Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Dreams For Our Children

What dreams do you have for your children's futures?

After you think about that for a minute, ask: "Are these dreams mine, or God's? Are they for my sake, or for my children's sakes?

In a recent Simple Homeschool article, When Your Children's Dreams Are Different Than Your Own, contributing author Cheryl Pitt shares this about her homeschooled son:

Today he is 17, intelligent, and a hard worker. I was so proud when he recently landed his first job as a package handler for a shipping company. He loves his job and is proud of the paycheck that comes with it. As am I! I often tell him how proud I am of his work ethic and diligence.

I surprised myself one day, though, when he came home and asked if he could apply to be a driver assistant. He was excited. This opportunity meant more hours, more pay and a step up the package handler ladder. Maybe one day he could deliver packages, not just load them.

So why was I hesitant, upset even? I gave him my blessing, but in my mind I had some ugly thoughts. I wondered…
Is this really what the last 13 years have been about? Why did I sacrifice untold hours, years even, to facilitate his education? The good days of accomplishment and the bad days of tears? All so my son can become a truck driver?
This mother, a Christian, is aware that the world's idea of success can sneak in and become a mother's idea of success--especially when a mother has invested sweat and tears in her child's education.

We all feel Cheryl's angst from time to time, so a few reminders never hurt: What's important to God in regards to our children's futures?

Before we answer that, let's look at what's important to the world.

What the World Values:

1. The world values power, even if a powerful position yields a relatively low income. The president, for example, doesn't make enough to get rich, per se, but he's often considered the most powerful person in the world. The same goes, on a smaller scale, for managers and CEO's. Even if they aren't highly paid, the world deems their power significant.

2. The world values money, even if it's earned by buying and selling, rather than creating or establishing anything. The output or value of the work is not as important as the dollar signs.

3. The world values prestige--respect given to a position in society, rather than to an individual.

What God Values:

1. God values his own glory.

Isaiah 42:8 “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.”

Charles Spurgeon writes, "The great end of God in Christ was the manifestation of his own glorious attributes." Everything that God does is for his glory. His greatest passion is his own glory.

2. God values souls.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance

3. God values the least of his people and cares about how we treat them

Matthew 25:33-40 "The Son of Man will put the sheep (good people) on his right and the goats (bad people) on his left. "Then the king will say to those good people on his right, 'Come. My Father has given you great blessings. Come and get the kingdom God promised you. That kingdom has been prepared for you since the world was made. You can have this kingdom, because I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your home. I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you came to visit me.' "Then the good people will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our home? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?' "Then the king will answer, 'I tell you the truth. Anything you did for any of my people here, you also did for me.'"

4. God values humility.

Psalms 18:27 For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.

Psalms 149: 4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
5. God cares about our sorrows.

1 Peter 5:7 2 Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.

Corinthians 1:2-4 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

Now, let me paint a picture of a godly man for you: He works hard each day to support his family using the talents God has given him. His motive is to care for his family and bring glory to God, not raise himself up in society's eyes.

He's a good steward, seeking higher income if it's possible, but not at the expense of his family's spiritual health. They need him to be their leader and a leader must be present and involved, somehow.

He takes his family to church and pays his tithe, and sets aside offerings for the poor. He watches over the family's money, insuring that their spending patterns bring glory to God, and not to themselves.

He doesn't seek recognition or fame or prestige, but works hard with integrity, letting God receive the glory for his successes. If he gains influence, he uses it to turn hearts toward God and publicly praise his Holy name; he's not ashamed of the gospel.

This is the dream we should have for our sons. Not that they'll have a title after their name, or a six-figure income, but that they'll bring glory to God by: caring about souls, about the least of God's people, about the hurting, and about their own humility before God.

We need to invest more time in their hearts than in anything else, because in the end, what will really make us smile about our sons? What will really bring us tears of joy? Not their titles, but their humility. Not their incomes, but their generosity. Not their prestige, but their faith.

To raise them for his glory. That's our dream and our prayer.

Prayer Time: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for our sons and daughters. Thank you for placing your trust in us to raise them for your glory. Help us to keep our eyes on you, Father, and not on the world. May our children have Bibles and use them. May they have a heart for you and converse with you through prayer. May they put their trust in You and not in the world. May our sons lead their families well, and may our daughters create a home that glorifies you in every respect. May our children marry strong Christians and may their marriages and children make you smile. May we be worthy mothers to them all, for your glory.

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Homeschool and Mother's Journal: Sept. 27

Don't I wish I played the piano and had a luxurious mane I could fasten into lovely braids.

In my life this week:

We're in our second week of school and the days are long. But, oh boy, are we learning! I love this lifestyle and wouldn't have it any other way. Seeing children learn and get excited about new information gives me a deeply satisfied feeling, as though I'm half-way through a slice of chocolate satin pie.

That said, I'm 47 and a half years old, and in my second year of perimenopause (yes, I had my kids late in life). I just researched articles, again, to check on a certain symptom to see if it might be due to perimenopause. And yes, it turns out everything is because of perimenopause and the average experience is four years. Some days I feel like I'm losing my mind and only by God's grace can I stand this for another three years (not to mention my family).

