Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fair Warrior 24 Hour Retreat: Ender's Island, Mystic, Connecticut

24 hours to retreat, to withdraw from the normal schedule of life and focus all your energy on the bolstering of your faith is a gift and one I deeply appreciate.  Many people worked together for my benefit to make these 24 hours possible. 

To sit in silence by the shore and reflect on welcoming Jesus into your physical body is incredibly powerful when done in this setting, where God is in every detail, every flower petal, every rock formation, every grapevine, and every blade of grass.  God is in the hands that prepare the food to eat, the rooms to sleep and the spaces to gather.  He is in the breeze that blows through the windows.  He is there among the friends that gather in His name.  He is there.   While I retreated, over and over the song Abide With Me by Matt Maher played in my mind.

"Abide With Me"

I have a home, eternal home
But for now I walk this broken world
You walked it first, You know our pain
But You show hope can rise again up from the grave

Abide with me, abide with me
Don’t let me fall, and don’t let go
Walk with me and never leave
Ever close, God abide with me

There in the night, Gethsemane
Before the cross, before the nails
Overwhelmed, alone You prayed
You met us in our suffering and bore our shame

Abide with me, abide with me
Don’t let me fall, and don’t let go
Walk with me and never leave
Ever close, God abide with me

Oh love that will not ever let me go
Love that will not ever let me go
You never let me go
Love that will not ever let me go
Oh You never let us go

And up ahead, eternity
We’ll weep no more, we’ll sing for joy, abide with me

~Matt Maher

Photography 102: Beyond the Basics

It's a new semester of photography and my girls are thrilled.  We contracted with the friend of their last photography teacher, who moved to Colorado.  He is teaching Photography 102: Beyond the Basics which will meet at his studio and on location at local areas of interest.

Two of their friends wanted to take this class but did not have the prerequisite 101 skills.  The beauty of homeschooling is if there is a willingness, there is a solution.  The kids completed the online course Photography Starter Kit available on for under $40.  Then Grace held a photography boot camp at our house one afternoon.  The kids brought their cameras and their newfound knowledge and Grace showed them how to put the two together.  

Even Lilah joined this because her camera does not allow raw photography which is a requirement for this class.  Sharing Grace's camera does not work (learned that last semester) so she is using my Canon DSLR and while she understands the terminology, she needed assistance in learning to use my camera.  

For three hours they explored photography.  They went to the park and worked on aperture, shutter speed, ISO and more.  They took some fun pictures and had a good time together.  

Decision America: Hartford

Sometimes themes in our homeschool/family just happen without any intention on my part.  I don't plan for them and I don't create opportunities to develop them, the opportunities come to me.  I always follow these themes.

A while back I wrote about my feelings of uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential election.  I fear that no matter which candidate is elected, our country is in for some hard times.  I came across a quote by Andy Stanley that basically said, stop.  Just stop because our children are watching us and what we project, they internalize.  There is an election.  There are two candidates (major ones), and we have a choice.  The candidate may or may not reflect our values, our morals, our philosophies, our ideologies.  We have to choose the one that most closely aligns to our standards (or God's) and vote.  We vote for a President-elect, however, if we are seeking real, lasting change, we are looking in the wrong place.  Instead of looking at the horizon, worrying, wondering, hoping, fearing, championing a person, we should be looking up and praying, worshiping, and seeking God.  

This message has been presented over and over in our family.  First at Chris Tomlin's Worship Night in America, at our local event, Revive, and once again at Franklin Graham's Decision America tour which came to Hartford September 2.  Grace and I attended. Lilah went off to help Gram watch Jake for the day.  I'm so glad we took this opportunity and drove to Hartford to hear his message.  I know I cannot vote for one candidate.  No way, no how.  Never. So I do have a choice.  I can abstain my vote, or I can "hold my nose" and vote which is what I will do.  There is one candidate who will bring a conservative ideology back to the Supreme Court.  There is one candidate who has a Christian running mate (the other claims to be but supports abortion).  There is one candidate who has surrounded himself with men and women of character.  

