Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-Up 10/31


Boys' Science Notes

This week my boys, ages 11 and 12, watched a DVD that came with their Core G Sonlight Science, entitled Icons of Evolution.


Product Description
Are students learning the whole truth about Darwin's theory of evolution? According to a growing number of scientists, the suprising answer is no. They claim that many of the most famous "Icons of Evolution"--including Darwin's "Tree of Life," finches from the Galapagos Islands, and embryos that look remarkably similar--are based on outdated research and sloppy logic. They say students are being hurt by the failure to present both sides of an emerging scientific debate over Darwin's theory.

Come explore this fascinating new conflict over evolution in the classroom--a conflict based on science, not religion. Learn about the controversy that engulfs one town when a teacher actually tries to tell students that some scientists disagree with Darwin.

From the Galapagos Islands to China, Icons of Evolution will take you on a fast-paced, fascinating journey into one of the most controversial issues in today's public arena.

Review: True science and freedom of thought are inseparable, but as this video shows, some scientists prefer power to truth. -- Philip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial
My Notes: This DVD deals with each of the major points of evolution and analyzes them from a scientific perspective. There is a widely held perception that the only scientists who have problems with evolutionary theory are those with religious views. In fact, many are skeptical due to the poor science involved in evolutionary theory, but these scientists are ostracized in the field. This DVD gives them a voice (and also includes pro-evolution scientists), and it highlights how far public schools will go to keep sound, unbiased science from reaching their students.

This DVD definitely supports the often scoffed at view that public schools are also propaganda machines. Indeed, it may be true that all education is inevitably propaganda, so all the more reason to control the message as best we can as parents, while encouraging critical thinking.


Ministering to Neighborhood Children (related to the evolution topic, and worthwhile books)

We had two neighborhood children over for dinner last night (not siblings of each other), and as my older son brought up what he's learning in science, one of the friends said that no, God didn't have anything to do with the creation of the world. It all happened over many, many years, he said, confident in his view. This is the same friend of ours who came to Christ recently, and this exchange made me realize how hard it is for a child from a non-Christian home to grow in Christ. Any discipling he gets will be through us, at least at this juncture.

Whether one believes in evolution or not is certainly not a crucial point, but the belief that God has nothing at all to do with creation, means that the child doesn't understand the majesty and power and omniscience of our Heavenly Father.

This child is the one I am babysitting a couple nights a week. On Thursday nights at 7 PM we go to a library program so my son Paul can have some regular art in his school week. Our neighbor then, age 9, goes with us, and loves to check out Goosebumps books on my library card. I'm horrified at these books--especially the covers, but I haven't read any. The librarian confirmed for me that they are indeed scary. I don't need to peruse them to know they aren't adding any value to this child's life--and in fact, they are probably desensitizing his heart. Our hearts need to be nurtured and fed thus:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Discipling Neighborhood Children Who Do Not Have Christian Parents

The Holy Spirit guided me at the library in the last two weeks, however, with the reminder that the Father will work on one thing at a time in this child's heart, and I am to follow His lead. First, for instance, I must teach the truth of the above verse, and then wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to this child's heart about scary books and movies. To this end, I have copied the verse on chart paper and posted it in my house, as a conversation starter. Children notice what is written on large chart paper, and so I use charts as a tool as we minister to neighbor children.

The following is a chart I have up to teach them about having a prayer life, and what breadth of things we can appeal to our Heavenly Father about. Even my own children benefit from having it posted, to remember that we are called to have a prayer life--one rich in what is important to God, not merely superficial. This is just one chart that details how we pray for children.


In Other School News: silent e and b/d confusion

My daughter Mary (an All About Reading Level 2 student) learned that the silent-e rule is also called the "name game syllable". As such, the silent e goes up to the vowel, who he met at a party, and says, "Hi, what's your name?"

This is a semantics change from the way I taught silent e, and the language used makes more sense to children. My daughter is remembering more often what to do when she encounters silent e in her reading. 

She also learned that lower case b is also called "bat ball" to signify that the stick goes first, then the ball. Conversely. lower case d is called "doorknob door" to signify that the doorknob goes first, then the door. These tips are helping my dyslexic daughter tremendously, as I remind her to ask herself what comes first when her finger comes upon a b or d word. Does your finger touch the bat first, or the doorknob? Having the child move the finger under the word in the same direction we read, is a crucial part of using this b/d trick successfully. Otherwise, without this directional cue, they see the stick and ball and can't make sense of it (since b and d both have a stick and ball).

If the b/d confusion doesn't clear up by the beginning of second grade, it's time to think about possible dyslexia. Before second grade, it's fairly normal to confuse the two.

Birthday Notes

My middle son turns 11 this weekend, followed by three more child birthdays fairly quickly. All four of mine were born between November 2nd and January 11th, with the girls' birthdays only one week apart on the December calendar. Makes for a busier couple months with the holidays thrown in the mix.

2014 Picture Books to Highlight (to be added to my picture books blog pages)

Science

Animal School: What Class Are You? by Michele Lord

SynopsisIn this poetic exploration of the five vertebrate classifications—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish—animals come to life in lush color. Each class gets the spotlight in breathtaking digital woodcut art accompanied by rhythmic, kid-friendly poetry. With a focus on trademark characteristics, such as birds’ beaks or the scales of fish, the book explains the differences between the five classes. Back matter includes an index and a glossary of scientific terms, as well as a table with information and examples from each classification for cross-referencing.

