Back to School at Home: Support for Homeschool Families

All across Colorado Springs families are preparing for the start of the new school year.  For many, that means organizing carpools, box lunches, new locker combinations, and orientation meetings.  For those who choose to educate their children at home, it means digging through old materials, ordering curriculum, and setting up the school room (or dining room).

When we started homeschooling our oldest daughter 12 years ago, we had no idea the life-changing impact it would really have on our family.  Of course, our first priority was her education so she would be able to compete in the world one day.  She was in 9th grade struggling with learning disabilities and time seemed short.  In my frantic search for resources, I discovered a group at New Life Church offering support for homeschooling families.  That was exactly what I needed.

High Country Enrichment Classes (HCEC) graciously linked arms with us and our adventure began.  Since then, we have homeschooled all three of our children at different times and seasons of life.  If field trips, curriculum advice, classes, and the moms group support were the extent of what we received, we would still credit High Country as our homeschooling lifeline.  But it is so much more.  I’m not suggesting we couldn’t have done it without enrichment classes, but oh, the difference it made.  We all go through seasons of needing hope and help.  It didn’t take long for us to recognize that friendship was just as important as practical help, for moms and children alike.

Today, High Country Enrichment Classes started their thirteenth year of ministering to homeschool families.  Over 300 families with more than 600 students will meet together every Tuesday and Wednesday for the next 12 weeks as they attend over 160 classes. It’s true that you can homeschool without any outside help or support, but why would you?  Classes that round-out lesson plans or sharing our latest challenge or victory with someone who really understands can be welcomed refreshment.  Being part of a network of good friends with common values provides the strength, confidence, and encouragement we all need along life’s journey. Our community is so fortunate to have such caring support for homeschool families all across the Pikes Peak Region.

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Tebow’s NFL Debut: One Fan’s Opinion

Here in Colorado, there is enough speculation about Tim Tebow to nauseate even the most avid fans.  Sometimes, the hype simply ruins the enjoyment of watching the game.  Sports writers and announcers scrutinize the players they do not like and laud those they do like. If they aren’t drooling over Tom Brady, they’re wetting themselves over Peyton Manning.  Unquestionably, superb quarterbacks, but on occasion I’ve wondered if certain announcers would be proposing marriage during half time.

At this point, I’m not sure if I want the announcers to like Tim Tebow or not.  If they do, they won’t be able to shut-up about him, and if they don’t, he won’t be able to catch a break.  I must admit I watched only minutes of actual games or highlight footage when Tebow played college football.  I’m not a big college football fan (exciting to watch, but the politics kill it for me).  And as many have already pointed out, not all college stars make it in the NFL.

Last night, it was obvious that Tebow brings an element of excitement to the game—not because of the media deluge, but because he is a gifted athlete who loves to compete.  As a Bronco fan, it will be interesting to see him develop as a professional and in his role on the team.  It is evident he has the will to win and leadership qualities that are necessary components of great players.  These are intangibles that cannot be measured in stats alone.

Another crucial component for players to be great is other great players.  Emmitt Smith got it right in his Hall of Fame induction speech when he said to Daryl Johnston, “Without you, without you, I know today would not have been possible.”  Hopefully, the Broncos can develop a supporting cast for Orton and eventually, Tebow, or it will matter not.  Adding Tebow to the roster was, in my opinion, a step in the right direction.  As for the announcers, unselfishly, I will hope they like him.  That way, he won’t have to be endlessly over-analyzed, and when I’ve had enough of their slobbering over him, I have a mute button.

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Primary Issue

In the Colorado primaries, the turnout rates were well above those held in Georgia, Connecticut, and Minnesota—over 40 percent for both Democrats and Republicans—matching or exceeding the turnout rates for all primaries going back at least three decades, according to the Denver Post.  Two things believed to contribute to the high level of turnout here in Colorado were the convenience of mail-in ballots and the tight contests within both parties. I can attest to the convenience of the mail-in ballot, my husband and I have voted that way for years now.  Whether it is the greater ease in the process, or the desire to make a difference, it is good to see more of the citizenry participate.

As a delegate for the first time this year, I quickly recognized the value of getting involved early. I found the election process to be akin to Christmas shopping months in advance—there’s a lot more to choose from early on, but come December (or November in this case), you may not be happy with what’s left.  Based on the record numbers turning out to vote in these primaries, it would appear that complacency has run its course.  November will bring enough political spin and media hype to wear us all thin.  However, there has scarcely been more impetus to understand the times and the impact of the decisions made within our government, than right now.  Our future and the future our children and grandchildren inherit, depend on it.

The primary issue is, there is more at stake here than simply motivating people to vote for a shift or stay in power.  On the opposite side of apathy can be a blind political affiliation that fosters loyalty to party above all else—even above personal faith or thinking critically. We must resist the notion of simply checking the box beside the (R), (D), or (I), we must answer the why questions.  Why do you believe that?  Why do you think that?  Why is that a better solution?  Why does a particular candidate deserve your vote?  If we do not know why we are aligned with a particular group or idea, we are vulnerable to the changing winds of politics and those who would use emotion over principles to gain power.  It is not simply our right it is our responsibility.