This was an interesting day filled with prayer, patriotism and pride.  Grace is still a bit young to understand the implications of this election but I think she will always remember this day and the message that was preached.

On the way home we stopped at The Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford and then went out for bubble tea in West Hartford.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Port Jefferson, Long Island

I don't get a day to myself often and when I do, I struggle not to feel guilty about taking it.  On a beautiful late August day, I ventured to Long Island with the members of my community group at church.  Our church is quite large, with approximately 3,000 people attending the three services every Sunday.  To find your place in such a large group there are community groups.  Some churches call them small groups or life groups.  I love the term life group because in a very short amount of time, you open your life up to the people in your group.  These are the people I asked to pray for Lilah before and during her surgery.  These are the people I carve out time for every Wednesday night to pray with, talk with, and learn from.  

Before our group resumes meeting weekly, we ended the summer, or depending on how you look at it, began our fall, by sharing time together at one of our member's homes on Long Island. We walked around Port Jefferson, ate lunch at a burger bistro, sat by the pool and sipped lemonade, enjoyed a delicious grilled dinner, prayed together and then took the magical nighttime ferry ride home.

Yale Art Museum, John Trumbull and History Homework

Two weeks ago we had another class at the Yale Art Museum.  This month the focus was American Art.  It would have been easy to skip this class.  It was h-o-t, Grace just returned from Lead Week the night before, Greg was home, we don't have any friends in this class, etc.  It would have been so easy to stay home, relax and get Grace unpacked.

However, it is a rare occasion when Greg is able to join in on our homeschool adventures, so we went.  We toured a temporary exhibit of 19th century furniture made in Rhode Island.  The docent had a great scavenger hunt that kept the kids engaged in what could be considered a less than captivating exhibit.  

We studied the works of Edward Hopper, which Greg loved because he is a big fan.  Then we went upstairs to the hall of Presidents which is where things got interesting (for me).  We learned about John Trumbull, the painter, as well as the person the town next to us is named after.  We discussed historical portraits and how often the artist improvised some of the details, because the painting was often created after the event occurred.  We discussed George Washington's "costume" which still bothers me to my toes.  It is not a costume, it is a uniform.  Then we ate lunch at our favorite noodle house and we went home and filed Edward Hopper and John Trumbull away in the part of our brain that is designated for history and moved on.

Until yesterday when our history homework had us reading the speech Knowing History and Knowing Who We Are by David McCullough given at Hillsdale College in 2005 and there in the middle of his speech he references John Trumbull.

 "You look at the great paintings by John Trumbull or Charles Willson Peale or Copley or Gilbert Stuart of those remarkable people who were present at the creation of our nation, the Founders as we call them. Those aren’t just likenesses. They are delineations of character and were intended to be. And we need to understand them, and we need to understand that they knew that what they had created was no more perfect than they were." - David McCullough.

If you have time, read his words.  We found them very interesting and informative.  But back to my point, here is a reference to what we just learned two weeks earlier.  How can that happen over and over and over again?  I know it happens because we are on the path that is right for us.  We are off to a strong start this year and my prayer is that we can maintain it.  We love our new history program by Notgrass.  We would not have chosen this program if it were not for coop and we would not have read this speech from Notgrass American Voices if it were not assigned as homework.  

Our coop begins tomorrow, the enrichment part, the fun classes of photography, drawing, pottery, worship band, and guitar and the academic classed begin Tuesday.  I am hopeful that the work we have done in preparation for these classes is indicative of the work that will be done in class and our time spent with these groups will be challenging, productive, enriching, joyful, and fruitful.  At the intersection of life and learning, greatness can be found.  Here's to a new year, a new coop, a new curriculum, a new peer group, new challenges, new friendships, new opportunities, and new learning adventures!


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