He Still Gives This Gift

In His great mercy and kindness, God led us to a church where we have been welcomed warmly and where Emily’s educational needs have been met for school.  I marvel at how God works, and often in the 11th hour!

In the physical body, long term stress can cause something called Adrenal Fatigue.   A human body, long over-taxed, simply can’t keep up with the demands  placed on it. The same, I believe, is true spiritually. You can grow ill from the demands of circumstances that dismay, disillusion, and exhaust–circumstances that never seem to end in a good outcome.

Thankfully, the Great Physician is aware of this. In His time and way, He ministers to his ill sheep. I have personally experienced this, and I want to point those who are hurting to the goodness of the LORD.

When you have been ill a long time, eating food of any kind can be a difficult thing. Doctors will have you start with the mildest and easiest of foods until you can build up your strength for more.

When spiritually ill and suffering, the same thing happens. In recent years, the heavy books that are on my shelf, the deeper devotionals, the books on theology and such went untouched. I developed almost an aversion to them, like a physically unwell person would look at a plate of steak and vegetables. This is not a time to bash yourself for your lack of spirituality or appetite for these things. Realize you have been under tremendous strain that has real consequences. Then, have faith in the One who can restore you to health.

Physically, as recovery begins, a slight appetite emerges.  Strength slowly returns. Simple food is once again attractive. The same is true in our spiritual lives.

The good news is that spiritually, as with our human bodies, the basics are still essential building blocks. We need them. God uses them to rebuild and strengthen us.

Our daughter Emily is the blessed recipient of much good basic doctrinal teaching. Sunday school at our church is not a Chuck E. Cheese-style, high octane, fun for the kiddies experience.  It ‘s purpose is to inculcate sound Scriptural knowledge. The stories from the Bible are fascinating and ever new. Each one instructs us of basic truths about God and His attributes, and also His enduring love for us.

I was moved to tears this last week as the Sunday School at our church began anew for the school year.  I picked up the paper that Emily brought home that  summed up the lesson they had been taught. She talked about the story of Solomon’s wisdom in the case of the two mothers arguing over the surviving baby,  a story that showcases the amazing wisdom of King Solomon.

The paper she brought home was so rich in teaching, I wanted to share some of the pages with you. I was making coffee this morning, and the thought hit me again forcefully. Solomon asked for wisdom and received it. God is STILL granting wisdom. His Word that doesn’t change promises that He will if we ask. (See the book of James, Chapter 1 vs. 5, Proverbs 1:6, Col. 2:3)

Whatever your perplexity or concern, we are told very clearly—If ANYONE lacks wisdom, let them ask of God, who gives to all without reproach. What a marvelous thing that is! We can have wisdom and make wise choices, because God has promised his children that gift.

I praise and thank the LORD for this truth and for His wisdom which stands in stark relief against the foolishness and despair of our times. I also praise and thank God for His provision for our needs spiritually and educationally. What a joyful thing to realize He cares for the sheep of His flock.

P.S. As a bonus, this week Emily’s school has, as hymn of the week, Take My Life and Let it Be, by Frances Ridley Havergal. Emily’s middle name, Frances, is in honor of that long ago hymn writer and poet who gave us so many hymns and devotional writings! She plans on telling the teacher this little  fact  today!  You can read about the hymn and its author here. 



A Beautiful Morning

SunriseIt’s 6:15am  and having been awake for an hour already, I shuffle back to the bedroom to make the bed. Tom is somewhere zooming down the interstate to work already. It looks like sunshine today according to the forecast.

I pull up the bedding on one side and make my way to the other side. Suddenly,  the comforter is thrown back, startling me. A small, rosy face appears and a girly laugh rings out.

“Surprised you, didn’t I?”

It’s Emmy, my early bird, up already on this Monday school morning. She’s all warm and sweet in her pink penguin nightgown, hair in frowzled disarray.

Our early rising buys us time to  play a bit. We discuss and experiment to find out which toe is most ticklish, which, of course, leads to lots of giggling. Em then talks about her bike and how excited she is to practice after school, so she can ride with her daddy on the bike trail near our house.

Emmy retrieves her navy school tights from the drawer to get dressed and laments the discovery of a small hole in one foot. “It’ll do for today, but who knows what it’ll look like tonight,” she says, rolling her eyes dramatically. For some reason, that makes us both laugh.

Face washed and her hair affixed with a bright pink clip,  we go to see about breakfast. She has recently discovered the delicacy of toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, so I assure her that is on the menu.

