Sunday, November 29, 2015

Books I Read in September, October, and (most of) November

I fell behind in updating my What I Read List. There were a few weeks when I don't think I read anything other than what I was reading the kids (I feel like I should be keeping better track of this) and what I have been required to read for BSF. I am looking forward to mid-December when most of our  activities, other than some therapies,  stop for a couple of weeks.  I also am taking a break from Facebook over Advent, which means some time to use my time more wisely.

Here's what I read this fall, in no particular order.

  • Uniquely Human: a different way to see autism by Barry Prizant. I remember wanting to underline a lot in this book, but I didn't since it was a library book. Sadly, I don't remember what was so good about it, so I will need to check it out again and take some notes. 
  • Nobody's Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle - A fun and funny memoir on friendship. I have read Melanie's other two books and found them okay as far as memoirs go, but this one I enjoyed much more. It made me remember friendships past as well as lifelong friendships, and it made me laugh quite a bit. 
  • In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume - I have read most of Judy Blume's books for children and adolescents. I read Just As Long As We're Together the year my family was falling apart, and it remains one of my favorite books, though I was criticised by my children's lit professor in front of my class for liking Judy Blume. Unlikely Event is a book for adults, and Ms. Blume did not disappoint me with her characters. As usual, they were easy to relate with and the storyline was based on actual events of plane crashes in New Jersey in the 1950s. Looking for an easy enough read over the holidays - pick this one - unless you, like my lit professor, think poorly of Judy Blume. (I happen to read some liberal feminist writers even though I am not one. Gasp!)
  • Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease - Speaking of children's lit professors, she obviously dropped the ball on this one. Apparently all education majors everywhere read this in their program. I only heard of it recently. It has been updated, and I think it would be a helpful read for any classroom teacher. He didn't speak kindly of the Tea Party at one point in his book (which annoyed me) but he was also NCLB and Race to the Top (which encouraged me).  Honestly the people (parents and teachers) who probably most need to read this book will not. It was not entirely helpful to me as a homeschooler with kids who love books, but I'm glad I took the time to read it. 
  • Rules by Cynthia Lord - This is a children's novel about a girl and her brother who has autism. It was a quick read, and I liked it because it gave me some insight into how Bubby might feel (now or someday) as the neurotypical sibling. The characters were likable, but I needed a little more from the author. 
  • For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. Jen Hatmaker cracks me up. Especially on Twitter during the Olympics. Jen Hatmaker sometimes annoys me - especially on Facebook when her politics and theology seem a bit fuzzy. I read Seven a few years ago and felt challenge. I read For the Love this week and laughed quite a bit. Jen is easy to read and has a good sense of humor. Her chapters on parenting and friendship and marriage were great. I really enjoyed her chapters on boundaries and on Sunday Night Church - which was actually about not having Sunday Night Church. I did not enjoy her chapter on women in ministry. As the (most likely) only woman at my reformed SBC church, one would think I would have liked this chapter. But I felt it was her poorest written chapter in the book in terms of theology and delivery. All that said, if you want an overall light hearted and encouraging book, I would recommend For the Love. 
  • Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee - I am still sorting my feelings out about this book, but I think I loved it. No, I did not love everything in this book. There were characters and dialogues and circumstances that I did not like - but that is what made me like the book. Th complexity of growing up and disillusionment and coming home again. Jean Louise aka Scout was such a character with whom to relate and struggle in this book. And there was a quote near the end from Atticus to Jean Louise that I think every daughter wants to hear from her father. It is something I have never heard nor will I ever hear from mine. 
  • Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me by Lorilee Croker - The boys and I just finished LM Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables on audiobook, and we all loved it. As an Anne-fan, I knew I would need to check out this book when I saw the title. The author is adopted daughter, has an adopted daughter, and weaves some of her story into the stories we know of Anne Shirley as well as some of Lucy Maud Montgomery's story. The writing felt a little forced to me at times, and there was one small section that made me say, "Really?" But it was a good read for me at this time, and the second half of the book  more engaging to me than the first. 
I have three books I hope to finish this week, and I'm not sure what I'll get from the library over the holidays. Suggestions?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving (without an oven)

