4 of 8's amazing Auditory Verbal Therapist, our much beloved Wendy, attended a conference this weekend on teletherapy, the use of the internet for providing a variety of therapies through the use of online video conferencing. 3 of 8 and I put together this little video for her presentation explaining teletherapy from a parent's perspective.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with 4 of 8's situation, she is hearing impaired due to a condition called Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct. You can read more about our journey by clicking on the 'Hearing Loss' tag on the menu bar of the blog.
Monday, January 31, 2011
4 of 8's amazing Auditory Verbal Therapist, our much beloved Wendy, attended a conference this weekend on teletherapy, the use of the internet for providing a variety of therapies through the use of online video conferencing. 3 of 8 and I put together this little video for her presentation explaining teletherapy from a parent's perspective.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
As their son.
To bring home. And to make him part of their family.
For the last several months, my precious running partner/awesome neighbor/dear friend JT and her husband AT have been working through the process of adopting a little boy from Ethiopia. Through the initial decision to the home study to the paperwork and prayer and process, we've seen the truth of God's adoption of us as His children played out in living parable.
It has been profound. And beautiful.
The circumstances that brought this precious little boy to an orphanage in Ethiopia are heart breaking. And the circumstances that are bringing him into JT and AT's home are miraculous.
Miraculous even though the process has been straightforward. Miraculous even with all the paperwork signed and checked and every t crossed and every i dotted.
Miraculous in how this little boy's life is going to be changed. Completely. As are ours.
I was thinking of him yesterday as I stood in a neighbor's yard, realizing that even with pictures and descriptions, this little boy can't comprehend this street with its row of neat houses. He can't comprehend the bedroom that has been lovingly prepared and decorated for him. He can't comprehend the friends and family, the two new siblings, the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who are anxiously awaiting his homecoming.
He can't comprehend any of it.
I look at the pictures of him, his huge smile lighting up his face, his gorgeous eyes with their hint of mischief and I think on the beauty and grace and gratitude he is bringing into our lives. Children of biological birth are no less treasured. But there is still such a sense of mystery surrounding the coming of this little boy, knowing how deliberately he was chosen, having seen what it has taken to get him here, knowing the sacrifices of travel and finances and ease that have been exchanged for obedience and wonder.
And I marvel that Abba did all this for me.
And for you.
To adopt us in.
When He didn't have to. When He could have stayed with the comfort of His covenant to Israel. But when He chose to extend to us family under the covenant with Abraham.
When He adopted us. And traveled miles of eternity to secure our hearts. And rearranged the furniture to make room for us. And to bring us into the established family of God.
The spirit of adoption.
What a mystery.
The spirit resting on a little boy I've never met but can't wait to see. The spirit resting on me because Abba adopted me. The spirit resting on you when He chose you.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Little questions that tumble around in my mind and make me search closely and think harder.
Even when I know that those questions may go unanswered.
But I want to know.
Why are Max and Ruby living on their own? Is the state aware of this? And why is it that their grandmother has not been willing to take them in but insists on living in her own house down the street? She seems perfectly nice, but I can't help but wonder about her strange sense of detachment from her grandchildren when it comes to their living conditions.
And what of Max and Ruby's finances? How are they being funded? Perhaps there is a Bunny Social Security plan I'm unaware of. There don't appear to be any liens on the house and the landscaping and interiors seem to be well-maintained, so I'm assuming there are staff who take care of such things.
I think we've already established that Grandma isn't going to be the one taking care of the yard and house.
I wonder if Ruby is actually running a little daycare, you know, kind of under the radar. There always seem to be extra bunnies over, particularly Louise.
I worry about Louise.
She's something of a follower.
She lets Ruby lead her around by the nose most of the time.
Not that I'm being critical of Ruby. She's got a lot of responsibility on her tender rabbit shoulders, what with caring for Max and running an unsanctioned rabbit care facility and the paperwork and headaches that come from keeping up with the financials.
