vision to pick it apart in their minds and decide what could be used for something else, or in another car, or sold... so many available options, and not being a car person, most of them were gibberish to me, but I could hear that there was a spark to the conversation instead of the deadness and pain I had heard before.
What had been just a wreck was now a possiblilty.
Isn't that just God's way?
I want the landscape of my life to look so nice, and neat, and clean, with all of my wrecks hidden away. Yes, they happened, and God spared me, now let's move quickly on and not talk about it anymore. But this is not acknowledging the value of the wreck itself. What could be inside that I need to use later on down the road? What might now be unusable to me but could be priceless to someone else if I have the courage to share it? What parts that are left might be just what is missing in some other situation in my life? It takes a knowledgable vision.
And I just don't have that on my own, not only about cars but also about my life. I have to go to the One who has a different perspective, and who recognizes that something I think is just junk is really a treasure. The only way to find out what is worth saving in the mess is to have the courage to leave the wreck out in the open, to look at it, to decide that it might not be pretty but it does belong to me and it has to be dealt with, and there is no way that I can handle it alone.
I don't know what my son is going to drive next. I hope that it is something that he loves and has invested in like he did this car. I hate to see that he is hurting and having to feel this grown up kind of disappointment. But this wreck is not the end- that metal and plastic and glass out there is a more than a crumpled mess- it's a life lesson. He is going to see that God can use our biggest messes to show us how much He loves us, how big His grace really is, and that with Him our endings are never really endings... they are beginnings of something new He wants to do. He is going to take the pieces of something broken and with God's guidance and his daddy's help, he is going to drive away one of these days in a testimony that began from what was hauled down our driveway on a tow truck.
I can't wait to see what You do, Lord...
I know almost nothing about football. I know there is a ball and pads on the players' shoulders, that there are goal posts and men in black and white stripes that throw yellow cloths down on the ground. At least that is all I knew until about a month ago, and then all of that changed. And it changed not because I really began to care about football, but because I already care about a 16 year old boy who decided that he wanted to become one of those padded up players on the field. We have never been a sports family, but this opportunity came up that fit our lives and my boy felt he was ready, so now I am learning how to wash extremely stinky uniforms that make me gag when I walk past the laundry room. (Vinegar...soak in vinegar first before washing... it is the only thing I have found that works!)
So as soon as I realized my child would be on the football field, playing one of these confusing positions, I downloaded Football for Dummies, and tried to figure it out. Who knew that the position of defensive end could be so complex?! To me it just looked like a bunch of men with big heads running around looking for someone to crush underneath them, but oh, no... there are all sorts of plays and assignments and plans, and there is, apparently, some kind of method to all that madness out there, and it is the topic of all kind of conversation in my house now. Plays with weird names, and numbers, and debate about how to tackle well without doing it against the rules- all of this was way out of my comfort zone. But now I am educating myself and I'm determined to be able to have at least a partially intelligent conversation about what is going on in my son's football world.
I also want the games I am watching him play to make sense to me. I don't want to be an ignorant loud voice on the sidelines just screaming for number 64 to "Get 'em". I want to be able to talk about the game when it is over, to hear his experience of playing and to be able to relate as much as a 41 year old mama who has never played sports possibly can. It's something he loves, he is trying to be good at, and I can see that it is teaching him about hard work and character. He is invested in it and therefore, I am going to be as well.
Things change when you have a kid on the team.
I have watched football before of course. I mean, I live in the South, for goodness sakes. I get that it is a big deal. Mostly I get that it is fabulous background noise on Sunday afternoons in the fall when I want to take a nap at my mom's house. But I have been to games, and the only way I could keep myself interested is to know something about the players on the field. It is the personal element that engages me. Not just in football, but in any sport. A few years ago, my husband took me to a NASCAR race. I didn't really care about going, until I found out that he had borrowed these fabulous head phone things that let you listen to the drivers talking with the people who were on the sidelines. It was fascinating! They went back and forth about who was doing what, how to best handle situations, when to come in for tires or gas...I actually never even opened the book that I brought! Getting a glimpse into the people who were out there in those cars screaming around the track made me care about the race itself.
Things change when you begin to understand who is out there running the race.
I have been a church goer all my life. Faith is a matter of great importance to me, and I love the people that God has put in my life to walk it out with me in a real life, practical way, beyond just some religious ideas and concepts. I care about them, and their lives, and I need them to help me stay on track and to encourage me, as well as tell me when they see me straying from living out the faith that I say I hold. At the same time, I am cheering for them. I have friends who have given up everything so their autistic son can have the kind of therapy he need, friends who have grown from complaining everytime someone asked them to help with children's ministry to now loving teaching a class, friends who have carried out their vows with alcoholic husbands during the worst of times, friends who have learned that God sets the solitary in families and have chosen to connect with others instead of living in regret about how they parented before they knew Jesus. They are in the game. They are padded up, running plays everyday, falling down, scoring sometimes, and sometimes committing fouls. There are times I look at what they are doing and I feel as ignorant about it as when I watch a football game... I can't figure out exactly where the ball is or who is supposed to be going after it. But because I love them, I am a loud voice on the sidelines...I am saying "Go, go, go!"
I had a lady tell me last night that I might want to consider getting some valium or possibly some essential oils for stress relief before the next game. She was kidding...I think... but what she was saying was that I was really affected by what was going on on the football field. And I can promise you it wasn't because I love football, it was because I absolutely adore my son, and he happened to be on the field. He told me last night, "Mama, I could hear you out there. Thank you." I can promise you, next week, I will be just as enthusiastic and just as loud, because it made a difference to him.
All of my friends out there, who are suiting up today, ready to go at it again, to face the things you need to face, to get done the things you have to get done, who are getting on the line and looking up to size up your opponent- hear me cheering for you. Hear my voice, right now, saying, you can win this. You can follow the play, or mess it all up, you can fall down, or make it to the goal line this time, but I am cheering you on. Yelling your name, yelling your number, letting you know I see you out there and you will win. If the score doen't reflect it yet, it's ok. What is going on in the game you are playing today matters to me, because you are on the field, and I care about you.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we are not out here alone. Most of us really are doing our best, most of us really are giving it our all, and every single one of us is fighting some kind of battle. I don't have to understand yours to give you some grace, and some kindness, and few really loud cheers to help you keep going. I have been given the same things from you, and I will most certainly need them again.
Things change, don't they, when we have friends in the fight...when we love someone on the field...when we start to see past the uniforms to the people who are wearing them. And I am so glad that they do.
Now I have to go soak a uniform in some vinegar. Let's get ready for some football!!!
I am a wife and homeschooling mom who absolutely loves her job! I love to read good books, enjoy art, and sit on my porch with family, friends and any passersby to talk about them and what a good, good Father we all have!