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How to Fight Guilt and Find Purpose as a Homeschool Blogger

How we can use blogging to honor Him

 

I attended the first-ever Blogger’s Night Out in which bloggers of all ages and styles came together to listen to a fine panelist of authors share their blogging expertise. It was a superb weekend. I haven’t met so many people in a short amount of time and I was delightfully exhausted from all the activities that I am barely now writing about it.

I tend to get so overloaded with information and inspiration that I get dreamy with the prospects of what my life may look like one day when all this is over—my homeschool days, that is—and how my children will be sharpened after all those years for the Lord if He tarries. What will become of my children for the Kingdom of God? Am I doing my part to its full potential, to the obedience of God? Here are some of my takeaways:

 

Takeaway #1 : Ask yourself why you want to blog

What is our purpose as bloggers? What is our passion for writing? Whether we are a super blogger or a blogger with a small audience, whether we blog for fun as a ministry, or blog to monetize, we need to ask ourselves some questions. Consider these:

  • Audience: who would want to read what you’re writing about? Is it a ministry to a particular niche?
  • Authenticity: are you looking to get to know people and them get to know you in your authentic self?
  • Community: are you willing to build a community and connect with others in that community to cultivate its growth?

 

Takeaway #2 : Don’t feel guilty blogging

One main caveat is to remember as homeschool moms that we were called to educate our children first, and educate others second, for the “days are long and the years are short.” Therefore, it is important to identify boundaries as bloggers. We can take a break from blogging if we need to!

We tend to feel guilty when we do something for ourselves, and when we’re not using our time for our families exclusively. Blogging should enrich us, not become an idol for us. Blogging can be consuming, with a proper perspective, we can carve out time and schedule to make it work. Our children should see that we work and that we are devoted to other work outside of the instructing, playing, cooking, and cleaning that we do with them daily in the homeschool. It should be fun to blog, otherwise, it can be a chore, and who wants to add more chores to our list? I don’t.

We know that blogging is writing, and writing is a very excruciating, solitary art, as someone once said. During the blogging process, it is just you, your thoughts, and all that needs to be said in your post.

That’s why this blogging event was so helpful! We need to examine ourselves as bloggers and enrich the experience by learning what others are doing to cope with families and the ministry of blogging. That is one thing I discovered that I hadn’t thought of prior: that my blogging is a ministry. It is a chronicle of my life for my children to one day experience. It is a body of wisdom and lessons learned for my daughter to one day look to for comfort and guidance aside from the Bible. It also is a testament to my children’s lives as they will have a living record of what they did and what the Lord taught us during these years here and now.

 

My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: (Proverbs 6:20)

 

This verse is one of my family favorites because it illustrates just what the purpose statement is on my blog: Because everything I do ought to have a kingdom purpose. My blog, as multi-faceted as it is, is intended to direct my children to God’s truth. It is to show them how God manifests Himself in our lives.

I want to thank the panelists that offered their time to share with us at the Bloggers Night Out. I needed to hear other homeschooling parents’ writing experience to show me what’s possible. And I didn’t want to hear it from just anyone, but rather the right people. People who understand what I’m trying to do, who know what they’re talking about, and who can help me continue to do what I need to with a kingdom purpose.

In my next post, I will share with you some practical tips and tools that bloggers would benefit from knowing about. I have a few up my sleeve that you may want to check out. Stay tuned!

Did you attend the CHEA Convention Blogger’s Night? What were your takeaways?

We tend to feel guilty when we do something for ourselves, and when we’re not using our time for our families exclusively. Although blogging can be consuming, with a proper perspective, we can carve out time and schedule to make it work. Read about the importance of using blogging to honor Him.
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Why You Should Remember That God Laughs at Our Boasting


When God laughs

 

My boys do push-ups regularly throughout the day so that they can have muscles like superheroes. They want to feel strong. They look at their father’s arms and notice that they are very tight, capable of much that they’ve seen my husband carry with his strength. Push-ups not only give my boys the muscles they so desire but also the appearance of manliness, of strength. They do the push-ups because they want to feel like they are growing up. My eldest, in particular, does the push-ups because he doesn’t want to feel like he isn’t able to do something, as my mother is careful to put particular restrictions on how he can help her around her yard. She is overly careful but is eager to have him pitch in whenever he can, yet he notices that she doesn’t see his full potential. He likes the challenge. He likes testing himself.

All this to say one thing: it is amusing to see my boys motivated in this way; to see them exert themselves on the floor, competing and then encouraging each other at the same time.