And yet, I have to say that, while I do understand needing time without a younger rabbit sibling underfoot, Ruby's primary caregiver approach to Max is troubling. She is always about the business of trying to distract him with other activities so she can have time away from him. He seems to take it in stride, but it concerns me what the long-term effect could be on his self image and sense of worth.
Yes, I pondering deeper things today...
(the Max and Ruby image above is from the website www.theatreworksusa.org)
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I sent out a cyber SOS this week, seeing as how I was climbing over mounds of wash.
One thing I've been learning lately is to use this handy-dandy little product:
And yes it works.
I also have all of the youngest four kids' clothes in the master closet with my and Mike's wardrobes. I don't know what it is about my kiddos, but until they hit a certain age, the draw of wanting to change outfits every two hours has made their mama a little, ah, edgy. So all the clothes for the youngest half of the OctaTribe reside in the master closet.
And there is a lock on the door.
I'm just about back on top of all things laundry...I think. My Twitter buddy Bonnie is so right that doing a couple of loads a day keeps me at least treading water.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I was already half-way through the pregnancy.
We laughed. And laughed. And laughed.
And then started thinking through all the implications.
We went shopping for a fifteen passenger van.
But in all the consideration of extra baby equipment and a double stroller and two car seats and two baby beds and all the rest, I hadn't really through thru to the 'little kids' years.
A blessed challenge.
A busy challenge.
And they are not a big fan of being treated as a team. They like their individual attention.
But they like being twins. And they love seeing their birth video. And they love that they were born around the same time, but they also like being able to designate that 7 of 8 was first and 8 of 8 was second.
And they talk and talk and talk.
And I'm still learning to talk twin. To see them as the unique set they are and to see them as individuals. To see their levels of development, how they are the same and how they are different. To celebrate them as a team and to celebrate them as distinct personalities.
And to be enjoying this ride. That started four years ago this week.
When we found out we were having twins...
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
It must have something to do with the jet stream and barometric pressure. And vortexes. And black holes.
And the Bermuda Triangle.
Some conversion of those things.
And the result is a laundry storm the size of which becomes mammoth and overwhelming.
Apparently, one of those alignments of natural forces has occurred while I wasn't looking. Or while I was ignoring...
Seriously, I am in the midst of one of the worst laundry storms of this decade. Of course, this decade is only three weeks old. But still.
So I'm going in. I'm going to wade through. I shall set my face against the wind and I shall conquer. I hope.
Monday, January 24, 2011
And more often than not, I have a booth mate.
One of the OctaKids.
It's a homework date.
Even thought the homeschool lifestyle naturally means that I have my kids around me a lot of the time, it's usually in the dynamic of one super-size group. Mike and I do make an effort to take the kids out on individual dates and it's always fun...and important. Those dates are a time for us to reconnect with each child and to build memories with that child apart from the crowd.
But I love these homework dates as well.
Even though we are daily about the business of assignments and math drills, writing and history, I can get too focused on checking off the assignment list. These little homework dates give me the opportunity to see more closely the work ethic, study style, strengths and challenges my students bring to the school table.
Or booth, as the case may be.
I try to rotate who gets to come with me so that each kiddo has a turn every few weeks. They all seem to get so much done on the homework dates. It reminds me that a change of scenery can be energizing. And I think it's a good training ground for college-style studying~~some of my best scholastic work was accomplished at The Kettle in Abilene, Texas, back in the day.
Plus, there's a huge, unending vat of coffee available to me for these excursions. Which is very important to me....
Sunday, January 23, 2011
We sometimes seem to want to be surrounded by mind readers.
Not of our dark places, of course. Not of the stuff we want to keep secret.
But of our needs. We want mind readers of our needs.
People who will just magically know where our challenges and fears and hurts and inner poutiness lie and who will swoop in and fix it.
We want spouses who are intuitive, kids who see it from our view, bosses who understand, friends who just know.