The good news is that I still feel great about 13 days a month.

In our homeschool this week:

Six-year-old Mary can read on her own now. No, not chapter books, just easy readers, but it still seems like a miracle. She said this week, finally, "I think I really like reading, Mommy."

I hugged her and breathed a contented sigh, thanking the Lord for his intervention.

She goes into her bedroom and tries all the words on her own, and then comes out and reads them to me, asking if she got it right. For several months, even after she could sound out well, she tried to read the pictures as a shortcut. This was a frustrating time for both of us. I knew she could read the words fine, she just didn't want to put the effort in if she didn't have to. Now, in contrast, she looks at the pictures to enjoy them, not to get clues from them, and she attends to each word on the page readily.

I'm never one to cover up pictures though--early readers need them for confidence, if nothing else. Bullying kids into reading never works. You have to keep up the prayers and the patience, remembering that each child is different.

Three readers down, one to go. Miss Beth is doing pretty well herself, but is not quite blending yet.

I'm also working hard on teaching the girls to recognize all the numbers to 100, out of order.

In Sonlight Science A the girls are learning about the earth and about weather, and a little about frogs and toads.

The boys, ages 9 and 11, are doing Sonlight's Eastern Hemisphere Core F, and Sonlight's Core F science. Here's what they're learning from in the last ten days:

Sonlight really knows how to mix it up and we love that, though I know it drives some people crazy. It's not unusual to be reading from 10 books at the same time, sometimes just a few pages a day. The novels are usually a chapter a day, depending on the length of chapters. Peter usually reads more in the novels than the schedule specifies and messes up my Sonlight schedule, but that's okay.

Food and Nutrition for Every Kid

Food and Nutrition for Every Kid   -     
        By: Janice VanCleave

The Usborne Complete Book of the Human Body

Complete book of the human body

The Human Body

Human Body

Blood and Guts: A Working Guide to Your Own Insides

Blood and Guts : A Working Guide to Your Own Insides

Exploring Planet Earth

Exploring Planet Earth: The Journey of Discovery from Early Civilization to Future Exploration

Ships, Sailors and the Sea


Praying Through the 100 Gateway Cities of the 10/40 Window

Praying through the 100 Gateway Cities of the 10/40 Window (2nd edition)  -     
        Edited By: C. Peter Wagner, Stephen Peters, Mark Wilson
        By: C. Peter Wagner(Eds.), Stephen Peters(Eds.) & Mark Wilson(Eds.)

Call It Courage

Call It Courage/Newbery Summer

The Master Puppeteer (a read-aloud)

The Master Puppeteer

Henry Reed, Inc.

Born in the Year of Courage


Henry Reed, Inc. was a big hit (my Peter stayed up until 10:30 one night reading it). "This is an incredibly good book, Mommy."

I'm trying to locate the others in the series, but they're hard to find at a good price because they're so well loved. And our library doesn't have them. Used copies are all in acceptable condition, and I only buy very good- or good-condition used books.

The first in the Henry Reed series was written in 1958. Here are the others, in case you need wholesome reading material for your boy (or girl). Henry Reed is a clever and funny boy inventor-- read about the books here on goodreads.





Helpful Homeschooling Advice to Share:

Start the day with Bible and prayer and make time for scripture memorization. If you've done these, the rest of your day will go as well as possible. Between morning devotions and helping four children with separate, age-appropriate scripture memorization, I spend over an hour each morning. I know it's never wasted time and if we can do nothing else, we must do this.

Put God first to bring peace and salvation to your children and your home.

I recommend AWANA as an excellent 9-year scripture memorization program that looks wonderful on college entrance paperwork (as good as Eagle Scouts). Although it's nine years, you can jump in at any time. Click on the AWANA locator to find the nearest churches that offer it in your area. Earning certain AWANA awards will also land your child partial college scholarships. I saw as much as $6000 offered for the highest awards.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing

We go to AWANA on Sunday, and to our favorite Apple Harvest Festival on Saturday. Yippee! My favorite outing of the picking, raspberry picking, hayride, choosing pumpkins, and various displays and vendors.

We went to speech, and physical therapy (for Juvenile Arthritis), on Wednesday. Mary graduated from the w and y sounds (she used to substitute an l for both of them), and will now be paired with Paul for instruction on the r sound. For her first r homework assignment, she has to growl like a bear.

Beth still needs work on her y and w sounds (she also substitutes an l). She's also working on s blends (like skate and snack and smell) and the oy dipthong sound like you hear in boy and toy, and on the cry, my, fry, by family. She says them with a southern drawl and doesn't get the e sound at the end, if that makes any sense.

We also saw our pediatrician to get a referral to a pediatric allergist for my Paul, who has a yellow-jacket bee-venom allergy. They can desensitize kids to this over time by exposing them to increasing amounts of the venom in a doctor's office. Doesn't sound pleasant, but it's far better than a lifetime sentence of carrying an EPI PEN and worrying about dying from a sting.

I have to take all four children to all our doctor's appointments. Usually it's fine but it's not my favorite thing. Today Beth interrupted the pediatrician's allergist push to ask him: "How do mermaids breathe under water?"

