What Hurry Does to My Heart

Dear Mom,

I know there are so many things to do. Important things. Things with deadlines and time restraints. But could we slow down, just a bit, and let me look at this caterpillar crawling by? This world around me is so interesting and I just want to watch it for a while.

I know you have to hurry to your work, your meeting, to my soccer game, and I know it’s bad to be late. But lately it feels like we hurry to everywhere. And I just wonder, at the end of our lives, will we be glad we went to all those places, even when hurrying doesn’t feel nice?

When we hurry you get short with me. Sometimes angry. I don’t understand because I’m going as fast as I can but I’m not as fast as you. And I thought we were supposed to “enjoy the moment” but I don’t think hurrying helps us do that.

What if we could slow down and not hurry so much? What if you had time to stop with me, look at me, and just enjoy the wonder in my face while I watch a butterfly? Have you watched a butterfly lately, mamma?

What if we just said “no” to being more places and said “yes” to being together?

What if we had more time to read and sit together, or snuggle together, or cook together? Because if you weren’t always in a hurry then it would be OK if I messed up.

Hurry sometimes hurts my heart. Can we not hurry so much before I get big and think that hurrying is how you’re supposed to live?


Your Opinion, Please? (A Proverbs 31 Fun Thing)

Not long after I started blogging, I wrote a series that became known as “The Ruby Rebel“, extolling the many qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman.

Read the original post here.

A “Ruby Rebel” is essentially a woman who desires to be what Proverbs 31 calls “an excellent wife”, a woman who is “far above rubies” and therefore is in rebellion to the culture’s idea of womanhood.

I’ve always thought it would be glorious to “advertise” our brand of womanhood in a culture that blares its message at every turn. What if we became walking billboards too? At the very least, it might open the doors for opportunities to share Christ or for God’s Word to be presented in a practical way and thus pique someone’s desire to read it. So I designed this t-shirt and my question for you is, would you consider buying something like this? They would come with different snippets from Proverbs 31 on the back. (“Strength and dignity are her clothing.” … “She laughs at the time to come.”…etc.)

I’m interested in your feedback before I decide to have them printed. I’m also open to suggestions about the design.

 

 

 


How We Do Relaxed Homeschooling: Life is Our Classroom

Lindsey commented on “Summer Family Happenings at the Crawfords” and asked a question I thought I would answer in a post. Here is her question:

“I know you have often posted about non-book learning being a great education, and I clearly see through your children’s talents that’s working well for you all, but wondering specifics of how to do this. Example, say my son wanted to take pictures all day I’m not sure I would happily say yes as I would feel there are other things in the day to accomplish. Or letting my kids get on the internet…I’m super stingy with the internet and screen time in general. I just would really like more specifics if you ever get the chance.”

For someone not familiar with what I call a relaxed approach to homeschooling, there are lots of posts like “Schooling Has Nothing to Do With Real Education, parts 1, 2 & 3” as well as my ebook Think Outside the Classroom, to familiarize yourself with this multi-faceted approach which I won’t have room to fully explain here.

But to answer some specifics about how we implement it, even though there is no one way and every family will look quite different, I offer the following ideas:

  • First, we don’t “take off” from school, though the level of structure may vary throughout the year. Since we embrace the idea that learning happens all the time, school is always in session.
  • We implement some structure while still allowing plenty of freedom for individual pursuits. Our day typically begins with Bible (all of us) followed by a read aloud (the older ones may not stay for this), chore time, copy work, math and silent reading, during which time I may work with a younger child with reading or I may pair up an older child with a younger one. Other than those constants, most of our learning involves reading, hands-on-learning, games, video tutorials/documentaries, and discussion, not necessarily all in one day.

I’ve done different things with different children for our structured part of the day. Some have followed a few subjects through All-in-One-Homeschool. We’ve used a variety of curriculum (I like A.C.E. math) and for the younger ones, we’ve implemented games and real-life activities to teach math. Also, I’ve loved the books in A Math Adventure which offer a creative, literary spin on teaching math concepts. We don’t discredit things like construction for valuable lessons in math as well.

I add things along too, like a simple typing course which I require all my kids to learn before they can start emailing and such.