We want Bible study curriculum that meets our every preference, praise and worship services made of our favorite music, pastors who speak the way we like, small groups who will reach out without us having to reach in.
Our needs. And we want it to show up, unsolicited. Crafted and created to our every contour. No effort or risk or request on our part.
But growth, in relationships and in spirit, just doesn't happen that way.
Jesus knew that when it came to connection, we need to be proactive. We need to put skin in the game.
Ask. Seek. Knock.
Are you needing something from a primary relationship? Ask.
Do you need a deeper connection to the Lord, a deeper sense of His presence? Seek.
Do you long for community amongst believers? Knock.
If everyone waits for a mind reader to show up and meet every need, it will be a long wait.
We often short-change our present experience, searching the horizon line for some magical group who will meet all our social, fellowship and feeding needs. But the tools are within us.
Ask. Seek. Knock.
And watch the doors of your heart swing open to receive the bounty in front of you.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
5 of 8 says:
Why is the world's longest nose 11 inches long?
(wait for it.....wait for it....)
Because if it was twelve inches, it would be a foot.......
Thursday, January 20, 2011
6 of 8.
She does have a way with the English language.
While waiting for 2 of 8 to finish some classes at a dance convention recently, I headed to an outlet mall close to the venue. I dragged 6 and 7 of 8 into a variety of stores, intent on my quest for finding good deals. It didn't take long until 6 of 8 was lagging behind, asking how much longer we were going to have to shop and why couldn't we go to a toy store and was I ever going to buy anything for her.
And so it went. Me telling her to stop whining. Her dragging along behind me.
Finally, 6 of 8 sought stronger words to explain her level of fatigue and boredom.
"Mom," she said, "my feet are so tired that they're going to throw up."
Okay, 6 of 8. You win.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
We had a kid with special needs.
But there came a day when 7 of 8's little wounded army soldier crawl had still not changed. And Mike looked at me. And I looked at Mike.
And I headed for the computer. And started to research.
By the time I took 7 of 8 in to the pediatrician, I had a pretty good idea of what we could be facing. I knew that the weakness on her left side could likely be from a stroke. And I also knew that there were far more alarming things that could be going on.
Her pediatrician confirmed my research and scheduled us for an MRI. The night before the MRI, as 7 of 8 was nursing herself to sleep, I broke. For a minute. I wept.
And then I tucked her in. And we went to the appointment the next day.
I stalked the pediatrician's office by phone that afternoon. I was seasoned now and was fully aware that 7 of 8's MRI results would be available online. I knew that there was no reason for us to have to wait out the holiday weekend.
Parenting 4 of 8 had taught me to be pleasant. And persistent.
Late that afternoon, the pediatrician called me back and confirmed what I thought. 7 of 8 had experienced an ischemic stroke sometime close to her birth, resulting in left side weakness, crimping her left arm and hand and sickling her left foot. The pediatrician was factual. I was pragmatic. We wished each other a happy holiday weekend.
And we hung up.
And I inhaled deeply.
It wasn't any of the scary things it could have been. I had blessings to count.
Yet, it was news that changed things. Changed the schedule of our weeks as we would now add physical and occupational therapy to our days. Changed again my expectations of developmental milestones.
My coping mechanism is information. I threw myself into all manner of research. I blogged about her diagnosis. I learned the verbiage.
Because we had already walked a similar road with 4 of 8, the wash of emotions wasn't unfamiliar. Just a familiar taste of acid on the tongue, a tang of bitterness in the overwhelming sweetness of loving this child. The palate of the soul can be tuned to pick up on any flavor, turning it over and over, savoring the sour.
Or choosing the sweet.
I choose the sweet.
Not in a Pollyanna way, you understand. Not in a self-righteous way. Not at all.
I can throw an amazing self-pity party when I want to.
But it is my primary goal for these children to know that I love and accept them exactly as they are created. And I believe they were created in the manner they were for a reason. A Divine reason.