National Geographic Kids: Seed to Plant by Kristin Baird Rattini


Synopsis: A plant is a living thing . . . that grows and changes, just like you. Beginning with its opening line, this National Geographic Readers title will spark kids’ curiosity. From interactive dialogue (How many plants did you eat today?), to basic diagrams, to plant jokes and Buzzword word banks that are included on the photographed pages, the text keeps readers engaged and asking questions. Tightly organized, the text also builds on itself, with introductory information about plants and how they affect other organisms to concluding opportunities for applying the information with the appended directions on how to grow a bean plant, as well as quizzes to test new knowledge. Through a fun and simple lens that is perfect for the new, curious reader, this title celebrates a plant’s special place in the world. Preschool-Grade 1

The Little Raindrop by Joanna Grag


SynopsisBeginning with a beautiful fall through a rainbow, the title character takes the journey from the beginning to the end of the water cycle. Gray delivers a complex scientific process in an approachable way through well-chosen words while Kolanovic's illustrations are superbly suited for the story. The raindrop's adventures are documented in soft pastels displaying the beauty of Earth's rainbow, streams, rivers, and oceans, while he encounters a variety of birds, bunnies, worms, moose, bears, and aquatic life. The raindrop makes his way ultimately to the ocean shore, to be evaporated back up into the sky and begin the voyage all over again. While not nonfiction, this title would make a great introduction to nature units covering forms of precipitation or types of bodies of water. Additionally, with the smoothly flowing story and picturesque illustrations sweeping across the spreads, it would make a fine read-aloud as well. Just like water in real life, the little raindrop can make a big impact on his readers Preschool to grade 2

Hope For Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Dolphin Friendship by David Yates


Synopsis:

A story of a baby dolphin named Hope is rescued against all odds.
Exactly 5 years and 1 day after Winter, the tailless dolphin who inspired a major motion picture featuring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, and Harry Conick Jr., was rescued, something pretty amazing happened. Just feet from where Winter was found, appeared another injured dolphin, orphaned from her mother and struggling to survive. The Clearwater Marine team quickly went to work, attempting to nurse this new dolphin back to health. After a tough fight fought by the little dolphin and by the Clearwater team, the dolphin grew strong and healthy. She now lives with Winter and crowds flock to the aquarium to see them play. Her tale is one of courage and triumph. She was named Hope and this book tells her story.

Social Studies

The History of Money: From Bartering to Banking by Martin Jenkins


Publisher Synopsis:

What can take the form of a stone with a hole in the middle, a string of shells, a piece of paper, or a plastic card? The answer is money, of course. But when did we start using it? And why? What does money have to do with writing? And how do taxes and interest work? From the Stone Age to modern banking, this lighthearted and engaging account traces the history of the stuff that makes the world go round.

This is not your standard children’s review of the historical shift from barter to currency, with emphasis on exotic media for trade, culminating in our own paper and coinage. Instead, this is a post-2008 financial meltdown essay, broken into short, lively chapters tinged with tart humor, that walks kids through development of money and money-lending. ... A spacious layout and Kitamura’s delightful cartoon vignettes make the dense topics of taxation, interest, and inflation, and international currency valuation less daunting.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson


Synopsis: Gr 3 Up—Previous picture books about Juneteenth (the holiday celebrating the day slaves were freed in Texas—two years after the rest of the country) have focused on contemporary children discovering this quirk of history. Valerie Wesley's Freedom's Gifts (S. & S., 1997) and Carole Boston Weatherford's Juneteenth Jamboree (Lee & Low, 1995) fall into that category. Johnson imagines what it would be like to be a slave one minute and a free person the next. Spare text, structured as free verse, hones in on the smell of honeysuckle and breakfast routines as the day begins, like any other. The titular phrase appears three times: first to build suspense, then to indicate the earthshaking import of the message spreading from the port, and, finally, to reflect on the consequences. Lewis paints details not mentioned. The protagonist is a girl living in the slave quarters with her siblings and mother. They are working in the cotton fields when the news arrives. Skillful watercolor renderings depict nuanced changes in lighting and focus, thereby capturing individual responses to a community's new reality—from incredulity and quiet contemplation to rapture. Occasional panels indicate passing time; the brilliant clarity of the fields at noon fades to a green-blue gauze over the revelers heading home from a late-night celebration. A time line, glossary, overview, list of websites, and notes by author and illustrator provide deeper understanding. With a narrative notable for its understated simplicity and lack of judgment, this title allows readers to draw their own conclusions. An affecting entrĂ©e to a challenging conversation

My note: There are few words to this text, but the words included are beautiful. Within the first two pages, your tears will flow over the magnitude of what the characters experience on their first free day. It is as though you are there, experiencing their surprise and joy. Don't miss this one!

William Shakespeare: A Man For All Times by Paul Shuter


Synopsis: Grades 7-9 Who was William Shakespeare? How much do we really know about him, and how much of what is believed is myth? This unique biography takes the reader step-by-step through Shakespeare's life, setting out the evidence and what we can reasonably infer about him. It reminds the reader about the world he lived in, such as that standard spelling of words did not exist in his time, and shows how we must think carefully before applying modern ideas to explain his life.

My Note: Chapters include: who was Shakespeare; where did he come from; after school and marriage; what happened next; moving to London; what makes him different; was he rich; the King's man,; did Shakespeare retire; money then and now; glossary; source references; find out more; epilogue.

My boys are learning about Shakespeare later this year as part of Sonlight Core G, (World History Part 1). We will definitely include this source.

Thanks for reading here! Have a great weekend.


Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Daughter is Amazing and Other Dyslexia Truths


As the mom of a dyslexic, struggling reader, I make time for articles and books about her condition, partially to understand her needs, but also to manage my level of concern. Many of us, before researching, thought dyslexia was a condition in which the letters and words wouldn't stay put on a page, and consequently, reading was a slow process for the affected student. This is a gross misrepresentation of what dyslexia is, and this lack of understanding in the general public is unfortunate, given that an estimated 1 in 5 people are affected by dyslexia to some extent.

Robert Redford's grandson is severely dyslexic and could barely read and write at 10 years old. The young boy's father, James, was so frustrated about the misunderstanding surrounding his son's condition that he produced The Big Picture, a 2013 documentary which "follows the stories of several dyslexics of different ages, including son Dylan, and examines how people with the condition cope from a young age right through to adulthood." Below is a quote from The Guardian story about the documentary:
Yet the condition is still shrouded in mystery. When Dylan was a child, his parents "felt under fire all the time with misinformation". They encountered teachers who did not know how to deal with their son and people who assumed it was a "made-up" illness that children could grow out of.
"You get a mournful glance from someone who says, 'So, will they be living with you for the rest of your life?' " Redford says. "Or, 'I'm so sorry. Do you plan to have more children?' It's just crazy. That was part of the frustration and it drove me to tell the story as it really is."
The Big Picture explores some of the recent scientific research around dyslexia which has used brain imaging to demonstrate that shrinkage in the arcuate fasciculus, the part of the brain that processes word sounds and language, could be one of the condition's contributory factors.
Once Dylan was officially diagnosed, he started to thrive and won a place to study at Middlebury College, a prestigious liberal arts university in Vermont. Redford says that his son, like many dyslexics, is "a big-picture thinker" who can come up with creative solutions to problems but that mainstream schooling in the US and the UK fails to recognise this.
What exactly is dyslexia? The International Dyslexia Association defines it thus: It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and /or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

Wikipedia defines it thus: Dyslexia, or developmental reading disorder, is characterized by difficulty with learning to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal or above-average intelligence. This includes difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, processing speed, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, language skills/verbal comprehension, and/or rapid naming.