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Randomness of Sinus Pressure

The Regimen

There is nothing quite like a sinus cold to bring random, nonsensical thoughts.  It’s a bit like having my thought sorter broken—that amazing, built-in device that only brings the poignant or relevant thoughts from the subspace of the mind to the forefront.  I’m convinced it’s the intense pressure that causes the thought sorter overload, creating a clog that prevents any ability to connect the thoughts I really need.

The following is the same paragraph as above, but the words are out of sequence and without punctuation:

thoughts like ability a cold connect random nonsensical creating thoughts It’s a bit like my thought sorter need prevents broken is that lovely that quite only the poignant or from the nothing subspace of your again mind to the to bring forefront Then brings there maybe overload it’s the intense device pressure that sinus causes relevant a thought sorter a clog in having thinking that any to the thoughts I really

Not completely sure how I managed to form the first paragraph, but I must have, since no one else has been in the room (except the dog—great retriever, not much of a writer).

Truly random.

In the delirium that can barely produce responsive sentences when the phone rings, comes the list of things I’ve put off doing for years, books I once read, things I wish I’d said, and daydreams about what I’d be doing if I felt like brushing my teeth and being seen in public.  The sound of the TV just intensifies the pounding in my head, reading a book is fruitless as I re-read countless paragraphs, the information on a computer screen is overwhelming—leaving me to percolate in the flitting thoughts and images traversing my synapse.

All the while, trying to figure out how I got here and how to avoid ever feeling this way again.  Ah, health.  You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

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How the 1st Amendment Keeps Us Free

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Our right to worship without government interference or persecution is the fundamental freedom to choose our core principles, which is the governance of self.  Not by compulsion externally (organized religion by government), but instead based on personal conviction. This freedom is the linchpin to the other four—one cannot be free publicly if they are not free personally.

Our right to speak freely enables active and authentic participation in the citizenry as a whole. This allows agreement or disagreement in the discourse of governance, which can only be forthright so long as those governing cannot interfere.

Freedom of the press is an organized corporate voice, empowering the right of free speech. This freedom carries the weight of the collective right to agree or disagree, as well as giving voice to the individual—thus making government answerable to the people.

Peaceful assembly is the ability to take freedom of speech to the public forum, whether in protest or proclamation. This right brings balance to the freedom of the press by empowering rights of speech without depending on the will of the press, or its editors.

Petitioning the Government is a citizen’s right to hold accountable those who govern, by political or legal means. A government constrained by the law governs more aptly than one operating above of the law.

We cannot overlook that the 1st Amendment rights come with inherent responsibility. These rights expressly limit government, “in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added”; however, personal freedom must not become an excuse for self-indulgence.  As citizens and a nation, we are only as free as we take responsibility for being so.

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Freedom’s Call: Standing Firm in Liberty

by selimbk

As patriotic prose stirs the hearts of Americans on the 4th of July, let us consider the freedom we hold dear and its resounding call.  From Pharaoh’s palace, to Calvary’s hill, to Pennsylvania’s State House in 1776, people have proclaimed freedom.  A parting sea, the cross, and the ringing Liberty Bell have all symbolized the triumph.

Freedom’s call is not only to those oppressed by chains or laws, but to the fettered soul as well.  Woven into the pattern of history is humanity’s struggle to attain freedom, often through intense sacrifice.  This beckoning song of liberty resonates in every human heart, regardless of culture, creed, or circumstances—embedded in our DNA by the Author of freedom.  Though hopelessness, intimidation, and fear may tout an advantage, our God-breathed spirit echos any whisper of deliverance.

As much as the heart yearns to be free, the threads of liberty are often intertwined with the propensity to relinquish it through apathy or insecurities, exchanging one form of slavery for another.  The Israelites were free from their taskmasters, but the desert heat and seeming uncertainty left them longing to return to the security of slavery.  Believers receive salvation in Christ, yet forgo the abundant life for institutional religiosity.  America’s founding principles of liberty and justice inspire hope around the world, yet are gradually relinquished through apathy and the complacency of prosperity.

Each year, we celebrate the freedom we enjoy in this great country on July 4, remembering the courage and sacrifice required for our benefit.  Each day brings opportunity to celebrate our liberty in Christ and His authorship of freedom, allowing it to saturate our lives.  Whether it is physical, cultural, or spiritual, there is always a price for freedom, a requisite diligence to maintain it, and someone waiting to take it (or convince us to give it up).  Galatians 5:1 affirms the responsibility of the individual for freedom’s keep—it does not endure if it is not guarded.  May we learn from the annals of human history and stand firm in our liberation.

Sonnet “The Liberty Bell” by R.R.R. Moore

Ring loud that hallowed Bell!
Ring it long, ring it long;
Through the wide world let it tell
That Freedom’s strong:

That the whole world shall be free —
The mighty crowd, the mighty crowd —
That the proud shall bend the knee,
The haughty proud.

