Tin Cottage Journal

Tin Cottage Journal

Monday, January 01, 2007


Wow! Can you believe it's 2007 already? I remember when the very thought of 2000 sounded like science fiction to me, and now that we're here, I guess that is what we are living. I can think back to images in comic books, T.V. shows and stories that have truly been fulfilled in many ways, though seldom in the way anticipated in the media. The human element is so much more prominent in the midst of the technology. PLUS, in science fiction, technology was always so adequate and flawless. It always worked and never broke down. Until Star Wars! Star Wars told the truth about "the future". The Y2K scare confirmed it.

Who would have ever thought technologically savy people would have so much in common with village handy men and shade tree mechanics? Or be so young, so much of the time. Now, those we turn to when it all falls apart are not highly paid engineers, either. If they get paid at all, they're lucky to make what an experienced secretary makes, post 9/11.

Raising a child born in 1990 to near adulthood has been a tricky feat. I was so concerned that we raise him to be able to cope in HIS generation, prepare him for the world HE would face. He had an interest in computers, and we felt sure he could make a good living pursuing that if he chose. But then, after 9/11, we saw kids who had planned to go into computer tech careers flounder in confusion as it became evident that computer techs were a "dime a dozen" so to speak, and the payscale plummeted.

Other fields that had seemed to hold promise also succumed to low pay and overcrowding.

Suddenly, I realized we were no more equipped than our own parents had been when it came to anticipating how to prepare offspring to face the future. In their day, you get a good education or a good job, and you stick with that job, and that field as long as you could. Longevity was everything. Now, it can be a death sentence. It became virtually impossible during our adult years, and we lived feeling unsettled as we had been taught that stability was the evidence of maturity and respectability.

I have even more recently realized, while watching my son play video games, surf the web, blog and communicate via instant message, that the very things I might view as time wasters may well be the skills that enable him to succeed in the world he will navigate as an adult. But how could we have understood that all along? We could have saved quite a few lectures and a lot of frustration over the years if we had.

The "play" of any generation will probably turn into the "work" and "reality" when that generation reaches adulthood. My son and his peers will rule the world with joysticks and keyboard, while staying in touch with associates, friends and family via whatever form of instant messaging is the latest and fastest and the most like "being there".

Occasionally, it may all break down, and they may have to pick up a phone or actually drive somewhere. But, they'll call the village "geek" or whatever, to fix it all. Or, they may just blow on it to clear the dust and try again. If that doesn't work, they'll turn it off so it can "reset" itself, or cool awhile. Then, soon they'll be communication, creating, courting & delegating again, with the world at their fingertips.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Many of you know eBay has banned the sale of Teacher's Manuals on the site. This ban is broad, and countless auctions have been shut down. It is true that some manage to slip through, but this is only because eBay is not able to police every listing. Among auctions that have been shut down have been vintage Dick & Jane teacher's manuals (honest) and every known publisher, including McGraw Hill, A Beka, Saxon, BJU, and any more you can think of. This has hurt homeschoolers, educational book sellers, and even sellers of collectible & vintage books! In addition to this, eBay continues to raise fees, which forces sellers to raise prices... and sales have been down. More and more sellers are looking to relocate.

A huge group of booksellers got together in a Yahoo group
and have investigated and voted on where to relocate, since eBay is being so crazy. They decided some solidarity is the only way to make progress, rather than scatter all over the net. This group has over 300 members!

The votes are in!
Here are their top choices:


www.blujay.com and


A runner up:

These are good sites. Because they are free or inexpensive to sellers, some will be passing the savings on to the buyers. Little Piggy is going to be clean, as it is home school focused. Blujay wants to stay clean, so if you see something that is offensive, there is a button to click to report it (PLEASE DO!). I don't really know about Wagglepop, but it is one of the sites the sellers have decided on.

PLEASE pass this on to everyone. If we fail to support this effort, then we may just end up with more of what I call "ghost town" auction sites. You've seen 'em. Hardly anyone selling. Nobody buying. PLEASE check out the sites listed above and PLEASE spread the word. We don't have to let the megaGiants of commerce dictate to us. If we unite for change, we CAN make a difference.


