Education: The Right Vision for Your Child’s Future

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This is one of the important reasons we homeschool! It isn’t always easy, but is always worth it. We have to sacrifice wants (others think they are needs) in order for one of us to be able to stay home and ensure they are actually gaining a solid education, but these wants are small compared to the benefit that our children will receive.

We are not wealthy by US standards, but have found that it IS possible to do with an income of under 40K per year if you are willing to prioritize and eliminate extras now to ensure the bright future of our children.

If we can do it, you can (and should) too!

Learning the Way of Wisdom

Rear view of class raising hands

No influence is greater on culture than that of America’s schools. If every parent in America knew what was really going on in the public schools, there would be a revolution. I encourage parents to discover the content of the curriculum, the climate of the classroom, and the methods of the teacher in order to determine if these practices and philosophies align with their objectives for their children. To say that education is important is an understatement, yet it bears repeating that it is important for parents to know what’s going on in their children’s classroom. Biblically, this is a parental responsibility. Parents have the ultimate authority and responsibility over their child’s education (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). While a parent can delegate authority to a teacher or principal in the school, that parent cannot delegate responsibility. Parents will have to give an account to the Lord regarding the content and…

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Selfies, Roses, & Zombies (and Why Giraffes Were Right All Along!)

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insanity

Can we stop the insanity already?!

I am absolutely perplexed by this fascination OBSESSION with taking selfies.

Every day, I see image after image of people- mostly 20-30 somethings- on my Facebook timeline that document each step of their day.  I guess it wouldn’t be quite so bad if these photos were actually interesting, but what is being documented in this photo explosion? Is it documenting the world and people around them?  Things in society or nature that speak to them or highlight beauty?

Unfortunately it isn’t that interesting.  In fact, it goes a little something like this:

1. Take selfie highlighting groggy smile while still in bed- time stamped to document the fact that we overslept (despite the fact our boss will hear only about the “bad traffic”).

2. Take selfie in the bathroom documenting the the pre-shower state- proof that in spite of sleeping late, we really did need that shower.

3. Take selfie documenting freshly showered state- hair obviously not done (see boss, still more work to do!).

4. Take selfie showing work clothes for the day. (see boss, I AM on the way!)

5. Take selfie showing the grand achievement of actually making it to the car (late for work, but plenty of time for a selfie!)

6. Take selfie after arriving at work to let everyone know we arrived and didn’t change clothes (this inevitably creates an awkward situation while filling out time sheet that says our arrival time is much different that this picture would suggest).

And the list goes on…

Can we stop already?

Our culture has become so obsessed with self, that we ignore the beauty around us in favor of us emphasizing our importance in our own eyes.  The phrase “stop and smell the roses” has changed to “stop and selfie while crushing the roses so we can take advantage of the soft light”.

We have once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that we can’t just enjoy, but we have to distract ourselves from in order to snap a selfie and find a good cell phone signal so we can share with everyone else how good we look at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we are going to start enjoying again after this image finishes uploading!

We are turning into social zombies.

We no longer relate to one another as humans.  Conversation is becoming a fine art form that few are skilled enough to actually engage in.  It seems that if we can’t engage our fingers on some tech device, we have nothing to say and nothing we can relate to.  Instead, we choose to highlight our social ineptitude by taking a selfie in a lobby full of unique people with unique stories that are waiting to be told- if only they had someone to share them with.

We walk around aimlessly, focused on something other than what would be considered healthy and normal by any rational third person standard, looking for that thing that feeds us- US.  The inability of these social zombies to positively contribute to society as a whole leaves those of us that aren’t infected frustrated, tired, and even worried about how we need to protect ourselves from the madness.

Think I’m wrong?

Try driving during rush our with some of these zombies who are paying more attention to turning for the camera than using their turn signals to let society know that they are changing lanes at 70mph on the interstate.  When this happens, you begin to worry about how you can safely make it back to the sanctuary of your zombie-proofed fort.

giraffe

And THIS is why giraffes have been right all along.

They spend their day immersed in the world AROUND them.  They instinctively recognize that if the focus totally on them and how great they look reflecting off of the local watering hole, they will fall victim to a predator that is willing to take advantage of this very distracted prey.

Giraffes work to find food and shelter and they enjoy social gatherings- recognizing their benefit not just as companions, but as a safety net.  A lone giraffe is a foolish giraffe. They live in a state of beauty and grace.  In fact, their existence inspires people all over the world to travel just for the opportunity to take pictures of them.