Even though my daughter, who will be 8 in December, has been sounding out words for well over two years now, she still struggles mightily with fluency. Dyslexics just read slower than average, and this will persist their whole lives.

John Piper, renowned pastor and co-developer of the wildly successful Desiring God website, admits that he has dyslexia and that consequently, he's not a well-read person, owing to the excessive time it takes to get through books.

And yet he's a brilliant theologian and communicator, and has written or co-written nearly 100 books.

What does he read then, that cultivated his great mind? The Bible. He picked one book--the right book--and became an expert on it. I can't tell you how his story and many others inspire me as I work with my daughter.

Dyslexia can be a gift; see an article by the author of Overcoming Dyslexia, Sally Shaywitz, M.D. entitled "The Dyslexia Paradox: Slow Reading, Fast Thinking", published in Yale Scientific. Dyslexics are the perfect entrepreneurs because they see possibilities and connections most of us don't. They quickly see the big picture and the possibilities, but are often bogged down by details. Scores of famous people have dyslexia.

Sally Gardner, a famous writer (one I haven't read), wrote an article for The Guardian entitled Dyslexia is Not a Disability--It's a Gift. In the comments section many disagreed with her because of their negative school experiences, and because of the stress having dyslexia caused them. It seemed to me that those who felt it was a gift were those who benefited from parents, teachers, peers and friends who believed in them.

My daughter is an amazing young lady and I do, indeed, believe in her, but sometimes I wonder what the narrow-minded world will do to her psyche. Without belief in God and an awe of all that He created, it's easy to be narrow-minded and think "inside the box", expecting everyone to conform to the establishment. Atheists think our silly Jesus is a stupid myth, or at best, just a famous person, and that our Jesus-freak minds are too narrow or brainwashed to view him otherwise.

But doesn't it make more sense that a narrow mind is one who looks at all the beauty and diversity in the world, and the complexities of the human body, and concludes it's all an accident? That is narrow.

Just today my daughter's story included the word bike, among many other silent-e words. Each time she encountered the word, she had to sound it out. Not once did she recognize it from context or from having read it many times in the story. It's so hard not to think silently: enough already! You read this ten times in the last fifteen minutes!

It's hard not to worry about her during her reading sessions and afterwards. Reading anything other than word. by. word. is such a struggle. My dyslexia-reading and research help me, mostly by leading me back to my core values and beliefs.

God is good. He loves us and we are fearfully and wonderfully made...all of us differently.

I have two children, Peter and Mary, who think outside the box and exhibit disabilities that are also gifts. ADHD people, as well, are highly represented among the entrepreneurial population. The biggest question for me as a parent and teacher is this: Where is my faith? In whom? Is it in God, or in traditional education? In God, or in the world's definition of success? Is it in how others perceive me and my family, or is it in God? Is it in my plan or perceptions, or is it in God's?

Science and research and personal stories are helpful, but the Truth of the Bible is my life line. I will continue trying to understand my daughter and my son, but all the while, I will cling to the promises in the Word, remembering that perfect love casts out fear, and we are all wonderfully made, with purpose and a plan.

The more we focus on God's plan and not our own, the wider and more beautiful our view.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Savvy Moms Guide to Halloween Candy


1.  Store it on the highest surface in your house, like the top of the refrigerator. Note placement of buckets in case your naughtiest one decides to steal some.

2. Get the buckets down before regular teeth brushing only. Otherwise, start making the dental appointments now. The stickier the candy, the worse the dental bills.

3. Have a chore ready for them to do, for which they will be rewarded a piece of their candy (before morning teeth brushing, or before nightly teeth brushing). This morning I chose a laundry chore for them.


Each white basket has a child's name on it, and they have to fold their clothes when the basket is half full, and then place the clothes in the correct drawer in their bedrooms.

4. If anyone is caught stealing, they lose their next piece of candy, and they still have to do the chore involved.

5. Have the evening candy be their dessert for the night, and offer two to three pieces so the whole candy nightmare is not too drawn out for poor Mom. Consuming candy after a meal doesn't result in the quick rise in blood sugar, followed by the slump in energy and mood. That happens for the most part when the sugar is taken between meals.

Although, I think some desserts that have other wholesome ingredients in them too, can sometimes be taken between meals without a blood-sugar problem (as long as there is no diabetes?).


6. Have them count their candies after trick or treating, and then count backwards as they disappear. You can even graph the candies. It adds in some math skills for the younger ones (daily counting-down practice, for example). And most importantly, it keeps you, the sometimes-stressed mother, from stealing the chocolate ones. 

7. Have them pray for the family who gave them that particular candy, each time they consume one. God knows which family it is, and at least 70 to 80 percent of your neighborhood needs to know Jesus.

Your turn. What are your candy rules? Do you dread Halloween candy? I used to dread it before having a plan. The constant begging for candy drove me nuts! We just finished our third year going trick or treating, so I figured it was time for a solid plan.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Giving Out Tracts this Halloween? A Resource


If you'd like to prepare some tracts to pass out with some candy this Halloween, here is a website allowing you to choose from many different versions, for several different holidays, or some generic ones as well. I choose the My Story tract because it most describes my path to the Lord.

tracts.com

Link for all their free tracts:  http://www.tracts.com/Acrobatpage.html

You have to copy, cut, and staple these. You can also buy tracts at most Christian book stores.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Missional Living and Fighting for Joy


Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

My father is in town visiting and staying with his sister, who lives in our township. I planned to have them over for dinner last night, serving a huge pot of potato soup and a large crockpot of navy bean with ham. It was all planned in my head, down to when I would do the soups and when I would tidy up, and when I would teach Friday lessons. 

But Beth started with a profusely running nose Thursday evening, and much more congestion than her allergies normally cause--a cold picked up from her Tuesday afternoon library program. The incubation period for a cold virus is almost always 48-54 hours, so it's never hard to think back to the source (not that it matters anyway).

My uncle is germ phobic, so instead we planned for me to bring the soups, including corn bread, salad, and ice cream and blueberries, over to my aunt's house, while my husband and me took turns staying home with Beth. My aunt is doing enough extra cooking with my dad and his young wife there, so I knew that at almost 70 years old, she was exhausted and could use a night off cooking. 

I had a 6 PM deadline to do all this cooking, and mostly everything was going smoothly, until Miss L. came over after school and said she just had to speak to me in private.

I went outside with her and proceeded to hear pretty horrible things about her mother's problems. Miss L. wanted advice. I have watched this girl bypass her childhood in the weeks since her grandmother died. She's a nervous wreck now, feeling responsible for her mother, and wondering how she can keep her mother from either committing suicide, or being killed by the boyfriend. 

I asked questions about who she and her brother could stay with in their extended family. There are two aunts nearby, and a great grandmother who is 70 years old, but no one gets involved in her mother's issues, possibly because Miss L and her brother are both handfuls and presumably no one in the family wants to have custody of them. That's all I can think of, as to why the extended family is not protecting these kids from their mother's ongoing dysfunction. The grandfather, with whom they live, now knows some of what is going on, but he has not kicked out the mother yet, and he has not brought in anyone to protect the kids during his second-shift work schedule.

I listened and counseled, but I don't think I helped her dilemma much. I counseled on how to protect herself, but I sensed she wanted me to help protect her mother. 

An enabler already, at 12 years old. Generational drug and alcohol abuse is ruining our nation, and as I speak with her I remember it's highly probable she will marry a drug or alcohol abuser, or become one herself, or both. So I try gently to explain what an enabler is, and how it never works to try to "fix" someone. We can't fix anyone; only God can.

But these are difficult things for a 12-year-old to hear, least of all a 12 year old who desperately wants to save her mother.

She had to go and check on her mother, so our conversation ended.

I went back into the house and soon my head began to pound with a migraine, brought on partially by all the heat in the kitchen as I prepared soups and cornbread, and fueled by all I had just heard and could do little about. My husband had to rush in and out of the shower after work, and go over to my aunt's with our food and non-sick kids, while I stayed home and nursed a migraine and loved on Beth.

I called child protective services about Miss L.'s situation, which was a weight on my mind, as much as I tried to remember the importance of establishing and maintaining boundaries while helping people. As much as I abhorred the act, it was time to involve CPS based upon the issues Miss L. brought up this time. I had asked her if she felt a foster home would be better for her and her brother. She doesn't want to leave her mother for fear of what her mother will do to herself.  "I can't leave her." 

Those are the words that echoed in my mind half the night in the wee hours. 

It was after 4 PM yesterday that I called CPS, so I could only relay what I knew to an after-hour staff member. On Monday I will be called by regular day staff for more information. And I was encouraged to call the sheriff for a welfare check on the kids, any time I felt the situation warranted.

Every child loves his or her mother. Even Miss L., who is driven crazy by her mother's poor choices, loves her mother dearly, even if she has to be her mother's parent. I don't know what will come of my calling CPS. I don't know what their limit is. How much does a child have to be suffering before they are removed from the home? Does it have to be physical pain only, and never emotional? 

There are physical things, too. The 8-year-old came last week, asking Peter not to tell anyone about how his mother shook him horribly because he spilled his milk and his sister cleaned it up with his favorite blanket, which made him throw a nasty fit. So his mother shook him violently, or enough to scare him and make him ashamed of her behavior, more than his own. Is that enough for CPS, even though we've never seen bruises, only facial cuts that could have resulted from a number of things?

It wasn't the shaking of the 8 year old that made me call, but that is evidence that the suffering is not only emotional.

These kids will be a difficult foster placement. Their minds will be even more troubled, their behavior even more problematic. Bonding with foster parents will be difficult, as it will feel like they are betraying their own mother, even as they both ache for normalcy and a functional home situation.

Am I supposed to be wrecked by their situation? Is that a holy feeling...being wrecked emotionally and mentally by other people's suffering? Are my own children supposed to know so young that some parents love their own dysfunction more than they love their kids? How can I teach compassion, while also teaching holiness? How can I teach "judge not" while also teaching responsible living? 

For kids saved before their teens, the idea of their own sin and how it makes them similar to all the other sinners of the world, is a difficult concept. Being saved early is good, but it doesn't make it easier to feel grateful for what God has done for you. 

Were we placed in a $43,000/year average income neighborhood merely so we could have an inexpensive home, enabling me to stay home with our kids? Or was there more to it? 

You can't do mission work very effectively without being present in the "field". God has placed us in the field, and we are reeling--I am reeling--at the cost. How much is it supposed to cost? How long will it be before I can do my part each day, and then move smoothly along with my own joy? 

Sin is ugly and the consequences are uglier and God is dangerous, as I read in this blog. This isn't so much a question of "how could God allow this?" God doesn't make people sin, and he doesn't smooth over sin either. Miss L. has lost her childhood as a result of her mother's sin, and God won't stop or freeze those consequences. He hates sin and demands righteousness and allows sinners to destroy themselves and their loved ones.

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

This beautiful verse gives me hope. I remember that God makes all things new. I remember that Miss L. belongs to the Lord. She was fearfully and wonderfully made, and He has a plan for her life. I remember that my prayers are holy and they will be heard. I remember that as I help and am wrecked in the process, God is always there for me...to fill me up...to renew my joy...to work in my own children in the context of this neighborhood.

The answer isn't to wish we could give our children a healthier neighborhood, but to model how to be thankful for this one. 

It was after all this discourse with the Holy Spirit, that I finally fell asleep last night.

What about you? Are you wrecked as you help others? How do you fight for joy afterwards?


Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-Up

I haven't written about our school year thus far, so I thought I'd update that part of our lives. I have many books to share and add to my picture book pages on this blog, but there just hasn't been time. Hopefully soon.

