Friday, April 10, 2020

5 Thoughts on Homeschooling Possibility


It has been over 12 years since we first began homeschooling (not counting our homeschool preschool experiences). It was something I had always been curious about but truly lacked the courage for. I had attended college for a few years but I did not have my degree and I was no specialist in childhood education.

I was, however, an avid volunteer at my kids' school from the moment my oldest crossed their threshold. He, by this point, had entered the 8th grade, my middle two were in 2nd and 4th grade respectively and my youngest was just beginning preschool.

My dedicated volunteering had earned respect among the more seasoned teachers who welcomed me frequently and even gave me tips for working with my kiddos on extra activities at home. They began to encourage me to apply as a sub. I prayed and contemplated the prospect. In an effort of what I believe was to convince me to join the call list, one of the teachers encouraged me to browse their teacher manuals while helping prepare classroom lessons one day.

I couldn't believe my eyes: E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. was drawn out within the extensive book's pages. Not just what to teach but how to teach it. Alongside miniaturized snapshot versions of the student's text were pop-out columns which included dialogue and project ideas along with in-text answers and detailed teaching information. The shroud was suddenly torn as I realized how scripted teaching had become... and that, in fact, I was capable of doing it too!

This is not to discredit those teachers who like to color outside the lines... go off-script, develop different projects and are gifted with an ability to really see each student's needs and address them appropriately. Teachers juggle a lot and I do respect those who work hard at their job.

However, for me, as mom, I began to see sign after sign of how God was calling me to home educate my kids. I didn't need a degree or special permission.  I need not know developmental psychology (though I had taken it in college).  Being my children's mother was all the qualification required.

A series of unfortunate events brought the decision to a head and as Christmastime approached that year, I prepared our departure letter for the school and superintendent as was required in our area at that time. New year's dawned and we were officially a homeschool family (though my oldest remained in public school against my better judgement).

I've seen both sides of the fence. I chose to homeschool because I felt Called to. Many families right now are homeschooling out of necessity, using materials provided by the schools themselves. Even over the years as I have taught my children and am about to graduate my last, I have had so many parents comment to me: "I could never do what you do"... "I'm not qualified to teach my children"... "I don't think I could be around my kids all day like that"... and so on. And every time, it breaks my heart.

You CAN do it, if you choose to.
You ARE qualified, as mentioned above.
Your kids may be difficult, but it may also be because of public school...

My older daughter, who was in 4th grade when we pulled them out, has ADHD. She tested rather high on the spectrum.  Our first few months at home were grueling. Having been 'caged' all day at school had caused behavior issues to manifest. It took time but within that first year of school, everyone around us noticed a major change in her. She could actually sit still longer, she was more engaged in learning, she even became a better conversationalist. Yes, some days I lost my temper.... but so did her teacher at school, so did her friends. The difference: she had the safety and security of knowing she was still loved by me, unlike the feelings of rejection growing in her at school. Before we began homeschooling, I struggled to understand her and was often frustrated with her.... but after homeschooling for a bit, I got her like no one else did. We grew closer and I grew more patient and understanding.

But I digress.

I have a question for all the mothers of public schoolers out there today:

Is it possible this current situation is something God is using to whisper to your heart on the point of homeschooling? 

It may seem daunting, you may feel you are unqualified... but did you know God has already qualified you and provided a way? You just need a willingness.

I know some of the questions and concerns which will be swimming around your mind right now and so I thought I would try to address a few today, in case it can help...

5 Thoughts on Homeschooling Possibility

1. You are not alone (and your kids won't be weird and unsocialized!!)
The resources for homeschooling families are endless. Clubs in most communities for socialization and networking are countless. My kids were always involved in AWANA growing up and then youth group as they hit middle school and high school.  I know families who also get involved in what are known as Coops (I'll talk more on those in a minute), they are a great opportunity for your children to interact with their peers. Youngers often have playground dates and many areas have Homeschool Organizations which provide a support system for parents and various activities for the youth including organizing field trips at discounted group rates.

Truth is, most homeschool kids are better adjusted in any setting because their social interactions are not limited to same-aged group, rather, they learn how to communicate confidently across the age spectrums and that confidence is often carried over into better aptitude in employment as well as adjusting to life on college campuses.


On a field trip with the homeschool group to spend the morning in an 1880s classroom at the local history museum, kids were invited to dress the part!
2. You have a tremendous amount of freedom in educational choice
Do you ever take issue with what or how your children are being taught?  Are you one of the many families who despise helping your kids with Common Core math? I've got great news: Curriculum is as varied as types of learners are!

As a homeschool family you get the awesome privilege of picking whatever curriculum you want to use from a plethora of sellers. Online (and in person after Covid ends) Homeschool and Curriculum fairs give you an opportunity to be encouraged by key note speakers and explore the variety of options in learning materials out there.