An egg goes into the pan, a jumbo one, and she comments on the enormous hen that must have laid the egg. She eats a banana and drinks orange juice from a pink straw. Then the much anticipated cinnamon toast.

“This is very RICH,” she says, licking the sweetness from her lips.

She tells me they are learning a song in choir called, “Whistle a Happy Tune” and sings a few snatches for me. She says that she isn’t sure when they’re singing it but promises to tell me when they let her know.

She asks if she could have spaghetti and meatballs in a thermos today instead of a sandwich. I remember we have a can of such and agree that it sounds like a good Monday lunch. Preparations are made.

On this third day of spring, I note that the sun is already coming through my kitchen windows that face to the east.   There’s a feeling of hope in the air. Thanks to my new hearing aids, I hear the birds twittering in the towering pine out the window. They feel it, too.

We head out the door, and it is determined that Em has too much to carry into school by herself today, so I promise to come in with her to carry her heavy backpack. For some reason, this makes her very happy.

We are the first to arrive as we often are.  Both of us are early birds today. Inside the classroom, she shows me her desk which has been moved, I am told. I admire it all and help her get her things hung up.

Finally, I tell her good-bye and start for the door, but she runs and throws her arms around me. My little girl and late in life project, my unexpected blessing and head lifter.  As I leave, one of her friends comes down the hall all smiles. I feel a rush of gratitude for the little Christian school she attends and the excellent people who make the environment such a positive place to learn.

The chilly, fresh air hits my face as I make my way back to the car.

What a beautiful morning, I think. A beautiful, lovely morning.

And I am thankful to God for it.





Laying a Sound Foundation

photo 2 (8)The local PBS station was on in the background last Saturday when our little daughter suddenly said excitedly, “He’s talking about Jesus!” Her eyes were shining.

I looked up at the screen to see Bill Gaither on the Gospel music program he hosts. The mention of the name of Jesus made Emmy’s ears perk up. She knows that that name is special in our home.

This last Monday our daughter began her formal schooling. It has made us think about how important foundations are in our lives. We are seeing the foundations of social order completely broken up and discarded in America. It is little wonder why the walls are buckling and the ceiling is coming down in our country. When the moral and spiritual foundations are destroyed, the rest comes down quickly. The same is true in our personal lives.

The reason we placed Emmy in a Christian school is because we know how important a spiritual foundation is. Begin with the wrong material or lay no foundation at all and you are setting lives up for destruction. Academics are important , yes, they are, but the most important thing of all is instilling the fear of the Lord in the hearts of our children. Introducing them to the Architect behind everything is crucial. We are not here by chance, we are not just carbonized life forms. There is a Designer and a design for all of it. Educators in secular schools teach that we are the result of random chance acting on matter. Then they act surprised and horrified when those who really accept that they are highly evolved slime live out that belief system in the halls.

Emmy’s school begins at the beginning. The very first day of school, she brought home a paper intended for the families. Not just the children, but the families. She already has learned the first of the Ten Commandments that God gave from Sinai. The Law of God gives us the basis for the Gospel message. First Law, then Gospel. I thought I would share a photo of the Congregation at Prayer sheet Emmy received from school. Foundations matter. Without them, spiritual ruination will follow.



The Best Teachers Are Tough on Us

teacherI came across a great article today from the Harvard Business Review. I had a good writing teacher a few years ago when I went back for a refresher class. We had a project that I just didn’t get, wasn’t inclined to get and felt would end in abject failure anyway. I was ready to quit the class, thinking I was in over my head, when the gruff woman teacher looked at me and said, “What, the first thing that’s hard for you, you quit?” I sheepishly went back to my labors and eventually passed the project and class having learned something new. Yes, our best teachers are tough and honest and they expect the best of us.

What does it take to achieve excellence? I’ve spent much of my career chronicling top executives as a business journalist. But I’ve spent much of the last year on a very different pursuit, coauthoring a book about education, focusing on a tough but ultimately revered public-school music teacher.

And here’s what I learned: When it comes to creating a culture of excellence, the CEO has an awful lot to learn from the schoolteacher.

The teacher at the heart of the book Strings Attached is on the face of it an unlikely corporate role model. My childhood music teacher Jerry Kupchynsky, who we called “Mr. K,” was strictly old school: A ferocious Ukrainian immigrant and World War II refugee, he was a tyrannical school orchestra conductor in suburban New Jersey. He would yell and stomp and scream when we screwed up, bellowing “Who eez DEAF in first violins?” His highest praise was “not bad.” He rehearsed us until our fingers were raw.

