The Hopes Unfulfilled

Four years ago my heart broke on Father’s Day. Having a parent deliberately cut ties with you is crushing, but when it’s your dad making that choice on Father’s Day of all days… There are some wounds that I’m not sure ever completely heal this side of Heaven, and this may be one of them.

Time is funny. In this case, four years feels like an entire lifetime. These past four years have been filled with some of the hardest battles of my life. I’ve faced difficult truths, made hard decisions, and seen parts of my past with more clarity than ever before. All of those are good things, but hard-won. I heard someone say once, “Feelings buried alive never die.” I’d buried a staggering number of them, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath of years of unhealthy coping mechanisms. It takes time—maybe the rest of my life.

It’s tempting to hate the people who’ve hurt you. I seem to be particularly prone to this sin, and I have to keep taking it back to the cross. In this situation, God has given me a rather interesting thing to combat the hate I’m tempted to harbor: science fiction.

Nope, I haven’t finally lost it, I promise! I used to watch Star Trek re-runs with my dad on a regular basis. Saturday nights were the nights when we gathered in the living room to watch Doctor Who on the local PBS station. I loved those shows as much as my dad. Memories of sitting on the couch with him and watching Star Trek are one of the good memories that I still count as precious.

It wasn’t only science fiction TV though. My dad let me read his Flying and Air and Space magazines. We watched documentaries on aviation and spaceflight together. He bought me the telescope that I still use to gaze at the stars and dream. He’s one of the few people who never insinuated that it was strange for a girl to love airplanes, spacecraft, and astronomy. He’s the reason I had subscriptions to Astronomy and Aviation History in high school. When Aaron took me to the Air and Space museum on our honeymoon, I was in awe of the famous aircraft because my dad told me about them and the stories behind them when I was a kid.

I love all of those things, and I write science fiction today because of my dad. For all of the hard that came out of that relationship, this is one thing that came out of it that I will never, never regret. It’s a part of who I am that is meaningful to me, and it’s something that my dad encouraged, even when people said, “But you’re a girl!” I will always be grateful to my dad for the gift of science fiction, and for being one of the few people in my growing up years who understood just how much the sky and the stars called to me. Because of how much these things mean to me, and because of how much of it I owe to my dad, I can’t completely hate him. I hate some of the things he did to me, to my sister, and to our mom. And yet… I am thankful for the gift of science fiction that he gave me.

Officially, I write science fiction because I love the stars, and I love the genre that allows us to explore deep and complicated things in a way that makes them seem less scary and threatening. Science fiction is an amazing genre with the potential to impact people in a very personal way. Unofficially, I write science fiction because it redeems part of a childhood made up of scary and difficult things. No writer exists who doesn’t owe thanks to the people who have made it possible for them to be a writer. I’ve got my own very long list of people who have encouraged, inspired, and taught me along the way. My dad’s on that list too because he sparked the interest in so many of the things that have made me a science fiction writer.

I think the hardest thing about healing for me has been trying to reconcile the good and bad in the relationship. Nothing turned out the way I expected when I was younger. In some ways that’s a very good thing, but in other ways it’s so very hard. Letting go of what I thought would be is not easy, and it’s weird to grieve the loss of someone still living. I always hoped for that movie moment like at the end of Star Trek IV where Sarek and Spock reconcile at least some of their differences. I wanted that moment, and I really believed that if I could be something enough, I’d get it. Reality doesn’t always work out so well as in the movies, and I had to make peace with the truth of that. Recently though, a quote from Tolkien that I always associated with my mom seems like it might apply to my dad too.

“There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Whether on this side of eternity or the next, God may yet have a miracle in store. For now, there’s something very dear to me in my life because of my dad. In the end, maybe God redeems more things than I ever dreamed He could.

Teens and Work

To work, or not to work? That’s a question that everyone has an opinion on! When it comes to whether or not teens should get a job, the options are as diverse as the opinions. Just as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to homeschooling, neither is there an answer to this question that’s a perfect fit for every family and teen.

 

When navigating the question or working during the teen years, the best place to start is by having a conversation with your teen. Discuss their goals, dreams, and their plans for the years after high school graduation. All of this will help you both zero in on which options will best support those plans.

 

Also important is helping your teen understand their strengths, weaknesses, skills, and how those relate to the best kind of work for them to pursue. Someone who is outgoing and good with people may shine in sales, while a more reserved, quiet person would bloom in a more behind-the-scenes job. Ambitious teens whose “stubborn streak” gives them the perseverance to keep working hard through difficult circumstances just might be the next successful entrepreneur. One with a real talent for music and a desire to make a career out of their passion could be best served by signing up for extra music classes instead of that part-time job. Share your own observations with your teen, and help them look at themselves and their abilities objectively.