Our oven broke this afternoon. During the busiest baking time of the year, the heating element corroded or something because my cornbread unexpectedly burned and there was a small flame at the bottom of the oven. Upon further inspection, The Hubs discovered the hole, and although it made me feel better that my baking skills were not to be questioned, we also discovered a replacement part could not arrive for at least three days. My pumpkin bars were safe - having been removed just minutes before the burning of the cornbread. However, we have a mostly thawed turkey in our fridge and a few side dishes - all but one needing the oven and  its heating element.

We have pie and pumpkin bars, and tomorrow we will visit Bob Evans or Cracker Barrel, as Google informed us that both establishments have a turkey dinner. The upside is I will not have to do the dishes tomorrow. The down side is I won't have my sweet potato casserole until at least Monday. The other upside is that I have already cut into the pumpkin bars this evening since my meal tomorrow includes dessert.

I miss Thanksgiving at Mimi and Papa's, not for the food as much as the after lunch time. I miss Dominoes and Up and Down the River and trying to avoid being labeled "Back of the Sled." I miss drawing names, not because I want presents, but because it meant family.

Time moves on and seasons change, and right now we are in a season of not being able to travel for Thanksgiving. My kids will add "the year the oven broke" to some of their earliest Thanksgiving memories, and we will FaceTime the many people we love most in the world. There will be Candyland and Trouble this year instead of cards, and we will try to figure out where to put the Christmas tree (again) in our small house. We will finish watching Anne of Green Gables and put on the Christmas DVDs.

Tomorrow will be a beautiful day because we have everything we need and so much more.

Monday, November 23, 2015

counting gifts (because God has repaid)

My heart has felt heavy the last few days, for a situation out of my hands, a situation that isn't really my story to tell. It is intertwined a bit with my story, my struggles, but it is not directly mine this time. I sit on the sidelines unable to do anything but weep. Weep like a twelve year old, weep like a nineteen year old, weep like a thirty-one year old, and weep as my present-age-self.

I was flipping through a book I just finished, trying to find a certain paragraph, when I came across a different truth I had underlined.  Jennifer Rothschild, in her study on Hosea, wrote, " may have endured something so awful in your past that you can't even imagine God redeeming it and restoring shalam to you. But His promise is true. What the enemy stole, God will shalam. What selfish people have taken from you, God will repay." 

Today, my mind kept going to what was taken. But I don't want to live in that because I have already been given so much more than what I lost. Thanksgiving is this week, and my autumn has been filled overflowing with good things, wonderful things, which outweigh the hardness of this life.

  • Friendships spanning days and decades.
  • Progress in Bug's speech and gross motor skills.

  • A trip home to meet my new niece.
  • Bubby being baptized.

  • Happy brothers in Halloween costumes.

  • Trips to the park with friends.
  • Early birthday party with Cubbie friends and Pete the Cat.

  • Phone call with my best friend.
  • Library books galore.
  • Listening to Anne of Green Gables in the car with my boys.
  • A short visit with a college friend who was passing through.
  • A fridge holding the turkey.
  • Friday night laughter with friends, trading clothes.
  • Teaching two year olds each week.
  • Homeschooling the (mostly) Charlotte Mason way.

  • Coffee for me and a muffin for Bubby every Monday morning.

  • Art class for Bugaboo.
  • Watching the basketball go through the net - what a difference a year makes!
  • Rolling out Papa's noodles.

God owes me nothing, and yet He has graciously given me so much, more than repaid what was stolen. Gift after gift, He lavishes good things upon me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hope and weariness and already/not yet

There are some days when all I see is what autism and cerebral palsy steal. In the meltdown moments, I can't find what they give. I just see loss.  I just see two steps forward, one step back, emphasis on the back. I see how hard we work. I see how desperate I am sometimes to stop the disabilities from stealing things from my son. And in the middle of a hard moment today I heard in my head, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy..." and my theology-loving hear argues, "I think you are taking that out of context."