Money an issue? No problem.  Some families will spend hundreds of dollars a year on supplies while others spend very little. Studies have shown that more money does not equal better educated, which is good, because we never could afford high investment. Often times you can either find used materials through Ebay or garage sales and some homeschool groups offer local curriculum stores and book exchanges. There are also websites with loads of printable and online information for cheap or free.  Two favorite resources of ours (link in text title):

Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool
The resources here are broken down by grade and subject. If you really wanted to, you could let Easy Peasy do ALL the work for you!  We have mostly used them supplementally and have also used the high school Music Appreciation program. A friend of mine, who recommended it, had to work part time while also homeschooling and found this resource to be a life-saver with their schedule. My favorite part? It's FREEEEEEE!

Old Schoolhouse Teachers
Both a magazine you can subscribe to AND a website with amazing unlimited teacher resources for all grades which you can print or access online. (use "COW" as a coupon code and pay only $10 a month!) We love the plethora of options!
A tip: if you are anti-common core, be sure the math curriculum you use does not say "common core aligned". It is usually indicated in the product description or on the cover of the materials. Abeka and Teaching Textbooks do NOT use common core methods. I'm not certain on others though.

Other freedoms:
  • Time of day to begin and end teaching... entire up to you! By the way, I know your kiddos attend school for at least 6 hours a day, however, actual teaching takes much less than that.  Elementary school kids can often have all their work done in 2-3 hours tops and upper level students in 3-4 hours, depending on the subjects you choose and their drive to get the lessons done.
  • What days you do school work are up to you. You can have a 4 day school week or a 5 day school week.  You can choose to do 4 weeks on and one week off. You can teach year round or stick with the typical September through May. It is entirely up to you.  Which brings up another great freedom:
  • You pick when vacations take place. Want to take 3 weeks off at Christmas time or plan a family vacation for March? No problem.  Your time off is up to you and it isn't stuck on a one-week-at-a-time schedule!
Schoolwork in our RV as we spent a year traveling in missions work.
3. If you think you can't, options say you can!
A popular trend in homeschooling right now is Coops. These are groups which get together to exchange knowledge and resources.  For example, you may not feel capable of teaching your kids science but your local homeschool coop is offering a science "class". It typically costs no money and works more on a barter system such as; you may teach Art or English or you might offer to look after the younger kids while olders learn in exchange for your kids' participation in other classes. Classes usually meet once a week and students are sent home with 'homework' to have completed by next class. Each coop is a bit different so you would want to see what the local options entail. This opportunity not only offers socialization but also peace of mind if you are concerned you need the help teaching a particular subject.

Another popular option for high schoolers is dual enrollment. Most colleges will accept students as early as Junior year of high school.  Rates are reduced for dual enrollment and Student grants and/or loans are typically granted by FAFSA for these classes. I've known many students who graduate high school AND college with an Associates at the same time! However, most families simply have their kids take a few classes to get a jump start on college and to cover subjects like Science, Foreign Language or English which many parents feel they are not confident to teach on a high school level.

Sports can be a sticking point for some families as well.  Again, many towns have not only developed homeschool support groups but also teams which compete with area schools. Some smaller Christian schools will also allow homeschoolers to participate on their teams. If those are not options, you may also check into local leagues your kids can participate in through Parks and Rec, YMCA and a myriad of other outlets.

Music is another big point with many families. Our homeschool association where the kids grew up had a full band and choir! Other options include private lessons, church groups and peer groups.
Attended Handle's Messiah with friends. It was performed by our local professional orchestra and choir (the orchestra does semi-annual meet-and-greets with their instruments for local youth!)
We all spent a few years singing with our church choir and Brenden and Brooke also spent some time with the homeschool choir
After singing and then learning to play guitar, Ashley served in multiple capacities in the church and was eventually mentored by her youth pastor/music minister in Worship leadership.
Brooke took piano lessons from a graduated and now married homeschooler! Even got to attend music parties with the other students and plan for recitals.


4. You don't have to know everything to teach
It is OK to read the textbooks with your kids and learn as you go!  I wasn't raised in the church and I went to regular public school (I also was not the best student in any class that wasn't history or writing or art!!!).  I love our Christian based curriculum and how it opens up a whole new field of information I was never exposed to. I've also absorbed information I either never picked up in school or perhaps I simply flushed!
Game show style review for history with questions adjusted to each grade level
5. Homeschooling is NOT School at home (unless you want it to be)
You do not need to line up little school desks or have absolute structure from one class to the next. Homeschooling doesn't just offer the beautify of learning while still in your p.j.s, it also means you can do lessons on the back porch, at the park, at grandma's house and even in the coffee shop or library!
Homeschooling also offers greater opportunities to not just learn from books... but to also learn from LIFE.
     Home Ec: in the kitchen helping out.
     Science: gardening, exploring in the back yard or at the local pond
     History: museums, the History Chanel, YouTube, a family member or friend who was 'there'
     Math: through games or transactions at the store or measuring for a project...
     Language Arts: writing letters to friends and family, simply reading good books also, check out notebooking/lapbooks!

Our favorite style of homeschooling has been the Charlotte Mason method. While I would classify us as "Eclectic" homeschoolers, there is definite Mason influence in our approaches to learning. We were often found at parks or in the backyard nature journaling and observing. We also did a lot of unit studies, combining multiple subjects into one in order to saturate our lives each week with the information we were learning.
Wrapping up a unit on Ancient Rome: kids made armor and had a friendly gladiator fight in the front yard!
Nature study at a local park

***


I have thrown a lot of information out there and you may still have questions.  Please feel free to comment below. If you know anyone who homeschools, pick their brain on what is (and isn't) working for them. Check out homeschooling chat groups on Facebook or Instagram. Be assured: there is no ONE AND ONLY way to homeschool (even if someone says there is!) opinions and practices are very diverse.

Each state does have different requirements for homeschooling. You can reference the HSLDA website (link in text) for a mountain of resources, articles and even a breakdown of homeschooling laws by state.

Finally, I will admit this to you: like mothering, homeschooling isn't always easy. Some days you AND your kids are in tears... and others, you are laughing till your sides split. It takes dedication and, even on the days you want to dump them back in school, perseverance with an eye on the prize can keep you motivated.  What is the prize? Time, family and a firm foundation.
Sibling school set up...
...years passed but the partnership never changed except to grow stronger
When I first pulled my middle two out, they had been starting to drift away from the closeness and commitment to family, particularly to their siblings. My oldest was already a stranger in our household, loosing necessary connection to the family in lieu of all things school. As I mentioned, I left him in public school against my better judgement. In the end, though, all my homeschooled kids are very intelligent, had the options for college everyone else did and, most of all, they came to respect each other and my husband and I in a way public school never would have taught them.

Yes, it will be a roller coaster.  But it will be a glorious ride and, I promise, it goes faster than you can imagine.
She was 4th grade, unfocused and almost out of control. She hated to read and couldn't sit still to write. She graduated 2016, level headed, very studious with multiple classical novels under her belt and 2 manuscripts she was hoping to publish! Oh, and most of her friends had no idea she was once a poster child for ADHD!
Whatever you decide.... you've got this. Pray, trust and, regardless, always be available... first to God and then to your kids ♥️

Blessings to you!











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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Peace in Uncertainty

Life right now is much like this path above; the end seems far off and uncertain. Some have lost income, others drift from day-to-day hoping and praying their jobs are not next in the long line of shut doors and down-sized staff.

I know, we are in the latter group.  Each day my husband works from home on projects we pray will continue and keep him employed while many of his coworkers collect walking orders. At times the stress can mount. I know to look to God, I remember the countless times he has carried us through even deeper divides. Yet, I believe it is human nature to adopt worry and carry it along. Perhaps this is why the Bible speaks so extensively about not worrying!

Skimming through Instagram this weekend I felt as though the general pulse was beating on one word: uncertainty.

It isn't that we may be laid off... it is IF.
It isn't that the kids are home in otherwise public schooled families... it is IF they are heading back.
It isn't that life is shut down just now... it is IF it will get back to normal anytime soon (and what "normal" will actually be).

It is hard to set schedules and find rhythms when each day feels as though it is a breath caught in your chest which you are afraid to release. At times it immobilizes us, paralyzes us with fear or concern. How do we breathe normal in these times? How do we have peace in the midst of so much uncertainty?

5 Tips for Finding and Maintaining Peace of Mind 
in Uncertain Times

1. Be OK With the Unknown
Yes, not knowing is the biggest part of the battle for many. However, no matter how much we worry or plead, much of life right now is just stuck in that gray area beyond: be OK with that. It seems like an over-simplification, but it truly boils down to just.that. There are things you DO know: walk forward with those.

For us, we have a job today and, likely, for at least the rest of this week. I will opperate with that simple fact. Any small (or big) thing you can find to walk forward in... walk. The rest will work out in it's time and we can't focus on what we can't see, we'll just end up wandering in circles or off a cliff!!

2. Find Routine at the Core
On that note, routine can help in the process.  NOT to worship a routine, however, I know, for myself, without routine or plans inside of even the most basic days, I am more likely to sit and wallow. NO WALLOWING! Like worry, it won't solve anything. No, get up and DO.

Make a list of daily chores, projects or other to-dos and challenge yourself to tackle them. Have a plan for each day and walk it out as best you can, giving yourself grace if you can't get to it all. Plan for an entire week or just a day at a time. Find a routine, whatever the case, and let God guide you in and around it.

3. Menu Plan
This may seem like an odd thing to add into our top 5, however, one thing is always constant: we need to eat! Planning meals not only gives you a point to plan around through the course of each day, it also helps you to be better prepared as meal time approaches. You can just plan dinners out or you may detail Breakfast and Lunch and even snacks as well. This type of planning will also help you to ration your food well and keep you mindful of needed ingredients before they are due.

