Nothing scarier than a fire set by an inventive child. Near your garage. On a windy day. How did we survive?

Did a Scary Angel Visit? Or a Savior Tramp?

Burning pine straw

One of our little boys was inventive and fearless.

And one day, a stranger came knocking at our back door.

It had been a mild-weather day and the main back door was open to let breezes in and to allow my supervision of our little boy’s outdoor play, while I tended to some laundry. The only separation between me and this huge visitor was the screen door of the back porch.

Over the expanse of his body he wore a grayed t-shirt, overalls with one strap fastened, and grubby boots untied.  Some of his teeth were missing. He badly needed a shave and his oily hair flattened in several directions. Something about the urgency of his loud knock startled me. That was before I turned and spied his unkempt estate.

I admit I was beyond distressed. Wild images of countryside kidnappings captured my mind, uninvited.

Timidly, I approached the main door, breaking all my rules about talking to strangers.

When you don't know if your are safe or not, when fire is the enemy, when friends are weird...“Yes?”

“Ma’am, it may be none o’ my business, but did you know y’ur little boy has got hisself a fire a-goin’ in the pine straw out here?”

“Oh, no! Oh, no! Please, PLEASE, stay and help me!”

Funny how outward appearances don’t matter much, sometimes.

I followed that kind and insightful messenger of mercy to the scene, and found that, sure enough, as he’d seen his daddy do countless times, our little son had raked up a pile of pine straw and set fire to it. He never guessed his tiny blaze was only feet away from oceans of pine straw, some of it drifted against our garage, downwind on a breezy day. The fire had already broken out of bounds.

We two adults raked and sprayed water until it was out.

I told the man he had probably saved our son’s life, and surely saved us great property loss. I thanked him until he was embarrassed and left.

I forgot to ask his name.

I guess he was an angel in disguise. Sometimes we need help, and God knows it. Yeh, maybe an angel. I can imagine my asking him his name, and him saying, “Folks jis calls me Gabe.”

On investigation, I learned my husband’s matches were stored high on a wall in the garage, good, but under them was the mower, rolled there by our son in less than five minutes, and topped with a milk crate, making him tall enough to reach. So young, but so brave and inventive.

And so perfectly protected.

Another story in this series here!

Yardwork done

A Week of Answers – Am I Called to Home School?

This week we are studying from the questions of others, what to do, how to do it, and why. Hope you enjoy this series and learn lots from it. This second letter is from a fairly new homeschooling mom with deep-core issues. Enjoy!

Homeschooled children in the kitchen

Homeschooled children in the kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Katharine,

I guess I’m the only one out here who doesn’t get it. When I go to support group meetings, I always hear moms talking about how God told them to home school, or something, and we didn’t do it that way. In my case, I just decided to try it last year, to see what all the excitement was about. So far, I’ve liked it, and here we are. Outside of relaxing a little, (who wouldn’t?) my two kids (ages seven and nine) don’t seem much different. Am I maybe not “called” to home school like these other mothers? Couldn’t God really want my kids to toughen up some, by being in the schools? Does home school really prepare all kids for every type of career?  –Mackenzie

Dear Mackenzie,

No. God does not want your children to toughen up in public.

Let’s talk about that first, because He may have been leading you more than you realize.

English: Oak Tree

Oak Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adults are like oak trees. A beautiful, tall, old oak tree is tough. If you run into one with your lawn mower, the tree wins. Right?

How does it get that way?

Simple: Oak trees get huge and tough by not being mowed over when they are young and tender.

Children are young and tender.

Children, in general, however, can be very cruel.

So can life.

It can feel a lot like a lawnmower.

For this reason, God put children into families, with parents to protect them, comfort them, and strengthen them. They actually obtain their toughness this way, in the home. They have to be taught how to be tough, and it is therefore the parents’ job to teach this toughening. How can you protect, comfort, and teach your children toughness when you are not with them!

Do you think their teachers will wrap them in their arms, cry with them and remind them that God sees and cares and can help them be tough? I think not; it is against the law, in the teachers’ imaginations.

That is why children relax, as yours did—and mine did—when they finally come home.

The curriculum:

Unless your children are very above normal in obedience and kindness, they will create opportunities for you to help them learn how to be oak trees.

Surely they swipe toys, neglect chores, sass, or maybe even resort to violence with each other, just as all kids are prone to do. Even the most well-behaved children got that way by being TAUGHT—NOT to steal, NOT to be lazy, NOT to rebel, and NOT to bonk brother on the head.

And those who miss this teaching grow up to steal, be lazy, rebel, and use violence. Hmm.

What else?

There is another type of toughness that has little to do with sin, though. This type will go out on a cold, rainy, November morning, and vote. It will volunteer for storm clean-up. It will take up the Bible-study leader’s slack if he has the flu.

This type does not occur on the playground, much.

In fact, this self-denying toughness is missing throughout this world. You can give your children the advantage of this type of toughness, though, which is the real preparation that everyone needs for every type of career out there.

It is great preparation even just for college.

Home schooled children succeed in college, more than children from any type of collective educational situations. Did you know?

And more…

Your other question, about your calling, is harder. I cannot answer for your friends’ feelings or their communications from God.

Let’s just say that God has commanded us to teach our children all the time–when we sit, walk, lie down, and get up. (Deuteronomy 11:10) Sounds as if we need them at home, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds to me as if God assumed we would have them at home and does not always issue a special call for it.

Also, His command or assumption that we write and read (Habakkuk 2:2) makes it very important that we give our children the tools for those activities, and it just does not always happen in the collective schools.

The risk of our children falling away from all the good things is too enormous. We should keep them where they will not be mowed down, and where they will be watered, nourished, and trained to grow straight and tall.

Given time, they will toughen just fine.

And they will not grow up to be lawnmowers.

Love,

Katharine

A Week of Answers – My Son Is not Reading

Brothers sharing bookThis week we will study from the questions of others, what to do, how to do it, and why. Hope you enjoy this and learn lots from it. The first letter is from a woman who was so scared, she set up a new email account so she could be anonymous. I’ll call her “Jane”.

Dear Katharine,

My oldest son is smart but is still not reading and we have home schooled him for three years, now, making him eight. I am so scared. I have used phonics, daily, and he seems to like it, but he often just doesn’t get it. What am I doing wrong? Have I ruined him? I cannot even bear to think what the schools will say if I send him back there, but I truly do not know what to do, and cannot let him grow up not reading. He reads so slowly and so incorrectly, that it just kills me to listen to it. I hardly dare confess this to anyone, even anonymously like this. HELP! –Jane

Dear Jane,

No you have not ruined him. You probably are teaching correctly, especially since you are using an accepted curriculum, are consistent, and you say he does enjoy it and does actually read, however poorly.

Some children just are slower, for one reason or another, independent of their setting.

Before I answer your questions, I would like to tell you what the schools would have done with your child, okay?

How it would have gone:

First, they would have put him in a reading group with all slow, low-skilled readers, so the “bright” children would not have had to bear the frustration that you are expressing. The results would have been that he would not have been around good reading, ever.

Also they would have instituted some sort of classroom reading competition, in which your son either would not have been expected to compete, or else just would never have had a chance. He and his reading-group friends would have been grouped together for other activities, too, just for convenience’s sake. (You know, the redbirds, the bluebirds, the robins, and the wrens, with the bird species becoming less flashy as the reading skills become less flashy.)Many in his group would have expressed feelings of inferiority about themselves and their group.

Eventually he might have been placed outside the classroom for a few hours a week, to receive special education. This may or may not have been conducted by a learning specialist of any kind–possibly by a substitute teacher or a volunteer–and may not necessarily have been very educational. After all this isolation, he and all his classmates would have begun to get the picture.

Are you beginning to get the picture?

What to do?!

Children who are slow to learn to read, possibly above all others, need to have the chance to exit the collective educational systems. Your son needs individual attention, and believe me, that is impossible in a public setting. If the teacher were able to give him what he needed, she might be of the sweet type who would want to do so, but she simply cannot, because she is in charge of twenty or so individuals who all have needs.