I laugh. My husband laughs. It’s amusing. We know the limited strength of our children.

Likewise, God knows the limits of our bodies.

He knows the boundaries of a nation’s power. Every nation is limited, but God is omnipotent.

Is it a strange thing, then, to consider that God laughs? He does laugh, not at the nations, but at their confused thoughts about power.

 

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Photo by Lena Belknows Unsplash

 

I continue to read and study the Psalms. This time, I found some golden nuggets in chapter 2:


1  Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
3  Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4  He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5  Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6  Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7  I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8  Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10  Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11  Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

 

Given this election season, as a body of Christ, the lesson here is to decide whether we will choose between confidence in God, or confidence in our nation’s power.

We choose God because He is marvelous and omnipotent. He is stronger than we are and will always overpower anything and anyone. He knew the empires of the earth long before they came into existence (Daniel 2). We know that pride and power cause nations and leaders to rebel against God and try to break free from Him.

As many leaders boast of their power, rant and rave against God and His people, and promise to take over and form their own empires, we must remember that He laughs!

He laughs because any power that world leaders have comes from Him- and He can take that power away.

This gives me comfort because knowing that although corruption will exist within those in power, that greed, pride, and filthy lucre in our leaders is nothing to be astonished about, we can trust that all the boasting they do will eventually end up in the hands of a mighty God who will judge them Himself.

And He knows better than we do.

He will break them with a rod of iron, and they will be in pieces like a potter’s vessel.


 

Did you know that God laughs at our boasting of power? Read and reflect here.
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A Better Way to Absorb the Splendor of God’s Creation Out of Doors and Through Our Eyes

How God’s handiwork inspires our art


 

The other day during a Bible study with a dear friend of mine, the topic of art and Christianity came up in conversation. We were discussing music, to be exact, and that, of course, got me thinking more closely about art within a Christian worldview. I proposed to study this topic more closely and share some thoughts in a series of posts that will, hopefully, answer some of the many questions I’ve pondered in my walk with the Lord while continuing to teach my children about beauty through picture studies and nature studies.

When I look at the faces of my children, I see how beautiful their countenance is, how perfectly summoned are the dimples of their cheeks, the furrows of their ears a maze of instrumentation, and the sweet tone of their little voices are a song in the midst of noise. I know this is exactly the way God wished to create them at this very season in their lives.

On the days when we venture out to observe nature, absorbing the splendor of God’s creation out of doors, I can’t help but witness what the Psalmist said:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. (Psalms 19:1)

 

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Photo by Cole Hutson on Unsplash

 

We respond to nature with awe and amazement, because it best explains to us the grandeur of the One who made all out of nothing, who made all things good and beautiful. We see the strength of trees towering over our little bodies below, and we see flowers colored in their rich vibrancy until they are plucked and destined to wither.

We can agree that the natural world is indeed beautiful. We escape our clamorous lives to nourish ourselves in the quiet aromas of living things outside, the peaceful chirp of birds and their calls to God’s rich order.  He ordered it this way and we long to experience it.

When we see a beautiful work of art, we are also praising the one who created that work. Meandering canyons, raging rivers, and starry nights beg us to respond aesthetically. The Christian knows that the greatness of our God is infinite, that He is praiseworthy for who else can make what He makes? We appreciate beauty because He lives. The very first verse in the Bible declares that He is the creator of the heavens and the earth.

 

Imagine This

My children have a wonderful imagination. They can see things through their mind’s eye with a purity that only I can covet. They haven’t seen all the wickedness I have seen in my lifetime and their eyes are reservoirs containing what they view in their nature walks for the first time. Anna Comstock wrote in the Handbook of Nature Study:

Nature-study cultivates the child’s imagination, since there are so many wonderful and true stories that he may read with his own eyes, which affect his imagination as much as does fairy lore; at the same time nature-study cultivates in him a perception and a regard for what is true, and the power to express it. All things seem possible in nature; yet this seeming is always guarded by the eager quest of what is true. Perhaps half of the falsehood in the world is due to lack of power to detect the truth and to express it. Nature-study aids both in discernment and in expression of things as they are.

