Saturday, February 6, 2016

An Open Letter to Dr. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul

Dear Rand, Ben, and Ted,

"We The People" are tired of your nit-picking each other. We The People want you to unite and stand together just as our founding fathers did. We The People know that each of you love our Nation as much as we do. We The People have not forgotten all the sacrifices that each one of you have made because of your love of this great nation and your desire to preserve the Constitution and the principles upon which this nation was built.

Unity is necessary to win this country back. 

Now to address you by name:

My son
Rand Paul. I was a big fan of your dad, I voted for him and proudly displayed his sticker on my car, which I left on for months after Obama won the election. My son is a government major in Virginia and he is a huge fan of yours! In fact his photo made the cover of a farewell article to you! Your honorable step down makes me love you even more. I wish more candidates would do this, so that Trump would lose. I was; however, saddened at your pit against Ted Cruz. I think you would make a great team and unity is much needed right now. You both have done much good for our Constitutional Rights and you needed to focus on that together.

Dr. Carson I have followed you for a few years and was thrilled when you announced your possibility for running for this country. You have been #1 on my list. I fear that you are tired and run down. You have fallen into the trap set up by the media to bring division into the Republican party. Stop posting hints about how you are "not falling into nasty political traps". Please stop inferring your disgust for the mistake the Ted Cruz's team made. The bottom line is that he was ahead of you at the Iowa Caucus and regardless of the situation, he still would have won. If I were there, I would have voted for you. But, I assure you his mistake really made no difference. Your decision to go home to Florida was a poor one, and likely due to sleep depravity and stress. You, of all people, know that when you are tired, you rely heavily on your staff to make decisions. I believe you need to stop blaming Ted Cruz and remember how he stood for "We The People" (including you) in a major filibuster against Obamacare and the relentless fights he has put up to save our Constitutional rights! Dr. Carson, Please make ammends with Ted Cruz, so that which ever one of you wins, you can work together and be a team in the White House. You and Ted need to meet and strategize. Your love for "We The People" is the same. Make this your strategy platform,

Ted Cruz,  "We The People" hope you will be more careful with your advising staff after this mistake. Make true amends with Dr. Carson. He needs to be in the White House next year. The two of you need to strategize together. Be a team. Come up with a solution together so we can TAKE BACK the White House. If you both run for president then we will lose to Trump. We need all the votes that went to you, Rand, and Ben to be ONE lump sum.

We need the THREE of you to work together in UNITY for "WE THE PEOPLE" to take back this great country and to restore and preserve our Constitutional Rights.

Let us not forget:

"A house divided against itself, that house cannot stand"
 Mark 3:25


Adrienne Freas
Flower Mound, Texas

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What makes a Classical Education “Classical”?

What makes a Classical Education “Classical”? You may have heard terms such as "Liberal Arts", "Quadrivium", "Trivium", "Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic". While these are all elements within a classical pedagogy, there truly is a simpler way to understand the basics behind a classical approach to teaching. It really boils down to 2 very simple elements: good curricula and the method by which you supply its information.

Mortimer Adler, the founder of The Great Books of The Western World wanted to provide great books for Americans to get acquainted with the minds of classical philosophers and authors.  Adler's solution to the dilemma of supplying great curricula was summed up when he said  "The answer, in a word, is ideas. In two words, it is Great Ideas—the ideas basic and indispensable to understanding ourselves, our society, and the world in which we live." So, this leads us to a standard by which we choose curricula: It must contain Great Ideas which contain good and timeless thoughts. To get this, we must supply great books.

Adler also said this about learning: “The goods of the mind are information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. We seek these goods not just in order to live, but in order to live well.”- He goes on to say that good books are not “good enough" for true learning.  Good books alone "do not provide us with access to all the essential goods that enrich the human mind. What then is omitted?”

You might say "Nothing is omitted! If I provide really great classical curricula such as The Great Books of The Western World for my students, then nothing could possibly be missing, so why is Adler himself not satisfied with the books alone?" Adler continues to explain that which is “omitted” from really good curricula and classical books is the “understanding of great ideas”. Let's revisit his quote "The goods of the mind are information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom".  If understanding and wisdom are also primary goals of a classical education, then it must not be omitted. If we use proper methods of teaching with classical curricula, then understanding will take root in the mind of the student and this will later lead to the pursuit of wisdom.  So, we must supply a method with our curricula (Information and knowledge) in order to truly give a classical education to our students.

Charlotte Mason was a British educator during the reign of Queen Victoria and she, like Adler, wanted children to be in touch with great ideas through the reading of living books instead of just dry text books. She created a method by which a student could truly gain this understanding and wisdom that Adler speaks about. She said that in order for these “great ideas” to be understood, we must have the student narrate. Narrating is an art and it takes time to learn how to use your curricula and proper habits on the part of the teacher. The teacher must learn how to apply this method in order that she would facilitate a foundation for the child's mind to build grow in the depths of real understanding.

The narration method of asking the child to recall and tell back everything they remember from a single reading trains the young mind to develop the habits of listening, concentrating and ordering the thought patterns in the brain. It builds neuro pathways that become highways to deeper more intellectual trails by which their ability to gain wisdom and virtue can smoothly ride upon throughout life.

This method secures such strong powerful connections in the brain, that the student will be able to make up their own minds and make choices that are virtuous as they are maturing and gaining wisdom. This method is revolutionary and a complete paradigm shift from what most classrooms in America look like and in fact, many “classical” schools today are not practicing this important technique.

Good books and high quality curricula invites readers to think for themselves and allows them to make up their own minds on every topic under consideration. So, while curricula is a necessary tool of a classical education, the way we use this tool is what defines a truly classical education.

A classical education is one by which the teacher does not preach, teach with rewards, nor tell the child the moral of the lesson or for that matter what to believe. When a teacher reads a lesson, whether it be history or a simple story from literature, the reading must be done in such a way that the child is engaged without interruption.  The reading of the text is should be clear and not read too quickly, so that the child can understand it. The child must be allowed a moment of time to think and process and then tell back what he learned without being prodded with leading comprehension questions. If questions are asked, they should be socratic in nature, which is another art for teachers of a classical school to master.

Boy Writing by: Albert Anker

"Let them get at the books themselves, and do not let them be flooded with a warm diluent at the lips of their teacher...the less parents and teachers talk-in and expound their rations of knowledge and through to the children they are educating, the better for the children...Children must be allowed to ruminated, must be left alone with their own thoughts. They will ask for help if they want it." - Charlotte Mason, School Education, page 162

When this occurs, they can narrate and then know what they have learned. Adler would agree with Charlotte Mason about the mind being left alone without interference from the teacher's ideas about the meaning of the text. "When the mind thinks about any of the basic subjects of human interest, it is engaged in the understanding of the great ideas and, as that understanding enlarges and deepens, it begins to open the door to the wisdom we need for the good conduct of our lives."- Mortimer Adler, The Great Conversation, Page 25

A true classical education is an intricate dance of the teacher between reading, supplying excellent curricula, and allowing the student to use the powers of attention to command his thought atmosphere and harness his neurons to ignite the power of true learning. “Mind appeals to mind and thought begets thought and that is how we become educated. For this reason we owe it to every child to put him in communication with great minds that he may get at great thoughts; with the minds, that is, of those who have left us great works; and the only vital method of education appears to be that children should read worth books, many worthy books”. – C. Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education, Introduction

While the common elements such as the Liberal Arts, Trivium & Quadrivium, the stages of Grammar, Rhetoric & Logic are all important, they simply are the tools that we can put in place to constitute the labeling of a Classical Education. We must realize that these tools are only as good as the master's knowledge about how to use them. If a person is given tools and told that he can now build a house, but never shown how to build the house, the results will be quite disappointing. 

I hope that this encourages some teachers and parents who are interested in classical education to realize that it is attainable without being complicated. If the tools are in place and the teacher can master the art of narration, this in its purest and simplest form is going to build a basic structure of a classical education. 

Links for Rescources and  Science about narration (telling back the reading of a lesson):
Simple Repition Can Have a Powerful Impact on Learning

Repetition is the Mother of Learning

Charlotte Mason Method of Narration

Help My Child Doesn't Like to Narrate

Stressful Narrations: Whose Fault Is This Anyway?

Confidence Based Repitition


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Homemade Dog Food: A Process Part 1

I began my journey of making home made dog food in October, 2013. My 3 year old Shiba Inu began having seizures, throwing up frequently, and acting very strange regularly while my 2 year old German Shepherd/Leonberger mix was rapidly gaining weight, limping, panting and not eating very much. One night in bed I thought "What do these dogs have in common that would be making them so sickly?" and BAM! It hit me! "Their dog food"!  I immediately googled "Dangers with Blue Buffalo dog food" and found major stories all over the internet with people who had very sick pets from this brand of dog food.

Todd the Shiba Inu & Sigmund the Shepherd/Leonberger

I called my vet and took my large breed dog to have some testing. His thyroid was nearly dead with a T4 level of 0.06

We put him on a hefty dose of Thyroxine and I decided to make them home made dog food.

I found this very helpful website with recipes. I started out making the raw dog food and then I made the cooked meatloaf version recipe. The dogs liked the cooked better and it allowed me to make large batches that I could measure and freeze in portions. I also added the Dynovite and Lick-o-chops supplements that were recommended on the website. I made this consistently for about a month and then I discovered that I could buy chicken for significantly cheaper per pound than ground beef. Since I had a 100 pound dog (now he is down to 80) who needed 3-4 cups of food per day, it was getting costly.

I did not notice huge improvements, but over the course of a few months, I started to notice their hair looked better, the seizures were cut way down, the energy levels were returning, and the vomiting had stopped.

By the sixth week, I decided to start cooking the chicken recipe from this website, and meanwhile, I contacted a lady whom I knew had been making her dogs' food for many years. One of the most important things she said to me was "Would you feed your kids boxed cereal every day for every meal?" and "Make sure they get at least a yellow/orange and a green vegetable everyday". These 2 statements really struck me. Feeding my dogs kibble would be like feeding my kids boxed dried enriched cereal as their main food source and that would surely make my kids sick.

