Friday, 30 March 2012

but god, i can't wait

We live in a culture of instant gratification. From 24-hour supermarkets to fast food restaurants to credit cards, our culture knows what it wants, and it wants it now. We get frustrated when we walk into a Walmart and they don't have butter, and if our order tarries longer than five minutes, we get mad and probably launch a few choice insults toward the management and staff of the McDonalds. Wherever we are, whatever we're doing, we don't want to wait.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:31
For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength... - Isaiah 30:15
I chose to focus on two verses this week, mostly because I can't ever pick one favorite. But the former has been on my heart a lot lately, and in my quest for something to explain exactly what 'wait' means, I came upon the latter. I think it's a pretty good definition.

I have trouble waiting, with being patient, with sitting back and watching God work. There are times where I'm pretty good at it (and I've gotten better over the years): where I can sit by and let God take the wheel. But then, inevitably, I remember that my deadline is coming up, or I'm going to miss something important. And, like always, I try to wrest control away from God. I try to tell him that I can totally handle it way better than he can and, anyway, I know all the circumstances better than he does, so he should really just step aside before he gets hurt.

Of course, I don't phrase it that way in my head. But that's pretty much what I say.

I'm sure we all have times like that--when it seems our entire world is falling apart around our ears, and the temptation to reach out and take back our lives from God is overwhelming. I can do it, we think, and God'll still be helping me. Yeah, he won't really be driving, but...

God wants us to wait on him. When we're trying to take control from him, when we're stressing about all the little minutiae of our lives, we run out of strength. We get stretched past the point of endurance, until we're suddenly standing in the middle of a wrecked life and think, wait, how'd that happen? When things are at their worst, he wants us to turn and run back to him. He wants us to rest in him, to throw ourselves into his exorbitant, absolutely mad love and just stay. Be quiet. Have confidence.

His strength is enough for both of us.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Though the Fields are Dry...

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines...

...the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls...

... yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
     I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
 God, the Lord, is my strength;
     he makes my feet like the deer's;
    he makes me tread on my high places."

Habakkuk 3:17-19

When I was younger, someone blessed me by showing me this beautiful verse. Ever since then I have loved to read it over and over again.
We will admit that there are times when we feel as if everything around us is dry and fading... when life seems so complicated, or when pain fills our hearts. There are the seasons of sorrow, and questions fill our mind, asking the Lord why He is allowing this to happen...

I know that there have been several of these seasons in my life recently, and through them the Lord is drawing me closer to Him. That is the blessed joy of those hard times... we come to learn that we cannot supply enough strength to press on. We are weak. We are weary. We are empty.
But the Lord is powerful. Mighty to save. Our fortress and joy.

Suffering is a tool that draws us to our knees, bringing us to the truth that we cannot do it on our own. The Lord is offering His strength, His joy, His love. All we have to do is accept it.
He will fill our hearts with His eternal joy, but only when we stop relying on ourselves, and begin to delight in who He is.

Our contentment should not be placed on things of this world, but on our holy and imperishable eternal home, where the King of glory sits upon His throne. He allows us to go throw these seasons to refocus our hearts on Him.

So, though the fields may be dry, the seasons painful, or the heart heavy, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. I will delight in who He is, in that He uses all things for my good and His glory, and in that He will give me His strength to live for Him. I will do these things through His power alone, for I know that I am sinful and will falter. But He is always there to pick me up, to shield me in His arms.

"Draw me closer to You, oh Lord... use what You know will humble me and fix my heart on You...
I will rejoice in You alone!"


Monday, 26 March 2012

Courage Through HIS Strength!

You are sitting in the car driving with a parent toward your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).  Your heart is pumping ten times faster than its normal rate and therefore your breathing is faster as well.  When your hands lift off the steering wheel you can visibly see them shake, so you quick grab the steering wheel in a different position and then realize that you are gripping the wheel so hard, that your knuckles are white......
rita by meghannash
rita, a photo by meghannash on Flickr.

