The Hundred Acre Wood, Morning Meeting, and me

Todd found me pouring over an article on my phone this morning. A few inquiring questions, and I was a mess of choked tears. Hands over my face. Sputtering an explanation.

Sometime last week, I informed my six  young (ish) children that I was going to be adding something of keen importance to our morning meeting time and that I was planning to make a continued valiant effort toward consistency of said meeting.  The addition would be the inclusion of classic read aloud.  And the reading time would be short- but it would be faithful. Little by little, I determined I would see a stack of well-loved favorites committed to our common heritage.

I wanted to read An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott. I have had it for awhile and never read it- and I thought it would be perfect. Slim, festive volume. Thanksgiving quickly coming…

 But I wasn’t able to find it (as of yet). My shelves are a complete tumble; and my hand lit upon The House At Pooh Corner and The Hundred Acre Wood.

I have long loved the “Pooh” Tales for the perceptive insight into the creative world of a child and the poignant bittersweet of this beautiful, innocent, fleeting season. But, I have never read both volumes in entirety- and for some reason, I just felt- the time was now.

So, today, I began. Nested books together, I snapped a picture.

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And somewhere, deep in my soul, I felt a witness: that this might be difficult. — that this might mean choked tears.

I am slayed by motherhood. Again, again. These days.

I read the introduction and Joshua asked: What does A. A. Milne stand for? And so, I searched. Alan Alexander Milne. And in the search, I discovered what led me to those sorrowing tears. Estrangment of father and son. Bitterness. Disconnected hearts. Deep disconnect.

Now, a caveat. It was a wikipedia article- and I quickly searched Amazon and then the library- and found autobiography by father and one by son. So, I plan to reserve those and read for ,myself- as the Britannica article mentioned nothing of the sort. But further research, did indeed, reveal a chasm of broken- ness and disconnect.

My heart broke at the thought that this perceptive father- who ( I thought was- but apparently he was not)  in tune with his son; so connected in and through his childhood world, would lose that precious relationship when that son grew up.

There is a scene at the end of The House At Pooh Corner that beats with the pulse of a parent’s heart and a child’s destiny:

“So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” 

And then, there it was. The heart wrench of leaving. The grief of loss. The children grow up. The season changes.

And Todd sat down and laughed in his wonderful way – and made me laugh, too- and remarked about tax law and regulations and him crying over the federal law changes. His unfeigned and utter disbelief over me crying while reading Wikipedia and A. A. Milne. He is the smile behind my tears. And he  cast (legitimate) suspicious doubt over such a source ( of course). And I tried to explain the perception and connectedness needed to write such a tale- and the understanding of a child’s world- and of course, (and this is the part that made me weep… the part about being in all those moments with children where their wonder is my wonder; and their joy is my joy; and the thread that twines between is flame and gold; and their hand in mine; and their story is my story):

my heart cracked for Micah-

 my writer; my world builder; my dreamer of worlds.

But all in all, I knew it -the sudden reckoning way, that has been happening to me. My heart is sore. And this: this 2018-19 Senior year. It’s hard. It is a hard year for me.

 I have been having more trouble than ever managing the chores; the practical navigations of the home and life; the plate is fuller than it has ever been.

I’ve never had a favorite age in a child before. I have loved it all in every season. But, I think….

 I think seventeen might just be my favorite.

(you are all my favorites)

And I have one before me now- and I know what it feels like…now. And O! what utterly delightful people my darlings are. What things they say; what wisdom they possess; what beauty they find.

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I have to grow bigger and stronger and taller inside.

But I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t change anything. I am glad to have been in my dear hearts’ “hundred acre wood” and I pray I can be there again.

 

My little one, she’s only five.

Live and Learn and Giving my Life to God

I wrote this a little bit ago- as I worked to process a lot of incoherent emotions and difficulty in myself while I tried to begin needed work for Nathanael. For me, senior year is difficult. One, we cast a wide net as far as college searching goes- and it is a very uncertain time for our family. Even though I am doing things differently with Nathanael- there is still a lot of uncertainty.  Two, it is a very difficult balance and dance with an almost young adult child and student. I think I wish there were clear answers and a defined path- but for us, so far, really there has not been. And there are a lot of hard decisions. All the time.  So, now- for the post I wrote:

It is not amiss to say that I have been having some post-traumatic stress responses as I face a senior year again so soon after Micah’s.

