Monthly Archives: January 2012

A prompt disguised as reading…

Read the first 75% of any book you’ve never read. Stop. Now outline the rest, and write the last scene! This would be great to do with partners.

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Post from the Past: Easy Recipes for a Dinner Party

Last week while I was typing, my six-year-old son asked me for an index card. Over the next couple of minutes, he lay in the floor of my office, writing away. I helped him spell most of the words, but I wasn’t paying attention to the content as a whole. By the time he asked me for an envelope and a stamp, I realized he had written an invitation to some of our friends. We mailed the letter, and as a result, I lay awake last night wracking my brain to come up with some nice, yet easy, dinner choices for tonight’s company.

Since I will be busy all day, I’ve decided to make two things that will be super easy, but they are still on my husband’s list of favorite things to eat. The main course is a four-ingredient lasagna. I used to hate making lasagna because it was so time consuming, and frankly, I can’t stand the sight of ricotta cheese! However, the ingredients I use are:

6 lasagna noodles, cooked

Half a block of Velveeta cheese (or something comparable), cut into quarter inch slices

1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained

1 can or jar of spaghetti sauce

After cooking the noodles and beef, I make two layers of noodles, cheese, beef, and spaghetti sauce, in that order. I always save the majority of the ingredients for the top half, since that’s the half that everyone sees.  :) If you don’t mind a runny river of cheesy goodness, you can serve it immediately after baking. If you’re like me, however, you will want it to look as good as it tastes – in which case, let it cool for 45 minutes or so before serving.

My main side is a four-ingredient mashed potato concoction, thanks to my sister-in-love (engaged to my brother), Mandy, for the recipe!

8-12 small potatoes (I always save the big ones for baking), cooked and mashed

Butter to taste

Milk to desired consistency

Lots of shredded cheese

After making mashed potatoes as usual and adding butter and milk, place them into a baking dish. Cover the top with shredded cheese and bake at 350 degrees until the cheese melts. I must admit that the first time I made this, I was trying to make regular mashed potatoes. I used too much milk, and figured that some time in the oven would dry the potatoes out a bit. Since Mandy had been bringing cheesy mashed potatoes to our house for special occasions, I thought I would give it a try! It’s now one of the easiest and yummiest side dishes in my repertoire!

A little bread here, another vegetable there, and dinner is done!

On a side note, my son has inspired me to try to bring some formality back into my friendships. How fun would it be to throw a dinner party and actually send out cordial invitations? Gone are the days when people ate at friends’ houses three or four nights a week, and entertained once or twice a week in their own homes. With all of the demands that we place on ourselves, we find it difficult to make time for visiting with our family and friends. If we would turn off the television once in a while, I wonder if we would get bored enough to remember the important people in our lives?

A challenge: call someone important to you and invite them for dinner!

Socialization – what’s the big deal?

So your homeschooled children won’t know the current trends in movies, music, and fashion. So they may not be the talkative ones at the party. (Then again, they may be. My homeschooled seven-year-old couldn’t stop talking if his life depended on it! And he even talks to strangers every chance he gets.)

The thing is, if your children come from a Christian family, they shouldn’t be listening to or watching the same things as the rest of the world anyway – homeschooled or not.

Aside from modern trends, what else will they miss out on by staying home? Basically, they aren’t going to learn to raise their hands before speaking (unless they go to Sunday School or a homeschool co-op), or stand in line (unless they ever happen to visit a grocery store). They won’t learn to work as a team (unless they have brothers and sisters or cousins or friends), and they’ll never learn to get on with people their own age (which they will really need to learn if they ever want to…um…what? Attend a public school? – Sorry, it was the only scenario I could think of to use that particular skill.)

What about all of the public school kids who are socially backwards? No one ever says, “Don’t let your kids get too interested in math and science; it will turn them into geeks, and they won’t get invited to parties. How else will they socialize?” No, people realize that our society benefits from people who get wrapped up in their own projects and obsessions, especially in the fields of medicine, mathematics, electronics, and any of the sciences. We need a few more people who can focus on their passions. Parents are proud of their focused, albeit shy, children. The world looks on and says, “To each his own…unless you homeschool…then you’re depriving your children.”