 

With so many options to explore, your teen is bound to find one that works for them.

 

Traditional Job

There’s something to be said for a job that allows you to “punch a time card” and collect a steady paycheck. Learning to be on time for your shift, accepting direction, and receiving feedback about your work gracefully are all benefits of working in a traditional job situation. If your teen works best when following instructions and receiving guidance from someone else, then a traditional job with a manager directing them and setting their work schedule is a good option.

 

Advantages:

  • A job provides steady hours, usually with a schedule set ahead of time.
  • A consistent paycheck allows teens to save up for a car, college, travel, etc.
  • Opportunities for advancement are available based on performance and hard work.
  • A teen is able to explore a particular industry further before committing to further training or education.
  • Companies may offer full or partial reimbursement for college courses taken by employees.

 

Disadvantages

  • Schedule may not be flexible, thus limiting the ability to participate in other activities.
  • Minimum hours required by their employer may not leave enough time for their studies.
  • Transportation to or from work may be problematic if your teen does not have their own car, or access to public transportation.

 

Odd Jobs

How many of us gained our first work experience by babysitting or mowing lawns? There’s always someone who’s willing to pay for services such as this, and picking up odd jobs allows a young person to work as many or as few hours as will fit into their schedule. If your teen works best independently and has developed strong time-management and scheduling skills, then odd jobs may be the perfect fit.

Advantages

  • Odd jobs provide flexibility in scheduling, allowing a teen to work more or less based on their needs.
  • This type of work allows a teen to translate skills they already have into a profitable work opportunity.
  • Teens can gain experience in scheduling and negotiating rates with clients.

 

Disadvantages

  • Unpredictable income makes it more difficult to budget spending and saving.
  • Availability of work is dependent upon word of mouth referrals or advertising.
  • One unsatisfied client can negatively impact a teen’s ability to pick up more odd jobs.

 

Family Business

A family business offers a rare opportunity to gain experience in multiple aspects of an industry. In a given week, a teen might be working in accounting, management, customer service, and more! If your teen has an interest in areas of your business, and they work well with family, this could be a good option.

 

Advantages

  • This option provides more flexibility in scheduling than a traditional job, while maintaining the accountability of working scheduled hours.
  • Teens have opportunities to learn and explore various aspects of business without switching jobs.
  • This option provides good preparation for a teen whose career goal is to take over the family business one day.

 

Disadvantages

  • Pay may not be as high as an outside job.
  • Working with the people who you already see all day, every day may cause extra friction in family relationships.

 

Starting a Business

This option has a lot in common with picking up odd jobs, but would include sales, manufacturing, and other options that don’t quite fit in the odd jobs category. For teens with an eye on entrepreneurship, this is an excellent way to test the waters before they have to rely on their income to pay the rent! If your teen is disciplined, organized, and has the perseverance to not give up when the going gets tough, they may be an excellent business owner. It’s not a good fit for teens who need a lot of direction and tend to procrastinate.

Advantages

  • Anything from jewelry-making to raising chickens can be turned into a business venture.
  • A teen gains valuable, real-world business experience.
  • Local business associations may offer mentoring programs or scholarships for young

business owners.

 

Disadvantages

  • Typically, capital must first be invested to get a business up and running.
  • There’s risk involved, and a business may not make a profit, or even recoup the initial investment.
  • The time required to run a successful business may not leave adequate time for required studies.

 

Temporary Job

Holidays and summer months frequently provide temporary job openings. If your teen wants to earn some extra money and gain job experience, but can’t commit to a regular part-time job schedule, then a seasonal job might be just right for them.

Advantages

  • A temp job allows for trying out various types of jobs over the course of the teen years because each employment period is short-term.
  • Temporary openings may lead to a long-term job in the future if an employer is impressed by a teen’s work.
  • A fairly predictable income amount allows for saving towards a particular expense.

 

Disadvantages

  • Scheduling for seasonal employees tends to be the least flexible. If employment is over the holidays, this may mean a teen won’t be able to participate in family plans for the holiday.
  • As it is short-term, a temporary job may not be sufficient to cover expenses if your teen’s goal is something along the lines of purchasing and maintaining a car.

 

Volunteer Work

This is one of the options that won’t earn your teen a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean there are no benefits! If your teen is passionate about a particular cause or industry that they can’t find part-time employment in, then a volunteer position might be their best option.

