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Monday, July 28, 2014

Analytical Grammar - Review

I have to admit that when we got the chance to review something from Analytical Grammar....even I wasn't super excited.  I know that seems sort of mean....but, it is true.  It is summer.  Ugggg.  Grammar?  (You should probably take my homeschool membership card away right now!)

Happily, the product we got to review was actually the book called The Eternal Argument.  That doesn't sound nearly as bad in the summer time, does it?

I will admit right up front the only reason I was interested in taking a look at this book was that a friend of mine read it (outloud) with her kids and they loved it.

This book is recommended for 8th grade and up......but, unfortunately, my big kids weren't interested in doing this during the summer months. Those bums!  So, I was left on my own to read it.  And, as I read, I kept wishing that I had discuss it with....because there was moment after moment of "I have never thought of that like this before...."

So, my recommendation matches the this aloud with someone.....even if you have to force your kids into it!  And, honestly, once you get them reading it, they won't complain anymore.

The basic premise of this book is that there has been a neverending argument (Eternal Argument) about who should really be in charge, throughout Western literature and culture.  Is it man?  Is it God?  Is there even a God to be in charge?  You know, deep questions like that between Humanism - Man is perfectible, or Theism - Man is flawed.

This book is weird.

Weird, but interesting.

Weird and definitely a bit hard to describe. (Here is a little more information about the book, that explains it better than me.)

Weird, but definitely good.

I am definitely glad I read it.

The author, R. Robin Finley, goes through the chapters walking you through why we should read all of those "classic" books that people talk about, through what the fight has been about, into what the "Western" literature/culture really is and then moves into what the sides have been showing from the Middle Ages to Renaissance, Neo-classical, Romanticism, Realism, to the newest guys on the block, Naturalists and Modernists.

Have I lost you yet?

I told you it was weird.

Weird, but worth it.

I felt like this book was a mini master class in western literature.

She talked about books like Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, 1984, the importance of the King James Version of the Bible, and Greek Mythology.

Her feeling is that the western literature literary platform has 3 pillars and pictures it like a 3 legged stool. The legs are:  Greek and Roman Mythology; King James Version of the Bible, and Aurthurian Legend.....and the top of the stool is all of western literature.

Make sense?

To use a tried and true really just have to read the book.

She walks you through the reasons why the books are important....hopefully you have read them, because there are spoilers in order to make her points.  I have read most of them....the ones I haven't, she made me want to read.  Books like Animal Farm, Atlas Shrugged, and Brave New World.

I liked the author.  I liked her description of herself from her teaching days as a "benevolent dictator"....because that is what I consider myself as well.  I am in charge, but if you behave how you are supposed to, I am really nice....and fun!

I am just going to give you a few examples of things I found especially interesting and made me really think.

In Chapter 6, What is the Western Literature "Platform"?, she talks about the King James Version of the Bible being woven into our cultural DNA.  Being part of things like Good Samaritan laws, or talk about "the powers that be", "signs of the times" or "the blind leading the blind", and last, but not least, the phrase, "eat, drink, and be merry."  All of those are phrases and concepts found in the Bible....specifically, the King James Version of the Bible.


It is woven into our culture DNA....whether we realize it or not.  Whether you think you are a Bible believer, or not.

The author has a list of Bible passages that she recommends be memorized by the time kids are in high school.  Things like the 23rd Psalm, the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Lord's Prayer.....because they will have meaning and purpose outside of life as a Christian.

I am happy to say that my kids are doing pretty good with her recommendations, but we do have a few to add into our list....and we usually don't read the King James Version.

I really enjoyed Chapter 7, Should We Quarantine Our Kids?,  This chapter talks about quarantining our children from literature that doesn't line up with our own personal worldview.  She says that we, instead, should inoculate our children by exposing them to books that come from a different viewpoint while they are under your roof and you can talk about the issues.

This issue is something that the homeschoolers are often accused of...sheltering our kids from the real world.  I like to think I am sheltering enough to keep them safe and giving them room to develop into the fantastic people that they should be, but showing them/exposing them to enough real world stuff that they don't go out into the world wildly naive.