I have some resources/a link I want to share with dear readers and friends- so I am working to unearth some of the swirl of challenge in my soul to write this post.

I have passionately and vehemently proclaimed a motto of “Live and Learn” in response to my experience reaching graduation and homeschooling to college. My family knows it well. My students (children) have been recipients of said proclamation. I have made several adjustments to our home school based on what I have learned through my experience with my two oldest sons (one graduated and one now! a senior)- and I am working on implementing them immediately.

One area I have been struggling with is remorse and regret. While Micah is off to the college of his choice, a Honors Program participant, and a (large) Scholarship recipient, it is very clear to me (in retrospect) some areas where I should have done better in the application and record keeping process. And not only that, but also in our academic journey. I have made immediate changes for 2018-19 with my high school students- and potentially- my seventh grader. All of that said, I have been struggling manfully to move forward and do some things differently starting immediately with Nathanael’s college journey. I become entangled in my spun web of remorse and regret- and guilt.  Micah’s horizon is golden (thank You, Lord) but there is some financial stress and hardship that breaks my heart. The only thing I can do is continue forward into each day “living and learning” in the Lord.

My whole heart, soul, sweat, blood, and tears are wrapped up in last year. It is hard to move forward in the wake of it all. But, I must. And, I am. I have to leave that part behind and move on and move in and move forward. I have a brown-eyed blessing looking to me- for more than courses, credits, and transcripts. For Life. For the Lord. For God’s Love. For Stability and yes, for all. the. things (scholarship applications, essays, records, recommendation letters, college visits, college interviews and on, on).

With that said, I have to trust that I did the best I could with what I had- and in the areas that I didn’t (because there was an area I actively resisted- and O! I regret it!) , God’s grace is more than sufficient. And this is where I give the whole of my life to God… successes, failures, decisions, dreams. I give all into His Hand. I release it all and continue to move forward into each day with the best (Lord willing) that I have. I need to actively choose to trust His provision in the life of each of my children- individually- as I continue to do my (insufficient) best by them. But where I am insufficient- HE is sufficient- and this is where I am struggling to rest.

One of the areas that I am doing differently (and that might benefit someone out there) is in the area of home school record keeping and transcripts for high school. This was a little tricky for me with Micah because we are in a diploma program and I did not fully understand- but- now, I do. I took our diploma program credential as sufficient accreditation and proof of the integrity of our learning program- when, in reality, our studies went far, far beyond their basic requirements- and it would have been much, much better if I would have provided the full scope of my student’s learning through a Comprehensive Record File.

Note: I did provide the Official Transcript, School Profile, Counselor Letter, Recommenders, Essays, Writing Samples (where needed/requested), ACT and SAT scores and more.

Sometimes, I struggle to give the time needed to all the details, paperwork, and record keeping that makes up a well-documented home school (I wonder: is this really needed? Isn’t there someone else who could do this? Shouldn’t my student be doing this? How do I spend the time on this? I have also questioned how to figure out where my child should apply to college, what colleges, Christian or secular, commuter or residential… And the questioning can swirl on and on- effectively making me inert when I should be in active, directed motion)

– but I have learned that it is a wise and needed investment to dig in and work on this needed, detailed paperwork. I have also learned that it is a worthy life work and the end result- a comprehensive record is a worthy testimony and document of a journey well- lived. It is also a gift to my student- who will have documentation, work samples, and a reflection of these very special years to carry forward into their adult life. With Google Drive and other Cloud Applications, it is easy to upload such records for safe keeping and no clutter. Ready right at the fingertips whenever needed.

So, with those thoughts unearthed and uncovered, dear friends, I would like to recommend (with absolutely no affiliation or benefit to myself)

Lee Binz’s Comprehensive Record Solution and Total Transcript Solution.

I attended a Free Webinar called Super Scholarships for Humble Homeschoolers and was able to access a special for the Record Solution with the Total Transcript a free bonus.  These resources have everything I needed last year (for Micah) and didn’t have. Templates and examples right at the fingertips. I googled many things (last year) like Activities Resume, School Profile examples, Counselor Letters, and so on. And I do suggest research- but having all this right at hand is SO helpful.

