Thursday, June 21, 2018

Caption #13

Wow, that was a lot of fun! I didn't think I'd get nearly as many wonderful responses as I did! Thank you everyone who sent in a caption: Abigail, Alex, Amy, Arianna, Audrey, Carla, Danny, Debbi, Faith, Isaac, Kathy, Natalie E, and Samuel.

As I received each caption, I couldn't help but laugh. Some were similar, but all unique, and each one was so much fun to read! My favorite caption was sent in by Danny, but second place was tied between several of you. Here's Danny's caption:

I don't mind all the kisses, but how will I ever break it to her that I ain't turning into a prince?
Isn't that so funny? I can picture the lizard thinking exactly that. Thank you, Danny! Some of the other fabulous captions are below.
Amy: "Introducing ... The Great and Powerful Lizard of Oz!"
Alex: "I've never seen a tree talk before!"
Carla: "I know she can't see me, I know she can't see me . . . wait, I thought I was a chameleon—oh no, she sees me!"
Kathy: "How many times did you have to shed your skin to be that super?"
Samuel: "Are you Goliath?"

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did! Let me know if you'd like me to do another at some point. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dear Fathers, Grandfathers, and Future Fathers

This goes out to all the amazing guys out there, but especially to my dad and grandpa, both the best of the bunch (though I'm probably a bit biased). :) Happy Father's Day!

Dear fathers all over the world, thank you for all the times you love on your children, show them they're special, and take care of all their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. You are one of the most influential people in your children's life, so thank you for when you show them how to either be a good father and husband, or what to look for in a future husband. Thank you when you imitate your Father in heaven. As the leader of your household, treat your children with love (including discipline) and instruct them in the ways of the Lord. Proverbs 22:6 tells you to "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

Dear grandfathers all over the world, thank you for spending time with your grandchildren, and raising your children to be Godly parents. You are an incredible role model and mentor to so many around you, whether your children, grandchildren, "adopted" children, or the neighbor down the street. Look for how God wants to use you in your community, and remember that each stage of your life is something special. Job 12:12 reminds you, "Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days."

Dear future fathers all over the world, thank you for the times you pray for your future wife and children. Thank you for putting effort now into being a good father and husband later. You are the next generation who will have the responsibility of determining the course of the world; this starts with your family. Thank you when you respect your parents and siblings, and put God first. Obey your parents now and learn all you can from them and any Godly elders around you. Never compromise on your beliefs; rather, rely on God to give you strength to do what is right as your fulfill your roles in the body of Christ. Honor all girls as your sisters in Christ. Second Timothy has lots of wisdom for you. "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." Proverbs 3:1 also instructs you: "My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments."

Dear fathers, grandfathers, and future fathers, "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:13) Each of you has such important roles at all stages of your life. Don't dwell in the past, don't focus too much on the future, but enjoy where God has you right now. Never resent where you are, and pour your everything into being the man God has called you to be. Thank you for all the times you honor Him.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Caption This #13

By request, today I bring you a "Caption This" post. For those of you who are newer to my blog, this is a series of posts I ended in 2015 when people's interest seemed to taper off. But after a couple years, it's time for the thirteenth edition!

Here's how it works: Contemplate the image below, and decide a funny way you would caption it. Leave your suggestion in the comments (or email me) and I'll re-post the picture with my favorite caption. For some samples, click HERE to see the previous rounds. Have fun!

What's the lizard thinking?
I'm looking forward to hearing your funny ideas! Thanks for participating! I enjoy connecting with my readers through fun games like this. I'll post my favorite within a week. :) God bless you all!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Smell the Flowers

A few months back I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a local high school retreat/campout with one of my youth groups. The youth group was calling it "Pause," signifying the goal of the weekend was to get away from everyone's hectic lives and take a break to breathe and get some time alone with God. It worked.

The time I spent at Pause gave me an opportunity to take a much needed time of relaxation, and reminded me of the importance of taking time to just rest. In today's culture, everyone is always busy. There's a never-ending list of things to do, places to be, and people to catch up with. Sometimes it feels like you're only falling further behind, and never catching back up. It doesn't take long before you're overwhelmed, exhausted, and feeling like you're failing. It's an easy trap to fall into. And a hard one to climb back out of.

I still haven't found the secret to avoiding this pitfall, but I've found a few things that help. One of my biggest is stop procrastinating when I need to do things, and not keep "finding" distractions. But another thing I've found that helps, is allowing yourself some time to stop and rest. Give yourself a break. As one of the other youth groupers put it, take time to smell the flowers.