But the verse continued to echo but with adding the second half, "But I have come that you may have life and have it to the full." God's kingdom is an already/not yet kingdom. Christ has already defeated death but He has not yet come again and undone every sad thing, every disease and disability, every effect of sin. I constantly find myself aware of the living here in the tension of the already/not yet.

 So I can already have life to the full because I belong to Christ, but there is the not yet part, too. Autism cured? Not yet. Cerebral palsy healed? Not yet.

My word of the year is hope, but some days that word feels overshadowed by another word. Weary. For the few people I have been extremely transparent with lately, I have used that word. "How are you feeling?" "Weary." Not everyday. Not every moment. But at times that thief wants to come in and try to steal and kill and destroy my hope and replace it with weariness.

I can't fake hope. I can't manufacture it or conjure it up by saying the right words or singing the right songs. But I can rest in it because for me hope is not just a word or a feeling.  I have hope right now, right when hope is hard to have because He has already come. Hope has come. And because He is coming again.

Friday, October 23, 2015


There was a moment yesterday filled with two little boys laughing. Bug was working on a fine motor activity on the iPad - one we hadn't done in over a month until he requested it again this week.  Apparently when it got updated over the time off, it was updated with some new sound effects, and it makes a funny sound whenever Bug makes a mistake.

However, Bug has gotten better at this activity and doesn't make very many mistakes. Therefore Bubby was sitting next to him, intentionally making mistakes to get the sound effect.  The mom-teacher instinct was for me to say, "Stop," because I didn't want Bug to start intentionally making the mistakes, too. But there on the twin bed my two sons kept laughing hysterically every thirty-seconds or so when the iPad would say "bonnnng" to an incorrect tap.  Laughing so hard they could hardly catch their breath to keep going - but they did - only to crack up once again.

I did not move, as much as I wanted to record the moment, because then the spell would be broken. Instead I sat listening to the rare sound of them laughing together for several minutes, the way I always imagined two brothers would.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

coming to faith - a letter

Dear Bubby,

We were in the minivan Tuesday morning - you, me and Bug - driving to my BSF meeting. Pulling out of the driveway you asked me a couple of questions about heaven.  This was not unusual. At least once a week, usually more, you ask me theological questions on a drive somewhere. The questions were answered to the best of my ability, with one I clearly remember saying, "That's probably a question for Pastor Doug."  We moved on with normal chatter and silence and music and your little brother asking to listen to the Veggie Tales cd.

A few minutes later we were driving down Kansas, and you asked me for a tissue. Handing you one, I asked if you were okay, to which you responded you felt like crying about your sin.  This was pretty out of the blue since you had not been in any real trouble that morning or the day before, and our conversation hadn't been about sin. So we chatted about sin and about Jesus and as usual, I asked if you had any other questions.  You didn't, so I continued to focus on the road until you told Bug to stop talking so you could pray. And there in the minivan you prayed your own version of the Sinner's Prayer, and then announced that you were following Jesus now. That you were now a Christian.

My heart went a million directions at once. I wanted to be enthusiastic but also cautious.  One of my biggest fears of raising you in a Christian home is that you would become a Christian to please me and your dad or because it was the thing to do. It is a hard balance in teaching you about the faith that is central to my very being without letting it become something you would do just because you are a MacB.

I asked a few more questions, and then I called your dad. I went to my meeting, and upon picking you up from the childcare there, the two older women working that day were all smiles because you had told them also that you are now a Christian.

I am writing all of this down so that you and I both remember this in the years ahead. I want you to know that my heart is full of joy and peace about the decision you have made. I do not know where you learned the Sinner's Prayer. That is not really a script we use at our church.  There is no altar call in the sense of an altar call that I witnessed for much of my first thirty years in the Church. You do not attend a children's church (like I did until I was seven or eight) that constantly asked us if we were sure we weren't going to hell. And although I was raised in a church-going home, already I know that your faith-journey is different than mine.

