Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

Archive for the tag “homeschool”

It’s Time…

It’s the first day of August.

Monday I was ready to freeze summer and just soak in the days, the fleeting moments.  But today is August and that means I have to get in gear for school and order those books and make those schedules and shouldn’t the kids start going to bed earlier?

Funny, the difference a day makes.  How one day it’s July and you want to slow down and the next day it’s August, time for discipline.

We’ve moved to a new home this summer and the freedom of this dead end road has breathed life into our kids.  The dirty-feet, playing-in-the-creek, aw-do-we-have-to-come-in-now kind of life.  They are always scattering and I am continually trying to gather them up for meals or chores or trips to town.

It’s been awesome.

I can just picture the look on their faces if I suddenly woke them up early one morning and called them downstairs for school.  Like cold water in the face or a slap on your sunburned back.  Shock.  Horror. Confusion.

We should probably transition gradually.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but summer is ending soon.

I think we’ll hold on to some carefree days, interspersed with a gradual tightening up of the schedule.

{How do you transition your kids back to the routines of fall?  My kids would appreciate it if you gave their mom some grace-filled ideas.}


Meeting One Person {Risk Part 2}

Friday, I said that risk was good and that we need to meet lots and lots of people.  Then I drove off to the big city, full of people, and ran into several that I already knew.  I gravitated towards them, the known and the safe, and walked by hundreds I didn’t know.  Hundreds I didn’t meet.

Dinner at The Horn of Africa {in Portland!}

Stopping for fuel

I suppose I took my turtle shell with me.

Saturday in the Goodwill, two men mocked Christians and laughed at one very dear, very devoted and well-known saint.  They bantered and built their conversation around lies, and I just looked at the clothes on the hanger.

A real risk-taker, I was.

I was a country mouse in the big city without my husband and I just felt little.  I felt sure that my husband would want me to keep to myself in that situation, but honestly, I was happy in my shell.  Happy and risk-free.

Then Sunday, back in familiar fellowship, there was a new family.  I swallowed hard and fought down the self-doubt and really, fought down the pride that worries about self.

I extended my hand and forgot names and had to ask again and I may have talked too long or too loud or too irrelevant, but I did it anyways.

I actually introduced myself to someone new.  And today we talked for 30 minutes on the phone.

I had thought that I had failed after the Goodwill incident.  I felt guilty for not standing up for the truth and for being timid.  I read about Stephen this morning,  his boldness and his risk, and thought again about my lack of both.

But another good friend put it this way.  What’s risk to you is not necessarily risk to me.  What’s hard for you may be natural to me, but there other things that scare me, and other places for me to take risk.

Introducing myself to new people really is hard, as silly as that may seem to some.  It really seems like risk to me.  That’s one of the reasons I write.

So I overcome, one baby step at a time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Giving Thanks for all this:

281.  Good friends

282.  A day with far-away friends

283.  Working on the dam with Jake

284. Being with my sister

285. Catching Fred {?I’ll be asking some questions ’bout this one?}

286. Jacob making soft pretzels, and taking bits of mom’s granola

287.  Bailey saying something not funny, and only her laughing

288.  Three people asking if we’re sisters : )

289.  driving 8 hours round trip  for a few good books,  a homeschool shot-in-the-arm,  and lots of good memories

290.  Good stories from the kids at home

Creating Time and Art

We’re all making art here.

Horatius at the Bridge

Imagination puts blocks together into story, and there we are with brave Horatius.

We have free time to find.

Squeezed between the must-be-done and the screaming-urgent, we can all find time for a little creativity.

Dirt-movers create landscape and potential, a place to plant dreams.

And a little mud for boys-on-bikes.  *enjoy*

The left-handers choose girly pink paint and oil pastels to make their art, and it all comes out beauty.

And here, on the corner of the house that has stood empty for 5-ish years, the house-in-progress that has sheltered more birds than people, God put art.  Right there by the gutter drain full of slime.