So I guess it all boils down to this for me:

More than my desire to see selfies eliminated from society, I desire to see social zombies come to life and live lives that others would find inspiring enough to photograph, document, and share.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned for my age.  Maybe I’m just not up into “tech stuff” they way I used to be.

Is it just me or can others out there relate?

 

That moment when things just click…

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I’m writing this post simply to give a shout-out to Ray Ferrer– an extremely talented artist and the newest member of our family.  Very soon, a painting of his will arrive and I cannot speak highly enough of my interaction with him.

There are rare moments in life where I find an instant connection with something.  Sometimes, things work in such a way where it is possible to continue that connection.  Other times, it is nothing more than a momentary spark and a bright spot in the day.

For those of you that know me, you will immediately see why this painting had to be here.

youth by ray ferrer

For those that don’t know me, here is my connection to this painting- my daughter.

IMG_0874Having neither met her nor seen a picture of her, he was able to capture the essence of her playful spirit years before this picture was taken.

Is it just me or do you see a resemblance as well?

Ray- thanks for making this possible.  You have warmed this daddy’s heart, and while this may be the first of your works that will be in our home, it definitely won’t be the last.

Blessings!

To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store

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We just talked about the importance of being a benefit to those around you in church yesterday. There are opportunities every day to reach out to those around you and bring happiness to a world that is frequently full of bad news and hopelessness. Be the change you wish to see in the world!

Sunshine & Daisies

Dear woman behind me in line at the grocery store,

You don’t know me. You have no clue what my life has been like since October 1, 2013. You have no clue that my family has gone through the wringer. You have no clue that we have faced unbelievable hardship. You have no clue we have been humiliated, humbled, destitute.
You have no clue I have cried more days than not; that I fight against bitterness taking control of my heart. You have no clue that my husband’s pride was shattered. You have no clue my kids have had the worries of an adult on their shoulders. You have no clue their innocence was snatched from them for no good reason. You know none of this.

What you do know is I tried to buy my kids some food and that the EBT machine was down so I couldn’t buy…

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Renovate the Right Way

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This week has been spent making plans, assembling necessary items, and beginning work on a small home renovation project.  We live in a home that was built by the previous homeowner and while many things were done well, other things have been uncovered that reveal cut-corners and quick-fixes that gave the appearance of being complete, but the workmanship in these things leave much to be desired.

This got me thinking.

Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)

“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

 

In my last post I wrote about the Importance of Pruning.  This entire process has me thinking about the effort put into “getting the job done” vs “getting the job done the right way“. This is true of pruning just as it is in any project we undertake.

Typically, projects are started with good intentions and motivations.  When we start things, we really intend to do them to perfection.  We have grand ideas and grand plans.  We simply cannot wait to see the finished project!

 

Then life happens.

 

We get tired.  The project takes more time, effort, and expense than we initially thought and we cannot wait until it is done… for a completely different reason.  We’re sick of the process and the end result doesn’t matter as much as the end itself.

At this point, we have a major decision to make.  If we allow ourselves to rush through the end of a project, we feel a momentary sense of relief because the process is done.  Often though, this leads us to a sense of regret instead of a sense of accomplishment.

Whether or not others can see our mistakes, we see them.  Years down the road we still glare at these shortcuts and try to hide or ignore them until we get to a point where we’re so sick of looking at them that we rip them out and begin the process of completing our initial project.

This is true in home renovation, gardening/landscaping, and in fixing flaws within us.

Sometimes the process is tedious.  Sometimes it requires more time, effort, and expense that we initially thought it would.  But giving the effort to do it right the first time will give us a much longer lasting sense of satisfaction and eliminates the need to have to go back and fix it again and living with regret until we decide to finally do that.

So take time to do it right whatever you’re doing.  It is well worth the hassle.

Proverbs 10:4(NIV)

“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

Blessings!

The Importance of Pruning

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 pruning_adamr

Image courtesy of [adamr] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

prune

verb (used with object), pruned, prun·ing.

1. to cut or lop off (twigs, branches, or roots).

2. to cut or lop superfluous or undesired twigs, branches, or roots from; trim.

3. to rid or clear of (anything superfluous or undesirable).

4. to remove (anything considered superfluous or undesirable).

