love-where-you-live-Corpus-Christi-with-every-intention

Loving Where You Live

When I was a kid we moved around a bit.  My dad served in the Navy and where the Navy needed him, we moved.  I remember being little and complaining once about having to move again and my mom quoted a poem to me.  She said, “If you want to live in a kind of town, the kind of town you like, you needn’t pack your bags and go on a long, long hike.”  Of course her wisdom was completely lost on my six year old complaint.

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I spent my college years traveling as often as I could.  I summered in cities far away from where I lived so that I could see what else was out there.  I dreamed of the places I’d live someday.  I dreamed of the streets I’d wander as I got to know a new place.  I dreamed of the people I’d meet, the restaurants I’d eat at, the eclectic places I’d find my groove in.  I fell in love with city after city.  Except, somehow, I managed to never fell in love with the city I actually lived in.

Until now. 

I have learned to follow Mom’s advice…”If you want to live in a kind of town, the kind of town you like, you needn’t pack your bags and go on a long, long hike.”

I CHOOSE to love where I live. 

It’s hot down here.  Really, really hot.  And it’s far from everything.  You have to have my city as your destination to come here…we aren’t on the way to anything and you don’t pass through us to get somewhere else…we ARE the endpoint.  (Although to a Texan this may not seem like a big deal as everything in Texas is far away.)  We’re a big city with this weird small town mentality, so we’re all stuck in limbo.  Living near the coast, there is an extremely laid back attitude…everybody worries about everything tomorrow.  And there’s basically one season.  Summer.

But still I have found the good.  I have intentionally found the good.

It’s so easy to complain.  To notice the worst of a situation.  To proclaim that the grass certainly is greener on the other side {or in the other city}.  Finding the negative in everything, well, It’s a terrible habit, but it is simply a mindset.  Something I can choose to change.

Finding something positive has to be an intentional choice.

It’s funny how we come to see our mindset and the poison it leaks into our everyday life.  It took four little people and their views for me to see that there is wonder everywhere.  Including this city.

If you want to live in a kind of town, the kind of town you like, you needn’t pack your bags and go on a long, long hike.”

I want a city that celebrates beauty.  There is beauty here.  Have you seen our bayfront?  Have you visited our Oso Preserve?  Have you looked out over the bay in the morning and watched the sun rise?  Have you gone out to Port Aransas and seen the dolphins and the sea turtles and the stingrays right at your fingertips?

I want a city that celebrates nature.  Nature abounds here.  Have you seen the bobcat babies out at the Oso Preserve rolling around?  Have you visited the Nueces Delta Preserve and watched the birds?  Have you spent a day on the Gulf and felt the summer breeze as your toes sunk in the sand or maybe gone out early enough to see the baby sea turtles make their way to the water?  Have you walked the trails at the Botanical Gardens and seen the natural beauty our deep southern city has to offer?

I want a city that celebrates intentional moments.  There is TIME for intentional moments here.  Remember how everyone is so relaxed?  If I choose to embrace that mentality, then I finally have a chance to slow down and actually live my life with intention.  I’m not sure the same could be said about a large city where the opportunities are endless.

I want a city that makes me happy.  Sunny days make me happy.  The beach makes me happy.  The breeze that makes the heat bearable makes me happy.  Knowing the people at the grocery store and the bank and my neighborhood makes me happy.  Not having to sit in traffic makes me happy.  A short drive to anywhere in my city makes me happy.

I want a city that celebrates education.  We have a gorgeous University here, as well as a community college, both full of bright young men and women.  We have the Texas State Aquarium with educated volunteers and staff that can answer any one of my kids’ millions of questions.  We have an annual Texas Outdoor Challenge that gives us the opportunity to embrace our local nature spots.  We have historical Goliad and San Antonio within driving distance to explore at our leisure.