That was me December of 2008.  I had turned 18 a few months earlier and knew that it was time to get my license.  I felt comfortable with my driving, but I was nervous about the written test (What random questions would they ask and I wouldn't know them?) and the thought of driving with a police officer watching my every move was just a little (greatly) nerve wracking to me.

With all these emotions swirling around, I tried to reason with myself.  "Millions of people have taken this test and survived-this is not a life or death situation.  In the grand scheme of things, this is so small.  What is the worst that could happen?  I could fail and have to take the test again at a later date.  Not a big deal."  But my reasoning was not stopping those butterflies from square dancing in my stomach!!

If there are any kindred spirits out there, you know what I am talking about!  Being a person on the shy side, this was hard!!!

Dad and I pulled into the parking lot, parked the car and then he reached over, took my hand and prayed with me.  As he prayed, the verse Philippians 4:13 came to mind, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  And I knew right then, that God had given me that verse to help me through the next hour.  "I can do all things through Christ" played through my mind over and over and over again like a broken record.

I knew God was in control and had a reason for anything that happened that day.  I could do anything with God's strength and that was what I clung to as I circled the answers to the questions, talked with the officer, drove with him and parked back in the parking lot.

God's promises are there for us to claim and take hold of.  His Word will not return void, but full and overflowing.

Our goal over the next two weeks will be to share with you our favorite verse(s) or verse(s) that have helped us through different times in our lives.  I don't have a favorite verse, as so many of them have rung true, brought comfort and courage, and been so special through different situations I've dealt with.  However Philippians 4:13 was truly a verse that held me above the fear that was trying to bring me down and it encouraged me to trust HIM!

Oh, and for the record, God helped me to "do all things" with flying colors.  Both the written and driving test were passed on the first try! =)  God is good!

Friday, 23 March 2012

My Answer to the Inevitable Question

Questioned Proposal by Eleaf
I've worked so hard to answer this question without any success that I've finally put it on the backburner. For years I struggled and stressed whenever I thought, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" I took personality tests, examined lists and lists of possible careers (calculating salary, location, and opportunity for advancement),  and sought advice from loved ones. I prayed until I was tired of praying, I researched until my eyes watered. And through it all there was never an Aha! moment when my future unfolded before my eyes and everything was made clear. There was a time when I was fairly sure that I wanted to be a teacher (you can hear all about it on video 1 and 2 of my high school graduation speech, or read the transcript here), but with further knowledge that dream is slipping by the wayside, or going through some serious modifications.

So here's another question: do we have to have it all figured out? Must we know at age 15, or 17, or even 20 what we want to do with the rest of our lives, as long as the next few steps are decided? My answer is, yes and no.

Yes: It's important to plan ahead; if you don't have something of a road map then you have no idea where you're going! It pains me to see some of my friends and acquaintances drift through life without any concrete goals, just vague ambitions and hopings for the best. I don't want to be flipping burgers at McDonald's when I'm 30, I'm going to make some plans.

No: If my diligent (not to say manic) research of possible career paths has taught me nothing else, it has made me realize that there are so many possibilities! Our world is one of absolutely unlimited potential. I listen to several podcasts on a regular basis which I would recommend to anyone who doubts that it's possible to find creative work that matters and that you love48 Days, No More Mondays, Free Agent Underground, and Coach Radio. The hosts of these shows are inspiring, revolutionary, and are constantly giving me great ideas.

But they aren't giving me a roadmap, and that's what I think so many of us want. We want God to hand down the script from Heaven and say, "Here, my child, these are the plans I have for you." Unfortunately, that doesn't happen.

What has happened, for me at least, is that I've been given inspiration for the next few steps of my journey. I started taking CLEP and DANTES tests a few years ago to earn credits for a college degree (you can learn how I earned over 84 credit hours without stepping foot in a college here). Then I enrolled in Thomas Edison State College, a fantastic (fully-accredited) school that will accept bucket-loads of transferred credits. Now I'm on track to complete my bachelor's degree in English by November of this year. What am I going to do with that degree? It's hard to say. I've tried to study in my strengths (you'll notice I didn't major in basket-weaving or algebra), because I figure that whatever my future career looks like, it's going to involve writing, and a lot of it. I also have plans to go to Bible school for several months in England, and I'm super-excited about that!