Somewhat embarrassed, he said, "I don't know."

I guess they don't cover that in medical school?

I'm also teaching the preschool class at church about Noah this Sunday AM. It turns out, if you sign up to be a Birth - Kinder Children's Ministry Coordinator, you can never go to service again. Someone is always absent or you're perpetually short on help. My poor husband!

It's a good thing I like to read the Bible online and click on Matthew Henry's commentary. That brilliant and faithful man wrote some great sermons, and I need only click on the resources for a verse to get a Matthew Henry mini-sermon anytime.

My Favorite Thing This Week:

When Mary said, "I think I really like reading, Mommy."  (We use Sing, Spell, Read and Write K-1 Combo Kit).

Things I'm Working On:

See above note about perimenopause. I'm working on maintaining my sanity.

I'm Cooking

I did find new crockpot recipes to work on next week, but this week it was much of the same:

chili and cornbread
baked ziti
shepherd's pie
turkey joes
turkey hamburgers
baked chicken
crockpot navy bean soup

I'm Grateful For:

~ homeschooling

~ my boys' growing faith

~ the AWANA program

~ morning devotions, and evening ones with Daddy

~ cuddly girls and boys

~ grace

~ love

~ faith

~ perseverance (through the Holy Spirit's power)

~ my husband's faith, wisdom, and gentleness

~ knowing that we have everything in Christ

~ the library

~ feelings of peace after writing to our Compassion kids

Photo, Video, Link or Quote to share:

I love that as a homeschooling mother, I can bring this Scripture to life about training my children in the ways of the Lord:

Deuteronomy 11:19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

 Bible context:
18 "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19"You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20"You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,…

Thank you for reading and how was your week?

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Giving Thanks...and a Psalm

In the mornings after breakfast we clear away the dishes and have a devotional time--just the four kids and Momma, since Daddy leaves while we're still asleep. We have another devotional at dinner with Daddy, but the morning session is to dedicate the day to the Lord, asking him to order our steps. We read Scripture and pray in turn, including prayer about our attitudes toward each other and toward our work. It really sets a nice tone for our school day.

Today we read Psalm 1 and it filled me with such peace!

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
Oh, Dear Lord, thank you. Thank you for saving us and taking us off the wicked path. Day by day you make our hearts new, never leaving nor forsaking us.
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.

Lord, we delight in you. May we wake each day and dedicate the day to you, meditating on your Scriptures day and night, letting you fill us with your Holy Spirit.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—

You, God, will complete your work in us; you promise us that and we thank you for your faithfulness and graciousness. Thank you that our lives will bear fruit and our spirits will not wither.

whatever they do prospers.

From Matthew Henry's Commentary:
Of the promised blessing; he is blessed of the Lord, and therefore he shall be like a tree. The divine blessing produces real effects. It is the happiness of a godly man, [1.] That he is planted by the grace of God. These trees were by nature wild olives, and will continue so till they are grafted anew, and so planted by a power from above. Never any good tree grew of itself; it is the planting of the Lord, and therefore he must in it be glorified. Isa. 61:3; The trees of the Lord are full of sap. [2.] That he is placed by the means of grace, here called the rivers of water, those rivers which make glad the city of our God (Ps. 46:4); from these a good man receives supplies of strength and vigour, but in secret undiscerned ways. [3.] That his practices shall be fruit, abounding to a good account, Phil. 4:17.

Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

Matthew Henry's Commentary:
In general, they are the reverse of the righteous, both in character and condition: They are not so. The LXX. emphatically repeats this: Not so the ungodly; they are not so; they are led by the counsel of the wicked, in the way of sinners, to the seat of the scornful; they have no delight in the law of God, nor ever think of it; they bring forth no fruit but grapes of Sodom; they cumber the ground. 2. In particular, whereas the righteous are like valuable, useful, fruitful trees, they are like the chaff which the wind drives away, the very lightest of the chaff, the dust which the owner of the floor desires to have driven away, as not capable of being put to any use.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

Matthew Henry's Commentary: that is, they shall be found guilty, shall hang down the head with shame and confusion, and all their pleas and excuses will be overruled as frivolous. There is a judgment to come, in which every man’s present character and work, though ever so artfully concealed and disguised, shall be truly and perfectly discovered, and appear in their own colours, and accordingly every man’s future state will be, by an irreversible sentence, determined for eternity.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Oh, Lord, it is because of you we are called righteous. Thank you for your grace and for imputing your righteousness to us. In you, we have enough. We have everything. May we live each day in thanksgiving and thanksliving.

Giving Thanks Today:

~ God is helping me work the kinks out of our daily school/chore schedule. Thanks be to God for that.

~ A very imaginative, delightful four year old in my midst, bringing so much joy and blessing each day. Okay, and messes too. But I'll take them with the smiles and hugs.

~ My Mary reading on her own more and more, praise be to God. It's so exciting for both of us.

~ Fall weather...a million thanks Dear Lord.

~ He keeps our paths straight and our hearts full.

~ Beth's arthritis is still in a flare, but praise God she doesn't seem miserable. Her new AWANA Cubbies teacher said she was so delightful and full of joy. That is grace, because her joints are still swelling.