I want a city that is charming.  That complaint about being a big city with a small town attitude?  Yeah, it turns out that there’s quite a bit of charm in that.  We haven’t become a big city with a big city attitude.  Somehow this city has preserved all its small town charm despite the growth.  Have you visited our downtown area?  Have you perused the fresh produce at our farmer’s market?  Have you walked along the seawall?

I want a city that celebrates goodness.  There is goodness here.  Have you met the people?  It’s the people that keep me here.  They’re kind and friendly and warm and interesting.  These people here are the most welcoming and inviting and accepting.  And I am grateful.

I may not have chosen to live here, but I do choose to LOVE where I liveIf you want to live in a kind of town, the kind of town you like, you needn’t pack your bags and go on a long, long hike.

Still not convinced that you can fall in love with your city?  Try being a tourist in your town.

If you’d like to live
in the kind of town
like the kind of town you’d like.
You needn’t slip
your clothes in a grip
and start on a long, long hike.

For you’ll only find
what you’ve left behind.
There’s nothing that’s really new.
You’re knocking yourself,
when you knock your town.
It isn’t your town – it’s you!

Real towns are not made
of people afraid
when somebody else gets ahead.
When everyone works
and nobody shirks,
you can raise a Town from the dead!

So, if while you make
your personal stake,
your neighbor can make his, too.
You can make a town
what you want it to be.
It isn’t the town – it’s you!

– Author unknown

 

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{A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}

Being intentional is easier said than done.  It’s easier imagined than executed.  So here’s where we inspire you every week with a simple picture and a few words.  Think of this as a chance to help you realize the simplicity of intentional. 

There is beauty and wonder EVERYWHERE.  It’s up to us to slow down enough to actually see it.

Be inspired.  Allow gratitude and joy and beauty to sneak in with every intention.  And then won’t you come back and share your moment with us?  Or leave a link in the comments to your blog where you celebrate {A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}. 

 

 

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A String of Choices

Our lives are just one long string of choices.

This ability to make choices rules us.  It starts the minute our feet hit the floor in the morning and it continues until we drift off to sleep each night.

Every decision defines us.  It shapes our souls and breathes life into our priorities.

Some choices are easier to make.  Some are so difficult we find ourselves on our knees asking for guidance.

Some are permanent.  Others allow forgiveness and a second chance.

Some are thoughtless.  Some are habit driven.  Ingrained in our heads to the point where we don’t even really think that we’re making a choice.

Some of them we make not realizing their effect on us until it’s too late to choose otherwise.

The word choice by definition means “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities” which means there’s always something we’re NOT choosing when we make a choice

The choice to work a little later rather than bow out a bit early to watch the sun set.  The choice to check our phone again rather than engage in a conversation with the people sitting right there in front of us.  The choice to multi-task rather than focusing on this moment…this conversation…this person.  The choice to commit to too much rather than choosing one thing and soaking up all its glory.  The choice to do rather than to be.  The choice to worry about the future rather than to live in this moment.

I think of all the choices I’ve made.  All the moments I’ve chosen things over people.  All the moments I’ve chosen complex over simple.  All the moments I’ve chosen not to listen, not to do, not to accept.  All the moments I’ve chosen worry over contentment.  And I know that those choices haven’t necessarily been the difficult ones nor have they all been the permanent ones.  Instead I like to think they’ve become my teaching ones.  The choices that make me feel empty or scared or sad or overwhelmed…those are the choices that give me a glimpse of what I don’t want my life to feel like.

And so I choose to make each decision a little more consciously.  It’s about making life-affirming, people-loving, simple-living, world-appreciating choices.  And it’s done with gratitude and openness and intention.  Because when we choose with intention, we choose consciously.  We choose what we want our life to say.

So today I choose to live with every intention.  I choose the people right here with me.  I choose joy and gratitude.  I choose simple.  I choose contentment.  I choose glory in the beauty that comes naturally.

And you?  Whatever you choose, let your choices reflect your intentions.

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A Chance Encounter

Our paths crossed ever so briefly.