In the end, it's all a delicate balance between two proverbs,

 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6).
"Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. (Proverbs 4:26).

What about you? Are your next steps clear?

Questioned Proposal, a photo by Eleaf on Flickr.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Wherever the Cross Takes Me...

This is Altogether Separate's fortieth post. Forty is an interesting number. It rained over all the earth for forty days and nights. God led the Israelites through the wilderness forty years.  Jesus was on the mountain forty days and nights, tempted by Satan. A child is in the womb forty weeks...

But I digress.

Now, on to our regularly scheduled post.

As children, my friends' future careers changed on almost a weekly basis. Most of them still have no idea what they're ultimately going to do with their lives, and they rub their temples as they choose a major and pray for God's guidance on the road ahead.

I was always the odd one. I career-swapped a number of times in my early school days (though always pursuing similar fields), but well before middle school my love of animals and fascination with science fused into a steadfast pursuit of veterinary medicine.

My interest and utter enthusiasm in that area never waned (and if you find yourself particularly bored today or taking a curious fascination to strangers' childhoods you can read an essay about my peculiar and nerdy one), but as I grew older I began to wonder if doctoring animals was really what God wanted me to do with my life. After all, shouldn't I dedicate my blink-of-an-eye time on earth to serving people? Was this a God-given desire, or one to test me to see how much I was willing to sacrifice to follow Him?

It was during that time I learned of veterinary missionaries—veterinarians who abandon the comfort of their former lives to practice in less fortunate regions of the world, caring for the animals the native people rely upon for food, transportation, and income; educating them to increase the longevity of their livestock and equipping local veterinarians; and often ministering to the people in more conventional ways by distributing Bibles and helping churches and teaching English.

I came to realize there are at least as many ways to serve God as there are people to serve Him, and it was entirely possible I could serve through the veterinary field. Regardless of where life took me—overseas or here at home—I would be shining the Light He put in me by enabling me to live a holy life, and I would be fulfilling a necessary occupation in the world.

And what if this isn't what God wants? What if He wants me to marry and have children instead?

I suspect there is a good chance I am called to serve as a single woman (although honestly at this point I have no idea), but if I am to serve God by serving a husband, I will gladly devote my life to ministering to him and educating my children. If the latter, the knowledge and skills acquired in my time of singleness will probably help me in the future in ways I can't conceive of.

But the important thing is that I am content with God's plan, and I will carry my cross and follow Him wherever He may lead.

[By the way, I'm pretty sure I got all the facts right in the first paragraph, but I have the horrible habit of second-guessing myself and I don't have the time to double-check right now. So if I got anything wrong please let me know. =P]

Image credit GabrielaP93 on Flickr.

Monday, 19 March 2012

A College Crossroads

It is hard when we come to crossroads in life.  All of a sudden, we find ourselves faced with making big decisions that will determine the direction of our life...

A crossroads everyone comes to sooner or later is one 7 lettered word: college.
Sometimes it is a little overwhelming to think about life after high school graduation!

crossroads by Laenulfean
crossroads, a photo by Laenulfean on Flickr.
For me, it is mainly because I have so many is hard to know what to major in.
I want to  ...write a novel  So should I focus on English? starving orphans in Africa
Do I become a teacher?  ...act in plays  Turn my attention to drama?  ...make a difference in the abortion statistics.  Be an ultra sound tech at our pregnancy center then?

These questions go back and forth in my mind like a ping-pong ball.

With crossroads like college we find ourselves meditating on exactly which path to go down.
We ask ourselves which one could be the right one?  If I do choose one, would it be a step in the wrong direction?  We naturally want answers to these questions.

Basically, the first step to planning our future is seeking God's will for our life and any dreams we may have.  After all, He knows our hearts.  Chances are if they line up with the Word, then He planted them in our hearts to start with.  We need to be asking Him what path He wants us to take, whether it be going to a university, community college or taking online courses!

