In my life this week…
I've been somewhat anxious, waiting for the rheumatology check-up this week for my 4-year-old daughter, Beth, who suffers from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
But no worries; the doctor was pleased with her joints' appearance--enough to refrain from raising the methotrexate dose, much to this Momma's relief.
I also obtained a referral to an ENT to evaluate the size of Beth's tonsils and discuss removing them, per the speech therapist's recommendation. Although, of course, we will pray about this and study the data before agreeing to surgery, no matter what the ENT determines. It's no fun to struggle to breathe, but I think she's so used to it she doesn't know any better.
Finally, we helped the neighbor kids get to school again. They had colds but had to go to school because this area started standardized testing. The district has good scores and they take this very seriously...something I gathered from the neighbor boy's stress level. Anyway, my oldest came down with the cold and has asthma with it for the first time in a long time.
It's always something fun and relaxing...or not.
In our homeschool this week…
1. This week Peter and I finished reading Bruchko, the Sonlight-assigned reader I mentioned last week. Paul is just beginning it and I think it will have to become a read aloud for him. He's 9.5 years old and the missionary books are a bit heavy for him to process on his own.
About Bruchko I can only say...I'll never be the same. The book taught me so much about God's power and provision in our daily walk--power most of us never tap into. I've written rather lengthy comments about how the book affected me, so if you're short on time you might want to skim or skip. The book is riveting and awesome and every Christian would love it.
On his deathbed a number of times--with no missionary organization behind him and no coworker or steady cash flow--Bruce needed the Lord desperately while trying to help a stone-age Indian tribe in South America...a tribe that routinely killed anyone who came near them.
As the Lord provided time and again and supernaturally made His presence known, sustaining Bruce through terrible loneliness, boredom, and recurring illness, Bruce became willing to die for Christ. He reached Paul the Apostle's point in life, in which he could say..."To live is Christ, to die is gain." (My words, not Bruce's).
It wasn't that Bruce (Bruchko) wanted death, just that he was willing to be led to it for Christ's sake.
As I read the last pages through a flood of tears, I walked away with this conviction: Unless we do something completely, utterly brave for God, we won't know or experience God the way Bruce has for the last fifty years in the jungle.
He's 71 years old now, still living among the Motilone, whom he met at about age 20. All the Motilones accepted Jesus not long after Bruce arrived, but they don't have traditional worship ideas. For example, they don't go to church on Sundays. Church is community and they do it everyday, all day. Two strong reminders came to me as I read: Church is community, not a building. Church is an attitude, not a destination.
They read the translated Bible (Bruce's work) nightly in groups and all members regularly tell what they think the passage meant, and how it applies to their life. Bruce never tried to convert them to any certain lifestyle, other than walking in the footsteps of Jesus, letting Him cover their iniquities with his blood. Their entire way of relating to each other changed, almost overnight, after they began to walk in Jesus' path. Prior to this they had no concern for anyone outside their own family unit.
It's when we have no insurance policies and no backup plan that we truly need God on a daily basis. Sure, when we get sick or a loved one is in pain, we need Him terribly and rejoice that He's always there to help us. But for Bruce, God's presence was needed hourly. He endured prolonged loneliness for one, and tomorrow was always an unknown. A tiger or a snake or hepatitis could take his life, or worse (like warring guerrilla factions).
Even what Bruce would do with his time each day was an unknown. He didn't walk into that jungle with a plan; just a God-given desire to share Christ with the Motilone Indians. Each day God pointed the way and Bruce had to pray, listen clearly, and wait for God's timing.
As I soaked up the details about his early days in South America outside the jungle, and then in the jungle, even before he met up with the Motilone, it struck me that God purposely beat Bruce down. It was as though the Lord wanted to get rid of all that was Bruce Olson, and fill this empty cavity of a man up with just Christ.
Does that sound familiar, some days? Each one of my children have their separate problems, and my husband and me have our personal trials as well. Sometimes I can't believe how hard it is and I wonder, it is this hard for everyone, but in different ways? Are we all being beaten down, so that we'll dump ourselves out and finally fill up with Him?
When I read the Bible as a whole and think of all its heros, I'm inclined to say that yes...life is supposed to be hard. We are supposed to get to the end of our ropes and then monkey jump onto Jesus' rope and stay there, clinging to Him like a parasite...living off His love, His blood, His power, His wisdom, His provision.
In the Western world, with our insurance policies and our retirement plans and endless safety nets, we forget that life is meant to be uncertain. Because in Christ we have all the certainty we need. All other plans and policies fail to bring true peace of soul.
As I said, I'll never be the same. It's doubtful I'll ever live in the jungle, but I want to remember what Bruce endured and I want to live his courage, live his passion for the Gospel.
Buy here: Christianbook.com:
Other school things...Last week I wrote about Susan Wise Bauer's Writing With Ease. We still enjoy it very much and I did end up purchasing Level 4, putting Level 3 on the shelf for my girls to grow into. The boys were used to a page and a half of dictation and we needed to get back to that volume. Level 4 will work fine.
I do tweak it, having the boys write out every narration after giving it to me orally. Also, I don't have the boys try to memorize the passage I will be dictating. They just read through it once before I begin dictating.
