The Inspired Life of a Homeschool Mom

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The other morning I got up early…well, earlier than everyone else anyway. It was the weekend so Dad was home. It had rained during the night. Really rained so that when I sat out on the porch with my coffee I could breathe in the wet earthy air. After living in the Pacific Northwest for sixteen years I grew to love the rain. I miss it here on the prairie. During the sparkly whiteness of the prairie winter I longed for the gray, cozy Washington winter.

I decided to go for a walk, enjoying the cool grayness. As I walked I thought about how we have lived in the Midwest for a year now. Moving is really hard, at least it was for me. Adjusting to everything being so different, the missing places in my heart where my friends should be. I left behind a life that I loved, fighting resentment, accepting what is. It hasn’t been easy. Grieving the loss of a baby. Sometimes it felt like my heart had grown flat. On auto pilot, trying to live from one day to the next.

As I walked I prayed and thought, along the fields, soy beans, corn, a gravel road. This is my life now. Cows stopped their grazing to look at me. I like them and I say,”Hi, good morning, cows.” They look at me with peaceful eyes, go back to their grass. Milk weed flowers grow in the ditches. They have a wonderful fragrance that wafts out to me in the mist. I pick some so I can hold it my nose and smell it as I go, letting the sticky milk drip onto my wrist. I think how we will be able now to hatch Monarch Butterflies in jars like I did when I was a girl. Year after year my siblings and I lined the pantry window sill with jars. We never tired of watching the life cycle of the beautiful butterfly. We always released them with a sort of hushed awe into my mom’s flower beds.

By the time I turn back the sun is burning away the mist. I can still see our place , even though I’m a good couple miles away. Distance is deceiving here.  You know they say where ever you go there you are? Well, I knew then that it’s true. I am still here. The inspired life that I want to live, full of poetry, music, art, good and beautiful things. Lofty aspirations of educating my children, capturing their hearts and souls. Those things can still be mine. My heart fills with praise because I know it’s true, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can be happy here just as well as there. I will grow here and flourish, I will live the inspired life of a homeschool mom.

And once I am being carried on the wings of inspiration, I know wonderful things will happen! I am planning a literature based study of The United States for this coming year. Not so much the ordinary history stuff but a study of the regions and people and geography. I am thinking of books that capture the hearts of the people that make the deep south, New England, the rugged cowboyness of the Southwest, the amazing, strong women who somehow still laughed and loved and accepted the wind and sod houses on the prairie….. it’s going to be good. We’ll do regional cooking and take field trips in our minds. We’ll make a huge map and a time line. We’ll live through the dust bowl and join the gold rush. We’ll slip away with the runaway slaves, following the drinking gourd.

I have a feeling it’ll be another good year this year. Please, if anything cool came to mind while reading this leave me a comment. The plans are still forming in my mind so I am definitely open to suggestions!

“Make yourselves nests of pleasant thoughts, bright fancies, faithful sayings; treasure houses of precious and restful thoughts, which care cannot disturb nor poverty take away from you, houses built without hands for your souls to live in.” John Ruskin

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Pink~ It’s the New Black

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She came into the world with scarcely a ruffle. Serene and beautiful was her birth. She was immediately enveloped in love by her Daddy and me and by her two young adult cousins, who were present at the birth. We named her Meredith Pearl, our sixth child. She was born at home, and I shall never forget those sweet honeymoon days after her birth, the spring sunshine flooding in our bedroom windows, a house full of love, visitors, and happiness because a child had brought into the world!

And, so her life has followed suit, she is sweet and gentle.  She doesn’t mind playing by herself. Quietly, she will busily play with her dollies. Many times we have suddenly said,”Where is Meredee?” Only to find her happily playing with her doll on the stairwell or in her bedroom.

Blue eyes is pretty sure that she will be a writer when she is older. She has a wonderful, pleasant imagination. One day, not long ago, the older kids and I were busy with school studies and she popped in the living room to announce that she was going swimming. It was a warm, sunny day, she got on her swim suit and went on the front porch, which was her pool, and had a lovely swim. We stopped what we were doing to watch through the window. With a huge smile on her face, her arms paddling round and round, she “swam” all about the porch, laughing with delight. Oh, we laughed until we nearly cried watching her! I’m sure she had just as much fun as if she actually were swimming! Of course, we all had to smoother her with smooches and hugs and tell her how adorable she was!

A couple weeks ago she told us, “My birthday is coming up, and after I turn four I don’t want you guys calling me cute anymore!” Almost every night she climbs into our bed, she dives right in the middle and burrows down under the covers, curls up by Daddy and goes back to sleep. Sometimes, she doesn’t even bother to start out in her own room. She just climbs in after prayers and says, “I want to sleep by you, Daddy!” Usually we just look at each other and say,”O, you’re only little once. Why not?”

She LOVES, LOVES, LOVES pink! She saw some sparkly pink skinny jeans at Wal Mart and really wanted them. (They were on clearance for $3, so it was her lucky day!) Bright pink boots at Good Will, had to have them! Her older sister told me that if she were the mom, she would not let her child wear those boots, especially to church! But you know what? You’re only four once. To her, if it’s pink, it’s beautiful and it matches- anything! (Besides, I had to remind her sister that when she was about this age, she wore bright pink rubber boots, everywhere! And a pair of snazzy pink sunglasses, even to church.)