 

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Photo by Sohail Sarwar on Unsplash

 

In the homeschool, as I’ve mentioned in the beginning of this post, we do picture studies of several artists. Last quarter, we studied Vincent van Gogh and this quarter we are studying Leonardo da Vinci. We looked at van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” “The Sower,” to name a few, and it was always a window for me to see exactly how my children look at art, and what they perceive it to be. To culminate the quarter, the children made renditions of “Rest from Work” and had a chance to experiment with collage and mixed media painting. It was wonderful. The process was painstaking at times (for mom to prep), but the results were delightful. I was thoroughly impressed, not because they accomplished something, but because they learned enough about the artist and his process in order to render their own after it all. I don’t think, despite the compliments, that they perceive themselves as artists, or as imaginative because art for them is just something other people do, it is nebulous, yet fun to experience because it doesn’t feel like work.  It is a “rest from work.”

 

 

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Photo by Dimitri Tyan on Unsplash

 

One thing I read about this subject as I studied it was that since we are made in God’s image, this must include the glorious concept that we, too, are creative. When God made man, he granted him rule over the earth that it may be subjected to him. Adam dressed and kept the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15), an invitation to share in the process of creation with the Heavenly Father.

This is why it is so innate in us to arrange anything, to create, to make, to design, to fulfill our purpose as it was given to mankind in Genesis.  Mind you, this is not implying that we want to be masters of the universe (idolatry is another subject in and of itself), but rather that we are permitted by God to be creative, to express ourselves in a way that is very significant in God’s overall design.

 

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Photo by Pär Pärsson on Unsplash

 

God has given us a rich selection of beauty to behold.  He gives freely at our disposal and equips us with the sense to smell, see, listen, and feel as a means to utilize our creativity and talents, our gifts and our knowledge of truth in the most comprehensive way possible.  And what an honor to take part of this bountiful feast, as we are made in His image, and can enjoy art and creativity as He does.

In my next post, I will explore the battlefield we find ourselves in as artists, in this fallen world…

But for now, what do you believe is aesthetically unique to the Christian artist and their worldview?

 


 

How God's handiwork inspires our art. We respond to nature with awe and amazement, because it best explains to us the grandeur of the One who made all out of nothing, who made all things good and beautiful. Click to read and respond.

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One Fiction Writer’s Manifesto

man·i·fes·to

noun\ˌma-nə-ˈfes-(ˌ)tō\  : a written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group.


I gathered these anecdotes from across the blogosphere and noted some points worth keeping from podcasts through the years. I liken this collection of statements to the craft of writing and the writing process, as well as a reference to answer that perpetual question in the writer’s mind: why do I write and for whom do I write?

 

About Morality:

Writing fiction as a way of introducing moral grounds and convictions will always reveal itself in the tone, language, and characterization of any story plot. Isn’t it like us to think about situations that are thorny, tangled, all meant to provoke a deeper understanding of a character’s behavior that hits our darkest sensibilities? We ponder the questions of how, why, and what characters do or don’t do to each other and as such, we are urged to question our own motivations.

Books we read will hopefully become memorable enough to change us and transform our ways of knowing. Their influence will leave ripples under our skin that we can detect when we’re under the weight of discerning our stand on subjects and matters. Good writing is dangerous and requires risk. This must not be taken for granted. John F. Kennedy once said: “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger, but recognize the opportunity.”  We have an opportunity, as we write, to develop subject matter that might make people uncomfortable, yet with the slightest stroke of our words are we able to have them recognize something they didn’t know about themselves.

 

About Dislocation:

I have moved from several places across California that I have at one time or another called home; but even now as a parent to three precious souls, I find that although I am not physically moving between residences, I am transcending through seasons of my life. This is always good material as a fiction writer because it broadens the scope of memory, of reinvention, and of reflection. Our voices are distinct depending on what stage in life we find ourselves.

We can look back to where we were as writers when we began to take our work seriously, and we can discover that the content of what we wrote about is not, for the most part, what we write about in the present.  I sure hope it wouldn’t be. Dislocation for me has always been a way to wipe the slate clean and to renew, and to start over intentionally and determined to settle in where I currently find myself.

 

About the Writing Process:

Yohji Yamamoto said: “Start copying what you love.” Although he is in the fashion design business, it still has relevance for the fiction writer, doesn’t it? Those we read influence us enough that we unconsciously borrow from them. Then we use a story of theirs to create a new one of our own, as their art reminds us of what we have gestating in our arsenal of story, characterization, and theme, bending the lines to form our own contours and sculpt words of our own into a new world of imagination and description.

We plow over a story to help us with our own, and in the process, we are paying homage to that author, that influence who has awakened the nerve in us.  It isn’t a surprise then that we use elements which have been oiled through the ages. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Ideas may exhaust themselves, and we may feel limited with little inventory, but this may be just what we need to fuel the embers of the creative process when it seems to dwindle. It is a very vulnerable place to find ourselves in, this drought. It is like flying out of a plane, I suppose, without a parachute. There is nothing in the vast open space, no string to pull that will ground us in something so that we become able to create something out of nothing.

At moments like these, I tend to prime the pump, so to speak, by reading. I read what draws my interest during this season, albeit not everything evokes inspiration. But when a gem surfaces from the murky water, it becomes so recognizable that it is impossible to ignore. That is when we must stop what we are doing in order to mine, to glean, and to create.

Over and over the writing repertoire takes shape. Our stories scratch at the halls of our thoughts like a scared little animal that needs to be fed. Enduringly long it seems, the duration from thought to materialization, and when finally, we are drafting our work, again and again, we can see what elements of the tale are failing, and we can understand it consequently to move on to another revision. Knowing the flaws of our writing is not always detectable at first glance, thus we retire the animal for some time, and return to feed it again, to see it with a new lens and to grab a hold of it with both hands, with forceful arms. At that point, I am ready to pursue it and to deepen the discovery of the world of my characters.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, or complex. I think about how God, in under a page, described Adam and Eve in the Old Testament. There, in that short space, we read how they came to be from dust and bone, what became of them, how they fell, and ultimately, what fruit they bore. Likewise, I am able to unearth my own writing, to loosen its dirt and dust with the brush of my pen, to draw from my faith in the scriptures as inspiration for something worth telling now after years as my creative process undergoes a renaissance.

 

About Fictionalizing Real People:

I was a very timid child, a very solitary individual with time spent organizing and collecting, reading and drawing, creating. These were my talents and gifts, very solitary in nature, and now as an adult, I realize how much this is true of many creative people. I was under the impression that I was alone when in fact, I was not. I tended to be most comfortable as an observer of people, a witness to the occasion, an embodiment of circumstance and as a child, I was not brave enough to express myself openly to others.  So, I used art and creativity to make up for those inadequacies, those deficiencies. Now, as an adult writer, my art and creativity seem to have invited trouble from others when at times they may read my work and say, This sounds a lot like me and I don’t like it. It is a very risky thing to do, to write in this way, to develop something that is too close to the heart or to history, too close to the family tree or the social circle, but no matter how uncomfortable it may be to those that may see themselves in our art, for better or worse, we need to be ready to take the risk.

Personally, the protagonists in my short stories share much of the same experiences I do. However, when the person I characterize is made-over, they’re no longer that person anymore. They become a fiction. That is to say, they are not the character they presume they are in my story. To turn anything, real or imagined, into a fiction requires a careful treatment, a careful comb-through. The one wielding the pen decides if a person will inspire them to write a fictional narrative, a constructed, disguised, or improved depiction of who they are.

And likewise, when someone we know may recognize themselves in a story we write, it may be so alarming that they can’t see beyond themselves.  Some may call this vanity.  And perhaps it is.  But that is not the problem of the writer, but of the fictionalized.  The fictionalized may look at the story with tunnel vision and say, It’s me, it is me!  But this exclamation is not lodged in gratitude, but rather in narcissism.

We choose with precision what we will utilize as material for our stories.  Not everyone or everything that is true in our lives will glaze the pages of our stories.  Characters we develop may be compositions of many people or could be so far removed from personal contact.  They could be based on a headline we read in our news feeds for that matter.

I’ve heard the common question posed to writers of fiction: Is the story autobiographical?  This is not truly what matters in the grand scheme of fiction writing.  Personally, I would ask the writer how the work is significant, rather than whether or not she lived a certain life event or if she knew a person like the one who is found in the story.  What matters is the entire canvas, the whole depiction and whether or not it spoke to the reader and provoked a change in them.

As writers, we have used actual people and their circumstances to inspire our work and to frame our stories.  Countless writers have done this throughout the course of their writing careers, and it makes for very compelling characters found in stories that go deeply into the layers of lives we can certainly identify with.

 

Conclusion:

I moved this blog to a self-hosted URL after a disastrous attempt by relatives to censor my writing. They have since made my life a checkerboard. O well, the writing must go on. As I continue to write my thoughts, they serve as a deep consolation to me.  As someone once said: “When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”

And this example is in reference to a work of non-fiction, but what about works of fiction?