And all I have to do is choose to see it.  To grab my camera and go find it today, because tomorrow I might forget.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, find opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein

Choosing Rightly {Overwhelmed by Your Options?}

How do you  make choices in this world of infinite options?  And are some decisions just too small to fuss over, or do you think He cares about them all?  I’m curious.

Sometimes the problem is not that you don’t have enough options.

It’s not that you have a big decision to make and your choices are just too few, and you feel forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.

The problem  sometimes is that there are just so many good choices.

Whether it’s which charity to support, which cause to throw your voice behind, which restaurant to eat at, which outfit to wear, or what books to read.  Being in the Land of the Free can be such a huge burden.

A friend asks for homeschool advice, which curriculum to use, what do I love the most?  Do I open up the myriad of catalogs-websites-books-opinions out there and boggle her with the next 12 years of planning her child’s life?  Do I tell her all the pros and cons and finish with, “But whatever works for your family!”?

I need toothpaste.

Whitening, natural, sensitive, mint, cool mint, peppermint, or spearmint?


And do I expose my kids to this smorgasbord?  Do I give them so many choices for breakfast that they feel entitled to always have it their way? 

It used to be nothing but oatmeal.  Why did I waffle?  What have I done to the simple life I wanted for us?

I like having choices, don’t get me wrong.  I like what I like and sometimes I like to change what I like.

But I get easily overwhelmed.  When it seems like the decisions are huge and there can only be one choice that’s right, I feel like that man at the fair, juggling knives.

You’d better get this right.

But there are a few things I’ve learned about making decisions, mostly from my husband.

1. God knows your heart.

This brings me peace in the swirling.  He’s not waiting to pounce if I choose A instead of B, not crossing His fingers hoping I make the right decision.  If my heart is right with the Lord and I am not purposely ignoring Him, I can trust His guiding.  I can rest in His grace.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you.  But to do justly, To love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – {Mic 6:8 NKJV}

Doesn’t He make it simple for me?

Yes.  Because I need that.

And I need to know that He sees me as His child, trying to please Him but getting sticky jam-fingers all over the kitchen.  Would He scold me for the jam and tell me that He wanted eggs, not toast?

2.  Once you make the decision, go with it.

I had to choose a sink recently.  I stressed over it, really.  Stainless, I knew for certain.  One-hole, definitely.  Deep enough for a big pot.  But in order to have a row of drawers to the left of the sink, I had to order one narrower than my current sink.

Would I like it?  Would it work for our family?  Should I choose a bigger sink instead of the drawers?

Because now  is the time to decide…this isn’t something we can just change later if it doesn’t work out.

I ordered the smaller one and decided  I would like it.  It would be perfect and I’d be happy and it all would be great.  And guess what?

It is.

That’s not to say that we need a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.  Not to close ourselves off from other opinions or suggestions or, especially, clear direction from the Lord that we are wrong.

But just that convincing yourself is sometimes the biggest obstacle and once you’ve narrowed down the choices, prayed, sought counsel, and have peace, go for it.

And I know, it was just a sink.

But if you’re choosing something a little more life changing than a sink,  pray, read, ask, pray again, check your heart, and go for it.  Move forward until God tells you otherwise.

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. – {Pro 14:26 NKJV}

3. Deal with your mistakes.

You will choose the wrong thing sometimes.

Some mistakes only require a little paint to fix, or a phone call or a letter or some elbow-grease.

Some mistakes really can’t be fixed, but you can start doing things right from this point on.  You can own up to the mistake and endure patiently, you can trust God through the consequences, and you’ll have gained wisdom when it’s all said and done.

We’ll know more when it’s over,  my husbands says.

Maybe you chose the wrong job or the wrong neighborhood or the wrong way to spend your time.  Maybe it was the wrong ‘parenting technique’ and now you feel like it’s too late.

It’s not.  Start doing the right thing now.  

Maybe you feel like you chose the wrong spouse, in which case I would refer you to #2 above and pray that you pour yourself into  being the right spouse.

Whatever the mistake, there is grace sufficient for a repentant heart, and times of refreshing will come (Acts 3:19). That’s always the best choice.


