Anniversary Take One

Congratulations! You have been putting up with my all over the place blog for a whole year! I wish WordPress would send you all the anniversary badge that they sent me, because you deserve it. Thank you for taking your time to read my blogs, to respond or reply, and to become my friends.

My first blog was  The Secret Things. Boy did I have a lot to learn. (And I still do. I am surprisingly not really considered a techy kind of girl).

I had so many ups  A Homeschooling High and downs Living Forty Decibels Up. (Like a roller coaster!) You encouraged me so much! I was way too emotional Another Day Lost, and sometimes just silly Sunbathing in the Throne Room.

My topics were certainly diverse. I talked about my walk with God Help! I’m at church!, homeschooling The “I Have to Teach What?” Meltdown, parenting Coming Out of the Parenting Hazes, writing Coffee Break; Cream, no Sugar, sexual abuse Flashback, publishing sexual abuse and publishing, philosophy Coffee and Meandering Life Philosophies, stories The Bull, the Apple Tree and Me and my new job with VIPkids A Fun New Job and This Time I Get Paid.

This year I also got serious about poetry, which is the biggest way I have worshiped God Look Up, worked through sra and ptsd There Is a Child, and my personal favorite  There is a Line.

You have shared so many aspects of my life, and I appreciate your great support. I also learned about so many of you and about your lives. Sometimes you have even been gracious to allow me to share your work on my site Guest Vision Sharer and one of my favorite blogs redheadmom8.wordpress.com written by Shelly.

I entitled my blog “God is Good” because it is the one thread throughout all of the different topics I have addressed. It shows that no matter what I go through in life, God is a part of it, and that He is good. Simplistic maybe, but deep always. I see that He is good in each of your lives as well  God Really is Good.

It will be interesting to see where this new  year will lead. Thank you, again. You have been great and I appreciate your continued friendship and support, likes and comments. You are as much of a part of this blog as I am :).

 

 

 

An Old Teacher Learning New Tricks

I just wrote a very long paragraph to explain to you how long I have been teaching. But I fell asleep when I went back to read it. So I did you and me a big favor by deleting it and just out and out telling you that I have been teaching almost my entire life.

So on to the more interesting part of this blog. I started teaching with VIPkid, a full-immersion English as a second language course for children in China over the internet. They provide the curriculum, and then it is up to me to keep the kids awake through the 25 minute lesson that I give at 5am in the morning my time, which is their 6pm after a long day at school. I am bringing out puppets, songs, props, cheerleader pompoms, a bullseye game, and anything else I can come up with. The sillier the better. I have been doing this for an incredibly fun month, and I am learning things about teaching that I really never thought through or learned before.

  1. Be creative. Many of my students know little to no English at all. I have to learn to communicate in other ways. Some words and concepts they pick up easily, with others being more complicated. The more complicated the more creative I need to be. The more creative, the easier they learn and retain.
  2. Use a singing voice. For anything, really. I have sung directions over and over until I hear the kids singing them while they perform the direction I give them (…circle big A, circle big A…). Or how to spell a word, over and over until they begin to repeat it.
  3. puppets are always a hit, regardless of age. You certainly need more sophisticated puppetry for older students, but it quickly draws in the attention. (I have always said that pastors would get more people paying attention to sermons with puppets.)
  4. Use life pets. Kids eyes really come to life when you show them your dog, or snake (not me, just used to scare the point into you), or stuffed pets (they always like my turtle whose head you can hide in the shell when he gets scared).
  5. Speak loud and soft. With my teenagers I tend to forget this one. Loud is good, especially when they are plugged in, but soft makes them lean in and be more a part of what the conversation is. (Quiet voice: Are you ready to go to the mall? That one is always a winner.)
  6. Exaggerate celebrations over good efforts and achievements. I am all over this with a kazoo, pompoms, tambourine, party blower. When we celebrate these with our older kids, they will respond inside with the same enthusiasm as younger kids.
  7. It’s easier to teach one on one with kids in China than with teenagers in the house. But I need to remember  to respond to them the same way I do to my virtual students.
  8. Drink lots of coffee while you work. This has more to do with waking up at 3am, but it is also needed for the high level of energy expended while I teach.
  9. It’s okay if those around you are irritated or think you are acting stupid. Jessica doesn’t seem to appreciate my new kazoo going off in the room over her head at 6:00am. Wait until she hears my new tambourine!
  10. It’s really less about teaching and more about life. I can teach the children the fundamentals of English, but the life lessons are always far more important.
  11. Establish communication on different levels the kids can hear. I draw with kids who are too shy to speak. I sing new vocabulary to kids who don’t yet know the words. I play show and tell with students who are good at connecting what they learn to what they already know.
  12. Respect the pace of the student.
  13. I haven’t arrived yet as a teacher. There is always more to learn.