She was sitting on the beach, her feet in the water, down by the lake near our campsite.  A phone in her hands, she looked up and smiled at the kids as they ran past her splashing in the water.  We exchanged pleasantries and discovered we were camping neighbors.  Hers was the lone tent we had seen set off in the distance, flanked by a solitary chair.  We teased her that she had come looking for peace and quiet and we were the farthest thing from peace and quiet.  She smiled and said she wasn’t bothered.

I laid out our beach blanket and settled down to watch the kids splash about through the eye of my camera.  Several times I thought about going over and talking to her.  I was curious about her story.  Everyone has one.  We once met a woman well into her 60s who was biking across the states, living in a tent smaller than my kids’ school table.  Another time we met a dad who had taken his daughter out camping for the first time and happened to be traveling to our hometown to visit his mother.  I wondered what her story was.  A young lady with a beautiful smile and an easy laugh, alone in the woods.

But something wasn’t quite right.

By her side was a red tumbler.  I remember noticing it because it reminded me of my grandma and her Tupperware tumbler that she filled with alcohol every evening.

The kids laughed and splashed about and soon the young woman rose, unsteadily, to her feet.  She wavered into the water and made a shallow dive to submerge herself.  I remember thinking how cold that must have been.

We watched intently, voicing our fears that perhaps she wouldn’t resurface.  She did.  She attempted to climb up upon the pier and lost her balance, falling backwards into the water.  She tried again and this time she managed to make it up to the top of the pier.  She walked out to the middle of the platform and took a drunken, swaying dive into the water.  We held our breath until she resurfaced.

She swam back to the shore, picked up her phone and immediately began using it again.

We all let out an audible sigh of relief.  She was out of the water.  Safe.

Later when we were drying the kids off and loading up the car to return to our campsite, she left the beach and came up to her car.  Thinking I’d see her later, I did nothing more than smile her way.  She refilled her drink and then got into her car.  We never heard the car start nor did we see her drive away, but we loaded up the kids and drove back to our site, assuming she was safely on shore.

We occasionally glanced her way, towards the lone tent, expecting to see her car at any moment, but the minutes passed and she didn’t return.

She was, for all intent, a stranger.  And as a stranger, there were invisible boundaries I did not know existed.  Boundaries I only feel now with hindsight being twenty-twenty.

I went to bed uneasy.  Where was her car?  Why hadn’t she returned to her campsite?  I wondered if I should be more concerned.  Should I be looking for her?  But what could I do?  She was an adult.  When I had last seen her she had been safely out of the lake, far from the water.  For all I knew she had driven into town and was drinking away the night at a local bar.  Maybe she had met a friend in town for dinner.  Maybe she had gone wandering down the trails to walk off the effects of the alcohol.

They found her the next morning, further downstream.  Her death was declared an accidental drowning.

There are a lot of unsaid should-haves here.  A lot of unrest and regret.  I should have made sure she got back safely to her campsite.  I should have alerted a park ranger.  I should have talked to her there on the shore.  I should have listened to that unease in the bottom of my stomach.  I should have gone looking for her back at the lake.

But that would be a bit arrogant, wouldn’t it?  To assume that somehow I could have twisted the hands of her fate?

Of course I don’t know her.  And that makes the whole thing just seem unfair.  How was it that we were given the task of being the last to see her, the last to talk to her?  I have the last photograph of her trapped on my camera.  Shouldn’t that mean something more than what it does?  Which is essentially a tale of strangers crossing paths.

I didn’t save her.  I didn’t even know she needed saving.  I hardly talked to her.  And maybe she needed someone to talk to.  I didn’t check on her.  Clearly she needed someone to check on her.  I didn’t invite her over to roast s’mores and sit around the campfire.  Maybe she needed to feel invited.  I didn’t stop her from drinking or driving or swimming.  And she needed someone to stop her.