Choosing thanks….

250. starting over, again, because Mercy is new every morning

251. friends and family that stop by

252. my ‘new-to-me’ computer hutch, given by a friend

253. unprompted apologies

254. Jan : )

255. Academy for Character Education

256. odd jobs

257. two red-winged blackbirds out the window

258. sunshine and fresh air in the morning

259. 5 flat acres, a creek, good neighbors, and no oak trees  : )

260. crazy kids in the creek

261. 6 minuscule fish that become 22 whoppers in Ethan’s retelling of it

Making Time

She sacrificed time yesterday.

Her house was in piles, the leftovers of a busy and fruitful weekend spilling over into midweek.  She had intended to tackle those mountains and get a fresh start on the remainder of the week, but I interrupted her.

I had questions and thoughts to sort out, and you know how sometimes you just need someone to hear?  Not to come up with answers or methodically cheer you on, but just listen.

And she would tell me if I was crazy.

She said the house would wait and that I was more important.

She bought me coffee and she listened.

I stammered and spoke in broken sentences and grasped to get thoughts out into coherent phrases.  Why is it that thoughts perfectly formed get all disfigured when they are spoken?

I twiddled fingers and I think I managed to get everything out, managed to convince at least myself that what I was thinking was right.

When I asked what she thought, she replied with her own question.  What does your husband think?

She sacrificed her opinion, really.

She gave wise counsel and different perspective, as always, but she was careful not to overstep the bounds of friendship and sisterhood.  Because so what if she thinks I should or shouldn’t do x, y or z?  I value her opinion but what if it’s the opposite of my husband’s? What does he think?  She knew how to be a sounding board for my anxious thoughts and how to allow room for God to shape things.

And she did encourage me, said we serve a big God and she called me by name.  Why does it mean so much when someone calls me by name?  Catches me and lifts me and she could have just spoken generic words, but she chose words for me, for Tresta.

I came away more confident, certain that she was praying and if I was crazy and she was too nice to tell me, she would pray that I’d hear it from Him.  Or my husband.

What a dear friend.

Today I took her example, left grammar and math and laundry behind for something more important. For someone who needed the sacrifice of my time.  I rush by my own children on the way to the next task, day in and day out, and though I hear it a thousand times, I stopped short and remembered again today.

The laundry will always be there, the house will always need cleaning, the phone will ring and emails will pile up.  “The tyranny of the urgent” my friend had called it yesterday, and I throw off the tyrant again and again.

I throw it off and call someone precious by name, try to listen well, pray hard, correct gently.

Small Things

Help me to do great things as though they were small, because I do them with Your power; and small things as though they were great, because I do them in Your name. ~ Blaise Pascal

Doing small things today and praying this prayer.

What I Want to Preach

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; – Eph 3:8-9 NKJV

To me, Paul says.  Grace was given to me.  Grace that led to prison, to isolation, to a life of hardships and rejection from his own.  Paul considers it a gift of grace to be chosen for this dirty work, this preaching of an open invitation to the ‘least of the least’.

And he considers himself less than the least?  The pharisee of pharisees.  He puts himself lower than those who remained, by law, in the outer courts, the court of the Gentiles.  A servant always lowers himself.  But to call it a grace, a gift?

I was given grace, too.  Do I risk anything to share the unsearchable riches of Christ, to make all see the Fellowship of the Mystery?  Do I consider it a gift of grace to do the hard things day in and day out – bringing a sacrifice of praise through all the mundane and extraordinary and beautiful messes of each day?

What do my children know of this mystery?  Because the riches are unsearchable, does that mean we are without searching?  Without wonder?  When everything is explained, mystery becomes just science, just facts, just ho-hum-everyday-life.

There should be awe in everyday.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, 
And every common bush afire with God; 
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We visit the science museum on a Thursday, surprised to see what we didn’t really expect.  Bodies.  Human bodies.  Is there awe in that?   Oh boy.  Amazing handiwork.  Created, every part of it, for a purpose.  And while it is a little overwhelming, and can-we-just-rush-through-mom?, and we turn a little red a few times, the place was crammed with heaven.  Can you view all that and really believe in coincidence, or accident?