I really am a much better teacher now that I am teaching VIPkids. I think teaching teenagers for so long that I have tuned out their complaints. Now I need to tune back in to what they are saying and find ways to help them through.

I haven’t finished homeschooling my youngest child. That means I need to up my game and be a better teacher for her. I know I can do it…

Coffee Break; Cream, no Sugar

It has come to my attention that I have not been blogging very much as of late, so I thought I would catch you up on the Life and Times of Lisa Meister. So grab your favorite mug and let me pour you a fresh and hot cup of coffee. I will take mine with cream, no sugar.

Well, technically I have cream and sugar because I have the French vanilla kind that is crazy good with a crazy amount of sugar. But I feel better just saying no sugar. I figure that I am a hypocoffeedriac, meaning that if I believe that there isn’t sugar in the cream, there won’t be.

I have already blogged about my wonderful new job in
A Fun New Job and This Time I Get Paid. What is amazing is that I live in Indiana, USA but teach in China. I am teaching Chinese children, ages 4 – 12 English. There are so many wonderful children out there that are a lot of fun to work with. I really thought that China was mostly a third world country, but these children look to be from homes very much like ours.

But I digress. That rabbit trail started with my job, so I will get back to it. I am slowly building my student base and am starting to figure out what I am doing. My kids are very smart and by the end of a 25 minute lesson, I can already notice a jump in what they can understand. I work from 5 – 9 am each morning, with prep the night before. I have puppets, cheerleading pom-poms, birthday hats and blow toys, crazy hats, and a tamborine. Aargh, I digress again.

Okay, on to a new area. I am still homeschooling my youngest. It works great because we don’t start homeschooling until 10am. She does almost everything on her own now (a trait the homeschooling community highly prizes), with me there to discuss ideas, help with math, or to try to help with science.

I am also a blogger, a great love in my life. But as you can see, I don’t have a lot of time for it right now. As teaching gets easier I will have more time again.

My oldest daughter is graduating from College next week! That’s a “Yeah!” and a “Yikes!”. My 5 pound bundle of joy is now 23. Yes, the years vanished in a smoky “poof”, but I know I gleaned all the time with her I could because I educated her at home.

I have also started writing a new book, and am trying to find big chunks of time (well, not really, more like small chunks of time) to write. I have my topic, my research, my voice and am well on my way into chapter one.

Christmas is upon us, so I am taking time to think through all that Jesus has done for me and marvel at his loving decision to come to earth as a man. This year I have been thinking through all the prophecies in the Old Testament about his coming. I’ll have to blog some about that at a later date.

There is always church, God time, teen drama, husband, and health issues that I deal with on a daily basis; heavy on the teen drama. I think that is about it.

So that about catches you up on me. I would love it if you would leave a quick reply as to how you are doing. I have missed all of my blogging friends.

A Fun New Job and This Time I Get Paid

I earned my bachelor’s of education degree back in 1991 and worked for a couple years before our first child was born. I taught and I was paid. That is a crazy weird concept to me now after spending the last 23 years birthing, raising and educating our four amazing children for absolutely no money; and certainly that is how it should be.

Many of you know that I have one child left in my homeschool, and she really doesn’t need me much for her classes. I work with her for a couple of hours a day and greatly enjoy her education and her well thought through ideas on many topics.

Homeschooling parents make huge monetary and physical sacrifices to educate their children. The moms are not only the homemaker and teacher, but also the dollar stretcher. It is amazing how hard the moms work to do a lot for very little. They are also on the go 24/7; with a few hours of unconsciousness here and there.

This has definitely been where our household has been. I have looked for at home work that didn’t involve trying to sell products to my already cash strapped homeschooling friends. Somehow nothing ever seemed to work.

In the last three weeks God completely dropped an amazing job in my lap. I now teach young children in China (ages five to ten) English as a second language. It is through VIPKID who has cutting edge educational technology that allows us to teach through the VIPKID website. So very early this morning I was able to meet students in China right before their bedtime and make learning English fun and exciting. Best of all, I LOVE it. (Oh, and I get paid!). If you have a 4 year college degree and have spent at least one year teaching children and are interested in making some money, just let me know.

This morning I met Kevin from Shanghai and had fun conversations about China, America, meadows, lions and badminton. He also taught our pomeranian, Ivanna, how to say “hello” in Chinese. It turns out she is a quick study. I hope Kevin comes back so we can discuss what the stars on his flag represent…

I know that my blog, “God is Good”, covers many different topics, so now I am adding one more. Life is like that you know. One minute you are teaching algebra to your 14 year old, then teaching “savannah” to a ten year old in Shanghai, then writing poetry about abuse and life, throwing dishes into the dishwasher quickly, and then running to the post office to drop off Amazon book rentals for your college child who just realized today is the last day to return the book and they will be at school and work all day…  And in the midst of all of this wonderful chaos, I know that God is good through it all.

 

 

A Tactical Homeschooling Error

Now that I have time to look back and evaluate my homeschooling strategy a little, I see a big mistake in my strategy: my kids are using what they learned against me!

My very godly goal was to equip them in all areas (academics, running a house and a budget, clearance shopping, etc.) so that when they graduate from my homeschool, they will be ready to walk into anything God has for them. I went into this whole-heatedly.

Most of my strategies were good ideas, some not so good, and some were downright failures. Here are some of my good ideas :

  • academic strength
  • learning proper socialization
  • creative classes to reflect each child’s interests
  • problem solving skills
  • hard work ethic
  • strong civics understanding
  • strong self identity
  • a heart after God

Okay, I feel a bit better after coming up with that list. Now my “not so good” list:

  • breeding animals in the home (pomeranians started sex-ed at a way to young age for my comfort), (butterflies, tiny silks with worms hanging off of them in the hair of my children at the dinner table)
  • homeschooling in the summer (good idea, bad implementation)
  • teaching the kids to drive by myself (okay, with a little soul searching on this one, I am moving it to the “stupidity” column)

Enough with that, I am getting a little depressed. Let’s go to the “failure” list:

  • using Abeka math for three classes in highschool even when I knew it wasn’t working for us (oh the hours I wasted trying to figure out their way of doing things when I could have just taught my kids the way I knew how to do them)
  • logic fallacies course

Those are just enough to give you the idea of where I am on this. So now onto my greatest strategy error:

Teaching my children how to back up an argument and pointing out the logical fallacies in another person’s argument.

And this is why: My kids can argue me in circles until I don’t know what hit me. Seriously. I also prepared my kids to be independent after graduating from school, and they are way too independent. Plus they are now smarter than me and have a higher vocabulary than I have.

It is just embarrassing when I have to  look up the definitions of words my daughter uses in her writing assignments. It’s humbling when the kids can run the house smoothly when you are out of town for an extended time.

If I had to do it all over again, I have to question what I would do differently. So with great reflection, here they are:

  • waited to buy the first butterfly caccoon until later in the summer when it would be warm enough to let them free
  • not buy the tadpole as it turned into a frog that we couldn’t let loose in a pond and had to buy a friend for
  • not give scissors to a toddler to practice cutting paper while I was homeschooling the other kids, resulting in a beautiful new groove on the edge of the table (who knew safety scissors could actually do that!)
  • taught each subject to suit all levels of kids instead of each child having their own and unique curriculum
  • not study logic fallacies and debate (talk about a student soaking in a subject, biiig mistake

 

I have one child left to homeschool, and she is so smart and independent that she really doesn’t need me much. Mostly she needs me to read to her and discuss ideas. So I am basically out of a job. My older kids have a good head on their shoulders and work hard, and have better ideas about life advice than I normally have. Now they are giving me advice! Argh! But it’s too late. I guess I will have to wait and give fair warning to my kids when they start homeschooling. Of course, they probably will already know that…

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Homeschooling Glue

The perfect homeschooling study of “The Screwtape Letters”.