Yet ultimately he became beloved by students, many of whom went on to outsize professional success in fields from business to academics to law, and who decades later would gather to thank him.

Read the entire article here.

Home Education: 7 Blind Spots to Consider

homeschoolAs a former homeschool mom, I am glad that the movement has matured sufficiently to be able to self-assess. For many years, any comment of concern or analysis of both pros and cons, challenges and problems with home education were frowned upon. Pioneers who fought for the right to choose to home educate worked long and hard to win the legislative victories that now make it legal in all 50 states. We owe these pioneers a great debt for their sacrifice and commitment. But because home education was so hard won, public discussion of inherent problems in the movement were discouraged for many years.

As the first generation of homeschoolers has grown up and had children of their own, there is a refreshing candor these days about both the blessings and pitfalls of educating in a home setting. The Christian homeschool movement has much to commend it, and the freedom to choose to educate as we see fit is a great blessing. But there are pitfalls specifically within the Christian movement. One homeschool father, Reb Bradley, has written a detailed article about seven specific blind spots, as he calls them, that Christian parents need to know about. The article is not new, but having re-read it recently, I found it helpful as Tom and I consider education options for our youngest daughter. I have seen and personally experienced many of these “blind spots.” His article is right on target, and hopefully, it will be a help to those who are homeschooling or planning on homeschooling in the future. Here is the article.

P.S. I was not an “ideological” homeschooler, meaning, I did not home educate with the belief that it was the only Christian way to raise children. With multiple children and with the high cost of private education, school at home was sometimes the most affordable, common sense option for our children. Some Christians hold to the view that home education is the only correct, biblical way for children to get an education. Many of the blind spots listed in the article are most often a problem among those who believe that homeschooling will somehow help them achieve what home education advocate Michael Pearl claims in the following:

 “In the final analysis, it is not the community or the church that produces great children and tremendous young adults; it is home life rooted in sincere, relaxed love of God and family that bears eternal fruit. Genuine, laughing love immersed in creativity is a miracle cure-all that supercharges the soul and grows up children that are too healthy to come down with soul diseases.”

Michael Pearl means well, but he is wrong. There is no “cure-all” in a family, no matter how loving and Christian it is, that will “supercharge” a child against “soul diseases.” As the article I linked to points out, homeschool  parents who had visions of all their children becoming vibrant, committed Christians as a result of their exhaustive labors are sometimes devastated to learn that their children have chosen a very different path, one that doesn’t comport with what they were told by homeschool leaders like Pearl. The heart problem of rebellion comes from within, not from outside (Jeremiah 17:9), and no amount of tweaking an environment is going to guarantee a certain outcome. We are called to be faithful as parents to love and teach our children biblical truth. To put more than this on the backs of parents is a false burden of guilt. We are all responsible for what we do with what we are given.

Let’s Hear it for Positive Peer Pressure

Our son is blessed to attend a rare school where it is not considered cool tofriends behave like an idiot. It’s a rare environment these days where the kids know how to have fun, but the focus is on achievement. Some days he and his friends actually wear suits and ties just to look sharp. They already have a uniform dress code of polo shirt and pants, but they are allowed to wear suits any time. It’s a positive peer pressure thing. When Will was a freshman, he saw the older male students sometimes wearing suits, so the younger guys imitated them.

I think it’s sad how often anything interesting in a young person gets stamped out by the hordes in schools these days. Christian schools are no exception to this. It is a unique faculty and school leadership that can foster excellence and an atmosphere where good grades and doing well is admired. It takes committed families and a vision by leadership to be different.

It may not seem like a big thing, but I would add that having had students in private and public schools over the years, the dress of both faculty and students is important. If teachers want to slouch around dressed like overgrown adolescents and try to impress the kids with their relevance, they will find that the exact opposite happens. Will’s teachers behave and act like adults. His favorite teacher is a tweedy, bearded historian and professor who also teaches at a local university. He’s a walking encyclopedia of history and a master of his subject matter. He has respect because he makes no pretense at being anyone other than himself. He is an expert. Kids know he is the real deal, and they admire that. Additionally, he is an excellent male role model for the young men.

I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Resist peer pressure.” It’s funny how the assumption was that the only kind of peer pressure is the negative kind. But positive peer pressure is just as real. The challenge is to find places for our kids where the positive influences dominate.

