Friday, January 27, 2012

No Pressure

     I walked into my room a few evenings ago to find a workbook on my bed. I forget the exact title, but it was something along the lines of "Finding Purpose in Your Life." I leafed through it briefly to find various scripture in the margins, a lot of talk about discovering one's passion, and arbitrary fill-in-the-blank response sections. The writing was sort of geared for the high school junior or senior struggling to take the next step. A gift from my mother. Ouch.

     Everyone will tell you--in my case, especially my parents--there's no pressure. I'm young, there's no time limit, I don't need to know exactly what I'm going to do. In fact, I hear that it doesn't matter what I choose in the end because my folks will love me no matter what and are already proud of me. I suspect what they tell me is all true. I think after the initial shock of me deciding I was going to take a year off from school to work, they're more or less prepared for anything. They're wrong though; there's a ton of pressure.

     It's easy to get so worked up just watching ads on television, or hearing the latest accomplishments of my [extremely academic] friends. Even in the ideas I've always had for myself of what my life would be like when I got to be this age give me this sense that I'm already behind. Of course, there will always be that crushing feeling as long as I'm trying to squeeze myself into a little box of what or where I "should" be by now. There is such freedom in recognizing the only life goal for me to pursue is that of holiness before God, and that it doesn't come through striving in my own power.

     In 1 Kings 3 Solomon sought wisdom before financial gain and was rewarded for valuing God's will so highly. Matthew 6 records Christ telling the disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and not to worry about their physical needs. I can't tell you how liberating it is to put all of my ambitions on an altar before the Lord and ask Him to everything up until only His desires remain. Only He knows how many times I've had to repeat that scene--it seems like new pictures of "success" crop up constantly. It's something I'd recommend to anyone though. Give up your own desires to Him.

1 Corinthians 2:9
      But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Textbook Scam

     It is a fact universally acknowledged that buying textbooks from your campus bookstore is comparable to an encounter with Ali Baba and his questionable compatriots. Most people are also aware that the big textbook publishers like to add "important" information and republish under the facade of a new edition... three months after its original release. The result?

You need a new book for the second class in the sequence. Unsurprisingly, the book store doesn't want your old tome, either. So how does one avoid being up the proverbial creek, paddle-less?

     It shocks me that when the average full time student spends an average of $600 a semester on books alone, websites like Amazon and are so underutilized. Often there's an option to reading through the contents before the purchase is made, so you can determine how close an older edition is to the new one you're being asked to buy. Usually, the older model is significantly cheaper and its content virtually the same.

     Other options exist, as well. There is a growing trend of students renting their textbooks out for a semester at a fraction of the retail price. In addition, it's possible to download digital versions of some books--easier on the back as well.  

And don't forget...

Start Early
  • Starting early allows you to consider all available routes. You don't get pressured into spending more money because you run out of time.

  • You can contact your professor and ask if they have any students from a previous class trying to get rid of books. He/she may even accommodate older editions by providing you with photo copies of pages you might be missing.
  • Books will arrive on time... though I'll tell you a bit of a secret. You may not even need it for the first week or two! Bit of a gamble though, so keep in touch with your prof.

Use Your Resources
  • At college, the internet is your friend. Research, click around, compare! If you want to make or save a buck, you need to be informed as to what is out there and how much it costs. There are advantages and disadvantages to any decision you make.
  • See if you can borrow a book from a friend, or go in for one together and pass it back and forth on a schedule. This makes for an excellent opportunity to study together, as well.
  • Librarians are fantastic. Your own can most likely lead you to a variety of in-library-use-only textbooks that have been kept specifically for student use.

  • Whether you choose to do this online or try to get the campus store to buy them back, pleasefortheloveofMike, sell back your books. Seriously. Unless you're a med student or have a legitimate reason to use them as reference material consistently, you don't need them after the final bell rings.

     Remember, it's your money; take responsibility and make good decisions for yourself. Any options I failed to mention?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Autobiography (Part 1)

     If you had asked my dad twenty-five or so years ago if he intended to be the head of a homeschooling family, he would have responded in a now familiar Dad-ism, "that's nowhere on my radar." Then again, I think twenty-five years ago homeschooling hadn't really taken root just yet. My parents didn't exactly belong to the pioneers of home education in our state, but I think my mom definitely qualifies as "second generation" in the movement.

     Though I wasn't really aware of it as I was growing up, I think Mom did a lot of experimenting to find out what worked for teaching me... and then had to start all over again when it came to my younger brother. I've never spent a day in public school and have loved the experience of having Mom one on one. We started before I was around three or four, playing word and thinking games.

     I remember most clearly all the hands on sessions of science, exploring, field trips, and all the reading aloud she did for both me and my brother, John. There are few things more exciting than learning about the civil war by taking a weekend trip to a reenactment or reading Across Five Aprils in between "classes" on the living room floor. Math and home economics were setting up a grocery store in the school room and playing cashier while Mom was customer.

     As an alumni homeschool student, I'd like encourage any homeschool moms who are in that deep mid-winter slump this week. Your kids will look back and remember. The little things you do and silly games you play that help them remember times tables or grammatical rules do matter. I know, because my mother invested in me, and her love has made an eternal impact on my life.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


The Student by Maria Dixon
     In my e-wanderings, I have noticed a growing number of blogs offered by homeschool mothers full of sound Biblical advice on how to be a wife and a mother. It's fantastic to read. I've actually started compiling ideas and devotions in to a sort of "hope folder" in lieu of a hope chest. I look forward to, even long after, the myriad of "someday" experiences I'll have.

     That said, I'm just not there yet. I'm not a mother, I'm not a wife. Frankly, I'm not even certain that I'm a proper adult at present. And, as much as I love reading the testimonies of God's faithfulness to His saints, it's a little painful when I'm still wrestling with the preliminaries. I nearly cringe as I hear wedding announcements of my friends now, as the enter into this other realm that I'm not part of. At nineteen I already feel like a late bloomer. If I really am a young lady, shouldn't I be ready for that?

      The sentiment Bailey expressed recently in her article, "So Much More: Out of the Box Womanhood," struck a chord with me. Motherhood and womanhood are often practically addressed as one in the same by many well-meaning homeschool moms, but that's hardly true and entirely unfair. Motherhood is a beautiful medium of expression for all that womanhood is, certainly, yet it is not the means to femininity or even the only end. God calls me to be the best woman I can be right now, husband or no.

     I keep looking for stories of girls in the same boat that I'm in--at the very beginnings of independence with a little experience and a lot of trepidation. There are some I've run across, few and far between. Lately I've taken to wondering if there are any other girls my age timidly searching for this sort of internet-camaraderie as well. Therefore, I am re-purposing this space. As a token of friendship, I offer forth in good faith my limited experience and great trepidation, tempered with Biblical truth and growing faith.

     As I most enjoy reading the stories of others and learn best from their relations, I'm going to make an attempt to briefly chronicle my life leading up to this point. In between, I'm sincerely hoping I can generate slightly more focused articles that may be of assistance to high school students coming into their own and college students getting out on their own. Lord willing, someone will benefit.