I encourage you to pray about which path God wants you to take...He cares about our future!  

Friday, 16 March 2012

whatever are you going to do with your life?

I'm a senior in highschool. This brings up a lot of questions about the future, mostly from other people directed to me (not that I don't have questions myself, but I tend to not give them as much thought as other people do to the ones they give me). Top of the list are "So when are you gonna find a guy? *wink*" and "Where are you going to go to college?"

To the first, I usually just laugh and mumble something about waiting on God's timing (actually, I just can't find an old enough guy who'll have me, but I digress). To the second, I usually shock people. My answer isn't exactly the standard one, mostly because I don't jot out a name or even act properly conflicted about my future choices. In fact, by the standards of most people, I'm pretty sure about the whole thing. Except, still, they don't really like my answer.

My answer usually goes along the lines of, "I'm not going to college right off the bat, we'll see what God does, kthxbai." This, naturally, can worry some people, especially those who find it their duty to worry about other people's lives way more than said people do. Invariably, the person I'm talking acts as if I've committed some grievous error and goes out of their way to convince me that I do, in fact, need a college education.

I'm hoping there are some of you out there who can identify with this plight. We get questions, answer them honestly, and then are told (usually with a pat on the back and a little smile) that we're young and so very smart and we should totally go to college so we can get a good job. Even after one gives the most convincing arguments for why college really isn't necessary--the cost, the high unemployment rate among college graduates, the depravity that usually goes on, and the Mrs-degree-oriented Bible school atmosphere--people still carry on, usually by asking "Well then, what are you going to do with your life?"

My answer usually is, "I'm going to be a missionary with a side of political action and a healthy dose of motherhood." And here is where the real kicker comes in. With a look of confusion and an expression of pure woe, they ask, "So you're going to Bible college?"

I'm not.
So stop asking.

Okay, so I don't actually say that. But I think it. A lot. So let me just dispel one myth before I stop talking. You don't need a degree to serve God. You don't need to spend $40,000 and four of the best years of your life to serve God. You don't need to get a fancy piece of paper and a bunch of lectures unrelated to your future life to serve God. God doesn't care about those things. When looking for someone to serve him, he doesn't look for what humanity views as the most qualified or the most learned. As the Bible says, he uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.

He picks a shepherd boy and a kid from the most dysfunctional family imaginable. He picks a prince-turned-slave. He picked a tax collector. He picked a temple prostitute. He used a murdering Pharisee.

Most of these people didn't have a college degree. Some of them didn't even know how to read. They were simple folk, people who had been radically changed by an Almighty God. That was all they needed, and it's all we need as well. College can be helpful, yes. It can teach you things that are necessary if you want to be a physicist or a doctor. But don't think that just because you want to serve God, you have to go to college. Because that's a lie.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A Controversy

The bloggirls here at Altogether Separate recently posted a review and hosted a giveaway of Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. A couple of us were in the middle of reading it and really loved what we were getting: encouragement, wisdom, and beautiful writing.

However, it has come to our attention that this book is actually rather controversial, and in the interest of our readers we wanted to make sure all of you knew that we were featuring this book in a good light because of the points emphasized in this post: seeing beauty in even the most mundane and painful of circumstances, praising God every day, living in the fullness of joy.

Ann's writing is ambiguous in many places, and has been interpreted by some as panentheistic (for more on this, you can read this in-depth examination of the book); the romanticism and sensual terms that Ann uses to describe her relationship with God are offensive to some.

Every popular author is going to have his/her naysayers, and in a work that puts forth some theological views there is bound to be a lot of discussion in Christian circles, on both sides of the issue. If you are a new Christian, or if you have not had much experience in reading the scriptures or studying apologetics, then it may be best for you to steer clear of this book entirely.

For all of the theologically questionable bits in OTG, there are some wonderful messages (for one writer's commentary, see this article), but here is a question that we should all consider: how can we discern spiritual truth when there are so many sides to so many issues? I have heard great praise for OTG from sources I know and trust, and yet there are also articles and blogs which say potential readers should "run for their lives."