Monday, July 10, 2006


A few years ago I spent a short time "on the road" with my truck driver husband. I had never realized how inhospitable the people and businesses of America are to the ones who deliver their bread and butter, their clothes and their shoes, and their toys. In many towns, every parking lot had a sign "NO TRUCK PARKING ALLOWED. VIOLATORS WILL BE TOWED". It was okay to pull up to the back dock...to deliver their food, and all that they needed to survive...but after that, they wanted us to melt soundlessly into the night. Don't use our parking lots, don't hog our roads, and don't stop at our restaurants to eat.

Night after night, traveling mile after mile, looking for a place to eat or sleep, I suddenly realized that I was experiencing something Jesus probably experienced on a regular basis, and felt a kinship to Him in His life of being homeless, despised and rejected. Lying in the truck bunk at a roadside park, staring at the ceiling, hoping no one would pound on the side of the truck to evict us, I felt new kinship with my Savior. He had taken me into His confidence and I had learned to know Him by new Names ..."Despised One", "Rejected One" and the "One Who Had No Place To Lay His Head".

Oh, Yes! We turn to Him readily as "WONDERFUL COUNSELOR", "MIGHTY GOD", "EVERLASTING FATHER", and "PRINCE OF PEACE"! We love Him as our gentle "Shepherd", "Older Brother", "Healer" and "Provider". But, must we share in His sufferings as the "Pierced One", the "Wounded One", the "Bruised" and "Broken One"? Do I really want to empathize with Him as One "Acquainted with Grief"?

He says, "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." (John 16:24) What does this mean? Does it mean tacking "In Jesus Name" to the end of every petition?
How can we ask unless we know Him in Whose Name we are asking?

Do I know Him as "Homeless" unless I have been homeless? How do I experience Him as "Scorned" until I have been the target of snickers and snide remarks?

When a friend turns against you and does you harm, then you can truly turn to Him as the One who was "Betrayed" for you. When your reputation has been smirched and lies spread about you, call upon the One who was "Falsely Accused", yet spoke not a word in His own defense.

If I truly want to KNOW Him, then there will come times when I must "share in the fellowship of His sufferings". I say I am His friend, but do I really want Him to take me into His confidence? How else can I understand His heart unless I experience some of what He suffered for me?

As He takes me into His confidence, by sharing His heart and mind with me, I will have greater understanding of who HE IS, and I will learn to know Him by His many names.

When I suffer physical pain, may I realize that I am sharing in the suffering of the "Wounded One", and call Him by that name!

When I do not know where the money will come from to pay for my basic sustenance, I want to embrace Him as my "Poor" Brother who had to depend on the handouts and donations of a fickle following to pay for His physical necessities.

Spurned by the one you hoped would share your life forever, call upon the Name of the One who was "Rejected" by those He loved the most.

When all of life is dark, and it seems God does not care what happens to you, remember the One, who, upon the cross, in Earth's darkest hour cried, "My God! My God! Why have You FORSAKEN me?" Call upon the "Abandoned" and "Forsaken" One.

Oh, yes! We DO love Him as our Comforter, our Redeemer, our Righteousness, and our Provider, but to know Him in intimacy as our Bridegroom, and to truly be His friends, it's necessary that we must learn to know Him by His other names as well.
Finally, knowing those Names, we can call Him by them. "Oh, Precious One who was WOUNDED for me! HOMELESS for ME! DESPISED and REJECTED One, My Treasure and My Lord!!!"

Hopefully as we learn the meaning of His names, we will become more like Him , and begin to see Him in the faces of the suffering people around us. Then perhaps, as we have learned to abide in Him, see through His eyes, and know Him by His names, we can more truly experience what it means to claim the promise of praying in JESUS' NAME.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Homeschooling Through
Crisis & Chaos
Recently, a lady shared with a homeschool e-mail support group her desire to continue in homeschooling, though she struggles with serious illness and other daunting obstacles. She asked the ladies of the group to share their thoughts with her, as she feared she was not up to the challenge. Her struggle is great, indeed, and my prayers are with her. I do not know if my response to her will be helpful to her, or to you, but I share it here in hopes that these words might be a blessing to someone in difficult circumstances.

