Friday, July 10, 2015

Weekly Summer School Wrap-Up 7/10

Psalm 105:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!

Giving Thanks For...

~ Sometimes I talk about the isolation of having special-needs children. It's a difficult component but in so many ways, to be isolated is a gift from God. When there's no one else there, you find yourself with God more often and you're more apt to regard Him as your strength and your song. 

Psalm 118:14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. I say and feel this many times a week. It really helps and I understand what a privilege it is to have deep needs no one else can fill.

~ Children who appreciate God's glorious creation.

~ That Scripture is alive and always healing, strengthening, renewing.

~ My daughter Beth's eye muscle surgery (one week ago) appears to have been successful! Her eyes no longer wander. I will know more after the second post-op in six weeks.

~ Some of us have wanderlust. Some of us are homebodies putting down roots. Some of us need to have our hands in the earth. Some need to be outside. Some need a book or a pen in hand. Some need to keep moving. Whatever it is we need, it is beautiful to see how God provides. He will wrap us in purpose if we seek him, no matter our driving bent.

~ For the three evangelists here: my husband, my son Peter (age 13), and my daughter Mary (age 8). The rest of us can only imagine the courage it takes to evangelize face to face. I can write about God for hours and never tire of it, but face to face evangelism? Very hard for me, and my son Paul feels the same.

Mary has been wanting to speak to a 13-year-old neighbor girl about the Lord. She prayed about it and mentioned it to me, and I suggested that instead of using specific Bible verses, she first start out telling the story of her own walk with God, and then ask the neighbor if she had any questions. Two weeks went by with no opportunity, but then the neighbor girl knocked on the door and Mary was ready. She followed her God-given instincts. I'm not sure if evangelists truly have more courage, or just more of a burden on their hearts for the lost...maybe both.

We have taken this neighbor to AWANA in the past, had her over for Bible Studies, and done a few other things to help her spiritually, but there was never a true, life-changing commitment made. She and her brother are getting older and I let them over less and less often now as their choices deteriorate. A few times a month is enough--just enough for Mary to talk to the girl about the Lord, and Peter to talk to the brother about the Lord. 

We pray for the six neighbor families we know by name, faithfully. It can be very discouraging when nothing changes--just as with the extended family members we pray for, but it's a discipline. The outcome is the Lord's and we trust that God is just.

There is a time to "dust off our feet" and move on when our message isn't received well, but the prayer can go on, never ceasing. Matthew 10:14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

~ Beth is now interested in writing words and sentences to go with her drawings. It's fun to see her develop. She is always creating something. Always.

Her surgery and the aftermath kept us running around several days, along with church, and when we finally had a full day at home, she told me: "I used to like to go places and take my stuffed animals with me, but now that I love to create, I'd rather be home and have time." 

School News
This summer the children have been doing the following each week:
2 to 4 days of math 
2 to 3 days of writing
4 to 5 days of novel reading
1 to 2 days of science reading

Peter is enjoying reading for the first time in a year, post concussion! He just finished The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald. We found the title in Honey for a Child's Heart and have since found that the series has quite a following. Peter is now reading More Adventures of the Great Brain.

SynopsisJ. D. idolizes his older brother Tom, a.k.a. The Great Brain, a silver-tongued con artist with a genius for making a profit. No matter what the situation, The Great Brain will always find a way to turn it to his advantage--usually, his financial advantage. As boys growing up at the beginning of the 1900s, J. D. and Tom have plenty of scope for their adventures. And while J. D.'s ingenuity may not equal his conniving brother's, as a narrator he is endearingly sympathetic and wildly entertaining. First published in the late 1960s and early 1970s, this classic series has been popular ever since. Now the first three books are again available in hardcover, complete with their original illustrations. Join the amazing Great Brain and his befuddled brother as they continue to captivate generations of young readers.

The following these books enjoy is primarily because of the humor and the depiction of small town America with historical references.  A great way to spend the summer. It's amazing to see my Peter so enamored with books again!

You can get the first 3 easily, but for the others you have to dig some. Here is an Amazon review which I think reflects what we feel:

I am surprised at the lack of attention the "Great Brain" series gets. There is a great charm to small town America which is represented in each book. Further, the interplay between the "kill or be killed" attitude of Tom and the sweetness of his brother John makes for great reading. As well, young children learn the benefits and drawbacks of both attitudes. Truly a great read for kids and a great re-read for adults.

SynopsisHas Tom Jenkins, a.k.a. the Great Brain, given up his con-artist ways for a bicycle? Not for long. Soon the Great Brain is back to his old tricks, swindling and trading, even convincing the whole town there's a prehistoric monster on the loose. But when someone robs the bank, even the police are stumped. Can the Great Brain solve the crime and put the crooks behind bars?

