Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Joy Story

Homeschooling? It's a long obedience in the same direction. It's the epitomy of stick-to-itiveness. It's perseverance at its best.

My Siah wrote a Christmas essay for one of his live online classes. When he was done with it, he asked me to read it. It was kind of an emotional moment for me. Writing has been one of this kid's greatest challenges throughout our entire homeschooling journey. And reading his essay this Christmas, blessed me in two major ways. First, I was simply blown away at the fact that HE wrote this essay. Blown away by the simple things, like the fact that it makes sense and flows. Teaching a sweet little boy to write something that makes sense, is truly no easy task! And although these technical things are truly lovely and feel fabulously triumphant at this very moment, the second thing I love about this essay is that it reveals so much of my boy's heart. It's just a Christmas essay. I know that. But I think I'm just blown away by his words, and by the way that he views Christmas and Christ and family. I'm encouraged to keep up this "long obedience in the same direction," because his words are somehow this sweet little testimony to me, his mom-teacher, that Jesus is doing His thing in my boy, despite my 10,000 weaknesses and all the days that have felt like we were just heading in the wrong direction all together. 

I'm posting this essay in hopes that it brings hope in this season of Christmas, which is all about hope. I'm hoping it inspires us to keep on keeping on, even on the countless days when we want to give up. The academic stuff really does come in time, if we are consistently consistent. But the deep soul work that we long for in our kids above all things, comes too. It comes in the form of grace and glory and joy. His grace lavished on us, for His glory, and our joy. The soul work is always evidence of His unfailing faithfulness to do in us and our kids more than we can ever think up or imagine. 

So here it is__
Sian's Christmas Essay, 2017

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son… (John 3:16)” Christmas would not be around if the Lord did not send his son to save us. This means that if Jesus did not come, there would be no reason for Christmas, and all the traditions that we have created over the years would be meaningless. Thankfully Jesus did come, and now we have an incredible reason to celebrate. Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year.  In my family we have many Christmas traditions, but my three favorites are, the birthday breakfast, spending time with my grandparents, and hunting for our Christmas tree in the mountains.

In my family, when it comes to food we all crowd around the table with anticipation and joy. As everyone makes their way into the dining room, the smell of the sizzling bacon and fresh baked cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven captivates us. After everyone gets situated in their spot at the table, Mama lights the candles and we all sing Happy Birthday to Jesus at the top of our lungs. Papa prays and thanks the Lord that Jesus did indeed come to earth to save us from our sins.  Then we dig in! What a commotion it is! Everyone talks all at once, saying things like,” pass the bacon please,” and “can I have a napkin.” Someone inevitably knocks over a glass of orange juice and everyone laughs while Mama rushes to get the paper towels to clean it up.  Then it mysteriously quiets down as everyone shovels food into their mouths. All you can hear is the munching and crunching of happy kids, parents, and grandparents.  Mouthwatering cinnamon rolls, crunchy bacon and cheesy eggs, what more could one ask for? As we eat, my Papa reads the story of Christmas from The Jesus Storybook Bible. The food is fantastic, but the best part of the morning is really all of us being together and celebrating the gift of Jesus in our lives.  
Before we moved to Texas, my Gramps and Nana (from my mom’s side) lived across the field on the same property that we lived on. Through the years, my siblings and I got really close to them. Going to their house on Christmas Eve grew into a tradition that I love. My Nana makes fajitas, and we all open our stockings. And to finish out the evening, we go to the Christmas Eve service together at our little country church. Then on Christmas Day, Gramps and Nana come to our house early in the morning. There is something wonderful and comforting about having family close at Christmas time. I’m grateful for the traditions we’ve created over the years with my grandparents, but I’m also grateful just to have them be a part of our everyday lives.   

Although spending time with extended family is wonderful, my absolute favorite Christmas tradition is hunting for a Christmas tree in the mountains with close family friends. This is done at the beginning of December whether it is hot or cold. Some years have been flaming hot and we trek through the forest in T-shirts and jeans. Other years it has been frigid, and we have all bundled up and left our tracks in the snow as we search for the perfect tree. My favorite years are the ones when the snow is falling, and I can feel the warmth of my breath under my scarf. There have also been years when the snow is so deep our cars get stuck and the Papas must pull each other out with their big trucks. It is fun feeling like I am lost in the woods, while simultaneously hearing all the shouts of the kids who think that they found the perfect tree. I also love the challenge of carrying our tree back to the car. It’s a lot of work pulling those things up steep ravines and around large boulders. I feel a deep sense of accomplishment once the tree is tied onto our trailer and we are heading back down the mountain. 
Out of the many traditions that my family has, acknowledging and celebrating Christ with a birthday breakfast, spending time with the special people in my life, and hunting for the perfect Christmas tree, are my three favorite things to do during the Christmas season. All three of these things are reminders of how glorious God’s gifts really are. The birthday breakfast allows us to celebrate Christ’s birth and the greatest gift God has ever given in the history of the world, in giving us his one and only Son. Spending time with my grandparents reminds me of the gift of family and the blessing of not having to live life alone. And hunting for a Christmas tree reminds me of the gift of God’s Word and all the promises that fill its pages. “You will seek me, and find me, when you seek me with all of your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Christmas, to me, is all about seeking, discovering, and celebrating all of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. And for that, I am grateful.   

