Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Revive Conference 2017

One of the questions homeschoolers get asked ad nauseam is “will they be ready for the ‘real world’?”  Homeschooling is a world free from defined class periods, bells ringing signaling time to switch from topic A to topic B, needing permission to use the bathroom or having to wait to settle a rumbling stomach.  Homeschooling allows for exploration of interests in the "real world", and opens up the doors to the possibilities of honest, deep relationships with other adults that may be teachers, ministers, role models, and sometimes if you are very lucky, all three!

The girls are deeply immersed in our church.  They serve at Vacation Bible School, volunteer for service days, attend retreats, youth ministry conferences, prayer groups, church picnics, provide childcare when needed, and play in the youth worship band.  Lilah has been a classroom assistant for 4th grade and Grace is preparing for two upcoming mission trips.  

Grace and I had the opportunity to participate in an inter-church conference in June that merged several different area churches and their congregations.  What began over a year ago as an idea among three pastors, a young Hispanic pastor, a Black pastor and a White redheaded pastor, blossomed into two worship nights where the pastors spoke and the worship bands led us in praise.  The demographic of this is early 20s to early 30s.  I am far outside this age group and am perfectly fine being a "designated gray head" in the crowd because the girls are coming into this age group and this is where they want to be.  The Revive Conference was run with worship, keynote speakers and several breakout workshops.  Grace went to those that interested her and I went to those that interested me.  We overlapped on a few.  

She was asked to take photographs for Tanisha Akinloye, founder of the non-profit Empowering Through Beauty.  Tanisha is an incredible mother, woman of faith, wife, business owner, ministry leader and friend.  We reached out to Tanisha seeking a senior project for Grace and that conversation has led to some pretty exciting opportunities which I will write about in a separate post.  I am beyond blessed to have Tanisha as a role model, mentor and leader in Grace’s life.  As a society we toss around the statement, “It takes a village.....”.  I balk at this because I lean libertarian when it comes to keeping to government out of my home and parental decision making.  However, when you can choose your village, and the village is lifting up your children and making them strong, confident, capable, responsible, independent young women, I say Thank You.  Thank you to the men and women in my girls’ lives who are pouring love into them.  Thank you for sharing your passions, your interests, your time with them.  Thank you for teaching them, for mentoring them, for inquiring about them, for encouraging them, for challenging them, and for believing in them.  

Revive is a movement among churches, but it is also an incredible diverse gathering of people dedicated to Christ and using their talents and gifts to honor God.  To be a part of this community is a blessing and an honor.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

CT Art Trail Adventures #3 - Florence Griswold Museum

I find it interesting that even parents who have been homeschooling a long time slip into the mindset that learning comes from books and classes.  It was asked if our CT Art Trail adventures is educational.  What?  This is art history taught on site.  During our latest trip to Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, we stood on a porch where famous artist would gather every afternoon for a meal and spirited conversation.  We stood in the garden where they painted, saw the rooms where they slept and saw the amazing panels they painted.  The artists left their mark all over this home.  They even painted on door panels as a lasting reminder of who they were and what they did.  

This was the second artist colony we visited (the first being Weir Farm).  We learned how people traveled up by train from New York City, crossed the river by ferry, and traveled up the main streets of Old Lyme by horse drawn wagons.  We learned how art supplies changed to accommodate this new practice of painting en plein aire.  They became compact, with fold up easels and paint packaged in tubes.

We learned how it was respectable for an unmarried woman to open her home to boarders, hire some staff to cook and clean, and learned about the magic that happened when these boarders picked up a paint brush.  They were quite an exclusive bunch, shutting out most woman artists and offering invitations to only those they felt were among their ranks.  At the end of the season they held a big sale in the library and people came from far and wide to purchase their pieces.

This museum left me with the awe and wonder and magic of a bygone time.  These artists considered themselves bohemian, but they were not really.  They still wore bow ties to dinner and rolled their sleeves into precise folds.  They painted in the impressionist style, either tonal or the colorful style that came over from Europe.  They were respected and sought after.  Can we say the same about artists today?  As the parent of two artists, one daughter who is seeking to be a professional artist, I have to wonder why we don’t respect art like we used to......