4. Laugh!
Sometimes I feel as though there is an undercurrent of people right now who feel we must be somber because these are somber times. I say: respect those who are feeling down. The Bible calls us to empathy for those who are struggling. However, tasteful joking, laughing through the tension and pursuing a more light-hearted approach can be the difference between hope and heartache.

To help me walk with a lighter frame of mind I have cut back and rarely watch or read the news anymore. I've done all the research I can do. I know what I know and, honestly, it doesn't matter in changing the course of life right now. So, moving forward, I refocus that energy.  I try to share at least one funny or light-hearted meme each day on Instagram. I let myself laugh when something seems too crazy. I remember how, someday, this will all be a memory and I pray it is one in which I can remember perseverance and hope rather than giving up and brokenness.

(P.S. They say 'laughter is the best medicine'!)

5. In His Presence
This may be last on the list but it is the first and overarching point in the whole of this tally. Get-with-God. A daily Bible study is always one of the best ways to grow and experience the presence of God... and never more-so than now. Study and memorize scripture, pray without ceasing and surround your heart and home with worship music such as can be found on KLove, Air1 or your local Christian station.

Contemplating throughout the day: What does God's Word say about this? What is His Character and how can I draw strength from that? How can I find His mercies or blessings today? can be deeply transformative. Bathing each point in this list (and any additional you may think of) in His Presence will open up His Power to guide you forward in peace... even if you can't see the end of the path right now.


***

We can't change the way of the world... but we can change the way we let the world impact us.  Jump to task, push forward and, most of all, keep our eyes squrely on Christ as our one sure hope ♥️

I pray you are able to find peace in uncertainty this week and each week ahead.

Blessings to you!











*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each month with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Take a Step, Live, Hope, repeat.


I'm weary.

Are you weary?

I was thinking this morning of the old Thomas Paine quote, "These are the times that try men's souls..." and wondered if it would be off-beat to apply it to now.

These ARE the times which try us: stay in... distance yourself... wait.... suffer....

But these are also that times which have great potential to grow us. 

I began this week with a passion to focus on forward.  Not the sticky mess of NOW or the speculations of then... no.  To put one-foot-in-front-of-the-other and pull the pieces of life together to form something... anything which might resemble this new (even if temporary) "normal".

So I write.
I read the books which build my soul.
I keep teaching out the rest of senior year.
I wash the dishes after dinner (and throughout the day when needed).
I do another load of laundry.
I keep some form of pattern for cleaning the house.
I buy my groceries.
I turn off the news and social media.
I engage those who are around me.
I reach out to those who aren't.

I live.

90 years ago our grand-parents and great-grands endured much worse.  A stock market crash prompted soaring suicide rates.  People were without heat, a balanced diet and even a home.  Generations invested in farms lost everything and had to move on.

Theirs was the epitome of despair.
But they lived.

They became resourceful. They celebrated occasion and tradition. They kept writing and reading and teaching and cleaning and pulling together what they could for their meals.

They lived. Their stories live on today and, even as the last of these generations are all but gone, the pages of history tell their tales. 

If you read them, straight from those who lived it (not the politicized after-thoughts from those who weren't there) you may find notes of despair... but most of all, you find hope, resilience, ingenuity and a drive which went on to define their generations for the rest of their lives.

We are not in those times. Our struggles really are much more temporary than theirs. However, we can draw lessons from these sages of the past and we can have hope in the Greatness of our future... not because of material or wealth or food on the table... but because, no matter the situation, Christ is our hope and eternity is the greatness we strive for.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

So take a step today.  LIVE.  Live like there are thousands of tomorrows and no tomorrows all in the same.  Have hope and share hope. Rise above the situations and rest in Christ, allow His light to burst forth in you and through you that others might come to know Him.

Life goes beyond us but God uses us for our part in it... even and especially in our trials. You can do this... eyes on Him... you can walk on water in the midst of a storm.

Blessings to you♥️











*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each month with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Step Away From the Panic Button


I said I would not continue writing about the current COVID-19 epidemic but it would seem to be impossible not to address this current crisis since pretty much everyone else is.  Covid and its subsequent repercussions are a hard truth in our current day-to-day lives. Yet, I have tried to be quiet, tried to look the other way, tried to just post that which is most cheerful.... but it is like trying to cheer someone who doesn't understand why they are sad and can't seem to move past the fact that they are just down.  Without understanding root and truth, one can never move beyond the moment or embrace the cure.

So, today, I'm going out on a limb.  Perhaps it is the "teacher" in me, wanting to share some knowledge and encourage others to think as well.  Maybe it is me, at the bottom of the barrel, tired of the heaping on and ready to say something.  I can promise one thing: my blog is NOT going the direction of always posting in this thread.  I don't like standing in this place because it is so polarizing and I tend to like to avoid confrontation and focus on more important issues like Eternity and reflecting Christ in every aspect of our lives including serving others in our home.  So please forgive this momentary pause from my norm.  I pray, if anything, it sparks thinking motors to move...

