Ann Voskamp Made Me Miserable Today

It is the day before Advent begins. Honestly…even with the few posts lately leading up to this…I am feeling that scattered, frustrated sense of not being ready.

 

The intentions are always, always good. The interruptions are always, always present. The list of things to do in the holiday season always, yes always, seems to long and to hectic.

 

We have appointments today, meetings tomorrow and Friday we drive to Cincinnati for a hockey tournament. Thus begins Advent season in our household. Plus, the dishes were not finished last night, the laundry is piling up…and the kids are hungry.

 

Do you feel that as well? That slightly anxious feeling building, telling you that you will not be able to pull of this Advent nonsense? You’ll be lucky to get the presents purchased and wrapped and the tree decorated. Hopefully all the decorations will be up before Christmas actually comes knocking on the door. Oh, and of course you need to find some way to give outside of your family this year…someone to help, some organization to encourage. Yes. Shoot, that should have been the priority, right?

 

Ugh…it’s closing in a bit, isn’t it? 

 

This morning I read Ann Voskamp’s blog about Advent, about the amazing preparations in her household for the Night before Advent. The box and the lights and the hot chocolate.

 

And I felt miserable. 

 

And then I felt foolish for feeling miserable. But, honestly, I thought: “Hmm, where in my house tonight could I set up something so peaceful and beautiful and wonder-filled?” Then I remembered that tonight is Wednesday night, a notoriously rushed and busy night in our household as the boys finish up assignments for tutorial tomorrow.

 

Still with me? Already feeling overwhelmed and Advent has not even begun?

 

Guess what? We’re right where we should be.

 

I spent part of the morning reading Bana Alabed’s tweets from Aleppo. That feeling of being miserable abated. I thought of the folks in Gatlinburg, TN and around the country who have lost everything to fires over the last few days.

 

Perspective.

 

And here is why I say we are right where we should be:

 

We need Someone beyond ourselves to help. We need God. We need salvation and comfort and peace…and we cannot muster it up within ourselves

 

And that is the entire point of Advent, as Voskamp points out so well…

 

“It’s Coming”

 

Oh my soul needed to hear that this morning. Even with all the reading I am currently doing about Advent, all the poems I have read and all the thoughts I have gathered…I need to hear the whisper: “It’s coming.”

 

God has seen us in our anxiety and our frustration and our fears alongside our hopes an wonder and loves. He has seen us and He has come. We need this season to remind us. We need the patience of Advent to walk slowly toward the birth of the Savior so we can hear that whisper twenty-four times:

 

It’s Coming.

 

The hope, the restoration, the healing, the peace…it is coming. It will probably not look like what we expect. A babe in a manger? Not expected. But it is coming.

 

So stick with me. Find some room on the couch tonight and think about Advent. Figure out a way to incorporate it into the next twenty-four days. Figure out a way to turn the family’s attention away from wish lists for stuff, and toward a patient waiting for the reality of God With Us. Go to Ann’s blog, seriously…she has amazing resources to help us this Advent season. You can even print some things off right now to have ready for tomorrow.

 

We can do this. Take a deep breath and don’t worry about the fact that the Advent Calendar is still stuck in some box of Christmas stuff. Light a candle and drink some hot chocolate…even if it is in the midst of dishes and and laundry.

 

Pause. And reflect. And be aware of that deep need we all have for the coming of the One who can bring the healing and the peace we so desperately crave.

August?! Wait, I am Not Ready!!!

How is it possibly already August? I don’t know about you, but it feels like this very important month snuck up on me this year.

We just returned from our annual trek to New Mexico and Colorado

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This year we drove straight from Tennessee from New Mexico. 21 hours, and yet we were still smiling! These kids are seriously great road trip kids.

We went to one of my favorite places in the world.

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A little place tucked into the South West corner of Durango, where I have been romping since the mid-1970’s.  It is amazing to see my kids now romping here, excited to come back each year. The Eldest is getting pretty great at taking pictures of the clouds. Which were amazing.

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I snapped a few as well.

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This year Little Miss was pretty intent on riding a horse. Thankfully her Aunt has some great horses, including Tess. The brothers quickly wanted a ride as well. Well, most of the brothers.

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Lots of laughter, lots of hanging out and relaxing. We went later this year than normal, and it was good.

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Now, it is suddenly August. Like on a Monday morning, slap-you-in-the-face-with-reality, August. Around here public schools are trickling back into session. We are trickling back in as well. A bit like dipping your toe in the pool to check the water. We are getting some work done this week, but our routine is not established yet.

Normally I take a day or two at a hotel and plan out the year. Not sure that will happen this year, since, um, school has begun. I feel a little like I am scrambling, although much is already in place. We have the benefit of some great tutorials, and The Eldest is taking most of his classes through a fantastic place. The middle boy…who I think I’ll refer to as Mr. Creative from here on…is joining that tutorial this year and will catch Math and Science, an English class and Drama.

I still have the Youngest Boy and Little Miss. They are taking a couple classes at another tutorial, but for the most part are being taught by me. Bible, History, Reading, English…yep.

So. My many homeschool friends, what did you learn last year that is helping you tweak this year? What did you learn that was grand, and what did you learn to set aside or change completely?

I think the thing I am setting aside is feeling the need to tackle every subject every day. I think it wears the kids out a bit, and it means shorter time spent on each subject, but spread out. This year we are going to try a longer chunk of time, but just a couple times a week, for Bible and History.

The thing that went well last year…morning reading time and color / relax time. We started the day with me reading something. We worked through the Harry Potter series and are now working through Andrew Peterson’s fantastic series, The Wingfeather Saga.

Now as I figure out final details of our homeschool year, I thought I would share a few blogs which help inspire and encourage me. Hopefully you’ll find something that sparks your ideas for this coming year:

Homeschool Mom had a good article today about planning your homeschool year, with some good tips.

This is an older post from Ginny at Small Things, but so worth the read.

Another older post, from Ann Voskamp this time, is a great view about why to homeschool.

I just came across this blog, Blog, She Wrote. Tons of helpful ideas here.

Erica’s site has loads of tips, printables and ideas. Grab a cup of coffee and spend some time here.

For those with older kids, you might check out Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus. Lots of ideas here!

Add any blogs you enjoy in the comments. The main thing, especially if you are new to homeschool, is to not stress. Be disciplined, think ahead, plan…and enjoy. Some days the dishes will absolutely pile up and the laundry will look like Mount Everest. Some days you will eat cereal for dinner. Some days you will get caught up in a discussion and forget something else.

Some days will be absolutely crazy.

Some days will be perfect.

Just like life…maybe that is one of the biggest lessons of homeschool. Our kids learn that life happens and we have to learn to adjust.

And…just to add some encouragement…you might end up with kids like these: