Mark the Time….

I sat in our Homeschool Tutorial’s walk-through the other night and was surprised at the catch in my throat as they announced the seniors. We have been talking about Zach’s senior year for some time, commenting on how amazed we are it is finally here. We have talked about all that needs to happen this year, all the details and all the good things. We have talked and talked and talked.

 

 

And then the headmaster began announcing the seniors by name and we all applauded and cheered as they stood. Zach is always last, alphabetically. Each student standing and being applauded sank in a little more…all of his friends. And then my boy. How is my boy a senior?!

 

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I was going to spend today trying to write some hints and advice about homeschool. I have some friends who are entering the “upper years” and thought I might have something to share.

 
And then I found this picture, and well…I decided to switch gears and just focus on this boy for today.

 

 

I have not done our “school pic” for this year, and I am realizing I have not been incredibly faithful in those through the years. But I do have a few.

 

 

They mark the time. They mark the growth. And when I see them they make me stop and look at that little man. The first born. The one who has born the brunt of our stumblings as parents, and has taught us so much.

 

 

We had no idea then what our school journey would look like on that first day of kindergarten. We were so excited about school uniforms and new backpacks!

 

My beautiful picture

 

Not every start of the school year was glorious.

 

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There were so many high moments, though. Zach attended a small Christian school from Kindergarten through 5th grade. He had some great friends, and learned so much. Looking back it feels like a lifetime ago, as we enter our sixth year of homeschool…these pictures of little boys in uniforms!

 

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These just make me smile. The life that was happening, and the boys they were becoming. The character that was being formed.

 

And Zach leading the pack.

 

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The reality of this being his last year of education under our roof is settling in.

 

When Zach was just a baby our pastor talked one Sunday about parenthood and shared his experiences. One thing stuck with us more than any other. He said he was weary of hearing parents constantly talk of dreading the teen years. He challenged us to speak with hope and excitement about the teen years, about our children growing and becoming their own identities and people.

 
Speaking with expectation that we would enjoy and delight in every phase.

 

 

And we have. We have loved seeing the people they are becoming, and relating on new levels with our children. It has truly been delightful.

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But we need these moments to pause. These milestones to look back and remember the tenderness and innocence. To remember the foundation that has been placed to bring them to this moment.

 

The brink of adulthood. Whew. The time really does pass in the blink of an eye. This seems like an apt time for one of the most used quotations on this blog…

 

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” 

-Buechner

 

I am hoping, praying….watching. Waiting to see that the seeds we have planted in this boy continue to bear fruit. The seeds of faith and of hope, of compassion, of determination. I am watching and always wondering if we have done enough.

 

Ready for a heavy quotation? This time Chesterton…

 

“Every education teaches a philosophy; if not by dogma then by suggestion, by implication, by atmosphere. Every part of that education has a connection with every other part. If it does not all combine to convey some general view of life, it is not an education at all.”

 

Whether homeschool or private or public or some mix…we have these souls in our care for such a short time. The clock is ticking more loudly this morning for me. I am more aware that this will be a year of saying “the last time to…”.  The danger is to try and tick off all the checklist and cram in all the information.

 

I think…and we’ll see how it plays out…that it is more about living with wonder and pointing out how mysterious and amazing this world is. It is about constantly pointing to and reminding of the God who has created and who continues to participate in this amazing creation.

 

I think it is about reminding these in our care to be aware. To listen to their lives, as Buechner says.

 

One more year we have. One more year to pour in to this young man all the truth we can. Not just through our words. Through how he is loved, and how we live. One more year to live our faith before him. One more year for all the connections to begin to make sense and become more of a whole than a bunch of lessons.

 

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Whew. I still need to write the tips and ideas about homeschool this year. I still need to finish my bullet journal. I still need to do the last few details of registrations and tutorial requirements…but first I need to pause. To remember, and then to act with expectation and delight as we begin this next phase.

 

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Hopefully this will stick (one more Chesterton, I can’t resist!):

 

“What was wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder. It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world.” 