~ Christian radio

~ Switching from a Wednesday night AWANA to a Sunday night AWANA. Oh, Lord, thank you for a lighter Wednesday. It wasn't easy to do, but I see blessings from it already. They changed the structure of our old AWANA and it didn't allow for much one-on-one mentoring with individual handbook leaders for each of my children. Though they studied and knew their verses, it was still a special time with the handbook leader every week.

Because we have too little support and so few Christian relatives, they really need another special person speaking Christ into their lives once a week. Since some of that got lost in the new structure, and since Wednesday was always so hard for us anyway (with physical therapy and speech on the same day), it seemed like a good time to make a switch, although saying goodbye about broke our hearts.

But, we can now have 7 family dinners a week (AWANA now ends at 6:16 PM rather than 8 PM.) and Momma won't ever wake up and dread a Wednesday again. They made for some long days.

~ Husband and I filled out volunteer forms to be handbook (verse) leaders at the new church, but until they process those and do background checks, we can actually have a date or two from 4:30 - 6:15 on Sundays. It's been years, people. Though we don't have any money for dates, we'll think of something (hot chocolate maybe?). Part of me fears we might just sit there and stare at each other, wondering where the noise went, not knowing what to say.

~ A Christian husband, gentle and good, to do life with.

~ My Paul's sincere, righteous heart.

~ God provided nice verse teachers for my children at the new AWANA church. It did my Momma heart good to see them so excited.

~ Some flowers still blooming and tomatoes still ripening.

~ My 90-year-old father-in-law is not out of rehab yet, but his arm is out of the sling and he can walk with a walker. Praise God!

What are you thankful for today?

Prayer Request: Father-in-law is overwhelmed about the decision concerning where to live. Please pray? He doesn't seem to want to live with us, and if he chooses an assisted-living establishment, it's better that he chooses here in our town, rather than in Florida. These establishments treat you better when you have frequent visitors. We think he has about 3 more weeks in the rehabiliation center, barring any health problems that might crop up. The travel up here seems overwhelming to him, for one. Thank you for your prayers.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Homeschool and Mother's Journal, 9/15

In my life this week:

This week entailed a field trip, our regular Wednesday night AWANA, the beginning of the fall clothing switch, and on Friday night a homeschooling social at a dear family's house for game night.

I also worked to finalize our fall homeschool daily schedule. School officially starts on Monday, but on Friday morning we tested our morning schedule to see what changes would be required. 

The DVD player broke in our older, master-bedroom computer, meaning we now have to do the Teaching Textbooks math CD ROM on the playroom computer, which is off the kitchen and can also be heard in the dining room. One part of our morning called for Teaching Textbooks math going on during the same time as the song CD for the girls' Sing, Spell, Read & Write program. That got a little interesting and needs to be tweaked, but otherwise the schedule worked fine.

On Monday we'll test out the morning changes and see how the afternoon works, but we're finishing early so I can get the clothing switch finished before my four-year-old daughter tries on all the clothes and makes me crazy wondering where my tidy pile of give-away clothes just went.

Did I tell you our air conditioner went out and Monday through Thursday were blazing hot, with the house reaching 82 degrees and us owning only one small fan plus a couple air cleaners that hardly qualify as fans?

Not fun, so when we woke up on Saturday morning to a 67-degree house, Momma was doing the happy dance and I even made cornbread to go with our chili and chocolate chip cookie bars for the preschooler church snack tomorrow morning.

I love me some fall weather and I will earnestly pray summer doesn't reappear (much to my husband's dismay). He's a summer creature you know and I don't know how we ended up together, feeling so strongly about our seasons and all. It's a war around here sometimes, with husband praying for summer and me praying for fall.

Our bi-weekly Jesus Storybook Bible children's ministry occurred on the first cold day of the year, so I had to frantically go through storage boxes to find suitable clothes for the children, while trying not to create a laundry and clutter nightmare on the same day as our Bible Study. It's always slightly frantic getting the house tidy and clean before 4 PM on Saturdays, especially since Daddy works on Saturdays until 1:00 PM and can't run much interference with the kids.

I delegated well today, though, with the boys doing all the vacuuming and the girls dusting and tidying up the playroom, getting it ready for a vacuuming. The 4 year old is a lousy housekeeper and needs to be frequently reminded of her "duties". Why is it that 2 year olds are thrilled to help but when age 4 arrives, cleaning becomes the bane of their existence, unless it involves the duster or the windex bottle?

Anyone out there nodding their heads? At least at the four year old trying on clothes incessantly and leaving a trail everywhere of shoes, play handbags, and dresses and shirts?

I would get mad, except she's so darn cute when she tries on clothes and dances around me. "Do I look enchantingly beautiful, Mommy?"

To which the 6-year-old, frog-toting tomboy sister replies, "Beth! There's more to life than just clothes!"

In Our Homeschool this week:

See notes above. I guess I'm poor at sticking to categories.

The only other homeschool note is that taking a break from school should maybe not include taking a break from math. Fractions and percents are hard and the procedures get fuzzy in the brain during periods of un-use. There was much groaning on the first math day back. Too many fractions and percents for their liking.