I no longer need to follow a recipe, but rather provide them with a common sense, well rounded diet.  I make 2 chickens at a time twice a week. I bake or crockpot them till the meat is falling off the bones easily. I always save the broth that naturally comes out when they are cooking. After about 45 minutes of cooling I de-bone the chickens. I save all the bones so that I can make bone broth and bone meal (Bone broth/bone meal instructions will be in another blog post).

Chicken, bone broth, bone meal, sweet potatoes & fried zucchini in Sunflower oil
I also either cook a few sweet potatoes or a small bag of carrots in with the chickens. All of the de-boned meat and bone meal goes into a container with the smashed carrots or sweet potatoes. Sometimes I will make them yellow squash and green zucchini in place of the carrots and spinach. Sometimes I will add a few spoonfuls of leftover plain rice, but mostly, my dogs are grain free and they do better on this diet. Sometimes I will dice up a cooked red potato and add with the carrots and spinach too.

Daily, when I feed them, I add frozen chopped spinach or kale (sometimes peas, zucchini or green beans): Greens consist of about 1/4 cup for my 20 pound dog and 3/4 cup for my 80 pound dog.

Basically they get 20% green, 20% orange, and 60% meat which often includes bone meal

My 20 pound dog gets 1 cup of the mixture per day (meat, orange, and green veggie)
My 80 pound dog gets 3 cups of the mixture per day

I give the small dog 1 tsp of organic raw coconut oil daily
I give the large dog 1 TBS. of organic raw coconut oil daily.

Sometimes, I will crack a raw egg over their food, if I did not have quite enough meat to give them a boost of protein.

Often, I will add a spoonful or 2 of bone broth that I made and this is great for moistening the food. I do warm their food on the stove for a few minutes till it is about room temp.

Snack Ideas:
They also love to snack on raw almonds, cashews, or walnuts. I often give the large dog a handful in the morning or before bedtime. The small dog gets about 5 nuts a day.
Sometimes  feed them some blueberries. They love blueberries as a snack.
Sometimes I let them each drink a little bit of the raw milk I buy from a local farm. They only get this about once a month and I generally will toss in a few nuts. I only do a very small amount, as a snack or breakfast if they seem really hungry in the morning.

P.S. I forgot that I sometimes use Butternut Squash for the orange. They LOVE LOVE LOVE butternut squash. You could use canned pumpkin too if you want to keep it easy. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Contemplations Of International Brutality

Innocent people being brutally murdered by ISIS. Yes, this is bothering me. In fact it is bothering me to an extreme level. It is such a complicated issue, and yet so simple. Why can't we do SOMETHING to stop them? I sit in my air conditioned house, doing my normal routine of house-wifery work, and in the back of my head I cannot even begin to comprehend what these people are going through.

I am severely angry and severely disappointed in what is happening on the other side of this planet that we all share. Of course, this type of brutality has happened for centuries and even happens in countries like North Korea, but we just do not realize it. The publicity that ISIS wants is giving us a glimpse into the ugly reality of wickedness.

As an American who grew up in the public school system in the 70s and 80s, I remember learning about American patriotism and Russian communism. I remember learning about Hitler and the USSR. I remember, as a 10 year old little girl, thinking:  "Why did the PEOPLE LET Hitler slaughter the Jews?" This was something we talked about as little kids on the playground at recess after sitting through a social studies lesson. I remember when we used to tell each other "We would NEVER let something like that ever happen again".  And here we SIT! We SIT. We grocery shop. We drive our kids to ballet class. We drink our coffe. We eat 3 + meals a day and complain when we need chocolate!

I feel like my hands are tied. Does anyone else feel like this?

 I sometimes feel just like this ape!

What can we do???

Of course we can pray! AND...

The other realistic thing we can do is PAY ATTENTION to what our elected officials are saying and DOING! I see them sitting on their behinds and DOING nothing or DRAGGING their feet and waiting....WAITING for WHAT!!!???

I am pretty sure one of the most significant things we CAN do is VOTE!!!

I am disgusted and angry and I hope you are too. And I hope you will vote and think very carefully about what and who you are voting for at the next election. Pay attention to history and voting records and the actions of these politicians.

I wonder...what would be different today if someone else had won the last major election? Does it really matter? Does it?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Motherhood: The Half Empty Nest Syndrome

I have found myself once again, reading a blog post about "Motherhood" and it was such a GREAT post, but when I got the end I was left hanging with this question "What about me?"

I remember those hard years with little ones; believe me I do. I had a 5 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old and a newborn once upon a time. I have these vague memories of living in the trenches with little ones. I call them "vague" because I often found myself in "survival mode", and by God's Grace "survival mode" memories often get erased.

Today, I find myself in a very important phase of motherhood that often goes unnoticed. It is this really funky phase that is REALLY hard. I totally have not been prepared for it. It hurts and yet at the same time there is great JOY in it. My nest is not empty, so nobody seems to care. My nest is just half empty. But, do you know something! Half empty is still really hard!!! I miss my 21 and my 19 year old. My oldest is in Germany for an internship, my 19 year old is living with her friend and is engaged to be married in June!! My 17 year old is graduating from our homeschool this year and I am still homeschooling a 15 year old.