  • I give them lots of freedom to pursue their own interests, and I greatly encourage their creativity and productivity.
  • I let them try new things and make messes. Sometimes they’ll ask me if they can do something and my first inclination may be to say “no” just because it seems too hard or they’ll make a mess, or whatever. But more often than not I’m inclined to go ahead and let them. My son who loves machines wanted to try weed-eating when he seemed too young. But we let him try and his determination was enough to help him hold a machine too heavy for him. He learned very early and became good at it. Now he can not only do it well, but at the age of 9 he can also fix the machine. This applies to my girls too, with whatever endeavors they want to attempt. I have found great value in helping our kids figure out they are capable of big things. Whether it’s chopping up vegetables in the kitchen or building a table, I say give them a shot.
  • A huge part of our education paradigm involves a level of trust unfamiliar to the way we were taught to think about education. We’re so geared to the idea of “teaching children” that we forget they were created to learn and do remarkably well on their own. I am always battling my own notions but so far, I can see that there really is something miraculous in a child’s curiosity and his drive to find answers to life’s questions.  Which is probably the best summary of a relaxed-learning approach: raise questions and trust that the pursuit of finding the answer is an adequate education.

For example, I’ve mentioned previously how naturally children learn to tell time, add and subtract, tie their shoes, grow their vocabulary and a thousand other things without much deliberate effort at all. There is great freedom realizing that we don’t have to teach them everything.

  • My disclaimer: I have a child who, though she loved the idea of relaxed learning, preferred more structure. This wasn’t a problem, I simply let her follow that style.
  • The best environment for any education is a rich one, which simply means children have access to conversation, good books and tools.
  • We don’t have gadgets (i.e. phones, games, etc.) besides a computer, which we monitor and try to utilize for educational and enrichment purposes, and while every family feels differently about technology, my thought is to keep as many distractions away that would prevent them from reading books and living life as possible in the growing years. It’s just simpler to me. My older children do have an MP3 player they are allowed to use when they mow grass or do similar work, but not any time they want.
  • We try to give them all different opportunities to create products and sell them, no matter how small the scale. There are great learning opportunities in a business model.
  • We give a lot of room for play time with the younger children, a time when their imaginations are full throttle and they are exploring, problem-solving and creating through imaginative play. We try to keep crafts and toys available that would facilitate that play, but the best kind is done when we are hands-off.

And I think it was my favorite education reformer, John Taylor Gatto who said “we don’t have to worry so much about educating children; a normal child would have to be locked up and away from life itself to keep from learning.”

Life is our classroom. Talk, read, look, listen, discover, make, build, create, play, think, tell stories, write stories–we were made to learn what we need to learn. Education doesn’t have to be so hard.


5 Things People Think About Marriage and Growing Up That Are Wrong

The following are actual statements I’ve read or heard in just the last few weeks about marriage and life, and I assume many people believe them. And because the way a culture thinks about marriage greatly influences said culture, we need to be thinking rightly about it and helping others do the same. Especially our children.
  • Criteria for a “good husband”: Is he good looking and does he make a lot of money?

This statement came from a woman who lived during the Great Depression. I get it. I really do. At least the last part. (The first part–really?) And honestly, don’t we all struggle with the money thing somewhere deep down? Money translates security. And who doesn’t want that?

The usual argument might go, “Well, you know how hard it can be on a marriage with financial struggles.” And that’s true. It can be hard. It can also be hard on a marriage when work-demands from a high-paying job deplete a relationship. It can also be hard on a marriage when greed and selfishness take over, or when status becomes more important than sitting on the front porch together, or when a couple gets trapped in the automobile-upgrade-because-our-neighbors-did game.

I’ve never heard one person warn a youngster about the dangers of making too much money. If we aren’t going to be honest, we should be quiet. The divorce rate doesn’t favor the poor or the rich. Seems financial security or the lack thereof doesn’t offer much indication of the success of the marriage. Maybe there are other things, far more important than the paycheck, that do.

  • You can’t get to know someone in less than a year.

Actually, that’s both true and false. The truth is, you can’t really get to know someone until you live with them. Period. But can you get to know someone’s character, get a feel for your compatibility in less than a year? Absolutely. There is no special time frame for relationship milestones.