Helpful Homeschooling Tips to Share:

Try to do the fall and spring clothing switches on a school break. Pretty obvious and what's wrong with me, anyway?

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing:

The Friday night game night was a fantastic stress reliever. We all had a wonderful time and one of the families in attendance also has a child with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. That's amazing because the frequency of this disease is 1 in a 1000! The mother and I couldn't stop saying how amazing it was that we ended up at the same homeschool party. God is simply amazing.

She's a dear woman and I will see her once a month at this Homeschooler Game Night. Next month she's bringing her recipe for crockpot lasagna. She promises us you don't have to precook the noodles. Sound fascinating?

She also has an autistic daughter of 15 who functions like a 9 year old, and she has a son with ADHD. Autism is one of several things that can pair with ADHD either in the same child, or in a sibling of an ADHD child.

I will be praying for this woman, and she for me. Her sweet son with the arthritis patted my Beth on the head before they left, and told her he would pray for her joints and her joy. That about sent me into tearful convulsions.

He's ten and was diagnosed at 18 months old. He has it in fingers and other smaller joints (a different type than my Beth has).

Our field trip was to a working farm to learn how to make our own bar soap and other household supplies. The woman who taught it lives and dresses like a woman from 150 years ago, and she has the lofty goal of teaching sustainable-living classes to as many adults and homeschoolers as she can, so that these valuable skills will not disappear from our culture.

We took home many recipes to try.

Lye, used to make soap, is a poison, though, so I won't be trying my own soaps until my youngest is a bit older.

They are working on building up their farm to include original buildings with working equipment you would have seen in a town 150 years ago. A real working village.  It was a fascinating place with many buildings already in place!

My Favorite Thing This Week:

We went to a large rummage sale at the church my husband works at, and my Beth, upon leaving, gave all the volunteer senior citizens a hug. They were thrilled and I felt so blessed to be her mother.

She made out like a bandit, finding a beautiful porcelain doll for $2 and other little trinkets for cheap.

My other favorite thing was getting some neighborhood evangelism done, and praying about the outcome. May it be a glorious one, Father!

My Children's Favorite Thing This Week:

The game night and the church rummage sale. The boys found the Battleship Game in perfect shape at the rummage sale and brought it to game night.

The family that hosted game night had a beautiful bunny they let run around the house like a cat or dog. It goes to a cage to do its business though (it potty-trained itself!). My Mary was thrilled with it and didn't even make time to play a board game. Bunnies are very timid though and this one, at two months old, wasn't tamed yet and mostly hid from all the kids under the couch.

I'm Grateful For:

~ The Lord and his faithfulness and provision

~ Four precious kids who keep me young and happy

~ My husband's gentleness with me

~ Good Christian friends

~ Fall temperatures

~ Online friends and e-mail friends from afar

~ Children's books

~ The teaching of reading

~ A wonderful letter from our Compassion child Nelson from El Salvador

~ Expecting a letter from India soon, from our precious Divya, and from Raphael in Burkina Faso (all the Compassion letters seem to come in chunks).

Verse or Quote to Share:

Giving thanks for this wonderful verse:

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Thank you for reading and how was your week?

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

How To Love Like Jesus

11-year-old Lexie came over today, our neighborhood friend. She frequently wants to come in and play on the piano and see what my children are up to, but I'm ashamed to confess, I don't always let her in.
Those of you with no ADHD experience won't understand this, but letting her in is like enduring fingernails down a chalkboard for a half-hour, non-stop. 

I love this young lady, but she has severe ADHD with oppositional defiance. She's unable to play a board game or do any activity for more than five to ten minutes. She flits around like a butterfly, or like the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I'm always reminded of those books when she visits.

Extremely passionate and insistent about something, only to forget it moments later.

And she absolutely must be the center of attention at all times, which is especially annoying on van rides.

God has this knack for taking her out of the neighborhood at just the right time--when I don't think I can endure one. more. visit.

Boom. She's gone.

Moved out of her grandparents' house, sometimes for months, sometimes for a few weeks.

Just recently she's come back to the neighborhood and can I be honest? My eyes roll when I hear the knock at the door. Must I, God? Must I let her in? 

And I grieve my own ugly heart for asking this.

Sometimes he lets me say no because my own children's needs are overwhelming me, and sometimes he makes me let her in.

Today she told me, again, that she wants me to homeschool her. She tells me the kids at school are mean, they tease her, they never include her. No one ever invites her over and it's no wonder. Few will tolerate her bossiness and chronic fibbing and her desire to be the center of attention, not to mention the exhausting lack of focus.

I want to make it all better. I want to homeschool her, but I can't. I can't do love that way, day after day, sacrificially. I think homeschooling is the answer for her, but it has to be her own mother investing in her that way. She doesn't really want me to homeschool her. She wants her own mother to be capable of rescuing her from the callousness of public school. I sense the truth from her young heart and it makes mine break. She wants a mother who isn't paralyzed by her own who can and will fight righteously for her daughter.

Today as she played the piano and went from one activity to another, trying to monopolize my home, I felt the strongest pity I've ever felt for anyone.