Why Being A Mom Is Enough is a fabulous article about motherhood. In fact, it might the best article ever written because it gets to the core issue and the heart of being a mom. But, when I got to the end, I said "WAIT!!! What about me?" She ended the article like this:

" A mother is the person, the woman, just like you. The woman with little ones in her care that she loves, and sometimes wonders how she loves them because they’re driving her batty, but still she does. She fights, gives, prays, works, and doesn’t give up even when she wants to throw in the towel. 
That’s you. Today. Tomorrow. Yesterday. I say that is enough.  It is more than enough. You are amazing."

WHAT????What about Me? I no longer fit in this category of motherhood. I don't have little ones, boo boos to kiss, kids to tuck in bed, nobody driving me batty. I DONT WANT TO THROW IN THE TOWEL. I am still a mom, but my kids are growing up. Let's face it, I am the mom of 2 adult children.

So, if the author does not mind, I have decided to add one more paragraph. It is intended for the mom who is like me. Please insert just before "That's you. Today. Tomorrow. Yesterday."

.... And after the "tucking in at bedtime" phase is over, once they start to grow wings, the mom is the branch from which they fly. The branch stays and and as the winds blow, she bends in prayer for those grown ones who have found their roost in another tree. They will return to visit, but your branch is now a place of comfort and rest, instead of a place they call "home".

Thursday, March 13, 2014

13 More Mom Truths

Yesterday this article popped off the page and it REALLY caught me. I had to read it!

13 Mom Truths posted on Huffington Post's Blog page. This surely will be either funny or inspirational, but as I read on and on and on, I was greatly disturbed by the fact that this mom obviously only knew some of the truths of motherhood. I mean seriously, she said in number 11: "Sippy cups leak. Toys break. Those things don't matter." 

Ok, so I am at number 11 and she is still talking about mothering a toddler! Really? There are so many more levels of "Mom Truths" than toddlerhood and grade school aged kids! I am still hoping that by number 13 she might have some incling of a "truth" about being the mom of a child who is actually taller than you! But, to no avail, my craving for something about being an older mom was not satisfied. She was spot on with her 13 points, but I suppose the title is what threw me  off guard. I was hoping that the article would include the many layers and seasons of motherhood.


Welcome to my season of gray haired mothering! I decided to continue the "Mom Truth" Saga where she left off. Allow me to list her first 13 before I write my commentary response.

In case you don't want to click on the original article, here are Rachel Martin's excellent young motherhood "13 Mom Truths" in a nutshell: 

1.  Your house is not a reflection of your parenting skills. 
2.  Sometimes you just need to read the same book over and over again.
3. Meltdowns in the store happen. 
4. You will be tired. 
5. Some days will be tedious. Other days normal. Other days challenging. Other days amazing. Motherhood is like a roller-coaster ride of days. 
6. Kids get sick. 
7. Fewer things equal less stress. 
8. You'll make mistakes. 
9. Laundry will never be done. 
10. Get down on their level.
11. Sippy cups leak. Toys break. Those things don't matter.
12. Don't worry about savoring every single moment.
13. There is no supermom. There is only the real mom. 

My motherhood season in response to hers in decending order

13: There may be no supermom. But ONE DAY, you will be SUPER GRANDMA and that day is coming soon!
12. Savor every moment, because they are almost grown up and when they leave, you will miss them so much more than you can imagine!
11. Cars get wrecked, insurance premeiums go up. These things matter, because someone has to pay the bills.
10. Let your teens fail and help them up, but don't rescue them from their consequences. When they are adults, Accept them for who and what they have become even if you don't understand why they make the choices they make. 
9. Laundry will never be done. In fact when they are teens and young adults, you will have more laundry because all their clothes are BIGGER and when they come home from college, the laundry pile is literally an avalanche.
8. You'll still make mistakes and you are actually at risk for making bigger mistakes the older they get.
7. Yep, fewer things still equal less stress.
6. Kids still get sick, and the older you get when you get sick, the longer it takes to get better. But, the good news is, that when you are sick, you don't have to take care of the little ones while you are puking your guts out. You actually get to stay in bed and rest. You have earned this priviledge!
5. Mothering teens is still often like riding a roller coaster, but as they get older, the roller coaster becomes more like a steady train ride as you build your confidence in letting them grow their wings and fly out of the nest.
4.  You will still be tired, because when they are teens they stay out LATE. The side benefit is that now you get to sleep in and since they sleep in too, the house is nice and peacefull till about noon.
3. Meltdowns in the store only happen when you forgot why you went to the store. Your teens have now drained you down to the point of nearly suffering from alzheimers. 
2. Now that you have read those books over and over again. Just toss them in the trash and go get yourself a nice big glass of wine and drink it over and over again.
1. Your house is now a reflection of your teens who did not do their chores!

Now excuse me while I go pamper myself in my quiet house,  enjoy my sassy gray hair and glass of Chardonnay and repeat as often as you want.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


In a house full of people there is almost inevtiably always an appliance running. The purr of the dishwasher, the vroom of the washing machine, the whirring of the clothes dryer; the noise never ceases. Yet, silence, it is what I long for. I love quietness and the still, soft whispers of the wind. As, I sit here reading my book, suddenly, the dishwasher stopped and all became quiet; all, except the tick- tock of the clock. I remember as a child when I would try to fall asleep as a guest in the home of a family who owned a ticking clock. The sound of that "tick" and that "tock" drove me crazy and kept me awake all night tossing and turning, wishing I could smash the clock!

tick-tock, Tick-Tock TIck-TOck, TICk-TOCk, TICK-TOCK...