 

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Join the club…and wave.

I am driving my husband’s Jeep today. One of my favorite things about driving the Jeep is the wave…each Jeep heading my way causes me to prepare. Hands on the wheel. Fingers ready. Glancing to see if the driver is looking…and Jeep wave!

Woohoo! Most of the time, the other drive waves, or at least does that hip-cool one-or-two-finger raised kind of wave.

I am in the club

Actually, a friend who has a coffee shop is having a Jeep rally today and I wish I could be there. Literally hundreds of folks showing up just because they all have Jeeps. To wave and acknowledge they are all in the club.

It got me thinking, though. What if we could recognize something in the folks we see through the day, what if we could see we are in a club of a different sort?

That weary looking woman you just passed on the interstate…she is coming back from visiting a parent in the nursing home. She is heartbroken because she can no longer care for them at home. The other person dealing with a diagnosis of cancer or some other illness. The parent who is dealing with a seriously sick child…what if you could see at a glance they had something in common with you. And you could give them a quick wave, a quick raise of your fingers to acknowledge you are in it too, that you understand.

Or maybe not even so dramatic. Maybe just that mom in the grocery line with the not-so-healthy food who is just worn out and could not come up with a meal plan for the night and is doing her best, but feeling overwhelmed. Yep, I think all of us moms could wave to her at some point.

Or maybe the young man who is about to enter college and wondering how he will measure up and if he is ready. Anyone waving to him? Or the young girl who is hoping she is pretty enough and smart enough. Yep, we can go on and on and on in the list, and there are countless ways we can relate.

Here’s the thing. We are all broken. We are all insecure. We are all overwhelmed and a bit fearful at times, just as we are all confident and joyful and filled with wonder at other times. We are all in this club of being human. How great would it be, though, if in that moment when things look a little fearsome if someone caught your eye and waved.



I see you. I relate. I’m overwhelmed too…but hang in there. There’s hope. 




Maybe it is a little bit of this….not just acting as though all is well. 

Allowing a little of our struggle to leak through sometimes. I’m reading Hannah Coulter from Wendell Berry right now and this caught me today, as she talked about people answering “fine” when they are asked how they are in a community walking through grief during the war…

There is always some shame and fear in this, I think, shame for the terrible selfishness and loneliness of grief, and fear of the difference between your grief and anybody else’s. But this is a kind of courtesy too and a kind of honesty, an unwillingness to act as if loss and grief and suffering are extraordinary. And there is something else: an honoring of the solitude in which the grief you have to bear will have to be borne. Should you fall on your neighbor’s shoulder and weep in the midst of work?  Should you go to the store with tears on your face? No. You are fine. 




 (Here’s the key part…pay attention…)

And yet the comfort somehow gets passed around: a few words that are never forgotten, a note in the mail, a look, a touch, a pat, a hug, a kind of waiting with, a kind of standing by, to the end. Once in a while we hear it sung out in a hymn, when every throat seems suddenly widened with love and a common longing:

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”


Loss and grief and suffering are not extraordinary, but that does not mean they are an easy burden. We do often bear them in solitude, but how deep is the consolation when a hand of understanding is placed on your shoulder? I have had moments when the floodgates are open and tears come flowing just because someone asked a question.

There is so much burden around us these days. There is joy, and I like to focus more on the joy. I post lots of pictures of my kids smiling and laughing and enjoying life on Instagram…and it is not fake. We enjoy life. But there is burden and there is grief. And there are days that someone simply waving from a Jeep can make me feel more human and less alone.

Tomorrow most of us will fellowship somewhere with other believers. Look around. Catch someone’s eye. Wave. Remind them that they are not alone, that we are in this club of life together and that we all bear griefs and sufferings and burdens in solitude, but that comfort can get passed around. We don’t even have to know the details.  Maybe when we are a little more honest that the burdens are there, we can sing with a little more longing for the day all the burdens will be lifted.