Yep, you read it correctly: God has glue. I can personally attest to the fact that God brings my lesson plans together in ways I hadn’t even considered. (It even works in non-teaching areas in life.)

My Laura is in 9th grade and is crazy fun to homeschool. This may have something to do with the fact that I graduated out my oldest three kids so I can just focus on Laura, but that is a whole different post altogether.

C.S. Lewis wrote “The Screwtape Letters”, an amazing book of a demon writing letters to his nephew to strategize how to keep a human from getting right with God. This book was a life changer for me in college, so I wanted to share it with Laura.

We are also studying logic fallacies. This is where we get some glue: logic fallacies started with the devil twisting God’s truth.

Another drop of glue is the course we studied last year that involved reading classic literature and then attempting to write in the style of the author. (I am very sad that Laura did not delve into my love for Dickens, sigh.)

So here is the beauty of what God does:

We start with one letter each morning, and have a great discussion about God, demons, Christianity, culture… We then start recognizing and naming the fallacies (“that’s a red herring right there!”). One day we looked for our culture’s fallacies on sexuality; a sadly numerous amount. Another day we identified logic fallacies in religious piety. Again, the list goes on and on.

One day the writing assignment hit me: write the angelic version of the letters in Lewis’s writing style. It was genius enough that I never would have thought of it on my own. Thank you, God!

I wanted to include Laura’s writing assignment so you can see how seamlessly this all came together. This is how God provides the glue to hold everything together as we homeschool. Enjoy!

Laura’s essay on the angelic version of C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” written in Lewis’ voice:

My dear Gabriel,

It is so, to my knowledge, that your child has been falling from Our Father Who Art in Heaven. I have heard that he has been wishing to become ‘of the world,’ much like his friends whom he was sent to minister unto. But, as tragic as this is, Our Father would not wish for this to go unused.

Do not misunderstand what I am saying to you; for man has come to see ‘using’ something as a term of ludicrous intention. Our term of ‘using’ is much more amicable than many perceive. For our version of this term is a means of spinning a tragic sin in the way of Our Father.

Now, with that disclaimer upon this parchment, let us commence our conversing of what is. Your child, being that he has been a member of The Kingdom practically since his infancy, has refrained from consuming spirits. As admirable as it is, he has recently succumbed to the peer pressures of the world, and consumed a staggering amount. Though he only proceeded to become what man calls ‘tipsy,’ it is still more than is allowed. I understand that he has felt remorse for this, but he has not repented, nor is he plainly sorry. A tragic picture indeed. He has not regretted it for it was wrong, but for the scorn of his saved loved ones.

How might this come to Our Father’s favor you might ask? He has not known scorn from his family, for he has been extremely habitual in his obedient nature. He has never spoken out against his parents, lest it was for their sake, nor has he been what man calls a ‘trouble child.’ Altogether, he has been good, and a good servant to Our Father. He has never known his family’s scorn, nor has he known how much he cared for them before this time. Though this may seem like only a small lesson, it will come to effect his relationship with his family in the near future for the better.

But your child is not the only one who will learn from this mistake. No, for the family has never known scorn towards others. They have become cold and fearful for their son’s and brother’s soul. Now the story it is well to remind them of, would be “The Prodigal’s Son.” You needn’t hear the story again, for you know it well. They will be reminded to let their son and brother find his own way, and not long after, return to them a better, and humbler man than before.

But I am afraid it will not be easy to help your child come to the epiphany of remorse as we may wish. Our enemy has enticed him with the fruit of his nefarious tree. And once a child has been tempted, and given enough into that temptation, our enemy has a chance to cloud his mind.

We have dealt with cases like this before, but the child was unsaved to begin with. It took long and strenuous effort, but he is now a part of The Kingdom. You know the enemy’s methods, so it is best to set reminders of your child’s Christ-filled life before his eyes. Though his memories are peaceful, joyful, and frivolous, our enemy finds ways to spin them, placing them under his pernicious umbrage. So, go deep into his past, and recover a memory so full of mirth, so vigorous, so pious, so laudable, and so long forgotten in the constant flood of memories, that nostalgia will overcome him, that he will be impelled to return, not due to force, but pure remembrance.