I wondered of God: How will she ever find a decent husband? How will she overcome her reading and math difficulties and find a job? Will she ever have close friends? Will her family ever emerge from serious dysfunction? Will she turn to drugs for comfort, as the despair and loneliness get worse? Will callous men take advantage of her and then drop her?

She's sweet at times--a sweetness born of suffering, I suspect--with an even sweeter face, but how far will that get her, in the face of her many, serious challenges?

The enormity of her situation overwhelms me. How many people are this annoying, without being capable of change? Her impulse control is three years old, not eleven years old. It seems so terribly unfair, it's hard to fathom. Personalities are so varied, but in most cases, they are tolerable to most people. This allows some acceptance in our lives, which is so important.

God, how I want this child to be an instrument of your glory! I want you to take all the strikes against her--the neurological ones, the family ones, the social ones--and make something poignant and beautiful and whole of her life.

Because when I think of the negative strikes, it seems so hopeless and dark. I can't even stand contemplating it emotionally, it's so depressing.

Pity is never as good as compassion and shame on me for feeling it. Compassion is never as good as love and shame on me for stopping there.

Pity comes from a self-righteous place. God transformed my pity to compassion and my compassion to temporary love, as I listened to her conversation and tried to let love flow from my heart to hers, divinely, despite watching the clock frequently, wanting her to just go. Love her through me, God. I'm no good and I'm too selfish, but use me anyway to love her. Let her have a taste of the love you're capable of. May she yearn for more, for a Lover of her soul who will never leave her nor forsake her.

I hope she keeps knocking. I want my heart to get better at welcoming. I need to get better at this.

All of us need a Lexie in our lives to remind us: while we were sinners, Christ died for us. He accepted us and loved us radically. He concentrated on what we would be in Him.

We're no better than the worst personality we can think of. We're no more tolerable, no more lovable, no more worthy.

When we have a Lexie in our lives, we have a picture of the gospel. The gospel took hopelessness and brokenness and despair, dunked it in the water and brought it back up...baptized into His holiness. What was black and vile becomes white and glorious, like a glistening fresh snow.

We are all Lexie and we best not forget it. And we better learn how to love, as we are loved.

We can't create love from pity, or even from compassion. Only from a position of humility can we truly love. Only by choosing to view our fellow man charitably, in a baptized, pure-as-snow light, can we love him as Christ would.

The Lord's love eclipses brokenness. May ours do the same.

Prayer Time:

Dear Heavenly Father,
You are glorious and perfect. You graciously love us even though we fail you daily. Thank you. Thank you for the Cross, for the washing of our wretched souls. Thank you for the fresh start everyday. Give us a fresh start as lovers, too. May we love from a position of humility, not of pity or compassion. May our love heal, uplift, eclipse, and make new.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Note: I haven't given her mother a book yet, but I did find this online , which I gave her tonight, written by Lee Strobel. If you're ever asked the question: "Why does God allow suffering?", you might want to print out this article.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wanted: Just the Right Book

Updated to Add: Thank you for the book suggestions! I'm writing them down and checking them out. In the meantime I took this wonderful article over to my neighbor.

One of the neighborhood children we minister to went to AWANA with us last night. She hasn't had any spiritual input that I know of since the last time she was at AWANA, as she moved out of this neighborhood for a time. Our young friend's spiritual ideas are a bit confused, mixing a little with what she's heard about meditation and possibly about eastern religions. I think she's made a commitment to God, but I can't be sure due to the other ideas that seem to have cropped up in the last five months.

At any rate, she's very spiritually interested.

This afternoon she told me she is trying to get her mom to believe in God. Five years ago her mother lost a child to drowning, then she left her husband, and things have gone down hill from there, according to our eleven-year-old friend. There's been a lot of grief and even more trouble, with the law and with unfortunate liasons.

Her mother asked, "If  God is real and he knows the future, why doesn't he tell us when something bad is going to happen?" This is a variation of the common question "Why does God allow bad things to happen?

That this woman is asking this is a wonderful sign! This is how the relationships we develop can bring fruit. If we wait and just concentrate on a non-judgemental, caring relationship--in this case it was with her daughter--the Spirit will work and when the time is right, previously uninterested or spiritually-hostile people will become seekers of the Truth, and we, God's people, are already in place to help answer their questions. It's beautiful how God sets it all up.

I desperately want to get this right, but all we have here are theological books that wouldn't be appropriate in answering this mother's question, and I don't communicate very well verbally, so much as through writing. And this mother is shyer than I am. What I really think would help is a short book that answers this question concisely and effectively--a spiritually sound book but without a lot of complicated theology.

Do you have any book suggestions? We are starting school Monday and I'm trying to finalize our schedule. At this time it would be difficult to spend five hours trying to search online for the right book, although I will if I have to.

I thought I'd ask you first? Thank you!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

8 Assets to Remember on the Hard Days

What do you find most taxing as a mother? The repetitive nature of household chores, or the tendency to worry over your children? Or maybe over your own perceived failures as a mother? Or does it all run together, sapping your joy?

For me, definitely, the hardest emotional fogs to emerge from are those spent worrying over my children.