Advantages

  • Volunteer work looks good on college applications, scholarship applications, and even a resume!
  • Teens can gain experience and make contacts in the field they desire to have a career in.
  • Some organizations may place priority on applicants who are volunteers when hiring paid positions.

 

Disadvantages

  • There’s no paycheck attached to volunteer work. This is problematic if your teen needs an income or wants to save for college.
  • Some volunteer positions require a sizable time commitment that may interfere with studies. It may be tempting to justify letting education suffer because the volunteer work is helping others.

 

Academic Focus

There are valid reasons to eschew working or volunteering in favor of keeping a focus on academics during the teen years. If your teen struggles with health issues or learning disabilities, then concentrating on their education without the distraction of a job may be best for their health and their future. If a teen’s plans for college are dependent on receiving large scholarships, then it may make more sense for them to focus solely on academics.

Advantages

  • A focus on academics can result in less stress due to overscheduling.
  • Teens have the ability to focus on music classes, sports, or other interests.
  • Dual enrollment courses require a significant time commitment that does not always fit well with a side job.
  • Better grades and test scores increases opportunities for scholarships.
  • More time may be spent applying for scholarships and studying to improve SAT or ACT scores.

 

Disadvantages

  • An academics-only focus doesn’t allow for saving towards a car or college tuition.
  • It may be more difficult to find a job in college or after college due to lack of previous work experience.

 

Your Decision

Look at all of the options, and help your teen brainstorm how each one might benefit them. Keep in mind that what works for one teen may not work for their sibling. A combination of more than one of the options listed here could be ideal for your teen, or maybe even something that’s not on the list. Don’t be afraid to let them explore various ideas, and maybe even fail at something! There’s nothing that says you can’t change course mid-way through the teen years if it turns out one option isn’t working, or if your family’s circumstances change.

The teen years are full of change. You get to see your child take their first steps towards launching into their own career and becoming more independent. Whichever path your teen chooses, your guidance and encouragement are still needed in these decisions – even if that looks a little different than it did when they were younger. Enjoy the journey!

 

Summer, Printables, and Checklists

Technically, we do year-round school. However, we take the month of August off, and the other two summer months typically boast shorter school days because at this point we’ve completed the curriculum for some of the subjects. You know what that means, right? Kids get bored. Someone in a local homeschool group shared a link to a “Summer Rules” checklist that kids have to complete before using electronics. I thought it was a cool idea and a good way to keep the kids busy doing productive things once they’ve completed their schoolwork. Here’s a link to the blog where you can find the printables at Thirty Handmade Days.

I’ve filled mine in by hand, but there’s also an option for a list that’s already filled out and ready to go. I liked the pre-filled list, but decided to print out the blank one so that I could tweak it just a bit. (Of course!) I definitely want them to keep up with reading every day, and doing something that’s creative/educational. The kids are all doing their own laundry now, but since it’s new for some of them, I thought sticking the reminder to check on it would keep them from suddenly having no clothes to wear. The item about bringing Mom coffee was added just to make everyone laugh! (I don’t think I would actually trust anyone to make me coffee!)

I also noticed some of the other printables offered on Thirty Handmade Days and really liked the Summer Reading Challenge Bookmarks too. I laminated one for me and each of the three older kids. I told them that anyone who gets all of the circles on their bookmark punched by the end of the summer will get a special prize! Naturally, they wanted to know what the prize was, and I told them that it was a special surprise, so they couldn’t know yet. Actually, I’m not sure what the prize is yet! I have a couple of ideas, but if anyone has a great suggestion, then please leave a comment!

For chore ideas I just check my Clean Mama calendar or seasonal checklist. Clean Mama has a great list of printables too, and I just loved both of her books! (Can you tell how much I like checklists yet?)

So, do you love printables and checklists as much as I do? In any case, let me know what your summer plans are in the comments!

A Tribute to Glenn Speed

Scan0028Grampa Glenn couldn’t carry a tune. As I inherited my musical ability from him, I never really noticed this, and so I enjoyed listening to him lead the singing in church. According to a story told by my mom, Grampa and his father, Clyde Speed, were having a discussion about his singing when Gramp declared that the Lord just said to make a joyful noise. To which Great-grandpa Clyde replied, “Glenn, the noise you make isn’t even joyful!” This story, like most of the other family stories, never failed to make me laugh. And Grampa kept right on singing the old hymns loudly and joyfully, even if he wasn’t quite on key.

