Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Riding Lightly on Top

I just now finished reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  I don't remember when or how it came to be on my "to read" list, but it did, and now it's done.

It's a long book, and deep.  I didn't go deep into it, and often as I read I felt the urge to stop and mull for awhile, knowing there would be much to gain from ruminating on it.  But that's not how I read, at least that's not how I read 600-page library books on their second renewal.  I felt the need to devour it, snarf it down while time and momentum were in my favor.

And then a paragraph jumped out at me, and I read it over and over and then wrote it down, because it so aptly described my feelings.

"Samuel rode lightly on top of a book and he balanced happily among ideas the way a man rides white rapids in a canoe.  But Tom got into a book, crawled and groveled between the covers, tunneled like a mole among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands."

I think I would have enjoyed getting this book "all over my hands and face" -- there's certainly enough in it to get good and messy with.  And yet that kind of digging takes a lot of time, and I'm not sure that this book is worthy of that kind of time.  I know, I've insulted someone, many someones from various literary societies, likely.

But here's the deal.  How much of my life do I want to invest in "getting" a book?  I enjoy reading, but I often feel like I'm missing out on something else -- something real -- when I sit down with a novel.

A few days ago I passed on playing hide-and-seek with my family in favor of reading.  I sat there on the couch distracted for a good three pages or more while I wrestled with whether it wouldn't be better to be engaging with my family.  I read.  I felt a twinge of guilt.  I got over it.  Mostly.

Perhaps at this stage of my life, there is enough pull of duty and enjoyment in other areas, that reading feels a bit like a guilty pleasure.  It definitely is a pleasure.  I hope it's not really too guilty, because there are still a lot of books on the "to read" list, and it just keeps growing!  But perhaps I should start with the shorter ones, and for now stick to riding lightly on top of them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It is great, but not like that.

Y'know, I'm pretty pro-homeschool.  I'm not anti-public school.  But I do love homeschooling.  But sometimes the notions people have about the perks of homeschooling just don't sound so... perky... to me.

"It must be nice to be able to schedule dentist appointments any time of day instead of having to be after 3:15."

Actually, morning appointments totally throw me off.  The students show up late for class.  The teacher even plays hooky.  The whole school shuts down.  And when everyone finally gets around to showing up and getting their pencils sharpened, the routine is completely out the window and I'm stressed because now I'm trying to fit in so many hours' work into a much smaller timeframe.  It makes me grumpy.  I try to stay away from morning dentist appointments.

"It must be great to be able to take days off whenever you want just because you feel like it."

It is great to be flexible enough to schedule vacation time to line up with family visits and trips, but we don't take days off just because I don't feel like doing school some days, or we'd only have school for about three weeks in September when I'm still really pumped about all our shiny books and new curriculum and craft ideas.  Once the glossy covers get all smudgy with fingerprints and I've burned all my energy reserves for the year building a totally sweet miniature Indian village, my excitement wanes.  But we keep doing school anyway.

"It must be great to not have to get up early."

Oh wait.  That is great.  It truly is fabulous.  It's one of the best parts of being a homeschooler.  Every morning that I see the buses rolling around town at 7:45, I rejoice that most of our kids don't have to be up, dressed, fed, functional and on that bus at that precise moment.  That doesn't mean that we laze around in our PJs until noon.  We still have to get our work done, and the earlier we begin each day, the earlier we finish, and vice versa.

Maybe I'm more of a stickler than some other homeschoolers.  Maybe all those "it must be great" comments do apply to some families.  But for me, it's much more satisfying and efficient to get our work done on schedule, every day, staying in the routine, just like "school" is for most people in this country.  But that's just what I think is great about homeschooling.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Well I Feel Like A Dork

If I were blond, I'd say I had a blond moment.  Since I'm brunette, I don't know what excuse to use.  I wanted to know how many grams of sugar I add to my cup of tea, so I opened the cupboard, turned the sugar bag sideways to see the nutrition label, and read, "One serving = 1/4 cup (30g)."  Wow!  That seems like a very generous serving size, but then some breakfast cereals have about that many grams of sugar per serving, so maybe one bowl of frosted mini-wheats has one serving of sugar.  Hey, it could be.  I read on, "One serving = 3g protein."  Really?  I had no idea sugar had protein in it.  Great!  "One serving = less than 1g sugar."  Huh?  Wait a minute... how can a 30g serving of sugar, have less than 1g of sugar in it?  Something's fishy here.  Oh wait, something's floury here.  That bag of sugar... was actually a bag of flour. Oops.

