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starting over, starting again. starting.

6 Oct

After discerning it, deciding and moving forward, I could not be more grateful that I submitted to God’s will and have moved on from ministry in the parish-setting.

We started our atrium sessions a few weeks back.  The biggest difference this year?  We are back to doing it in our home. Me and my kiddos, my mom and nieces and nephews.  Small.  Simple.  Perfect.

By the grace of God, in just two months, we rebuilt a lovely and simple atrium.

I believe whole-heartedly that we should serve our parish and the larger faith community by giving our time in ministry.  I’ve poured every ounce (sometimes to a fault) of myself into ministry for well over a decade.

And, I’m continuing to do that now—just in a different capacity.

Now?  My way of serving the Church is by building up the domestic church.  By being here as a wife and mother—both physically and mentally.  And, I’m reminded daily, that is no short order.

It’s my vocation and I’m honoring that.  And God is pouring out His grace and mercy.

And, so as the year begins to find it’s rhythm, we are adjusting—peacefully—to our new-old surroundings.  So many things about this are just perfect.

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progress

20 Sep

We are four weeks into our sixth year of homeschooling. 

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This summer I planned and researched more than I ever have.  I listened to every podcast and watched every webinar that I could get my hands on related to classical education.  I took a course from Dr. Christopher Perrin on the topic of restful learning in the classical tradition.

My mind was stretched (Josef Pieper, the Suma Theologica, heck even Clark and Jain’s Liberal Arts Tradition all hurt my brain in serious ways).  But, my heart found its resting place, and my hopes for a thoughtful, purposeful year slowly came together. 

One month down and we are certainly not there with everything.  No, this road to giving my kids a classical education requires going backwards so that we can go forwards.  It’s a slow process.  It’s left me chewing on so many new and beautiful ideas.

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And, I’m not going to lie.  I’ve had epic hissy fits as I try (and fail) to balance the roll up your sleeves and get the work done with the thoughtful, careful, rigor that comes from leading the kids to wonder and to God’s truth, goodness, and beauty in all areas of learning.  I’ve cried.  I’ve sworn.  A lot.  I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate.  I’ve texted Jason on more than one occasion and told him that I was going to be sending the kids on the yellow bus come morning. 

Friends, this is hard work.  This is tiring work. 

Sometimes it feels impossible because in essence, I’m trying to give something that I was not given.  The classical tradition is not a model of education that was ever spoken about in my undergraduate or graduate studies in education. I was not trained this way.  I did not teach this way.  My goals in education were not what they are today.

The classical tradition is certainly not where I came from, but it is where I am going with my kids.

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So, as we add in layers of Shakespeare, literary analysis, Latin, memory work, good Classical literature, opportunities and experiences to help our kids grow in piety, music and gymnasium (in the classical sense of the words), and redefine the goal of mathematics and the sciences, we are learning and growing and being challenged.  And, we are getting there.

I may have a few (dozen) more hissy fits.  I may eat more chocolate than I should.  I may swear and grow weary.  But we are walking the road to truth, goodness, and beauty, and that is worth every ounce that I can give to this endeavor of home educating my kids. 

new beginnings

7 Sep

Peace.

Joy.

Peace and joy.

This year, the beginning of the year, it feel so very different.  I feel like it is a little gift, a loving grace, from God for being obedient to His call to step down from ministry to be with my family.

I’m so dang grateful because this “yes” has granted me a spiritual, physical, and mental health that is allowing me to not just be here physically to my family, but to be here with them—as in my mind and heart are here.  There is so much more peaceful, restful, joyful space open in my brain to love the heck out of my kids and husband. 

No longer is the to-do list knocking me over the head, leaving me with a massive headache and an unsettled soul.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt the anxiousness of being “behind.”  I’m not perpetually distracted anymore. No, we are just living.  Being.  Enjoying.  And praising God for the gift of balance.

This is what it feels like to have my priorities straight.

I wouldn’t give this up for anything. 

(day 1–going to try this again. We’ll see)

cleanly perspective

5 Jul

Something about the end of the school year brings about this intense need to purge, clean (and I mean gut out, scrub, and go all Martha Stewart clean), and organize every single room in the house.  And, the garage.  And, the detached workshop. 

It’s quite a project and one that I own with intense joy and determination.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that this is my type –A personality attempting to regain control over the house and the inevitable “letting go” that takes place during the school year.  So much letting go.

But, I’m telling you, something therapeutic happens in the scrubbing and the gutting.  God speaks in the quiet of my work, providing me an opportunity to process the whirlwind of a year that we just had.  With each room I purge, I feel like the view of the forest slowly returns and the fine details of the trees that were at the tip of my nose no longer seems so big and so daunting. 

I’ve determined that there is something about letting go of what is weighing you down physically that can lead to a freeing of the heaviness of life and to-do lists.  I’m living that now. 

I just finished the last room yesterday—the office—the room that was busting at the seams with my filled to the brim files of ministry work.  That work that I decided to take a year off from.  Projects are now ready to be handed over.  So much letting go.