Will had a friend over one night recently. Tom and I were upstairs when suddenly music sounded from below. We both couldn’t believe our ears. We heard the sound of piano and…singing? Beautiful singing from a tenor voice! Will was accompanying his friend on the piano as he sang, Caro Mio Ben”. The friend had brought over the sheet music for Will to play for him. He said Will’s music interests had inspired him to take voice lessons again. The world is a more beautiful place because of it.

I love to see teenagers swim upstream against a culture that worships ignorance and moral chaos. Anything we can do to help our young people develop their interests and gifts and ignore the braying of the celebrity icons is a good thing. They, and the rest of our society, will be the richer for it.

“Read it to me, Mama!”

Emmy is only now becoming really interested in books. She’s nearing the age of 3, and with language development on track and with her growing mind full of questions, she is now able to follow a plot line as she scrutinizes every picture.

Last night after her teeth were brushed and her pj’s were on, I told her I had some books I wanted to show her. I went downstairs and found my hardbound copy of Velveteen Rabbit, Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and a couple others.

She was waiting for me in our reading chair in my bedroom, blanket over her knees. “Whatcha got, Mama?” she asked eagerly when I came in the room.

One glimpse of the Velveteen Rabbit immediately drew her in. “Read it to me, Mama?” she asked.

She knew I would. We also started on page one of A Child’s Garden of Verses. The copy I have has the adorable, color illustrations by Gyo Fujikawa. (There are so many beautiful editions of this book with great illustrators that it’s hard to pick the one I love best, but Jessie Wilcox Smith is another one of my favorite illustrators, and not just for A  Child’s Garden of Verses!)

So we read Windy Nights, Bed in Summer, Whole Duty of Children, and At the Seaside. At this age, reading is sometimes slow going, as children have so many questions. I remember back with Charlie and Sammy on each side of me, and then years later, Will and Mary on each side that even a short book would take a long time to get through – why, what is that, what’s he gonna do, Mama? All of these questions need an answer when you’re 3!

The most popular book right now at our home is The Three Little Pigs, or as Emmy calls it, “The Big Red Wolf.” I’m not sure where the “red” came from, but she can’t read that one enough. She is outraged, every time, when the “big red wolf” huffs and puffs and blows the houses down. She spends time lamenting the ruined little houses and that naughty wolf’s destruction. I softened the story line somewhat so that the little pigs didn’t get eaten up. I figure there’s time enough for reality. But I did not go so far as one liberal version of the book from the library where the Big Bad Wolf ends up hopping out of the stew pot and running off, presumably to terrorize other little pigs down the road. (What a perfect example of liberal thinking. Let the murderous guy loose, don’t put an end to him. Let some other community deal with him! But I digress.)

I just tell Emily that the wolf falls into the hot and boiling pot and “that’s the end of him.” No elaboration is needed at this stage. It’s enough to satisfy the basic justice instincts in the heart of a 3-year-old. The Bad Wolf needed stopping, and he got stopped. (Children are basically conservatives…)

I want to tell you about a beautiful gift Emily received from Tom’s Aunt Marilyn. When Aunt Kris was here, she brought the most beautiful Bible story book I have yet seen. I had just been thinking about buying a new one, as the old edition of Egermeier’s Bible Stories from my own childhood has lost its cover, suffers from a cracked binding, and the illustrations are very faded. Kris brought this beautiful new book on her last visit, and I was so glad to receive it.

It’s called, The Story Bible, and it’s published by Concordia Publishing House. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. I still remember the illustrations from childhood in Egermeier’s when they were new and vibrantly colored. I can still see Daniel in the Lion’s Den in his golden robe and the fierce looking lions whose mouths were closed by an angel.

I’m looking forward to many hours with Emily reading the Story of all stories, the account of God’s sovereign hand down through history, the story of His love.

There is no more happy place in this world for me than my reading chair with a child’s sweet smelling head under my chin, exploring the beautiful books of childhood. I have a dining room bookcase full of books that I hope Emily will love as much as I did!

Old Photos, Real Lives

My Great-great-great Grandmother, Greta from Sweden, born when Thomas Jefferson was in the White house, died in the 1880's.

Tom has a box of old photographs from the distant past.  After his father passed away he brought them home. We looked through the box for a long time and were able to trace back which relatives were which on most of them.