But again, all of that assumes arrogance.  To assume that one brief conversation, one invitation, one moment could change the course of fate.  To assume that even if I had tried to stop her or save her or check on her that I could have done something.

I don’t accept responsibility for what happened.  Any sane person could reason that I did nothing wrong.  She was a grown woman, aware of the risks of drinking and swimming.  Although, truth be told, it’s just as easy to reason that I did do something wrong.  How could I leave a drunk woman near a body of water?  How could I not do something when her car was still missing?  How could I think she was any better off getting in her car?  How did I allow her being out of the water to alleviate my responsibility?

Because.  Because if nothing had happened, if she had shown back up late that night or even the next morning with a massive hangover and clothes still damp with lake water, I wouldn’t have thought twice about my choices the previous afternoon.

But that thought?  It doesn’t make it settle any easier in my soul.

There was a reason that we were the last ones to see her.  The last ones to talk, however briefly, to her.  And oh how I wish I knew that reason. Not to alleviate me of some heavy guilt or to free me of my part in her last day, but to make her death make sense.  To give an untimely death to a vibrant young woman a purpose.

I have to believe though that there is a reason buried somewhere in the confines of a terrible situation.  A reason that it all happened exactly as it did.  That’s faith interwoven desperately with hope.

I want to believe it’s about me.  I’m desperately trying to figure out why I hesitated and didn’t go over to talk to her.  I want to know why three times I felt something tugging at me to let her be.  I want to know why I ignored that unsettled feeling when she didn’t return that night.  I want to know why her smile still haunts me.

But this one isn’t about me.  There was something greater at work than I can imagine.  There’s a purpose there, something tucked away in that memory I now have of a stranger that will always be a part of me.

Perhaps it’s a lesson of intentionality.

A lesson to be present in this moment right now because there is no guarantee that there will be another moment after this one.  A lesson to tell the ones we love that we love them right now because there might not be another moment to tell them. A lesson to talk to the lonely stranger on the beach right now because I might not get a chance to hear her story tomorrow.

This might be the only moment I get.

We were the last to see her.  The last to speak to her.  The last to witness some of her final moments.  That can’t be an accident nor can it be forgotten and I owe it to this stranger to not let that chance meeting be in vain.

So I  go on.  I spend my days believing that her death had a reason.  A reason I will probably never fully understand, but I trust that our paths crossed exactly as they did exactly when they did because they were meant to.

And I hope those last memories…the kids splashing and laughing, the sun shining on the lake, the breeze rustling the leaves, I hope those were the lovely thoughts she had as she passed from this life to the next.

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Chihuahua Syndrome

You know that whole idea that little dogs that hang out with big dogs think they’re big dogs because they look at the other dogs and just assume they’re the same size?  We call that the Chihuahua Syndrome over here.  And Katie has it.

She hangs out with the boys all week long and while (luckily!) she doesn’t think she’s a boy, she does think she’s much bigger and much more capable than she is.  Case in point:  A few months ago the boys climbed up on top of the air conditioning unit and were jumping off with wild abandon.  Katie followed, thinking she was quite capable of the same dangerous feat and ended up spraining her wrist in the process.

Sometimes it works to her benefit.  She learned to swim at two, well and without fear, because her 4, 6 and 8 year old brothers were doing it.  She “does” school and eagerly “writes” letters alongside the boys.  She’s quite capable of self-care, never realizing that she’s got a two year gap between herself and the next brother.  She demands equality, telling us that she can stay up as late as the boys, she can go on that ride at the fun park.  Doggone it, she can DO whatever the boys can do.  And it’s not about gender to her.  It’s about a fuzzy view of self.

She looks at them as if it’s a mirror that reflects her while completely avoiding the fact that she is, in essence, nothing like them.  She’s her own unique little being and she’s not meant to live her life as a reflection of someone else.