Paul just finished The Children of Green Knowe, (the first book of a seriesalso recommended in Honey for a Child's Heart. He is interested in the sequels, though right now he's reading The Great Brain after Peter spoke so highly of it. All of these are great summer escape books.

Reviews of The Children of Green Knowe:
This is not an easy book, and therein lies its charm. L.M. Boston's classic is a sophisticated mood piece disguised as a children's ghost story. As young Toseland goes to live with his grandmother in the family's ancestral home, the reader is plunged immediately into the world of Green Knowe. Like Toseland, who actually rows up to his new home in the midst of a flood, we have a hard time finding our bearings. Toseland discovers a funny kind of grandmother awaiting him--one who speaks elliptically of the children and animals she keeps around the house: they might be memories, they might be ghosts. It's never quite clear where real life leaves off and magic begins. Toseland admires a deer: "A deer seems more magic than a horse." His grandmother is quick to respond: "Very beautiful fairy-tale magic, but a horse that thinks the same thoughts that you do is like strong magic wine, a love philtre for boys."

With this meshing of the magical and the real, Boston evokes a childlike world of wonder. She compounds the effect by combining gorgeous images and eerily evocative writing. Toseland goes out on a snowy morning: "In front of him, the world was an unbroken dazzling cloud of crystal stars, except for the moat, which looked like a strip of night that had somehow sinned and had no stars in it." The loosely plotted story is given more resonance still through liberal use of biblical imagery and Anglo-Saxon mythology. For those willing to suspend their disbelief and read carefully, the world of Green Knowe offers a wondrous escape.

"This is a book . . . to own and read aloud and come back to over and over again. It is one of the best fantasies I have ever read."--Horn Book

"An uncommon tale . . . told with a gratifying blend of the eerie, the sinister, and the familiar."--New Yorker

I think the Green Knowe and the E. Nesbit British stories are a solid alternative to Harry Potter-type fantasy books for young children--more wholesome, little evil, not dabbling in the occult.

Synopsis of The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
In this much-loved children's classic first published in 1906, the comfortable lives of three well-mannered siblings are greatly altered when, one evening, two men arrive at the house and take their father away. With the family's fortunes considerably reduced in his absence, the children and their mother are forced to live in a simple country cottage near a railway station. There the young trio — Roberta, Peter, and young Phyllis — befriend the porter and station master.

The youngsters' days are filled with adventure and excitement, including their successful attempt to avert a horrible train disaster; but the mysterious disappearance of their father continues to haunt them.

The solution to that painful puzzle and many other details and events of the children's lives come to vivid life in this perennial favorite, a story that has captivated generations of readers and, more recently, delighted television and movie audiences. In this inexpensive, unabridged edition, it will charm a whole new audience of young readers with its warmth and appeal.

My comments about magic and fantasy:
We don't choose to read the Harry Potter books because of the content. Also, although they're highly successful financially, J.K. Rowlings is in fact not a very good writer. She is an adept storyteller, but her books will never be regarded as classics. There are better books that deal with the struggle between good and evil, and better "magical" fantasy books (and no murders!). While the first three Potters are not quite as dark as the newer ones, they're still not the best literature choices. As a former teacher, a book lover myself, and as a teaching parent, I say...when you get through all the truly good pieces of highly imaginative, fantasy/escape literature there probably won't be time left for Harry Potter and that's probably a good thing, although I know not a popular view.

For a clearer Christian view of the Harry Potter craze, read :INTERVIEW
Harry Potter: Harmless Christian Novel or Doorway to the Occult? In his book, Harry Potter, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings: What You Need to Know About Fantasy Books and Movies, author Richard Abanes discusses why the J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is vastly different from the Christian-based works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The interview is a good read. Richard Abanes seems to feel that the Harry Potter books, if read at all, are probably better introduced to older teens or young adults, not children. 

Pictures the children took over the past couple weeks:

Peter entered this newly emerged cicada photo in the library photo contest (for grades 5 - 12). Both boys entered two photos (winners announced in August). I do hope Peter wins because he's tried several years with no triumph. Children vote on the photos and they aren't always the most discriminating photography folks.

The things I put up with around here!

A sampling of Beth's pictures.

Beth's sewing of a stuffed animal (not complete yet).

I'm still baking bread Mon - Fri and at least one weekend day. I thought with the heat of summer I would use the bread maker's full cycle, rather than just the dough cycle, but I've found having the oven on for 30 minutes a day actually decreases the humidity in our home. I use the AC less as a result. Plus, it just comes out so much better from the oven.

How was your week? Bless you this weekend and thank you for visiting here.

Weekly Wrap-Up

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely post! I loved these words: 'Whatever it is we need, it is beautiful to see how God provides. He will wrap us in purpose if we seek him, no matter our driving bent.'

I loved the Green Knowe books as a child. They were among my favourite books. There is an old manor house near us that reminds me of the old house in the books :-)