The photos contained scenes of old Milwaukee stores and homes and streets where his German relatives grew up. There was Tom’s great aunt as a little girl with a big bow on her head. A tall, handsome young man was in one photograph wearing his army uniform during World War I. Also in the box was a notebook from his great aunt’s school days in the early years of the 20th-century. Seeing the pencil doodles and little drawings from her girlhood made me wonder about her life and hopes and dreams.

I love antique photographs. Every life has a story, and old photos make you think about what those stories were. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, old photos enjoy new life as several websites feature these glimpses of the past.

I was surprised to see how far back photography really went. One website has posted many daguerreotypes, the earliest commercially successful form of photography which became popular in the late 1830’s.

This daguerreotype of a lovely young woman was startling in its quality. From the neck up, this young woman could have been photographed today. There is no record of this woman’s name or history, only that the photograph was from the 1840’s. Large earrings were clearly popular in that era. She seems to have been a fashionable young woman.

The website www.old-picture.com has a wealth of images of Americans from the 19th Century. I found that after looking at the pictures, some of which are startling in their clarity, that the past was humanized somehow. These aren’t drawings or paintings, these are pictures of real people–pictures so clear, you can see the softness or wrinkles in their skin and the glint in their eyes.

These Americans built our country at a time when life was so much harder than it is today. Boys had to be men early and girls, women . The little boys (playing men) who populate the celebrity headlines today would have been abhorrent to the “stubborn, old iconoclasts” (as Lowell put it) in these photos who helped forge America. The men in these photos have something in their faces that speaks of hard things faced and conquered. The same with the women. Life aged everyone quickly back then, and some of the women who look almost elderly in the photos were probably only in their 40’s.

I especially love the photos of children, like this little girl named Adeline. Here are little Elisa and John. Here is a formidable set of five sisters who sat down for a portrait. I wonder what their stories were? This beautiful little girl looks so sweet. The rule of no smiling was forgotten by this young woman.

What I can’t believe is the clarity of the photos. This one is amazingly beautiful. It’s difficult to believe that the department store photos from my own children from the late 1980’s and 90’s are already fading, while these darroguerreotypes as early as the 1840’s are so clear. I don’t think that’s progress.

Have fun at the Old-picture.com website. It’s an educational trip through our nation’s past. The curator of the site also has a blog with photo features and commentary. You can find that blog here!

P.S. Several weeks ago I discovered the photo of a baby sleeping, taken in the 1840’s. I was unable to find it today, but will keep looking as I wanted to share that one. When I find it, I will post it. *Update* Here is little William Mitchell McAllister dreaming baby dreams in a nap long ago in 1844. Babies never change and the sight of this cherub napping on the sofa on a blanket is timeless.

P.P.S. Don’t miss this photo on the site with a heart-warming story of triumph over tragedy that will take you to Jerusalem. What a deeply moving example of God’s love.

Thursday Notes

An interesting piece at CNN today, written by a teacher, describes the difficulty teachers have in working together with parents in the best interest of students. The undisciplined, rights-over-responsibility mindset that dominates in our culture has caused a catastrophic breakdown in many schools. The teacher describes how parents are increasingly turning up with lawyers for meetings with principals and teachers regarding students’ behavior.

You can’t do anything in schools where this kind of mindset rules among parents. It’s little wonder that the average teaching career spans a little more than four years. Burnout is high when teachers have to walk on eggshells, are not allowed to maintain discipline, and where parents enter a school year with their elbows out.

Obviously, multiple factors play into the overall downfall of American education. When some teachers make headlines weekly in this country for sexual involvement with their students (one news site has a running list just of the female sexual predator/teachers who have been criminally charged. It is mind-blowing) it is plain that the breakdown of family and morals has consequences at all levels of society, and education is no exception. When parents refuse to grow up and take responsibility, and when children are taught zero respect for authority, it cannot end well.


Into an otherwise mundane work day, Tom and an organist colleague brought some musical beauty yesterday. I acquired a babysitter and left everything for a noon hour concert at the Cathedral in downtown Milwaukee. Lake Michigan was at its most beautiful, and the music was heart-lifting.  Tom played the regal Prelude to the Te Deum by Charpentier.

And the lyrical side to the trumpet and organ was heard in the lovely Bist Du Bei Mir (If You Are With Me.) – J.S. Bach. Thanks, men, for such a wonderful lunch hour.


Very abruptly, the days are getting shorter. It’s 6:50pm and it’s dusk. It was down to 43 degrees two nights ago. Time for the warm pajamas, at least this week. Next week, we may need summer ones, as this time of year you just never know.

