Tag: parenting (page 1 of 2)

A New (School) Year

Twist and turns: this year has been full of them! The most recent twist came as a surprise even to us, though we ended up being the ones to make the decision. Here is how it went:

We have loved homeschooling our girls, and we fully intended to keep doing it. I bought bins full of books for the coming school year and read through them with the vigor some folks bring to a buffet: the periodic table, ancient civilizations, the construction of pyramids, biographies—I heaped my plate with them and ate quickly so I could go back for more.

But as I tinkered with spreadsheets and lesson plans, something peculiar happened: I felt enthusiasm for the coming year—but no peace. I felt ill at ease, as though something wasn’t fitting the way it was meant to. I tweaked plans, I prayed about it, and yet still I felt restless. When I finally loosened my grip on the problem enough to mention it to Mitch, he took the news as though I’d put words to something that had nagged him for a while.

That night I hardly slept, and when I did sleep I skimmed the surface fretfully, dreaming my way through the problem still. By the next afternoon, my brain was overheating, I was exhausted, and yet, peace softened the line of the horizon ahead: by that evening, we knew what we needed to do.

A New (School) Year! | Little Book, Big Story

At this point, we didn’t know if it was possible for our girls to return to school—the school the girls had attended before has grown and classes have filled up. We doubted they’d have openings for all three of our school-aged girls (Phoebe started kindergarten this year!), but we needed to give it a try. That was what we knew.

Then: emails and waiting. And further considering. What had changed, we asked ourselves and each other. Why home school for just two years and then return to school? The single biggest change, we realized, was that we are now attending the church that launched the school, and a number of the teachers, students, and board members are now not just friends but church family as well. We wanted them to be a meaningful part of our daughters’ lives, and we wanted to get to know their kids. There were other factors, but that was the biggest one. So, we waited.

And behold! The school had openings for each of our girls, and I abruptly shifted gears from planning out a year’s worth of history readings to measuring kids and shopping for uniforms. It seems that we are going back to where we started—but we aren’t. Our home addition was made possible by the those two years of homeschooling, and the relationship the girls have with one another and with Josie (two years is two-thirds of her life, after all) was worth the detour into unstructured afternoons and time spent around the table, feasting and reading Shakespeare together.

A New (School) Year | Little Book, Big Story

There are things I miss about homeschooling—and things I don’t miss. There are things I felt apprehensive about returning to school—but they were few. There are many more things I am enjoying, not because I think school is a shortcut to perfect kids, but because it is right where we need to be right now. I am excited to see what God will do through this.

“The Ingredients We Have on Hand” | Story Warren

My friend April and I used to joke that the moment you blog about something it dies. Routines, recipes, updates on what you’re up to now—as soon as you share them, the routines shift or your schedule or circumstance changes. It seems inevitable, and we’ve seen it happen often enough that we’ve joked, after publishing a post, “Well! That was nice while it lasted.”

Today, Story Warren published an article I started writing over a year ago (in much the same way I describe in the post). When I began it, I was a homeschooling mom, and when I revised it, I was a homeschooling mom, but by the time I submitted it, I had an intimation that all that was about to change. I’ll tell you the full story soon, I promise—it deserves its own post.

What I didn’t know until after I heard the happy news that my piece had been accepted was that my writing life was destined to change as well.

Last spring, I stepped down from my editing responsibilities at Deeply Rooted. I prayed over the decision for months, tossing it back and forth and back and forth. I have been with Deeply Rooted since the magazine’s first issue—five years ago!—and I have loved my work there, every part of it. The nit-picky part of editing, the broad-sweeping-changes part of editing, the finding the perfect verb part of editing, the encouraging a writer as she revises part of editing—this was a hard role to lay down. But I realized that, no, I did not have time to both homeschool my kids and give editing as much energy as I’d like to. And so I stepped down in order (I thought) to focus on homeschooling.

But a few weeks later, homeschooling changed course too.

So, I spent the summer finishing my last editing assignment for Deeply Rooted (the fabulous four-part series by Leslie Bustard running right now!) and then, quietly and without ceremony, removed “Contributing Editor” from my email signature. But, Mitch and I wondered: What was that about? What is God up to?

We pondered and prayed and discussed the subject of “What will Thea do with the time she spent editing or planning homeschool lessons?” I considered returning to Deeply Rooted, but neither of us thought that seemed in the direction God was leading us.

And so we waited.

And the very same week—two days later, in fact—that Mitch started looking into what it might take for me to find work as a freelance editor, work found me: I received an offer from a small publishing house (run by people I adore), asking if I’d consider working with one of their authors on a project.