Slipping away!!

The sounds of time! Oh it seems slow and quiet, but really what is time? Time is always chasing us and yet running ahead of us. The pendulaum swings. How do we catch it and how do we slow it down?

I am 43 now. My oldest is 21 and in Germany, my 19 year old is getting married in 3 months, my 17 year old is graduating in 10 weeks, my 15 year old is going to summer camp for a month in July! How did this happen???? Instead of the tick tock of the cuckoo clock keeping me awake, the worries of motherhood turn round and round in the workings of my mind,

Take my hands Lord!
In the midst of that "tick" and that "tock", they grew up! How does a mom prepare for the kids flying out of the nest? How do we handle this huge and seemingly sudden change from diapers to marriage? Why is it that the hands of the clock stay the same, but the hands of a mother constantly change?

I am not sure, but as I sit and listen to the tick-tock of my clock, I am reminded that my life is ticking away and I have but a short time to remain on this earth. What am I going to do with my next 40 years? I am not sure!! But, I am praying and asking God, "What shall I do now?"

I am waiting in the quiet, while the sounds of time are chasing me down, for the whispers of God to show me what is next.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My thoughts about Towers In The Mist by Elizabeth Goudge

Christ Church in England
The setting of this book is at Christ Church, the home of Oxford University in England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. One of the characters I found to be quite interesting was Sir Walter Raleigh and it intrigued me to read more about his real life and his accomplishments to see how it lined up with his character in the story. It also inspired me to investigate the history of Queen Elizabeth's visit to this church, as it had been established by her father King Henry VIII.  Upon some investigation, the queen did indeed speak to the faculty and students on September 5, 1566 and her speech can be read here.

Christ Church from the South-East side across the meadow

My favorite part about the book is within the pages of the last few chapters. It took me a year to read this book, as I like to read many books simultaneously so as to savor them. The first two thirds of this book were dragging for me, but it was well worth the effort. The profound words of Miss Goudge jumped off the pages in the last few chapters. I truly believe that she is the most exquisite author of beautiful literature. She is able to put ideas into words that make each sentence truly exquisite.

My goal in reading stories is to find the treasure! The treasure of golden nuggets that plant within my soul a truth to ponder that will grow within me a new way of thinking, so that I can become a better person. The golden thread that wound itself around my soul is the idea that peace and inspiration are two of the most important elements of our life on this earth.

Queen Elizabeth was giving her climactic speech to the people of Christ Church. It was an eloquent speech, although the real speech is different, I still enjoyed the spiritual depth and insight that Miss Goudge put into creating this speech. This part in the queen's speech really stopped me dead in my tracks! Through the pen of the author, Queen Elizabeth said:  

"...peace and inspiration are the two gifts of God that we most need in this our pilgrimage. If we have peace in our hearts the disorder and cruelty of of life will not overwhelm us with despair, and if we have even for a short while seen that flash of light from another country that men call inspiration we shall have the courage to attempt, however unsuccessfully, to do our part in quieting the disorder and quelling the cruelty; until we have battled through them and our rest is won....And it is in such houses as this my scholars that we find that peace and inspiration..."

Peace and Inspiration. Is my home a place of peace? Do I intentionally create an atmosphere of peace in my home? Do I intentional create an environment that breeds itself to inspirations? How can I make my home a place where these 2 fundamental facets of life are abundant?

My pondering continues. I am wondering how to really bring forth the atmosphere of peace and inspiration into my home. I must clean out the clutter of my mind, so that I can eliminate the clutter of things, in order that I might create room for that which brings forth peace and beauty. All things beautiful start with a seed of inspiration and must be planted into soil that has been prepared so it can nourish the seed to sprout and bloom into an idea which springs forth beauty.

From seed to sprout to blossom: beauty must be born from inspiration

"...he paused to look back at the towers and spires so delicately penciled against the glorious dawn sky that curved above them in the semblance of a great circle. He felt a pang of pain to think that he must so soon leave it all, but yet he had at the same time a glorious feeling of permanence. Raleigh at the last had been quite right. Love was an unchanging thing, not at emotion but an element in which the whole world had its being. All the lovely things upon earth, beauty and truth and courage, were faint pictures of it, even as the puddles of rain water at his feet held a faint picture of the fiery sky bending above the earth. And in the mind of man too the flame was caught and held; in his own mind whose strength and vigor made it possible for his eyes to see this picture of a fair city and a golden sky, for his heart to feel for Joyeuce an affection so strong that he dared to call it by the name of that eternal and embracing love."- Elizabeth Goudge, Towers In The Mist

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Whisper of God

Where is the whisper of God? I cannot find his voice behind the dark walls and that surround me day by day, week by week, month by month. I find myself wandering in a dark maze, tripping on junk, stumbling into walls. Lost. Nowhere to rest, nowhere to hide, nowhere to ponder and listen. The noise is constantly chattering, clamoring; screaming from the walls that envelope me and sky that closes in over me.