It's unbelievable how much it helps to take a few minutes, a couple deep breaths, and calm down. Giving yourself permission to rest is key. Don't worry about everything on your to-do list. Just go outside, enjoy God's beautiful creation, read a book, photograph, journal, do whatever is relaxing to you. Forget the stresses of life—allow yourself to rest. And just breathe.

Recently, my "theme song" has been Jonny Diaz's "Breathe." I'd highly recommend it if anything I've said today resonates with you.

Don't wait until school lets out or you get a break from work. Take time right now, this summer, and through the rest of the year to pause, take a breathe, smile, and thank God for your many blessings. Be refreshed and don't regret the moments you spend. Take time to smell the flowers.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Top 10 Questions People Ask Me About Homeschool

I've been a proud homeschooler since third grade. At first, it was hard to leave my friends at school, but it wasn't too long before I fell in love with the homeschool atmosphere. Time with family, taking trips to locations I wouldn't otherwise be able to, the ability to pursue my interests, and a freedom I hadn't experienced before were the main highlights resulting in much closer relationships with my parents and younger sister. For these past nine years, homeschool has been one of the best things that has happened to me.

However, despite my enthusiasm for homeschool, there are many people who are curious, and some even skeptical, about homeschoolers. It's a foreign group of students. An unusual type of family. A rather odd decision. Without further ado, I give you ten top questions people ask me about homeschool (and my responses).

1. Why did your parents decide to homeschool you? // Why are you homeschooled?
Probably the most common question I'm asked, my go-to answer is simply: because my parents felt that God led them to. No, they aren't "anti public school" people, they simply felt God was calling them to pull me out for awhile. At that time, they thought it was only going to be for one year to correct some attitude issues I was having. However, by the end of that year they decided to do . . . one more year. And so on until eventually I hit high school and we realized unless God suddenly changed our course, I would be homeschooled the rest of my education until college.

2. Do you like being homeschooled? // Do you wish you were in public school?
YES, I love being homeschooled! I would never trade homeschool for public school. Nothing against public school students, but my personal preference is absolutely homeschool. When I think about just my few years in a public school surrounded by ungodly influences and how that affected me, and then I hear about high school experiences . . . . *shudders* I'm so blessed to be educated from home. The closeness as a family, trips we can take, and bonds I form with other homeschoolers are among my favorite aspects. I enjoy talking to skeptics and proving all their ideas about "homeschoolers" wrong. And I'm so grateful not to have an hour plus long bus ride to school each way. It's much faster to wake up and walk to my desk.

There have been times I've wished I was in public school, but only to have more friendships, and to be a witness for Jesus in the public school system. I would be challenged but so grateful to have more opportunities to share my faith with non Christians, and help them find the love and hope of Jesus Christ.

3. What's it like to be homeschooled?
I like to think it's a lot like public school in the sense that I still have school every day, still have the same core subjects (plus many more awesome subjects), and still have a schedule to keep. However, it is also understandably very different. Instead of spending two or more hours on a bus, I can use that time to do homework and visit with my family. I can help more easily with projects my family has, take more vacations during the off season (like to Disneyland and Yellowstone Nat. Park), and study more subjects I enjoy (i.e. cinematography, photography, calligraphy, marine biology, apologetics, blogging, Constitutional literacy, horses, etc.).

4. Do you do school in your pajamas? // Is it nice to sleep in till ten every day?
Unfortunately, I don't do school in my PJs, though I probably would if I didn't have to feed our horses first thing in the morning. As for sleeping in, I can't have that luxury for the same reason. Country life = no sleeping in. :) Besides, even without the horses, I still need to be up and start school by 8 in the morning. I don't sleep in as late as I want. I have a schedule to keep just like other students, although from time to time I can sleep in a little longer.

5. Can't you just take the day off and catch up another day?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It's not quite as easy as it sounds to "just take a day off." True, I have more flexibility choosing which days to do school, but I still need to get in five days a week, and I still have work on the weekends. So although I am occasionally able to take a day off to participate in an event, it's not always as easy as it sounds to catch back up on what I didn't do that day. I don't have infinite days to take off/make up; even if I got sick, that day just becomes my "day off" for the week, but I still need to complete the assigned work later.

6. Does the state give you your curriculum and grade your work? // How do your parents choose your curriculum? // How do you take tests?
Although some "homeschool" students have state textbooks and curriculum, these are more accurately considered independent studies students. I'm the type of homeschooler whose parents don't use a single program, but they select which subjects I'll take that year and then choose the best books they can find for that subject. It's a lengthy and pricey process, because the state doesn't provide funding, but the textbooks they've found for me have been almost all from a Christian perspective, extremely well done and interesting, and taught me far better than many other curriculums that I've seen. Sometimes, they find them through hours of online research, and other times through recommendations or attending homeschool conventions. Through some of the material they've found, subjects I had never enjoyed much made sense and came alive and these became some of my favorite classes.