I've begun watching a 9-year-old boy a couple nights a week, so that makes things a little busier, but he's a sweet boy and a welcome addition to our family.

On to homeschool news...

Beth, age 5,  is learning to read with All About Reading Level 1, and Mary, age 7,  is learning to read more fluently with All About Reading Level 2. These programs do not typically take a whole year, so Mary will be in Level 3 before her third grade year. The materials do help tremendously with dyslexia, but the lessons are long and we can't do everything everyday, due to my girls' attention spans.


Peter the science teacher at work on experiment day

The object is to suspend a tissue paper butterfly in the air with magnets and get it to fly. It worked!


Peter's friend outside the window here. Peter took the picture.
I have Mary reread each story several times over several days, so I don't use the program exactly as written. Nonetheless, the difference in appropriateness in addressing Mary's needs is amazing. I'm so thankful to Marie at the All About Learning Press company, as the founder and writer of this program. I highly recommend it for any child struggling to learn to read, or for any child who has siblings with dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia. All these issues require explicit, systematic teaching, with only one new skill introduced at a time. Each new skill is practiced with many repetitions over days or weeks.

I bought All About Spelling Level 1, but we haven't added that in yet. The boys will use it too as it is suggested that all students start with Level 1 to learn all the spelling rules from the beginning. The rules don't necessary repeat as you go higher, and more are added each year, so you have to try to fast track your older kids through all the Levels. It is intensive spelling training and leaves nothing out, which, again, is necessary for any child with learning disabilities. Peter has dysgraphia and definitely needs intensive spelling training, although he has made a lot of progress with Sequential Spelling (also for dyslexics, but not as systematic).

Both girls are doing Saxon Math 1, but Beth is starting from the beginning, and Mary is 3/4 of the way through. We do the Morning Meeting together. They enjoy schooling together, and also pair up for Sonlight's Core B literature and history (World History Part 1). Paul reads the non-fiction Core B selections to them, and I read all the rest (really loving the read aloud selections so far, like Little Pear and Homer Price). Not all relate to history, but they are charming nonetheless. I have the full program on hand now.

Both girls also do Sonlight Core B science (Animals, Astronomy, Physics), but Beth is less interested, unless it's experiment day. Peter teaches them science willingly (he loves science!). I have my hands full with everything else, and I feel like both my boys are reaping many benefits from becoming teachers at their young ages.

The boys, ages 11 and 12, join together to do Sonlight Core G literature and history (World History Part 1, but for older kids). They are enjoying their school year, and Daddy is enjoying doing their read alouds with them before bedtime.

The boys especially love Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World Vol. 1. They will move into volume 2 (Middle ages) this year too.

I am doing WriteShop Junior Book E with both boys. We all really love this program, but we haven't abandoned Writing With Skill (Susan Wise Bauer) because that program is still excellent for teaching non-fiction writing, while WriteShop is excellent for fiction. The WriteShop company writes materials with learning disabilities in mind, just as All About Learning Press does. That's not to say all children wouldn't benefit from and love their materials! They're just excellent--hands-on, systematic, explicit, and fun. No more tears at writing time, that's for sure.

The boys are still both doing the same level in Teaching Textbooks (CD ROM) program for math, and let me tell you, I could hug and kiss the two brothers who wrote this program. It's excellent, multisensory, systematic, and with plenty of review. Peter has dyscalculia and really benefits from this program. He also needed the Times Tales multiplication DVD to learn multiplication facts, which we purchased about 2 years ago, when it became clear he just wasn't going to get it without a story attached to the facts. Teaching Textbooks is wonderful, but for your dyscalculic student, purchase something for fact memorization as well.

We still write in journals, and all my children really enjoy that time (about 10 to 15 minutes in the morning...any topic, or an on-going story).

That's all the updating for now. I hope all my homeschooling friends are having an excellent year!

Weekly Wrap-Up

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Delicious Whole Chicken Financial Blessing


I'd like to share how I bless my family with whole chickens, priced at my Walmart for $1.54/pound. We usually choose the largest chicken. The higher price per pound compared to what else is available is due to the absence of hormones and steroids in this brand.

How to Prepare and Save:

1. In roasting pan, place whole chicken, rinsed or not depending on your preference. I disinfect the sink and handles right after rinsing and I don't use my dishcloth in the process. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with garlic pepper and lemon pepper. Add liver to roasting pan if desired, or discard with neck. Roast with veggies if desired.

2. Roast at 350 degrees until the provided thermometer pops up. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before carving. In the summer we use the crockpot on low for 7 hours, or high for 4 hours. The oven being on for 2 hours helps heat the house, so I don't mind.

3. After filling your family with the chicken, pull off the remaining meat (husband does this) and refrigerate for tomorrow's chicken noodle soup. We separate white meat from dark meat, and my husband takes the dark meat for two lunches, and we use the white meat in strips for the chicken soup.

4. Place carcass and bones in a crockpot or stockpot, and fill with water one inch over the carcass, or there about. Place older carrots and celery in with it if desired, or just peppercorns. I usually don't add anything because I spice the broth later. Simmer until morning on the lowest setting. Boiling is not desired, but that's hard to avoid with our gas stove, and with some crockpots.

Turn off heat and let sit until the fat rises to the top. Skim off fat and refrigerate broth until ready to use (within 4 to 5 days to be safe). I use my largest pitcher to hold the broth, plus an old pickle jar for the extra. Refrigeration will allow you to skim off more fat later. If you need it right away, just use it as is. It will have significantly more fat grams, but if you're in a hurry...oh well.

5. Do not discard bones! Just drain broth and fill up your stockpot or crockpot with water again, and simmer the bones for another 12 hours. Follow procedure above for broth, and use within 5 days for another type of soup. We make navy bean soup, black bean soup, etc. I do not freeze the broth, but that's just my preference. Instead, I label it with the date and use within the appropriate time. Some sites say it is good for 5 - 7 days with a tight seal and as long as you plan to bring it to a full boil before use, but use your discretion on this.