Which is so sad!  Because now all of a sudden my sugar serving size dropped from a quarter cup to a mere teaspoon (4g)!  And now I have to live with the knowledge that one of my favorite breakfast cereals has seven servings of sugar -- ugh!  I didn't want to know!  Dumb nutrition labels.  Ignorance was bliss.  Maybe I should add flour to my tea instead.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What I Didn't Mean To Say Was...

A little disclaimer on my last post: I didn't mean to come across as condemning wearing make-up.  My personal struggle is that when I wear make-up, my vanity level goes up.  This is not necessarily true for all ladies!  Hope I didn't step on any toes... or lashes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vanity, Vanity, All is Vanity!

I have come to a critical decision point.  To buy a new tube of mascara... or not.  I know, totally deep, right?  The question plagues me, though, shallow as it sounds.  Many months back, I tentatively decided to finish off my current tube of mascara and then give it up.  Now that my poor aged tube is dry and sticky and barely eeking out any color at all, I'm not sure I'm ready to let my grip on vanity go.  And that's what inspired the no-mascara notion in the first place -- my firm grip on vanity.

Both sides of the mental debate are armed with fine points.

On the pro (no more mascara) side: 
• The disciples preached against excessive adornment for believers.
• As a wearer, I feel enslaved to it, needing to put it on before going to church or restaurants.
• My personal reasons for wearing eye make-up are to make others and myself think I am pretty, when my real beauty should come from a pure heart.
• And the crux of it, I am more vain (more likely to glance in mirrors more often) when I am wearing make-up.

On the con (run to the store and get another tube now!) side: 
• God appreciates extravagant beauty when it comes to worshipping him (consider the design details for the building of the tabernacle).
• A lack of make-up looks unprofessional (not that I have any reason to look professional) and possibly inappropriate (as when eating at a fine dining establishment... oh wait, I don't really do that either).
• I don't want to look "dowdy" or unattractive to Wade (who I can't bring myself to entirely believe when he says he truly doesn't care whether or not I wear make-up).
• I prefer how I look with it on, even if it is annoying to apply.

Part of me feels silly for agonizing over this at all.  Seriously, Kerri, it's not a big deal either way!  Is it?  In 100 years, no one will know or care.  

Part of my fear is that giving up mascara may lead me to feel convicted to give up foundation too -- heaven forbid!  Or curling my hair, or dressing up or washing my hair or showering or even getting dressed in the morning!  See where this is going?  It's ain't pretty.  And I want pretty!

Maybe I should just run to the drug store now.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Chasing a Sunset

A glorious sunset this evening called Levi and I far enough out of town far enough to avoid buildings in our pictures, and Levi happily struck poses for me as I toyed with taking silhouettes.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A Holy New year

I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, but as the calendar changes I find myself thinking of areas in my life where change would also be welcome.  

There are plenty areas where I could make changes -- and perhaps even should: read more and facebook less, eat more nutritious foods and fewer junky ones, exercise, be more diligent about housekeeping and doing the chores I tend to put off.  All these things have value, but it's so temporal.  

I'm craving a deeper, more lasting change.  I'd like to grow in faith.  To not depend so heavily on emotions to determine the state of my heart.  To love others more than I love myself -- in practice!  To walk more closely with God.

But can one resolve to walk with God, and then just do it?  Or does that kind of change happen only by the Spirit's moving?  Or is it the Spirit who gives the resolve in the first place and then enables a holy change?  If I go too far down that path I start messing with predestination, which I consider knowledge too wonderful for me and too lofty for me to attain.

So, with simple faith, I resolve to heed James' instructions to submit to God, resist the devil, draw near to God, cleanse my hands and purify my heart.  

And may the Spirit who is already moving continue to move and grant us all a holy new year.