owning my roles

Before I continue with any more blogging, I feel as though I owe C.S. Lewis an apology.  Several blogs ago (on gender reconciliation) I referenced something I’d heard C.S. Lewis had said, and I did so with, be it ever so slight, disdain in my voice.

I’ve never been a C.S. Lewis fan.  He already has plenty of fans, why should I become yet just another one of them?  In the past, I’ve attempted books like Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man and struggled to stay with them.  I just don’t think that much about those things.  I have read The Four Loves and LOVED it.  I have never (yet) read the full Chronicles of Narnia.  I have read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, parts of The Magician’s nephew, and parts of The Last Battle and did appreciate his way of making “deep” and “deeper” magic out of deep theological truths.  I’ve reached for The Screwtape Letters and some of his poetry, but never really made a lasting connection.  What I’m saying is that I’m not one of these people who can say they’ve read, studied, and immersed themselves in the majority of his fiction and non-fiction work.  However, I am now unashamedly a fan, not in a madly in love fan-girl sense, but in a “Well, duh. How could I have been so stupid?” sense.

C. S. Lewis is a phenomenal writer.  His ideas are clear, and he writes of human thought and experience in a kind and disarming yet “nailed it” sort of way.  I recently read Surprised by Joy, and it was one of the most delightful reading experiences I’ve ever had.  I don’t recall ever smiling so much while reading a book.  Such was the oddity, I even began marking the pages with smiley faces 🙂 every time he made me smile.  I now have an answer to the question, “What is your favorite book of all time?”  Prior to Surprised by Joy, I have never been able to easily answer that question.  The Bible, yes–but no one, including me, ever really likes that answer.

Here is what C.S. Lewis actually says:

“The last stage in my story, the transition from mere Theism to Christianity, is the one on which I am now least informed.  Since it is also the most recent, this ignorance may seem strange.  I think there are two reasons.  One is that as we grow older we remember the more distant past better than what is nearer.  But the other is, I believe, that one of the first results of my Theistic conversion was a marked decrease (and high time, as all readers of this book will agree) 🙂 in the fussy attentiveness which I had so long paid to the progress of my own opinions and states of my own mind.  For many healthy extroverts self-examination first begins with conversion.  For me it was almost the other way around.  Self-examination did of course continue.  But it was (I suppose, for I cannot quite remember) at stated intervals, and for a practical purpose; a duty, a discipline, an uncomfortable thing, no longer a hobby or habit.  To believe and to pray were the beginning of extroversion.  I had been, as they say, ‘taken out of myself’.  If Theism had done nothing else for me, I should still be thankful that it cured me of the time-wasting and foolish practice of keeping a diary. (Even for autobiographical purposes a diary is nothing like so useful as I had hoped.  You put down each day what you think important; but of course you cannot each day see what will prove to have been important in the long run.)”

~Surprised by Joy, p. 284-285

 

 

 

memorial day

In loving memory of A.M.C,
November 11, 2003-May 21, 2018

My soul finds rest in God alone,
My Rock and my salvation;
A fortress strong against my foes,
And I will not be shaken.

Though lips may bless and hearts may curse,
And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness,
I’ll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.

Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.

I’ll set my gaze on God alone
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul
And He will prove His mercy.

Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

*Psalm 62, Stuart Townend and Aaron Keys

homeschool philosophies (part 2)

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To continue on with what I was saying, I’m starting to wonder, that if I keep with my goal of the kids keeping up, I might actually end up holding us back.  I have no regrets with how we’ve done things, but as I evaluate the past and look ahead to the future, I feel ready to move in us a different direction.

I want to pour over books and unit studies on states.  I want more class discussion and less class distraction (the LEGOS are everywhere).  I want to take our read-alouds to new and higher levels, incorporating oral and written narrations as a given.  I want to sweat through the complicated work of communicating.

What makes homeschooling so incredibly attractive to me is the great flexibility we have in what we can learn and all the ways we can learn it.  So much of my school life I cannot remember.  Once I got into junior high and high school, school was just the hoop you needed to jump through in order to get to the social experiences.  I put forth minimal effort into learning, retaining, or applying myself to giving back the gifts offered.

In many ways it feels like I’ve been given back the time.  I’ve been given another chance at learning.   Mere Motherhood, a memoir I read by a homeschooling mother of thirty-plus years put it this way which I thought was absolutely perfect, “Joseph Pieper tells us that leisure is the basis of culture.  Most homeschool moms would laugh at the idea of leisure, but that is essentially the gift homeschooling gave us–the leisure to learn”.

homeschool philosophies

We’re wrapping up our 2017-2018 school year.  We’ve all reached that point where we’re ready to be done, not in a negative sense, but more because the sun is shining, the grass is green, and the fresh morning energy begs to be channeled toward something else.

I’m happy with how the year went.  I’m naming this school year “the year of the lake” because of how much time we spent on the ice.  It was absolutely amazing to watch the lake transform throughout the winter, from frozen solid, to still thick enough to walk on, to weak and unworthy of trust.  I had no idea how many forms water could take, or how a lake groans beneath the surface when the winter doesn’t let him make a move.

My biggest frustration has been the waiting in the slowness.  We have not been able to keep up the pace I imagined us keeping.  It’s not that we haven’t been learning, or that we haven’t been day after day having school.   We have.  But certain things like reading and memorizing of multiplication facts, which I happen to believe are extremely important and useful for life, are not happening at the speed I had hoped.

When I started homeschooling, I was aware this might happen, but things start to feel different when something goes from a likely possibility that I feel totally fine with in theory–to an actual reality.  I am not typically one to compare my kids to other children.  But now that their six-year old cousin can read (the daughter of two Lutheran school teachers), and my homeschooled seven-year old boy is not at her level, I have started to question the way I’ve been traveling.  If I was to hold up my kids to the academic standard for their appropriate grade levels, four out of five would be falling behind.

They say the biggest mistake homeschool newbies make is trying to make school happen the way it happened for you (in my case, public school).  You often hear the phrase, “The goal of homeschooling is not to recreate public school at home”.  I totally get that, and for the most part, I agree with that.  I, however, have wanted, at least in part, to keep that familiar school/classroom experience my oldest children knew and thrived in during their years of Lutheran grade school.  I have actually wanted to walk as closely as possible to the present-day culture and various methods of education, as well as wanted to keep my children “up-to-date” by keeping up with the workbooks and grade levels.

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As time goes on, however, I’m finding it harder to do it this way.  I am itching to be able to cover more ground.  I have an entire bookshelf of resources, most of them gifted to me, just waiting to be used.  And yet, at the same time, I am happy with the pace we are keeping.  Experienced homeschool moms warned me about this.  They said that I would struggle with doubts.  I felt very confident when starting out, not in the sense that I felt like I knew what I was doing, but confident in the fact that homeschooling was right for this moment in time.   I still feel that it is right, and it has been working, but I’m thinking next year is the year I’m going to have to commit to my visions and take more risks.

I’m gonna have to be okay with being different.