We could walk away disgusted or disturbed.  Or we can take off our shoes and explore the holy ground, explore the wonder and mystery.  God is amazing.  Did you see it?  Did you see how He made everything fit so perfectly?

Life can be mundane.  I can go days, weeks, without seeing wonder or being amazed.  Feeling unimportant, unnoticed, unnecessary.  My days can be:

  1. drag out of bed
  2. read Bible
  3. make meals
  4. clean-up meals
  5. repeat

Somewhere in between, I throw in a load of laundry and force some school along.  Check.  When is bedtime, so we can start all over tomorrow?

Round and round life goes, and if I don’t deliberately choose to see, I just trample over holy ground.  I trample over holy people.

This is what I’m thinking about when the dentist asks me, “So what do you do for a living?”.   This is generally that question that causes me to fumble over my tongue.  What do I do?

What do I do?  For a ‘living’, I die daily.  I would like to respond that way – like for it to be true.

“I teach my four children at home,”  I say.

Wow.  No fumbling this time.  No apologies, no feeling-less-than-important.  People are always amazed (or concerned)… but this time, so am I.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among my children the unsearchable riches of Christ,

Everyday.  Searching for the treasures, looking for the pearls hidden in the Word and in His world.  Hidden in the hearts of others.  Praying big prayers in front of and with my children, because a big God can answer and we can be amazed.

From Leigh Bortins, Echo in Celebration, pg. 3 ~

I feel compelled to “ride horses up the White House stairs” as Teddy Roosevelt did with his children, and I want to share with them the deep sorrow rather than the self-righteousness that comes from the ugliness of sin.  I want them to work so hard and to have fun so physical that they can’t wait to climb into bed.  I want them to know that everyone they encounter can be their teacher and that they are to inspire each person they meet to draw a little closer to our Father in heaven.  Life is but a vapor, but it’s also a divine journey –  a journey that can result in unspeakable joy and heart-satisfying peace that passes all understanding.

I love that quote, and I want to live like that.  I want my words to be less lecture, more wonder.  Less why-did-you-do-that, and more did-you-see-that?

Treasure Seekers

If I only speak a hundred words to my children today, Lord, let them be all grace, all wonder, all magnifying the riches of Christ and buckle-your-seat-belt adventure.

Elbow Room

I did it.  I found the perfect schedule, and it’s blank.

No half-hour time slots to cram ourselves into.  Nothing written in blood that we are forced to follow.

Just blanks.  And a few check boxes.  A place for the memory verse, some doodles on the bottom, and maybe you can write your recitation on the back.  If it works for you.

This is our 12th year of homeschooling and I’ve tried everything.  I used to have a box of  index cards on the counter with daily, weekly, monthly and bi-annual tasks to rotate through.  Then I found a book that helped me schedule every waking moment for every member of the family, breaking 24 hours up into half hour slots of slavery…it was great for awhile.

I’ve used paper planners, online planners, homeschool-specific planners, smart phone planners.  I thrive on having a plan.  I wilt at interruptions.  You are welcome to come knock on my door unannounced – really, I want you to.  But, just please excuse the bewildered look on my face because, well…you weren’t on the schedule.

Someone should have told me (and they surely did but I had a schedule to keep) that life is full of surprises that can’t be scheduled.   Nursing babies will blow out of their outfit as you head out the door for church.  Children will get the flu on the day that you planned months ago to visit friends.  Your husband will have random days off when work is slow.  Math will take 2 hours on some days. Two.  Hours.  And it will rain in Oregon whenever you plan anything to happen outdoors.

So we have a new page for each day.  Blank and beautiful.  The kids fill theirs in at breakfast time as we talk about the day and it’s plans.  There are the basics that will happen everyday, like wake times and meal times and drag-yourself-to-bed times.  The checklist has non-negotiables like chores and brushing your teeth, reading your Bible and making your bed.  But the actual daily schedule has room to flex.  We put in the essentials first.  Some slots we leave blank.  Some days we don’t even use the paper…we just do life.