I do let them read controversial books.  We do read a lot of the classic books mentioned in this book as part of our studies.  But, I have had them all read a book called This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti first. We talk about it and then I set them loose with books with the parameters set that I don't want purely evil books in the house.

The best thing is that I often will read the books along with the kids so we can discuss them together.

What the book The Eternal Argument has done for me is give me a total whole other side of every book I read.  So, there will be lots of other deeper, hidden meanings to all the book we read.

At my recent family reunion, somehow we got to talking about the movie, The Wizard of Oz.  One of my nephews had just learned that there was a whole series of books surrounding the movie.  Another nephew said that he had read that the books were written as a slam on politics at the time and that characters all represented things.  For example, the scarecrow was the brainless poor man, the tin man was the heartless big business, etc.

Again, just a deeper look into the story that we all know.

That is what The Eternal Argument is about too.....a deeper look into the classic books most of us have read.  A way to give us the much bigger picture going on in the world for years and years.

Towards the end of the book, in Chapter 13, Stuff You Need To Know To Teach This Stuff, she goes into more detail about how to teach this stuff.  I was glad to see that it was okay, especially for younger kids, to just read.  You don't have to dig into deeper meanings all the time.

It is okay to just love a book and create a movie in your head.  But, when you do want to dig deeper and teach and discuss some of these things, she breaks it down into classroom teaching and homeschool teaching.

Chapter 14, Now Let's Apply All This to Books We've Discussed. is one that she suggests not reading with your children.  She talks about a step by step process for doing the literary analysis.  She also goes through the 18 books that she featured in the book and gives more details and digs deeper into them.

The last part of the book I will touch on is Chapter 15, Because It Is All About Me.....What Do I Think? This was really interesting because throughout the book the author has tried to be show both sides of the coin...or argument.  This is the chapter where you find out what she actually thinks....and why.  I liked and agreed with her opinions on a conservative Christian attending a secular college and how they will be able to survive in the class.  Again, you will have to read the book to see what we both think.  Emoji

You can get your own copy of this weird, but sort of wonderful book, The Eternal Argument for $24.95.

See what other TOS Reviewers thought of all the other Analytical Grammar products.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Flourish - Review

I kind of like it when I get a book to review that is just for me.

I got that this time with a book from Apologia Educational Ministries called Flourish - Balance for Homeschool Moms.

What is this book about?

From the back cover:

Exhausted?  Overloaded?  Teetering on the brink of burnout?  Flourish includes customizable planning forms, step-by-step exercises, and special chapters for single moms and families who have a home business.  Find peace in the space between the ideal and reality so that you and your family can enjoy the homeschooling journey!

Want to know, up front, one of the nice things were about the book?

The author, Mary Jo Tate, is not the stereotypical perfect homeschool mom, with the perfect children, who all play violin and speak Latin.  Nor, is she the stereotypical homeschool mom with the perfect loving, supportive husband, who has a great job.  In fact, she is a single mom (her husband actually left her), who works from home.

I know.  Shocking and wonderful, at the same time.  She is able to give real world examples of stuff that has worked or not worked.....based on reality.....not a perfect, dream world.

I am not really exhausted or burned general.....but, I definitely have moments of despair, so finding balance or ideas on how to get things done more smoothly sounded good to me.

I found, to my delight, that I was already doing some of the things the author recommended in the book.

For the most part, I do feel like I am a pretty balanced person.

I try not to be too busy.

I try not to have the kids be too busy.

I try not to put too many challenges or obstacles in our way.

I try not to clean my house too much (hahahaha)....or have unrealistic expectations for what a house with 8 people in will look like.

So, even though I am doing a pretty good job at keeping things in balance, I got a lot of good ideas from this book. (I even think some of you who don't homeschool could pick up a few pointers on how to have a more balanced life!)

I especially liked that it was written to give ideas to stay at home, homeschooling moms that have home based businesses.  That is me.

Who knew that I was a valid demographic?  Not me!

I even feel like the author could have just put together a book of the inspirational quotes and I would have been happy. I kept having little...."Oooh, that was a good one!" moments.

The quotes were great all on their own, but when added into her real life lessons and ideas, they were spectacular!

Like this one from Dr. Richard Swenson, that said, "Interruptions coming to us by way of technology require our permission----we own the technology; it does not own us."  Or, how about one of my favorites from Eileen Roth, "Organized people don't trust their memory ---they trust their lists."  Hahahahaha.....that is so me.  I love my lists.

So, I thought I would just go through a few of my highlights, or "aha" sections from the book.  Maybe you will have a few of your own.  Just so you know, it was hard for me to narrow this down to just  a few highlights.  Take a look at my notes and how many exclamation points and page references I used!

In Chapter 4, Where Did My Time Go?,  Mary Jo talks about all kinds of tips to managing your time better, but I really liked the part where she talked about being paralyzed and overwhelmed by your list of things to do.....which in my case, many times means I don't do anything at all.  Instead of that approach when you are feeling overwhelmed, she says to be a good steward of your time and do what you can, in the situation you are in, with the time that you have.  That is all.  Simple, yet profound.

For me, that simple statement meant, when the living room is trashed, at least pick up the pillows and blankets that are on the floor.  That is okay.  That is enough, right now.

In Chapter 5, What Do I Do Next?,  she talks about goals and "go fors".  Goals, she says, are promises that you make to yourself, and "go fors" are things you would like to accomplish that you know are going to be a stretch.

In this same chapter, Mary Jo introduced me to something that I had never heard of before.

 A Stop Doing List.

Ever heard of it?   It just sort of states that obvious that, you really cannot do you will have to stop doing some things.  Or, in her words, "Whenever you choose to do one thing, you are choosing not to do everything else.  Edit your life to make space for what's really important."

I am not sure I have explained this clearly here....but it was really an eye opening point for me to think about things in a different way.  Just being given permission to write down things that I need to stop doing instead of just continuing to add things to my" to do" list, or my" must fit it in" list.....was very freeing.

In this same chapter (apparently I really liked Chapter 5!) she has a section where she talks about having dreams for yourself....big dreams.  I am pretty sure that this is something a lot of us moms, especially us older moms....have given up on.....or have just jumped on board with our children's dreams.  I haven't jumped on board my children's dreams.....but I had, until recently, given up on any personal dreams for myself.

She really inspired me with her example of Jan Karon (author of the Mitford series).  Jan Karon left her steady, stable, lucrative career, and at age 50, starting writing.  No, she wasn't successful right took awhile for her to write At Home In Mitford.  But, people, she started writing at age 50!  This especially spoke to me because of what I wrote in Thick Skin and my desire to write.

Here is another in a long list of great quotes from the book.  This one is from Jan Karon, "If God has given you a dream, you'd better get cracking because He wants you to use it."  I do have a dream....and I believe it is from I am cracking, baby!

I will give you just one more of my personal highlights from the book.

This one is from Chapter 9, Oxygen Marks and Monkey Bread Days.  (Don't you love the title?)  This chapter opened with a bang for me guessed it....a quote..... from Charles Spurgeon:

"Rest time is not waste time.  It is economy to gather fresh strength.....It is wisdom to take occasional furlough.  In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less."

Aiiiiyiiiiyiiii!  (pretty sure that is not how you actually spell that....but hopefully, my emotion has still managed to come through......)

Rest time is NOT waste time.

Thank you, Charles Spurgeon!

I know we have all heard the phrase, "Nap when the baby naps."  But, somehow when that baby isn't a baby anymore, it isn't socially acceptable to need, or admit to needing, a little rest or nap......unless you are really old.

This chapter goes on to talk about the whole spiel on airplanes where you must secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.  (That whole speech became so much more powerful/scary the first time I traveled with my about you?!?!)

"Monkey Bread Days" are those where everyone wants a little piece of you.  I refer to those days as when I am getting beaten to death by ping pong balls.  I will officially coin the phrase "Ping Pong Days"....where everyone is just hitting you with little questions all day long and you can hardly come up for breath without someone needing something from feels like you are being pulverized with ping pong balls.

This whole chapter hones in on taking the steps necessary to take care of yourself, so you have energy and something left to give to others.  A good message for all of us.....but, especially moms.

I was inspired by lots and lots of ideas from this book, and I took comfort from other things.  Like the part in Chapter 10, Training Your Children, where she talks about teaching independence.  This is one area where I think Rainman and I are doing a good job with our kids.  They are able to do lots of things around the house from cooking to cleaning.  S-girl is always surprised when she hears about a kid who is older than her who doesn't know how to fold laundry or cook, because she does both of those things and has for quite awhile!

