Thursday 28 November 2013

Driven vs Resting - Part 2

I talked about being driven as opposed to being led in my first post. In this post I'm looking at Resting.

To Rest:

To cease from labour, work or performance
To be quiet or still; to be undisturbed 
To be quiet or tranquil, as the mind; not to be agitated by fear, anxiety or other passion.
To be satisfied.

We become unsettled because we read about someone else whose life looks so much better than ours; we get dissatisfied because our children are ordinary and they complain about having to do their work.
I am so grateful for homeschooling blogs and the wonderful people that share what their families are doing but I remind myself that these are only snapshots of their lives and not the whole movie. If I'm having a difficult time with one of my children, comparing my situation with a picture perfect family on a blog is certainly going to disturb me and produce unrest.
One of the best antidotes or safeguards against stepping out of a place of rest in our lives is faithfulness.

Faithfulness is really underrated.
Faithfulness is an anchor
If I'm being faithful I don't get distracted as easily.

 Taking in the Laundry by Grandma Moses (1951)


Constant, not fickle; fidelity; a strict adherence to duty and fulfilment of promises.
The opposite is faithless or neglectful.

I've had seasons of babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, teens, young adults and everything in between and in each season there were certain duties, responsibilities and priorities. There were things I knew I couldn't do without neglecting these obligations.
I also made certain promises before my children came along and one of them was to honour and respect my husband. When I take these two areas of faithfulness into account it narrows my path somewhat.
I've had innumerable occasions where I've agonised over this or that and dredged through untold ideas, come to a state of sheer frustration and finally asked my husband what he thought.
One of his most common replies is, 'Stop making so much work for yourself.'

Being faithful, with all that this word implies, doesn't look exciting. A faithful person is often overlooked. The results of this kind of life aren't seen overnight and sometimes not for many years. Maybe that's why the book of Proverbs asks, 'A faithful man who can find?'

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Boys Adrift

Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

This is a very interesting book about boys and young men and the five factors driving the widespread growth of apathy, underachievement and lack of motivation amongst them. The author looks at video games, teaching methods (and the feminization of schools), prescription drugs, environmental toxins and the devaluation of masculinity. He shares his personal anecdotes and strategies to counteract these factors.

In his chapter, End Result: Failure to Launch, he discusses our present time where physicians and lawyers are more plentiful than plumbers:

The social critic Dr. Charles Murray observed early in 2007 that many high school students from middle-class families "go to college because their parents are paying for it and college is what children of their social class are supposed to do after they finish high school." Those kids may have very little idea what they want to do at college. Few of them have given any thought at all to the trades.

Forty years ago, even thirty years ago, there was no shame in a young man choosing a career in the trades. Beginning in the early 1980's...a consenus grew in the United States that every young person should go to college, regardless. "Vocational education" lost whatever prestige it had, and came to be viewed in some quarters very nearly as a dumping ground for the mildly retarded. Principals and superintendents began to see classes in auto mechanics or welding as expensive diversions from the school's core mission of ensuring that every student would go on to college.
The consequences go beyond plumbers who charge exorbitant rates. The downside is a growing cohort of unproductive youmg men who see no meaning or purpose in their lives.

This has been an interesting read for me at this time because our fifth child (the third boy in the family) has decided to get a plumbing apprenticeship. He's sixteen years of age and has spent a couple of weeks working with tradesmen in a few different trades and decided plumbing was what he wanted to do. As parents we want to see our children become true craftsmen and women, '...skilled and trained for the Lord.' (1 Chronicles 25:7) whether that comes via a trade or a degree.

'Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings, he will not stand before obscure men.' Proverbs 22:29 

Update: Since reading this book I've listened to a podcast at the Circe Institute by Andrew Pudewa on teaching boys which mentions some of the issues Leonard Sax addresses in the above book and another of his books, Why Gender Matters.

Monday 25 November 2013

Driven vs Resting - Part 1

When I was a new mother an elderly woman at our church wrote this verse from Isaiah 40 in a card she gave me:

'He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.'
I took that verse to heart along with some others over the twenty-five years of mothering and twenty years of homeschooling that followed.
I've had to remind myself throughout those years that He is a Shepherd and He leads.
It hasn't meant that I haven't had to work at mothering and homeschooling, but it has meant that I didn't need to be driven by unrealistic expectations or the influence of others.
I've been mulling on some thoughts related to this and found these dictionary definitions helpful.

To Drive:

To compel or urge forward by other means than absolute physical force, or by means that compel the will; as, to drive cattle to market.

To impel to greater speed; to hurry on inconsiderately; to distress; to impel by the influence of passion; to keep in motion.

Drive in all it's senses, implies forcible or violent action. It is opposed to lead.

I've seen the pendulum swing all over the place during the years I've been homeschooling and many times I've swung along with it. I haven't personally met any homeschooling mother who didn't want the best for her children, but this very desire is often what causes us to be most vulnerable and to take on burdens we shouldn't be carrying.
We home-schooled for many years with no Internet and only the odd catalogue that arrived from the USA once or twice a year so we just used what we had on hand. The flood of choices we have now has been a double-edged sword. Great on the one hand but overload on the other. I think I can honestly say that our older children didn't suffer because of the lack of resources. It kept me from wasting too much time looking for stuff and I was able to invest it in my children instead.

'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'

Matthew 11: 28