Ah, finally!  The weather is now showing signs that spring is rapidly approaching central Georgia.  For most of the USA though, winter is still trying to maintain its firm hold on the weather patterns.  The threat of frost is still too real to fully commit to most outdoor planting, and surely many are growing tired of the cool, damp days and are longing for the warmth that comes with the spring sunshine.

That said, instead of moping about inside and wishing for things to come, now is a great time to invest in ridding our fruit trees of unwanted growths making sure that the tree isn’t hurting itself by getting its branches crossed.

Pruning is an extremely important step needed to help ensure proper growth, development, and sustainability in fruit production.

Pruning can sometimes be very easy – requiring only the removal of things that are obviously damaged.  Often though, pruning requires a much more discerning approach. It can be confusing at first, but with experience the process becomes much easier.  While not necessarily enjoyable, the rewards are well worth it.  So take time to learn about your fruit and how to best prepare it for success.

What exactly do I mean?

Some things might look visually appealing at first glance, but upon further inspection you’ll notice that if these things are allowed to continue growing on the current pattern, it can actually be quite harmful, not only for that tree, but it can introduce disease and weaken all of the trees around it.  These things are sometimes hard to reach and painful to remove, but their removal is essential to the health (and sometimes survival) of the tree.

You know, now that I think about it, it is not too different from us on a personal level.  Things that might look good at first don’t always turn out to be good for us.  In fact, sometimes these things can be downright harmful to us and those around us.  Sometimes things are easy to spot as being bad and we remove those easily.

Sometimes though, it takes an experienced eye to let us know that we are headed for problems.  These things are often painful to remove and are hard for us to reach.  They are also very important though and, if not removed, can weaken everyone around us.

Before the weather is warm and we are distracted with all of the attractions of spring and summer, maybe it would be a good time to do a once-over of ourselves and see if there are things we need to nip in the bud to prevent harmful patterns from developing.

May the fruit in your garden (and the fruit in your lives) be plentiful and healthy this year!

Blessings!

Breathtaking: Making You Autistic in 2 Minutes

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Sometimes I feel the need to add “words of wisdom” to make something ordinary seem profound.

Today, I feel the need to let this speak for itself.

Please take 2 minutes to see Autism through the eyes of one who deals with it daily.

Finding Your Way to Paradise Falls Without the Balloons!

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paradise-falls

Here I sit.

Wondering… dreaming.

An adventurous spirit caged in the frame of someone more than twice my age.  My Ellie still lives, but the end result feels much the same.  This dream that has been long sought after, I’m afraid, is waning away.

Each year- as physical limitations make their presence more painfully known- the likelihood of taking my wife by my side and reaching that Colorado mountaintop to finally live the dream of homesteading in a very real and tangible way seems less and less achievable.  We are getting too old and our bodies too worn down- unable to bear the physical load required to create a life in such a remote place.

More likely than not, it seems as though these dreams will wind up as a box containing a deed, house plans, and detailed diagrams of things once discussed with hopeful anticipation.  I fear this box will sit on a shelf somewhere, collecting dust, until a painful day, many years down the road, when this box is opened- only to reveal things that could have been.

Or will it?

The dream was to live a unique and remote lifestyle that would showcase the beauty of hard work, of relying more on what you can do (or learn to do) and less on what others do for you, and of a holistic lifestyle devoted to caring for those people and things around you while learning to enjoy the simplicity of making a life without forsaking “life” in order to earn a living.

Of course, having acreage on the top of a mountain in Colorado provides a pretty great view while all of this is going on!

That said, I’ve come to a realization.

Where we are is determined, not by where our feet are, but by where our eyes are.

Let me explain!

You see, while our feet are only a few hours from the Eastern coast of the U.S.A., it was only recently that our eyes were located elsewhere.  Still confusing?  I’ll clarify.

While are eyes are focused on our feet, we will not move beyond our current situation to realize our dreams.  It is not until our focus shifts that we begin to see where we truly are and where our path is leading.

If I focus on my feet, I am located in Central Georgia, USA.  I am many hours away from this place in our dreams.  I do not have the resources necessary to make this dream a reality.  I don’t even have a wilderness adventurer knocking at my door looking for a badge in helping others.  In the movie “UP”, Carl at least had balloons to help float his house across the Americas to wind up where he ultimately wanted to be.  I HAVE ZERO BALLOONS!

But what I do have is this:

While I am located hours away from a physical location, I realized that I am already living this dream today.  How so?