Hi April,

My heart is SO moved by your plight. I will be praying for you.

Of course, I do not know enough about your circumstances to be sure my input will be useful to you, but just in case, I want to share some thoughts. If any of this is helpful, I am glad.

I had intended to homeschool my son Joel from DAY 1, but when he reached kindergarten age, I was in terrible physical contdition due to a back injury doctors had failed to diagnose and treat. I was in terrible pain all the time. I felt so depleted I put him in school because I felt I did not have the energy to do what I needed to do for him.

However, what I did not anticipate is how much energy it took for me to get him to school and back every day. I had surgery in October of that year, and spent the winter fighting severe bronchitis and trying to recover from back surgery. It would have been so much better for me to be curled up on the couch with him, reading Dr. Seuss ABC or Goodnight Moon instead of dragging both of us out every morning, rain or shine, and in the icy winter blast every day.

I left him in school through 1st grade as well, since putting him there in the first place had left us with doubts as to whether we should homeschool. He really did have a good experience, relatively speaking, with good Christian teachers, etc. But, we did begin homeschooling in 2nd grade.

I have had some other physical problems that have not left me at my best all the time. My husband has had a crazy schedule through the years, Joel I are NOT morning people, and various family crises and illnesses have proven to be challenging for us and our homeschool process. However, looking back, I wonder how much more challenging some of those would have been, trying to stay in sync with the school system schedule and demands and still address the issues we were dealing with as a family.

A few years ago, my mom went through chemo, and it was devestating to her. We almost lost her to the chemo. We spent a lot of time with her. Sometimes we took the books with us, and other times, Joel just played outside with his cousins.

Here are the things that have helped us survive.... and, I believe succeed, in continuing to homeschool in spite of choas!

(1) Do not feel you have to be locked in to a yearly schedule. You do not have to "school during certain months just because that is what the public school is doing, or because someone else is doing it that way. "School" when it is convenient for you.

(2) Do not feel you have to be locked in to a monthly or weekly schedule. You do not have to "school" Monday through Friday, or take off spring break at any certain time. You may "school" Wednesday through Saturday, or 4 days a week (no summers off). You may take 3 months off in the middle of the year for chemo. You may "school" for 2 weeks, and take a week off for chemo recovery. You may go on vacation in October because you can, and the weather is nice. "School" when it is convenient for you.

(3) Do NOT feel you have to be on any DAILY or HOURLY schedule. You do not have to "school" in the morning and afternoon. You can school in the evening, if that is the time of day you feel better. You mom can help during a time of day that is convenient for her. Maybe another family member can help at a time that is convenient for him.

(4) You do not have to do every subject every year. Some years, you may be in a "basic" mode, pursuing math and reading, and only address other subjects in the most casual way, through fiction, movies and an occasional field trip if you're up to it. After all, you can always do American History NEXT year. There is an awful lot of repetition built into how most curriculums handles those subjects anyway.

(5) You do not have to do every subject every day. My son works better in "blocks". He prefers to do all his history in one day, and all his science on another. Maybe, if your mom is off on Saturdays, and she loves history, Saturday could be "history day" at her house.

(6) Have a "survival package" and a "better days" agenda. Some years, I've used those big fat "all in one" curriculum books by McGraw Hill. On days I was "under the weather", Joel worked assigned pages in that book. He knew what was required in those books each day without having to ask me. But on days I had more energy, I would allow him to "skip" that book and we'd read together and explore areas I felt the need to be more involved in with him.

Again, like I said, I don't know how much of this will be helpful to you. Putting him back in school MAY BE the answer you need. But don't feel that you have failed if your homeschool does not fit a certain mold. Ours has always been rather unorthodox. but Joel is now 15, ready for 10th grade, and already finished with Algebra 1 & 2, and planning to study both Biology and Physics next year. We've done ok, I think.

God bless you! My prayers are with you.

This is a "reprint" from last year, posted here for your encouragement.