Friday, June 6, 2008

PCCS 5th Graduation

Last Sunday my 3 younger children and I went to the 5th grade graduation at Prairie Creek Community School (PCCS). It was a sweet and lovely affair. At the head of a procession, the teachers lead the students on the lawn "humming" Pomp and Circumstance on kazoos. Under the shade of an ancient ash tree, 18 students sat facing parents, friends and family. After encouraging words from Caroline, the administrator, the guest speakers rose to share a few words. This year's speakers were Tara, the children's Kindergarten teacher and Diane, her assistant. Tara has since moved away; there was a sense of a "celebrity" in our midst because she is so well- loved and a truly gifted teacher. Before and after the ceremony parents and children crowded around her wanting pictures and e-mail addresses.

Speaking of well-loved, the bulk of the ceremony illustrated how cared-for our children are at PCCS. The two teachers of these boys and girls, Simon and Michelle, called his or her students up individually. Earlier in the week, classmates had written about character qualities, personality traits, and special talents that they admired in each one of their 5th grade friends. Simon and Michelle read from these comments and added some of their own insights. I enjoyed watching these maturing young ladies and men receive the accolades of their peers and teachers. They smiled, nodded in agreement and glanced at their classmates sitting off to the side.

This whole event cause me to think: How am I doing at expressing appreciation and praise of the everyday people in my life? How are we doing as a family, congregation or community?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What's Refreshing

"Figure out what refreshes you, and do it on a regular basis."
Carole Thaxton

This is probably the wisest bit of homeschooling and mothering advice I've ever had. Carole Thaxton is one of the early homeschool gurus and co-wrote the KONOS curriculum with Jessica Hulcey. We were a few years into parenting and were just beginning our homeschooling journey when we heard her speak.

With 4 children in 5 years, I was an overly ambitious, perfectionistic mother destined to crash and burn . (Which is really God's method for teaching that living in my own strength isn't all that great!)

Many years and a few more children later, I'd occasionally found myself skirting the edge of a significant burn out. This bit of wisdom always echoes in the background. When I find myself in these hard spots it's usually because of 1) wrong thinking (perspectives, attitudes, anxieties) or 2) wrong doing (too much work, not the right work, no rest)

My challenge has been two-fold -- to find what really refreshes me and how can I find time to do it? TV demands no work and can be relaxing; it's rarely refreshing. Sometimes spending time with friends energizes me; other times it's exhausting. Working in my garden is a mixed bag. I love crawling in the dirt planting and weeding; I'm physically "toasted" at the end of a day.

Finding time is harder than finding something to do. I've taken 3 of my favorite activities (reading my Bible, reading anything else, and drinking coffee) and combined them for a little retreat from the demands of the day. As I'm hiding away at some coffee shop with my books, I'm refreshed and refueled.

What refreshes you?