One thing I would suggest, that you are not doing wrong, but maybe have not known to do (and that your son never would receive in a public setting) is that you work on his vision.

  1. Have his eyes professionally examined.
  2. Eliminate fluorescent lighting, at least in his work room. This goes for all “screen lighting”, too, as comes from a computer or TV.
  3. Let him use a white bookmark to underline his reading.
  4. Obtain for your son colored cellophane page covers from a teacher supply store, to see if a different color helps.
  5. Make sure he is receiving excellent nutrition and low amounts of all sugars; no junk food whatsoever, and plenty of outdoor exercise
  6. Nix television and electronic games.

All these little changes possibly can add up to big improvements.

Also, you need to be aware that many children are not ready to learn reading until they are ten, and some after they are nearly grown. (President Andrew Johnson‘s wife taught him to read.) If this is the case with your son, he certainly does not need to be in a collective educational system. He may be the next Edison or Einstein, who both had trouble with traditional schoolwork, and both skipped “school”, learning at home.

You have done your son an immense favor by helping him to escape the isolation and embarrassment that are inherent to those in his situation. Do not stop. Just be patient until he begins to catch on more. Read to him a lot, and let him watch you point at the copy while you read. Especially read his other subjects to him, so he can learn them. Play word games with him, such as hangman or Jr. Scrabble, and get him a simple word-search book. Find an easy story that he likes a lot and read it together, daily. Help him memorize many passages from the Bible, plus some from historical documents, such as the Constitution. Please, also continue with the phonics; there are phonics courses for every age, to adult.

Help him discover and push him into his area of high skill, which may not be a “school” subject, but something more like Edison or Einstein did.

Perhaps it would help you to hear this: One of my older son’s best homeschool friends does not read or spell very well, is beginning a college major in computers, and loves to play word games, of all things. He does well, holding down a job, refereeing soccer, driving, and everything else a young man hopes to do. The important thing, though to his mother, and to you, is that he is a well-rounded gentleman with many moral friends, is of great accountability, is trusted with important adult-level responsibilities, and is not on drugs. He will be fine.

Home schooling did this.

Do not give up. Do not fear. Do not despair. Do not faint.

In due season, you will reap!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Handling Tornado Aftermath!

Red Cross RescuerFor you, or for those with friends and family struggling with tornado damage, here is a bit of help that should get you thinking about what to do first.

Of course, your loved ones are wondering about you, and you can register at this lovely Red Cross Safe and Well site, to let them know you still exist somewhere!

After that, though, you need someone who can think for you, so here goes—a list to clear your mind get it going in the right direction:

1. Credit Cards

If all your personal banking and credit information is strewn all over the state, I’m so sorry to have to say: You need to cancel cards and put alerts on all your accounts. Call your bank and credit agencies and get their help. Probably a password on your social security number will be important.

2. Insurance

Of course, all major insurance agencies are looking up client addresses and preparing to be in your area soon, to save you time and grief. However, if you put in your claim now, you will be at the top of their list. So put in your claim. Don’t forget anything you have insured: house, car, pet, jewelry, etc.

3. Red Cross

Clara Barton would be so proud! The merciful volunteer group she started is still there to help you. Somewhere nearby you will find their trained volunteers being great help. Food, supplies, and shelter are their specialties. You likely have donated to their great cause; now reap from their good will and the storehouse of help you helped build.

4. FEMA

If your disaster receives federal relief, FEMA will be there to get you more lasting shelter, either through help with rent, or loan of trailers. Their trailers may be a shocking difference from the comforts of home, but they are furnished and will keep the weather off and the family together. Or you may prefer to purchase a camper to live on your own property. Many folks do.

5. Helpers – belongings.

You will need to sort your stuff, to find what you want to keep, in a hurry. You will want people you know and trust for this job, not strangers, no matter how kind. Do not throw out things that are only wet. There are even volunteers who will want to help you restore wet photos and other important things.

