Tag Archives: friends

The Blessing Box

Today, we are joining some other homeschooling families at the park to mark a milestone for one of our young friends. About a year and a half ago, our friend (age 6 at the time) began chemotherapy for a brain tumor. This spring, his finished his last treatment, much to the relief of all, and tomorrow we’re going to celebrate with him.

As I thought about our friend, I remembered a tradition another family shared with me long ago — the Blessing Box. At the end of every month, family members would write down the blessings received from God over the past few weeks, each one on a separate slip of paper. They might be small things, like an unexpected gift, or bigger things, like the end of our friend’s cancer treatment. They dated each entry, folded the paper, and put it in the box. Then, at the end of the year, the family would gather together to read the “blessings,” saving the papers from year to year. What a great reminder of all that God had done for them!

We had started our own Blessing Box years ago, when my oldest son was small. He helped me decorate it, and I began writing down the blessings and storing them in the box. Somewhere in the busyness of life, though, our Blessing Box was set aside, and we haven’t used it for a long, long time.

But our friend’s party presents the perfect time to start again. And instead of writing the blessings down once a month, once a week would better suit our schedules (and my memory!).  And as we’re writing, we can remember to praise God — for our friend, for health, for comfort, for His peace, for freedom, for His provision — for all the things we often let slip by without giving Him thanks.

A Gentle Reminder

DSCF5054This year, I was going to be ready for Christmas early. I had finished much of my shopping after Thanksgiving, and I was going to have all my Christmas cards addressed and ready to go by the first of December. And to add a special touch, I was going to make the cards or have the children help me make them. I planned on printing photos of the family to include in the cards as well.

But then, one day slipped by, then another, and another, until finally it was too late to send the cards — again. Too late for the cards to arrive in time for Christmas, too late to send a holiday greeting to friends and loved ones that we don’t see very often. Another year, and another missed opportunity.

But is it? I could set my cards aside, and plan on doing better next year. But then, would I let another year pass by before I sent them a note saying I’ve been thinking about them?

But Christmas isn’t a deadline — it’s a reminder. A reminder for people like me who, in the day-to-day busyness of life, too often forget what matters most. It’s a reminder to reach out those we care about and to care about those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s a reminder to do those things we should have been doing all year, but may have let slip by.

And most importantly, it’s a reminder of God’s most precious gift to us, His Son, Jesus. It’s a reminder that He sent Jesus to die and rise again so we might spend eternity with Him. It’s a reminder of His incredible love for mankind, a love He wants us to share with each other.

So the cards may not go out on time this year, but I’ll still send them out — and I’ll remember.

Friendship Challenges

HeartThis summer, some of my girls’ friends decided it would be fun to have a club – an American Girl club. The plan was to meet once a week for a few hours of fun activities: making crafts for their dolls, watching some of the American Girl movies, or discussing one of the books. The group of 7-12 year olds was going to plan and conduct the meetings themselves, and the club was going to be their own, without any moms being involved.

The first meeting began with the election of officers, and some of the girls had their feelings hurt in the process. The next two meetings resulted in even more disagreements, and friendships were becoming strained. Last week the girls came to a cross roads:  should the club continue as is, or should the parents become more involved? 

Perhaps the girls should be allowed to work out the problems themselves, since figuring out relationships is a part of life. But these are young girls, many of whom haven’t had to deal with these types of issues. Because homeschooling allows us to choose who our children socialize with, we’ve been able to find friends who share the same values, and consequently they haven’t had very much to work out — that is, until the club started. 

But I’m convinced they need direction. They need a parent to sit in on the meetings and monitor what is said and how it is said. The girls can still come up with their own ideas – they just need someone there to teach them how to conduct a meeting, how to respond kindly to each other, and how to compromise when necessary.    

The moms are now working out a plan so the club will benefit all involved. Hopefully the girls will learn more than leadership; they’ll learn a lot about friendship as well.

Group Movie Night

Last fall, Suzanna, one of the teens we know, said to my friend Heidi, “Miss Heidi, we need to have a Star Wars marathon, and watch all six movies in one day.”

This suggestion from a teenager with a lot of stamina was well-received by my friend. Though Heidi couldn’t quite bring herself to watch all six in one day, she did break them up into pairs and invited families to her home to watch the double feature. They began watching the first movie on a large-screen television set up in her livingroom. The group broke for dinner and snacks, then watched the second film.