Colossians 3:23 is a verse that certainly applied to Grampa, “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.” (HCSB) I can’t recall him ever doing anything by halves, whether it was as a Maine Game Warden, as a member of the search and rescue team, as a pastor, as a missionary, or as a man who loved his family. He spent much of his life in enthusiastic service to God, and to others. I couldn’t begin to guess the number of people who would testify to the difference that knowing him made in their lives.

Now, Gramp would be the first to admit that he wasn’t perfect. There’s a reason why all of the Speed decedents have a healthy stubborn streak, and a bit of a temper! But there’s also a reason why we all value our family so dearly. Gramp and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but that never stopped him from giving me one of his bear hugs and telling me that he loved me. I felt secure in knowing how much my grampa loved me, and prayed for me. I knew that if I ever called him, he would pick up the phone and do anything that he could to help. Because that’s just the kind of man that he was.

Scan0006Grampa Glenn once told me that we have it backwards, that we should be happy when a believer passes from this life. I’ve no doubt that he is right now rejoicing in the presence of the Savior whom he loved. I imagine him standing with one arm around Mom and the other around Aunt Pam, singing praises to God. (Maybe he’s even singing on key now!)

As much as my heart rejoices for Gramp’s sake, I’ll still shed some tears for those of us left behind. Our work here is not yet done, and so we must continue on without him. 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (HCSB) Grampa Glenn did all of those things, and I am certain that he would tell us to keep fighting the good fight, keep running the race, and most importantly, to keep the faith.

Memories of Grampa Glenn

Yesterday was Grampa Glenn’s 84th birthday. I think he’d say that he got the best birthday present ever, since that was the day that God called him home at last. I can’t honestly say that I’d wish him back from where he is now, but I sure will miss him.

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Gramp spent a number of years as a Game Warden in Maine, and was even on the search and rescue team. (His supervisor was Aaron’s grandfather.) He sure had some amazing stories to tell from his time as a Game Warden, and I always enjoyed listening to them!

Later, Gramp became a pastor and missionary. He’s preached the Good News all across the states, and into Mexico and Canada as well. I’ll always remember him leading the singing in church. Gramp couldn’t carry a tune, that’s where I get it from, but he sure loved singing all of the old hymns anyway.

When I was a teenager, Gram and Mom took a quilting class at the local vocational school. On the days that they had class, my sister and I would spend the day with Gramp, studying at his dining room table. The quilt that’s covering my bed right now is one that he pieced while I studied! The name of the pattern is commonly called Trip Around the World, but Gramp insisted that he preferred the lesser-known name, Step Around the Mountain. In addition to sewing, Gramp could cook a mean lasagna, tackle home projects, and grow scary-hot peppers!

When I think about Gramp, I always remember the suspenders that were his signature item. He often wore red ones, as that was his favorite color. All of us grandkids took a turn snapping Gramp’s suspenders and giggling! He was equally at home in suits, overalls, and the cool leather vest that he had when I was a teen.

Our family loved to take day trips to Schoodic Point on the coast of Maine. I have fond memories of climbing all over the rocks with my cousins and feeding the seagulls stale bread and cookies. It’s no wonder that so many of our photos are from the coast! I particularly remember some of the times when all of us grandkids would pile into the motor home, or the back of Gram and Gramp’s Suburban for the drive down. I’m sure our parents all enjoyed a quiet drive anyway!

Summers often saw an assortment of grandkids spending days or weeks with Gram and Gramp. I’m not completely sure how they managed to stay sane with so many of us kids under their roof at once, but we loved it! Gramp had his coffee every morning, and maybe that’s why so many of us grandkids grew to like it as well. Gramp also told us jokes that prompted Gram to reply with, “Gleennn! Don’t tell them that!” Then all of us kids would giggle while Gramp just grinned at Gram!

scan0042Gram and Gramp were married for over 65 years. That’s an accomplishment and a half today! I sure am glad that there are a few photos of Gram and Gramp kissing. (As much as us grandkids may have exclaimed, “Ewww!”) My kids and grandkids will be able to look at those photos and know that they loved each other very much.

I know that Gramp would be the first one to tell me that I shouldn’t be sad for him, and I’m not. I’m sad for those of us who have to miss him. Someone once told me that when you miss someone this much, it’s because there was so much love. Relationships like that are a treasure, even when the time comes to say goodbye…

You’ll have to forgive me a few tears Gramp, because I won’t be able to have coffee and muffins with you again… at least not this side of Heaven. I’ll hold the memories close though, and be forever thankful that when I think of my Gramp, I’ll think of how much you loved us.