No one ever says, “Don’t send your kids to public school; what if they become a Goth or a drug-pusher?” No, I think that this whole socialization issue was just fabricated because it was the only thing people could think of that was even remotely wrong with the idea of homeschooling. And I don’t think it’s wrong at all. Besides, most homeschooling families are large enough that the children learn to socialize as a matter of course. On top of that, this whole idea of socialization needing to happen at school is a relatively new concept. People used to keep their children at home and train them in a trade. And they were way more social back then. Between church functions, barn raisings, dinner parties, visiting, etc, nearly every child learned to function in society. Even more important, they learned to run and raise a family.

What is the greatest barrier to socialization today? Not homeschooling, but entertainment. I see couples out to dinner where both of them are playing with their iPhones instead of speaking to each other. I have known a few people to sit through a family get-together totally engrossed in a magazine or a hand-held video game device the entire time. When the family gets home after work/school each evening, what is usually the first thing to happen? The television gets turned on. Then we proceed to ignore and shush our kids for the remainder of the evening. When they ask us to play a board game with them, we say, “I don’t have time.” Do they see us as the liars we really are? Okay, well, now I’m just ranting, but I think you see my point(s).

  1. There are plenty of socialization opportunities out there, free for the taking. It doesn’t matter where you go to school.
  2. Why is socialization so freakishly important, anyway? Introverts still get married and have families, friends, jobs, etc.

Homeschool Empty Nest

Now what?

The other day, someone hit my blog by searching “homeschool empty nest.” I can’t say that I have any personal experience with this (my homeschooled son is only seven), but my heart went out to this searcher, and I thought I would brainstorm some things to help.

I do know a few people who have homeschooled their children, who are now empty nesters. My mother, for instance. Her life has always been all about her children. What does she do when they leave home? Why, she makes her life all about her grandchildren, of course! This week, she has been spending the evenings and nights with my brother and his family, and the days with my sister, who is a brand-new mother herself. She lives with my other sister and her family, and she will be visiting our home later this afternoon. She is very involved in the lives and happiness of her grandchildren, and you can tell how much they love her for it!

Another empty nester I know has opened a bowling alley. I can only assume that she had dreams of doing so before, but she has now found the time as well. Do you have any dreams of owning your own business? Perhaps now is the time!

Some homeschool moms have gone on to teach in private schools. This is something that I am seriously considering for myself. Others go to college and learn a new skill, or begin a new career.

What if you don’t have grandchildren yet? Or what if you wish to remain a keeper at home? What do you do with all of that free time?

I know what I would do: write like crazy! Homeschool moms everywhere could benefit from your knowledge and experience. You’ve already been there and know what the rest of us are facing. You could help us answer questions about routine, curriculum, and college.

If you don’t particularly enjoy writing, perhaps you could think back to your youth. What hobbies and projects did you enjoy as a child? A teenager? A young adult? Perhaps you could get started in photography or refinishing furniture.

What about volunteering? Nursing homes are lonely places and can always benefit from a happy face. What are you good at? Is there anyone who would benefit from your services?

Perhaps you could stay involved with a homeschool coop, and teach Spanish, creative writing, or advanced math. Or maybe they just need someone who will be content to entertain the littles while other classes are meeting.

At any rate, set some goals for yourself, and try to meet them. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10?

Anyway, these are just a few ideas off the top of my head. Feel free to add your own ideas! If there’s an empty nester out there, please let us know what you did to keep your sanity!

 

What does God sing about?

You!

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

I wish I could put into words how this verse makes me feel. We’ve all heard John 3:16 so many times, that we tend to overlook its deep meaning. We’re desensitized. I think people get the feeling that God is trying to guilt them into serving Him.

But this verse in Zephaniah is fresh. It proves to me how much God really does love me. Enough to give His son, of course. But even more than that. Enough to sing over me. I am precious to Him. He enjoys my company; desires my fellowship.