My oldest son was the only one in our family to go, as the Star Wars series is a bit too intense and violent for my younger ones. He enjoyed going each time, though, so when a more family-oriented movie was presented, we all went.

This past Saturday, moms, dads, and children gathered in Heidi’s home for supper and The Tale of Despereaux. She made a huge pot of chili and another pot of soup, and guests brought drinks, chips, and dessert. It was good to eat and talk with other parents while the kids laughed and joked with their friends. After supper, we all settled in to watch the film.

What a wonderful idea, the group movie night! We have a movie night every week at our house, where we get a movie from Netflix, Redbox, or the library, cook up come frozen pizzas, and watch it together. This movie night was extra special, though — a time for friends to come together, for moms to reconnect, and for dads to get to know one another.

In this way, Heidi’s Movie Night is a great example of the different dynamic that occurs in relationships among homeschoolers. These teenagers didn’t gather at a friend’s house by themselves, with their parents out of the way; they went with their parents and siblings to meet in a home where the host family was present and involved. Parents knew where their children were and what they were doing. It wasn’t strange, it wasn’t awkward; no one’s “style” was “cramped.” Everyone enjoyed hanging out with their friends while still being part of the group.

So if you have a large television and living area, give the group movie night a try. It’s a good, safe way to get the kids together.

I Think We’re In…

pencils2Last week I received an email stating that the co-op we visited had enough openings for the next school year – they have a place for each of my children if we decide to join (we were actually put on the waiting list last year).  The cost of the classes is minimal and they offer a variety of courses from elementary through high school. 

Just a couple of days before, I had spoken to a friend of mine who had registered her children at another co-op and was still waiting to hear if they had the room. We talked about starting our own co-op, and she seemed excited about the possibility. We both knew other families who might be interested, and we discussed location possibilities. 

My children were especially excited as they thought of attending classes with their close friends. While they recognized a few faces at the co-op we visited, there were many students they didn’t know.                                    

Then I opened the email, and I wondered what to do. I was glad they had room for us, but now the other plan was taking shape. 

I spoke with my friend again, and I found out she had been accepted into another co-op. They are going forward with that one, so the plan to start one of our own has been placed on hold. Although I’m a little disappointed, I’m also relieved – starting and running a co-op is a lot of work. This past year has been a very busy one, and adding such a big responsibility to my list probably would have become overwhelming.   

We officially have until June 1 to decide whether we will join the co-op or not, which gives me a little more time to think and pray about it. But it’s looking really good to me right now, so I think we’re in…. I think we’re in… we’re in?

I Shouldn’t Like Worms

My oldest boy and my husband were away all weekend on a scouting trip, leaving me with my two girls and younger son. I was planning on a quiet weekend at home when both my daughters came to me begging.

“Please, Mom, please?” they asked. “Tabitha and Rebecca really want to come over. They can spend the whole day. Please, Mom?”

Not quite what I had planned, but it seemed like a good idea – IF they would include their little brother.

“We will!” they assured me, so I agreed.

The friends came over, and the girls did include Luke in their activities. They worked on the playhouse, took a walk through the woods, and looked for worms. When it was time to take the friends home, they gathered up their things, including a cup with a couple of worms.

Yesterday afternoon, one of my daughters went searching for worms again. After a while she came inside, disappointed.

“Where do you look for worms?” she asked. “I haven’t been able to find any.”

We went outside together and started digging in our little garden area. “I bet if we start weeding this spot, we’ll find some,” I told her. And we did. Tiny ones, big ones, fat ones, skinny ones – she had a new cupful of worms.

I went back inside, and she came in about thirty minutes later. “I dumped out my worms,” she said.

“We just found them,” I replied. “Why’d you dump them out?”

“I shouldn’t like worms. They’re slimy and icky.”

“You can like worms if you want to,” I told her. “There’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Some people have jobs working with worms. Some scientists like to study worms.”

I wondered, though, where she had gotten that idea – not from her friends, because they played with the worms too. Perhaps from something she’d seen in a movie? Perhaps from other acquaintances?

With homeschooling, I try to keep my children from that kind of thinking as long as possible – from believing they have to think a certain way, just because that’s how others see it. But while it was a little sad to me that she wasn’t being true to herself, her comment did open up a great opportunity to talk about peer pressure.

I hope she goes searching for worms again today.