6. Helpers – trash.

You will probably have to sort all the trash on your property for pick up. Let anyone who wants to help you! And many are eager and willing and able to help! Your job will be to make sure they wear their gloves and to provide them with plenty of drinking water, if you can.

7. Rebuilding

Look for scammers. They will come. Be sure. Be very sure that anyone you hire to rebuild is for real. Victimization happens every day.

8. Smile (through your tears)

You are surrounded by support, helpers who want to see you make it through this horror. Therefore, ask for help! Don’t give up! You will find that people really want to give you help! Don’t give up hope! Don’t forget to stop and rest, eat, get sleep! For some reason, you are alive…

9. Special for all helpers:

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is stand back. Allow the professionals to have some space. Allow the victims to have some space. Do not assume you are the answer for this emergency. If you want to donate, please wait with clothing until the shelters say it is needed. What they REALLY need is

  • food, water
  • boxes, bags
  • gloves, masks, eye gear
  • boots
  • undies
  • formula, bottles, diapers
  • feminine items

Donate the above to shelters, Red Cross, churches, etc.

  • pet food, leashes, old towels, walking services

Donate these to animal shelters

If everyone who needs help will be smart enough to ask for it, and if everyone who is aching to be of some help will be smart enough to give it gently and wisely, our disasters will prove to be beautiful learning experiences for us all.

It’s School Time.

English: Motivations regarded most important f...

Motivations regarded most important for homeschooling among parents in 2007. Source: 1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007 Issue Brief from Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. December 2008. NCES 2009–030 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

School is almost upon us for the year. That means it is high time to look at your school choices.

Especially if you are unhappy with your collective school, you need to think about slipping out of that situation and readying yourself and your children for schooling at home. 

I hope you’ve spent quality time thinking about your children and their future. I hope you’ve inspected a bit of curriculum and even used my curriculum guide, which begins here.

 

You have hardly a month for organizing your life around a new normal.

You need to start now.

Your curriculum company and your children will be grateful if you do not wait until the week before school begins (as too many other people do) to place your order, expecting it to arrive timely. Timely arrival follows timely ordering. Like, hurry…

Okay.

With that in mind, I’d like to direct you to the homeschooling posts on this site, created just for you, for inspiring, motivating, guiding, and helping you make the transition.

Oh, and if you just need a booster and wish someone would give the beginning lectures to you all over again, hey, help yourself to these! You are welcome!

Why we don’t want them there in the first place:

My Sweetest Homeschool Memories; 5 pages!

To help you with inspiration and incentive:

Traditional Education

From Infancy to the Four-Year-Old, begins here and continues for 3 more pages.

To guide your choices and other decisions:

What Homeschooling is Like; 2 pages.

Do NOT Try Homeschooling (a trick title, but you’ll like this); 3 pages.

Is There Life After Homeschool? Yes!

To help figure out what curriculum you need:

A 5-Page Curriculum Guide by an Unbiased Person (me) (I love them ALL! and I am not to be sold.)

Okay. There is a LOT more on this site. Just use my search engine to search “homeschool” and you will find all sorts of help.

Have fun!

And don’t forget: Home’s Cool!

She Came Crying, Begging, and Trembling…

It happened during our tiny tornado that passed over us and never did a bit of damage except for felling one oak tree in the woods.

Storm CloudsWe saw the clouds coming. We knew the predicted danger was upon us. Watching it was like watching time-lapse photography. I’ve never seen clouds approach so fast.

We were ready. We have a basement and I was about to suggest we go there, except the amazing display of the skies held me entranced. There was no funnel cloud, just incredible force.

Incredible force.

Think: Can you move a tree? Even a small tree, such as an apple, is difficult to shake, even when we desperately want those apples. Yet, huge trees, with branches as large as some tree trunks, were swaying as if they were grass, as if they were dancing. Do they like tornadoes? Do they love the chance to sway like the grass? It seemed it.

Yet, reality kept me in check: Water was leaking under the front storm door, impossible except during tornadoes. As I fetched a couple of old towels from the laundry room, to protect our living room floor, I heard the honking of an automobile through the exterior door. I heard the wild, mad, honking of someone desperate.

