Saturday, 26 March 2016

Easter essences

This Easter happens to fall on a weekend that is bittersweet for me. Eight years ago, this was my wedding. In pondering the agonizing death of Christ, I am both reminded and sympathetic because of the agonizing death of my marriage. As the Scriptures say, He was tempted in all points, just as we are.

Unlike me, Jesus knew the path He was taking. Unlike me, He wasn't blind to the warnings and signs of His impending doom, but instead embraced them. What struck me recently was that He knew His betrayer.. and loved him anyway.  He knew that His closest friends were going to abandon Him, and yet He held them closer, even taking the role of the slave to wash the crud off their feet.
I don't know that if I understood the price, that I would have walked down that aisle.  I don't regret it, because I wouldn't have my children if I hadn't,  but if I'd had the same foreknowledge Jesus did,  I think I would have run away.

It makes the whole season more astounding. That He would knowingly,  willingly, even eagerly go to the cross.. it amazes me the depth of love that requires. I realize just how little I understand that love, let alone reflect it.

Tomorrow is Resurrection Day. Oddly enough, it falls on my anniversary. From the death of the hopes and dreams of a nation for their earthly messiah came salvation for the entire world. The real Messiah wasn't a king for a time, but the King of kings for eternity,  and He put it aside to claim flesh and blood, just to be murdered. 

I wonder what resurrection will happen in my life. It's been 3 years since my marriage ended. The dreams I had have died and been buried. There has been blood, and grief, and despair. 
Friday... but Sunday is coming.

Resurrection is coming.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Homeschool 101: Legalities

It's always amusing to me when I go out with my children. Because we homeschool, I often will run errands or grocery shop in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, rather than wait for a weekend and the crowds, and take my children with me. It's a learning experience for them, and much more convenient than trying to fit it in between school drop offs, pick ups, chores and soccer and music lessons, and all the other myriad things we do as moms and homekeepers.   But when we go out, we get looks.  Whether its the shock of seeing so many young children with only one adult (and there's no mistaking they're siblings and that they're mine!) or that these school aged children aren't in school, I'm never sure. But it's always amusing to see the shock.. usually followed with a smile, for the most part .. on people's faces.

The few times I get questioned on why my children aren't in school, the first question usually is "Can you do that?", meaning is it actually legal to homeschool. Depending on the circumstances, I sometimes flippantly answer that "There's no law telling me I can't!

The reality is that it depends on where you live. The legalities of homeschooling vary from place to place, and who's making the rules. In most of the world, it's legal to homeschool. There are a few countries where it's absolutely forbidden -- usually rooted in socialist ideals of government (Germany and Sweden are examples where the laws forbidding homeschooling have caused some tragic results).  

Generally speaking, to legally homeschool will mean that you will notify your local school and/or school board of your intent to homeschool, and then at the end of the year, submit some kind of proof of homeschooling.  I happen to live in a jurisdiction where neither is necessary; I neither have to notify my local school board (since my children have never been in school or are registered with the school board), nor do i have to provide anything at the end of the year.  But most places, at least in North America, do require notification and some kind of end-of-year proof. 

Notification can be as simple as a form to fill out and send in. Sometimes it is a little more detailed, and requires you send in a copy of your plan for the year, listing such details as subjects or topics to be studied, books to be used, goals to be achieved. The level of detail will depend on your local laws.  
End of year proofs are just as varied. It could be as simple as sending in an attendance sheet, showing days and hours of school work logged, or perhaps a standardized achievement test result. It could be a little more complicated, involving keeping a portfolio of work completed, test results and attendance, or even having your program (and possibly your children) evaluated by an approved state evaluator. 

During the year, you may have to keep your end-of-year requirements in mind. If you need to submit an attendance log, you'll need a way to keep track of attendance. It might be as simple as marking off days on a wall calendar, or maybe you'll use a program such as HomeschoolTracker or HomeschoolPlanet.  If you are required to keep a portfolio, you'll need to create a system to file away work completed, whether that's a box to hold the lapbooks you completed or photographs of the to-scale model of the solar system, or simply a stack of completed workbooks.  If you need an end-of-year test, commonly used models include the Iowa Test of Basic Skills or the Brigance Diagnostic Screening tests, or your jurisdiction may require their own standardized test. 

For more information on local laws and requirements:

Monday, 14 March 2016

Moving and miracles

I'm so excited to share our new house.  These are pictures taken during our move:

From this gorgeous kitchen to patio doors opening onto a huge backyard:
To a large living area, and 4 bedrooms!!

The lady that showed me the house told me they would get back to me as to whether they would rent it to me. They didn't take a formal application, but I did offer proof of rent paid (courtesy of my previous rental) and, upon request, a "letter of good standing" from my bank. (That was a bit of a surprise, and even my bank manager had to google it, but apparently it is a letter from the bank stating that you have had bill payments go through with no "NSF"s or bounced checks, and that all credit accounts are in good standing. It's a free version of a kind of credit report.)  

I almost didn't believe it was true. It wasn't until I signed the lease and sent my deposit and first month's rent payment to my new landlords that I finally relaxed. 

Moving went as smoothly as could be expected. We moved in March 1, and we've been settling in ever since.  I've been finding that we have more space here than I ever expected. I've been thrilled with how easily we've settled in. Every single morning I wake up in my new house, and I just lay there and give thanks for how blessed we are. 

Just another way God loves us.