The whisper of God. I have heard it before. In the sound of the rain and the drops of the sun. The coddling of a nursing babe at my breast. The walks with the trees, the murmurs of rushing water, the ramblings of robins, the brushes with nature. The cool breeze that rushes through my skin, the snow that brushes against my cheeks. The blue moon that lights up the crackling snow at midnight.The sounds of laughter from children. The back door open with muddy feet running in and out. The dog that says "I love you" when you come home. 

Where is the whisper of God? Somewhere I have lost Him. I do not know how to find him in the weeds, the noise, pollution, and walls of buildings. Nature is nowhere to be found in the clattering of suburbia. Lost, I am. Deaf I have become. I want to be with the trees again. The scorching heat, the stifling air, the sound of planes, the lack of beauty. It keeps me at bay. I stay behind my safe walls and hide. Dark in the cell, I have become a prisoner. Locked away, I hide and stare at this mess I have made and this mess I have become. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Homeschooling and Working Outside The Home: Why?

I have realized that I am fiercely committed to my family. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more important to me than my husband and my kids. I am devoted and passionate about my relationship and commitment to helping them each become the very best that they can be.

With that said, all of my life goals and decisions are centered around them. You might think that is crazy and insane that my entire life is wrapped up in my family, but honestly, isn't that the point of living? Being a supportive wife and devoted mother is the hardest and most fulfilling role that I could ever imagine. When my life is over on this earth, I want my children and grandchildren to remember me and I want my life to reflect the glory of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Last year I had to start working in order to help cover costs of college, ballet and piano lessons. I still homeschool 2 of my 4 kids and life is super busy for me. But, I can honestly say that I have learned a lot about myself this past year. I am tired most of the time because I still homeschool, I drive 50 miles a day for ballet lessons and I work 25 hours a week. But, I realized that I am fiercely devoted to my family.

sibling fun
So often, there is a pre-supposition that a working woman is not devoted to her family. I was a stay at home mom for 20 years and I loved it. But, now that I am working outside of the home, I am realizing that many women who work, really are doing it for the sake of their love for their family. The fierce devotion of wanting to give their kids the very best opportunities that they can is often a motivation of a mom who works outside of the home.
Rainy homeschool day
Sibling fun in Germany

I do challenge young moms that while your kids are young, do whatever you can to stay home.  Downsize and live on very little in order to stay home with them. When our kids were young, we rented a 2 bedroom duplex and lived close enough to a grocery store that I could walk since we only had one car. The bond and relationship that I was able to build with my kids will last forever and to this day I have a great relationship with all my kids and three of them are GIRLS ages 14, 17 and 19. How many moms of 3 teen girls can say that it is a joy? I attribute this to staying home with them, and not putting them in activities that kept us apart during the dinner hours. We did not start our kids in activities until they were older and I think that was a very good decision.
Me and my three girls

On a funny note, I am an events coordinator for a locally owned wine boutique. YES, when you have teens and you are a homeschool mom, drinking wine is a nice reward for the end of a hard week! For that matter, wine at the end of the week is good for anyone! Keep Calm, And Drink More Wine!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reading To Your Children

Today it occurred to me that God has revealed himself to us through literature! Of course, it is not the only way we have revelation of His nature and reality, but His Word is a very significant gift that He has given to us. How wonderful that He created us to love stories, because we are part of the true story that He has written since the beginning of time. We are each characters in the story of life, as God created it!

God Spoke into existence the whole of creation. The first chapters of Genesis tell us that each day God SPOKE and it came into being! How amazing that a spoken word is how we were formed.

Words are powerful. God created us to speak and to be spoken to as creatures who can build relationships and bonds with one another! God has a relationship with His creation whether you believe it or not. Man is the creature to whom he has reached out to with His word!

"In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God." -  John 1:1

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."John 1:14 

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword"Hebrews 4:12 

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."Matt 4:4   

"Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28  

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."Romans 10:17 

For many years I have held the conviction that one of the most effective methods of teaching is to read aloud to our children. There are scores of studies and books published on how incredible reading out loud to your children is. It is the most powerful and effective method for teaching kids to learn. They have to learn to sit still, imagine, think, listen and order their thoughts. 

Reading out loud also encourages our kids to hear good words and connect with good and bad characters. In a sense they build a connection, or a relationship with these characters! When you read a good story, don't you begin to feel connected with the characters? You feel like you know them, and for a few moments you believe they are REAL. 

Why is that?

I believe it is because God created us to connect with words and stories. We are each a character within the story of life! God gave us His word (The Bible) so that we could learn about him and relate with him. 

So what is my point?

First, that it is critical to read out loud! Read the Bible, but also read other great literature! There are miriads of classics to choose from. Don't settle for the new junk, read the classics (click here for amazing books lists). They are classics for a reason! Reading out loud is effective and it is obvious from some of the Bible verses above, that hearing the spoken word is very powerful indeed. That applies not only to scripture, but even other pieces of literature! Again, studies have proven the power of reading to your children,

Secondly, Reading stories helps to build the imagination towards virtue. God created us to hear stories! He created us to have an imagination as part of our foundation for walking in faith without seeing! 