And Mike and I were selected to parent them. They were entrusted to us.
If 4 of 8 never develops further in her speech, we adore her. If 7 of 8 refuses to use her left hand, we treasure her. Our affection is never predicated on their progress.
But I have never before known the kind of sweetness that comes in hearing a child who couldn't communicate tell you that she loves you. There is nothing to compare in watching a child who has struggled through a stroke stand and take her first step, looking back to make sure you're watching. There's nothing like it.
Victories on a field that has been softened with tears. Milestones made from the crushed walls of pride and plans.
Mike will tell you, the hardest tears I have cried along this path have been over the amazing families I see in the waiting rooms and therapy clinics I have frequented with the girls. The children who have far more significant challenges than my children. The parents who love them and treasure them with a ferocity that glows with the most incredible hue.
And I have cried over those families I have sat alongside who are exhausted financially and emotionally, who are hardened and hurt, impatient and frustrated. I see through their prickly crust and see the lava of loneliness that churns in their hearts.
The waiting rooms. Those are the toughest places on this path.
And it has been in the crucible of those waiting rooms that the Lord used to ignite a flame in my heart. And He has brought resources to see it brought to fruition. I'll be blogging about it more as things develop, but through some precious friends and God's provision, we're going to do something for these families, something that will bring rest and hope, dance and dreams.
I wouldn't have known had it not been for these two little girls of mine. I wouldn't have known that God can use waiting rooms to launch a vision. I wouldn't have known.
But now I do.
I choose the sweet.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
You did that for me last week, last week when I posted about my adoration of 4 of 8's Auditory Verbal Therapist, Wendy. Several of you noted a couple of little sentences in which I talked about the emotion that comes with parenting special needs kids.
To be honest, I don't know that there's a lot of frank conversation out there about the emotional ride disabilities bring. There is a lot of rhetoric about what to 'call' certain challenges, if it's learning 'disabled' or learning 'special' or if 'special' should be used at all. Is it 'hearing impaired' or is it 'deaf'? Is it 'autistic' or is it 'has autism'?
But no matter the issue and no matter the word choice, it's an emotional ride.
Let's face it, the majority of us don't enter parenthood hoping for kids with challenges. Although I do know a few people who have long felt a call to parent special needs kids, most of us analyze the ultrasounds and count the digits. We look for all indication that everything is normal.
For some parents, news comes early on that issues are on board. And for some of us, myself included, indications that we were going to have some challenges come later. For us, that news came with 4 of 8 when she was 2 and 1/2 years old and for 7 of 8 when she was 11 months old.
The news of 4 of 8's hearing impairment was a complete stunner for us. I thought that hearing impairment meant complete deafness. 4 of 8 responded to certain sounds, low, deep sounds. She didn't have ear infections and we had no history of childhood hearing loss in the family. When I took 4 of 8 into my pediatrician because of my concerns over her speech (or lack thereof), my pediatrician scheduled a series of developmental appointments for us, the first stop being the obligatory hearing test. I sat in the sound booth with 4 of 8 on my lap, Mike still at the office since we just 'knew' hearing loss was not the issue.
The news of her hearing loss came right at the time we left a long-time business partnership for a new firm. Literally right in the middle of the transition. Literally. Mike was spending his first full day in his new office when I called him from the audiologist's office to tell him that the initial tests had been confirmed in a more extensive ABR test.
It's hard in retrospect to cleanly divide the news of her hearing loss from the stress of the business move we were making. All said, it was a weepy, confusing, astounding season. My initial reaction was to think, "Will she have to wear hearing aids to prom?", which, obviously, was the least of the concerns I should have had.
With 4 of 8's situation, those early days were a wash of trying to absorb tons of new information and wrestling with letting go of expectations and developmental milestones. Mike and I each had a different path; I cried it out. For about four or five days. Cried it out. Fought with insurance. Cried some more. Threw some hissy fits. Cried some more.
And then I was done.