One day recently we were out bike riding and I was explaining to William about Katie and her chihuahua syndrome and, while the essence of the topic completely escaped Katie’s thoughts, it did manage to kick her imagination into gear and she said to me, “I’m the baby chihuahua and you’re the mama chihuahua.”  After which she completely dissolved in a fit of giggles and “arfs.”

But her casual thought got me thinking.  “…you’re the mama chihuahua.”

It’s true.  So true.

I look at other moms and I treat them as a reflection of me and I begin to think that I must do what they do because, after all, I need to keep up with the big dogs.  I click from Pinterest project to Pinterest project and scan beautiful blogs with beautiful stories and I actually allow myself to see me reflected in them.  I meet a mom at playgroup and I see how calm and together she is and I think that’s what I should look like.  I gather with friends and I am sure that their ideas are the answer to everything wrong in my life and I must do things just as they do.  I allow myself to actually think that I must do whatever they do because, doggone it, even if it kills me, I must keep up with them.

I see the perfect cupcakes, the clean house, the adorably dressed children, the impeccable yard and I just keep trying to keep up.

But this is wrong.  All wrong.

Because I am bound to fall and sprain my wrist if I continue to try to keep up with the big dogs.

How can I possibly read that beautiful post that reflects the journey of that family and allow myself to think that perhaps my journey is meant to look just like that?  How can I see those Pinterest projects and think that doing something like that defines me as a mom?  How can I continue to fall into the comparison trap knowing that I’ll always find myself lacking?  How can I keep trying my best to be a big dog when I’m really just a little dog with my own little puppies?

I can try and try all I want but I’m NOT that mom.  I’m me.

See my little family over here.  We’re completely different than that family over there.  Our house looks different.  Our schooling looks different.  Our meals look different.  Our conversations sound different.  Our journey is different.

I am my own unique little being and I’m not meant to live my life as a reflection of someone else.

 

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Not Everything Intentional is Intentionally Planned

It’s so easy to make rules about life.  To imagine things as black and white and perfectly planned.  Then you walk out into the world armed with a list of rules and expectations and sure enough, you run smack dab into a gray situation.

And you have to choose.

It’s not always easy or obvious.  Your rules don’t fit and you find yourself redefining the original rules and expectations.  Life is fluid.  Sometimes you just have to go with it.

Being intentional is no different.  When you decide to be intentional about life it can almost become a religion.  A rule to live by.  A mantra.

But you have to be careful because being intentional isn’t the same as setting goals or planning ahead and it’s really easy to begin to blur that line as you shift into trying to live a life of being intentional.  Sure a calendar helps you to be intentional about your time and learning to set realistic goals makes being intentional more possible, but being intentional is really about this moment.  Whatever this moment is, whether it is intentionally planned or unintentionally presented.

Take this little guy.  He followed us home last month.

Daxson shook his head.  Now’s not the time for a dog, he mouthed to me as the dog happily licked my kids.  He was right.  This wasn’t an intentionally planned moment.

But this dog.

He’s sweet and docile and extremely lovable.  He makes my kids giggle and he brings unbiased love to our little domain.  He’s loyal and protective and always happy to see us.

He was homeless, having been dumped in our neighborhood, and in need of people.

So we made a decision.

We kept him.

We chose that one moment over a multitude of future what-if moments and we chose to keep him.

Sometimes life is like that.  We fail to be present in this moment because we’re far too busy thinking about our imaginary future moments.  Being intentional is about THIS MOMENT right now and how we choose to live THIS MOMENT.

{A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}

Being intentional is easier said than done.  It’s easier imagined than executed. 

So here’s where we inspire you with a simple picture and a few words. 

Think of this as a chance to help you realize the simplicity of intentional. 

Be inspired.  Allow gratitude and joy and beauty to sneak in with every intention.  And then won’t you come back and share your moment with us?  Or leave a link in the comments to your blog where you celebrate {A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}. 

Sometimes it’s the message we leave behind us, without words, that speaks of what’s in our hearts.  Let your message be intentional.

