In my life this week…
Every week the Holy Spirit has something to reveal to me about my own heart, and usually, I'm not proud of the revelation. This morning as I was putting my contacts in, I heard a knock at the door...at 8:15 AM.
As soon as I heard it, I knew.
Dread and irritation flooded my heart. Still dressed in PJ's myself, I asked my oldest to throw on some sweats and answer the door. Sure enough, three of the four siblings across the street needed a ride to the elementary school. This time it was a flat tire.
We aren't morning people here and we hate rushing out the door. My kids dread these knocks as much as I do.
I made sure all four of my kids had clothes laid out, and I showered as quickly as I could, telling them to be dressed to shoes by the time I got out of the shower. Breakfast would have to wait, but bananas were on the counter, I added.
Forty minutes later we stopped in their driveway, and all three kids were waiting outside, ages 6, 7, and 10 (their teen gets a ride with a friend). This is a family that doesn't care a hoot about safety. As always, they offered me no booster seats; they don't use car seats of any kind.
They would rather I take all the kids at once and just fit them in anyway I can, because that's what they always do. I've seen this family of six crowd into a mid-sized car many times, though right now they have a van.
I'm a rule follower and a safety nut, so I take two trips in my van, loaded with my four kids and two of theirs, going back for their third child on the second trip. Only in the past couple months have I allowed my 11 year old to ride up front, and only when we have to accommodate another child is this done.
This morning, like other such mornings, I couldn't stop judging this family. Everything I don't like about them flooded my heart: they don't care about education, they don't care about books (they burned books I gave their 7-year-old daughter), they're smokers and pay more for cigarettes per week than a booster seat costs at Walmart. They buy toys for their kids sometimes and then don't have money for utilities.
You name it, they've done it, even borrowing money and regular milk and sugar and bandaids and whatever else they've needed, with nary a thank you. Once, after we quit giving them money, they asked me for $5, saying they would give me $10 in food stamps in trade. I was appalled.
Always, the requests come through their kids, often through handwritten notes.
I didn't want to take the 6 and 7 year olds without boosters, but neither did I want them to miss school, since truancy is common for them. My girls are both in boosters and we don't have any extras, and as much as I wanted to get them a couple boosters, my husband needs shoes and my son needs a birthday present, both of which will clean us out.
I took them to school anyway and thankfully all went well, but I judged the parents in my heart for two hours this morning, before I finally listened to the Holy Spirit.
He humbled me, reminding me that my neighbors need to be received in Christian love, because God desires mercy. God takes us where we're at, not looking at us in disgust, but focusing on who we will become in Him. He sees the transformed heart to come and loves that.
I think I want to be a missionary, but I haven't near the level of humility required to reflect Jesus' love adequately. How can I escort someone to the throne of grace, if I get bogged down by how much better I am than they are?
My neighbors live a different style of life, yes, but a more "educated" or refined style in which Anne of Green Gables and The Swiss Family Robinson are read aloud, is not more pleasing to the Lord. Professor Higgins is not better than Eliza Dolittle, just different.
Carseats and bicycle helmets are not next to godliness, any more than the 8 PM bedtime is.
We can get bogged down in so much judgement as we try to help people, and shame on us. Judgement cancels out any good deed we do, because God knows our hearts. If we give away a booster seat or a winter coat to make ourselves feel more holy--even if only subconsciously--for example, what good have we really done? God is grieved by our pride, by our impure motives.
Praise Him for his gracious forgiveness! He doesn't give up on us.
I had to apologize to my kids and to God, explaining that Mommy was wrong to judge their parents over carseats or anything else. The last thing I want is to raise haughty Christian kids who think they've arrived. It's hard enough for them to comprehend this on the average day: the Holy Spirit dwells in their hearts not because of their goodness, but because of his grace.
I think it's hard for us adults to grasp this, too?
In our homeschool this week…
During school hours the boys, ages 9 and 11, are reading Torches of Joy, Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun, and The Big Wave.
After read-aloud time, they've started reading for pleasure at night before bed; it keeps them out of trouble while they get drowsy. Right now, Encyclopedia Brown is all the rage, a series for 8 - 12 year olds they've just discovered. I'm a little surprised at them reading such easy books, but for the first time my Paul is reading copiously for pleasure without complaint, so I'm going to leave this alone and put few restraints (other than moral ones) on their bedtime reading.
I read a couple of these mysteries; they're short and somewhat brainy and the boys will be through most of them in a couple weeks anyway. Not classic literature, but not exactly twaddle either. Sonlight is providing plenty of heady, well-crafted books to devour in the daylight hours, thank goodness.
In science they're still focusing on the various organs and systems of the human body (Sonlight Science F).
I've written before about my girls, ages 4 and 6, using Sing, Spell, Read ,Write, the K-1 combo version.
