Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gearing Up

John 15:4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Blogging seems like a long-lost something I used to enjoy when life was manageable. Mentally I am kicking and screaming just a little as I accept that it too must go in the name of learning disabilities and other special needs. If I can write once or twice a week here, I'll be doing well.

I had my state-required homeschooling end-of-year portfolio review meeting with a gentle and quiet Christian homeschooling mother/speech pathologist/portfolio review teacher. She has three boys, one of whom is starting at Akron University on Monday, and another who is 14 with learning disabilities, and another who is 11. I enjoyed my meeting very much. She's a true supporter and would make a wonderful friend, if either of us had the time.

Now on the agenda is planning a brilliant schedule to accommodate four learners and a lot of hands-on, teacher-directed lessons, plus going to therapies and keeping up with housekeeping and cooking. Excuse me while I go hide under the bed with a Hershey's bar and pretend this monumental task didn't need tackling.

Schedule writing is not my friend, but it must become so.

Gearing up emotionally....

The last few years I taught first grade behavior problems had become more prevalent, partially because I taught in a low-income area short on hope and solutions, even though a Healthy Start grant program was in its second year on our campus. All the names of incoming students were put on cards with notes about their previous year. Then we met while the principal and others carefully divided the cards between six first-grade teachers so that no one teacher got all the low ones, or all the behavior problems, etc. This became the new system, in response to the new, tougher kids coming in. The class-composition meeting was always a scary day; I walked to the cafeteria after the buses pulled away, with a lump in my throat.

As I reached out to receive the cards handed to me, I looked at each one with a heart half-expectant, half-afraid. "What does God have for me? Will I be able to handle it? Will it be as hard this year as last year?"

No, I didn't sit in a meeting when God decided what my offspring should be like.

Should they have blond, brown, red, or black hair? Should they be stubborn or easy-going or a mix? Should they be calm or anxious? Should they have hyperactivity, or focus?

If I were filling out a questionnaire for God about my desired offspring, would I have check-marked all the optimum traits? And if so, what would God have thought of me?

Now I'm an experienced mother of four, with four special-needs children, spanning the gamut from learning-disabled to hyperactive to impulsive to pathologically/obsessively fearful, to diseased joints. Soon we'll begin a year of hands-on, teacher-directed lessons in reading (All About Reading), spelling (All About Spelling), grammar (Winston Grammar), writing (Write Shop), and math (possibly Right Start Math, but Saxon has hands-on components as well in the primary levels). Two of my children need this kind of learning because of dyslexia-type issues, and I'm not yet sure about my kindergartner. Paul may need it too.

I don't quite know how I will keep up, along with cooking from scratch, doing the laundry and cleaning, and shopping and going to appointments and doing therapy homework, and coaching children through fears. And being a wife? Don't even ask. I don't even know. I'm completely and totally overwhelmed, and it's all I can do to put one foot in front of the other right now.

We changed churches and we've been to the new one the last three Sundays. We all love it and I signed up to help in the nursery, which turned into teaching every other week in the 4-year-old classroom, with Peter's help. Don't ask me how that came about. The director is a smart lady and works swiftly so you don't know what hit you.

Today I read a quick article about an American doctor who was healed from Ebola, after being given an experimental serum. They don't know if the serum helped, or if it was all God. The doctor worked for Samaritan's Purse and prayed during his illness that God would be glorified through it.

I have never, ever left a comment on a news story, but the ten comments left after this news story appalled me. They were 90% negative and/or sarcastic about God, and I couldn't stand that, so I left a comment about how God healed the man because the man directly asked that God be glorified through the illness. And do you know what happened several minutes later?

A man replied to my comment: "So why does God hate amputees?"

If we're handed the tough cards--they can get a lot tougher than what I've experienced--does that mean God hates us? Is it tempting to believe that, when you look around and see others seemingly blessed, and even healed? What stance should we take once the reality of our situation becomes clear? Is the reality really what it seems?

No matter how many times I write a post about this same issue--and I'm sure you'll agree there have been many--I still need to write yet another to sort out similar feelings when I'm overwhelmed anew.

Here's the thing: To God Be the Glory, just like the doctor said.

We will not be overwhelmed when we let go of the outcome and give it to God. If God cares how clean my house is in the midst of homeschooling, he'll put in place the skills and schedule to make it cleaner and neater. He'll change me and my children so we can do more, in less time. If God cares about my Peter going to college, he'll solve the dysgraphia and dyscalculia issues, either through me or in spite of me. If God wants my Mary to start enjoying school and to develop a can-do attitude about learning and facing fears, he'll make it happen either through me or in spite of me.

My part is simple, and even if I had four children completely normal in every way, my part would still be the same. It's the same for the amputee, and for the Samaritan's Purse doctor, and for you, dear reader.

We get up every morning and ask: "Lord, how do you want to use me today?" 

And next..."This day is yours, Lord. How do you want to use it?" 

Romans 6:13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

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