My husband had the sense to open the door, exactly at the moment the banging began. There stood a rain-drenched woman, blonde and petite.

“Oh, PLEASE let me come into your house! Please let me come in!” she begged, trembling all over and almost jumping in the door once we opened it.

Who could deny such a request at such a time?

So it was that she stood just inside the laundry room, dripping, running, water all over the tiles. She blessed us, thanked us, and blessed us again. And I stood, dumbly, astonished, with two towels in my hands, finally thinking to thrust them at her. She began drying herself as if she were a family member. Mentally, I remembered the flooding front door, and I remembered the Scriptures: do not neglect entertaining strangers, for thereby, some have entertained angels, unaware… (Or something like it–that was how I was remembering it.)

As if she were an angel, we encouraged her to come inside the rest of the house. We anticipated a black-out and wanted her where we could seat her if darkness made our unfamiliar house a hazard to her. We offered her more towels and a drink. We showed her the astonishing view outside our front door, as more storm flew over us. We apologized as we needed to tend to that water coming in with more towels.

She, feeling SO at home, asked to borrow a phone. She told her mother she was okay, but would be late. We chatted. The storm passed.

Then she apologized: She usually drives through a storm unafraid, she said, but this one was like NOTHING she had ever seen before. We assured her we felt the same and she was extremely wise not to drive in such wind with the ground so saturated that trees might fall across her path, or even on her car. She thanked us profusely and promised to bring us a cake. We told her we would love a cake, but she owed us nothing.

Then she left for where she belonged, and, just like that, this golden moment of people helping people was over.

I miss it.

_______________

Storm Clouds (Photo credit: mcdett)

Resolved:

I’ve been thinking about New Year resolutions a lot, lately.

Thinking what a sobering thing it would be to ask God what He would like to see me change this year!

I found something that may relate, something to think about:

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Genesis 5:21 KJV).

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:5-6 KJV).

Enoch lived long, long ago, among some of the first people, ever. And he lived one year for each of the three hundred sixty-five days in a year. Does this make me curious?

Yes.

Then there’s another thing: It seems like he simply subsisted before Methuselah’s birth, but walked with God after.

I can relate to that.

Scripture does not mention anyone else “walking with God” in Genesis 5. They all just lived, and bore descendants, is all we are told.

None of the others were taken, either; they all died. Enoch, however, “was not, for God took him.”

We must believe God exists and that He will reward us. I know He does that! But could He want to give me an Enoch-like experience this year? Could I muddle through, listening, for 65 days, and then have direction for walking with Him?

Like Enoch, only smaller?

I want to try this. I want to wait on Him during the first 65 days, to show me the way, His direction, what He wants for the last 300 days of 2015. I want to be still before Him and listen to His ideas about what comes next.

I want to hear Him say, “Come,” and I want to step out of the boat. By the 65th day of the year, I want to say, “By God’s grace, I will do this thing.” I want to walk with God the remaining 300 days of the year, in this matter He sets before me. Maybe by the 65th day of the year (Friday, March 6) I will know what I should change, what I should make my year’s goal.

What will He show me? What will He require of me? I don’t know.

I want a dedication on Day 65, and I want to call it Enoch Day and I want a big celebration this time next year. I’m thinking of keeping a journal, just for this tradition.

Maybe I’ll be brave and post it. Or maybe not.

Although all is still in the formative stages, one thing has become clear to me: In my life, a new Enoch celebration would be far better than all the New Year Resolutions in the world. (I cannot, in my own strength, change all I need to change. I have learned: God-pleasing changes do not come from my own strength.)

By God’s strength, I can walk in His will much more easily than I can walk in guilt over bondage to an overwhelming New Year’s list.

Maybe you could, too.

What if we began the New Year diligently seeking Him about what He would like changed? What if we took His Word to us and began implementing it on March 6? What if He visited us with His strength to do it?

It’s scary, but I can hardly wait.

Fireworks

Fireworks