The Panic Button
As everyone panics about this latest virus, has anyone stopped to ask "why"?  Who hit the panic button to begin with?  Simply, from what I can tell: the media did it.  I spent the past week taking time each day to watch the President's addresses and updates to our nation, un-edited, no commentary, straight up CSPAN style.  Most days I walked away feeling encouraged and hopeful.  Then, I would turn on a news outlet (pick one, any one, both sides of the fence) and my confidence began to nose-dive as each commentator and group of "experts" began their dose of opinion and speculative reporting while also hurling attacks across to various sides of the colorful debates.

It was sickening.

So I turned it off.  I would still watch the daily briefings and keep an eye on my state's latest issuances concerning public restrictions, otherwise, I shut it all off.  And you know what?  I didn't feel so stressed or worried. I didn't feel panicked or as if the "end is near".  I could see sense and think clearly for myself.

Then....

Consequences of Pushing the Panic Button  
As I adjusted this past week to my husband working from home, grateful he had the type of job which allowed him to do so while many were furloughed in other industries, I also knew nothing should be taken for granted.  My daughter's hours were deeply cut at work and I grew concerned that both my son's jobs (one of them being brand new and starting on April 1st) would see drastic cuts as well since many positions were being deemed disposable under buckling economic strain.

Then Friday, as I prepared to pay our monthly bills, I heard my husband in his office area trying to muster positivity and courage.  "I understand.... yes, I can get that done.... so you are saying 2 weeks?... no, it's ok, God is in control...." and suddenly I paused.  At the completion of his phone conversation I learned that his company is preparing to lay off 70% of their contractors and, for the next two weeks while he completes a critical systems project, he has been deemed "critical staff", however, at the end of his deadline, he may very well find himself furloughed as his company's stocks join others in a free-fall.

A Dose of the Actual Reality 
Yes, as my husband stated, God IS in control, and that is my one comfort.  As well meaning grocery store clerks, who are among the few remaining busy in these times, unwittingly remark "At least you'll get unemployment compensation" I can't help but think they have never received it themselves... an amount only a fraction of your regular pay which just barely (if at all) keeps you from drowning.

Bail-outs don't solve long term problems.

Relief is only relief if it puts hard-working Americans back to work.

The numbers aren't adding up but everyone is too busy panicking to notice while good people are put into very difficult positions.

I'm not buying  
The sad thing is, most Americans suffer from short-term memory loss.  It is like listening to a salesman say, "Buy my gadget it will complete every task for you in record time" and so you buy and then it doesn't live up to snuff.... and a few months or years later another salesman offers, "My gadget is even better than the other guy's....." and you buy, duped by the snazzy sale pitch again.

I'm.not.buying.

I will bend and try to practice some of that "social distancing" and "self-quarantining" everyone is so critically promoting if ONLY because...

For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. 
By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died
Romans 14:15 

I do my best to smile, be polite and not flaunt the fact that I am NOT buying it. Because others are just doing what they think is best (never mind the mounting number of people out of work now and about to be displaced because someone pushed the panic button... never mind the facts contrary to the current 'need' to panic.)

Truth Matters  
We've gotten lazy.  We are happy to turn on the news or grab our headlines from favorite apps and outlets.  We don't pay attention to the wording and we ignore the "facts", which is easy, because they are too often left out altogether.  I feel as though the digging has been left to those deemed too extreme... when in fact, we are all called to be seekers of truth (both Biblically and lifewise)

So here is truth:

  • H1N1 had (and continues to have) more annual rates of infection, hospitalizations and deaths than Corona Virus.
  • Covid-19 aka Wuhan Virus (because most viruses are named after their origin) aka SARS-CoV-2.  That is right, "SARS", "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome" from 2003 and also first detected in China, is Covid-19's ugly brother.
  • Corona Virus is the cause of 30% of the common cold every year and has been since the mid-twentieth century.
  • Many outlets, including science periodicals, are using CDC and WHO data for worldwide outbreaks against U.S. data of the outbreaks to give deceptive information.  For example, one science journal reported that the mortality rate of Covid is anywhere from 1-3 % compared to H1N1 at .02% when, in fact, the Covid # they reported came from world population to date of the Corona outbreak while the H1N1 stat is only for U.S. population for the span of 1 year.  If you even the playing field, the actual statistic for the U.S. alone is only about .01 for Covid19 and .02 for H1N1.  
  • That's right, H1N1 has twice the mortality rate and continues to hospitalize and infect more Americans to date than the Corona Virus.
  • H1N1's first year (2009) stats = 60.8-89.3 MILLION Americans contracted; 274,304-402,719 hospitalized; 12,469-18,306 deaths.  (Total affected worldwide was 1.4 BILLION)
  • Last year in the U.S. alone, according to the CDC, 34,200 people died from H1N1.  That is more than the current tally of Americans simply infected with Covid-19 (current total deaths are 400). There is just NO way, at our current trajectory, we could even come close to last year's H1N1 fatalities, let alone even hit the ballpark statistics for 2009's mortality rates.