I do not know if compiling a comprehensive record for Nathanael will open a greater pathway for financial provision for him- as Micah did get right to the full tuition interview at Messiah and alternate for another full scholarship- but at least I will have the confidence, peace, and security of knowing that I did all needed. Nathanael is also going to apply for a selective scholarship that Micah did not apply for- that will need all of these details- so I must trust this is the Lord’s timing. I learned a lot- and I am going forward in the living.

Lord, let me see Your goodness in the Land of the Living. Increase our trust in You. Forgive me.

Friends, I pray you are blessed in your journey- wherever that may be and how the Lord leads you.

For His excellent greatness (Psalm 150:2)

Rebecca

May 1st, 2018

Micah ranked up to Eagle Scout (8 p.m) and made a College Choice Decision (8 a.m.).

I scanned and emailed Honors College and Scholar Forms that were due today…

We discovered that two physical merit badges were missing…which led to an investigation of a possible need to take a trip to the (far away) Scout shop (we didn’t have to…)

I had an unfortunate issue relating to a job that caused the overturn of purse and backpack-

which then led

to me forgetting to put my wallet back in my purse (unknowingly)

while traversing to a piano lesson and then the store- where I proceeded to fill my cart with needed items for dinner and unknowingly- no wallet.

To which God provided miraculously through said purse (but not through my wallet) 

which was then located at home, safely placed, in the wrong purse.

To which, then, dinner was made – and a Scouting Uniform attended to-

and then the grand load up of kith and kin to attend Micah’s major milestone-

which involved traversing in two cars- for a reason which shall remain un-named-

forthwith- we all arrived in due time and crunched together in one small room-

Waiting the momentous event and enjoying cell phone pictures of a wee baby bunny and

a pool newly opened- from Pennsylvania family

to which we were the happy recipients of the next Troop 9 Eagle Scout and a long, hard journey completed-

which, hopefully, oldest son will always hold in his heart.

Because, he

chose Eagle.

It was an infamous, difficult, anxious, finally completed

day.

And this verse-

Isaiah 40:31 ESV; emphasis mine

31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like

EAGLES

they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

 

 

 

Easter 2018

Blessed Easter!!

Easter 2018 comprised of Easter “Love” Baskets stuffed with safe chocolates, sweets, and Empty Tombs.  My little one helped stuff some eggs with jelly beans and fruit gems. She helped me stuff them Saturday evening while listening to the Resurrection Eggs Devotional readings. What a darling, eager helper she is!

Special for this year- small chocolate eggs wrapped in foil from AmandasOwn– that were actually decorative when unwrapped- so pretty; a chocolate cross lollipop and our traditional lamb lollipop; Chocolates from No Whey

Tulips on the Table

Safe Treats from Aunt Nikki with Love

A Bowl full of Starburst jellybeans

Home-made Peanut Butter Cups

Rice Krispy Treats

Easter Dinner:

Ham

Mashed Potatoes

Special Green Beans

Tossed Salad

Applesauce in glass dishes

I took two separate lovely walks with dear ones. We spent a wonderful time around the four accounts of Jesus Resurrection this morning as a family. We enjoyed the bright glow of light for the last day or Lenten Lights after dinner- He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

And- the soundtrack of the classic Ben-Hur has played against the background of our afternoon and evening.

I do not have any good pictures to share from this day. I count myself blessed that I was able to be among my family and managed to fill  baskets full with love, joy, and chocolate. 🙂

I spent the whole week prior in quarantine in my room- and mostly in bed- with, I believe, Influenza B.

It was mild, as far as the flu goes, and true to B in adults. But, still days of fever and fatigue. It started on Sunday- with a terrible headache and fatigue- that I thought was merely exhaustion. I was wrong.

I am still weak- although stronger than yesterday. I was able to enjoy our Resurrection Egg tradition yesterday- and managed a very small walk outside with Joshua. I also took a nap. This illness exhausted me.

During my time “away”— alone in my room, (after the first two or three days down)  I was able to listen to podcasts and think. This was very good for my soul. I am percolating all the things I listened to and pondering.

So many things.

Today, there was birdsong, and golden light, and a pink, streaked sunset. There was my arm in his, and the fresh, chill air of early Spring.

There was a companionable walk with a teen son and our shared love of bird and skyscape.

There were brightly colored eggs and jelly beans. Yellow and White tulips. The Spring Green Tablecloth.

There was a “hatchamable” party- earlier in the day.  It took awhile to “hatch” those toys from Ama and Grandad- and it took a lot of love, too.

