Saturday, March 29, 2014


Books are like people:
          fascinating, inspiring, thought-provoking,
some laugh,
some meditate,
          others ache with old age, but still have wisdom;
some are disease-ridden,
some deceitful;
          but others are a delight to behold,
and many travel to foreign lands;
some cry, some teach, others are lots of fun.
          they are excellent companions,
and all have individuality -
Books are friends.
What person has too many friends?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Worth posting again... just to remind myself

Where are you? 
What are you doing? 
Are you listening? Paying attention? 
Stay focused. Stop looking at your phone. Turn it off. Put it away. 
Be here. Now. In the present. 
Be with who you're with. Talk with them. Live with them. 
Take some time. Think. 
Do you understand who you are? 
What you were called to do? 
Pause. Take it in. 
What is your community? Who is your community? 
What does local mean to you? 
Do you have a presence? 
If your church left the community what would happen? Would you have left a mark? 
Lead in the place you're called to. 
Don't worry about the past. The future will come later. It's all about now. Here. 
Go all in. Be rooted. 
When you home, be home. 
Focus. Look at the big picture. Look at the small pictures. 
We need your undivided attention.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

More proof of the power of home...

I've been reading through all my homeschooling books. This is the time of year when we need a little gas in the car. It's tempting to quit early, so I need to remind myself of why we do what we do. I'm reading through the books not only to remind myself, but to then pass on the books to other parents who might need them more than me.

I'm reading John Holt's How Children Fail. This is his earliest work so it's focus is mainly on the problems with the public school system. It was soon after this that he became an advocate of homeschooling rather than school reform.

While not necessarily written from a biblical worldview, Holt's observations of children naturally lead him to some truths that resonate with Charlotte Mason and others. In particular, Holt was a huge advocate of the power of home in the education of a child. Here's a quote I love that he gave in an interview in 1980:

"I want to make it clear that I don't see homeschooling as some kind of answer to badness of schools. I think that the home is the proper base for the exploration of the world which we call learning or education. Home would be the best base no matter how good the schools were. The proper relationship of the schools to home is the relationship of the library to home, or the skating rink to home. It is a supplementary resource.

But the school is a kind of artificial institution, and the home is a very natural one. There are lots of societies without schools, but never any without homes. Home is the center of the circle from which you move out in all directions, so there is no conceivable improvement in schools that would change my mind about that." - John Holt

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Century of Wisdom: lessons from the life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the world's oldest living Holocaust survivor

Last night I finished reading A Century of Wisdom. I'm so glad I took a break from the other things I was reading to make sure I finished this. A really inspiring book, a wonderful lady... who unfortunately can no longer be called the world's oldest living Holocaust survivor... sadly she passed away just recently. Check out my earlier post for a preview of the documentary made about her life called "The Lady in Number 6", which just won an Academy Award for best documentary.

At the back of the book were short quips in Alice's own words; her thoughts and ideas about life and what has helped her live and stay active for so long. Here are my favorites:

I am so old because I use my brain constantly. The brain is the body's best medicine. 

Only when we are old do we realize the beauty of life.

Gratitude is essential for happiness. 

A sense of humor keeps us balanced in all circumstances, even death.

Complaining does not help. It only makes everyone feel bad.

Laughter is wonderful. It make you and everyone else feel happy. 

Love to work. When you love your work you are never bored. Boredom is unhealthy. 

Generosity above all. 

School is important, but what children learn in the atmosphere of their homes lasts for life. The beautiful, intellectual, and musical atmosphere of my childhood has sustained me until today. [this reminded me of Charlotte Mason's philosophy as well].

School is only the beginning. We can learn all our lives. 

I grew up with friendship. I fell in live with my husband's mind and his knowledge.  In marriage, friendship is more important than romantic love. 

I am never tired because my mind is active.

Stay informed. Technology is wonderful. [I didn't really want to hear this, but if she lived to be 110, I need to listen]

Be kind. Kindness is free. It costs you nothing, and the rewards are great for everyone. 

When I play Bach, I am in the sky. 

My world is music. Music is a dream. It takes you to paradise. 

I am richer than the world's richest people, because I am a musician. 

Children must study music. It helps with everything in life. This beauty is always in the mind. 

I love people. I am interested in the lives of others. 

No one can rob your mind. I admire the Jewish people because of their extraordinary commitment to high education. Education of the children is a most important family value. 

Every day is a miracle. No matter how bad my circumstances, I have the freedom to choose my attitude to life, even to find joy. Evil is not new. It is up to us how we deal with both good and bad. No one can take this power away from us. 

Alice Herz-Sommer, world-class pianist who survived the Theresiendstadt concentration camp by playing hundreds of piano pieces by memory, effectively preserving her life and the life of her son, and bringing joy to all those who were able to hear her. 
Life is beautiful. Sitting together and talking about everything with friends is beautiful. 

We do not need things. Friends are precious. 

We need to treasure time. Every moment that passes is gone forever. 

My optimism has helped me through my darkest days. It helps me now. 

The more I read, think, and speak with people, the more I realize just how happy I am. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Home Education by Charlotte Mason

I have been reading too many books at once. The result of this is it takes me longer to finish any of them. But this morning, I did finish reading Home Education by Charlotte Mason. This is the first in her 6-volume series; I like this particular version since it preserves the original language written in the late 1800's, not so outdated as one might think.

This series is becoming foundational to my homeschooling philosophy. I wish I had discovered her sooner. David will reap the benefits more than the older kids; but I do see that her teaching does reinforce the things we have already been doing for years, so I don't think we've messed up too badly.

Here's a quote from the end, which wraps up her teaching, putting it solidly on the base of teaching children about Jesus:

"Here is a thought to unseal the fountains of love and loyalty, the treasures of faith and imagination, bound up in the child. The very essence of Christianity is personal loyalty, passionate loyalty to our adorable Chief. We have laid other foundations - regeneration, sacraments, justification, work, faith, the Bible - any one of which, however necessary to salvation in its due place and proportion, may become a religion about Christ and without Christ. Perhaps this may be because, in thinking much of our salvation, we have put out of sight our King... In the idea of Christ is life; let the thought of Him once get touch of the soul, and it rises up, a living power, independent of all formularies of the brain. Let us save Christianity for our children by bringing them into allegiance to Christ, the King."