Why the Panic Button Then?  
I think there are a few reasons.  Some, political, but I won't cover that at this time because it is mostly speculation.  What we do know to be fact: new and unknown = scary. And in these new and unknown situations, the media can either help or hinder.

There was a time when news outlets did their part to inform and help calm the public's fears. Case in point:

Why was the media of 2009 playing down a virus which was, in fact, very deadly and infecting considerably more individuals than Covid-19?  Why didn't the stock market plummet?  Why didn't the country get shut down? Why didn't they encourage "social distancing" and "self-quarantine" and why don't they still when variations of the flu, including the still-in-existance H1N1, continue to infect, hospitalize and take more lives than Covid?

I can speculate.  You can speculate.  We all can speculate.  But all speculation aside, if the media was doing their part, they might help ease fears rather than feed them.  You may think that is an off-handed statement, however, one quick search of major media headlines shows a sharp contrast to those you would have seen in 2009.  Just today:










(That middle one was Fox, I couldn't fit the title in)  I'm not trying to minimize the fact that this is serious and people DO need to be careful.  However, in comparing various charts, including those from the CDC and WHO, I believe part of the panic is also that Covid is hitting faster and harder than H1N1... but... it is tapering off and even going down in some areas already, where H1N1 did not.  As a matter of fact, H1N1 continued a dizzying climb which is still fought against to this day with the annual flu vaccine. Most charts shared in defense of Covid panic leave this small but important fact out.

Solution?  
I don't know.  Well, I do know: quit panicking.  Restart life at the end of these 14 days. Start a campaign to ignore media outlets until they decide they want to report FACTS, fairness and see to what is best for public peace instead of fueling discord and panic. I know that is a utopian thought which we are no where near seeing though.

So then what?  Well, I keep remembering Romans 14.  While I won't feed the panic or perpetuate it in any shape or form, I will quietly listen and observe what I can. I will respect those who choose to hide-out in homes, wear masks and gloves and slide change across the counter as if it stops cross-contamination (even though it doesn't).  When people, like me, speak out against the panic pushing, I will give them high-fives and stand by their side (no social distancing necessary).

In the meantime, I will readjust my life out of necessity. To fight it is futile.  I will mind my spending so if hubby is furloughed we won't feel the pinch too badly.  I will re-configure our daily schedule to accommodate chore variations in light of him working from home.  I will plan a full 3-meal-a-day menu plus buy or make snacks since more bodies are here 24/7 to require the fuel (and avoid fridge raiding and bad eating habits!!).  Most of all I will be more deliberate in scheduling family and down time, especially for my 17 year old since she needs the most encouragement.

The Unspoken Victims
It is deemed selfish to speak of this last point, and maybe that is true.  I guess my angle is: if this were truly a massive crisis and highly deadly, I could understand the need to cancel life... but because of the panic button pushing and skewed information, canceling big life events leaves un-necessary heartache.

What about a child who is fear-mongered into believing we all could die or hope is lost? Their nightmares and trauma which will have lasting effects.

How about a couple's wedding plans.  The ones the bride dreamed of since she was a little girl?  Down-sized or cancelled all because of un-necessary panic?

What about the graduate and their hard work... will commencements be cancelled too? All other milestone senior year activities have been.

This last reality has really hit home because this year was that long-awaited for year. My heart hurts for my daughter who has been dreaming and preparing and hoping since middle school for those fabulous senior year moments... the last youth conference (cancelled), the last weeks of youth group (cancelled), senior Sunday at church and sharing her Call for the future (cancelled), attending friends' graduations and parties (tabled), invited to prom and buying a lovely new dress for the Cinderella occasion (cancelled), her own graduation with friends and family from all over (downsized).

Not Insensitive, Just Common Sense
You may think I am insensitive... I have seen others on social media with similar views to mine being attacked in that regard.  I am not.  I have aging and weak immune systemed parents, one of whom lives in the massively populated and currently shut-down Chicagoland area... I have friends with children who have compromised health... but all of these people are more susceptible to H1N1/Flu right now then to Covid and I would tell them all the same thing: 

wear a mask, 
limit excursions during flu season, 
wash your hands, 
use antibacterial cleaners,
attend to your healthy choices as best you can so your immune system has a boost

.... and to others who might visit them, I say the same thing I said when I was helping my step-dad recover from his cancer surgery: don't visit if you are sick!!!  That has been a rule of thumb for years that, if anything, maybe Covid-19 can serve as a reminder on: if you don't feel well, avoid human contact, especially with infants, elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

This whole thing is like when your brother broke the neighbor's window but everyone got grounded because they happened to be standing near-by... and especially the sibling who tattled because he tattled... when only one person required the punishment.