For Mike, in the midst of a tumultuous business move, he had to move the news of 4 of 8's hearing impairment to a compartment with tight walls. He moved forward with getting his business re-acclimated. He listened to my discoveries and despair. He cloaked himself in pragmatism.
For a while.
It was about three years later, a season when we were with the right therapist, where I felt more comfortable with the lingo of 4 of 8's challenges, felt that we were making solid progress, that the enormity of her situation hit Mike. One night, while putting 4 of 8 to bed, 4 got upset in trying to tell Mike about what stuffed animal or blanket or drink of water she needed before being tucked in. The more frustrated and upset 4 became, the more incoherent and garbled her speech became. Mike worked and worked with her, finally getting her settled. After she drifted off, he made his way downstairs to our bedroom.
He looked at me through reddened eyes and said, "She's deaf. She's deaf."
It was a flood three years in the making.
If I had to run a list of the mosaic of feeling that comes with parenting through challenges, it would include heartache, fierce protectiveness, justification, accommodation, obsession, realization. Heartache in the flickering awareness that this kid will have to work harder, struggle more. Fierce protectiveness in knowing that some people are going to be jerks. Justification in trying to manage everyone's expectations. Accommodation in making the necessary life and schedule changes for equipment, therapy, tutoring. Obsession with trying to find every fact and elixir that could explain or help. Realization that you love this kid just as she is.
That place where it's simply part of the landscape of your family life. And you have the honor to help others on the path. To support and to cry and to be a shoulder.
I'll write tomorrow of our emotional journey with 7 of 8. It's been a different experience, partly because of our previous experiences with 4 of 8, partly because we are dealing a different challenge.
Monday, January 17, 2011
I've been digging through piles and piles while working on a video project.
And I came across these babies, taken eight years ago or so.
I had a little Pentax SLR that I loved at the time, 35 mm.
But you get the idea when it comes to these pics.
2 of 8 and 4 of 8, back when they were 2 of 5 and 4 of 5.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
When I fell in love with Michael while in college, I would often find myself during long, boring lectures doodling his initials into the margins of my spiral notebooks. Alongside my notes on abnormal psychology and Victorian poets are curling letters wound around each other, a cursive blend of his given names. I was enchanted when ordering the invitations for our wedding with the monogrammed thank-you notes that came with them, the first letter of Michael's name, the first letter of my name surrounding the letter that would become our shared last name. The rune of our romance. The unical portrait of our unity.
Mono, single. Gram, letter. His monogram, meaning his name alone. My monogram, meaning my name alone. And now a monogram to symbolize us, a calligraphic seal showing the combining of our lives.
I gave Mike a signet ring with those letters many years ago, a few months before we were married. And later, on the door of our home, I painted a decorative monogram of our initials. Our children's names all start with either the first letter of Michael's name or the first letter of mine. And so, the monogram that was created when we married is now the monogram that fits each member of our family.
But there is a monogram on the door of my heart, even more precious, even more telling.
In the history of the early church, it was called a Christogram.
For the Greeks, it was the use of the first and last letters contained within the name Jesus Christ, ICXC. These letters can often be seen in the symbol of the ichthys, the fish symbol so familiar to us today, the silver outline of the fish pasted on the to back of the car in front of us, assuring us of the faith of the occupants of that car. Because ICXC was so close to the word for 'fish' in Greek, early Christians adopted the symbol as a hidden emblem for the letters of Jesus's name.
In Latin, IHS or IHC became the monogram of His name, a Latin-ized tranliteration of the Greek letters that make up the first three letters of Jesus. In modern times, we often think of these letters as meaning In His Service or I Have Suffered. And we sometimes see the letters INRI above depictions of the crucifix, symbolized the the first letter of each word of the Latin phrase, Jesus Nazarene, King of the Jews.
