Friday, April 28, 2017

Airing Homeschool Laundry

Do you all get sick of me airing our homeschool laundry all the time? When I do I try to be transparent, highlighting the moments of nonsense and utilitizing self-deprecating humor to poke fun at all the crazy (sometimes accurate) stereotypes of the homeschool culture (is that even a thing?). I don't ever for a minute want to give the appearance that we have it all together or that we are in any way superior because we have chosen this avenue as the means to educate our children.

This year I suffered several defeats. Some personal, some more public. Each of them leaving some battle scars. One of them was this push I was making to get a bill passed that would allow my kiddos to play for their district's sports teams. It's a whole big thing and I'm not going into the details of it now, but after months of work, when we were just at the finish line with the thing, it went south. Lawmakers chose not to vote on it.

During those months of work petitioning lawmakers and tweeting tweets and posting appeals to the common man on FB, I heard lots of things about us homeschoolers that I didn't know. I typically learned them from people who didn't homeschool. I learned we don't get up until lunch, we don't have televisions, and that the Honey and I are behind in planning the arranged marriages for our children. While I am the first to crack jokes about the idiosyncracies of homeschool, the one thing I heard about us that I can't joke about is that so many of you think we homeschool because we think we're superior to public education.


Let me say right here, right now, that I love public educators. I am a sister to one, a friend to many. I talk with administrators and educators every week at church and at the ball field. I hear their hearts for their students and community. I see their posts praising their students' hard work and achievements and listen as they tell stories of kids' coming to school hungry or hurting or helpless. Educators are more than teachers. They're advocates. They're cheerleaders, guidance counselors, soldiers on the front lines for our community's children. I love our public educators. We need you. We are thankful for our. This homeschool family is especially thankful for you.

People often ask why we chose to homeschool. The answer is layered. There are logistical benefits for us. The Honey travels a lot with work and homeschooling allows us to travel with him some. The Honey and I also share a philosphy that we aren't fans of seeing the kids tied to a desk for the majority of their day. We love seeing them play basketball during the middle of the day, or that we get to have them tag along if we have to work the cows in the morning. Now that the kids are older, they're even able to work some odd jobs here and there that they wouldn't get to do easily otherwise. There really is a lot of convenience to educating your kids at home.

But here is the main reason: I like it. Really. I genuinely just enjoy teaching my kids. You hear all the time from people who excel in their fields that they just found what they enjoyed doing and pursued it. That's all I'm doing. I get butterflies learning along with my kids about European geography and inertia and latin conjugations. I'm redeeming my own education, those years I spent passing notes and making those paper fortune tellers, in the process. I like figuring out their learning styles and adjusting how I teach to aid in making them more successful. I love how we get to make lunch together. I love how we get to do life together.

Of course, there are a thousand things that are difficult or aggravating about it, just like any other job. But that is a post for another day. The point is, we don't homeschool because we feel like we have all the answers or because we look down on the other options. We just do it because....that's what we do.

What about you guys? Homeschool moms....why are you doing what you're doing? Mamas of littles going to your community's school....what are you loving about your kids' teachers? Working moms...how did you get started in your line of work?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Clogged Pipes

Friday was the day, people.  The first day in months I had no responsibilities.  Nothing on the calendar.  No meals to prepare or lessons to teach or errands to run.

I would like to say that I planned on using this free time to spend memorizing the book of Ephesians or eating whole foods or doing a Crossfit workout.  But nope.  My agenda was to move as little as possible from my bed.

Then life.

I had been ignoring an apparently large problem for about a month.  My kitchen sink was progressively draining slower and slower with each use.  And we use this thing a lot, my man.  All of us home-schooling and home-businessing from this joint amounts to a lot of dishes.  Every time I went to do a load, I could see that my pipes were clogged.

But life gets busy and the water eventually goes down, so we did what all good Yahoos do.  We ignored the problem.

By Friday, though, we could see that clog had waited us out.  The water was standing in the sink and going no where.  So The Honey took the afternoon off to start messing with this thing.

Were you thinking a little Drano applied would knock it out?  You're so precious.  No, not even.  We had to call in the big boys:  that snake thingy majig tool.

Here was the progression of things:

1.  Busting through the drywall under the sink.
2.  Cutting the pipe.
3.  Applying the snakey majig
4.  Getting no where
5.  Cussing a little
6.  Rinse and repeat

So then we thought maybe the clog was bigger than we anticipated.  Maybe it was deeper down into the plumbing.  So we went to the basement and began cutting into those pipes to see if we could localize the thing.

Listen people, I cannot prepare you for the devilish mess that we discovered when we cut deep into the belly of the beast that was our backed up plumbing.

The stinch.  The filth.  That rotten filth of 11 years of grease.  Lots of and lots of grease.
Because bacon.

But you know what we found most prevalent in the line?  The thing that seemed to be the agent of most of the clogging? Cascade.  Cascade people.  Don't let that get lost on you.  The little pods of cleaner whose function is to make my dishes pristine and sparkling and clean.  Gobs of it had jacked up my line.

Even after cutting the line and flushing it out.  We still had to run the snake through it over and over and over again to clean that mess out.  The Honey went at it from the basement up and I crammed myself under the kitchen sink to try to work my plumbing magic from the top down.

As I sat there, all hunched over, gagging a lot and saying Christian cuss words, I started thinking.

This physical mess is a picture of the spiritual mess of my life.  

Ordinarily my kitchen looks okay.  Not pristine, but livable.  Dishes are usually done and bars are cleaned off.  I sometimes mop the floor.  Things have their place.  But obviously those things were just appearances.  The real inside workings of my home were in disarray.

And so it is with me.  On the outside I  might look alright to most.  I read my Bible some and give a little to church.  I teach Sunday School and try not to yell at my kids.  I do okay.  But it's all Cascade.

 My spiritual heart is just like my plumbing.  And God knows it.  He is very acquainted with the filth in my life.  The stench of sin.  Deep down, I am far worse than I would have ever imagined. Jesus spoke about it when he was talking to some 'religious' people like myself:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
Matthew 23:27 

As I begin to peel back my layers to investigate how deep this rotten heart goes, I come to quickly realize this job is going to take way more than elbow grease.  It needs the healing hand of a Savior. The one who crafted us with his gentle care.  The architect of our lives, who knows our inner being and still loves us anyway.  Because here is the audacious thing:  In Jesus, the God who sees all of that junk can look on us as if we are unblemished.  Because Jesus willingly went into the belly of the beast for us, to conquer sin, we can be looked on by the Father as pristine.  Spotless. Pure.

That, my friend, is irrational love.  And that message, that gospel, good-news truth of Jesus, is the snake thingy majig to our decaying hearts.  The fact that Jesus took our shame and sin and placed it on himself motivates me to clean my pipes.  From the inside out.  To stop fooling myself with outward appearances, but instead allow the Father to have his way in my heart.