Family, Homeschooling, Parenting

Our Family Newsletter

When my children were ages five to eight, we started a family newsletter. It was snail mailed to their grandparents, two aunts, and two great-aunts. Our boys drew cartoons, provided book reports, reported family current events, and gave updates on their guinea pigs. One column had prayer requests. The boys chose all topics.

My kindergartner dictated his articles. Occasionally, the older two dictated while my husband typed their contributions. For the first year, we “published” every two weeks. Eventually, we dwindled to once a month.

Our newsletter lasted only three to four years, but along the way, it became a precious history of our family. Copies reside in our safe.

At the time, I didn’t realize the educational impact of the newsletter. Later, I realized that dictation gave the boys confidence to write. Recording our children’s “talk” and showing them the results, took some fear out of writing. Writing begins—although it doesn’t end—by putting “talk” on paper.

After a friend and her husband reviewed long ago copies of their family newsletter, she said, “They were the best and most encouraging items we had read in years.”  

Any family activities worth recording for posterity?

Friendship, Stories I Share

Stories I Share: Meeting Needs

I was savoring my morning accomplishment of putting a meal in my crockpot—the first since my newborn’s birth—when the phone rang. The two-year-old twin of a close friend had been hospitalized. My friend was pregnant with her fourth child. I immediately thought of my chicken in my crockpot. Did Donna need it more? I prayed.

Moments later, a mutual friend knocked on the door. Because Mary lived nearby, my friend Shirley had given her a meal at church and asked her to deliver it.

“Take it to Donna instead,” I said.

Later, Donna asked, “How did Shirley know I was desperate for a meal? Mary told me to return the dishes to Shirley.”

Months later, Mary stopped by to tell me that another pregnant friend had been put on bedrest. Mary wanted to take her a meal, but it was impossible with her day’s schedule. I immediately thought of a casserole in my freezer. I made a salad and took the meal.

Shirley and Mary met Donna’s need. Not I. I met Chris’s need. Not Mary. I never forgot that sometimes the best way to help is simply let a need be known.

Your turn or another’s?

Basics, Memories

Process Your Moments: Part 2

We move on and don’t process. Take in moments and don’t move on.

Deena Kastor, Bronze Medalist, 2004 Olympics

My fractured knee, meniscus tear, and Baker’s cyst made my plans to hike favorite trails in the Shenandoah National Park seem not only ambitious, but also foolish. While waiting for lunch the first day, I fell off a sidewalk and sprained my ankle. With determination, a carbon knee brace, and a makeshift ankle brace, my husband and I continued with our agenda.

What happened? An easy, one-mile hike that usually took seventeen minutes took over an hour. My husband and I sat longer than we walked. Our slow pace continued the following days.

The trail became our destination instead of an overlook or a waterfall or the completion of a trail’s loop.

We asked park rangers questions. We watched butterflies. We attempted to identify bird songs. We watched a doe chase—and then nurse—her fawn.

We studied trees and gave them suitable names.

We compared wildflowers.

Because of my injuries, we took in our moments. We processed. We savored. I declared our four days the best of our forty years of hiking

Do you have time to process?

See Here for Part 1.

Homeschooling

Let’s Celebrate!

Homeschoolers celebrate high school graduation in style, and our family followed that tradition.

Unfortunately, we didn’t celebrate other milestones that traditional schools celebrated. Along the way, I learned.

At one annual portfolio review of my boys’ work, my reviewer—who later became my supervisor and dear friend—gave me a Lenox plate. “You are my Homeschool Teacher of the Year,” she said. “It’s not fair that homeschool teachers are not recognized.” My husband agreed and took the family to dinner that night.  I have vivid memories of that occasion.

I should have been spurred on to celebrate more of my sons’ achievements. I wasn’t.  I continued to lag in celebrating.

A couple of years later, a phone call from my brother motivated me.  He was headed to my niece’s end-of-the-school-year award ceremony. She was being recognized. I hung up the phone, ordered a cake, and bought three gift certificates from the local bookstore. My husband made certificates for the areas in which the boys had improved the most. We partied a few nights later, something we should have done much sooner.

June is a great month to celebrate our students’ work and progress.

Celebrating?

Family, Friendship, Homeschooling, Parenting

Admonish. Encourage. Help.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

1 Thessalonians 5:14

When I recently re-read this verse, I remembered a sermon Dr. Bill Clark from the Lay Counselor Institute had preached over a decade ago. Admonish. Encourage. Help. He gave an example where he had to employ all three with a client, but usually only one was needed.

I was struck how my “go to” response of helping was not always the best choice. Occasionally, my response was random.

I had admonished the fainthearted when I should have encouraged. I had helped the idle when I should have admonished. I had encouraged the weak when I should have helped.

The only “go to” response in this scripture is “Be patient with them all,” rarely my first choice.

Do you naturally admonish, encourage, or help?