Friday, April 29, 2011

What are you attached to?

This week I am blogging a day early. Tomorrow I leave for two days in the wilds of Mississippi, on our tree farm in Webster County, far, far away from the reach of cell phones and computers!  Of course, I always enjoy times like this, because I am a true nature girl.  Other than always loving the out-of-doors, one of the reasons I am a nature girl is because I learn so much from being around animals and plants.

This morning, I went out to water my rose garden.  I was greeted by one of the most amazing and intricate spider webs I've ever seen.  The dew was sparkling in the early morning, and it was just SOOO pretty!  For about one second.  Because, unfortunately, the spider had attached it to the hose reel, and the minute I turned it, it was destroyed in an instant.

You have to be careful what you allow yourself to become attached to!  Attaching to something that is easily moved is not a particularly good idea, as this spider found out this morning. So what are you attached to today?

-Those who are attached to material possessions can find them gone in an instant, like many of our friends and neighbors here in the southland, following the tornado outbreak of a couple of days ago...
-Those who are attached to their IRAs and stock portfolios can find them gone in an instant in the next crash.
-Those who are attached to their good looks can find outward beauty fleeting as they get older.
-Those who are attached to a particular group of friends can find that friends get busy and move away
-Those who are attached to their persona as a homeschooling mom will someday find that even those children grow up and move away, and the persona has to change or wither away! (I may be talking to myself here!)
-But those who are firmly attached to Jesus and to the principles of the Bible, will find that their anchor is 100% immovable, regardless of tornadoes or stock market crashes, or accidents, or illnesses, or growing older, or watching as friends and families leave to follow their own dreams.

Don't be like that spider!  Be careful to attach yourself to something permanent! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Celebrating Holidays

This Easter weekend is the first one ever when I haven't bought any candy, haven't decorated any eggs, and don't have the Easter baskets out!  Kind of sad, in a way...but kids do grow up, and we're just in that window of time when no grandchildren are around yet...and at some point it seems a little silly to be hiding the baskets, which was always our tradition...As the kids got older it became more and more of a challenge to find places they couldn't find right away.  I think they finally got tired of it the day I had to hide one of them in the ceiling tiles downstairs in order to provide the right level of challenge!

Both Easter and Christmas are obviously religious holidays to those of us who are Christians, but they have also been secularized to some extent, and there are all kinds of disagreements these days.  The public schools have mostly succeeded in replacing Easter vacation, which we had when I was a child, with "Spring Break", which often isn't even at the same time as Easter.  Now they are trying to change "Christmas Vacation" to "Winter Break"....(Watch and see if it doesn't wind up being in January every year instead of Christmas soon...Then the school kids will only get a long weekend off at Christmas, and even more traditions will be threatened by those whose kids remain in the school system.)

There are also those Christians who don't believe in celebrating Easter with little bunnies and colored eggs, and who want to stay away from Santa Claus,too.  There are even those who stress that Christmas developed out of a pagan holiday and think we should avoid it altogether.

Here's my opinion, for what it is worth.  As far as Christmas goes, it has always been a time for families to gather, to remember the story of Bethlehem, and develop family traditions.  I have trouble seeing what is wrong with that.  Of course, we all have to watch out that Christmas doesn't become one giant "to do" list, where huge amounts of debt are accrued in order to provide for every single possible "want", turning it into a greed fest, and making the mom so busy she can't remember what she's supposed to be celebrating.  Still, we had fun with the Santa Claus idea when the children were little. However, we were very careful to always be sure the kids realized that he was fanciful and fun and FAKE, while Jesus was a real, historical figure, who is very much alive and real today. 

Easter, too, was celebrated with the eggs and bunnies at our house, but the children were always reminded that those were symbols of new life, celebrated at the beginning of new life in nature around us, and rooted in the reality of the new life we all receive because Jesus was raised up to new life on that day.  If others want to debate and criticize, it is up to them, but it was always sort of simple and non-political in our house.  My role models, my mom, my grandmother, and my aunt, were simple women, strong women, who cared most of all about their families and didn't get caught up in the arguments that no doubt swirled around them, since there are always people who want to argue about something.  I hope to be that role model, myself, as I get older. I can't wait to have some grandchildren myself so the house will once again be filled with squeals of glee and the type of excitement that can only be generated with a houseful of small children! Enjoy it while you can, young moms....You'll miss it someday!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Drama Camp!

We have just confirmed we have the location for our drama camp...It is in Paulding Co., GA, in the general vicinity of the intersection of highway 120 and highway 92 (eastern Paulding co.).  The dates are July 5-15. It is 2 weeks, for about four hours a day, with a performance Fri night the  15th.  It is meant for ages 10-14; younger kids can only participate if a parent remains. There is also a place for older teens to volunteer.  There are a couple of paid staff positions available, a few slots for volunteers, and 25 slots for paid participants ($175).  The focus will not be on putting on a play per se...it will be a variety, including improvisation, mime, monologues, audition preparation, stage makeup, sets and props, etc.  Lots of Fun!!  Contact me at mary.e.hood@gmail.com for more information.