Is it because the government made a push for STEM careers and has consistently defunded art education?  Is it because the quality of art has diminished?  Is it because art is seen as less academic and therefore less prestigious?  Have we lost our sense of awe and wonder when we look at art?  Do we even take time to look at art anymore?  I wonder.

What I know, is that this was my favorite museum to date.  I loved it.  The docents were friendly and welcoming.  The art was amazing.  The grounds were breathtaking.  The weather was perfection and our company was delightful.

We have always tried to approach education holistically.  Books are wonderful, but sometimes I think experiences are better at making lasting impressions and what lasts is what is learned.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

CT Art Trail: Lyman Allen Art Museum

Stop two on the CT Art Trail took us up the coast to New London to visit Lyman Allen Art Museum which is practically on the campus of Connecticut College.  The main floor gallery houses a few Weir paintings which is why I wanted to tag this visit on immediately following last week’s trip to Weir Farm.  

I love art museums.  I realize my girls don’t and that’s ok because I think just being in an art museum counts.  I don’t critique the art.  I don’t read every plaque.  I just look around and look a bit longer at what I find interesting, or beautiful, or even ugly or disturbing because art can make you feel all the feels!  

I’m glad my girls are humoring me in this summer adventure.  They are getting to know people from coop a little better.  I have some time to visit with parents and get to know them better.  It’s a win/win.  It doesn’t hurt that I sweetened the deal just a bit with a trip to one of our favorite seafood restaurants for a late lunch on our way home.

These are the places in our state that I have always said “someday” to.  Someday I will get there.  Someday I would love to do that.  Someday I will see that artist’s work.  Someday I will take the time to travel to out of the way places.  

Grace is a senior.  SENIOR.  There is no more time.  Now is the time to do every little thing I wished we got to over the past three years.  It’s now.  I don’t think there are many restful days ahead for us this summer.  I want to squeeze every last drop out of the next two and a half months.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Student Ministry Sunday

Student Ministry Sunday coincided with Greg’s birthday this year.  The girls are so busy at church that it actually gives Greg and I some to to sit and reflect on God’s word just the two of us.  We are so proud of all the girls are doing in Jesus’ name.

Lilah served as a greeter, welcoming the congregation into the service.  Grace is now on staff at church and has staff privileges for photographing services and events.  

I love this day.  I love listening to incredibly talented musicians play their hearts out in front of several hundred people.  I love listening to a message directed towards youth and families.  I love visiting and talking to people after church and really connecting with people I have come to love.  

I don’t take this church family for granted.  I have waited so long for it.  To see the girls surrounded by young adults and adults that are acting as true mentors, both spiritually and professionally, touches me in a way that is hard to describe.  I know that God places people in our lives for reasons.  He gives us both opportunity and choice.  When the opportunities come and the choice is a resounding YES, then blessings pour down.  

This summer has some exciting things in store for the girls.  They are both volunteering at VBS, Grace as staff photographer and Lilah as a 1st/2nd grade counselor.  Grace will head to her mission trip which she mostly funded through photography sales.  Both girls will attend a student leadership retreat.  They have fully embraced the opportunities available to them and this is why I love having teens.  You get to see them grow up right before your eyes.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

CT Art Trail: Weir Farm

We made our summer bucket list and we have some pretty fun activities: take the ferry over to Long Island, hit up local library book sales, try to do the Freedom Trail that we missed in the fall and tour the Connecticut Art Trail.  Note:  I put the CT Art Trail on the list.  This is significant because the girls were not that enthusiastic about it.  So to make this funner, (this is a real word in our house), we invited our coop to join us.

Our first visit: Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton.  Weir Farm has the feel of a living museum without reenactments.  It celebrates the history of American impressionist painter J. Alden Weir.  It is quintessential New England and provided a glimpse into the late 1800s when many of the elite in art and business escaped Manhattan for the summer and drove north the the country of Connecticut. 

I was thrilled with the response from our coop to this event.  We were able to tour together, eat together and explore together.  I’m super excited to dedicate one day a week to exploring different museums around our state.

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...