It kind of reminds me of my relationship with my husband. I told someone the other day that I really like my husband, and they said, “Well, you love him!” But to me, liking my husband is even more important than loving him. I love a lot of people – I care intensely about them and what happens to them. But I really like my husband. I like being around him, talking to him, spending time with him. This is the way God feels about us! Not only does He love us, but He likes us too!

This verse does a couple of things for me: first, it makes me feel deeply loved (and liked!).

Second, it makes me really wanna hang out with my best friend, who also happens to be the Creator of the universe.

Third, it helps me forgive others because I realize that this verse can apply to anyone walking the face of the earth. Even those who aren’t saved yet still have the potential to get saved, and to bring this much joy into the heart of God. It helps me remember how precious each and every person is.

A Prompt Disguised as Art

You might want to get a partner for this one. Each of you should draw a picture that depicts a story you have in your mind. The story should be from your own head, it shouldn’t preexist. Shhh… Don’t tell your partner what you’re thinking. Then, swap pictures and write a story based on the ideas you get from the other person’s pic. If you don’t have a partner, you could just find a neat pic on the web, write a story about it, and later look to see what the picture was supposed to be about.

Post from the Past: Submission – What Does It Really Mean?

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Ephesians 5:22-24

What should you do when you feel that your husband isn’t treating you right? Maybe you can sense a reoccurring streak of selfishness, or maybe it’s as bad as a complete disregard for how you feel. Worse than that, perhaps you can see that he is making poor choices or ignoring the mandates set forth in God’s Word. How can you make him understand? The short answer: you can’t. You can try to reason with him; respectfully tell him exactly how you feel. Sometimes your honesty will be enough to make him take a second look at things. But in the long run, you can’t force him to believe differently about something or to behave in a certain way.

How then, should you react? Here’s my advice, although many may not agree. The Bible commands wives to submit to their husbands. I know, I know; it also commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That means that your husband should listen to your opinions and give them a lot of weight in his decision-making, right? Well, the truth is, however your husband decides to interpret that verse, it shouldn’t have any impact on the way you interpret the preceding ones. You see, those verses aren’t set up like “if…then” statements. If the husband loves his wife, then the wife submits to her husband. What if your husband isn’t a Christian at all, and gives no thought to the Bible whatsoever? Does that automatically make you the decision-maker of the household? Because your decisions are the right ones? No. Every wife believes her opinions to be the right ones – all the time. The Bible doesn’t say, “Therefore, whosoever is wrong shall submit to whosoever is right.” God has ordained your husband to make family decisions.

The only time you can disobey your husband is if he asks you to sin against God. You cannot force him to act the way you believe God wants him to. I have found that approaching God’s command this way frees me from worry about the effects of my husband’s decisions. I obey God by obeying my husband; everything that happens in my life as a result is God’s responsibility. You see, God will never punish you for obeying him. In fact, the only way you can find His perfect will is to obey Him to the letter – even if you feel that God’s will is being hindered by others in your life. Believe me; He does have the power to perfectly order your life in spite of other humans.

Your only job is to act the way you believe God wants you to act. As a matter of fact, that is everyone’s job, and the sooner we can believe that as a church, the sooner we can begin to examine our own lives, and stop nit-picking the lives of others – either audibly by nagging them, or in our thoughts. Think about a common church service for example. Maybe the pastor is preaching about finding God’s will for your life. Maybe your husband is sitting next to you, and you just know this sermon is exactly what he needs. You speak to him after the service and discover that he thought the message was, “ok.” What? That was a life-changing message! So why isn’t he bubbling over and brainstorming areas in his life that need changing right away? Sometimes – I would venture to say all of the time – what people really need in their lives is an example of godly living. My advice is to apply every Word from God to your own life, whether you are sitting in church or having a quiet Bible study by yourself. So much time is wasted by thinking, “So-and-so really needs to hear this. I wish she were here,” or “I hope he’s paying good attention. This message is for him.” When in reality, God has you sitting under that message on that day for a reason, and I guarantee that that reason is not so you can sit there and think about who else needs to hear it. Am I making sense? Let me bring it down to one sentence:

It is not the words you speak that will change the world, but the example that you set.

Challenge: apply everything you read today to your own life.