How do you decide which books to read, which movies to watch, which sources to trust? How can you know when to keep the baby and throw out the bathwater, and when to stay away from something altogether? 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

When I grow up...

I want to be

a ballerina

a teacher

a writer

a nurse

the list can go on...

Pinned Image

As a child, "growing up" seemed so far away, that you could change your mind over and over again on what you wanted to do when you were older. Yet, now you may find yourself about to face the question of what to pursue after you graduate, and the answer doesn't come as quickly!

There are so many different views on what a young lady should do once she graduates, so I would like to share of my thoughts...

Before the decision is even made, you must turn your heart to the Lord and strive to understand what He desires... what plans would glorify Him as Devin recently shared.

Each person is different... the Lord gives us all different callings... and only when we obey Him can we find true joy.
My deepest desire is to be a homemaker, mother, and wife. Homemaking is a Godly desire and one to be treasured. Yet, does that mean that once I graduate I am just going to wait for my prince charming to come and sweep me off my feet? Well, though this may be the Lord's will for some, I have the conviction that while the Lord has me single, I want to be useful for Him. During these years of waiting, I want to prepare my heart as well as my mind for what the Lord may have planned for my future.
If it is the Lord's will that I marry, I would like to have certain skills mastered so that I may use them as a tool to bless my husband. They may be such skills that I need to take college courses to accomplish them, or they may be skills that I can gain through other areas, but still, I feel as though that I need to be sharpening my mind for God's glory.

For example, I love praising the Lord in song and He has blessed me with the ability to play a few instruments.While praying about and pondering what I should do after I graduate, the thought has struck me that I should pursue my study of music, that way I can give music lessons in the future. That may be a blessing to my husband, helping him and seeking to bless our family, and a tool to glorify the Lord.
These are simply thoughts... ponderings... which fill my mind as I pray about this season of change. {Which for me is about a year away}

I do believe that the Creator has made man to be the breadwinner, and the wife to support her husband. Sadly, our generation tries to switch these God- given roles, which results in chaos and heart ache.
Only when we embrace God's design for us as woman can we truly be content.
Thus, I have the conviction to not desire a life career. Indeed, this is a conviction, one that I feel upon my heart, yet I do not judge those who feel otherwise!

Therefore, like I have previously shared, your decision regarding college/ higher education truly depends on what the Lord has convicted you about... what choice would enable you to glorify the Lord more?

So, though I have no immediate plans... I am trusting in the Lord, waiting for His wonderful plan for my future to unfold, and lifting up this matter to Him. Prayer is of utmost importance in any decision!
He knows thethoughts and desires of my heart.... yet I must be willing to submit to whatever His will is.

May we trust in the Lord with all of our heart, leaning not on our own understanding... in all areas of our life.


Monday, 12 March 2012

Life Purpose Planning

Online College?
CLEP Studies?
No College?
Do I need a college degree to fulfill God's desire for my life?
What is God's desire for my life?
Am I pursuing God's desire's or the worlds?
What is my God given life purpose?
Am I living a vibrant, set-on-fire for Christ life?
What in my innermost being do I love so much that I want to spend the rest of my life doing?
Do I have plans and goals set in place to accomplish and fulfill my life purpose?

When you read the above questions, did they fill you with dread because the answers are elusive to you, or did they fill you with excitement because you could answer them?

As the time for my graduation drew near these questions (and so many others) were flying and whizzing around in my head constantly and I didn't have an answer to any of them.

As I look back over four years since that day of graduation, I can see how God has taught me many things and I'm glad that I waited on Him for direction rather that plowing ahead in my impatience and fustration at not knowing what to do.  As I mentioned above, I didn't have the answers to all the questions when I graduated.  I wanted to have them, but they weren't there.  I learned that sometimes God just needs us to prepare our fields (lives) in faith, trusting that He will bring the rain (purpose).  And He did, just not in ways I would ever have expected.

If I could give one piece of advice to each young person preparing for graduation or planning their future, I would tell them to seek God and His direction and to ask yourselves, "Am I planning or pursuing something because God desires it of me or am I doing it because the world expects me to?"