ICXC. IHS. INRI.
The monogram on the door of my heart isn't as defined as these letters but the mark of its seal is no less clear. The blade of His Word has made quick work in exposing this heart of stone, in cutting away and in circumcising the sin. And there are so many words written there, all proclaiming the One who now owns that heart. Prince of Peace. Emmanuel. The Lion of Judah. The Lamb. The Bridegroom.
But the monogram for all those letters, the interplay of Hebrew and Greek and Latin and English symbols, is a simple one.
It is a wound. A ragged, blessed hole, a puncture of promise. A symbol comprised of sacrifice. The consummate monogram. The strength of His name folded over the sin that threatened to obliterate mine. The requirement He met to make me His.
When He came for me, He wrote His monogram on my heart.
And then He wrote mine in the palms of His hands.
(originally posted June 21, 2009)
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
I'll be posting the resulting project toward the end of the month after it is presented at a national conference, but for today, I'm wallowing in Memory Lane.
My dining table is covered in boxes and envelopes of photographs and negatives, all in my search for pictures showing 4 of 8 through the years, from her babyhood through receiving her first sets of hearing aids to pictures of her and her amazing Auditory Verbal Therapist, Wendy.
I just love 'em.
But mostly, I find myself feeling so fortunate that 4 and 7 of 8 have been so blessed with the opportunity to work on a consistent basis with people of the caliber of Wendy and Laurie and Melissa. People who have dedicated their lives to patient coaching and improvement and equipping. People who have become beloved members of our family, people who love my kids and teach me and encourage us all.
The silver lining of walking in challenge.
We love you, Wendy. Thank you for teaching us all how to listen, to hear the bigger lessons of persistence, courage and effort.
We are blessed to have you in our lives.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I love reading your blog, and I have a question for you! I can tell that you and your husband are well-educated and obviously want to give your children a quality home education. That being said, you are also obviously very busy. Which leads me to my question: what kind of curriculum do you use?
I have 4 children 7 and under and also work as a nurse about 20 hours a week. We are homeschooling and are quite familiar with the process since my husband and I were both homeschooled. Back when my mom homeschooled me the options were slim, and she worked hard to make up/supplement our curriculum on her own. I love the thought of doing topic based studies, getting books from the library etc but am starting to wonder if it is practical for our busy life.
I am using Sonlight this year and I like it ok, but it seems really easy and somewhat scattered. Maybe because it is the Kindergarten curriculum? :)
Any thoughts? I don't want to burn myself out, but I want to be satisfied in what I am teaching my kids.
You may have written about this in the past, but I couldn't find it. Feel free just to point me to the post if you have!
Julie, you're so right about the options having expanded exponentially when it comes to homeschool curriculum. When I started homeschooling 1 of 8, there were only a handful of choices. Now, peruse a few sites and prepare to be astounded and overwhelmed by the number of options available.
While only having a few options has its challenges, so does the current situation of having so many options. Attending a homeschool curriculum conference can be akin to wandering the aisles of IKEA for the first time~~it's all shiny and amazing and seemingly absolutely necessary for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Here's the good news: I think any number of curricula offer a well-rounded educational opportunity. But there is a caveat to my opinion.
And that caveat is this: the curriculum choice is only as effective as the environment in which it is experienced.
We've worked to make our kids' education something that is not just experienced while working through the books at the kitchen table. It's also hauling out the laptop at dinner and looking up science facts while enjoying a lively discussion over the meal. It's making a habit of watching documentaries together. It's taking the extra time to stop at museums and historical sites while on road trips. It's being in the habit of questioning our kids to explore critical thinking, to look at situations and events from a number of perspectives, not just having them regurgitate what they think we want to hear. It's having a conversational environment in the home that allows for questions and debate, exploration and doubt and discovery.
With that framework in place, I'd be happy to share with you what we are currently doing and where we have been. We have always used Saxon math for the kids from the very beginning. It is the one piece that has remained constant. They spend a bulk of their 'table' time on math, usually completing two lessons a day. Some parents and teachers feel that Saxon math is too repetitive and has too many drills, but in my world, the repetition and the drills have led to mastery.