Common sense action. I heard a report that people in my parents' age group were not taking the mandates seriously.... I believe it is because they remember... they are not buying it... they know that common sense action is all that is required, not over-the-top mass hysteria over a virus with considerably higher recovery rates than H1N1/flu! I've talked to medical workers who don't understand or agree with the panic.  I've talked with those in the 'highest risk' groups are are equally skeptical of the hype.

We can't change the effects of SARS-CoV-2/aka/Corona Virus/aka/Covid-19/aka/Wuhan Virus... but we can roll into another day with hope, with peace, knowing we will be OK and, even if the bottom falls out of the economy in the process, we will pull through that too.  God has a plan.

I may be hard on the true numbers here, but I do want to acknowledge: while it isn't as bleak as we are led to believe, people are still sick and some have died.... pray for them, pray for their families, and pray for viable treatment to come soon.... of this, of the flu and of the many other critical diseases and viruses claiming lives each and every day.

A Parting Thought  
I can complain about how this virus is being handled, but I would be remiss to not consider some interesting points in the process:
  • Families are re-connecting
  • Homeschooling is on the rise, even if only temporarily (what if this method of learning drastically increased on regular time!!)
  • The art of Homemaking is being re-visited
  • Church cancellations may open people up to see who/what the Church was intended to be and deepen their faith and spirituality!
If these points become the most life-altering outcomes... all of the trouble has been more-than worth it!!


Are you feeling hopeless right now? Turn off the news.  Turn on some good Christian music. Open your Bible. Set-up an alternative daily household plan. Make time for kids and spouse. Breathe. Remember, this too WILL pass and it really isn't as bad as everyone is saying. Focus on the brighter 'other side' and be the hope to those around you... especially to your kids or family or friends who suddenly find themselves panicked or displaced or missing out. I know I may be bummed for my daughter right now and concerned about my husband's job, but truthfully, it is an opportunity to remember what really matters in life... not the pageantry or the paycheck, rather, it is that Vertical relationship and how we administer it horizontally!  THIS must be my heart and focus and I pray it would be yours as well ♥️
 
Blessings,







Just a few of my sources:
Health.com
CDC
Quartz
Gisanddata.maps



Monday, March 16, 2020

Adorning the Dark

I'm back from 4 months of off-and-on travels inside of 6 months of somewhat chaotic fluctuations.  Packing, "Adorning the Dark" by Andrew Peterson, along to doctor's appointments, hospital visits and plane rides was to be the corner of peace and encouragement this on-pause writer's heart needed. At it's start my pencil found many passages to highlight... encouragement from a man who has spent his life in the music and writing industry.  However, it also had its daunting moments.

Truth be told: I had never heard of Andrew Peterson before obtaining this book. I requested it because, as a creative myself, I thought I might be able to find hope and encouragement in its pages. I did a quick YouTube search in order to ascertain details on the author and grab a better grounding as I dove in. 

His writing felt personal and conversational yet I also felt like I should know something of various references he would casually make and therefore, at times, I felt like a bit of an outsider. I began to realize, while some nuggets may be personally edifying, much of his sharing would perhaps find deeper inspiration in a seasoned fan or musician. 

None-the-less, I plugged on, finding encouragement and relativity through those self-defeatist ideas the Enemy is so good at planting in my mind.  It is always wonderful to 'meet' someone who share their troubles so explicitly that you can say, "YES! Me too!!", a sentiment I felt often enough through the first quarter of the book to drive me through any marshyness.

Rounding the first quarter, though, I was becoming more and more aware of an odd mix of biblical and secular awareness.  Just as I wondered if and where he drew strength from the Spirit because the writing seemed so focused on the world, he would pop out a powerful side-note of how God truly is the center of a creative's work.

Again, I would push on.  After all, aren't we all just mere mortals? Then, I hit just past the halfway point at 35,000 feet over the Southeastern United States, ironically Mr. Peterson's stomping ground, and suddenly I was gaping.

You see, growing up, I always had an obsession with music.  Both construction and lyric, I am very passionate about understanding the messages we hear.  Some people just hear tune and words... but not me.  I always here message and metric.  Words matter and, as a Christian, if I had to choose; words matter more than melody.

Biblically speaking, I could quote rows of verses, but the most common one is probably the hardest one for us humans... the "whatever is's"...

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things

As he shared the importance of discernment, ironically, he expounded using a story of mentoring his musically gifted daughter and how all his teaching came full circle when she received a Christian Kids Bop CD to which he cringed as it played... and then was relieved when she identified its poor musical quality and asked that it be turned off and replaced with a specific secular artist. His proud papa moment was acknowledging how a bit of snobbery in music was good because, "it is better to listen to a great song by someone who wasn't a Christian than a bad song by someone who was..."