I would also suggest a very special tool that I wish I had known about earlier in life.  This tool helps you to find your life purpose and helps you prepare for your journey to fulfilling it.

The Tool:  "Life Purpose Planning Workbook" by Dewey Novotny.

If you have never heard of this book I would highly recommend visiting their website  Our family listened to two seminars by Mr. Novotny on Embassy Institute  (I wrote about Embassy on my personal blog) about a month and a half ago and soon after ordered the book.  We have just recently started working on it, but it has bee great!

The book encourages you to get your focus on God and find out what gifts, interests, traits, personality and circumstances He has given you to fulfill the purpose He made you for.

It helps teaches you how to become a better:
1. Person (a disciple)  "Living in uninterrupted fellowship with God and showing genuine love to others."
2. Provider (a servant) "Combining skill and vision to meet the needs of those whom God has called me to serve."
3. Proclaimer (a communicator) "Communicating Biblical truth to fulfill the Great Commission and live out a vital life message."
4. Partner (a teamate) "Honoring the marriage covenant in all my relationships."
5. Parent (a discipler) " Training those God entrusts to my care and rasing up many Godly generations."

For most of us the Partner and Parent title doesn't apply to us, but if we view those roles from the perspective of teamate and discipler then they do apply. 

This book helps you to find out what people group(s) God designed you to serve.  What ministries He can use you mightily in and so much more.

As I said above, our family just recently found this book and started working on it, (It's key that your parents be involved with this planning) and it's going on four years since I've graduated! So this book is fantastic for any age - even my parents want to do if for themselves =)

Finding the purpose to why God created you is key to unlocking the door to a vibrant, God filled, future.  There may be many doors in the future that you will have to find the right key to get through, but having a peace in knowing your life purpose will point you in the right direction.

Is this book a fix-all, find-all? No, the book itself will not point you in the right direction, but much prayer, direction from God and wisdom from your parents will help you find that special and unique key to your life purpose

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Shocking Truth About Family

32 by Fidenaut
What's one of the worst things about homeschooling? You have to spend all day with your family. What's one of the best things about homeschooling? You have to spend all day with your family. 

Here's one of the biggest lies that our culture is telling families today: adults and teenagers don't mix. Teens, preteens, tweensthey all think they're cooler than their parents, and parents don't want to spend time with a bunch of immature jerks.'s best if the kids are shipped off to school every morning (preferably after Dad's already scooted out to the office) so that they can spend time with their cool peers, and everyone hopes that when they get back they've got a lot of homework to do so they'll stay in their bedrooms. Then they can get on Facebook and play video games until everyone is safe in their separate beds, in separate rooms, with their separate lives safely intact.

That's the lie.  

My own experience with homeschooling has been so different from this typical tableaux, it's unrecognizable. Our homeschooling lifestyle is the only thing that has made our family business possible; my parents own a contract cleaning company, and some of my earliest memories involve sitting in conference rooms and office kitchens, doing schoolwork with my little brother Aaron while Mom and Dad vacuumed and cleaned desks. Since neither of my parents were employees at a business outside the home, we were together as a family 24/7. That's more than many homeschooling families. As the years went by, Aaron and I were able to make a generous allowance by taking on more and more responsibilities, and that's only grown so that now there's no need for us to go out and get a part-time job at Sonic to earn a little spending money.

The shocking truth is that family timeeven if it's all the timecan be marvelous. My parents and brother are some of my best friends in the whole world. I don't think that there are many 19-year-old girls who can say that. My mom has taught me cooking, cleaning, sewing, home repair, and we love going shopping together. My dad works so hard and sacrifices so much for all of us, and he's a pretty fun guy. Aaron is a good-looking, intelligent, social fellow who gives the best random hugs. Do we sometimes get sick of each other? Yeah, definitely. Would we sacrifice our closeness for a more segregated lifestyle? Not a chance.

Isn't this better than a school full of peers? Isn't this better than coming home every afternoon to a house full of people I barely know?