When I was pregnant with her little sister Lucy, I ended up having to be on bed rest for the last six weeks. To pass the time, I made an online scrapbook/baby book for her. She loves to take it off the shelf, cuddle up by one of us and have us read it to her. It begins with my thoughts and prayers while I was pregnant with her, includes her birth story and ends at her first birthday. “See how cute I was?” She’ll say. “You guys loved me soo much!”

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And still we do, little Meredee! Truly, you have been a gift to us from the Lord! “An heritage of the Lord” just like the Bible says! A preacher from our church once told us that he had done a word study on this verse.  He said the word heritage here means an heirloom, something valuable and precious to be passed from one generation to the next. Isn’t that beautiful and fitting?

May He help us, each day, to live in His wisdom and grace, so that we may carefully care for this precious heirloom of the Lord!

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                            “The Lord has blessed thee, thou hast grown.                                                   What seeds of love thy life has sown!”

Willa Cather Speaking to My Heart

I just finished reading My Antonia by Willa Cather. Why have I never known this was such a beautiful book? I think I never would have appreciated it as much as now, though. In a beautiful, sad way it spoke to my “adjusting to the prairie heart”. At least I know English and do not take up residence in a dugout. At least “our Papa” has twinkly eyes and is happy. I am so thankful that my babies have been warm and well fed. After living through a winter here, I have a renewed sense of respect for the courage and determination of the women who first came and settled on the lonely, wind swept prairies.

 In the beginning of the book the main character, Jimmy, becomes an orphan and goes to live with his grandparents in Nebraska. This is how he describes his drive from the train station to their farm:

“”Cautiously I slipped from under the buffalo hide, got up on my knees and peered over the side of the wagon. There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the materials out of which countries are made. No, there was nothing but land……..I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside of man’s jurisdiction.  I had never before looked up at the sky when there was not a familiar mountain ridge against it. But this was the complete dome of heaven, all there was of it. I did not believe my dead father and mother were watching me from up there; they would still be looking for me at the sheep-fold down by the creek, or along the white road that lead to the mountain pastures. I had left even their spirits behind me. The wagon jolted on, carrying me I knew not wither. I don’t think I was homesick. If we never arrived anywhere, it did not matter. Between the earth and that sky I felt erased, blotted out. I did not say my prayers that night: Here, I felt, what would be would be.”

I had to choke up when I read that aloud to Blue eyes. Having grown up here, I don’t think he can ever really understand what an adjustment this move has been for me. (But I love him anyways,  and when he takes me in his arms, loves away my sadness, prays for us and tells me it’s going to be ok, I believe him.)

And I am sure that next fall I will think of this description of  the coming of winter:

“The pale, cold light of the winter sunset did not beautify- it was like the light of truth itself. When the smoky clouds hung low in the west and the red sun went down behind them, leaving a pink flush on the snowy roofs and the blue drifts, then the wind sprang up afresh, with a kind of bitter song, as if it said: “This is reality, whether you like it or not. All those frivolities of summer, the light and shadow, the living mask of green that trembled over everything, they were lies, and this is what was underneath. This is the truth.” It was if we were be punished for loving the loveliness of summer.”

That is too sad! But……I will not think of that now, because it is spring, and I am planning to “love the loveliness of summer” with wild abandon. I will let the “living mask of green” fool me. I will deal with the truth of winter when it gets here.

For now I will think of this:

“When spring came, after the hard winter, one could not get enough of the nimble air. Every morning I woke with a fresh consciousness that winter was over. There were none of the signs that I used to watch for in Virginia, no budding woods or blooming gardens. There was only- spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere; in the sky, in the swift clouds, in the pale sunshine, in the warm, high wind- rising suddenly, impulsive and playful like a big puppy that pawed you and then lay down to be petted. If I had been tossed down blindfolded on that red prairie, I should have known that it was spring.”

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The Lunar Eclipse; My God How Great Thou Art!

In the wee hours of morning, we woke up our five oldest kids to see the complete lunar eclipse. “The Blood Moon”. The moon was full, the stars shone glittery and bright. They stumbled down stairs, wrapped up in their blankets. We left all the lights off and watched through the window. The dark coziness made us talk in hushed voices.

We watched as the earth’s shadow slowly passed over the moon. And our hearts were full of praise, to think of the celestial bodies, set in their courses and moving in exact precision, like a beautifully wound clock  set by the hand of the Maker.

And I felt in my soul, that I was part of an ancient audience, watching as indeed “the heavens declare His handiwork.” Blue eyes stood with his arms around me and our children clustered in front of us before the window, awed into silent praise.

Earlier in the evening, we had talked of the Passover. Quietly we went back to our beds, knowing that the door posts of our hearts have been sprinkled with the blood of the true Passover Lamb. Knowing that because of this, the angel of death will pass over us and we have life through His name, and like the children of Israel, we are free from bondage and on our way to the promised land! Truly, we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good!

“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24

Now today, my heart and mind is full of Carl Boberg’s

How Great Thou Art  

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power through out the universe displayed!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art! Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;-That on the cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin;-

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!