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Intentional Learning: Putting our Goals into Words

So last week I talked about why schooling our children with intention is so important.  This week I thought it might be helpful to be a bit more practical than theoretical. I would like to share with you what my goals look like. These are broad goals without specifics as to how to accomplish them (that post will come later!) so as to help me keep my mind focused on what I want for the child who comes out of my domestic school in 12 years (it’s so easy to get lost in the nitty gritty of “how” and lose our long distance sight!).

My goals are not listed here in any specific order.  #15 is just as important as #1.

Please remember that these are MY goals for MY children.  Yours will likely look very different.

I would so love to see what goals you have in mind so please come back and share with me in the comments!

  1.  Each child will learn to read – to be able to find beauty, truth and goodness through the Bible, great literature and a vast array of non-fiction.
  2. Each child will be exposed DAILY to our faith and its riches so that when he grows up and wanders from his bearings he will have a solid foundation to hold himself steady.
  3. Each child will learn a foreign language and study other cultures so as to broaden his opportunities and to instill in him respect for peoples unlike himself.
  4. Each child will have a thorough understanding of world history and geography to help him grasp his tiny footprint in this great big world.
  5. Each child will be introduced to science concepts fitted to his level in order to see the majesty of God’s creations.
  6. Each child will form a personal relationship with nature by studying nature and its marvels in depth.
  7. Each child will be introduced to the beauty of this world through a gentle introduction to great works of art, music, and literature.
  8. Each child will practice math daily to help him develop a foundation of mathematical and reasoning skills to function in a fiscally mature manner and to carry out mathematical functions in everyday situations (cooking, measuring, estimating, etc)
  9. Each child will be immersed in literature and experiences that pushes him to grow in virtue and character and empathy.
  10. Each child will be supported and given proper guidance in life skills that are needed for daily success, survival and cultural enjoyment.
  11. Each child will be nurtured and treated as the individual he was created to be.  He will be supported in the development of talents, interests and goals.
  12. Each child should have a quiet time carved into his day in order to infuse his mind with great ideas through quality literature or imaginative play, depending on his age and capabilities.
  13. Each child should be well versed in American and Texan history so as to appreciate the freedoms he is afforded.
  14. Each child should be well acquainted with his local, geographic surroundings, understanding both direction and the general layout as well as a familiarity of plants and animals.
  15. Each child will be allowed to practice, without judgment, the innocence, wonder and exploration that naturally occurs in a child’s spirit.
  16. Each child will be disciplined in habits of attention, obedience, respect, self-control, integrity, truthfulness, and compassion so as to prepare him to be a useful contributing member of society.
  17. Each child will learn forms of self-expression including but not limited to drawing, writing, and reciting.
  18. Each child will learn to sing and play a musical instrument to fill their world with beautiful sound.
  19. Each child will take care of the body entrusted to him by learning  about and taking care of his body through proper nutrition, physical education and restful leisure.
  20. Each child will be immersed in positive thinking, joyful praise and honest gratitude to help cultivate the same thought patterns in his mind.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

Intentional Learning: Setting Goals for our Homeschool Year

Spring is here and, for those of us that homeschool, spring includes the madness and chaos of planning for next year.  Catalogs fill the mailbox, conferences inspire our hearts, evaluations of a year passed guide us toward our goals for the following year.

It’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of choices.

It’s easy to forget why we chose this path.

It’s easy to just tag along with the cultural flow and do what everyone else is doing because we just can’t imagine our kid not keeping up with other kids his age.

It’s easy to approach our educational philosophy a bit unintentionally.

But being intentional is so important when our children’s hearts are at stake.  Because it’s not just about reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.  It’s about character and morals and citizenship.  It’s about growing this unique little being into the person he was created to be.

The educator and philosopher Charlotte Mason tells us that Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life.––We begin to see what we want. Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. ‘Thou hast set my feet in a large room,’ should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking––the strain would be too great––but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy. The question is not––how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education––but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” (Vol. 3, pp. 170, 171) (emphasis mine).

