Homeschool Headlines

As a homeschool mom, I am deeply disturbed by any news of abuse within the homeschool community.  Fortunately, over the course of the 13 years our family has opted to home educate, incidents of proven abuse have been exceedingly rare.  Of course, that does not discount the terrible experiences of those children who have endured horrible neglect and misuse under the banner of home education.  They have suffered at the hands of those who have been ordained to be their greatest advocates.

I am fairly well-immersed in the homeschool community, and, to a person, the parents I know who have opted to home educate have made that decision out of love for their children.  They sacrifice financially, invest wholeheartedly and live resourcefully to see their kids thrive.  Just like all loving parents, regardless of education-based decisions, they do what they truly believe is best.  Unfortunately, there are parents on both ends of this spectrum who don’t deserve the children with whom they’ve been entrusted.

In today’s society, one of the common refrains that results from any great tragedy is for increased legislation and regulation.  This concerns me.  We are more heavily regulated and more expensively legislated than we have ever been as a country…and yet the value of human life and the standard of common decency seem to be at an all-time low.  We call our society progressive…but to what are we progressing?  Families are disengaged.  Prisons are full.  Elementary-aged children are suffering from anxiety attacks.  Junior high children are eating laundry detergent.  Lifetime prescriptions of medication are commonplace. Credit cards are maxed out.  We have regulation.  We have legislation.

We have a broken society.

The horrible truth is that abuse and neglect can often be hidden in plain sight. No matter how the government tries to regulate abuse, people will still abuse. The sex trade is a perfect example of this. There are truckloads of children being shipped across America–right alongside our own minivans–and I can guarantee that there are people on both sides of the law taking advantage of them.

The government offers foster homes for at-risk children, and there are documented occasions of those poor kids going from the frying pan into the fire–and few things are more highly-regulated than foster homes. When people are sick in their spirits, they hurt other people. When evil people can profit from someone else’s pain, they will. No regulation can stop that.

The most effective ways to combat this hell is for each of us to choose to do what is right and to watch out for the well-being of people around us. Invest in people’s hearts. We’ve all heard stories of abused children whose lives were changed because someone went out of their way to love them. We, as a community, MUST be diligent in this. We cannot be so distracted by our own busyness/personal comfort that we overlook our greatest potential for impacting others.

It’s not about home education or public school.  It’s not about regulation and legislation.  It’s not even always about knowing the difference between right and wrong.  It’s about doing what is right–choosing to put others before ourselves, opting to leave a legacy of love and peace and life to the people around us.

One of my most often-repeated prayers for my children is that God gives them the courage and the self-control to do what is right instead of what is easy.  I ask the same thing for my community.  The choice is ours.

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Daisy’s Doin’s, Day 44

At their current level of energy, these 6 puppies sometimes seem like an even dozen.  If only modern science could bottle this kind of cute, fluffy energy!

Lots of changes in the past week.  All of the pups are in the process of being weaned from Daisy (who seems pretty pleased about this turn of events).  Sharp puppy claws take a toll on Daisy’s teats and belly.  All of the girl pups are down to three nursings a day, and will soon drop down to two.  Woody, the only male of the litter, is heavier than his sisters by a solid three pounds!  Let’s just say that he was the first to be completely weaned…and it was not by his personal preference!  He would gladly continue to nurse if given the option.

Another big change is that the puppies have been relocated.  The little rascals discovered that they could escape from the whelping box, so instead of being kept in our guest bedroom on the main floor of our home, they are now in specially-designed cages in our basement.  The kids have set up a cage to sleep in, a cage to eat/play in and large cage big enough for us to get in and play with them.  It’s like a huge puppy playground!

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Climbing out of the Whelping Box

My daughter took each puppy, in turn, outside yesterday.  They weren’t quite sure what to think of the wet grass and the wind.  Some of them, like Woody, loved it!  Others, like Macy (who was originally named Lady) preferred to stay curled up in Gracie’s arms.  Most of the puppies have been re-named by their new families.

The puppies’ absolute favorite pastime is playing.  The like to play with each other, play with us, play with our guests, play with Daisy–but they love to play with our seven-month-old standard goldendoodle, Liberty Belle.  For as big and clumsy as she is, “Auntie Libby” is remarkably gentle with the pups, allowing them to climb all over her, tug on her beard, bite her ears and pull on her tail.  This gentle, patient, good-natured disposition is what we most appreciate about this breed.