Josiah Malachi, I'm so proud of you buddy; proud of your growth in your writing, but really just truly blessed by your love for the Lord. :)            

Friday, November 24, 2017

Leaving The Farm

I've sat down to write this post a handful of times. There is so much I could tell you I suppose. I could tell you about the conversation the Cowboy and I had over Mexican food back in June and how he asked me if I might be willing to move to TX. I could tell you how simultaneously my heart lept and sank,  how a warmer climate and a fresh start sounded glorious, and how leaving our community sounded almost unbearable.

I could tell you how my dad (who lived in his own house on our farm) joyfully agreed to move. I could tell you how the Cowboy's boss agreed to let him keep his job, or how we didn't even have to put our house on the market, because a friend caught wind of our possible move and gave us an offer that was perfect for the both parties. I could tell you so many things, but what I want you to know most is this:

Obedience in and of itself IS success.

I think about this often when life doesn't feel good.

Sometimes you find yourself doing things simply because the Lord has asked you to do so. You have no idea how it's going to turn out, but that doesn't really matter.

The Farm has been a glorious and treacherous place for me. I've brought three babies home to this place, created traditions, loved well, and fallen hard. There have been countless folks who have gathered around our farm table, who've shared meals and conversation, joy, loss, struggle, and sorrow.

I have loved the nights on the couch with my Joey, watching the first snowfall after the kids were all tucked in their beds. I've taught 4 of the six to read under this roof, all those days of listening to them tediously sounding out each and every letter, only to find them years later hiding under their covers reading things I never imagined they would be able to read.

There have been pillow fights and real fights, lots of laughter and an equal amount of tears.

The Farm was also the place that housed my heart through the postpartum depression I had after our Solomon was born. These walls have watched me majorly succeed and majorly fail in my mothering.  I have soul has barely made it through the past seven winters. There's been great beauty in this place and great pain this place. I wonder sometimes if all the places we find ourselves in are like this, full of both the beautiful and the broken?

The truth I am coming to find more and more is that this is not my home. The Farm is not my home. The places we're going, the places we've been, they are not my home. I was made to be living in eternity with Christ. And until I get there, I have one thing in mind__ to make HIS name great in the way I live my life, for HIs glory, and my joy.

On our last Sunday, during testimony time, in our little country church, I mustered up the courage to share a bit about this move. I talked about Jesus and how wherever we are, He will always be what our life is all about. And then I went on to share the verse I have spent the past seven years clinging to. And as I began to speak it out loud from memory, my kids, unprompted, joined me__ there we were, our little tribe, together in unison, proclaiming what we believe with our whole hearts this life to be all about__ "I eagerly expect and hope, that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage, now as always, so that Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." {Philippians 1:20-21}

As we embark on the next leg of our journey my prayer is that this may be true of the Clark family.

I feel a million things about this move; some excitement for change and all things new, and some sadness over not living intricate, daily life with the some of the most real, authentic Christ followers I have ever met. But in all honesty, it doesn’t really matter how I feel. What matters is simply this: that Christ walks before me, and beside me, always. We can’t base life decisions on feelings. We must base them instead on a joyful obedience to whatever the Lord makes clear for us to do. We're here, in TX, and we're taking it one day at a time. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

End of Summer Video

Summer {Part 2} from Kacy Clark on Vimeo.

password: summer2

Summer 2017 from Kacy Clark on Vimeo.

And here's the first half of the summer in case you missed it...

password: summer

Friday, August 18, 2017

Beginning Again {Year 8 @ The One Room Schoolhouse}

I've never struggled to find motivation for school as much as I have this year. I've pondered what to do with the little kids, as they are both in the thick of their mischievous stage, clearly unable to practice much self control in anything, and far from being any kind of self sufficient. What do mamas do when they are trying to engage with their big kids, when their little kids are loud and full of opportunities for growth (also known as interruptions)?

Our oldest is starting JUNIOR HIGH {What??}. Our oldest daughter is in need of some focussed and purposeful pursuit in math and language arts. My fourth grader is diligent and self motivated and I know she'll have no trouble getting through her studies this year. And our middle boy needs to dive head first into learning to read. The task before me seems somewhat daunting, and on the verge of impossible probably because, in a dozen and a half ways, it is impossible.