So not only are we expected to educate our child in the traditional sense of the word, but we’re expected to plant a seed in him that sprouts a love for learning, a thirst for knowledge. We’re expected to lead him toward a full life.  A life that is good and worthy and whole.

That’s a heavy responsibility.  One that can’t be approached casually.

If we simply look to the public school system as our guide, we are missing the entire spiritual realm of education.  Our children become well versed in grammar rules, mathematical concepts and reading skills, perhaps, but we completely leave their soul out of the equation.  We cheat them out of an education that forms their character, guides their morals and establishes the principles that will lead them in all the days ahead.  As we are mind, body and soul, we cannot overlook the formation of their very beings.  Charlotte Mason advised us to: “Look on education as something between the child’s soul and God. Modern Education tends to look on it as something between the child’s brain and the standardized test.”

So how do we intentionally approach our homeschool plan?  Surely, we muse, there is a curriculum that comes wrapped in a box with a pretty bow that covers everything we need.

If only it were that simple.

Unfortunately, it takes deep thought and reflection to guide us in our decisions.  It requires a map of sorts to guide us in our curriculum and book choices.  It requires intentional thought about where we want our children to be after 12 years of home education.

We must begin with a broad plan.  An intentional philosophy, so to speak.

Grab a pen, some beautifully lined paper and a cup of tea.

Now imagine your child as an adult.  What do you want for him?  I’m guessing you don’t want him depressed, on drugs, collecting welfare, barely paying the rent of a run-down shack, yelling at his girlfriend to tend to the baby.

Surely you want him to be well adjusted, morally sound, guided by his principles and ethics.

You want him to find pleasure in the simple things of life, right?  The feel of a spring day on his cheeks, the anticipation of reading the next chapter in a well-loved book, the delight of a walk through the neighborhood.

You want him to love his life, just as it is at that moment in time whether it’s surrounded by books in a library as he studies for his finals or backpacking through Europe exploring all the places he read and dreamed about in his childhood.  Or maybe he’s already settled in a job having made the choice not to go to college and he’s passionate about what he does and determined to make a go of it.  Or perhaps he has settled down with his sweetheart and they’re navigating the waters of married life but he’s not discouraged because he knows that this is just part of the journey and he’s full of hope and determination.

You want him to have hobbies that enrich his life, hobbies that help him find beauty, truth and goodness in the crazy, chaotic world, I’m sure.

You want him to feel the power of education at his fingertips, knowing that knowledge is just a book away.

Maybe you want him to have a solid personal relationship with his Creator or at least a solid foundation just in case he wanders a bit.

I’m quite sure you want him to grasp the basics of math and budgeting and fiscal responsibility, lest he find himself knee deep in debt without hope of loosening the master’s hold.

You probably want him to be well versed in American history and liberties so that if his freedom is ever at stake, he knows exactly what that means and just how far he is willing to go to retain those liberties.

I know you well enough to know that you have other dreams for him.  Mine might be quite different from yours so I hesitate to share anymore wanderings here with you lest my guide become more of a checklist.  I promise to share my own goals for our homeschool with you soon, but I want to allow you some time to ruminate over the thoughts I have shared here.

So take some time this week.  Put down the catalogs and stop browsing the web.  Mull over the big ideas.  The broad plan.  You can’t choose a curriculum until you’ve given the long term goals some serious, intentional thought.  Put your thoughts down on paper.  Feel free to come back and share some of your thoughts here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And Then There Were Four

Having my first kid was love at first sight.  I was in awe of that tiny little bundle.  Those ten little fingers and ten little toes made me weak in the knees.  I spent hours just staring at him, marveling at the wonder of life.  He and I, we meshed.  He moved into crawling and walking and still it felt as if this new heart of mine, this mommy heart, beat solely to the rhythm of his.