First Photo: 32, a photo by Fidenaut on Flickr.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Top 5 Advantages to Homeschooling

As homeschoolers, we have some amazing opportunities that kids in the traditional school system can only dream of. Here are the main five I've noticed in my life. I have had a pretty lenient school schedule—I probably classify as an unschooler—so maybe some things are unique to my style of education.

1. Freedom in Education

For me, education isn't a chore that must be completed before 3pm before I can have any free time. Learning is a lifestyle.

I was never forced to write essays or create models, so I didn't dread compiling books on equine psychology or drawing maps of the migration paths of Australian parrots—entirely on my own terms. I didn't waste time answering every question in the curriculum when I thoroughly understood the material—in fact, I never took an English course. Once I got the basics down, my history lessons came from whatever books and websites and field trips I could get my hands on, allowing me to corroborate the facts from various sources rather than taking one viewpoint's word for it. I adored science and supplemented my usual curriculum with the latest in the journals.

Plato said, "All learning which is acquired under compulsion has no hold upon the mind." Because I wasn't taught under compulsion, the knowledge I've gained has taken firm root and my mind blossoms with passion for learning.

2. Lessons in Self-Discipline and Time Management

Did I ever take advantage of my freedom and shrink away to less constructive pastimes when I should have been doing something educational? Yes. I learned my lesson, and it's a much better lesson to learn at this stage in life than later on, when it really matters.

I had the opportunity to learn essential life lessons like self-discipline and managing time and putting priorities in order the hard way before failing a college class or getting fired from my day-job. My experiences will give me discretion in the years ahead, when I won't have my parents around to ensure I complete assignments on time.

3. Free Time

Unless I put a time-consuming task upon myself there's really nothing to hinder me from pursuits that don't fall under core classes, like classical piano and drama and sewing and horse training and novel- and screenwriting. I can take an hour or two to practice that Bach piece or rehearse lines for a play, or spend the afternoon teaching my horse to play fetch, or dedicate the month of November to the National Novel Writing Month. Or just read. Or write this very post.

Each of these things could potentially lead to a career (well, maybe not writing this post), so they're important skills to develop.

4. Making Friends

Some people find it mind-boggling that homeschoolers actually make friends. (Really, if most kids don't make friends outside of school, what kind of sad lives do they lead?) But one of the great advantages to homeschooling is that we get to meet people with similar interests, be it at band practice, soccer games, robotics competitions—you name it. And among homeschool groups, we're likely to meet people who share our values, adding an extra level of intimacy to our friendships.

The main issue that spurred this blog was how lonely we homeschooled girls often feel surrounded by the worldly people around us, but at least, as homeschoolers, we do have more opportunities to seek out people like us. Just last week I was able to attend a Christian writers' conference (thanks to not having a rigid school schedule holding me back). It was my third time going, and each year I've made friendships I believe will last a lifetime.

I might not get to see my friends every day (which is mostly because I live a weird life and my friends live far away--they see their other friends regularly), but I do have a number of wonderful, true friendships that run far deeper than those portrayed by the media.

And if we are blessed enough to have friends nearby, as I once did, we can spend time with them while our school-going peers are in class or doing homework. I cherish the many daytime hours I got to spend with my friends before I moved away.

5. Spending Time with Family

I have been asked, "Don't you hate being around your parents all day?" If this is the mindset, something is wrong. That's not to say I don't long at times to stretch my wings, but living at home has cultivated healthy relationships with my parents and a stronger bond than would probably have formed if I only saw my mother in the evenings and weekends. (Which is probably why I'm not as close with my father.) It can be hard at times to be at home so much, but I endeavor to be nothing but loving. If I can't do that with my own family, I can't do that with anyone else.

I was an only child before my brother was born year before last, so I'm thankful I'm able to spend as much time experiencing sisterhood as possible before I go away.

Homeschooling has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I thank God daily for the opportunity to have such an education and for an unquenchable love of learning.

What great opportunities did you have through homeschooling that you couldn't have had otherwise?

Photo courtesy mikebaird on Flickr

Monday, 5 March 2012

When School Becomes Fun

To be homeschooled is a blessing.  There are many advantages that come 
with it, too {as Olivia mentions here}.  