I don't know where exactly the need to come to Jesus to forgive your sins and follow Him with your life came from on this last Tuesday. I rest in the belief that the Holy Spirit has been growing the seeds that have been planted by your Sunday school and Awana teachers, BSF leaders, pastors, and hopefully by your family as your dad and I have done our best to answer your questions and live out an authentic faith in front of you from day to day.

A part of me worries because you are on the young side to come to faith, but God keeps bringing to mind examples in the Bible of the young people He called and His emphasis on having faith like a child.  This week I read something that essentially said when God gets someone's attention spiritually it is because He has made that person ready to accept. God reminded me that salvation is not of works, it is of faith and it is a gift of God not of ourselves - and so the God Who is calling you is able to give that faith to you - no matter if you are six, sixteen or sixty - because it is about His glory and His purposes for you and for His kingdom. Once again, God is asking me, your mama, to trust Him with your life and what He will do for you and in you. I see that you understand your need for a Savior. I see that you are thankful for what He has done for you. I see that you want to follow Him and live for Him, and it makes me cry happy tears.

You are His, sweet boy. He has called you, and He will continue to lead you and grow you. I pray that you would see His good purposes in both the beautiful and the painful moments of your life. I pray that you would sense His nearness. I pray that you would be bold for Him and be filled with His love for others. I pray you would know that you are adopted into sonship through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will and that He has lavished His grace upon you.  You will make mistakes and stumble and doubt in the years ahead, and when that happens I pray that you will fall each time on your Savior rather than yourself. He is able and has already paid the price. You are His. I pray that you would know that nothing - NOTHING - can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.  I pray that you would see His faithfulness woven throughout the seasons of your life and that you would remain faithful to Him.

Love always,

you with the letters that were given to us for you
on your baby dedication day six years ago
to be read by you when you came to faith in Jesus
(tears were shed by you and me today reading them)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A conversation for World CP Day

It's World Cerebral Palsy Day. Would you take a minute today to explain to a child in your life about CP? It could be a conversation like this...

Adult: Do you know your friend G.?Do you know he has a condition called cerebral palsy?
Child: What does that mean?
Adult: It means he will do some things the same as you and some things will be different.
Child: Like what?
Adult: Sometimes G drools. He doesn't do this on purpose. Can you show me your muscles?
(Child flexes muscles)
Adult: Well, just like there are muscles in your arms, there are also muscles in our mouths. They help us chew, swallow, and open and close our mouths. G has muscles in his mouth that aren't as strong because of his cerebral palsy. He can't always keep his mouth closed and then his drool escapes. We never make fun of someone for drooling. He does not drool on purpose. It makes him feel sad when people laugh at his drooling. Would it make you sad if someone laughed at you?
Child: Yes.
Adult: G also has other muscles in his body that have a hard time working. He can climb and run but not as fast as other kids. That is because he has cerebral palsy. He is working very hard on learning to run, and I bet he would love a friend to walk with him sometimes when he has to go slower than everyone else. Do you think you could sometimes be that type of friend to G?
Child: Yes, I could.
Adult: Even if he is slower on the stairs or the playground, we can still play with him. If you broke your leg and couldn't walk, would you want your friends to still say hi and play games with you or would you want to always sit alone by yourself?
Child:I would want friends.
Adult. You might see that G can't hold a crayon or a cup or a fork like you can. That is something his muscles are still learning to do. Just like your muscles at learning to ride a bike, his muscles are learning to do other things right now.
Child: Is he like a baby?
Adult: No, G is a preschooler just like you. He likes music and stories and dogs and the park, just like you. He might not talk to you in the same way as some of your other friends, but I bet he would like to play with you sometimes. He understands what you are saying and doing even if he doesn't talk very much. He is a fun kid, just like you.

*Please remember if you comment on this blog or on the Facebook page for this blog that I do not use my kids' real names on this blog.  Thank you!