Even if you don't completely, 100% fit the special demographic like I do (.....flips her hair over her shoulder.....), this book is a great read for keeping things aligned and balanced in your life......and it is an awesome quote book too!  Emoji

Oh, and there are also customizable planning forms to help you with the organization piece, that are available if you purchase the book.

You can get a copy of the book for $15.00

Find out what other TOS reviewers thought of Apologia's Flourish - Balance for Homeschool Moms.

Monday, July 21, 2014

HomeSchoolPiano - Review

We got the chance to review a new, and sort of wonderful, way to take piano lessons.  We got the chance through HomeSchoolPiano and their Complete Set of Books.  I wish I would have thought of this!

I am a musician.

Although, now I pretty much just sing, my parents paid for about 8 years of formal piano lessons.

I am pretty sure that I whined and complained for about 6.5 of those years.

Sorry, mom.

When I would complain, my mom would tell me that one day, I would be happy she forced me to stick with lessons.

She was right.

I am glad I can play.

I actually wish I would have taken it more seriously, and practiced I could play better.....just like she said.

I have gotten really rusty over the years because I don't take or have the opportunity to play much....but even though Rainman has wanted to get rid of the piano with each move we had made (that baby is heavy)....I have fought him.

At our last house, we didn't have room in any of our main living areas for the it ended up in the basement.   I didn't go down there much for first few years we lived there.  I did go down more after I redid the school areas and made it a slightly happier place to be.  But, I couldn't let go of the piano.

D-man, A-girl and L-girl took lessons for a year or so from a teenager neighbor when we lived in Minnesota. Then we moved, our budget got super tight, and music lessons fell off of our list.

The last time I sat down and played a hymn, my littles were astonished.  They didn't even know I could play piano.  I suppose, to them, it was just a piece of furniture that they could bang on every now and then!  And, believe me, they did.  I am actually missing a black key that they managed to destroy, from its time in the basement at our last house!

When my kids were astonished that I could play piano, I decided that I could teach the littles at least some basic piano.  I was actually a piano teacher back in my early 20's when I was in college.  I know how to teach it, for goodness sake....but, somehow teaching reading, writing and arithmetic took precedence....I guess homeschooling is a little like public school.  Emoji

Then, like a gift from above, we got the chance to review HomeSchoolPiano.

It is really fantastic....and for ALL ages.  Really.  All ages.

There are videos, hands on lessons with an instructor, and music books to use for practicing/playing.

Each of the units have 7 lessons.  The 7 lessons vary in length, but the longest is only about 10 minutes or so. One of the advantages of this program is that you really, truly can work at your own pace.  When my kids first got started, they did 2 or 3 lessons at a time, because they were short little 3 to 4 minute lessons.

The video lessons are easy to follow and I like that they are sort of a screen in screen shot.  Basically, the bigger picture is a view of above of the keyboard, with a colored in keyboard above it, then the teacher, is in the smaller screen shot below, so you can see him talking.

Each time you log in, you can continue on right where you left off.

There are four levels to work through.....

CorePiano:  CorePiano™ teaches you the basics of the piano.  By basics, it really means basics, from the names of the notes, to how to sit at the piano, where high notes and low notes can be found on the keyboard, to key signatures.  There are 33 core lessons.  

Book 1  This one is for the absolute beginner to the piano, featuring six original pieces that are fun to play and practice. You’ll learn how to read music, improvise and create your own music. Each unit improves your piano skills with graded quizzes.  

Book 2:  Continues where Book 1 left off.

Book 3:  Continues where Book 2 left off.

A-man, S-girl, and V-girl started in the CorePiano section that teaches all the basics....even things as simple as how to sit at the piano and how to hold your fingers. This was especially good for V-girl and S-girl, because they felt like they were having actual lessons without getting frustrated by things too hard for them.

It was a bit more difficult to figure out where my older kids should jump in and start, since they had already learned some of the basics.  L-girl didn't want to jump in at the wrong spot, so she just started with the Core lessons too....which were too easy for her, but, she figured she would at least cover all the bases.  She was able to just rush through these ones.   A-girl skipped CorePiano and started in at Book 1, but it was too basic for her, so she kind of skipped around until she landed on stuff she didn't know yet.....which is somewhere in Book 2.