Like today.  Bed time didn’t happen til 11 last night.  We turn into pumpkins after 9 PM, but there was an important conversion to have and children of a friend to entertain, so the whole family was up way past the usual time.  Which was worth it, because some things just need to happen regardless of bedtimes.

When I woke the oldest this morning at 8:45, she asked what time it was.

“It’s almost 9,” I said.

Horrified look on her conditioned-to-keep-a-schedule face.  Wide eyed and very much awake now, she reminded me of all the times the alarm has failed to go off in my life.  We don’t like to start out already late.

“It’s fine – we’ll pretend it’s almost 7.”  Did I actually say that?  She smiled, so it was worth it.

It’s been a breath of fresh air, and the most rewarding part is not how much we are getting done and checking off our list.  The best part of this current schedule is that my kids like it.  They like the responsibility, and it’s so good for them to feel some ownership of their day.  They have each (the older 3) said out loud, “I like this, mom.”  Those rare words are usually reserved for sugar-related items and brain-disengaging entertainment, so this schedule thing is right up there.

They like it that someone can stop by in the middle of our morning, unexpected, and even though it’s not in the schedule we can stop what we’re doing and have an early lunch with our visitor.  When our visit is over we revise our schedule a bit and move on.  Nothing missed.

They like that mom isn’t pushing them through their day and tapping her stop-watch and reminding them of The Schedule.

I like it, too.  My favorite by-product of the current schedule, aside from the fact that the kids actually like it and are taking initiative,  is that it helps me make decisions.  I am overwhelmed with the questions and pleas of four Sharp Paynes, day in and day out.  The checklist of non-negotiables on their schedule has become a filter for me to answer the requests for computer time, movies, friends, etc…If the most important things haven’t been done, then there is no need to ask for extras.

“When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait.” ~ Oswald Chambers

We all need some blank space in our lives, some place for God to pour into.  How do you make elbow room for God?


Listening to Ethan read the Jesus Loves Me Storybook Bible this morning ~

Then Moses called the place Jehovah-Nissi which means, “The Lord Is My Banner.”

He asks about the banner.  What does it mean that the Lord is my banner?  I’m unprepared for questions…

 “It means that we are fighting for the Lord,” I say.

I explain how when armies go to battle they carry a banner showing who they are fighting for (this was my off-the-cuff explanation).  Moses was saying that the Lord is enough banner.  Over us and identifying us.

Ethan mentions the star-spangled banner.  We talk about the ‘Jesus Banner’ that hangs on so many homes and businesses in our community, the banner on our own home that lifts up the name above all names and identifies us.  (Jesus Freaks?  Sure.)

(never mind the tree on the roof...)

“No, mom.  We don’t fight for the Lord…He fights for us.”

Yeah.  Out of the mouth of babes.  This child with a zillion questions and his mom with lame answers!  Thanks for reminding me, little buddy.  He fights for us.  Beautiful.

The folly of not believing

Taken from my daughter’s high school biology book:

George Wald, winner of the 1967 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Harvard University biology professor and author of Frontiers of Modern Biology on Theories of Origins of Life (1972) stated plainly:

“I do not want to believe in God.  Therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation leading to evolution.”

Wow.  George Wald, a son of Jewish immigrants who spent his life observing and studying the handiwork of God, ‘exchanged the truth of God for the lie’ (Romans 1:25).    A man far more intelligent than myself, yet lacking wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…Proverbs 1:7

Interestingly, his Nobel Prize was for  discoveries concerning the primary physiological and chemical visual processes in the eye.  


Let me just say how thankful I am for the freedom to educate our children the way we choose, and thankful that the Truth is not fragile.  I’m grateful that we can discuss opposing views without getting our feathers ruffled (most of the time!) because we have a Solid Rock to land on, not shifting sands of public opinion or ‘new research’.  What’s new to God, anyway?!

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