Friday, September 26, 2008

Hurricane Ike Didn't Blow Us Away. . .

But he sure did take us off the grid for a while! It's been two weeks today since Ike came to visit. Now we are trying to catch up after the crisis and cleanup.

Here's a picture of my backyard 24 hours after Ike washed ashore. As you can see, we were extremely blessed. We only had damage to our fence on all sides, and the shed lost shingles. Our home was fortunately untouched.

Kristen evacuated with her 5 children and had a difficult drive with sickness and changes in trip plans as her husband held down their fort. They sustained little damage to their property but lost several large trees. She got home yesterday, rested and glad to be home. We are both very thankful to the Lord for his goodness to us.

I was so thankful for the boarded up windows while listening to Ike's winds. When the eye passed overhead, we went outside with flashlights. The eerieness seemed to crawl on your skin. Then the second half of the storm hit with even more force. Afterwards we learned to be resourceful and content without electricity for over 8 days.

The community really came together during the aftermath and helped one another. Everybody, including newly-met neighbors, was so giving in time and hard work and supplies. We received from others and jumped in to help others. Passing out food, water, ice, charcoal, and other supplies to those hit harder than us was gratifying.

All of our Hurricane Ike experiences gave us a new perspective. I was thankful for all the opportunities to learn, build and teach real character like generosity, contentment and hard work mentioned above and as well: faith, security, benevolence, patience, alertness, creativity and gratefulness. Homeschooling never stops, does it?! :)

Our homeschool group has been like a community, too. Everyone has been calling and checking on one another, offering to help, giving support, prayer and encouragement. As the electricity has flowed back into homes we've seen more updates from families on our email network. It is comforting to connect again and hear all the news and needs.

A homeschool group needs that sense of community! It is important in the good times and critical in the difficult ones. I'll leave you with three quick ways to help build those connections:

  1. Give time to build relationships and friendships in group activities
  2. Have a website or yahoo group for email networking
  3. Pass out a printed phone directory of and for the members

Survivor by grace,

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fresh Tips From a New Leader

Small fellowship groups at state or regional conferences give homeschoolers time to connect with others like themselves. I was privileged to meet several group leaders at a planned fellowship for support group leaders during the Texas State Conference. They were such a wealth of information with their years of experience.

The heart of leaders to help and encourage others was evident as they talked together. Some gave tips and answered questions while others put forth new ideas. As I listened and learned, I became doubly aware of the need to pass along experienced leaders' wisdom and make it available for others all across the web.

One leader in attendence was Bambi Dossey. She started a group 1 1/2 years ago in a small town she had moved into. Already they have 35 families who have joined. Bambi said that it is was very different coming from a large established group to starting a new one.

Since the experience is so fresh for her, I asked her what one piece of advice would she give someone who was starting a group. She answered, "Make sure it is God's plan!"

"If I build it, I'll just spin my wheels and be exhausted. Pray before you ask someone to lead, and pray while they decide. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading."

She then added, "Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Visit websites, talk to groups." Bambi said that the bylaws, code of decorum, and statement of faith can be borrowed from other groups. Then they can be tweaked to fit your group's mission statement and passed by the board.

Lastly I asked her what she wished she would have known when she began the group. Instantly she replied, "Don't take it personal!"

In explanation, she continued that people sometimes hold back to see if it {the group or leadership} is going to work before they commit or help. She had to learn to keep her focus on what God was doing, not others.

Hope you enjoyed that slice out of leadership life,

Saturday, September 6, 2008

An Update & Tides

Have things been as crazy at your house as it has been at each of ours? These last couple of weeks have flown by and have been crammed with life happenings.

Kristen and I have hardly seen each other, much less worked on our writings. Yesterday, we got to steal an hour together on the phone. That was good. As we talked, we reconfirmed that family always comes first. We don't want to be obsessive with our work here at Homeschool Group Leader--as good as it is and as much as we enjoy it. It's all about balance and keeping priorities in the right order.

Maybe you're wondering what's been going on. . . . Thanks for asking! We've had lots of company and family visiting, each have taken vacations, started our home schooling, had times of sickness or migraines, had church activities, kept up with Hurricane Gustav (was ready to evacuate at a radar's notice) and even watched the RNC. Even now I have Gustav evacuees here staying with me from Baton Rouge. You don't hear it on the news because it's not New Orleans, but they've been without electricity all week. 400 homes have trees on them. Our friends were actually sleeping in their car to have a little air conditioning in the overbearing humidity and heat.

I've noticed over the years that life seems to happen in waves. The tide comes in where everything happens at once. Then the natural ebb and flow brings times of refreshing and calm. During the stressful or busy times as high waves keep crashing around and on us, we can easily feel overwhelmed. It is important to keep your head up (priorities) above the waves to avoid drowning. Don't panic, stay calm, tread water, hold your breath, breathe. All the while remember the best advice a lifeguard can give--look up!

"Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me." Micah 7:7

Resting in His wonderful mercy,