"This faith comes from hearing the Word of God" according to Romans 10:17

"Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1

In the book titled Rallying the Really Human Things, Vigen Guroian asserts "The human imagination reaches out and seizes likenesses and analogies that establish relation and unity in a world of meaning. not an instinct but an attribute and and expression of our freedom, passion and reason." He goes on to say that "Imagination furnishes and supplies to religion and morality 'those larger ideas' and images which human beings need in order to envision an encompassing meaning and purpose for their lives." (pp. 53, 54)

In this book, Guroian argues that we all have been born with an imagination that has been bestowed upon us by our creator, Jesus Christ. The cultivation of our imaginations plays a critical role in our development of character, virtue, worldview and ultimately our faith. He attests that the development of a moral imagination is properly cultivated by reading fairytales and good literature to children. "Children want to explore just what it might be like to finally turn out 'whole' and all right, to be a good child, a good parent, or the best of rulers." 

For decades Guroian taught a college class called "Religion in Children's Literature". He discovered that most of his students had been depraved of the classics. "They were not introduced to most of the stories and books on the syllabus and their natural sense of wonder was starved." Books that he claims are "good for the soul. Books like Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, and The Wind in the Willows..." 

Cultivating this moral imagination is so important that if one does not purpose to cultivate it by the reading of great literary works and the speaking good words, one is in danger of the imagination becoming infested with corruptions and weeds. Where the correct food has not been fed to the imagination, starvation or rubbish will settle in, and the mind will fall away from virtue and truth. 

"What does the spirit eat? God's Word is the ultimate food of the spirit, but all words are food. Proverbs says they are a healing tree, a sword or a fire. Words have great power to nurture, to hurt, or to be like a medicinal balm upon the soul. We all speak many words every day, and billions of words over a lifetme. In this day of junk food of the spirit where trashy, vacuous, silly, and even obscene words are multiplying, we should be training ourselves to give life to the spirits of those around us through good words."- Barbara Mouser, Five Aspects of Woman; Lifegiver Created Lecture

Just as the spoken WORD of God brought us into being, so too does the spoken WORD of God sustain and create within us a healthy imagination. Not only should we read the Bible to our kids, but stories too! Reading stories will help to cultivate their imagination and stretch their minds to understand the reality of the human soul. It will help them to connect with the reality of Scripture and God's exstence. It will build their faith in a world that is real, but outside of our human capacity to "see". 

Let me close with this quote. "IMAGINE the possibility that a man might come along who does not die a permanent death but returns to life. One man did just this, and on the basis of his act and the church's memory of it, many succeeding generations of human beings have claimed the same truth for their own lives. The truth is not a postulate of pure reason, but it is an act of the religious imagination." 

Do you want your children to have an imagination that is so well cultivated, that they can have the faith of Hebrews 11:1, The faith in what we do not see? I implore you to devote yourself to the reading of great stories to your children.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Random Reasons why I LOVE Facebook!

Why I like Facebook:

1. Connect with friends
2. Meeting up with friends from out of town when they post that they are coming to Dallas
3. Movie and book suggestions from friends' posts
4. Filtered news that I trust, based on pages I "like"
5. Seeing photos of my kids
6. Finding out what my kids are up to
7. Posting photos for my family that is in Ohio
8. Laughter! I love the posts that make me laugh
9. Cool video clips
10. Education (from posts of cool videos to ideas from other perspectives)
11. Seeing photos of people I love
12. Meeting new people! I have friends whom I met through other friends, and I have never met them in person, but now they are my friends!
13. Encouragement
14. To post random thoughts
15. To encourage others
16. To stalk people
17. To find out prayer requests
18. To find out coupon deals from companies I "like"
19. Decorating and organizing ideas
20. Memes to post and blog posting for my Ready Set Clean FB fan page ( I have 260+ fans now)
21. To vent my political rants
22. To wish my friend's happy birthdays and anniversaries without having to "remember"
23. To write on my kids' and my hubby's wall when I am thinking of them
24. To make other people laugh or smile
25. Convenient way to instant chat to set up appointments and lunch dates

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Les Miserables and The Gospel of Jesus Christ

For years I have loved the motion picture, Les Miserables starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush from 1998. The screenplay and acting is superbly moving and clearly demonstrates the golden thread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as I am sure Victor Hugo intended. I still strongly recommend this film, but...

Today I was astounded when I sat in a theatre and witnessed the most amazing musical on the "big screen" as a motion picture. Several times I had to reach for a tissue as I sat weeping. The acting on this new version was simply remarkable. For the first time I think I heard I Dreamed A Dream, the way it was intended to be portrayed.

Anne Hathaway will never be able to outdo herself. I think she hit something on the other side of eternity and we were able to witness on film a supernatural moment when reality shakes us to our core. As disturbing as the scene is at that moment, the reality of wickedness must be portrayed for us to really grasp the gravity of our need for a savior! Yes, we live in a world full of fallen men and it really is That ugly!

That moment  when Anne Hathaway's soul was stark naked for us to witness despair which words cannot describe;  I do believe that moment on the screen was akin to that horrible moment when Meryl Streep struck a chord in her masterpiece moment as a mom with a choice. That horrible moment in Sophie's Choice, Meryl Streep's acting hit a raw moment where reality and acting collide and explode creating within the human soul a connection that cannot be explained.