Ring, ring the mighty Bell,
In the storm, in the storm!
Brothers! It shall herald well
Fair Freedom’s form.

Ring it Southward, till its voice
For slavery toll, for slavery toll;
And Freedom’s wakening touch rejoice
Both limb and soul.

Ring it o’er the negro’s grave!
Ring it deep, ring it deep;
Its tones are sacred to the slave,
In Freedom’s sleep.

Ring it, till its startling tones
Thrill young and old, young and old;
Till despots tremble on their thrones,
And their blood run cold.

Ring it, till the slave be free,
Wherever chained, wherever chained;
Till Universal Liberty
For aye be gained.

Ring it, till the young arise
To Freedom’s fight, to Freedom’s fight;
Spring gladly toward the kindling skies,
All clothed in light.

Ring it, till the bonds of sect
Be torn away, be torn away;
Till every man, as God’s elect,
Kneel down to pray.

Ring it, till the world have heard,
And felt, at length, and felt, at length;
Till every living soul be stirred,
And clothed with strength.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Hall
Photo by: http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp171/selimbk/Cross-Flag.jpg
http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/07/losing_the_republic.html
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+5%3A1&version=NIV
Sonnet “The Liberty Bell” by R.R.R. Moore, Published by the Friends of Freedom, 1844

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Leaving Apathy Behind II

This morning, Matt and I headed downtown to check out the Tea Party rally in Acacia Park.  Though we’ve never been shy about discussing politics, up to this point, the extent of our public political involvement has been at polling venues casting our votes, and in recent years even avoided that in lieu of mail-in ballots.   So for us, we wanted to see first-hand what this rally was all about rather than try to gain understanding through the prism of radio, print, and TV media.

The first thing we noticed was the signs, lots of signs.   Most of them pithy, some poignant, all trying to convey the concern, anger, or hope of those holding them.  My personal favorite was “Silence is Consent,” as it spoke to my own resolve to get involved in the political process.   Some made me chuckle, like “Grandpa’s Against Taxing Grandkids” (the acronym doesn’t really work for organizational purposes).   The most prominent motto was “Don’t Tread on Me,” which seemed to most accurately represent the overall angst.

Overall there were folks from all walks of life—a mix of ages, ethnicities, unemployed, retirees, business men and women, folks with their name on their shirt stopping by on their lunch hour, business owners, students, and families—each one representing a slice of the American pie in one way or another.  I appreciated the civility in general, but especially so when a group of teenagers, led by an older adult, marched through the park chanting, “We love Obama.”  The crowd just chanted back, “U-S-A.”  It was the only real scuttlebutt of the event that we witnessed, thankfully.

The speeches were well scripted for the crowd, focusing on liberty, the Constitution, lower taxes, less government, reduced spending, honoring Veterans, and the like.  And for the most part I can align with these ideals, though my least favorite part was when someone called-out “true” Americas, that’s when I start to tune out.   Anytime labels or names are tossed about, the debate or conversation is lessened.  We are all better for exchanging ideas and engaging in conversation that challenges each of us.  It is for this reason, I was pleased by the way attendees were encouraged to engage with one another, to talk to their neighbors, and not just listen to people on the podium—how fitting to value the voices of those coming together to be heard.

Admittedly, turning-up at a political rally was not on our bucket list, but as I mentioned in my earlier post, there is a refreshing and inspiring civic interest being rekindled in our country right now.  Agree with its premise or not, it is good for any country, state, city, or neighborhood when its citizenry participate in that which governs them.

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Leaving Apathy Behind

Today I had the privilege of attending the El Paso County Assembly as a delegate, ready to cast my vote for upcoming county races that will be decided in November.   As a newbie, I probably looked a little bewildered trying to find my way around this new realm in which I have ventured.   It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was not an elite group of professional political junkies (well, some of them were), but instead, average Americans we see in our neighborhoods, or run into at the grocery stores and carpool lanes we frequent.

Like them, I am concerned about the future of our country and wanted to get more involved to make a difference.  It felt good to be more informed about the political process, hear directly from candidates and better understand the roles of those we often elect because there’s only one, uncontested bubble to fill-in.  I’m still not sure why a coroner or a surveyor is an elected position rather than an appointment, but at least now I know what they busy themselves doing for taxpayer dollars.

At one point they asked for a show of hands to signify first-timers, almost 30% of the attendees raised their hands.  Based on comments, it seemed as though that was more than in prior assemblies, but without real numbers it would only be a guess.   While making my way through the venue to the meeting place, I could hear mention of the Tea Party event scheduled for next week and several indicating their plans to attend.   According to the media we hear that people are angry and I suppose some may be.  However, after going and seeing for myself, first-hand, I would describe it as more like resolve.  Resolve to pay closer attention, get more involved and defend what we hold dear.

Overall, I must say, I am most encouraged by the willingness of friends and neighbors to step-up and leave apathy behind — a renewed civic interest that is refreshing and inspiring.

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