  • College and becoming who you want to be and discovering yourself and your career should be much more important than getting married and tying yourself down to a commitment when the discovery of yourself has not yet been found. College is a time for individuals to discover themselves and find their paths in life. Marriage would greatly inhibit this. You cannot grow with another person until you fully know yourself. I am doubtful that anyone ranging from the ages 18-23 has fully found themselves yet. (Comment left here on the blog.)

Wow. Many people actually do believe this. “Finding one’s self” is highly overrated not a thing. The problem with most of us, in fact, is the quest to find one’s self propels one on an unending, self-absorbed search that kills what is most crucial in the human spirit–serving outside of self. We learn who we are only in the context of other people. That’s how we were made. Without commitment and responsibility to others we self-destruct. Marriage and family are the path to true discovery–wherever you are in a family.  It’s how we grow up and find ourselves.

  • My worst fear is how I’m going to pay for their college.

I find it almost unbelievable that we have elevated college to the place that it causes us this kind of fear. How about we put our energy into raising children who will grow up with upright character so they can face what life will inevitably throw at them. Let’s hope they become responsible, faithful, wise and honest, whether they go to college or not. Let’s pray they become followers of Christ. That they find godly spouses and seek first the Kingdom of God. Those are the things we should be afraid of their missing out on. Not a ginormous debt  they might not even need. Furthermore, parents shouldn’t “fear” paying for college when that isn’t even an entitlement. College is not a requirement for the good life. Character is.

  • You need to have all your ducks in a row before you start a family.

Whatever ducks you may have in a row are likely to change in a few years so don’t count your ducks before they waddle off. We make too much of “having it all together”, in my opinion, these days. Whatever happened to couples figuring out life together, easing the burdens by helping each other, and growing in love and security and wisdom having been through the beautiful catalyst of trials together? Do we need a plan? Yes, though it will likely change a few times. More important than the plan then, are the marks of ambition, work ethic and wisdom that will fortify a family through anything. We do our children great harm, I think, when we deprive them of building families on the pretense that “security” is more important. “Seek first the Kingdom…” and everything else will be added is what He says.


Summer Family Happenings at the Crawfords

I thought I’d drop a personal post for those who like to peek in from time to time, and I like to document things for permanent journaling purposes too. We’re busy in a country life sort of way these days. With normal struggles, ups and downs, joys and difficulties. Here is a small vignette of our summer:

Bria (20) and Kyle continue to get to know each other and we are grateful to watch the Lord working in their lives. I love seeing their zeal for knowing Christ more as their relationship grows. There truly is no greater joy than to see your children walk in truth. Anticipating what the future holds brings its own distinct set of emotions and watching your children grow up is a bitter/sweet journey. What a joy, however, to see how God’s grace has covered her, to watch her grow in strength and beauty, and to get to witness her servant’s spirit lived out here while her zest for life splashes onto all of us. She is a work horse, both tough and delicate, strong and sensitive. She is goal-oriented and purpose-driven, spending much of her time studying, working, gardening, upcycling furniture, playing music and soaking up life. She is such a gift!

Ashton (15) is super busy these days. I love that he gets to work with his Dad some because he is learning so much that will benefit him later in life and also because they are growing closer. He spends much of his free time honing his gift of art and music, and has had a few paid portrait jobs this year. The Lord has grown him and I’m thankful to see him mature in so many ways. He plans to enroll this year in a 2-year program on-line to get his associate degree in graphic design. He’s faithfully saving money and praying about his life work.

Alexa (12) loves to work; man, this girl loves to work! She wanted a window seat, so she built it. She needed a bookshelf, so she built one. She and Bria are the muscle behind our garden too, and I’m inspired watching them. Alexa’s sweet spirit is a blessing to us all, and I am humbled by the gift of her. Quiet and yet remarkably wise and funny.

(Photograph of cat by Avi)

Avalee (10) is in between child and woman and I am trying to savor this short time with her. She is full of life, imagination and laughter. She loves baking and she has a special interest in fashion design and has learned a lot from tutorials on the Internet. She and her 3 older siblings also are committed to their study of music. Lately she has also taken an interest in photography and some of her shots are amazing. I’m eager to see how the Lord leads her and am so thankful for this fourth-born of mine who often leaves me sweet, heart-felt notes.

