Good Friday: The Truth Will Set You Free

This Good Friday members of our congregation volunteered to make their own creations, Stations of the Cross.

As we follow this traditional path of Jesus’ last walk we remember not only His suffering but also the very human needs of those closest to us: our family members and our congregation.

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped; but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.

Bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of others.

We have seen him without beauty or majesty

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.

There followed after Jesus a great multitude of the people, and among them there were women who bewailed and lamented Him.

So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of You.

My eyes are spent with weeping; my soul is in tumult; my heart is poured out in grief.

Love flourishes only in the realm of freedom.  The perennial doctrine of free will has been under attack, particularly in the last twenty years.  Free will has been whittled down to a tiny fragment.  Nobody seems to believe they are free.  We don’t believe we have personal responsibility, that we are “able” to respond freshly and freely.  Thus we play the victim or look for whom to blame, anything so we don’t own our own freedom.  But Jesus on the Cross, neither plays the victim nor creates victims.  Now that’s free will!

Richard Rohr

Let me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is the freedom to allow our children to develop their own “gift of faith.”

reLENT-less Complaining

Today marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a time when Christians endeavor to bring themselves closer to Jesus through penitence, denying themselves a luxury, or resisting a vice.  For 40 days we try to be better people.  We try to be more thoughtful in our behavior and try to reach out to others in need.  We have 40 days to prepare ourselves for Easter.

Happymess kids have taken stock of their options when answering the perennial question, “What will I give up for Lent?”

A myriad of temptations have been considered.

Our local candy shop. Very tempting.

Finally, it was unanimous. One vice that rents at familial peace and tranquility came rushing to the forefront.

Yes.  Complaining.  Despite our happy photos and wonderful art projects there is plenty of behind-the -scenes complaining.  And, frankly, we are sick of it.  Not just us, the parents, but the kids too.

“Do I have to make my bed?  I am just going to sleep in it again tonight!”

 “Why do we have to fold the laundry?  Can’t I just throw it on the beds?”

 “But I like my toys on the floor.  That way they are easy to find.”

So we have decided, gulp, to give up complaining for Lent.

Truth said it wasn’t possible.  “How will you get anyone to clean up without complaining that the room is a mess?” he asked.

We practiced new sentence structures, “It would be helpful if everyone could pick up their own clothes and books off the floor today.”

“But,” Truth pointed out, “what if we don’t do it?”

Athena suggested a direct order, “Now it is time for everyone to clean up.”

Non-confrontational and non-complaining.

Quantum says he can only give up complaining at home.  It wouldn’t sound right if he didn’t complain when talking with his friends.  Hmm.

We may have to post this diagram on the refrigerator.

http://www.bibleprobe.com/stop-complaining-jobs.jpg

"I think I have to go do the laundry now..."

Or maybe this picture would be more effective?

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is initiating the peace movement at home.

Dawn, the Morning After

The morning after our beloved Mother and Grandmother left us we went for an early morning walk to settle our hearts and minds.

 The sun was just coming up over the harbor, reminding us that with each sunrise a new day dawns fresh with opportunities to make amends and to be grateful for the gift of life.

The woman we will miss was gentle and patient, the matriarch of a large and boisterous family.  Her greatest wish was for peace.  Peace amongst her numerous children and grandchildren and peace in the world as a whole.

In her honor we sing this hymn:

Let There be Peace on Earth, And let it Begin with Me

Let There be Peace on Earth, the Peace that was Meant to Be!

With God as our Father, Brothers All Are We

Let Me walk with my Brother in Perfect Harmony

Let Peace Begin with Me.  Let This be the Moment Now.

With Ev’ry Breath I Take, Let this be My Solemn Vow

To Take Each Moment, And Live Each Moment, In Peace Eternally!

Let There be Peace on Earth, And let it Begin with Me

 Bounce drew a plane to help Grammy on her travels.  Our hearts are with her everyday.  While on earth, we will make every effort to honor her memory through our peaceable actions

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is finding the lesson on the difficult days.

Snow Rise

I stood upon the hills, when heaven’s wide arch

Was glorious with the sun’s returning march,

And woods were brightened, and soft gales

Went forth to kiss the sun-clad vales.
The clouds were far beneath me; bathed in light,
They gathered midway round the wooded height,

And, in their fading glory, shone

Like hosts in battle overthrown.
As many a pinnacle, with shifting glance.
Through the gray mist thrust up its shattered lance,

And rocking on the cliff was left

The dark pine blasted, bare, and cleft.

The veil of cloud was lifted, and below
Glowed the rich valley, and the river’s flow

 Was darkened by the forest’s shade,

Or glistened in the white cascade;
Where upward, in the mellow blush of day,
The noisy bittern wheeled his spiral way. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We are up at dawn and bundled into the car.  Today even our youngest racer, Bounce, will be competing in the inter-mountain ski races.  Bounce and I are amazed by the beauty of the sunrise and at Bounce’s insistence we stop frequently to take photographs.

The sun is up and the youngest group struggles over to the lifts, filled with trepidation.  Soon they will be judged by only one factor:  speed.

The young racers are happy once they have reached the finish line.  Their task is done and they can bask in the knowledge that no matter what their performance, they are cherished by their families:  the only true test they need to pass.

Scooter skis all day but he is much too young for racing, even though he likes to go faster, faster, faster…

In from the cold, the younger children continue homeschool in the ski lodge.  We try to squeeze our homeschooling into every corner available.