I ended this 6 week purge by sleeping in until 9AM this morning.  Apparently gutting my house and my will is exhausting work.

[day three and four]

seasons

2 Jul

Like the changing of seasons throughout the year, so, too, do we all experience different “seasons” in our life.  Am I right?  For example, in college, I had a “season” in which I was a vegan hippie who traveled to South America, studied in the rainforest, and hiked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu.  That  was quite a season.  As an adult, I had a fantastic “season” of teaching both elementary-aged children and middle school teens.   Then babies came along and I entered into the “season” of motherhood.  I am now in the “season” of homeschooling my little people. 

Seasons—they come and go—sometimes when you least expect them to.  I’m living that right now. 

For the past 11 years, I have been involved in ministry for our faith community in the school, parish and diocesan settings.  My “seasons” included full time, part time and volunteer positions.  All of have been exhilarating, challenging, joy-filled and at points, down right exhausting.  One thing is for certain:  they have all been so. dang. good.

But like all good things, at some point they need to come to an end.  And, so, after hours and hours of prayers and a handful of novenas, I can peaceful say, my “season” of working in ministry is ending (for now).  It’s time to place my “ministry hat” on the shelf for a bit.  Maybe a year (I hope).  Maybe longer.  I’m just not sure.

::gulp::

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but to type those words and have the needed conversations to let people know that I am stepping down from ministry for the time being has been tough.  Perhaps this is because the current ministry that I’ve been heavily involved in is near and dear to my heart because of the gift that it has been to my family. 

But it is time…the “seasons” are changing. 

I’ve been feeling this tug for the last nine months—that God was calling me to step down and instead focus my attention on just being a wife and (homeschooling) mother. 

Just a wife. 

Just a mother. 

Just a teacher to my kids. 

That’s no small calling

And, to be honest, that is a more difficult calling for me than to wear many hats and keep many balls from dropping from the many commitments I had outside of the home.  It is a calling that I’d rather not respond to (hence the nine months of discernment).  I have never been just a mom or just wife.  A full time teacher in private schools and a wife?  yes.  A mom and a Creighton Practitioner?  yes.  A wife, a homeschooling mom, and a director of CGS?  yes.  Just a wife and a homeschooling mom?  Now that is a new one.

But, alas, a calling is a calling and to not respond, I’ve found, does no good at all because God, well, He doesn’t exactly change His plans because I just don’t want to put on my big girl pants and do what He is asking of me.  And, so, He continues to place it so strongly on my heart to focus my energies in the home and in educating the kiddos.  He repeatedly showers me with underserved grace and direction, opening the door to new and enlightening ways to educate our kids.  And, the only way that I am going to be able to follow through with the vision of homeschooling and the family culture that God has so clearly placed in my heart and mind is to be present.  To be home.   To be just a wife and a homeschooling mom who finally has the time and energy to cultivate this vision so that it can actually come to fruition.

It is time.  This is that season.

[day two]

Education as Imitation

13 Apr

Education is the art of imitation.

I think that I have made it clear in previous posts that my desire in educating my children is to lead them to truth, to goodness and to beauty.  And, so, if educating is imitating, it leaves me pondering an essential question:

Am I worthy of being imitated?

Repeat that question slowly, friends:  Am I worthy … of being imitated?

Because if we open our minds to the truth that education is about so much more than textbooks, workbooks, and tests, we are left with the painful, yet liberating truth that life is education.  So, how am I living my life?

Am I worthy of being imitated?

For me, that question begs a lot of other questions about what that really looks like on a daily basis.

What have I placed as priorities in my life?  How are my habits of rest and work?  Is there an ordered balance that reflects biblical teachings of honoring the Sabbath?  After all, we were created for the Sabbath.

Have I spent time valuing things that do not pass my Litmus Test of truth, goodness, and beauty?  How have I modeled a pursuit of these truth? When have I allowed the world to lead me instead of God?

What about my words and attitude and body language, especially towards the little image bearers of God who are named Analise, Jonah, and James—how have I treated them that is worthy of imitation when they interact with me, Jason, one another or friends and family outside of this home?

Education is about being a living, breathing human being created with a soul that longs to love and serve the Lord.  Our minds, bodies, and souls are intricately connected, incapable of being separated like the three persons of the Trinity.  Am I recognizing and honoring this truth?  Am I modeling that?

In taking this all to prayer and mulling over these questions in my sub-conscience, I’m left with the painful realization that I have a lot of work to do.  Soul formation is not for the faint of heart.  It takes work and continual abandonment of oneself and our fallen nature and resting in the Lord’s hands, begging Him to carry us, to change us,  to sanctify us.  Simply, it takes prayer and the sacraments.

And, the truth is NO ONE can do this work for me.  Only I have the ability to swing the pendulum to a resting place that allows rest, work, prayer, and true soul formation to be in their proper balance.  Only I can do the work of taking the time to nurture my mind, body and soul.  And, that job—well, it takes a hefty dose of courage and trust.