I pulled my acorn people out of the hutch yesterday. Every year they sit on the piano. They’re my Dollar Store tribute to fall, along with my scarecrow Welcome sign for the front door. I also put my autumn colored runner on the dining room table with a candle that smells like pumpkin pie. Not to rush things, but I do love this time of year. Soon I can write entirely  new posts filled with rhapsodic prose on the glories of autumn. “October is my favorite month of them all. Flaming trees, alive with color, the spicy scent of leaves as they crunch under your feet…”

School has started again. Will is a sophomore with plenty of challenging classes to keep him busy. He has also been asked to play the organ to accompany his dad for two separate events, so that is exciting news.

Emmy has school, too. She gets books off my shelves, kicks back on the sofa and “reads.” She’s had Dante’s Paradiso out, wrong way up, of course, and seems drawn to my Russian history section of books, Lenin’s essays in particular. I’ll have to balance her out with Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind from Burke to Eliot when she’s through with the Russian revolutionaries. In between her literary efforts, Emmy can be found with her chunky crayons at her pink Dora the Explorer table she received as a gift for her birthday. She has also learned her first color. You guessed it, it’s pink!

Back to School, Kids!

Will’s school starts shortly, so I had him try on his uniform pants from last year. It’s no surprise that none of them fit. 15-year-old boys have a way of shooting up several inches while they sleep.

It won’t be long before the neighborhood children will be seen walking up the hill to school, their new backpacks on display. There is something about those first warm days of school when summer is just transitioning into autumn that I have always loved.

I have written before about my love for school as a child, more in elementary than in high school (but that’s another post.) My elementary school years were happy ones educationally.

A triumphant return from my first day of kindergarten, 1971.

We walked the two short blocks after our family moved a few weeks after school started. The Lutheran day school and Neeskara Elementary kids walked on one side of Washington Boulevard, and the St. Sebastian’s Catholic school kids in their uniforms on the other side. Occasionally, a little inter-school rivalry would take the form of shouts across the boulevard, but it was always pretty good-natured.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about my first day of kindergarten and the joys of Miss Weber’s class. First grade, however, was a bit of a shock. Having come from a largely non-academic, half-day kindergarten, first grade was very serious business. The teacher was not a grandmotherly teacher like Miss Weber. She was tough and got us right to work. Rather than tables and chairs and a big play area in the classroom, the desks were all lined up in straight rows in first grade. It was time for serious work.

They did not push reading in kindergarten back then. I was more than ready and had learned my letters even before kindergarten, but it was in first grade that phonics were taught. I remember the magic of finally being able to de-code letters in a book. It was thrilling to know that I didn’t need anyone else to help me with reading anymore. The world of books was all mine.

The highlight of the year was the spring concert where the girls in each class dressed up like a specific kind of flower. I only remember that my flower costume was a sort of periwinkle color and that we were instructed to leap around the stage while the piano played. Hardly any first-grade girl wouldn’t love being a dancing flower, and I was a very enthusiastic one.

I feel sad to think of children for whom school is not a joy, but an endless source of misery. It doesn’t take much money to prepare school-ready children. It does take a commitment on the part of at least one parent to read and converse thoughtfully with a child, to train a child behaviorally and of course, to provide a stable and loving emotional environment. Without these key elements, children are hindered from learning properly, and are potentially negatively impacted for the rest of their lives. It all starts with the family.

The bins of school supplies are all out again at the stores. I bought Emmy some big chunky crayons today. She likes to scribble with pencils, so I thought she’d like to make some colorful swirlies. Before we know it, she’ll be ready to sit down with me on the sofa with the old phonics handbook that has served our children well. I took 15 minutes a day to drill the sounds, and within a short time, they read beautifully. I’m looking forward to the day when the world of books is Emily’s for life!

For some American children, back to school means back to home-school. The world of American education isn’t what it was. Schools, both private and public, are often a microcosm of the moral anarchy of our culture today. Case in point: I saw pink girls’ notebooks today at Wal-Mart that read, “Eye-Candy” and “Love Muffin.” Seriously. Parents have to weigh carefully what is best for their particular child. Thanks to technology, home educators have an endless array of quality options to choose from.

Even when we home-schooled, it was a delightful day when we all sat down to get started, pencils sharpened, text books and notebooks crisp and new. Each school year is a new beginning with many joys and many challenges ahead. Another one is just about to begin…