This should be no perilous task; for all that is needed, is a year-old child, lighting his or her first menorah or spinning a dreidel, and his old memories of his favorite time of year will all come flooding back, overwhelming him, giving him a childlike countenance. Our Father is pleased to see such reminiscence in His children’s heart, for he loves their joy. It is wise to learn from His love.

Now, it is simple enough to remind him of the merriment of childhood, but it is what comes after that is the true challenge. The enemy will find ways for your child to maintain the idea that joy such as that is no longer attainable by the simple things, but through sin. Do not let this wretched wool be pulled over his eyes. This trick has been used too many times for to work. Instead of giving the enemy a moment to execute his plan, give the year old child a spurt of joyous laughter, making the parents notice your child, causing them to converse with one another. But I fear this will not be all he needs to find his way back under Our Father’s wings.

The enemy will rush into his head, causing him to find fault with the parents of the year old child. Perhaps the father is wearing, what man calls ‘an ugly sweater,’ or the mother has a piece of lettuce stuck in her teeth. The enemy will then compel him to make judgements which he has no right making. This is also an overused trick; which means we know how to catch it. Make him remember the ugly sweaters his favorite grandmother used to give him, and how amused he was with them. Then make him see a picture of the woman he is fond of, sitting across from him at a wedding, when he goodheartedly pointed out she had a piece of meat stuck in between her teeth, and she got it out, laughing. This will make him warmer towards these parents.

Now once all of this has played out, the problem is keeping him at this reminiscent state of mind. If he so happens to see one of his ‘worldly’ friends inside of a pub, this could mean the beginning of his downfall. No, this mustn’t happen. Reroute his daily walking routine into the park that he so loved to play at as a child, and suggest to him that he might sit down. He has never turned down the thought to take a rest in a beautiful place. Let the wind blow the leaves ever so slightly, and perhaps let a red cardinal find its way atop a snow covered pine tree, or let a squirrel run across the white ground to find its nut. This will bring about the thought of how nature was made. Yes, he knows, but the thought will help him to see how he has been going against Our Father Who Art in Heaven.

Do these things, and your child will be back in his family’s arms in no time at all. Be sure that you remember this for future reference, for many have gone down this path, and have not come back as your child will. If there is any more trouble with him going astray, write to me again; it is not wise to try and accomplish reinstatement into The Kingdom by one’s self.

Your Loving Brother,

Michael

 

Coming Out of the Parenting Hazes

Coming out of the parenting haze and finding…

My husband and I waited two years after marriage to have our first bundle of blessings. It was amazing what God had blessed us with. Our beautiful daughter soon turned into three beautiful daughters and one handsome son. I greatly loved those years and do wish them back at times. It was what I termed “The Baby Haze”. I was blessed to be a 24/7 mom and I don’t think I ever completed one complete thought or prayer.

Next came “The Toddler Haze” which helped me to keep my svelt shape for many years. I had never done so much running, diving and trying to hold two wiggly kids at once in my life. At that point it was all out survival, as in keeping all my kids alive.

“The School Haze” was next, and homeschooling caused this to be quite lengthy. I have loved every minute of it, and learned how to instantaneously switch from explaining how to write a report to answering a Biology question, to helping with a Greatest Common Factor question, to a Greek civilization question. The haze felt much like schizophrenia.

I have graduated 3 of my precious children in the past few years, and am left with one talented 9th grader. She seriously could homeschool herself if needed.

Now I realize that the haze is lifting. My husband and I are getting to see each other again and actually spend time together in something other than parenting pursuits. We are getting to spend more and more time together, and it feels great! Sometimes I go into work with him and hang out in his office while he works and runs to class. I helped him move his office down the hall a couple of weeks ago, and we just really enjoyed each other.

I have found that the man I fell in love with 25 years ago has matured in honorable and godly ways, holding great wisdom for the time that our children will not see us as so stupid and embarrassing.

I really thought when I would start empty nesting I would fall apart, but that just hasn’t been the case. It has been gradual and I am finding awesome opportunities for my husband and me.