 

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Auntie Libby plays with the babies.

Our days are kept very busy with people visiting puppies, cleaning cages, making sure everyone gets fed and playing, playing, playing with the little ones, in addition to our normal day-to-day responsibilities of school, homemaking, outside jobs and extracurricular activities. There is a great deal to organize and oversee at this point, and I find that my brain is ready for bed by about 6:00 these days. I confess that there are several odds and ends which are being overlooked–none of which are these puppies!

People often ask me if it will be hard to send the puppies to their new homes.  To be honest, not really.  We’re pretty picky about where these babies go.  People think they come to see if they want one of our puppies, but they really come for me to see if I want them to have one of our puppies.  🙂  We do our homework on our customers, and we are as sure as we can possibly be that each one of them will be a great home for these little ones.  And, while caring for these puppies, we put a lot of things on the back burner for our family.  It’s always nice to be able to stretch out a little bit again.  Will we miss them?  Absolutely!  Will we keep in touch with their families to monitor their progress and answer questions?  Of course!  We will wish we’d kept every single one of them?  No way, Hosea!

The Problem with Pride

Our pastor is in the middle of a sermon series that addresses the “mayhem” in our lives.  Some of this mayhem just happens–death, disease, accidents, having to watch other people experience heartache, and so on.  Much of the mayhem, though, is something we choose–often while acting like it is our only option.

Yesterday’s sermon specifically focused on what happens when our lives get out of balance due to our own pride.  This message really hit home for me, and I wanted to share an acrostic that was used–PRIDE–which illustrates how we often make the busyness in our life all about us.

People Pleasers–We are busy, busy, busy to win the approval of others.  We can’t say “no” because of what so-and-so will think.  We do the right things for the wrong reasons.  We will look over our shoulders while serving in order to see who is watching.  We love those pats on our backs, and we are highly motivated by the praise of the people around us.

Run after Respect–We are continually trying to prove something to someone else.  Our ambition is fueled by hopes of personal glory and approval from others.  This was something that I struggled with in my younger years–until I finally decided to own that God, my Heavenly Father, loved me no matter what.  I didn’t have to earn His love; I had it forever just because.  I recall a friend, a self-proclaimed People Pleaser, sharing that she remembered the precise moment when she realized that God could not possibly love her any more than He did at that moment.  She has been trying to walk in that freedom ever since.

Indispensable Syndrome–We all want to feel needed, and we sometimes allow this desire to morph into something that sucks the life out of us, out of the people around us, and oftentimes out of the well-being of the organizations/systems/ministries which we so adamantly say we want to support.  In essence, we overestimate our own importance.  There always comes a time when we need to make changes in order to become more effective.  And, frequently, there is often a time to just move on.  This is incredibly difficult for many of us to realize, and many of us fight it tooth and nail because we have become possessive of something that is not really ours.  I saw this principle in action firsthand last year when I watched my mom and stepdad downsize from a 3,000 square foot home and 20 acres to a 1,600 square foot home on a city lot.  It was difficult decision for them to make, but they had the courage to make it when the time came, saving their children and grandchildren the heartache of having to make it for them some day.  Their old house/property/stuff was not indispensable to who my mom and stepdad are to their families.  If they had continued to hold on to the way it had always been, there would have eventually been a cost that could not have been paid by them.  Life goes on…still full of good things…still with purpose.  Different?  Yes.  Lesser?  Not necessarily.  Sometimes, changes brings greater things.

Desires go Haywire–We fall into the trap that more stuff equals a better life.  We trust in our belongings/status/accomplishments to make us happy instead of trusting in Jesus to make us whole.  I have only owned one brand-new car in my life, and I remember driving it home from the dealership thinking, “I bet I have the newest car on this road right now”.  For some strange reason, I took great satisfaction in that thought at the time.  Ironically, I now drive, by far, two of the oldest, most-used vehicles in America.  I confess to being slightly embarrassed when a friend opens her door to get in and a part actually falls off, but I love not finding my identity in what I drive.  And, I love that my hard-working husband is willing to drive crummy vehicles to allow me to stay home with our children.  It has been one of the ways he has honored me and proven his commitment to our family.

