As way leads on to way (Robert Frost)

Blog of my heart (and dear, welcomed reader), I am here. Committed more than ever to write. O, the quiet moments with hot drink beside and writing my way to peace.

I have a jumble of posts in mind and in drafts… and so much longing to … is it eke out? or unleash? or scribe? or scratch down? I don’t know. So much longing to gather myself to post.

So I begin with some poetry and the way connections can ignite learning. And the gentle way Morning Meeting leads us:

We recently had the wonderful experience of learning new vocabulary words in a vivid and personal way: alms and almoner. (and I thought I knew what these words meant… but it took an inquisitive question from a child to fully unveil meanings)  It all started like this:

We read this poem for October by Longfellow:

Autumn

Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o’er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven’s o’erhanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer’s prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

(And O! we were heralded by the rain! Incessant rain. Unending rain. So much rain, the color came late and felt so sparse.

And the greatest riches found in these delicious words- both the poem above and the poem below. Richness, Color, Life. Gentle, un-pressured reading of the beautiful words is life-giving.)

Then a little while later, through a happy circumstance, I happened upon this:

ALMS IN AUTUMN

Spindle-wood, spindle-wood, will you lend me, pray,
A little flaming lantern to guide me on my way?
The fairies all have vanished from the meadow and the glen,
And I would fain go seeking till I find them once again.
Lend me now a lantern that I may bear a light
To find the hidden pathway in the darkness of the night.

Ash-tree, ash-tree, throw me, if you please,
Throw me down a slender branch of russet-gold keys.
I fear the gates of Fairyland may all be shut so fast
That nothing but your magic keys will ever take me past.
I’ll tie them to my girdle, and as I go along
My heart will find a comfort in the tinkle of their song.

Holly-bush, holly-bush, help me in my task,
A pocketful of berries is all the alms I ask :
A pocketful of berries to thread in golden strands
(I would not go a-visiting with nothing in my hands).
So fine will be the rosy chains, so gay, so glossy bright,
They’ll set the realms of Fairyland all dancing with delight.

ROSE FYLEMAN

 

My young son asked: what is an alm? And so we did a little research and discovered: alms are charity, money, or food given to the needy; gifts given to relieve the poor

and this led to the exploration of almoner: the official chaplain or church officer who distributes the gifts to the poor; also a prince can have an almoner.

And both these poems suddenly came vividly alive to us. And with that wild leap of connection that poetry offers: we are realizing- the wind is our almoner; the alms of autumn are for us:

The wind- scattering the golden leaves to us- the needy ones.

The Alms of Autumn: pocketful of russet berries (and so much more)

(O, how the beauty of Autumn is an alm for the needy heart- and o!the wind as almoner.)

And so– way leads on to way. The poetry way. The most gentle, rich, and textured way to learn poetry is simply to read it every day. I find nuanced meanings become clearer and clearer- writing themselves on mind and heart- until they become a treasure trove of mind and heart… (how we all spout out: O wind a- blowing all day long! O wind who sings so loud a song! on a blustery windy day- just because we spent slow time in those rhythmic words)

Blessings on your school year,

Rebecca

 

 

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

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

A Panagram- by Micah

Today, I was preparing to write this blog post- feeling in my heart that it was time to share a link to some of Micah’s creative writing. Then discovered later today that he won four regional awards for four writing pieces in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. It is fitting indeed. 

Micah has been taking Creative Writing through The Potter’s School this year. It has been a wonderful “capstone” class for his senior year; one that he has thoroughly enjoyed and has helped sharpen his abilities.

Throughout the course, students build a blog to showcase their work and interact with their classmates. They submit assignments through their study place account and also post them on their blogs.

I have often pondered sharing a link or two-

but today, I was delighted to read one of his latest assignments- A Panagram.

And so, I would like to share this piece here via a link (with his permission) to his own personal writing space.

~Rebecca

The School that Started It All

This came yesterday, January 24, 2018.

0124180924a

This is the school that started it all. The journey to AP classes. The full-hearted, full-on, all in, test prep. The school that planted a seed of hope for what the next step of Micah’s life could look like.

We do not know if this is the end point, but this is a landmark, a monument, a remembrance stone.

This is (at this time) his first choice.

When we stared down the tunnel of college applications/admittance last year (winter 2017), we were fully aware that he might not get in to this school. But, like a flame of golden light, we lit up with hope at the thought of a rigorous school where intellectual inquiry was valued and he could have the satisfaction of interacting with classmates who were serious about learning; the joy of a robust, intellectual environment- with a cohort of like-minded students. There was/is this emphasis on… the pursuit of the good, the true, and the beautiful.