The instructor is Willie Myette and he uses a 6 pronged technique to teaching piano.  To me, the 6 pronged technique doesn't really matter....I just want them to be able to play, you know?  But, just in case you care about those types of is his approach:

Okay, I do like some specific things with his approach.  I was trained very technically.  I learned to read music and play exactly what was written in front of me.   No more.  No less.

I could not play by ear.  I could not improvise.

Mr. Myette thinks those are important and teaches you not to be afraid to try those things.....even compose your own music, so, yes, I guess I do care about little details, since I would like my kids to have my technical training, but continue developing their skills to play by ear.

This approach is perfect for busy families.....homeschooling families, or not.  The ease of being able to do this whatever time of day or night works into your schedule cannot be stressed enough.  I, personally, loved the ability to be so flexible.  I also, as a homeschool mom, love that HomeSchoolPiano gives my kids the chance to move as slowly or as quickly as they like.  No questions asked.  Just move at your own pace.

So, how did things actually work?

I got the kids accounts all set up and downloaded the books to my computer.  I chose to print off 20 or so pages to start, instead of the whole thing.  (In retrospect, I wish I would have just printed it all and put it in a binder....because now my sheets are floating around and have been used for various art projects.)

Then, the  kids would log into their individual HomeSchoolPiano accounts.  Sometimes they used my laptop to pull up the lessons (they liked it better because the screen was bigger - but I don't like them to use MY laptop), but most of the time, they just used my tablet though and it worked just fine.

(Isn't this the same stuff you keep on your piano?  A piano book, a conversation started game, a Bible, a smoke detector that beeps randomly so you just took it off the wall and laid it there, a VBS craft...)

They did their lesson/lessons, then logged off until the next time and they would do it all over again, just clicking on the "where you left off" tab on their personal page.  That little "where you left off" tab is really genius and one of my favorite things....because there is no way that I would be able to remember where all 5 of my piano students had stopped last time.  Plus, it also gives them freedom to move on without me needing to stand over them and get them going.

As a parent, I could log on and check their records to keep track of where they were in the lessons.  I usually knew anyway, because I sat in the living room for most of their lessons.

I really, really liked HomeSchoolPiano.

I liked their approach.  I liked the pace.  I liked the content.  I liked that they taught more than just reading music.  I loved the ease of being able to take lessons whenever we wanted.

The only tough thing for us was that with this being summer break, we were not on a set schedule...and fitting piano lessons into a more willy-nilly schedule was sometimes tough.....because the kids were not in a "lesson" kind of mind set, nor was I in a check and make sure they have completed their lesson mode.  We tried for 2 to 3 lessons a week.  Sometimes we did 5 or 6 lessons a week and other weeks, we were lucky to get 1 or 2 in.   But, we didn't get as far into this program as I would have liked.

We were very inconsistent.....but, the kids actually still learned new stuff, which I found very encouraging for this fall.  I am making our lesson plans for our upcoming year in the next few weeks, and HomeSchoolPiano will have a spot, written in pen, our my kids' schedules.

The only down side to this that my kids bang around on the piano a LOT more than they used to.  The piano used to just be a piece of furniture in the living room.  Now, they rarely walk by it without playing a little something....whether I want to hear it or not....whether Murder She Wrote is at the point in the show where Jessica is revealing the killer...or not......Emoji

The Complete Beginner Piano Program includes:
  • Unlimited lifetime access to
  • Tracking and quizzes for up to 5 students
  • Unlimited lesson streaming to any device
  • Unlimited music downloads
  • Unlimited video lesson downloads
  • Downloadable Jam Track CD

If you want a nice, easy way for all of you to learn piano, you can jump in two different ways:

1.  Success Package (One payment of $299)
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students. 

2. Payment Plan (Payments of $99.97 per month for three months): 
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.

Honestly, what you get for the money is well worth the price.  Seriously, it is lifetime access.  Lifetime!  For up to 5 students!  Did you get that?  Lifetime access for 5 people.  ( I feel like I am trying to sell you Ginsu knives.....but wait.....there's more.....!!!! Emoji)

In the area I live, lessons cost around $15-$25 per lesson. $299 for a lifetime of lessons is really a steal. And, these are really good lessons....that actually teach you how to play.  