It was simple, and it was good. And, I still feel like I am recovering… and not quite all the way back. All in all, I am grateful- and ready for bed again!

A Poem for Easter:

Easter Wings by George Herbert

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
                  Till he became
                        Most poore:
                        With thee
                  O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
My tender age in sorrow did beginne
      And still with sicknesses and shame.
            Thou didst so punish sinne,
                  That I became
                        Most thinne.
                        With thee
                  Let me combine,
            And feel thy victorie:
         For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

Happy Easter, friends!!!

~Rebecca

 

She’s Five

My darling turned five today (3.8) and this post is for her, not for me, although I so desperately want to write the post that is for me- the one that reflects on the reality of leaving the preschool years behind (for now… what hopeful words those are….for now) and the heart full and mind overwhelming stage I find myself in. How is it that you can look back on your own self with such nostalgia? But I do.

But for her… this day…

 

was full of three, small chirping girlies….

-and there was one who struggled a bit to find happiness in her sister’s special day. After a personal struggle, she managed to turn it around- I am grateful to say- and it is noteworthy- because said girl recognized it, reflected on it, and remarked on her turn-around later (during the cookie party).  She chose what was good. I am so glad.

 

It was full of a slow, unfolding delight.

 

Special Breakfast: Cinnamon Roll Biscuits, Scrambled Eggs, Berries

 

Birthday song and Pictures

 

Her choice of hymn: Go Tell It On The Mountain

A stab at a birthday poem: we settled for Now We Are Six.

It wasn’t quite …but we made do.

A blessing.

 

A birthday gift (or two)

 

Long hours at play

 

The start of a new chapter book at rest time- and what SOLID delight to begin Misty of Chincoteague!

 

A whirlwind spin outside in the cold (for them, not me)

 

Everyone- all of us (minus Todd) home all. day.  All day.  I don’t think I fully realized this until now, and I certainly didn’t make the most of this. But, now, in this moment- I realize.

 

A drive out to Boy Scouts and four I love playing “I Spy” all the way home…

 

Her dinner: Hot dogs and rolls, chips, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, special sauce, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Lemonade.

 

A bubble bath (with jets that somehow ramped the experience up to the best day of the whole year! and rocketed me into best Mommy position!)

 

Tiny painted toes

 

A Cookie Celebration Party and Lemonade in blue polka dot tea cups

 

The Promise of a Family Party on Sunday with Gifts, and Cake, and Pizza, and Popcorn.

 

Elenorah.

 

She’s Five.

 

 

 

Mentoring Mondays: Mission of Motherhood Chapter 4 Part 2

So, I lost my book for awhile…well, more than awhile.  And that is just like me in this season…that has spanned these many years. But thankfully! in the midst of Thanksgiving clean-up, it was rediscovered and I am back.  (and now it’s February! But I am on it! 🙂 ) 

This is Part 2 of Chapter 4 from Mission of Motherhood: The Servant Mother

And yet somewhere, over the years, the Lord convicted me that the future was not where real life began. Each day was God’s perfect will for me. There would be no wasted years of “just taking care of the needs of my young children.” (page 68)

O! This spoke to me! As I stand on the cusp of my first graduation, and I look down many years of my mothering journey behind and before, these words are for my very heart this day and this season.  Each day is God’s perfect will for me. Each day, making juice cups, and brushing hair, eyeing college applications and emails, and supervising online classes, teaching grammar and writing, and science, and Bible. Talking with teens and tucking in littles. O, that this would sink deep in my heart and that I would do better!

For thought and reflection:

These are the four Scriptures offered at the end of this chapter:

Matthew 20:25-28 English Standard Version (ESV)

25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[a] 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,[b] 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

John 15:12-13 English Standard Version (ESV)

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Philippians 2:14-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Luke 1:38 English Standard Version (ESV)

38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[a] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

 

Passage 2 and passage 4 are the ones that resound most strongly for my heart at this time. John 15:12-13 is a motivating call toward ministry flowing out of love. It delights my heart and fills my soul to know that I know Jesus more intimately when I walk with Him (as He walked in ministry) with my precious family. I know the power of His life laying down for me, when I live likewise. I know Him in His love poured out, as I pour out in Him.  Luke 1:38 speaks to my heart of surrender and it has been a passage that has been close to me through many years of child-bearing. Sally speaks of reflecting about what it cost Mary throughout her life to respond in this manner to the Holy Spirit. “What did it cost Mary throughout her life to be available to God?” (page 76)  This is timely for me as the surrender is costing me in new and different ways in this season. My focus is wrong if I am expecting or thinking that leisure and ease are to be mine. The precious blessing is in giving up my rights and this is a surrender that occurs again and again. The truth is, the intimacy and fulfillment in God are far greater and more satisfying than anything the world can offer- and Mary walked in that reality when she surrendered. May that reality be mine, too. As seasons change, and child-bearing ends, it is timely for me to remember that this godly heart response can be and is still mine.