Some people choose to look at school as a chore.  But, with homeschooling, we have more freedom with how we choose to do our subjects than students who attend public or private school.  
It's nice to have that as one of the pros to homeschooling.  

Our moms or dads can make our topics fun instead of dry, boring material that we dread doing 
{except for math...if you aren't a math person, there is not really a way around that one. ;)}.

For as long as I can remember, my favorite subject in school has been history!  I truly believe my mom is the one who taught me to love it so much, by her way of always trying to make it exciting, not just a jumble of boring facts/dates.  Interestingly enough, she never enjoyed history when she was in school and always remembered it as being a dry, uninteresting subject.  But, by homeschooling us, she is able to make our view of history opposite from what hers was.

One way she makes history come alive is by reading historical fiction based on the time period we are learning about.  It is surprising what a clear picture it gives you about characters that lived in history and what their everyday life was like.

History is truly a joy to do!  In particular, I have loved learning about the Ancient Roman time period.

One read aloud my mom tied in with that period in history was The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare.  That is a fantastic book!  Other favorites I read were Hostage Lands by Douglas Bond, Pearl Maiden by H. Rider Haggard & Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff.

Another great way to make history fun is going on field trips!  The most memorable was visiting George Washington's home, Mt. Vernon {you can read about that trip here}.  
How amazing it was to walk where our first president lived!

These are just a few of the many things I love about homeschooling.  
Thank goodness for moms who take time to make school fun!

            School is what you make of it.  You can look at it as a chore or an opportunity to learn.
Which one will you choose?

{disclaimer: all images here}

Sunday, 4 March 2012

And the Winner Is....

Thank you, everyone who participated in our little giveaway! 

I wish that I could give a copy of One Thousand Gifts to each one of you, but there can only be one winner. Out of 20 entries, selected

My Photo
Kate W from Walk By Faith!

Kate is from Maryland Heights, MO, and on her profile she says, 
My life's goal is to be a wife and mother. 'The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.' It was what I was CREATED for & I am waiting expectantly for God to begin to write the next chapter of my life. I want to get married, have children, and HOMESCHOOL. OF COURSE, ministry and serving will be a HUGE part of my future. I'm PASSIONATELY in love with my Savior. He is my ALL IN ALL, my EVERYTHING. I am NOTHING without Him. I love God with all that is within me. My life's purpose is to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. God is Faithful. His ways are Best. He works ALL out for our GOOD & His Glory. I LOVE to learn new things & then take that newly-acquired knowledge to better serve my family, friends & the Body of Christ. I LOVE to 'dig down deep,' being held accountable & mentoring others.
So congratulations, Kate! I hope that you'll share your gifts and insights with our community :)

Friday, 2 March 2012

Never Doing School

My childhood is probably the oddest thing you'll ever hear of. Or perhaps not. I'm sure we've all had those days where our mom wakes up and just says, "I don't want to do school today." So you don't.

Now imagine waking up like that every morning.

Let me give you a hint as to how this feels: it's so incredibly awesome, there are hardly words.

I can count on my fingers how many times in my memory that I've actually been made to sit down and do schoolwork. Out of those times, the majority of them were math lessons. Most of the time, we just go through life, learning as we go. Going to a park is an excuse for a science lesson or a social sciences lesson. The library provides our English class. We count things we pass on long drives, we tot up how much we owe in shops as we go through and get what we need.

That is my life, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

It's given me the opportunity to do so many things that other kids don't get to do--important things like have the playground to myself, or having my pick of swings, or being able to linger at museum exhibits without crowds of people shoving me along. It's allowed me to participate in ministry opportunities I would have otherwise missed. For instance, twice a week, I travel to two different schools and help teach Good News Clubs. I stand in front of kids and tell them about Jesus and play games and get free hugs and help future pastors and missionaries on their ways.

Most of these things would never have happened if I'd been locked up in a school room all the time. I love being homeschooled or unschooled, or whatever it is you'd like to call it. And I wouldn't trade all that's happened for the world
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