I heard about Hillsdale because a young couple at our church went there (met there and later married) and I was impressed by their intellectual and spiritual vigor; much as I was impressed by a couple from Grove City I also met at church.

I received very good advice from a trusted academic friend who told me to call the Admissions Office (when I had a question about a particular course requirement for senior year.)  When I called, they said they screen applicants carefully for aptitude and ability to succeed in their rigorous classes.(it wasn’t necessarily about whether he had physics on his transcript or not.)

Thus, began a true journey- for him and for me.

And…  now-

he got in. 

The beacon ever before us; the light ahead of him… helping him to press on and press in.

I know, regardless of whether Hillsdale is the final destination of this part of his journey, and the next step for the next one…

he will say: it was all worth it.

Yes. It is and it was.

Homeschool to College. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry, merry Christmas!

I have learned this week- the week between Christmas and New Year’s is one of my favorites of the whole year. It is a slowing time, a pondering time, a time to reassess, recommit, reorganize, re-prioritize. It a blessed reprieve after the week before Christmas, which is one of my hardest weeks of the year. I am thinking long and hard this week.  I am filling a notebook with every random thought- in order to put it on paper where it can then be managed.

I am pondering my focus for Offerings in 2018. I have Mission of Motherhood posts to share, and I am committed more than ever to completing my study and sharing posts.

I am seeking the Lord because I need Him to release my {writing} voice. A tight strained hush has constrained me.

This space has always been an “ebenezer”… a space where I mark the Presence of God in my life and acknowledge my Journey in and with Him. It is also the space where I redeem the moments in my family- which is His grace gift to me (both the family and the space.)

It is still so, and I need it more than ever.

I have a post on 66books that published Christmas Day. You can find it here: 

With all the changes a fledging son brings, as I move fully into a season where all children are school age, as a face a new physical season where I require more personal tending and care, I want to stay in tune, present, aware, observant, and real “in this space.”

I am tossing around words like: tend, invest, renew as my One Word for 2018. I don’t think I have shared much in this space about such an endeavor. In the past, I have chosen Nourish and Freedom. Reading at the site I linked helps, I just discovered. I am still pondering.

It is still just a few days past the celebration of Christ’s birth…and the days are holy.

I am cupping these precious, newborn days. And, in minutes here and there, reflecting toward the New Year.

Love and Grace.

~Rebecca

On the start of this New Year 2017

This year’s notebooks- mine included, all loaded and ready to go for Monday.

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I am starting my 13th year of homeschooling.  I am starting my first senior year. I began when my darling(now seventeen) was four and his eager, precocious mind will forever be bound with mine as I cherish the memories of wonder and everything new. We are knit together in stories, in words, in love, in life. It has been a journey we all take together. I am grateful.

 

This year, more than any other, I find myself apprehensive. I am finding myself purposefully having to turn my heart and mind. I am finding myself full on in a season I could have never predicted or understood. Just like every season, really- as I recollect.

 

The world is spinning and I am spinning with it. Forever. Unending.

 

I find myself crying. I find myself choked. I find myself stretching out and breathing in the boundary places the Lord has established for me. I find myself rising up, determining to keep living priorities of my heart.

 

No one could have/can prepare me for the college applications, the classes, the world expanding life of these years. No one could have prepared me for letting go. Is it easier because there is still so much life in this home to nurture, to educate, to raise? To disciple, to influence, to mentor? To build traditions, to strew beauty, to love? No. It is not easier. It is one hard, each day daily walk.

 

And as I let my heart expose and as I reckon all the feels-

I know the only place for me is in Him. Forever stable. Forever refuge. Forever known and to know. All the riches and treasures of life. In Him. No matter the season. No matter the year. No matter the day at hand.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Psalm 16:5-8 NIV

This year, I have been confronted with a life outside my own in new ways. I have seen the visual of a calling other than mine. And it takes a lot of will to turn my gaze back at the messy beautiful that is mine. And breathe deep. Embrace.

 

This year, I need a fresh infusion of vision and a single-eyed determination.

 

As I struggle with the weight of all my life, I need the wherewithal to be still and small at the Lord’s feet.

 

Homeschool Mama, be with me as we step into this new year?

It helps to know I’m not alone.

 

How are you feeling at the start of this new year?

-Rebecca