As disturbing as Les Miserables can be at moments, the redemption of grace and mercy are still greater. The golden thread of the blood of Jesus Christ being shed for us all is the glory of this story and this new musical rendition carried that key note throughout the chorus of the score. The Logos Incarnate is the key note on which the symphony is played.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line!

I did not cry when my first bird flew out of the nest.

On Tuesday morning, my first born boarded a plane to fly out of the nest. I anticipated many tears, but instead felt peace and happiness.

As the day progressed, I had moments of sadness that he would not be at the dinner table with us, or goofing around with his sisters, but when sadness filled my heart, I purposed to be thankful. I realized that my journey had come to an end and I had crossed the finish line.

As a homeschooler, I chose to give up "alone" time that most other moms look forward to each day from 9-3. Most of the time I am thankful and love having my kids home, but there are plenty of days when I wish for alone time! Those are the days that I have to put on my mental running shoes and trudge up a hard hill and remember that I am running with my kids in a race. I am their greatest cheerleader. At some point I will cross a finish line with my kids, and then I have let them finish the rest of "their" race without me.

On Tuesday, August 14 I crossed my finish line. I did it! I ran with my son; encouraged him, nourished him, and educated him. My part of the race has been completed! Hallelujah! I am so happy that I had the privilege to homeschool him for 8 years.

I remember when he was 10 years old and he declared "Mom, I want you to homeschool me." Bewildered, I asked "Why? Don't you like your school anymore? Won't you miss your friends?" After a few moments of pondering Calvin said "I just want to be home with you."

That conversation is precious to me and will always be a part of me. I recall thinking to myself that he would not "want to be home with me" for very long, so I better take it while I can get it! I jumped on the homeschooling bandwagon and began homeschooling him in the 5th grade.

Calvin and me at  Texas Homeschool Coalition's PHC Scholarship awards
I purposed to give him the best education that I could, with the little that I knew or understood about homeschooling, but we did it and made it! Calvin took 15 credit hours as dual enrollment classes through a distance learning program with Patrick Henry College and graduated from homeschool with a GPA of 3.89. I am thrilled that I was able to be a huge part of Calvin's education and by sending him off to a great college, I can "pat myself on the back" too and know that I was a part of him crossing that finish line. I feel like I graduated too.

For all you mom's who fear homeschooling the high school years, just know that it is so worth it.
You will gather gems along the journey and carry a treasure in your heart that otherwise would have never been yours. If you are interested in homeschooling or need encouragement to homeschool the high school years, begin that journey by praying and researching homeschooling philosophies. Find the philosophy that resonates with you and it will guide you towards "how" to make it happen! It will be one of the best decisions you have ever made!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Why I Homeschool, Part 1

I attended public school from 1978-1988. Like most of you, I did fine and so assumed that if public school was good enough for me, it was good enough for my kids!



Let's think about this. Was I really fine? Did it affect my "Christian values" that my parents tried to instill in me? Did I really get an education?

Today I am going to address how attending public school affected my Christian values.

My parents raised me in a traditional Christian home and taught me good moral values. For the most part, I was a "good" kid. I did not party, smoke, drink, have sex, etc. But, when I was sixteen I did sneak a few beers and cigarettes. I also began to question "How do I REALLY KNOW that Jesus is THE way to God?"My best friend in jr.high was a gay kid and as that issue began to became a reality that I had to deal with, my faith began to shake. It shook for 5 years and I was beginning to walk away from the Christian faith.

Let's face it! The school system has our kids when they are at their "BEST". As moms, we get them back home when they are at their worst! They are crying, tired and just worn out from school all day! It is really hard to instill Christian values into your kids, after 4PM. Not only that, you have to spend that time "de-programing" them from all the "liberal" education they get at a public school. They are learning what the government wants them to learn.

The government is shaping our kids when our kids are at their prime! We get them and try to shape them and train them in the way of the LORD, when they are tired and have homework and extra curricular activities. Then, we look around today and wonder "Why are so many young people walking away from God?"

Well, is it any wonder?

Here is something to consider. The education system in America was transformed in the early part of 1900s by a man named John Dewey. He was a staunch supporter of Darwin and fought to get evolution in the publics schools. Dewey's goal was to create industrial "robotic" workers. The schools have bells, just like the factories did. He created this system, which de-values the human being and creates the person to fit into a box (system). This does not allow for your child to thrive and become ALL that they can.

I realized one day that my children were NOT thriving and becoming all that they could be. I knew that I could do better than the "system" if I just brought them home and read really good books to them and began to teach them basic math and how to read and write. I could do better than a workbook (created by the government) for crying out loud!!! And so can YOU!!!! YES YOU CAN!!!! No I am not a saint because I homeschool! I am a sinner who needs Jesus, just like all of you. Homeschooling is challenging, but I have given my kids the opportunity to become ALL that God wants them to be. Homeschooling does not limit and stifle kids; it releases them to become the complete and beautiful human being that God intended them to be. Isn't that what you really want for your kids?

If you are Christian, consider this 2 minute video. 
Their souls are at stake!