In our school, everyone makes straight A's, not because their teacher runs grading on a curve, but because our other prevailing philosophy is that we teach to mastery. I want the kids to 'own' at least 90% of the material we are covering. We rework problems, rewrite papers, retake quizzes if needed. I'm more interested in them really having a grasp of the material than in the time it takes for them to get it. Some of the kids have sailed through assignments, some have to take more time. It's all good.
As an idealist, I love the literature-based approach of Sonlight and other curricula. We schooled from a literature-based system for a few years and enjoyed it immensely. But our protracted move experiences, which began seven years ago, and my subsequent ministry and speaking work made it necessary to reevaluate. The literature-based approach with such an age spread of students became more and more intensive. I felt that I was spending more and more time overseeing and prepping for each child. While I didn't mind doing that for the kids, the Lord was clearly leading our family in a new direction in terms of time and work. While I can idealistically tell you all the reasons why I felt literature-based unit studies were superior to workbooks, we've been happily using AlphaOmega LifePacs and computer-based Switched On Schoolhouse for several years now. And you know what? The kids have learned and grown all the same. You might check out this link from the archive for more encouragement...
Which leads me to another important concept in our homeschooling experience~it is my goal that the kids become auto-didactic, equipped and confident in searching for information, researching areas that interest them. At the end of the day, learning is not something you can force on someone. It is something they have to choose to receive and pursue.
So, for this season, for this time, we use Saxon for math, AlphaOmega LifePacs and Switched on Schoolhouse for Language Arts, Science, Bible and History and we read tons of books and watch many documentaries. We discuss, share, explore and enjoy the process of learning something new each day.
Which is the best education of all...
Monday, January 10, 2011
Not literally freezing. Mid-40's kind of freezing.
What can I saw? I've wimped out on my ability to endure truly cold weather in my seven years of living in the warmer climes of the U.S.
But I can now endure the humid 100's of the summer here. Going all reptile in my personal thermostat renders me resistant to the heat.
And really whiny to the cold.
But there is something about the cold that appeals to me. I hunker down with books and writing materials. The kids seem more willing to hit the school books and we gather around the fire and study. There's just something about frosty weather and scholastics that pair well.
It's a welcome accessory to getting our education on.
I've had some great questions about homeschooling come in over the last few weeks. I'll be addressing several of those this week and look forward to your further input and questions.
But for today, I'm going to snuggle a bit deeper into my sweater, I'm going to throw another log on the fire, I'm going to let the kids drink hot chocolate as they study and we're going to celebrate this cold snap.
And commit it to memory.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I'm going to grow up.
It's something I'm noticing in the Christian community today. I love that we seem to have deeper compassion for the hurting. I love seeing the Body embracing people where they are, warts and all, as we make this journey together. It heartens me to see us focusing more on our love walk and being more cautious in judging others.
Good things, all.
But I'm noticing an unintended effect.
At least in myself.
I've been so busy wanting to be real and in letting others be real and in taking myself and others right where they are that I've let a spiritual truism slide.
And that truism is this:
That we should all be pressing on toward greater maturity.
And maturity is not about legalism. Or having a longer list of rules. Or positioning oneself as the keeper of the morality.
Maturity is about keeping this question in mind and responding to it; "What pleases God?"
Not, "Do I have the right, the freedom to do this or say this or laugh at this or question this or that?"
Not bad questions. Not questions that shouldn't be asked.
But the ultimate question is to ask myself if the activities and freedoms and rights I am exercising are pleasing to my Father. Not about if what you are doing is pleasing. That's between you and your Daddy.
I just don't want to get sloppy with grace.
And part of growing up is keeping my spiritual house picked up. I don't want my Father having to trail behind me, reminding me to pick up the dirty laundry of my attitude and my habits.
The intended by-product of extravagant grace.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
As promised, I've got a couple more thoughts today that I thought I would pass along, things that may help keep the resolve in your resolutions.