As a non-Christian, my middle name? Worry. I'm blessed to say the Lord cured me of general worry. I now live most days by faith with joy ruling, unless the floor I just mopped gets muddied or my estrogen rollercoasters.

Sometimes these both happen on the same day.

Despite the divinely-inspired progress, at times I'm plagued by serious worry over my children.

Will Mary's stubbornness turn people off and how do I make her personality sweeter than it is? Will just the right man come along and find the sweetness buried under the strong-willed exterior?

I worry that Peter's ADHD symptoms will make him so self-focused that his wife and children will wonder where they stand. How do I make him more other-focused?

I wonder if Beth will indeed grow out of this arthritis, or will it be a life-long sentence of drugs and pain? How will it affect her childbearing and mothering? And her joy?

Paul, my nine year old, has given me plenty to worry about in the last couple years. A child who once amazed people with his smarts now has significant difficulty focusing on academic and personal tasks. It's come slowly but I'm more convinced than ever he has his brother's generalized anxiety disorder, which runs in my family strongly, as well as ADHD with mainly the attention span affected, and possibly early bipolar, which often pairs with ADHD. He has a cousin on both sides of the family with bipolar.

A child who people once said "has a lot going for him", now seems disordered. He's still fiercely sweet and plenty smart, but for instance last night he had insomnia until 2:30 AM. What nine year old lays in bed for five hours, tortured by insomnia?

He does have a history of insomnia but never more than a couple hours at worst; last night was severe. He woke me three times and each time I felt more despair over my boy and his future.

Was it the Benedryl he had to take for two days after a bee sting, and then abruptly stopped taking? He has a yellow-jacket venom allergy but last week he got stung by a different bee and had a large local reaction, as opposed to an allergic reaction. The Benedryl helps reduce any unusual reaction.

He seems fine today and slept till 10:00 AM, which I probably shouldn't have allowed. Insomnia is made worse by sleeping in, or so Google tells me.

In the summer when flowers grow everywhere his anxiety is especially problematic. He panics over the sight of sunflowers and black-eyed susans and any flower that looks scary, in his opinion, especially once it goes to seed. He won't pass a flower patch unless we lead him with his eyes closed. It's embarrassing to all of us and no one understands. They judge him and us, wondering what child fears flowers, for heaven's sake?

One of the hardest things about having disorders in the family is the amount of judgement one receives from those not plagued by such things. All their brain chemicals are balanced and they have no clue what unbalanced feels like, so they're harsh and judgemental, even if coyly, assuming it's our parenting.

After awhile you learn to extend grace to the judgemental ones, but you also stay away from them, for your own peace.

Anyhow, each time I go down this worry spiral, writing out my thoughts and letting the Spirit speak to me helps.

What does my son have going for him? That is the question the Holy Spirit asks me to contemplate, and it applies to you and yours too.

Our Assets:

1.  We are loved radically by a gracious God. He weeps over us and with us.
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2. We are made whole by the Cross, our brokenness redeemed.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

3. We have an everpresent Holy Spirit sorting things out for us and restoring our joy.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

4. We have a Heavenly mindset that raises our minds and hearts above our present difficulties. It won't always be this hard. Later, there's perfection and glory.
Revelation 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5. We have the faith to move mountains.
Mark 11:23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

6. We have the Answer to human emptiness. We don't have to mindlessly search for significance and purpose. We are filled and fulfilled.

Romans 9:17 "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."

John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

7. We can fill others' cups with our spiritual overflow.

John 15:9-13  "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends

8. We have the Word always available. Reading it is like walking with Jesus in the Garden.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I don't know what you're worried about today, but I know you have assets...plenty of them to draw strength and peace from. I hope this helps you as much as it does me.

My Paul suddenly seems very whole to me!


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Homeschool and Mother's Journal, Sept 7

Don't I wish I was that young and pretty--my dresses so lovely!

In my life this week:
I'm struggling to find time to get our fall school and chore schedule completed. If you've made one, you know it's a huge chunk of time requiring serious concentration (i.e. no children around, preferably). Of course praying through makes it go as smoothly as possible, as with anything else. Right now I'd just be thankful for some time!

I'll have to resign myself to a few late-night sessions--sessions that don't interfere with supervising the children, making their meals, and shuffling laundry.

In Our Homeschool This Week:

We're on break for one more week, only doing reading and read-alouds. I wanted to introduce a series I found at the library last week.

We've enjoyed all the Lois Lowry books we've read, and when I came across a series called Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry, I thought we'd like them. And we do!

Scholastic Synopsis: From the moment Gooney Bird Greene arrives at Watertower Elementary School, her fellow second-graders are intrigued by her unique sense of style and her unusual lunches. So when story time arrives, the choice is unanimous: they want to hear about Gooney Bird Greene. And that suits her just fine, because, as it turns out, Gooney Bird has quite a few interesting and "absolutely true" stories to tell. Through Gooney Bird and her tales, acclaimed author Lois Lowry introduces young readers to the concepts and elements of storytelling. By demonstrating some of the simple techniques that reveal the extraordinary in everyday events, this book will encourage the storyteller in everyone.