As for the tests, I grab a pencil and start filling in answers. Simple as that. Like I said above, my curriculum, therefore my tests, are not state generated or graded. They come with the various curriculums my parents have chosen and my mom grades them using the teacher book/answer key. On occasion, she generates her own tests for a given subject. Few of my tests are only true/false or multiple choice; they are fill-in, short answer, or essays so that I must demonstrate a true understanding of the concepts.

7. How does your mom teach you these subjects?
I love informing people of how smart my parents are. So I always have an easy answer to this one. The two most common subjects people ask about are my foreign language (Spanish) to which I respond that my mom was a language major, and math. For math I explain that I have video based instruction and then I complete the lessons, but also that math comes naturally to my dad. As for my other subjects, between both my parents and my textbooks, I usually have no problem learning. If they can't help me figure something out, there's always this great resource called the internet. :)

8. What do you feel you're missing out on? // What about graduation? Prom/dances? Friends? High school? Summer break?
This one . . . is a little bit tougher to answer. I know quite a few things I'm "missing out" on, such as drama, secular teaching, etc. but that doesn't bother me. :) As for things I'm missing out on that I wish I had, for several years my answer would have been friends. The only reason this was a problem for me was because I live so far away from anyone else that church was the only time I would see anyone my age, but God finally brought me a few good ones I'm able to see on a semi-regular basis. Another aspect might be sports, but I played softball for a few years at the elementary school when my parents coached. The last thing I can think of at the moment that I might be missing out on is academic competition and brainstorming. As the only student in my class, I am my only competition. My goal is just to be better than I've already been doing, and it would be nice to have a little competition in that respect. Also, it would be helpful to have a class environment for discussing literature books, etc. So the social aspect and sports are primarily all I really miss out on.

Graduation: At this point, I'm the only high schooler in my homeschool group, so there won't be a traditional ceremony, but I'll probably have some form of gathering/party. This has actually been one of the hardest aspects of homeschool for me, even back in eighth grade. My family is wonderful about making things special, but I do wish I had a class to graduate and celebrate with. You could add that to the list of things above that I miss out on, but in the big scheme of things, having a ceremony or class to graduate with isn't necessary. Sure, I would like it, but it's not crucial.

Prom/dances: Again, it's another aspect that would be fun, but it's not too important for me.

High school: Homeschooling high school has been a real challenge, especially for my mom, but we've made it through the first three years. One more to go!

Summer break: Yes, I do get a break for summertime! The biggest difference between my break and that of a public school student is that mine is a little shorter, but only because we exchange the longer summer break to have breaks between quarters. I gladly accept that trade.

9. Are you ever going to go back to real school?
I don't take offense easily . . . but this one tests my limits. First of all, I am in real school. Maybe it's not normal school, but it most certainly is real school. So please rephrase this to ask, "Are you ever going to go back to a public school?" because otherwise it just sounds like you think I've spent the last nine years skipping out on school and when I go back I'll be in third grade. Trust me, homeschool is every bit as real as public school.

Now, to answer the heart of the question, as I mentioned earlier, for several years we thought we would homeschool "just one more year." But as each year came to a close, God told us to keep going. Eventually, we realized that unless God suddenly told us otherwise, we would be homeschooling through high school. This has not been an easy process, and some days we've nearly given up, but no, I plan to finish my last year of school the same way I've been doing it. That being said, my senior year I will likely be taking some classes at a local junior college, but I will not be attending a public high school.

10. Are you going to homeschool your kids?
First of all, that's a long ways off. Secondly, when that time comes, I'll have to see if this is what God and my husband want. My personal hope is to homeschool my children. After having these years bonding closely with my family, I can't fathom sending my children away to school for most of every day for so many years. I'd much rather homeschool so we can grow closer as a family. Homeschooling would be the fulfillment of one of my dreams.

And a bonus question . . .
11.  Do you see your teacher and principal . . . kissing??
Ah yes, a personal favorite. And the answer is yes. Yes I do. I thought about reporting it to the school board . . . but nah. :)

So there you are! I hope the answers to these top ten (or eleven) questions have been enjoyable and educational for you. Do you have any questions about homeschooling? Or, if you are homeschooled, which of these questions have you been asked, and what others have people asked you? Three cheers for homeschool!