Just Do It. And Then Do It Again. And Then Again.
I've got to admit, I'm a bit ADD when it comes to self-improvement, home-improvement, fitness-improvement, spirituality-improvement projects.
As in, I don't mind doing the activity a few times. But then I start to get a little bored. And something shinier will catch my attention.
But there's just no substitute for good ol' fashioned stick-to-it-tiveness when it comes to many of the things we hope to accomplish in the span of our days.
If I want my home to be organized and reasonably clean, it takes doing the day-today activity that renders such results. If I want to operate at a certain level of fitness, there is no short cut or substitute for those consistent runs. If I want the kids to work at a certain academic level, I've got to specifically oversee the incremental steps.
That's the thing.
I find the half-life of any goal is around the two-to-three week mark. If I can consistently engage in the needed activity toward a long-term goal for that amount of time, I've got a good chance of staying with it. But the days leading up to that marker can make for some rough rationalization terrain.
So, I've learned to stop asking myself what I think about certain things. "Do I really feel like going on a run today?" Not allowed. "I'm not in the mood to empty that dishwasher for the eleventh time today." Na-unh. My internal emotion dialog can potentially derail the best laid intentions. And while I'd like to offer something here about positive self-talk and alternate ways to talking in one's head, sometimes I find it best to just tell my distracted, tired, pouty self to hush up and get on with it.
But that's just me.
When it comes to committing consistency to my goals, I've gotta gives props to my earlier elementary education...I'm a sucker for star chart. Give me a grid of some sort that I can put check marks in for each run completed or each day of healthy eating and I'll go all second grader on you, competitive with myself to fill up that report card. And it serves as a great visual to see where I'm getting the activity done...and where I'm skipping out.
So while I won't run in Nikes, I will state their ad logo again when it comes to 2011.
Just do it.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
We meet yet again.
How many times has it been this week?
I must say, as a suitor you are relentless.
Despite my deepest protests, you seem determined to coax me out of sleep to watch your number appear in blue digital display on the bedroom clock.
I've come to appreciate your non-yielding persistence, the way you scoff at my attempts to wave you away with chamomile tea, melatonin, hot baths and the like. Even now, even as you have pulled me from dreams and to the warmth of my computer, I dine on deli turkey in a feeble belief that tryptophan will chase you off and leave me to slumber.
It is true that you and I spent many a pre-dawn dance together as I nursed a newborn or checked on a toddler with an earache. And then there were those times that I saw you as I stayed up far too late, unable to put down a compelling book.
But I wouldn't want you to think that I was leading you on.
It's just that I've matured now. And I really need my sleep. It's not that I have something against you, 3:31 am. It's just that I don't feel the need to see your numbers click through the watches of the night. I'm content to know that you've been around. But it doesn't mean that we have to see each other every day.
I suppose there are a couple of caveats I have the right to ask for if you are going to persist in waking me every night. First, you should bring with you a wave of creativity. Yes, that's right, creativity. Some amazing juice of genius that I can partake of in the wee hours. Some million dollar idea that I can incubate and develop, since I'm up anyway. Oh, and you should also bring a jolt of energy, some magic essence that allows me to function at full capacity regardless of the hour. And you should also bring some antidote for the sugar cravings that always seem to accompany your arrival.
We really need to talk, 3:31 am.
We're going to have to figure out a compromise that works for both of us.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Having just put 1 of 8 on a plane back to France on Friday, it's been wonderful having Nick around to keep us laughing.
But he needs to head back to the coast today. And we're experiencing having to say a double goodbye to two of our favorite people.
This summer will be a busy one, with 1 of 8 coming home and the possibility of Nick coming to see us again. But the summer seems a little far away today.
We're so impressed with how 1 of 8 and Nick have built their relationship on friendship and conversation, fun and faith. And while we know this season of being geographically apart is hard, we know they will come through strong and wise.
And in the interim, we'll miss 'em.