I disagree.

Suddenly vague references earlier in the pages began to rise above grace.  In a world where Christianity constantly wars with secular... where spiritual warfare is very real and very weakening... where young people, like I was, take lyrics to heart and let them sing the melody of mood and decision... I couldn't understand WHY he would encourage a young girl to gravitate towards such messages all for the sake of melody.  Yes, there is bad music written by Christians but the lyrics will always keep our eyes heavenward. Besides, there is also great Christian music which could rival any secular band... if it was only given the chance.

After this point in the book, the shaky respect I had, began to full-on crumble.  I couldn't bring myself to burn the time required for the remaining chapters when a quick skim told me it was only going to get worse.

I don't like having to give a book a bad review.  As a writer, I know how much passion is poured into the pages of any installment.  I can say Mr Peterson gave his all and, from a certain standpoint, he did produce an encouraging memoir.  However, as a Christian reviewer, my bar is always set on a few simple marks:
  • Does this book spiritually encourage it's reader
  • Is this book Biblically sound
  • Does this book cause the reader to draw closer to Christ and choose more Godly actions
Secondarily:
  • Are the prose well written.
  • Is the book well organized.
  • Is the writer engaging.
  • Is the material relatable and accessible.

Sadly the marks were not met by "Adorning the Dark".

Do you have criteria for the books you read?


Blessings,






I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lifeway in exchange for my review. This review is my opinion alone.


Friday, March 13, 2020

FMF: Less... and more

 
My hiatus is slowly coming to a close, I am working my way back to a regular blogging schedule while life remains busy with the plans of graduation + moving my mother-in-law into our spare 'cottage' + moving adult kids on their own. For all intents and purposes, though, I am working my way back here because, at the end of the day, writing is my quiet place... it is my 'idea board'... it is my Call and all that has kept me away for the past few months will undoubtedly make its way into articles I share as I move forward.  For now, what better way to kick back off than with a Five Minute Friday drill? So here goes........


*******************
Less.

Just now this word rings in my heart.  At a time when everyone is grabbing for more.... more toilet paper, more cleaner, more of any and every little thing deemed "necessary" to "survive".  A looming apocalypse in the minds of many when, compared with historic data, it all honestly feels more and more like a bloated crises over an understandable health concern.  Only time will tell.

I don't normally like to get 'political' on here because politics are so polarizing, therefore, I will NOT dive into that side of it.  But what I WILL do is stay on the heart of what this blog is all about..... FAITH.

Over the years, our family has endured both feast and famine.  I truly love the full passage in Philippians 4 when Paul expresses:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned 
in whatever situation I am to be content.  
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. 
In any and every circumstance, I have learned 
the secret of facing plenty and hunger, 
abundance and need. 
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

ALL things through [Christ] who strengthens him... from having LESS to having more.  From illness to wellness.  From harsh government policy to freedoms to live autonomously.

The more I reflect on the current climate the more I want to panic over how things are handled... then I see the word of God and, instead of panic, the more I hear that gentle "shhhhhhh".

I may not be able to stock up or control how policy is handled... my worry may not be illness but rather dabbles in freedom and ability... ability to travel, to walk into my store and purchase what we need whenever we need it, to see my kids find good careers instead of  "closed" signs, to turn on the computer and t.v. and NOT be bombarded with "doomsday".... and then I am reminded: less.

Less in my cupboards is opportunity for culinary creativity.

Less concern over economy since our grandparents and great-grands survived the Great Depression and IF we find ourselves on that path again, we will too.


Less worry because God truly does have this, He is still on His thrown.  And whether this whole thing truly is bad... or whether it passes like last year's influenza when the weather warms... none of it truly matters because God IS at work.

*******************


My apologies if this offends anyone.  I do NOT want to cause controversy nor do I want to debate.  I am merely observing and sharing what I see... like so many others. This will be the ONLY post anywhere on any of my platforms where I will address the issue because, honestly, I want to focus on living and less on a ton of 'what-ifs'.  I want to be that quiet peace in the storm of information and hysterical overload because I am finding God at my own center and author of my own peace.

I respect that some do feel passionately about caution and preparedness.  I AM staying informed and doing my own research for personal understanding... I think it is just as detrimental if we stick our head in the sand when major issues play in our country... however, what I do not want to do is add to hype or craze or validate all the "more" milling around.  I will cling to less.

Less hype, less panic, less politicizing.  I will reach for more hope and more optimism while grounded in reality. It is what I know I am called to do as darkness and debate swarm social media and the news and any pop-up in my browser. In the midst of the chaos I stake my flag on PEACE, the only lasting peace: that which is found in the Word and presence of God who says, whether less or more, He is in the midst and He has got this.

Less of me and all those burdens.... more of Him♥️

Blessings,












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