The last three months have been a whirlwind of birding frenzy for me. I started to keep a list of the birds found each month. For as laid back as I might appear, I really don’t know how to casually do anything. It became . . . . a bit obsessive. I found I was loosing my joy of discovery– replacing it with rules, other people’s expectations, worried about how a final product will look to other people, wondering if I was doing enough. Seriously, we are still talking about bird lists and photographs here.
As for my Life List – I have a Sibley Book that I’ve owned for a little over ten years. Each time I see a bird that I don’t know, I look it up. I write a little mark to show what the first date identified.
In time, I started adding post it note tabs, at a certain point – I quit writing the name on the tab, as they were getting too tight to read.
Recently, I’ve felt inspired to keep a “real” Birding Life List. I’ve played with several online programs, It all seems like such a chore. I started having the thoughts of not being “good enough” to be a “real” birder.
I spent quite a few hours, days really, working on my Bird Schooling Page. Writing that, and a post teasing myself of my OCD – really showed me how obsessed it had all become. No longer focused on the joy of discovery and learning in a natural way – but focused on a method of getting to the end result which was pleasing other people.
So, Yesterday, it was firmly decided in my mind – to Quit Birding. Period. What? All or nothing? Well, that’s sort of how I roll. I will continue to focus on the Whole Picture. The Whole Day. And ALL of the people with me, more than the feathers in the bushes, that really would prefer to not be seen.
And it is thoughtful and timely – that I was taking the photos of Jon’s Journal to share with you – that you see in this blog – it is Jon’s new found joy – drawing the birds outside – All of these were sketched out, on his own time, in the last TWO days. Quick as a wink, he’s producing these. And timely, that I received a book that had been missing back into my library.
Educating the Wholehearted Child, by Clay and Sally Clarkson. I have not personally read this cover to cover since Nate was probably 6 or 7. I’ve loaned it out enough times to loose my first marked up copy. I’ve recommended it countless times. I remember it having a huge impression on me, and influencing the way we teach the boys at home.
For those of you familiar with it’s encouraging content, I think you’ll know where I’m heading – With acknowledging that I’ve gotten off the path! With birds, and with the boys a little – I had a paradigm shift that they speak of. When my focus goes off. Focused on Self – and how we are presented to Others – I read a quote this morning on Doorposts.com – that has got me to thinking –
“Keep nothing back. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” C.S. Lewis – Let Go, Doorposts.com
I’ve slipped back into being upset about my body size and the functionality of my Thyroid & Metabolism. Knowing how my body works, I’ve had a pretty good self image, but coming out of this winter long illness, my focus changed. Onto my Self. What’s that up there? Hatred? Loneliness? Despair? Decay? Hmm. Hitting a little too close if I’m really honest.
And why am I pondering on and on ? Because I really want to share the trap that I was about to fall into. The Trap that I’ve seen many homeschoolers and mothers get caught up in. The more families I meet on line – especially the newest crop of homeschoolers – the more I see that they are homeschooling – for reasons – that will leave them dissatisfied. Always doubting. Questioning. Always worried. Are they doing it the right way? What will people think? Are they using the right products? Wishing you had a memory eraser for that guy in the market so he’d forget your child’s answer to his pop quiz this morning. But, unlike Jon’s sketch here, it doesn’t have to be a ship wreck. And you don’t have to bail out, or jump ship. And the sharks out in that great big ocean can just go find someplace else to feed.
“We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. . . . so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Psalm 78:4,6,7, from the cover of Whole Hearted Child.”
So, I’m going to spend the next few afternoons re-reading – re-underlining – re-soaking in the wise words of those who have gone before me. I will go back to my old ragged Sibley book to keep my life list in. I will not worry about getting the identification of a bird wrong. I will focus on the Creator – and not the creation.
And – I will be looking back at this year – and forwards to next year – to see if our home learning has lost focus as well. I feel that we have done a great job of being flexible, disciplined, learning with intent, using great resources – and being accountable to using our day to the best of our abilities – while our entire focus has been on The Lord. But – I’m going to open my heart, and close my eyes, and pray as I read through the Whole Hearted Child – and set aside any root of pride.
Speaking of Pride, Jon spent an hour or two sketching out the hummingbird at the feeder – but it quickly turned into a new species – Unicorn Hummingbird.
Because sometimes – After you’ve worked with the details with your whole heart – ya just gotta put your own personality into it.
Thanks for listening –
Submitted to The Christian Home Issue 13