As I guessed, the boys have expressed a desire to check out some of the books used in the dictations and narrations. Susan Bauer worked hard to choose intriguing passages that would hook children while exposing them to the best writing models.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
Don't hesitate to write a behavior contract if a child becomes increasingly combative. I have one child with ADHD/OCD and it seems when the OCD is calm, the ADHD isn't and vice versa. Right now things are tough with the impulsivity and the difficulty delaying gratification.
I have written, again extensively, about sample behavior contracts, so if you're short on time, skim or skip again.
When a child is frequently needing consequences it's difficult to keep up with what you've said you're going to do, especially with a houseful of kids distracting you. Take out the confusion and guess work by writing out a contract listing his responsibilities, his consequences, and his weekly incentives (privileges).
For example, we've had success with the following for our son Peter, age 11. Let me first say that too much time on his hands isn't good (bugs others incessantly if he isn't busy), and too little free time isn't good either. He needs structure imposed on him, but with plenty of outdoor time worked in:
~ 90 minutes of birdwatching and nature time alone with Daddy, twice monthly. (My husband works 54 hours per week so this is not easy, but worth it--they both need it. Our son is at one with nature and always has been.
~ Mommy reads aloud (on top of the time Daddy reads nightly).
~ Go to frog pond (drainage ditch across our small quiet street, with quite a sampling of pond life).
~ Ride bike around short block
~ Computer time 24 minutes daily
~ Keep pond animal for observation for one week.
~ 50 cents allowance per week.
Responsibilities (Many of these are on a check-off sheet on the wall)
~ Clean up after hamster daily; clean cage on Tuesdays; feed daily
~ Clean room and make bed daily before 1st recess
~ Obey parents in the Lord
~ Put away your folded clothes
~ Read Bible before 1st recess daily
~ Read 2 books to sisters Mon. - Fri.
~ Come in by 6 PM daily; no arguing, shower before dinner
~ Refrain from badgering Mommy or siblings
~ Get a calm activity when your temper flares (such as hold your hamster or read a bird or nature book)
~ Vacuum living room every Saturday
~ Sweep every Friday
~ Take out recycling on Thurs.
~ Check off all subjects and chores on weekly school chart for parent perusal
Consequences for misbehavior or disobedience:
I keep track of this by using numbered index cards in a pocket on the wall (numbers 1 - 9). When he misbehaves he changes the top card, revealing the next number. It may sound like something from a Kinder class, but it keeps them accountable and Mom in the know, even with a houseful. He wouldn't lie about what card he's on--mainly because his OCD wouldn't allow him to lie--but if you have a chronic fibber you may have to turn the cards yourself.
I leave food out of the picture, and I make sure all consequences, except for the nature trip with Daddy, are paid on the same day. No carry overs to the next day. Impulsive and strong-willed children benefit from a clean slate every day (and don't we all have that in Christ?).
Think about your child's likes and dislikes and come up with privileges and consequences that will really make an impression. Writing them out and posting them will help you refrain from doubling consequences in anger, or threatening things that aren't practical, or that end up punishing the other kids as well.
If your child has a bad temper and things get ugly quickly, a timeout in their room will lower their adrenaline and yours too. I endeavor to keep quiet during the timeouts even if he doesn't. Lecturing in anger only makes my kids tune me out.
I let him take a book with him and he always comes out calmer. My goal is not so much to punish, but to redirect and allow him time to hear the Holy Spirit and ask Him for calmness.
Step 1 - 20 minutes in room
Step 2 - 20 more minutes in room
Step 3 - Lose 12 minutes computer
Step 4 - Lose Mommy reads aloud (Daddy will still always read aloud at night)
Step 5 - Lose frog pond for the day
Step 6 - Lose bike for the day
Step 7 - Lose pond animal you've been observing
Step 8 - Lose $.25 allowance
Step 9 - Lose nature time with Daddy
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
AWANA is drawing to a close so we added a library storytime/craft/movement class for the girls on Tuesdays. One perk for me is that it helps me pick out books from the shelves without having to watch the girls' whereabouts constantly.
My favorite thing this week was…
Hearing that my 4-year-old daughter didn't need a stronger dose of her chemo drug. And that she won't have to have her blood drawn every 6 weeks anymore--just every 3 months. What a relief! She was getting feisty during those blood draws and my stress level stayed high the entire day afterwards.
My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
Playing in the rain and getting thoroughly muddy. I was not amused because the laundry load has been through the roof. Last Sunday I spent seven hours on laundry (partly due to the spring clothing switch). The 7 hours was in addition to doing a few loads every day.
Things I’m working on…
Laundry and the clothing switch. Haven't I written that three weeks running? I just need a good chunk of time to finish it!
chicken-noodle soup, gingerbread pancakes, spaghetti, cheesy eggs, roast chicken
I’m grateful for…
...the examples Jesus gave us in the Gospels, and of missionaries and others who demonstrate how to give one's life to Christ. What is Lordship? What does it look like to do this daily? I love reading examples of this, on top of my Bible reading.
I’m praying for…
...my friend's daughter, another friend's son, the neighbor children, my children's ailments, my headaches, our sanity
Have a blessed week! If you got to the bottom I have to say thank you...a bit long-winded I am for sure. I guess this is a stress reliever. :)