5. Place broth in stockpot that night for dinner, along with:

~ 1 tsp. garlic powder
~ 1 1/2 T. salt
~ 1 tsp. pepper
~ 2 T onion powder
~ 2 celery stalks, chopped
~ 15 baby carrots, chopped, or 2 large carrots, chopped

6. When veggies are halfway soft, add in large bag of egg noodles and set the timer as instructed on the noodle bag.

7. When timer sounds, turn off heat and add in spoon-sized strips of chicken from last night's roasted chicken.

8. Enjoy with cornbread. Use this link for cornbread and you won't be sorry. Everyone who comes here for dinner raves about this honey cornbread recipe. I use white whole wheat flour in it, or regular whole wheat flour. The wheat marries with the honey and it's heavenly. I don't use the heavy cream, but just 1 cup 2 percent milk instead.

To recap the savings, consider this return on my $13 - $14 initial investment in the chicken:

~ 1 meal for whole family the first night
~ 2 lunches for my husband
~ 1 soup meal for the whole family the 2nd night
~ 1 lunch of homemade soup for the kids and Mommy
~ Full stockpot of broth for another type of soup

That's value! Enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

When the Broken Come Knocking


As I drove home from the grocery store at 9 PM, two police cars blared their lights at 12-year-old Miss L's house. The mother in me wanted to run over there and take the 2 kids home with me, but instead I prayed and waited for morning, not knowing if someone was arrested or what happened.

Miss L.'s mother is an adult child of an alcoholic, but her parent stopped drinking when his grandchildren were born, or there about. In her thirties now, Miss L.'s mother leads a self-destructive life, with her two children knowing no normalcy, safety, or hope, especially now that their grandmother has died.

Late the next morning the kids knocked on the door. I heard the whole story about the inebriated adults and the arguing and threats, and the eight-year-old brother calling 911. The police were not much help; no arrests were made, and a violent, angry boyfriend came back after the authorities left.

Lord have mercy on these kids, who only want normalcy and real love--love that tucks them in and reads them stories and doesn't smell of alcohol or drugs. Every child, Lord, deserves to be a tucked-in, prayed-for child, covers all lovingly arranged and kisses deposited generously on a freshly-bathed face.

But our world is broken and the enemy wins more than Christians would like to admit. Too many of us born again by his blood, pursue the wrong things. Our hearts don't weep enough for the unsaved, the broken, lost, and wretched. 

I remembered Jeremiah and acted boldly, when later the kids came back and Miss L. expressed pain and worry over her mother's threat to commit suicide, after learning that money was gone from her purse. Her poverty drives many of her decisions--spiritual and financial poverty both.

I had a messy house to clean on a deadline before a 4 PM children's Bible study, but I remembered Jeremiah. "Come in and play while I write a letter to your mother."

I sat at the computer and amazingly, wrote amid the chaos of three neighbor kids and my own four. I told her about my upbringing and alcohol's ugly presence. I told her about all the battles the adult children of alcoholics face, and how we feel ashamed and less-than and isolated. How we don't know how to have fun or play because our childhoods were too short and too serious. As such, there's potential to find all the wrong people to attach ourselves to, finding love in all the wrong places, and never knowing our worth or potential.

But God. 

I pleaded with her to end this path and mark out a new one--one full of hope, love, peace, wholeness. God can redeem all this and he loves you, I wrote. You were wonderfully made by your loving Heavenly Father, and he wants to bless you...give you hope and future.

Decide right now that you will no longer cling to people who can't take responsible care of themselves. I ask this out of love for you and for your children. You were created for so much more than dysfunction.

I directed her to the literature from Adult Children of Alcoholics (or of dysfunctional families), copying and pasting as much of it as I could in the letter.

There's an estimated 50 million adults who come from alcoholic or dysfunctional homes, needing to find their way. Please, have a look at this literature below, and know where to obtain it when you meet a self-destructive mother, failing her kids and continuing the ugly cycle of addiction. It is spiritual--it's about God, but doesn't lock the sufferer into believing in God right away, or having to be a Christian to be healed. Some people go through twelve-step spiritual programs and do become Christians, but others do not. This literature is still valuable--you can add in the Bible's perspective yourself.

As he did for me, God will give you an opportunity to participate in someone's transformation. Don't take it lightly...don't get too busy or too preoccupied, but do help with boundaries in place.

Bless you as you work to bless others through His holy name.

I don't know the outcome for Miss L's mother. There's free will and not everyone chooses wholeness and love. But I took the opportunity given me, praying with the kids, writing a letter, opening my door. That is what the Lord expects from us...nothing more, nothing less. He puts people in our lives, and we must respond.

Adult Children of Alcoholic's Literature: found here:

The Problem:

Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional household. We had come to feel isolated and uneasy with other people, especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people-pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat. We either became alcoholics (or practiced other addictive behavior) ourselves, or married them, or both. Failing that, we found other compulsive personalities, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment.

We lived life from the standpoint of victims. Having an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We got guilt feelings when we stood up for ourselves rather than giving in to others. Thus, we became reactors, rather than actors, letting others take the initiative. We were dependent personalities, terrified of abandonment, willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. Yet we kept choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationship with alcoholic or dysfunctional parents.

These symptoms of the family disease of alcoholism or other dysfunction made us ‘co-victims’, those who take on the characteristics of the disease without necessarily ever taking a drink. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and kept them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue. Even more self-defeating, we became addicted to excitement in all our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable relationships.

This is a description, not an indictment.

Adapted from The Laundry List


The solution is to become your own loving parent.

As ACA becomes a safe place for you, you will find freedom to express all the hurts and fears you have kept inside and to free yourself from the shame and blame that are carryovers from the past. You will become an adult who is imprisoned no longer by childhood reactions. You will recover the child within you, learning to accept and love yourself.

The healing begins when we risk moving out of isolation. Feelings and buried memories will return. By gradually releasing the burden of unexpressed grief, we slowly move out of the past. We learn to re-parent ourselves with gentleness, humor, love and respect.

This process allows us to see our biological parents as the instruments of our existence. Our actual parent is a Higher Power whom some of us choose to call God. Although we had alcoholic or dysfunctional parents, our Higher Power gave us the Twelve Steps of Recovery.

This is the action and work that heals us: we use the Steps; we use the meetings; we use the telephone. We share our experience, strength, and hope with each other. We learn to restructure our sick thinking one day at a time. When we release our parents from responsibility for our actions today, we become free to make healthful decisions as actors, not reactors. We progress from hurting, to healing, to helping. We awaken to a sense of wholeness we never knew was possible.

By attending these meetings on a regular basis, you will come to see parental alcoholism or family dysfunction for what it is: a disease that infected you as a child and continues to affect you as an adult. You will learn to keep the focus on yourself in the here and now. You will take responsibility for your own life and supply your own parenting.

You will not do this alone. Look around you and you will see others who know how you feel. We will love and encourage you no matter what. We ask you to accept us just as we accept you.

This is a spiritual program based on action coming from love. We are sure that as the love grows inside you, you will see beautiful changes in all your relationships, especially with God, yourself, and your parents.

Twelve Steps

We admitted we were powerless over the effects of alcoholism or other family dysfunction, that our lives had become unmanageable.


Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God.


Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


Admitted to God, to our selves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.


Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.


Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.


Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.


Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.


Continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.


Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry it out.


Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others who still suffer, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Friday, October 17, 2014

This Just In: Neighbor Boy Becomes Christian!


Despite the fact that the second Ebola-affected nurse's parents live uncomfortably close to us, and she visited them this past weekend, there is something else on my mind.

Landon, a 9-year-old neighbor boy who has been coming to our children's Bible study for almost two years now, and playing here after school for longer than that, became a Christian today! My Peter is quite the evangelist and he could have done it, but he brought a very interested Landon into the house today so I could lead him to Christ. And I did! It was magnificent--the first time I've ever led someone to Christ. I hugged him and told him how exciting it was, and inside my soul rejoiced.

Here's this child who all this time would never pray with us, though he'd listen well enough during the studies. We could never quite figure out how receptive he was, but last year it was clear that he wouldn't identify himself as a sinner. We didn't think much fruit was coming from the Jesus Storybook Bible Study, which has nine lessons left, and now this!

Today Landon complained to Peter about the cussing his grandma and aunt do, and somehow Peter turned that into asking Landon if he wanted to become a Christian. Landon said yes and willingly went through three steps with me:

~ Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that his death on the cross completely covers your sins? Yes, he responded.

~ You need to ask God to forgive all your sins. Are you ready to do that? Yes, he responded, and he repeated a simple prayer of forgiveness.

~ Would you like to ask God to come into your life to be your Lord and Savior? Do you want to live for Him now? Yes, he responded, and repeated a simple prayer asking the Lord to come into his life. 

So simple, but so long in coming. Such an illustration that God is faithful, and that his timetable is not ours.

While the Bible doesn't speak of a "salvation prayer", which is more of a recent thing in our churches, it does teach that we have to believe, to confess, and to make Jesus our Lord.

Whether you consider yourself an evangelist or not (I am not one), it's always good to remember these three simple steps:

ABCs of Salvation

This simple method is easy to remember:

A - All people need forgiveness from God (Romans 3:23).


B - Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and has died for your salvation (Romans 10:10).


C - Confess that you have sinned, and invite Jesus to take control of your life (Romans 10:9)

In a church sermon a couple weeks ago, our pastor went over the past, present, and future of our salvation. Our salvation wasn't and isn't just a momentary thing involving a salvation prayer--it's an on-going miracle :

1. Past - When you first became a Christian, you were justified.


2. Present - Right now you are being sanctified.


3. Future - When you get to heaven, you will be glorified.

Justified, sanctified, glorified.

Thank you, Jesus! May fruit abound in Landon's life, and may his grandmother, who is raising him, come to you very soon. May there be many more who come to you from the list of people we know and love, and from random and regular readers of this blog. Bring them, Father, and may we never be too busy or too embarrassed to speak of our Hope...our first Love...our Beloved Jesus. Thank you for the privilege.

Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Teaching Literary Analysis in Your Homeschool


In just a wink, my oldest will be in high school, and with that comes new homeschooling challenges as well as exciting beginnings. Think: transcripts, grading, rubrics, credits. While Peter is very well read (thank you, Sonlight), there are some holes in his literary knowledge, specifically in the area of literary analysis, which is essential for writing high-school and college-level essays.

Not to mention, literary analysis is always an outstanding higher-level thinking exercise. He's done plenty of discussing, but not enough written literary analysis, so as a teacher I must morph myself into a secondary-education specialist. Homeschool mothers by necessity must reinvent themselves; never does boredom set in.

As I find middle- and high-school literary resources, I'll be sharing them here, for the benefit of the homeschooling readers. Happy writing, fellow mothers. You'll definitely be writing samples with your child, before asking him to write his own five-paragraph literary analysis essay. Or, there will be tears--yours, his, and the traumatized siblings'.

1. From Homeschool Creations, I learned about: Teaching the Classics: A Socratic Method for Literary Education, and Ready Readers

The link above is to a Cathy Duffy review on these products, which are put out by the Center for Literary Education. The products teach and assist the parent in how to provide literary instruction using the Socratic questioning method (very comprehensive instruction here, including all you would need to design a high-school literature and composition curriculum for your student). For the sake of brevity, I'll just have you click on the link if you're interested. Prices range from $29 for a teaching workbook, and $89 for the teaching workbook and 4 instructional DVD's. All these products are explained in Cathy Duffy's review. Most homeschoolers know this already, but Cathy Duffy writes the best, most comprehensive reviews. My two cents: Never buy anything without checking her review on it first.

The Ready Readers (books not included) sell for $29 for each of the four levels. Ready Readers help the teacher apply what she's learned in the workbook and DVD seminar above, using 5 different classic children's books, including the teaching of conflict, plot, setting, characters, theme, and literary devices. There are four levels of Ready Readers, including one that provides teaching instruction on the entire 7-book Narnia series.

2. There are also generic resources you can refer to that are published on the Internet by high schools or colleges, such as these literary analysis questions by Chandler Unified: web view

3. There are also 41 literary terms (web view) the teacher and student need to become familiar with and be able to use in essays.

4. Online also are complete guides (PDF) on writing a literary analysis essay (this document put out by bucks.edu).

5. Along with the writing of formal essays comes the question of rubrics for grading them. Which one to use? Samples abound on the Internet, just like these: Rubrics for teachers. And this one from readwritethink. And this sample, specific to a literary analysis essay, by Lake Washington school district.