So, in case I haven't been clear, yes, I recommend HomeSchoolPiano.....even if you don't homeschool.

Find out how other TOS Reviewers and their little musicians liked HomeSchoolPiano.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kitchen Progress

You probably remember that the kitchen was my least favorite part of our new house.  It was sort of dark....even with the big huge windows....there wasn't much counter space....and I am not in love with the shiny wood cabinets.

So, I have been working on changes.....thinking and trying out other changes.....

Here is where we started:

The white cabinet that the microwave is sitting on was from a closet we ripped out at our Minnesota house. (Make note of the stuff on top of the microwave for later in the post.)

The middle island is Rainman's old dresser.....because it was the right height and I figured out at my last house (the one with the beautiful, but small kitchen), that I really like drawers for stuff, rather than cabinets.

So, I painted the kitchen and took down the wallpaper border and curtain thingies.

It was happier and brighter, but my "island wasn't cutting it.  So, I started looking up ideas and plotting and planning.  My friend's hubby is in commercial construction and is between projects right now, so when he finished up her "to do" list, I asked if he wanted to take on a few of my projects too.

I won't say that he jumped at the chance, but he did agree to it!

So far, he has built me a temporary island, so I can try it on for size and see what I think....before it becomes permanent.

So far, I am LOVING it.

The other change I am considering is with the microwave thing in the corner.

I had already painted the bottom unit my fun, citrus green.....but the top of the microwave just ended up being a junk pile filled with stuff that people didn't know where it went....or stuff we thought we would need quick access too...maybe.  You know, coupons, batteries, fly swatter, various plastic parts that we weren't sure what they went to, but didn't want to lose. (See the above before picture of the kitchen.)

Anyway, my friend, Betty, recently remodeled her kitchen and got new cabinets.  She had her old ones put in her garage for storage options....but, her microwave cabinet wasn't needed, so she passed it along to me.  

The funny thing is, the little cut out parts of the doors perfectly match the little cut-outs in my cabinets, so once it is painted, it will seem like it was always part of the kitchen.

When we first put it up there, I didn't like it.....because I felt like it sort of blocked the light and I didn't like the bulk of the cabinet on top.  But, now, only 24 hours later, I am sort of digging it.  It makes that corner of the kitchen seem more like it is part of the whole kitchen, you know?  Like it isn't such a wasted corner space.  The other positive thing is that the junk pile that used to be on top, is now behind closed doors, so it is our little secret, right?

I am sure once I get all my cabinets painted, I will like it even more and with the lighter color I am planning, it will reflect some of the light back, so it won't seem so dark.  I am considering using a milk paint in a white/cream for my cabinets and then a fun color...probably aqua on my island....but we shall see what I settle on.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thick Skin

I do not have thick skin.

Back in high school/early 20's, I wanted to be a Broadway actress/singer....or just a singer.  You know, a star!

I remember my dad cautioning me that it takes someone with very thick skin to pick that line of work.  It didn't take me long or too many local auditions/rejections, for me to realize how smart my dad was.

It takes very thick skin to put yourself out there for judgment from strangers.

I used to care a ridiculous amount what people thought of me.  What I wore.  What they thought about me wearing what I wore.  Whether that boy or that boy thought I was cute...or sexy....or stupid.  You know what I mean?

I have gotten better with age.

I care less what people think of me.

I mean, I know people think I am weird for homeschooling....and liking it.

I know people think I am weird for having 6 children....and wanting (even hoping for) more.

I know people think I am weird for the colors I paint on my walls in my house....and wanting just one more happy color in the room.

I know it.

I am able to laugh about it.  It doesn't keep me up at night.  It doesn't make me cry.

It is what it is....and that is okay.

But, recently, I accidentally got into what I am going to call a scuffle, on Facebook.

A family member's significant other had expressed outrage and anger over a recent current event.  I expressed my opinion....which happened to be different than theirs.

I wasn't mean.

I wasn't derogatory.

I wasn't harsh.