Enjoy Pity–I live with a Marriage and Family Therapist (talk about needing pity!!), so I mostly broke the habit of throwing pity parties a long time ago.  I get zero pity from my husband.  Ever.  (But, sometimes I miss them enough to just go to my room, close the door and throw one for myself.)  Social media, though, gives us the opportunity to witness all kinds of folks seeking pity.  There are an awful lot of memes out there that start with something like, “I bet I won’t get even one person to like this status…”  Pity party.  Most of us love company when we are in misery.  Why is that?  Why don’t we just shut up when we’re miserable?  Instead, we spew our yuck onto anyone who will listen.  And we wonder why we feel alone.  If some of us worked half as hard at encouraging the people around us as we do at sucking people into our negative, draining, self-absorbed, habitual pity parties, we could certainly make the world a safer, more beautiful place.

Obviously, there are some of these that I struggle with more than others.  The fact, though, is that I’ve given into them all at one point or another.  Pride is a sneaky, vindictive quality.  It seeks to remain subtle while going for the throat.  It snatches peace from our hearts, steals joy from our relationships and muddles the truth of our purpose in life–all while whispering to us that we are not the problem.

“If you think you are not conceited, you are very conceited indeed.”  –C.S. Lewis

Thank you, Paul Gearhardt, for sharing what was on your heart (and for hopefully being okay with me passing it along with my own two cents thrown in from time to time).

 

Daisy’s Doin’s, Day 37

Last night was the first night in over 5 weeks that the puppies didn’t need to eat through the night and Daisy didn’t need a bathroom break.  I felt like the mother of a newborn when I woke up at 6:00 this morning and realized that I’d had an entire night’s sleep.  Daisy seemed pretty excited, too!

The pups are still working on adjusting to puppy chow in goat’s milk two times a day.  About half of them have the process down pat; the other half would rather romp around and make a mess during these meals.  Since they don’t actually NEED the puppy chow at this point, we have plenty of time for patience.  They’re still nursing every few hours, though these meals are much shorter than they used to be.  The pups are so efficient in their suckling now that they drain Momma dry in 5 or 6 minutes and move on to playing with her and one another.  Interestingly, Daisy has a new strategy for feeding them.  We call it On-the-Go Mealtime.  This works really well because the puppies’ toenails are so sharp that they just shred her underside if given the opportunity.

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On-the-Go Meals

We are still cleaning Daisy’s tummy and teats regularly to reduce the risk of infection.  She is also still getting protein-enriched meals at least four times a day.  These will start to taper off as the puppies eat more and more kibble.

We bring the puppies out of their box two or three times a day to play.  This morning, we brought them out to the laminate flooring in our living room for the first time.  Their reactions were hilarious!  It was like watching someone ice skate for the first time.  Jasmine was, by far, the bravest of the troupe.  She had the slick surface figured out in no time.  The rest of them had to be encouraged and enticed repeatedly.

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Jasmine investigates the safety of the slick surface.

Since it’s so cold here right now, potty-training is a bit of problem for these little ones.  We like to send them to their new homes with this valuable life skill already well underway, but I’m not sure how realistic this is for now.  The good news is that they are using the puppy pads to do their business most of the time.  Smart cookies!

All six puppies have been officially adopted by good homes now.  Two will move to North Carolina, one to Texas and three will stay here in Indiana.  We are very pleased with the loving folks who have claimed them, and we know our puppies will be well-loved.

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Woody and Pixie enjoy their first playtime on the laminate flooring.

 

Daisy’s Doin’s, Day 35

The one-month anniversary of Daisy’s sweet babies has come and gone.  We’ve had them for more than half of the time they will be in our care.  They are changing so quickly now–every day brings something new for them.  These puppies are truly our biggest entertainment here on the farm.

Yesterday’s breakfast was their first experience with puppy chow.  We softened the kibble with warm goat’s milk and held it under their noses for examination.  Woody, the only boy as well as the biggest pup, dove right in, lapping up the milk without hesitation.  Most of his sisters soon followed suit, though Belle thought her time would be better spent tugging on my sleeve as I tried to hold the bowl steady.  (Good thing she’s cute!)  The moist kibble occasionally stuck to furry cheeks, foreheads and even paws, and the puppies danced and stumbled around, trying to get the tasty morsels in their mouths.  There was even some teamwork going on as Jasmine removed a soggy piece from Tinkerbell’s back and pink tongues tidied up milky muzzles.  Their suppertime disappeared more rapidly and with a bit better accuracy.