For those who are far away and drooling...Remember our goal is to be able to plant programs all across the United States (I love being grandiose!).  We used to do this camp all the time when it was actually me directing...this will be the first time we're putting it on with others in staff positions...As soon as we figure out how to do it right this way, we will be open to the idea of sponsoring programs in other areas.  Just stay in touch.

One of our goals is to turn this into a "trailer theatre".. I was involved in one of these in eighth grade. We spent the first part of the summer learning about all aspects of theatre and preparing a play, then spent the second half presenting it at various venues throughout the city of Milwaukee, mostly parks and playgrounds.  Our vision is to do it at summer Bible camps at the churches....

P.S. It is my husband's birthday today!  And Laura is busy planning her wedding. (My first to get engaged...)  Life is good!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Planning New Programs is always Exciting!

This week at our Board of Directors meeting, we are going to put the finishing touches on planning a Drama Camp at a nice location in the country with a little lake...It will be in early July, for ages 10-14. It has been awhile since I've been in on the planning process for this type of educational program.  It really feels good to be creating something that I know will be a wonderful experience for the children who get to participate. It's something I've been missing in recent years, ever since we shut down the flagship resource center in Kennesaw in order to expand into a national organization.

This reminds me of the early days at our first resource center in the strip mall in Acworth...Do any of you remember those first few programs?  When we first began, I taught an algebra class with only three students, including one of my own kids...by the time we ended, I usually had full classes of 16 kids, plus a waiting list.  Sometimes it takes awhile to build things up....This is a lesson I'm really having to learn again right now.  We want desperately to plant new resource centers, to assist others in starting ARCHERS support groups, to find new venues for me to speak about relaxed homeschooling, and, most of all, to finally get the land we've been wanting to create a permanent conference & workshop center in a rural setting...We are starting to see some results, but everything is just taking so darn long!

Did you ever notice that the number one reason people give for not homeschooling their children is that they "aren't patient enough"?  You know, patience is a fruit of the spirit...so when a lack of patience is an issue, it needs to be addressed spiritually.  The problem is that right now, I just want to pick some of those fruit and throw them at something.  I guess being frustrated is just part of what we have to wrestle with as human beings....I know if my mom was here, she'd tell me, "Be a little easier on yourself. Everything doesn't have to happen right this minute!  Give it some time!"  So I guess I'll try to listen. But just so you know, right now I don't feel like an elder statesman of the homeschool movement, or even particularly like a mature Christian.  I guess for now, one program this summer will have to suffice...the rest will develop when it is God's timing.  BUT...(insert stomping of foot), "BUT I WANT IT NOW!!!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Keeping Sports Under Control, Too!

Last week I talked about the importance of keeping technology under control. Now, with the Atlanta Braves cranking up, I'm reminded of the importance of also keeping sports under control!  Whether it is active participation or simply watching sports on television, there can be both positive and negative aspects.

My boys have always played baseball, and my girls have dabbled in softball, dance, and gymnastics. Group sports, at their best, can promote a healthy competitive spirit (with oneself and with others), can teach teamwork, encourage children to stay fit, and help them develop skills and have valuable contact with adult role models outside the family.  Under the wrong coach, on the wrong team, in the wrong league, the life lessons learned may completely undo familial teaching.

Families can bond while watching one of the children play ball.  Families can fall apart because television sports detract from time spent around the dinner table.  Families can support each other in healthy competition.  Poor sportsmanship on the part of adults can trigger all kinds of emotional problems in children. 

Like anything else, participation in sports requires balance and thoughtful participation on the part of adults.  When allowed to dominate all conversations during baseball season, it can leave no time for spiritual growth,  for productivity in school or work, or for relationship-building. Done properly, it can add immensely to the enjoyment of life.   So go watch your Braves, guys....but no screaming at the umpires! Make the effort to go in person a few times of year as a family instead of watching on television all the time, and spend some time throwing the ball around the yard once in awhile, rather than having all your contact with the game be vicarious.

Remember, too, that baseball, or any sport, can lead to academic knowledge, too.  My boys learned a lot of geography through following major league cities, learned a great deal of math through working with their statistics, and often wrote stories that were baseball-related.  We used to have a great math game called "Math Baseball"....I haven't seen it in stores for a couple of decades, although there is another called "Slugger", which I don't like quite as much....In math baseball, you picked a card (in the shape of a baseball), and worked the math problem found on it.  On the back side, it said, "single", "double", "triple" or "home run", depending on the difficulty of the problem.  If you got the problem correct, your man advanced to the proper plate.  You could make one similar to this yourself with a little creativity...

Go Braves!