  • We are involved in planting a church for families with special needs.  Our lifestyle doesn’t get much more remote than that and hard work is definitely required!
  • I am living in a house full of windows (natural light is a key component in our Colorado plans).
  • I just finished planting 9 of 10 raised bed gardens at our home (also key in Colorado plans).
  • This home is equipped with a chicken coop and goat shed (you guessed it- Colorado plans).
  • This home also has multiple fruit trees, space for the kids to play, and clean air (again, check).
  • While we could still remove ourselves from more technology, a simple life doesn’t have to mean a life devoid of electronics.  Simplicity is a choice. (doing good so far)

It seems to me that the key to finding my Paradise Falls without having to have all of those pesky balloons boils down to one word:

contentment

I wonder how many of us are closer to realizing our dreams than we think?

I wonder if Paradise Falls is more about a journey than a destination?

I wonder where you are?

Do you even know?

If you feel like your dreams are a bit beyond your reach, keep digging- but not just where your feet are.  Sometimes taking a moment to shift our focus is all that we need to see that we don’t have far to go.

And sometimes… sometimes we’ll find that we’ve been there all along.

UP-Thanks-for-the-Adventure

Inquiring Minds Want To Know…

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Inquring Minds Want to Know…

  • Why a green light on a progress report no longer means things are going well?
  • Why it is okay to teach kids to answer instead of teaching them to analyze?
  • Why, in spite of being full of educated professionals, the “school” has proven to be the last place I can send my son to gain an education?

This post isn’t created out of anger or hostility, but I must admit there is a level of frustration that is directed toward the teachers who went from giving my son a yellow (caution- work needed) on his progress report to a green (all is well on the western front).

You see, when I asked what technique they used to break through some of these barriers, I was hoping to find a viable method to apply in other areas of life to get a similar result.  Finally- a breakthrough!

Instead, I was given the following response: “We readjusted his expectations so that he is no longer failing to meet them”.

Basically, they gave up on my son.  THEY gave up on MY SON.

They gave up on my son because they wanted him to answer- not analyze.  They wanted a lackey- not a learner.

My son, Aiden, has a number of challenges that he must overcome.  Having been diagnosed with full-spectrum autism, he has significant difficulty in the areas of communication and social interaction.  These difficulties can make for very long and frustrating days for all involved in his education process (including HIM).

I’ll give credit to those educators who tried- but simply weren’t able (in spite of their best efforts) to see Aiden through some of these challenges.  I still wish we were able to take one of his teachers with us everywhere we go.  Aiden was not a number to her.  He wasn’t her “challenged child” in a typical class environment.  He was Aiden… and Aiden knew it.  He trusted her and she made great strides with him.

That said, she is unfortunately in a very small minority.  It sees as though this type of teaching (not merely instruction), is a dying art form in the education system today.

Aiden, at the age of 9, was spending equal time in school learning to trace letters in the alphabet and learning how to sweep the floor.  Part of his “socialization” was learning how to work well with others…. as a janitor…. at age 9.

I have no issue with children learning to take care of their surroundings, but if there isn’t enough time in the day to help him learn to read, write, and learn mathematical functions, there definitely isn’t enough time to teach him to sweep the floor.

And so, our journey into full-time homeschooling began.  It was also full of hurdles that had to be overcome, frustrating days, and anxiety over whether or not we made the right move.  Then came March and my son- dubbed incapable by the educated professionals- began to flourish.

His penmanship- not perfect.  At times, it is nearly incomprehensible.  Yet he reads to me these stories that come from within.  He writes of things he loves, things he wishes to avoid, and reminders that I need to turn the heat on because his school room is getting a bit too cool and the park makes him warm.

I don’t care that the stories are short or that they don’t follow a 5 paragraph form.  I do care that he is learning to embrace writing as a means to communicate his thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

His absolute boredom with reading his current selection of literature (Bobbsey Twins) that turns into excited stemming when the boys begin a schoolyard fight shows a display of emotion and an understanding of the story that we were told does not exist, because he did not circle a letter “b” on an educators test.

Aiden is proving himself to be quite capable and with just enough of a cocky attitude to let you know that he gets it, he is worth it, and he is not giving up.  All he needs is a chance to learn and for “those that know” to get out of the way.

He still does not like to be educated- but he loves to learn.  And I’ll take that any day.

At this point, our journey into homeschooling can best be summed up by a poem I learned as a child:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost