New Life

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly." Richard Bach

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Picture Study with Photography

 “We cannot measure the influence that one artist or another has on the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sight of life..."
---Charlotte Mason

These are picture studies of Mary Cassatt and Norman Rockwell from 2007 and 2010 respectively.   Of all the picture studies we have done, photography has been the most fun.  It seems to cement the image in our minds.  Both Jessica and Abigail came up with their own props and had very little advice from me other than positioning.   We all really had to study the paintings.  And then I had to get out of the way and just start taking pictures. :)


Mary Cassatt  (1882)  Susan on a Balcony Holding a Dog                  

                   Mary Cassatt (1878)  Little Girl in a Blue Armchair

                                Mary Cassatt (1902) Young Mother Sewing

Mary Cassatt (1886) Girl Arranging Her Hair

Mary Cassatt (1902) Margot in Blue

Mary Cassatt (1880) Woman Reading in a Garden

 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord not for men." Colossians 3:23


 Norman Rockwell (1954)  Girl in the Mirror

Norman Rockwell (1947)  The Babysitter

Norman Rockwell (1953)  Girl with Black Eye

Norman Rockwell Losing The Game

Not all art is conducive to this kind of picture study but look for the opportunity.  My girls will never forget doing these.

"If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would have the courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents. The mother would then be able to hold herself in "wise passiveness’ and would not fret her children by continual interference even of hand or eye - she would let them be."
---Charlotte Mason

Oh!  If she were only talking about me!.....

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer is for building

Our new window left some unused wood in the yard.

I painted..... and watched through the window when I heard the hammering.

Concentration and pure happiness....

They really did a fine job.  They worked all day.

Summer is for building.....

 .......tree houses and relationships.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Drawing Up Battle Plans

I never have been very good at waiting.  I can be impatient, I talk fast, and I multi- task....or try to.  Hurrying has become a bad habit.  As I am growing older,
I am learning some things about this, though.   It has really been on my heart lately.

Two years ago, I read the devotion of  " An Unhurried Life " by Glynnis Whitwer and printed it out so I would see it every morning during my devotions.

Since then I have tried to make a conscious habit of even chewing slower. 

I have gotten better at not rushing over the last couple of years.  I have had to purpose myself.   I am learning to move slower and stop to appreciate more.
Great things often take time.

 The most important truth I got out of that devotion two years ago is this:
Jesus was busy but He was never said to be in a hurry.  
And it has stuck with me.  He still accomplished much and He refused to be rushed.  He made time for people.
I see some moms rushing from one activity to the next and know I have been there as well.

I am finding truth in the quote, "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."

I am also trying to not allow others to stress me or hurry me either.  
The key word is allow.

Just last week I was dealing with our local county government in trying to secure a building permit online for 2 days.  
To say I was frustrated was an understatement.
I spoke with 8 different people who all had 8 different answers.   
One of them decided I had a problem and advised that I would need to "hurry down to the office ASAP" because I would need to get there before "the ONLY man who could possibly help me left" or else I wouldn't be able to get a permit that day.   
 (I needed it that day)
It gave me less than 30 minutes.

In the past, I would have rushed, speeded (is that a word?), and probably yelled at my kids in an effort to hurry out the door.  In effect, teaching them to rush.  (I have a lot of un-teaching to do.)  
But this time I chanted my mantra in my head.  
"Jesus was busy but he was never in a hurry."
I decided to trust.  We went down to the office at a casual pace.
After all of that, there wasn't even a problem at all and no need to rush.  
I was so proud of myself!  Mainly because I usually do not see the 'crisis' until I am in the middle of it.

As a homeschooler, there are so many fantastic things to do with my kids, so many socializing opportunities (yes, we have had to cut down our 'socializing'; sorta blows the whole 'homeschooler's don't get enough socialization theory'), so many awesome classes, invitations, performances, learning events; some offered during the day when we are supposed to be doing school.  They are attractive because things aren't as crowded, they are often cheaper, and there isn't usually traffic.  But leaving in the morning makes our school time rushed. 

It is hard to discern sometimes what is best for our kids.  So many good things to pick from.  It is like a banquet sometimes.  What to choose?  It all looks good.

But God knows.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

He also promises ...
"Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart" Psalm 37:4.

My dear Aunt Sandy mailed me a small booklet entitled  "Tyranny of the Urgent"  written by Charles Hummel.  (She often acts as God's messenger to me.)  It is excellent and I suggest reading it yourself. 

When he originally wrote this essay in 1967;  email, the internet, chat rooms, blogs, face book, twitter, iphone, ipad and the countless other time suckers weren't even around.  It makes what he said even more applicable to our lives.

There are several points worth mentioning that Mr. Hummel speaks of that I found to be especially good: (all quotes come from his essay unless otherwise noted)
  • Even though Jesus had a short life of 33 years, he still finished what God had for Him to do.   John 17:4 (NIV) "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do."  "... His life was never feverish; He had time for people.  He could spend hours talking to one person, such as the Samaritan women at the well.  His life showed a wonderful balance, a sense of timing." He resisted the urgent and did the important.  
  • We need to acknowledge our need of God as our instructor and supplier.  "When we fail to wait prayerfully for God’s guidance and strength we are saying, with our actions, if not our lips, that we do not need Him."
  • "The need itself is not the call; the call must come from the God who knows our limitations." and our strengths. (my words)  Psalm 103:13,14  (NIV) "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;  for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust."  
  • "...resist the temptation to accept an engagement when the invitation first comes over the telephone."  Ask and give yourself a day or two of prayer for guidance before you commit. 
  • When praying, list things you need to complete each day in their priority, keeping in mind previous commitments.  Pray for direction.  Like a general drawing up a battle plan for the battlefield; "he doesn't postpone basic decisions until the firing starts."    
  • We are to wait patiently for God's instructions and do this by discerning His will by a consistent life of daily prayer.  Listen.  In order to be an effective server, we must prayerfully wait on God to impress on us His truths concerning ourselves and what He wants us to completeMr. Hummel likens it to a time out in a game; a time to stop, regroup, catch your breath, and make a new strategy.  "He will free us from the tyranny of the urgent, free us to do the important, which is the will of God."
  • Don't have such a rigid schedule against the clock that you cannot allow an interruption or an unexpected call that God may have put in your day.
  • "It isn't God who loads us until we bend or crack with an ulcer, nervous breakdown, heart attack, or stroke.  These come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstances."  Matthew 11:30 (NIV) "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  

It isn't that I never move fast anymore.  I am defintely expiditious.    
I get a lot accomplished during my days.
We went to Washington, DC recently, and we fit a lot in!    Homeschooling 3 girls, or trying to get us all ready to go somewhere sometimes involves a bit of hustling. :)
It is just that my perspective has changed.  I am not as stressed.  

I have not 'arrived' but am making a concerted effort.
And I know the direction I want to go.   I still give my day to God and then snatch it back sometimes.  But I am more aware.

 Even managers in the business world use these words of wisdom to effectively lead and not manage by crisis.  Aren't we really managers of our homes, children, and schools?

Life is too short not to stop and smell the sunflowers!
Here is to learning to pray about our Battle Plans.