I’m Getting My Life Back! (Version 2)

My life got stolen and I have been looking for it ever since. The skeptic in you is probably rising up at this point and saying that as long as I am breathing I have not lost my life. But I am an American, and a part of my rights is the pursuit of “LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

The three ideas espoused in the Declaration of Independence are our rights that many Americans have fought and died for. I then take great offence at my not being able to pursue them for too long. I have my own Revolutionary War going, and have been fighting those stupid red coats who are trying to prevent me from having those rights. I have fought the fight for my whole life and it boils down to this: Yesterday I homeschooled my daughter, washed my living room and kitchen windows, put in new screens, and scoured part of my linoleum on my hands and knees! (Fanfare)

This is a big deal to me because I have haven’t ever been able to clean as I have wanted due to years of abuse. That’s where my life was stolen. Health and emotions were on a downwards spiral, and now I am getting better and stronger!!!!! I have watched my house be dirty without any feasible way of getting it clean for way too long.

Thank you, God, for helping me to get my house clean! He was watching me yesterday, and I’m sure he was yelling, “You can do it, Lisa! Coffee stain to your left!” I could have looked at the hard years and gotten angry with God, but I didn’t. I have said it before and I will say it again:

God = good
devil = bad

(Note: This is version 2 of the post right before this one, I’m Getting My Life Back! (Version 1). Which do you think gets the point across better?

I’m Getting My Life Back! (Version 1)

I can clean my house because God has been good to me!

Yesterday I washed my windows in the living room and kitchen, inserted brand new screens, moved the kitchen table and washed some of my linoleum on my hands and knees with a sponge. On top of that, I started homeschooling my 9th grader this week, getting in full days and really moving through the expected workload for the first week. Isn’t that wonderful?!!!!!

For those of you who have survived paragraph one without clicking onto another blog, you are probably wondering about my mental health at this point. I assure you that I am cogent. My life has been very different from the “normal” homeschooling mom vision I have in my head. My supermom status has moved to “good enough” mom, Please Understand, and I am learning to be happy with that.

I have been married for 25 years now, and throughout all of them we have struggled with health and mental difficulties due to the abusive upbringing I had. My health was in a downward spiral to the point of being in bed almost constantly up through last year. Flashbacks and panic attacks have been way too frequent throughout that time as well. All of that boils down to this: washing windows, cleaning linoleum and homeschooling are a luxury for me. I so enjoy cleaning and making my home look nice because for too long I have had to look at the questionable cleanliness of my house without an answer as to how to get it cleaned.

Now I am starting to be able to work more and more, and it feels really good. If this trend continues, my house will be as clean as I have always wanted it to be before too long.

God is Good is the theme of my blog, and I have been able to get to where I am only because of His goodness to me. Throughout the years I could have looked at all the physical and emotional problems and get mad at God or question Him, but I didn’t. The reason is that I know He is always on my side and that He is the answer to my problems, not the cause. I have said if before and I will keep taking everything in life and summing it up by this:

God = good
Devil = bad

Living Forty Decibels Up

Upping our walk with Jesus.

I closed the door softly as I cautiously stepped into the hall. My sandals scuffed against the commercial rug. I walked slowly into the elevator and pressed the lobby button. A ping thundered out and I almost hit the roof.

This was my day, and it only got louder from there. Keys jangling, doors slamming, muffler-less motorcycles speeding by and the loud rustling of my Micheal’s shopping bag were all greeting me in completely fascinating ways.

Today was the day that I got plugged into hearing aids. Having lost around forty decibels of hearing, I was at the line between the mild/moderate hearing loss category. Those lilting words gave the impression of not a big deal, but let me tell you, it is LOUD! The loss has apparently been slowly creeping up on me over the years, and I just didn’t notice it.

I wish it were as easy as a hearing test to find out the deficiencies in my fervor in loving the Lord. It is so easy for our Bible times to become shorter, missing a Sunday here and there turns into more theres, and our prayer life becomes a laundry list of needs more than a conversation with our Heavenly Father.

As I try to figure out how to navigate this louder world, we need to all take the time to take a good heart check. King David did it in his famous verse about God checking to find if there was any wicked way in him. As we do this, our heart becomes closer to God, our time becomes more about Him, and the cries of the unsaved in the world that need God becomes noticeable to us. I think we can all ramp up our relationship with God about forty decibels.