So, Mitch and I celebrated and I took that assignment and already other options have opened up in other places for potential assignments. And now, on account of our schedule changes (again, story forthcoming), I not only write in the early mornings, as described in the Story Warren article (I knew we’d get back here eventually), but also for hours in a coffee shop, one day a week, where the pastries are flaky and the iced coffee gets tossed about in a cocktail shaker. (I love hipster coffee.)

I am embarking, in seems, upon the seas of freelance editing.

Was it the fact that I tried to write about it that killed the current routine? I joke about it, but no, of course not. I see God’s faithfulness through the whole process, in his asking me to (yet again) surrender something I love, and in his generosity in making something new of that gift—before giving it back to me. May I use this gift and any others for his glory, always.


Seriously, though, here is the link to “The Ingredients We Have on Hand,” my new post for Story Warren. I loved writing this one!


Postscript

I am still a regular contributor for Deeply Rooted, so I will continue to write for both the print magazine and the blog.

Three Questions to Ask Before You Take My Advice | Deeply Rooted Blog

Ah! I meant to go silent, but then this came up: a little something extra to share with you.

When I was small, my dad kept a running joke about something he called The Book of Dad. “I’ll have to look that up in The Book of Dad,” he’d say, or, when I put him in parenting quandary, “I don’t remember anything about this in The Book of Dad.” To me, he seemed to know everything, a fact that I credited to that book (which I never saw but still believed in).

But now, as the mother of three small daughters, I appreciate the joke in a whole new light: there is no Book of Mom, though I desperately wish on certain days that there were. My children look to me for answers, and I feel like I really ought to have them, as though centuries of parents might have had the decency to compile them for me.  .  .  .

Deeply Rooted recently republished an article of mine—an old one, from Issue 8. This is a lengthy article, written for the print magazine rather than the blog, but it’s on a topic that’s especially dear to me: how do we filter out the nonsense we hear daily and decide which authors, speakers, or friends are giving legit parenting advice?

Every writer (myself included) sees the world in a particular way. They have certain beliefs about children—that children are basically good or innately sinful; that raising them should be our primary focus or a peripheral one—and about our role, as humans, in the universe. Though it might seem strange to leap from an article touting “Five Ways to Improve Your Child’s Attitude” to the question of whether we humans are generated by random chance to pursue our own good or by a loving God to pursue him, it’s an important leap to make: the worldview of each author will directly influence the way she approaches her children, as well as the way that she, in choosing the five bullet points of her article, encourages us to approach our own children.

As Christians, we need to at least be aware of that. We are confronted daily with information that has been neither fact-checked nor edited, and we need to approach that heap of advice with a wary eye, feeling for soft spots in an article’s logic or digging beneath an author’s assertion to find the source of her worldview. We should be quick to recognize any parts of an author’s philosophy that conflict with Christian doctrine. . . .

More than anything else I’ve written, this article is, I think, a glimpse at how I strive to approach motherhood, and I’m so grateful to Deeply Rooted for running it again.

You can read the full article here.

Through the Waters | Deeply Rooted Blog

I had read books about childbirth, books that described contractions as “waves”—manageable ones, if you had the right attitude—and birth as a warm, glowy experience best concluded with champagne.

But when I went into labor with my first daughter, I felt no glow of incoming life, just the repeated beating of city-high waves that, from the beginning, thundered over me without a break between them. My tiny boat of coping techniques promptly capsized; I couldn’t think or breathe. After ten hours of pummeling, the doctor handed me some papers, said something to my husband who tried to translate it for me (but I was underwater and couldn’t hear him) and then: the OR. An unexpected c-section. Lots of light, but not the kind mentioned in the books. Our baby’s face as a nurse on her way to the NICU held her up for me to see.

Birth stopped being something I did, and became a thing that happened to me. It required, in the end, not strength but surrender.

And so, I would learn every day afterward, does motherhood.

My first daughter was born on Mother’s Day. This week, as we celebrate her ninth birthday, I got to celebrate my entrance to motherhood by writing a piece for Deeply Rooted on becoming a mother and being one.

You can read the full article here.

Whatever is Pure and Lovely | Story Warren

So. I spent a year writing two different articles—two very different articles. I spent a year tinkering with one of them, altering this sentence and then that one, cutting passages and pasting them elsewhere or—in a burst of spontaneity—deleting them altogether.

The other arrived half-complete: in a single morning, I wrote a promising opening, but no ending. Nothing for months, no matter how many times I opened my draft, stared at the blinking cursor and thought my thoughts.

And then I grew a baby, which meant I spent a lot of time sleeping. I had the baby, which meant I spent a lot of time not sleeping but not writing either.

But a few months ago, I opened the one article, dusted it off, cut or rearranged a few more lines.