This book really does teach storytelling elements, even to middle-grade children. I read it to the whole family and even Daddy wore a smile. We're on our second book as they're pretty short reads.

Other books in the series:                                                                                                                   

As for 2013-14 curriculum, here's the scoop.

80% of what we use comes used, through homeschool classifieds, Amazon, or ebay.

Bible: I continue my quest to have my children memorize all the significant Bible stories--the characters, outcomes, and impact on individual faith. In addition, the boys will follow the Bible curriculum that comes with Sonlight Core F. They'll also work their way through The Message, by Peterson.

All four children also participate in AWANA from September to May. I'll be helping with Cubbies again this year.

Science: All my children are doing Sonlight Science, with the girls, ages 4 and 6, sharing the Core A science package, and the boys, ages 9 and 11, sharing the Core F science package.

Writing: The boys are using Writing With Ease Level 4, by Susan Wise Bauer, and my 6-year-old is using Writing With Ease Level 1. All the children will also write in journals.

Grammar: As we have time, my 6-year-old will also benefit from First Language Lessons Level 1, written by Susan's mother, Jessie Wise. The boys and I will go through First Language Lessons Level 4.

Math: My 4-year-old will slowly (as we have time and as she's interested) work through a BJU kinder math workbook. My 6-year-old will use Saxon Math Level 1; my 4-year-old will join in for the manipulative parts as appropriate. I'll also teach my girls to read graphs and design a few of their own. Graphing is a fun activity I can incorporate into each season of the year, using all four children.

My boys will use Teaching Textbooks, which we love and have used for three years.

Language Arts: My boys are doing Core F Sonlight this year, focusing on the Eastern Hemisphere. Sonlight is the only literature-based curriculum company that provides materials on the eastern hemisphere. I will learn along with my boys, since I've never had any eastern-hemisphere education. My prayer is that my 11-year-old, who has OCD, will not have a difficult time with this curriculum. It includes information and stories depicting eastern religions, and a component of his OCD involves religious distortion, in which he worries his Christian beliefs will be corrupted by false religions.

In order to understand the 10/40 missionary window (missionary materials are included in this package), I believe we all need some knowledge of unreached people groups and their spiritual identities, so I'm willing to take a chance on this curriculum.

My girls will be doing their second year of Sing, Spell, Read, Write. I purchased the K-1 combo kit last year and I'm still very pleased.

Social Studies/History - All the boys' history is included in the Sonlight Core F Eastern Hemisphere package, along with a World Book DVD Rom.

My girls will be learning from all the content-area trade books I purchased as a first grade teacher (1992 - 2001). I have more than enough to write my own curriculum, and the library has excellent social studies-themed books as well. I don't see any reason to purchase anything for social studies at this level, especially if you have access to a good fiction and non-fiction library.

Art: We've accumulated quite a few art and drawing books. I'm also going to teach the boys, using the Internet and library books, to recognize famous paintings. I'll be learning along with them on this one too. We'll also read about each artist.

P.E. and Music: The children will participate in a Christmas Choir at our church; my 9-year-old will continue playing the piano; and we'll go to as many homeschool gym classes as our schedule reasonably allows, along with bike riding and walking. My husband is putting together some CD's for a short music-appreciation class for all of us.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing:

Today is homeschool day at our local zoo and we're really looking forward to that! Grizzly Bears arrived this year, along with other new exhibits.

Earlier this week we met with a mom of five whom we know from AWANA. She invited us to lunch to talk about homeschooling. Her children are ages 2 months to 6 years (one set of twins). She's just beginning her homeschool journey and was homeschooled herself.  In fact, her mother began homeschooling four children back when homeschooling was extremely unusual. She did an outstanding job. This young mother went to college, knows how to cook from scratch, can her own produce, garden, do woodworking, quilt, sew, and play the piano. She was baffled, however, on how much to teach in one year. "How do you make sure you're not leaving holes?"

They have five acres, 20 apples trees, 3 pear trees, 3 peach trees, a big garden, a playground, a dog, and two kittens to catch mice in the barn.

I held the 2-month-old baby the whole time I talked. I. was. in. heaven.

I'm cooking:

I'm trying to find the time to look for new recipes, but this week it was much of the same:
baked ziti, crockpot whole chicken, chicken noodle soup, taco bake, cheesy eggs and cafe potatoes, grilled chicken breasts

Looking forward to more applesauce, soups, and chili, now that fall weather is approaching...and more that I can do in the oven without making the house feel like a furnace. Our air conditioning broke last week and we've already paid for two new parts this summer. We'll have to wait until tax money comes to have a new motor put on. No air conditioning aggravates my migraines so I consider this a need, not a want.

I'm grateful for:

~ four children to love, cuddle with, and teach

~ a Christian husband

~ four seasons

~ our Compassion children

~ fall leaves coming soon

~ that my youngest is only 4; I have a lot of mothering years to look forward to.

~ transforming words of Scripture

~ the written word

~ homeschooling resources

~ homeschooling friends

~ books to get lost in

~ faith to see me through

~ the wonder of learning

Have a wonderful week and thank you for reading! How was your week?

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