What I haven't yet said is that the reading primers in this kit are very pleasing, compared to any I've seen. When Peter was in first grade I used Sonlight Beginning to Read, and the primers about drove me insane! They were dry and lifeless and we both hated them, but Sue Dickson, who wrote this program after teaching reading for over 2 decades, really put effort into that big stack of primers you see on the middle right (she put great skill and effort into every component of this program). My daughter enjoys them, as do I. I'm so thankful to Sue for sharing her expertise and writing an outstanding reading program that has stood the test of time. It's expensive, but worth every penny. (No, not a commercial; I don't do commercials. Just a tip from a mom who's been tortured by bad reading primers.)
My favorite read-alouds for my girls this week:
Goodreads Synopsis: In the month of the Maple Sugar Moon, the snow's too wet for angel making, icicles rain from Grandpa's porch roof, and something is stirring in the woods. It's sugarbush spring--time to tap the trees, prepare the bottles, then gather round the cook fire to eat chicken and dumplings, roast marshmallows, and tell stories while the cold sap heats through, thickens, and boils to make syrup.
Chall's timeless story and Daly's glowing paintings invite children to share in the pleasure of making maple syrup--a process that's the same today as it was two hundred years ago.
Jim Daly's paintings are exquisite in this book. Loved it for so many reasons. All four of my children were glued to it as I read.
These next two are by the same author, and beautifully espouse the biblical truth: It is more blessed to give than to receive. We so enjoyed both of these and yes, there were tears (nobody dies--don't worry).
Goodreads Synopsis: Escaping from the protective walls of wealth and privilege, a young girl discovers the harsh world outside, where some people don't have as much as others. When she realizes that she has the power to help them, the young girl finds a strength and peace she never knew before. Making the loveliest quilts in all the land, the young girl decides to give them away.
Goodreads Synopsis: When a generous quilt maker finally agrees to make a quilt for a greedy king but only under certain conditions, she causes him to undergo a change of heart.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
A consistent daily schedule leads to steady progress, and over time, to mastery of subject matter. That said, don't forget to enjoy the gifts God provides in the form of seasons. On the first snow day, let them stop the book work and marvel at the snowflakes. Make that day special--make snowmen inside or out, read snow books, bake some comfort food, etc.
When the leaves are falling, rake them into piles and have fun. Start some leaf compost, read leaf books, press leaves into paint and make a masterpiece. Take a nature walk to enjoy the blanket of color all around.
Homeschooling has to be a discipline, yes, but it's also about living a one-piece life--responding to the gifts and the work God provides on each day, and living fully in his presence. We don't want to just "get through" a day, but enjoy its gifts...savor it as a God-given opportunity to praise Him and acknowledge him, even in the mundane things. He's given us an abundant life...and we need to notice it!
My favorite thing this week was…
Watching the children enjoy fall.
My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
Enjoying fall, and the Quiltmaker books shown above, and getting free candy. This is only our third year doing the Halloween thing, and the candy is amazing to them....all this for free?! We figured if we're going to minister to neighbors and have a children's Bible study, we have to get out there and mingle.
This is the second year my youngest's candy is disappearing faster than the other bags. Someone, besides Momma, is sneaking chocolate from her bucket. (I keep them up high.) I can't wait until this candy is gone, let me tell you. They want a piece after every meal, and they spend time mildly arguing over the trades they make...about whether a Snickers is worth a box of Nerds, for example.
My husband tried to protect our four year old as soon as the trading started: "The chocolates are the best, Beth. Don't let them take your chocolates."
Maybe he's been dipping into her candy? :)
Things I’m working on…
I'm working on expanding our dinner menus. We've eaten the same things for a while now, and it was time to mix things up.
I'm also praying for a humble heart that loves instead of judges.
chicken noodle soup
garlic cheddar chicken
crockpot chicken enchiladas
We're baking apple crisp and chocolate-chip cookie bars, and maybe some homemade wheat bread for the potato soup night.
One of the reasons my husband loves me is that I make him a whole chicken about once a week. Chicken is a close third behind his love for God and me...and sometimes chicken is second. :).
I’m grateful for…
~ my husband
~ four children to share my days and dreams with
~ morning devotions in Matthew
~ the Holy Spirit, who never lies to me about my own heart
~ four seasons and beautiful leaves raining down today
~ a warm house with blankets to cuddle under
~ a little boy turning 10, and I'm not crying yet that I can't call him little anymore
~ grace for the long haul
~ homemade birthday cake
~ Beth's arthritic knees were so swollen this week (following a cold virus I guess, since this is auto-immune and gets worse with illnesses). I feared they would raise her methotrexate dose at next week's appointment, so I started praying in earnest for a miraculous, overnight change. I did definitely detect a decrease in her swelling today--praise God!
~ my pretty red coat from Goodwill for $7
A quote to share...
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
Thank you for reading, friend. How was your week?