I opened the other and, in a sudden gust, wrote the missing last half. In a single morning, they were both done. I sent them off, washing my hands of them in two clicks of the Send button, and did not see them again until this week, when they appeared on separate sites within days of each other.

Of course that makes me happy. It always does, when the words I shuffle around each morning go off into the world to connect with readers. But this piece, the second article, is especially dear to me. It’s a quirky one, a story that seemed just right. I don’t entirely understand it myself and there’s something about that that seems fitting. I hope you enjoy it too:

At 9:30, my daughter comes downstairs—she can’t sleep. She’ll be seven next month and the world is expanding around her, I can see it. She’s more aware of other people now, more aware of adult conversation, more aware, in this instance, of volcanoes.

“Volcanoes?” I repeat, settling down next to her on the couch. “What do you mean?”

“I don’t know,” she says. “I’m just worried about them. I read about them in class today and I . . . “. I know that she sees it clearly, whatever she read that day, as real to her as I am. A definite fear shapes the set of her mouth and she gives into it for a moment before drawing away and finishing lamely, “I’m just worried about them.”

I want to offer her comfort—immediate, tangible comfort—in the shape of a promise. They’re far away. We don’t have to worry about that here. Things like that don’t happen anymore. Or the great silence-killing assurance, “It’s okay.”

But I can’t say any of that.

You can read the rest of the article here.


Whatever is Pure and Lovely
Théa Rosenburg, Story Warren

The Candle of Prophecy | Deeply Rooted

Advent usually sneaks up on me, stealthy in its own way, but this year I got the jump on it. I have a writing deadline to thank for that.

Some writers work well under pressure, but I don’t. I am a slow and steady sort of girl, a write and rewrite and rewrite and tinker and put it down for a few weeks and then come back and rewrite some more sort of girl. I am the sort of girl who can spend a year (yes, a year) on one article. I know that now.

But Lindsay Cournia and I are taking turns looking into each of the candles on the Advent wreath as part of a series for the Deeply Rooted blog, and researching a post on the Old Testament prophecies of Christ, it turns out, is a lovely way to prepare for the season. The first post, “The Candle of Prophecy,” went up this week, with more to follow throughout Advent.

Jesus’ birth in the manger was not a sudden impulse of God’s. He did not decide, on a whim, to send his Son to earth, but laid the ground for his coming painstakingly, over the course of thousands of years. Like a skilled author, God foreshadowed Christ’s coming through promises, covenants, and prophets, so those with eyes to see might recognize, in that one small child, the beginning of the end of God’s enemy—the first stitches in the mending of our broken world. As we light the first candle of Advent, we look back at the long history between the Lord and his people, the Israelites, as he prepared them for the coming of his Son. . . .

I hope you enjoy the series and that the posts feed you half as much good, Old Testament food as they did me as I prepared to write them.


Also, the new issue of Deeply Rooted is on sale now! I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Plumb for this issue, as well as writing a giant article on parenting philosophies and Scripture (that’s the one that took a year to nail down). I don’t have my copy yet or I’d share photos, but I know that Jen Wilkin has a beautiful piece in it (but then, her writing just is beautiful), and that the issue is filled, as ever, with articles rich in theology and practical help. Also, copies of Deeply Rooted make great Christmas gifts . . .


The Candle of Prophecy
Théa Rosenburg, Deeply Rooted blog (Nov. 2015)

Deeply Rooted Magazine
Issue 8: Love (Winter 2015)

A Letter to My Daughter About Beauty | Deeply Rooted Magazine

Some essays start as a note scribbled in the margin of my grocery list; others arrive as a complete draft, written swiftly and sloppily on the pages of my composition book. But a few begin as entries in the notebooks I keep for my daughters, like the essay that appeared on the Deeply Rooted blog yesterday.

A Letter to My Daughter About Beauty (Thea Rosenburg on the Deeply Rooted blog) | Little Book, Big Story

There are certain things that I wish I could tell you, but I suspect that they are the sort of things that you will have to learn for yourself—the sort of lessons that stick better when they come after years of struggle. Perhaps there is something in the struggle that is important, I don’t know. But here is one of them: you are beautiful.

And so on.

I’m so happy that the post went up on Mother’s Day, because that is the day I became a mom—the day that my first daughter was born. We’re celebrating her birthday today with two dozen mint chocolate cupcakes that we can’t take to school because she’s home sick with a fever, so if you want a cupcake and don’t mind risking a fever, you know who to visit. But if you’d rather not risk the fever and still want something sweet, then the essay is probably a safer bet.


A Letter to My Daughter About Beauty
Théa Rosenburg, Deeply Rooted blog