One of my things in life is that I always try to see the other guys side of the story.  Always.  It is one of my qualities that can drive Rainman crazy.

For example,say  there is someone driving under the speed limit.  Rainman has a tendency to get angry, perhaps he calls them..... Jack........explains to them where the accelerator is, and tells them to get off the road.  I, will be in the passenger seat saying things like, "Maybe they are lost." or "They are old."  or "Maybe they are sick and don't feel well."  You know, helping them to have a valid reason for their poor driving choices.

I really try to at least understand where people are coming from.....even if I don't agree with them.  On the flip side, I like to get people to see my side of things too.....even if they don't ever change their minds about it.

For instance, lots of people don't understand homeschooling as a valid educational choice.  But, I think, most people after talking to me and the kids, and getting to know us better, end up with at least a slightly better view of homeschooling than before.

So, when I made this comment on Facebook expressing my opinion, I was really just trying to let them see a glimpse of the "other side".

What I got in return was.......hmmmmm......I am still not sure exactly what to call it, but it felt awful.

It made me cry.

It made my heart race and my hands shake.

It made me sad.

It made me angry.

I was personally attacked for my opinion.  My level of education (or lack thereof, in their opinion) was attacked.  My religion was attacked.  My belief in God was attacked.  My intelligence (again....apparently the lack of it) was attacked.

I was attacked by the family members significant other.....and their cousin.  That is not even a euphemism. Literally, their cousin jumped in the argument with one goal in mind.....take me down.

My mom was actually on Facebook at the time and started a private conversation with me while the attack was going on.  She was shocked.  She kept saying, why are they attacking you? God? Christianity? Your intelligence?  You didn't say anything about that.  You didn't attack them.  You just expressed your opinion. Why are they being so mean?

I didn't have an answer.  I didn't know.

(The Taylor Swift song, "Why Ya Gotta Me So Mean?" did jump into my head though.)

Suddenly, I didn't feel like a confident 40-something woman who lived her life the way she wanted and didn't care what others thought.

My friend, Bruce and I have been friends since high school(really elementary school, but really got to know and like each other in high school).  He and I are on the opposite sides of the spectrum on most things....from religion to politics, and beyond.  We send each other articles to read to get the others opinion....because we know that we don't agree.  We want to know what the other thinks about different things and ideas. We have had some awesome discussions explaining our opinions to each other and why we feel that way.

After my scuffle on Facebook, I sent him a message thanking him for the respectful way he has treated me over the years in all of our discussions.  He has never once made me feel stupid...or as though he thought me and my opinions were stupid.  They were just different than his.  I didn't know how much I appreciated his friendship....even with all of our differences.... until I saw how it was on the other side.

Bruce was not only a State Champion on our high school's debate team, but he went on to be the National Champion, as well.  He can debate.  If he had wanted to, I am sure he could grind me and my opinions into the dust citing valid sources and references along the way.  He didn't do that.

There was definitely a reason that I was not on the debate team in high school.....because a girl who gets emotional and weepy when a debate turns ugly would not have been an asset to the team.

Whenever he and I were done with one of our little discussions, I never felt bad about myself.  I never worried that his opinion of my had changed.  It was just two people exchanging opinions and ideas. I never worried that he didn't like me anymore.

You see, I have a dirty little secret.

I like people to like me.

I am generally a positive, happy person that likes to see the best in people.  And, I usually can.  When someone else is mad at someone or talking bad about someone else, I am usually the annoying one in the corner saying stuff like, "Well, at least they are......(fill in the blank)"  I can almost always find something good and positive.

When I left this Facebook scuffle, I couldn't find anything good in either of the people that attacked me.  I thought horrible things about them.  I even said a few horrible things about them.

I actually felt a little physically sick from the whole situation.

I blocked any further conversation and notifications.  And, I made the decision to unfriend this individual.  I decided that I couldn't take on trying to make the "other side" understand me better, because that is not my gift.  And, that is okay.  There are probably people better suited to enjoying healthy debates like this (although this particular one was not a "healthy debate").  Bruce comes to mind.  I am not well suited for that. I am peacekeeper, at heart.

I actually did one of those little quiz thingies on Facebook the same day of the scuffle that was supposed to determine what my temper is.  It said mine was .....

Calm - You abhor anger and violence.  You have no respect for those who show negative emotions on a regular basis.  You value peace and harmony above all else.  You'd make a great parent or teacher.  You always try to see things from the others perspective.

If a Facebook quiz says it, then obviously it is true.  Right?  But, this one is right on the money.  I do value peace and harmony.  I do always try to see things from the others perspective.  I hate anger and violence.

I think that is what got to me the most....that the disagreements were hurled at me with such anger....and were directed at me, personally.

I have been thinking about expanding my blog a bit, getting more readers, maybe make a little money.  I have also been encouraged by numerous friends from different parts of my life, to consider writing a book.  ( Ever since my Sunday School class did the Bible Study called Discerning the Voice of God, by Priscilla Shirer - I pay attention when my life seems to be getting "thematic"....and people telling me to write a book keeps coming up.)

So, I have been thinking about it.  I have been praying about it.

But, this scuffle scared me.

I was really shaken up by the hatred these two people had for me and anyone who thought like I do.  It truly ruined my day....and even a little bit the day after.

Do I really want to open myself up for more of that hatred on a more popular blog....or as an author?

Could I handle it?

Then, this morning, my pastor preached a sermon that got to me.  It went along with our youth mission project this year, that finished up on Sunday.  The theme was called "Lord Make Me....." and their Bible verse of the week was Micah 6: 7-8.

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

Throughout the week, the kids filled in their own words, like, Lord Make Me....Peaceful.....Thankful.....Loving.....pick an get it.

When I was listening to the sermon, I thought....hmmm...that is nice....but it didn't really hit me hard.

Then Pastor Greg started talking about his dog, Samson.....who had just died the week before.  Stick with me, because this is when God started opening my eyes....via  slightly scary looking, biggest sweetheart of a dog you could ever meet, Samson.

Pastor Greg talked about being dependent on God and for our self worth and for who we are and not being distracted by the voices around us.  

He talked about taking Samson on walks through their neighborhood. They would walk by the other houses that had "little pocket dogs" that would bark at them through their fences. Samson was not distracted or deterred from walking by his side. He only gave them a passing look, because his importance, his identity, was found in him....Pastor Greg (his master)..... not the yippie little dogs.  

We should all be Samson, calmly and confidently walking by God's side.  

We aren't ignoring the things going on around us, but we aren't charging off to bark back at the little yippie dogs through the fence either. We aren't being drug back onto the path, only to be interrupted by another yippie dog on the next street....and for the drama to start up all over again.  

We are just walking along with our Master.

Depending on God for our identity, not the world.

I know that in my mind.

I know that in my heart.

Doing it, though, seems hard.

I began to think....hmmm....I wonder if that is how Billy Graham operates....or ....pick a president....any president.

I have always just thought that those types of public people were built differently than me and that people saying mean things about them just didn't matter to them.  That they were just so supremely confident, that what the masses said, didn't hurt them or bother them.

I imagine that is somewhat true....and that they, like my dad would say, have much thicker skin than me.....but, maybe they really just have a higher calling,  a true purpose. They are following their Billy Graham's case....God....and his opinion and voice is the only one that matters.   

They are Samson.

Can I do that?  Can I be Samson?

Last night, I read J-girl's latest blog post called Confidence for One, Please.  In it, she talks about how she let  her insecurity and low self esteem steal something that she was excited about.

I wonder how often that happens to us in life.

I know I have done it.

I still sometimes do it, as a 40 something grown up.

I was letting insecurity and, in my case, fear of attack, steal a chance to try something new and potentially exciting from me.

So, I  have come to the reason for this long and somewhat rambling post.

I am going to try to really and truly only listen to my master, God.

I am going to try hard not to care if people say mean things about me, or my choices.  (I may not get into anymore scuffles on Facebook though.....I am considering those my "yippie dogs".)

I will try to grow some slightly thicker skin.

I am going to write a book.

I don't know what kind of book.

But, God is getting thematic with me.

I am going to be Samson.....

...... and just calmly listen to my master.....and walk by his side, knowing that I will be fine wherever He leads me.

On that note, anyone have any book topic ideas in mind for me?

What kind of book would you read, with me as the author? Emoji