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Archive for June 11th, 2012

Things My Grandmother Knew: Life Requires Flexibility

As I’ve been pondering and marveling over all the skill my grandmother had in her kitchen, around the house, in the garden, at the farm, at the store and more, I realized there is one skill that I have overlooked.  My grandmother knew how to be flexible.

I’ve heard it said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break.”  My grandmother’s life certainly required some flexibility.  Life has a way of throwing you curve balls, giving you unexpected challenges and disappointments.  With each curve ball, we are faced with a decision…How will we respond?

Admittedly, I was either not born yet or very young when some of the following events occurred, however, I can remember hearing about them and I saw the results of these events.  I’m not even sure I have all the details right.  What I do know is that I know the result of how my grandmother faced these events.  One in particular has been running through my mind recently.  Probably because I am facing a similar situation and challenge.

After my grandparents were married they began farming and ranching in western Kansas.  They raised hereford cattle and lots of alfalfa and probably other things as well, but that’s what I remember.  They did well….they built a new brick house, expanded their property, hired help.  They were successful.  They had two young children.  Life was good.  I don’t know exactly how old he was when my grandfather had his first heart attack but I would imagine it was in his early to mid-thirties based on what I’ve been told.  The first was followed by others and pretty soon his health caused my grandparents to reconsider their choice of farming and ranching.  It’s hard, HARD physical labor…especially during those years.  The doctor informed my grandfather that in order to survive he would have to give up farming.

What a blow that must have been!  They had spent their lives building a life on that farm.  This is what they knew…this is what my grandfather had been raised around.  And now, now they wouldn’t be able to continue.  I wonder what my grandmother felt as she faced the idea that her life was going to be forever changed and radically turned upside down.  They were facing a move into town, the sale of their farm, purchasing all that was needed to start a small department store in the town of Quinter (approximately 1000 people then), learning a new trade, building yet another house….the changes and transitions must have provided an endless list of things to worry about.

Yet, she faced these transitions and changes and survived and I never, NEVER heard her utter a word of regret or bitterness.  In my heart, I think she was more comfortable on the farm but yet, she worked side by side with my grandfather in their store year after year after year.  She remained flexible.

Sometimes I think my grandparent’s generation understood the frequency and unpredictability of “curve balls” more than we do.  Because of that, they knew how to walk through uncertain times with a grace and a dignity that few demonstrate today.  For whatever reason, we seem to expect things to go like we want them to go, to get the results we want to get, and to encounter few challenges.  Real life isn’t like that.

Life requires flexibility.

I bet all of us are facing some “curve balls” right now.  I want to remember what my grandmother demonstrated:  “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break.”

Homeschooling Me! – Part Three, Learning to be Independent

Our choices, our decisions, our convictions, our priorities and our goals were just that.  They were ours!  I quickly learned, however, that there is as much peer pressure within homeschooling as there is in any other area of life and that I had to guard against being unduly influenced by what others were choosing.  So, although I may differ with another home educator on what is the best curriculum, the best approach, or the proper priorities, I must keep in mind what we have talked through, studied and decided is the direction for our family and for our children.

John and I had already talked about the goals that we had for our boys…those non-negotiables that absolutely had to be focused on in order for us to have been obedient to God’s priorities as parents. The funny thing was…..high SAT/ACT scores did not appear on that list. Being awarded MVP on the local sports team did not appear on the list. Being the star in the local theater production was not on the list and neither was being an accomplished musician or artist. And, heaven forbid! Even getting straight A’s did not appear on that list.


What did appear on the list were items that centered on the heart of our children. God laid on our heart the priority of our boys’ heart being turned toward knowing God and becoming like Him. God wouldn’t let us rest in the idea that it was enough to address the mental and physical needs of our children. We felt that God had called us to train their hearts.


Now, that’s not always the popular thing to do.  Even in home education circles, we may all SAY that training their hearts is important, but living it out, walking that talk is an entirely different matter. It is easy for us to get sidetracked with the latest trend. To be distracted by what is IN and what is OUT as far as curriculum, methodology and philosophy go. It’s easy to get pulled from side to side by peer pressure, societal pressure, activities and trends. It’s easy to get sidetracked from what is most important…..from what really IS the heart of the matter.


It’s been nineteen years since we sat down to write out what we felt God had laid on our hearts for our children. These were items we felt were the “heart of the matter”…..the items that we felt lined up with God’s priorities. We certainly failed many times, but just having them written down helped us stay focused on what is most important.


Here are the things that appeared on that list that were common for all four of our boys.


1. To raise men after God’s own heart


2. To raise men who would seek to know God and become like Him.


3. To raise lifelong learners.


4. To raise and help to develop each young man based on the unique and individual qualities that God had given them for a unique and specific God-given purpose.


5. To raise up educated, discerning, culturally literate servant leaders of God’s kingdom.


These are what God laid on our heart…they are personal for our family.  These are priorities based on principles we learned during our journey and through our study of Scripture.  Notice my emphasis.  This is a list for our family…not necessarily for yours.  This is your journey!