Someone once said that Helen Keller’s larger accomplishments were in challenging literalists who equated creativity with deception. What, she asks, are the limits to inspiration?  “Do we know only what we see, or do we see what we somehow already know?”

Likewise, another writer once argued that the self can often be too narrow a subject to utilize in our writing. When we write about what we don’t know, then our world expands, and we ultimately see what’s beneath our consciousness.  When we write about what stems from the imagination, we enter a doorway of creativity. We go beyond what we think we can accomplish, and that is what we call fiction.

 

Tell me what you’re writing these days? I’m really curious about what you write. Is it fiction, personal memoir? Or is it poetry? Is it something altogether different?


 

Tell me what you’re writing these days? I’m really curious about what you write. Is it fiction, personal memoir? Or is it poetry? Is it something altogether different? Click to read and respond.

Why I Repent Teaching in Secular Higher Education

 


Dear Student: I lament teaching in secular education as a Christian

 

What I am about to express to you, dear reader, opens up the code of silence that many Christian faculty may feel in the depths of their heart, a delicate sensibility that leaves such a bitter savor, unpleasant in hindsight, a grief to the Spirit. I was bitter when I got out of academia and now I can speak of this openly.

This is my story.

I think of all the opportunities I forfeited at serving God while I was buying everything else, hook line and sinker—never doubting my position in the academe. I was building my career, right? I was using my gifts and talents so it must be God sent, unmistakably.

I couldn’t sleep at night. I was vexed like Lot and dejected like Joseph.

I asked myself: How could I continue in an institution that indoctrinates children in humanism and justify it as God’s will for my life?

Was I foolish to think I could not be spoiled through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ? Why did I misplace my vexation with the notion that if God allowed me to enter a career in secular higher education, then it must be approved and favorable to Him. I was doing a good job, after all—I was getting good evaluations, I was staying away from the unfruitful works of darkness, my managers approved of me, and I was getting paid well while acquiring more class sections to teach. The students were learning a great deal and were bearing fruit in their writing skills.

Well, God still got a hold of me, despite what seemed fine. I realized that I would not be worth my salt if I didn’t mention the spoils of vain deceit, the tradition of men, the rudiments of the world. If I could only write a letter to every one of my students, I would pour out remorse and regret. I’ve borne a heap of sorrow and guilt over my part in the process of indoctrinating them in what goes antithetical to my faith in God. I repent and I lament:

 


Dear Student,

I taught you writing and critical thinking in a place that was at war with the Creator of all things, teaching you that what you were learning in my class was to get you closer to the philosophies of the academe, at the cost of getting you further away from God. I told you that successful people paid attention and do well in class and study and make good grades. 

I am sorry, dear student, for agreeing to put you through petty drills to make the standard grade and keep your eyes on the essay at hand, on the thesis, on proving yourself clear and concise. What you really needed was someone to tell you that you were good at something, that God can reveal to you the gifts He’s imparted to you, and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. That as challenging as you were with me in classdefiant, irresponsible, tardy, negligentI needed to tell you that God loves you.

To hear you say you wanted to be an electrician and that you weren’t interested in learning how to expand your vocabulary or how to write eloquently should have been perfectly fine with mewe are all gifted in distinctive ways.  We are not all the same.  We don’t flourish in a monolithic. Academia defined success and we were to assign the work and grade the valuea collection of life sentences that would eventually tell the world where you were by the standards of secular humanism.

I wish I could tell you that fools despise wisdom and that the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord. I should have asked you what good is success and money and a premiere education if your soul is lost? What good is it to encourage you to invest your money in support of a secular education that devastates you spiritually and morally, even though academically you will be favored in the world? I regret not proclaiming from the high tops that you’re learning a false religion when right and wrong is taught to be rooted in moral reasoning (relativism). The Bible refers to this as “having other gods before me.”

You survived through the confines of the classroom, a box waiting to implode with minds vulnerable to all sorts of philosophies, beautiful minds influenced by the doctrine of man. And I survived that as well. I broke free from that box and only by God’s grace, was delivered into His protective hands, and was shown that what was worth fighting for was that beautiful mind of yours.

Now, I will fight tooth and nail for you, people like my children, people who are led astray by the spirit of the age.

 


Now, in the words of the Apostle Paul:

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3: 8-9)

Not many Christians who teach in secular higher education will admit what I openly share here. Do you lament teaching as a Christian in a secular institution? Why do you think our spirit is vexed when we continue teaching in the humanist environment? Click to read full post. teaching| secular education| homeschool