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Four out of the six pups have been spoken for.  Wendy’s new family has changed her name to Pixie; her home will be in North Carolina.  After the winter that we’ve had, she’ll probably thrive on being a warm-weather pooch.

Ice and Snow

I know it’s not a popular stance to take, but I think winter and snow and cold are wonderful!  Part of the reason for my position is that with all of the planting, growing, weeding, watering and putting up we do during warmer months, winter is a season of rest for me.  The other part of the reason for my position is that I find winter refreshing.  I like the change in scenery and the change of pace.

Indiana is under a winter storm warning for most of today.  We’ve already gotten a covering of ice, and more is falling.  Several inches of snow are forecasted once the ice moves out.  Temperatures have already fallen 30 degrees since this time yesterday, and I think the prediction is for them to drop another 15-20 degrees.  It’s gonna get cold.

For part of the kids’ schooling today, they’re studying Winter in Indiana 101.  Fill jugs with water.  Open and close vehicle, barn and garage doors every 30 minutes to prevent freezing.  Salt the breezeway.  Take showers.  Run a load of laundry.  Charge phones and laptops.  We even made ahead hamburger patties and scrubbed potatoes for supper so that they can be thrown on the grill if we lose electricity.  Our preparation will probably prevent any power outage for our area.  (Yes, neighbors, you’re welcome.)

I am so thankful for our warm home, a closetful of blankets and running water.  Our freezers, refrigerator and pantry are well-stocked and we have plenty of split logs ready for the woodstove.  We are so blessed to be able to hunker down with good books, a variety of games and pleasant company to wait out whatever comes our way.  We even have puppies for snuggling and entertainment!

For those who are not so fortunate, Lord, please offer them Your protection.  Warm them, feed them and shelter them through the hands and feet of Your people.  Let none of us neglect to do our part.

Boss Mug

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This mug was a Christmas gift from my favorite brother.  I have drunk my coffee from it for the past two mornings, and I’m considering whether or not to use it for my water and kombucha throughout the day.

I love this mug.

My kids, not so much.  One of them tried to use it yesterday, and I revoked the privilege.  There were semi-joking outcries of, “Hey!  You just want to use that mug to lord it over us!”  I just smiled and reminded them that the mug is mine–not to revel in or to rub in their faces.  Just to remind me of my calling.

You see, this mug is a not-so-subtle reminder to me that I have been God-ordained to lead this home throughout the day.  It is my job to provide instruction, perspective, accountability, encouragement and discipline.  I lead by example in what I say and how I act.  I am the boss.

A good boss is a fair, honest and compassionate boss.  She is able to lead with wisdom and integrity, not getting caught up in emotion or giving in to the temptation to manipulate and micro-manage.  A good boss gives praise where praise is due and is willing to go to the mat for her team.  I am the boss.

A good boss gives wings when it’s time to fly.  She sees strengths and is realistic about weaknesses.  A good boss acknowledges her own of both.  She seeks help when necessary and acts in humble confidence when called.  I am the boss.

A good boss will also never refuse to engage in a situation when necessary.  She will not avoid conflict, but will diligently work toward a healthy resolution.  She will not pass the buck, expecting others to do her share of the work.  She will keep on keeping on, fighting the good fight when it is imperative to do so, and she will avoid unnecessary skirmishes that do nothing but lower morale.

I may just hang this mug on a golden chain around my neck.

Incidentally, my brother would never have given me this mug during our childhood years.  He frequently (and somewhat accurately) assessed his oldest sister as “boss-y” but never, in my recollection, acknowledged her as “boss”.  Sibling relationships are interesting that way.  Besides, we all know there’s a sharp contrast in someone who is good at being “bossy” and someone who is good at being “the boss”.  The character trait that was once considered a shortcoming–bossy-ness–can certainly be considered an asset by doing what it takes to be a good boss.  My life’s circumstances have altered.  God did not call me to boss my younger siblings (darnit!); however, He did call me to be a good boss to my children.

So, I guess I’ll keep plugging away within my divine calling.  I’ll try my durnedest to refrain from bossing my siblings, my friends and (especially) my husband.  I’ll focus on leading well and within my priorities.  I am equipped with the Spirit of God, and He is the most excellent Boss.