So go ahead, reinvent yourself into a high-school lit teacher. Exciting times ahead. 

Or not, but I remain positive, despite the dysgraphia involved for my oldest. The Lord is my shepherd, and my partner in all things homeschool.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gems from Jeremiah: Heart for the Lost

Jeremiah...a Rembrandt
Jeremiah the Prophet ministered under Judah's last five kings, approximately 627-586 B.C. Unsuccessful in bringing his people to repentance, he was heartbroken for them, even while angered at their defiance of God.

Notice the ache in these, his words:

Jeremiah 8:18-22

You who are my Comforter in sorrow,
my heart is faint within me.
Listen to the cry of my people
from a land far away:
“Is the Lord not in Zion?
Is her King no longer there?”

“Why have they aroused my anger with their images,
with their worthless foreign idols?”

“The harvest is past,
the summer has ended,
and we are not saved.”

Since my people are crushed, I am crushed;
I mourn, and horror grips me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no healing
for the wound of my people?


Jeremiah...a Michelangelo
I read these words and knew what God wanted from me, his servant. The Holy Spirit whispered it:

Your heart needs to break for the unsaved, as Jeremiah's did, as Jesus' does. Care not for the things that pass away--for they will be buried with you in death and mean nothing. Care not for your fears, for God gives you everything you need. Care not for the future, for God has planned it already.for his glory. 

But care for these, the unsaved. They are in your neighborhood. He has them come knocking on your door. Open it, and let your heart break for their plight. Speak life into their unsaved hearts. Speak truth. Show them the love of your gracious Father. Imagine them bowing down and declaring Jesus as Lord. That is worth your time...proclaiming Christ to the unsaved. No, I don't expect you to get results, for that is up to me. But let your heart break for them, and be not distracted by this or that nothingness. Abide in me and experience my love for you, and let it overflow.

Yes, all this the Holy Spirit said to me throughout the reading of Jeremiah. And Miss L., my twelve-year-old neighbor girl, now in middle school, doesn't come around so much anymore because she has discovered friends from the bus on other streets, and they talk about boys and make-up and clothes. I don't talk about those things, so I'm not popular with her anymore, and my little girls are too little, she's decided. Oh, the many opportunities I had over the last three years to speak life into her soul! And I didn't have her over enough. I cared about this or that nothingness and said no, you can't come in today.

Now, it's only once a week she visits, mostly when her new friends aren't home, one of whom doesn't like Christians. These girls go by on their bikes and I see her distancing herself from us while around her friends, even as her brother plays here daily.

And she is not saved I don't think. Yesterday she came and stayed an hour, and I could see she was very depressed. Her ADHD medicine, she said, is doing it to her, and her grandmother's passing. (And hormones, no doubt, and stress with her mom.) My heart ached for her, but how late did that aching come? How obvious her placement in my life, and yet I made idols of other things, whether it was housecleaning or having peace and quiet.

Will I get another chance to speak up for Christ and tell of his glorious desire to bless her, keep her, and give her a hope and a future? 


Tears roll as I type it. I messed up, just as the people of Judah did, and how much I grieve now. Jeremiah wasn't successful with Judah, but I hear his words, I see his heart for the unsaved. I will heed his words.

Her 8-year-old brother, he comes every day and loves it here and he came to AWANA. We have a chance with him. I will remember Jeremiah and I will let all the fluff of life go, like housecleaning and trying to be the perfect homeschool mother. 

The perfect mother is she whose heart breaks for the unsaved--for her children first, and then for her neighbors. There is nothing more worth my time--nothing that should compete with the Eternal things.

Oh, Lord, I pray every child's knee here will bow, claiming you as Lord! From my own children down to every child around here who dares come to my door. And dare them, Lord. Dare them to come--the broken, the hyperactive, the angry, the desperate. I will not say it's too hard. I will not turn them away. I will not fear.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

This is what the Lord says:

Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight." 

Do you know Him, my friends? Do you understand Him? Do you know what breaks His heart? Lay aside all the other things about which you're concerned, and abide in Him. Know him. Understand Him. Live in accordance with His will--Him who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth. 

For in these he delights.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Parenting Out of Hope, Not Fear


Are you sometimes astounded by how hard parenting is? Frequently I feel that way, but at the same time, I love being a mom. Even on my worst days as a mom, I never feel like quitting or changing jobs, perhaps because there's much grace showered on the Christian mother.

Sometimes we forget, so preoccupied are we by the hard work.

The Holy Spirit is always there.

So many times He grabs me and says, gently: "Do it this way instead." No, it's not audible like God communicated with Abraham, Moses, Samuel or Jonah, but I know who it's from, just the same

Recently, during an online conversation with another Christian mom, I read her words: "Most of our fears are just that--fear. They never materialize." This spoken from a mom suffering from PTSD due to her own mother's drinking and the effects it had on her life and safety.

She wrestled with fear for years and won those words, and by absentmindedly typing them to me, she shared one of her graces and it became one of mine. I honestly wasn't aware of how much fear I harbored regarding my children's futures--until God's grace showed me that I'm not called to parent out of fear, but out of hope.

Hope. What a beautiful, God-inspired word.

Now when a slight worry or fear enters my mind about a child's future or about the condition of a child's heart, the new idea enters my head and the fear/fret cycle freezes, like a still picture of my former self.

It's just a whisper of a reminder now: "Most of our fears are just that...fear. They never materialize." 

"You're fearing, not hoping. Turn around again."

Grace, showered on me and my children in the form of a sentence...an idea. The Holy Spirit himself made it more than a sentence--he made it a lifestyle. A lifestyle of hope.

Hope is the absence of fear--serving as a filter through which the Christian can live each day obedient, strong, courageous, other-serving.

I am transformed; I am transforming, and there are many issues yet to have their turn, in which the Holy Spirit will have His way with me, leaving me wiser, lighter, fuller in joy.

And it's wonderful to remember that this same grace is available for my children. The same Holy Spirit lives in them, I am fairly certain, and he will lead them as he leads me, to quiet waters, to paths of righteousness, for his name sake.

Amen.




Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the quiet waters.

He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.