In my life this week…
In the upside-down Kingdom of God, this was a fantastic spiritual week full of rich growth, and for that I say, Praise God.
If you're reading between the lines, you know the above means I barely survived the last seven days.
Spiritual growth is painful. Can I get an Amen?
The migraines my 10-year-old son were diagnosed with on Monday, continued. Rarely does a person's first migraine experience stretch to 8 consecutive days of migraine, each lasting 1 to 2 hours. Each time this week he has come to me and said, "Oh, Mommy. I have another headache", my stress level immediately rose, and my ability to cope took deep dives. For him and the other children I tried to be strong, but it was so hard not to outwardly fall apart. My older son's ADHD and OCD are both in a horrible flare, and he had three nights of mild asthma this week as well, adding to the stress of the current migraine problem in his brother. And Beth's arthritis isn't responding well to winter this week, or to the stress in the house; she's less active due to rising pain, which could mean more physical therapy sessions.
Just when I think the health trials will end, they get worse.
Migraines are so painful that a person begins to fear them coming on, especially when they begin about the same time every day. For my son, the fear and dread are making it more likely he'll get another, since he also suffers from anxiety.
Kids who can relax easily generally fall asleep with a migraine and then when they awake it's gone. If they can manage to fall asleep, they don't need a pain reliever, but on most days he's needed one, and with each dose, I knew this could potentially become a bigger problem if the body began to crave the pain reliever at about the same time every day (rebound headache).
His doctor put him on a benign antihistamine given off-label for migraine prevention, and also suggested I continue giving him ibuprofen or acetaminophen. He discounted the risk of rebound headache, which I told him has happened to me, and is common in people who take OTC remedies, and some prescription remedies, more than twice a week regularly for headache. I've found that few doctors understand rebound headache, unless they've been forced to research headaches recently. As a pediatrician, our doctor clearly hadn't read or heard much about this maddening condition.
Our pastor doesn't anoint with oil, but I hear one of the deacons will, so I'll be asking him to pray over my Paul this Sunday.
I finished reading God's Adventurer, about Hudson Taylor, missionary to China ($7.79 at christianbook.com), and also Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold ($6.69 at christianbook.com). Both these missionary books helped me with the health issues going on this week.
Eric Liddell, the "flying Scotsman", a missionary to China and Olympic Gold Medalist runner, died in a Japanese concentration camp in China in 1945 at age 43, from a massive brain tumor. He was separated from his family for five consecutive years before his death (he died five months before the end of World War II), never having met his third daughter, Maureen, who along with her two older sisters, is still living in Canada, their mother's native country. Eric Liddell was the main character portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire, an Academy Award winner for Best Picture in 1981.
Eric Liddell is perhaps most famous for refusing to run the two Olympic events he was favored in, because they were scheduled on a Sunday, which in earlier times was taken more seriously as the Lord's day. The Lord honored Hudson's sacrifice, giving him a gold medal anyway, in a longer-distance event he wasn't favored to win.
Eric Liddell was selfless in all he did; that's what stood out most for me about his life. It was always what the Lord wanted, never what Hudson wanted. Even though sending his 4- and 6-year-old daughters and pregnant wife on to Canada without him broke his heart, he stayed on the extremely dangerous mission field, knowing the lost in China, amid years of oppression and war, needed Jesus more than Hudson needed his family or vice versa. Hudson gave it all, and while imprisoned in a horrible Japanese concentration camp, he became known as Uncle Eric, teaching the children of the camp, young and old, without textbooks or supplies, and organizing sporting events to fight the boredom that threatened to undo all of the 1800 people held there during the last 2 years of World War II. Several people from that camp wrote books about their experiences, and Eric Liddell was always spoken of as an angel. One fellow Christian and missionary wrote that Eric was the finest Christian man he'd ever met.
Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) started China Inland Missions, and opened up inland China to missionaries for the first time ever, in the 1800's. Forty years after he stood on a beach in England and humbly prayed to God for 24 skilled and willing missionaries to help start his missionary organization, 800 missionaries, all from his organization, penetrated all 12 of the inland China provinces. Hudson began by asking God for two missionaries per province, and from there, because he was faithful, humble, and obedient, God grew the ministry many fold.
And it's important to note that when God first put the idea in Hudson's head about starting a missionary organization, he resisted. He simply didn't want to do it, fearing that if the missionaries were put to death, their lives would be on his head. Not long after these fears surfaced, however, God made it clear to Hudson that the lives were in God's hands, not Hudson's. Obedience followed and continued until Hudson died peacefully in his bed in inland China in 1905, with a smile on his face. He was 73.
Hudson and his wife Maria had 7 children, but this was not mentioned in the book; I had to research his life to get details about his family. Maria, his first wife, died of cholera at the age of 33, and Hudson remarried, having two more children and adopting a third. His second wife died a year before he did.
What I learned this week is that sometimes God asks people to do great things for the Kingdom, and sometimes he asks us not to perform, but to endure. When health issues are present, and with them pain and dysfunction, God still asks us to fight the good fight of faith, even if we can't be terribly productive. Pain prevents us from bringing glory to ourselves--from accomplishing anything amazing--but it doesn't prevent us from bringing glory to God. It's in continuing to love Him and praise His name through our unrelieved pain, that we bring Him glory.
Is it as wonderful as what Eric Liddell or Hudson Taylor did for the Kingdom? Well, no, but if you're the person in pain, it can feel just as big, just as challenging.
Another thing that stood out about both these men, is their commitment to daily devotions and prayer. They understood that without Christian discipline, we're nearly useless to God, and we can endure very little.
In our homeschool this week…
With each passing headache for Paul, I became more determined to reduce stress in our lives. The headaches are hereditary and brought on by pre-pubescent hormones, but stress will definitely aggravate the condition. So on Wednesday I decided it would be best to take a vacation from school until the second day after Christmas, except on the days when behavior is too challenging.
But it's a working vacation, as I'll be training the children with a five-minute timer to clean up after themselves several times a day. It will be a more regimented 5-minute pick-up so our house doesn't become disarrayed so easily and stressful to look at. As well, with all their things put away, the actual cleaning can go quickly and on schedule. So basically, I'm using this vacation to work out the kinks in our home management.
Despite a bit of vacation and training, we kept up with our morning devotions, our AWANA verses, our missionary reading, and our Christmas book reading. And the boys have worked two days on a model of a volcano, using up a whole lot of paper towels, old tea from tea bags, glue, paint, and scratch paper. Right now they're drying the paint with my blow dryer.
I have some Christmas season books to share:
The first is not a children's book, but an Advent Devotional written by John Piper, entitled Good News of Great Joy:Daily Readings for Advent. We read it as a family after dinner. I bought it off Amazon for less than $5 new, but it's also available as a free download from John Piper's site, Desiring God. Use link above.
The other nightly book we use for devotions is What God Wants for Christmas, written by Barbara Rainey of Family Life. (Friend Beth, if this looks interesting, please don't order it. I sent it your way already.) This resource helps lower-elementary children truly understand the Christmas story. With all the hullabaloo surrounding Christmas, we have to work very hard with the young ones to help them truly understand the significance. This resource is wonderful, full of rhyme, hands-on, and includes scripture reading references if you wish to use them. Older children will definitely absorb more of the Scripture than the younger ones, making this resource good for a range of ages.
|Family Life Photo|
The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Jane Ray. Delightful illustrations in this book (features the traditional carol).
With luminous artwork full of elaborate detail, the acclaimed Jane Ray brings new life to a classic holiday song.
In this lushly illustrated interpretation of the familiar Christmas carol, each spread offers surprises for the eye as nostalgic city scenes depict a multiethnic cast of characters bustling with packages and sprucing up their homes for the holidays. But at one home in particular, an endless succession of gifts keeps arriving: birds of all stripes, ladies dancing aboard a brightly bedecked boat, lords leaping on rooftops, and pipers piping up and down stairs. Filled with intricate patterns and whimsical flourishes, Jane Ray's gorgeous artwork is the perfect match for this wonderfully cumulative tale.
Next up is The Story of Holly & Ivy, by Rumer Godden, illustrated by Barbara Cooney. These two women are among my favorites in children's literature. I loved this beautiful story, but it's long and you'll need a couple days to get through it with the youngest ones.
Publisher Overview: Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she's sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true? This festive tale is perfectly complemented by beloved Barbara Cooney's luminous illustrations, filled with the warm glow of the Christmas spirit.
Orphaned Ivy finds her Christmas wish fulfilled with the help of a lonely couple and a doll named Holly.
Next up is the Peterkins' Christmas, adapted by Elizabeth Spurr, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin.
This is a comedy. A hoot from horse and buggy days. Fun! And once again, I love the illustrations!
Publisher Overview: Meet the Peterkins.
There's Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin, Agamemnon, Solomon John, Eliza-beth Eliza, and the three Little Boys (who everyone forgot to name when they were born).
The Peterkins love a good surprise almost as much as they love Christmas-time, and this year is no different as they try to surprise the Little Boys with their tallest Christmas tree ever. All their secret plans go awry, though, when they realize that their special tree is too big to fit in the house! How will they save Christmas?
The Peterkins were first introduced to delighted children everywhere more than one hundred and twenty years ago when Lucretia Hale wrote The Peterkin Papers. Adapted from that timeless children's classic, The Peterkins' Christmas is a charming holiday tale that will thrill readers of all ages.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
Never hesitate to take time off to get the home-managing kinks out. In the end, you'll be more productive and less stressed when your homemaking, shopping, and laundry maintenance are as smooth as they can be.
My favorite thing this week was…
Learning about Christian heroes Hudson Taylor and Eric Liddell, and what God spoke to me, through them.
My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
Making a volcano, Mommy buying them candy canes, holiday baking (although we haven't done much yet), making big tents in the playroom/family room, and Christmas picture books.
Things I’m working on…
As mentioned above: home management. One challenging area is laundry. I do very well at keeping up with the washing, but our living room gets loaded with unfolded clothes, as I wash more on a given day than we can process, and we don't have a garage or basement, or adequate storage closets to set the baskets in. The solution I'm working on is to wash the shirts, sweaters, skirts and pants--the things I hang up directly from the dryer--on one day, and the next day wash all the items that need folding--pajamas, socks and underwear, and linens. On this day we will all work on folding as a family, and no one will go to bed that night without having folded and put away their pajamas and underclothes. This will mean no clothes ever on the couch. The end to laundry clutter!
Home management is not my strong point, as regular readers know, but I keep trying. I don't believe in giving up because I know with God's help, I can become a very able manager of home and stress.
I’m grateful for…
~ my Heavenly Father, who never leaves me nor forsakes me
~ my love for my four children, challenging me to be my best
~ picture books to ease the burden of stress, and prayer to do the same
~ that everyday the Lord tells me...if you get this one thing right, it will all be okay. This one thing? It's to pray with my children as often as I can throughout the day, starting at morning devotions. Praying together about the struggles the family is having unburdens hearts, and replaces pride with humility.
~ kind friends
~ the babies in the nursery at church
~ Christmas baking aroma
~ anticipating His coming.
A quote to share...
Luke 2:10-11 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Thank you for reading, friend, and how was your week?