The older racers are not so lucky.  They are keenly aware of the pressure.  They are judged by the clock, their peers and themselves.

The first goal is to get down the mountain without falling.  After that, every millisecond is calibrated and compared.  Each racer wants to be in the cherished top 15.

The race is exhausting.  We are happy we can finally head down the mountain with our crew.

King James Bible
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

2 Timothy 4:7

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is exploring the sunrise, racing down an icy course and studying math in the chaos of the ski lodge.

Skiing from Dawn to Dusk: A Frosty Pastime

Gravity is love and every turn a leap of faith.  ~Author Unknown

 We are deep into our winter ski and race season, rising in the pitch dark and struggling into layer after layer of poly-fabulous clothes guaranteed to keep you warm while never absorbing moisture.

Each morning the task seems near impossible and yet by the time the sun rises we are on the slopes and loving every frosty minute.  Athena, Quantum, Truth and this year even Bounce are all on the race team.  We are thus driving to new mountains, hauling equipment and stomping our ski boots as we anxiously await the Happymess Kids as they compete in Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G races, slicing towards us in techno-colored race suits, hitting the “gates” on their way down the slopes.

It is a long cold wait at mid-mountain as a “professional” ski mom.  Hot chocolate anyone?

Our list of equipment is unending with gloves, liners, boots, goggles, helmets, etc.  Many have commented that I must be the “equipment manager.”

More accurately, as a woman I met in Turkey once stated about my family role,

“I see you are the donkey of this expedition.” 

Athena and friend after competing in downhill slalom race (Allia)

The best part is the camaraderie between the ski families.  We have made some great friends and skiing with friends is the best part of any day.

Winter-Time
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding cake.

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is skiing ice-chilled slopes by daylight and reading winter poems by firelight.

 

Encouraging Reading: A Library is Born

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read. 
 – Abraham Lincoln

In our continuing pursuit of the joy of the written word, we have embarked upon creating our own homeschool library.  The actual collection of books was started in my father’s childhood, continued in my own and has been vastly added to through the childhoods of our own eight children.  Prior to building the actual bookshelves we found that we had piles of books in every room, every corner, and on every surface.  We all knew where our favorites were so location was not a problem.  Literally  every corner of our lives was happily consumed by books.  Ultimately it was time for a bookcase. Well, actually a library.  So with this in mind we have been building a “school house” and “library.”  It has taken us over a year but we have finally done it!

Athena immediately dedicated herself to the Herculean task of unpacking the books (our close friends that we had not seen for a year!) and organizing them by subject and alphabetically by author.  This monumental activity took her 12 hours a day for more than a week.  She chose categories:  fiction, biography, travel, history, science, foreign language, religion, philosophy, poetry, reference, etc.  Within the categories she alphabetized each book by author.

I was very nervous with all this organization.  I am used to playing a mental game of Clue with my books, “I last saw this volume in the kitchen, under the table, with the candlestick.”   I honestly wasn’t sure if I could find the book I wanted by searching for it on the shelf.  Athena ignored my concerns and powered on.

Athena the Library Queen

Everyone in our family has worked hard to make our school house dream a reality and with everyone’s help we now have a fully functioning library and schoolroom with 1000’s of the greatest books a child could dream of; we have beautifully illustrated classics, enticing modern dramas, wonderful history and science books filled with paintings and maps and internet links.

Now for a great home education:  all we have to do is sit back, choose a great book and read, read, read.

It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations–something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own. 
 – Katherine Patterson

 

Quantum and Jack London share a moment together

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is learning to read and reading to learn.

(Home) School is Where the Skis Are

The Happymess kids have been on the road now for the past several weeks.  Throughout our travels we have tried to keep ourselves focused on schoolwork while enjoying our new environments.

We started our adventures by packing one laundry basket per child with all the “must have” school books.  This way we can drag the baskets into each new location and the kids can find their work, pencils, calculators, etc.  Homeschooling should always be this easy.

The basket system is working surprisingly well.  Everyone knows what they are suppose to be doing and where to find their work.  I allow them to pick their subjects, as anything in the basket is something worth doing.  They naturally choose different activities at different times as everyone thrives on variety.  Their choices are the basics:  math, reading, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, science, history.  I expect them to complete 3-4 subjects per day.  This is a slightly lighter work load than when we are at home…but then we have many other things to do…Also we have only one computer between all of us, and the internet only works occasionally so workbooks and pencils are a necessity.

No internet also means all non-electronic toys and games.  I am happy to include this engineering feat with blocks as a math exercise.

After several weeks in the mountains it was time to head to the grandparents house:  we took a very foggy ferry.  Scooter almost jumped out of his skin when he heard the fog horn for the first time.  It was very, very LOUD.  Note:  book baskets are stowed in back of car on ferry.

Grandma’s house was lots of fun, and one of the first activities was a fancy tea time.

Everyone enjoyed dressing up for tea time.  And they enjoyed the little tea cakes, sandwiches and unending individual pots of tea.

The highlight of the visit was an invitation to a very formal dinner celebrating the achievements of Happymess kids exceptionally famous scientist grandfather.  We are  so proud of our own resident scientist who is at the top of his field in almost a dozen different disciplines within the science-math-physics venue.  Quantum was chosen as the representative grandchild to attend the event because of his extreme interest in mathematics.  He was seated next to a famous statistician and enjoyed learning about the use of mathematics in the field of biology.

Bounce and Mommy (Allia)

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is loving every minute of life and learning to teach throughout the living.