I've cried a river at the thought of all that beckons me in this task of facing another homeschooling year. Then of course, in His unfailing faithfulness, The Lord met me this week in three tender, sweet ways.

 On Sunday, our pastor shared a story of a man and his boy who set out to hike 1000 miles. There's way more to the story than what I'm mentioning here, but my pastor told of two things that allowed these men to accomplish such a task.

First, they knew that there was a 100% chance that they would run into hardships, and they decided ahead of time that they would accept them for what they were and they wouldn't let those hardships prevent them from finishing the task that they had set out to do. Secondly, quitting was not an option. They would simply put one foot in front of the other until they walked their last step.

Truthfully, his sermon had nothing to do with homeschooling, but for me, it had everything to do with homeschooling. There are years that are just going to be straight up hard. And that's ok. Hard is inevitable, no matter what path I choose. But I want to determine that the hard won't be a means for me giving up.

The second thing The Lord reminded me of was the sweetest little blog post that I have read dozens of times over the years, but it has never ceased to remind me that this homeschooling gig doesn't have to be complicated. Rather, it needs to be full of 4 simple cornerstones...

1. A Continuum of Constant Learning….

Live your life. Invite children to join in! Education is a continuum of everyday life. 
Read together.  Pray together. Sing together. Work, bake, garden, chore, clean, sew, fix, build together. No artificial demarcation lines between schooling and living. Just live a one-piece life. Just live authentically and holistically.

2. Contagious Creativity

Explore! Be awed by His world! Restore Wonder! Be a creative, thinking, exuberant person who spills with the joy of learning.

When we are awed by something — we can’t help but pass it on. It’s our natural tendency. And if we are in awe of God — we become natural, unstoppable, top-notch teachers. A zest for learning and life and our Maker will be creative and contagious–the children will catch it!  Simply be awed!   

3. Curiousity
Read, read, read. . Fill the house with library books. Play classical music. Post the art of the masters about the house. Go for walks in the woods. Learn a new language, a new culture, a new poem. Write! Everyday set out to discover again and again and again. Simply live curiously. The whole earth is full of His glory! Go seek His face…

4. Consistency

Consistently pray. Consistently read. Consistently keep the routine. Consistently live an everyday liturgy. Consistently celebrate each moment!
Children thrive in routine. So do households. Have hardtops: times that you fully stop to pray, to read, to write. Regardless of what isn’t done, what isn’t finished. Make a full stop, do the needful thing, then return to meals, laundry, household management. Simply consistently be consistent. 

When I remember these four cornerstones, I feel less overwhelmed with all the details. It helps to keep my eyes on the big picture.

And the final way the Lord met me this past week was through a little book that I stumbled upon last summer. I gave my copy away to another homeschooling mama, but a lovely friend, gave me a new copy a few days ago and I have sat on the couch with a candle burning, the rain falling outside, with a cup of tea in one hand and this rich, little book in the other. Teaching From Rest is a book every homeschooling mama needs to get their hands on. Here are some of my favorite quotes__

"Surrender you idea of what the ideal homeschool day is supposed to look like and take on, with both hands, the day that it is. Rest begins with acceptance, with surrender. Can we accept what He is sending today?"

"Rest is trusting that God's got this, even if I'm a mess, even if I'm not enough, even if I mess up everyday. Because I do."

"God never demands that we produce prodigies or achieve what the world would recognize as excellence. Rather, He asks us to live excellently__ that is, to live in simple, obedient faith and trust. He asks us to faithfully commit everyday to Him and then do that day's tasks well. He_is_in_charge_of_the_results.... So, That writing assignment on the plan today? Do it well. That math lesson that your child struggles over? Sit down next to him, and do one problem at a time, slowly and carefully. Smile a lot. Lavish him with love. Because whether or not he becomes an excellent writer or a proficient mathematician is not your business to worry over. Your business is that single assignment today and loving him through it."

"Remember your true task.

Surrender everything.

Bring your loaves and your fish, even if you think them completely insufficient.

They are insufficient.

You are insufficient.

But His grace is not.

God is not limited by objective reality.

His yoke is easy and His burden is light."

I am asking the Lord to help me remember these things as we begin another year here at the One Room Schoolhouse.

I am one forgetful woman, and by golly, I just want to remember__ God's got this.

He's really truly got this.

I am called to diligence and love, consistency and grace, awe and wonder and joy! Lord help me to GO FOR IT, and keep my eyes wide open to see YOUR faithfulness always at work in this place.

And so we begin another year.