Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When is Failure a Failure?

Our state is in a drought again this year. Most all of the neighbors
around us have lost their gardens, just as we did. The hot temperatures
and lack of rain was devastating on the plants. In our garden, the
squash grew and bloomed wonderfully, only to lose their blooms and not
produce any squash. The tomatoes were attacked by a strange looking
wood beetle that took a small bite out of the still growing green
tomatoes, making them rot on the vine. Even the onion patch suffered.
Was this a failure? Depends on your perspective.

Each time we try something and it doesn't go as planned, we have
opportunity to learn. Like other areas in our lives, the gardens
provided the promise of good things, yet became a tough challenge.
Because of the lack of enough water and the extreme heat, the plants
failed to completely grown and produce. We could look at it as a
complete failure, focusing on the loss of money, seeds, and other
resources. It wasn't a true failure though. We learned something from

We are going to relocate the garden from the large area behind the house
to a different area where the garden will have a lot of morning and
early afternoon sun. In the hottest time of day, the garden will have
some shade to prevent the plants from getting burnt out from the heat.
Yes, most garden plants like full sun, but they will only be shaded in
the mid-late afternoon. The morning and early afternoon sun will be
more than ample for the garden to grow properly. The garden will be
planted in large boxes made from pallets as well as the shipping crates
we have. This will eliminate much of the weeding while still giving a
good harvest. It is slightly higher maintenance in that you have to
water the plants more often, but the benefits are worth it.

So, when is a failure a failure? The moment that things don't work out
as planned and you don't accept the opportunity to change and improve
yourself. When you stop picking yourself up, trying to find the reasons
things didn't go well, and working to eliminate the obstacles, then you
have failed.

In the self-sufficiency lifestyle, there is no room for falling down and
not picking yourself back up again. It is through our perceived
failures and challenges that we learn the most and are able to move past
them. We learn to find a better way to accomplish our goals. Nothing
is a total waste as long as we are able to gain knowledge from it. We
have to take a step back at times, looking at the situation with
realistic eyes and not those of a dreamer. Figure out where we made an
error and how to avoid that mistake again.

It is much like life in general. We all make mistakes or life hands us
a situation that knocks us down. Do we stay down? No! We stand up,
dust ourselves off and try again. We make adjustments wherever needed
and give it another go. Over time, we see the improvements. It is much
like our life in our faith. We make mistakes and commit a sin. The
Lord helps up stand back up on our feet. We acknowledge Him in our life
and if necessary, ask the Lord to help us to see where we made the
error. If we want to avoid that mistake again, we pray and ask
forgiveness then do our best to learn from that situation so we won't
repeat it.

Maybe the hardest lesson of all is this - how to have less of a
"self-reliant" life and more of a "God-reliant" life. In this way,
learning to depend less on our own knowledge and efforts while learning
to give credit to the Lord in all things. We need to realize that the
Lord is the one who blesses our efforts. What we gain is a gift from
Him. Not something that we did without the Lord's blessing and can be
prideful in, taking all credit unto ourselves.


The Excitement Builds

On Tuesday, the UPS delivery truck stopped at the house. The delivery
was Miss Abbie's school books for the upcoming term. It was so sweet to
see her reaction. I told her that it was her school books and she
became all giddy and excited. As I opened the box, she stood right
beside me to catch a peek. As I removed each book and workbook, I told
her what they were. The expressions on her face were like a kid on
Christmas morning. She took the materials for each subject over to her
Daddy to look at. We had been talking about the curriculum, but this
was his first chance to see it for himself. Joe glanced through the
materials and is happy with them. He showed to Abbie the first couple
of lessons in her Reader, helping her to read the words on the pages.

I have been going through the materials more thoroughly and am
thrilled. Rod & Staff's 1st Grade curriculum consists of a strong focus
on the 3 R's. The Reading course includes readers, reading workbooks,
phonics workbooks, and printing practice workbooks. The Arithmetic
course includes the textbook, workbooks, and supplemental worksheets.
The writing course is referred to as Penmanship and has a textbook with
corresponding workbooks. The premise behind the 3-Rs focus is that if a
child does not understand these basics, then all other subjects can fail
too. A child must have a strong foundation on which to build up their
knowledge. I am going to add interactive center activities in history
and science. Life skills and Bible are additional subjects we will be
working on.

I am so happy that Joe was here to be able to look through Abbie's
school materials. It means a lot to have him be a big part in her
schooling. She is such a Daddy's girl and gets excited about things he
is excited about. Seeing him take her aside and start out by giving her
little previews of her lessons was a wonderful moment. His enthusiasm
washed over her and she caught on. I may even move up her first day of
schooling to next Monday instead of the end of this month. This will
allow me to get her started while she is still excited about the new
materials. She is really chomping at the bit to try them out.

I have everything to make her School Cone, based on the German tradition
of the Schultute. The large paper cone is decorated and filled with
school supplies and a treat to give the child a fun experience on their
first day of school. In Germany, the tradition was to give it to a
child beginning 1st grade as a way to help keep them from being nervous
about their first day of school.

I am making Abbie's school cone slightly different than the ones I found
online. I am using poster board covered with fabric to form the cone.
The fabric extends 8 inches above the top edge of the cone. The cone is
filled with school supplies and a little treat. The extra fabric at the
top of the cone is then gathered and tied shut with a ribbon.

It is such a blessing to watch Abbie get so excited about
homeschooling. She truly is eager to get started. I feel so humbled
and privileged to be able to teach her at home. Watching as she learns
new things and sharing in her excitement is a joy.