Then along came baby #2.  Less than 2 years after the arrival of #1.  And it was fun.  Now I got to introduce my first to all the amazing things that make babies so lovable.  I still had energy and patience and somehow I survived just fine on little sleep.  I adored both boys.  I marveled at every new thing they did.  I soaked up all the “Mommy watch this” and the “Mommy hold me.”  I loved being needed.  Tears and meltdowns felt like par for the course where I was able to soothe and restore.  I had this whole Mommy thing down pat.  Life was more chaotic than with just one, but I was good at it.  And I loved it.

Less than 2 years later, #3 arrived.  2 years after that, #4.  And suddenly I was knee deep in crowd control.  Being a Mommy didn’t feel nearly so fun and while I still was in love with each of my babies, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to reflect on the wonders and marvels of little life.  I hardly had time to stare at one before another needed my attention.  I was over here treading deep water just trying my best not to sink.  The first couple of years of #4’s life?  A complete blur.  When did she start walking?  What was her favorite bedtime story?  I’m ashamed to not know.  I’m sure I wrote it down somewhere but the moments aren’t carved into the essence of my heart the way they were with the first one.

Realizing I can’t remember some of those moments because I was moving through life in a daze?  That’s a sobering thought.

I don’t tend to hang myself with guilt or beat myself up with regret.  But I do tend to let my past guide me.

These relationships I have over here?  They’re not just important to me.  They’re my lifeline.  These kids might temporarily be mine before they head off into the wide world but they are my saving grace, my road to sanctification.

How will I possibly live with myself if I don’t nurture the little lives that I labored to bring into this world?

My littlest one is almost 4.  Life has slowed down considerably for me.  We can actually travel and not have to listen to screaming thirty minutes in.  No more diapers or nursing babies.  No more meltdowns eagerly awaiting naptimes.  I’ve got two boys that I can’t remember the last time they asked me to pick them up or hold them.  I only hear “Mommy watch this” occasionally these days.  My once upon a time toddlers now help around the house and ease the workload of this busy mama so life doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

But I’ve spent the past few weeks looking at them wondering how the last few years impacted our relationships.  I know I was here physically, but my goodness, mentally I was exhausted.  Some days I felt like I had nothing left in me to give.  I can’t honestly say that I paused long enough to listen to each of them.  There was always so much laundry and cooking and cleaning and the minute one began to talk, another began to cry.  I literally spent the last few years divided, not really giving fairly to any of them.

Of course it doesn’t help that on top of all my own self-induced responsibilities, I also had the distraction of an outside world.  Text messages, social calls, Facebook groups, the world of internet.  It all moves so fast today.  So very fast.

So how do I nurture the relationships that give me purpose in such a fast paced world?

I have a vision of what I want our relationship to look like twenty years from now.  And so I choose.  I choose to slow down.  To stop and savor.  To be intentional.  Intentional in my plans.  Intentional in my conversations.  Intentional in the moments I share with these darling little beings.  Intentional because that’s how a goal is met…one intention at a time.

If you want to be a pro soccer player someday, you train.  Intentionally.  You don’t spend your days eating bags of potato chips and greasy hamburgers.  You don’t take weeks off  to stay indoors reading books about soccer.  You play soccer.  It’s one training session at a time.  One intentional day at a time.

Relationships are no different.

Sometimes those intentional moments require a complete break from the fast paced beat of our everyday lives.  Sometimes it’s as simple as turning off the phone.  Other times it’s as simple as choosing them over some imagined priority.  It’s always as easy as looking into their eyes when they’re talking to me.  Listening to them when they express themselves (even when that’s done through a cascade of tears or a fit of anger).  Holding them even when they think they don’t need to be held.

Those things pressing into me from every side.   Most of those things will still be there tomorrow.  They’ll still be there twenty years from now.  But these relationships I’m building?  That’s happening now.  And I have to choose.  If I want those to look like I imagine in twenty years, then I have to choose to be intentional today.