I know that I write about this quest often—finding a better balance to my workaholic ways.  Obviously, I still have a lot of work to do because it hasn’t been until recently that I have been able to step back and truly access the ramifications of leading a life that is not oriented towards balance.  When I reflect on my own upbringing and my own education, it’s no wonder that I am wired the way that I am.  And, I know that I am not alone, for our culture screams the rest is for the weak and that education equates to standardized test scores.   And while I know those sentiments are lies from the evil one, I also know that every day I have to make the choice to focus my attention and energies towards orienting myself to truth, goodness and beauty.

Christ gives us countless reminders of His desires for us in scripture.  At the Wedding Feast at Cana, for example, we know that the bride and groom ran out of wine.  We know full well that Jesus could have snapped his fingers, and from nothing  filled the pitchers with wine.  But, that is not what He did.  Instead, He instructed the servants to first fill the jugs full of water.  And from that, He performed his miracle of creating wine for the honored guests at the banquet.

So what does this mean for me?   I’ve come to recognize that He is asking me to fill my jug, my soul, brim-full, and from that He can work His miracles as He sees fit because *I* am one of his honored guests.  He desires to work a miracle in me.  What an amazing truth to ponder.

When my children reflect back 20 years from now, I pray that they don’t remember me as a crazy mom, short on patience, high on unrealistic expectations, and overflowing with too many days burning the midnight oil to get just “one more thing” done.  Rather, I want my children to know that they have a mom who sought balance and respected herself enough to take time to read a book, to go on a walk for the explicit purpose of enjoying the beauty that surrounded her.  I want them to remember a mom who enjoyed seeking knowledge and growing in truth through her own studies and development of skills through having hobbies that brought her joy—a joy that comes from a place of rest and peace.

I want them to imitate these practices and beliefs so that one day they, too, can educate their own children by living a life that is worthy of imitation.

That is certainly no easy task.  But through His grace, I know it is possible.

chocolate, family, medicinal swearing and other life lessons learned by 36

16 Mar

1. Enjoy Life Chocolate chips will always save the day.

2. Email is from the devil and apparently I am really good at unintentionally offending people through it. I now panic every time I have to hit the send button after composing an email.

3. James gives the best hugs.

4.  It is a major problem in America when it costs just a few hundred dollars for a woman to have an abortion, but over $20,000 to adopt a baby. That reality will likely keep our family from growing through adoption.

5. Some things are worth investing in—such as a good undergarments and shoes.

6. My adult version of “down time” consists of falling asleep with a book next to me that never had a chance of being opened.

7. My heart still aches at the thought of not having more babies.

8. God is patient. Very, very, very patient. I am grateful for this truth.

9. Stress paralyzed is a real thing. Just ask my husband. He may have a few stories of me sitting in the car hiding from everyone.

10. Dogs really are man’s best friend. Our puppy is pretty awesome.

11. Homeschooling is a full time gig. I was insane to think that a job in ministry could co-exist with the demands of homeschooling.

12. Ear plugs were invented by a wife who has a husband who snores. I’m sure of this.

13. Having faithful friends and family to lift me up in prayer during the trials that are inevitable in life is one of the surest signs that God cares deeply about me.

14. Annie’s zeal for learning drives me to be a better homeschooling mom every single day.

15. The Lord has been calling me for years to have better balance in my life. I am finally responding to this invitation. And, my o my, is it a freeing experience.

16. I could do without fall, winter, and spring. Shorts and flip flops is what it’s all about.

17. Classical education is a God-send. I’m so grateful that the Lord opened my eyes to this form of education. It is literally changing our family’s life.

18. Carmel apple tea with a spoonful of honey is from the Lord. He told me it was so.

19. Some things just aren’t meant to be figured out—like Jonah’s immunodeficiency or why my hair is so gray at 36 or why chin hair is really necessary on a woman.

20. A good stylist is imperative.

21. Jason’s guitar playing skills are some of my favorite things about him.

22. I like skinny jeans and tall boots. There, I admit it.

23. The Lord desires holiness from me and by golly, He provides so many opportunities to grow every day.

24. I have a minor obsession with Facebook. I didn’t even try to give it up for Lent.

25. A journey towards something is also a journey away from something. I’m living this.

26. Jonah sleeps like a pretzel. That’s about as athletic as we get around here.

27. Ann Taylor Loft and Banana Republic are God’s gift to women in modest and fashionable clothes.

28. It’s a fantastic gift when you can call your family your friends.

29. I’m pretty sure that my body is comprised of Meijer veggie chips and Pace mild salsa.

30. My holy hour every week is my absolute favorite time.

31. Quality time spent talking to my husband is my next favorite thing.

32. If I could spend the day reading book after book with my kids, my life would be pretty awesome. Good thing my kids agree. My life is awesome.

33. “This too shall pass…” has become my mantra for both the good and the bad.

34. Thus, soak up the good and take up medicinal swearing during the bad—or, I mean spend that time on your knees, begging the Lord to sustain you. He always does (even through the swearing).

35.  The older I get, the more introverted and socially awkward I become. 

36. I’m so grateful that 35 is in the books. It was a year of intense purgation. With a joy-filled heart, I am ready for this next chapter of our lives.