May Jesus draw you close, precious Mamas. May your week be full of grace. May you know what it is to be precious and cherished as you prize the ones in your care,

~Rebecca

 

Mentoring Mondays: Mission of Motherhood Chapter 4 Part 1

All quotations taken from 2003; Waterbrook Press

Chapter 4: The Servant Mother

This chapter is so very convicting for me and I know I need to renew my mind to serve with joy and for Jesus.  This is such a timely chapter for me as I stand at the forefront of a new school year, and the many opportunities for service are truly unending.

(Note #1:  We are now about half-way through the school year and I refresh myself in these notes I have written here… as I face the start of a brand new week- which will hold many opportunities to serve and witness Jesus through that service, I renew my mind in the Lord!)

Note #2: I have to take breaks. You might have to, also. Pace yourself Mama. Tend to yourself, too.

I recently read a friend’s post on Facebook -and she said- in reference to homeschooling her large family- “…I’m giving it my all. All for You.”  What a witness this caused in my soul. May this be the cry of my heart, too, and the overflow of my life.

As I have grown through the last eighteen years of  motherhood, however, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of the many thousands or routine moments in a mother’s life, for it is in these moments that real greatness tends to be caught and taught. It is certainly important to grasp the great calling of motherhood and respond to a vision for what a family can be. But it’s the way I respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me the best chance of winning their hearts.  If I have integrity and patience in the small moments of life that are so important to my children, and if I approach them with a servant’s heart, I have a far better chance of influencing them in the larger and more critical issues of life.  page 63

This chapter was encouraging, convicting, and renewing for me. I am in a similar season of life that Sally was in as she was writing this book. Her oldest was eighteen and her youngest- 6. My oldest is seventeen and my youngest- 4.5. It was sweet to read something so relatable. I especially felt this when I read the story about her son who was in search of a last minute shirt/uniform for an evening event. O, yes. I need to see these situations as opportunities. I know that Sally Clarkson has been faithful in this area in her family and I also know that her ability in this area has come from her relationship with the Lord. He fills her and then she has something to pour out.  I have always treasured an understanding that the heart of my children is precious and the heart is the landscape where I want to dwell and walk in love.

Attitude, I have found makes all the difference when it comes to serving our children. Serving with joy in the midst of messes and difficulty can only be done when we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we are joyful and see each minute with our children as an opportunity to worship God through our service of him, our children sense our joy and feel secure and happy. page 72

I do not serve with joy. I struggle to serve. I am not a doer by nature. I marvel at those who are so efficient and task oriented. I have been also been blessed by the work of such ones’ hands. I find I do best when I cast a vision for myself and my home. I am able to serve more fully and with greater joy when I infuse the tasks with meaning and beauty.

At the same time, we mothers need to recognize what a powerful effect our attitude has on our children. Laying down our lives for them can indeed mean giving up, for their sakes, our right to wallow in our negative feelings. And choosing the path of servant leadership certainly means making the effort to respond in faith to our circumstances and feelings, turning to the Lord for help in maintaining a hopeful attitude. The beauty of such an effort, of course, is that it has the power to lift us up even as it sustains our children’s spirits. page 73

Serving for beauty and for joy does elevate the tasks with meaning and hope for me, which in turn, lifts my spirits and countenance. I do not take joy just from doing.

As a homeschooling mother, I have many, many daily opportunities to serve with joy and gladness. I also have many, many opportunities for my children to encounter my weakness and frailty. I experience His grace in and through it all. I need to reset myself for service.

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

I can only know this joy by knowing Him.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12: 12-14 ESV

I find my best self when I find myself in Him. In order for me to be the servant leader the Lord has called me to be, I must refresh my soul in Him. This is the main focus I am pondering from Chapter 4.

What about you?

All my love,

Rebecca