Brooks (9) is pretty amazing. At 9 years old, he has a purpose-driven passion: all things with an engine. This is him, a week ago, sitting for 2 solid hours watching youtube videos on “how to repair small engines.” Right afterwards, he went to work on a lawn mower that hasn’t been running for 6 months. He checked the spark plugs, took the carburetor apart, cleaned it, found a broken piece, got it ordered to replace, watched anxiously for the part to come in, put the part on, put the carburetor back together and…it ran. He was like a child on Christmas morning. He asked me to order him some business cards for his small engine repair business. ;-)

(Photograph by Avi)

Mallie (8) is like sunshine in our home. She is made of kindness and it oozes.  Her imagination is as big as the moon and she inspires me to see joy in everything. After reading a book about worms at the library, she was fascinated and we watched some videos. Then I thought she needed a worm farm. Our worms came today! We are all pretty excited. I think we’ll try to sell them as bait, as well as harvest vermicompost for our garden. Who knows, maybe we’ll start to sell the worms for others to start worm farms soon. 

Kyla (6) is what I call our “full throttle” child. She keeps us laughing all the time and is both bold and sweet. She gets her words mixed up sometimes and says things like, “Mom! Mallie pulled her shirt up like a zucchini!” (Thinking of the word “bikini.”) I look at her sometimes and can’t wait to see the woman she becomes. But I’m also quite content to cherish the fleeting moments now.

(Photograph by Avi)

Ellia (4) is a joy. What can I say? She is so funny and expressive when she talks. She smiles constantly (except in this picture and when she’s mad at a sister) and loves nothing more than to play with her baby brother. She’s learning to read and is super excited about it. Usually my kids are a little older before they’re interested in reading.

(Photograph by Avi)

Jax (3) is such a fun age right now you would just have to hang out with him to know. I love this boy so! He is all boy, wide open, and delightfully loving.

And there’s Kaid (1)…snuggly, adorable, precious Kaid. We’re soaking him up.

Aaron and I, like any parents, are trying to remember to enjoy all the little things, in the midst of busy lives, and hold on to simplicity, remembering that building relationships which help us point our children to Christ, is our priority in life. We are not without struggles–believe me, even though I only hit happy highlights here. But we have lots to be grateful for and are just walking each day doing our best to hold on to the important stuff.


Why Moms Need to Reboot

Motherhood is really, at its core, about perseverance and deliberate, focused endurance.

I don’t mean just the physical kind…more often, it is the emotional and spiritual kind. It requires the kind of tenacity that frankly, few women in our age are willing to develop.

Not the tenacity to simply run a household, though the mechanics of that are a very real part of our job. But the motherhood I’m talking about encompasses a whole world besides; a world where hearts are painstakingly drawn out, attitudes are carefully monitored and molded, and life-lessons that can only be taught through the zeal of a mother are learned.

Quite frankly, we’ve probably all had days we thought, “this would be easier if someone else were doing it.” And someone else might be able to handle the mechanics. Maybe even more efficiently.

But we’re talking about mother-love: that all-encompassing vocation that has been given only to us.

I get tired. I get grouchy and start to look around and only see too many pairs of shoes out of place, dust under the couch, toys left out for the 100th time.

Painstaking.

But I MUST reboot, and remind myself that the mechanics–that is, how I handle the mechanics, are intricately tied to this bigger thing that we do…this growing of souls, and launching of good, sturdy men and women.

I cannot allow myself to be too tired for too long. Grace is given, yes, but then I must draw, not from my own strength, but from that source of never-ending power that comes from the One who has called me to this.

I have to re-think before I speak. The pile of shoes may be bothersome, but they also may be an opportunity to shape my character which will transfer to my children.

The moment of bickering calls me to dig deep into the well of my being and carves out of me a more patient and loving spirit–if I let it. That, too, is simultaneously working in my children’s character.

This short time is fleeting. They will carry a part of me into the rest of their lives. Which part?

Get alone, get quiet, get still, and ask the Lord to bring the vision back, if you are struggling to hold on to it.

This is big. Rise to the occasion on the wings of Him Who is able.

 


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