Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hope: reflecting on my word for 2015

Hope was a strange word to focus on this year. There was little I could tangibly see or do that made me think, "Ah, I'm really getting this hope thing down now.  Gold star for me." But honestly that is not the point of my word of the year choices. My word doesn't mandate that I make another checklist of things to do or characteristics to be. My word allows me the freedom to simply focus on one thing. No rules. Just freedom to focus and notice and apply.

I don't know if I am more hopeful this year than last. I think I am, but there isn't any data to back it up. I do know that I noticed the word "hope" or themes of hope in books and songs and verses. I know that on really hard days, I could remind myself of the hope I have, hope that is not of myself.

I want to continue resting on hope in the days and weeks ahead. I want to choose hope over despair each time I am sad or overwhelmed. I want to help others experience true hope. I will be choosing a new word tomorrow, but I'm not giving up on hope. I'm clinging to it.

Other reflections on hope from me in 2015 can be found:
 One Word: Hope
An April Update of Sorts
Some Thoughts On My Word for 2015
Hope and Weariness
Advent: hope

Friday, December 18, 2015

Dear autism

Dear autism (and cerebral palsy, too),

I hate that you steal.

Today after The Hubs got off work our little family went to a local theme park because we were given passes this year. It has been a long semester, and this was the first time we were to go during the Christmas season. We rode all the little kid rides that Bug and Bubby wanted to ride. Except the train because we knew Bug wouldn't handle the wait even though he LOVES the train. We had planned to watch the Christmas parade. Bug loves the 4th of July parade we go to each year, and he loved my home town's homecoming parade this fall, so I knew he would love this. But autism, you stole that potential experience from my sweet boy. During the wait he had a mini meltdown, and we had to make the choice to leave before the parade. I watched both my boys miss out, one crying because of something being off in his world and one because he was missing out on something he really wanted to do.

This isn't the first time you have stolen from us. You steal from us on most Sunday mornings still, when either The Hubs or I have to take Bug into the cry room at church. You steal from us when you make it impossible for Bug to join his peers singing on stage, and you steal from us when one parent stays home with Bug while the other goes to watch Bubby in a choir concert or church musical. You steal these big, special moments and the little moments, too. You steal moments which should be used to linger and peruse longer at the library, moments when Bug can't keep up on the playground or on Wednesday night game times, moments when other little kids ask me, "Why are you walking him down the stairs like that?"

But you have given us some gifts, too.

You have given us the gift of celebration. We celebrate every milestone - using the slide, navigating some stairs, saying hello to a peer, decreased echolalia, and maneuvering a spoon. You have given us the gift of perseverance and prayer. You have taught us to pray without ceasing, to wait even when it's hard, and to hope even when the "experts" have not understood.  You have given us the gift of showing us that we have some wonderful true friends - those who still meet us at the park, who understand our crazy schedule, who don't mind talking at length about Veggie Tales, who aren't afraid of drool on the couch or an outburst of tears from a child or his mom.

You have stolen some moments and some abilitilies. You stole the end of our day, but we still look at all the wonderful memories we made today freezing our butts off riding a fake dumbo and eating a funnel cake. You gave me the gift of seeing how much character and maturity my six year old has and the depth of love he has for his little brother, when many other children would have pitched a fit while yelling hurtful things. In a strange way, you have given us the gift of being a strong family, though I know our strength is not of ourselves but because there is one who makes us strong even when we are weak.

Oh Autism and CP, you haven't stolen everything, and you will not steal everything. Not one single ounce of love for my sweet boy will ever be stolen from my heart. Even if you disappeared from his life tomorrow, my love would be the exact same amount. Because there are some things nothing or no one can steal.

Bugaboo's Mama

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

If I could start a one room schoolhouse...

A conversation with a friend this evening has me once again dreaming of starting a school. Or a one room schoolhouse. Or at least a co-op.

I love homeschooling. I love picking out and tweaking curriculum. I love lesson planning and teaching. I (usually) love being with my kids everyday. But I do miss teaching a group of students and the interaction that happens between peers.  Sometimes I wonder if my kids miss out on some of the traditional school things that I experienced. I have (mostly) good memories of my elementary school days. I have (mostly) good memories of teaching elementary school. But I have no desire to return to the regular classroom. The last six and a half years have shown me what I do and do not want for curriuculm and instruction for my children. I know exactly what I would do differently if I could teach a group of students again.

I love the Charlotte Mason method. I love the use of narrating and grand conversations, spreading the feast and short lessons, and I am even learning to love nature study. I feel like every child on earth could benefit from many aspects of Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy.

I have an elementary education degree and a master's degree in educational leadership. The state of Missouri says I could be a principal at a public school, yet I love being a stay-at-home mom. I want to be able to use my education and my passion for teaching, but in a different way. If I had a bigger house I would try out a one-room schoolhouse co-op here in my home, but that isn't possible where I live.

So many dreams and ideas dance in my head, but I don't know if there is a next step to take yet or even what that next step should be. I have a bit of a vision and a lot of questions, but for now I wait.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Advent - joy

I stretched out a twin bed this afternoon listening to my sons play on the floor near me. It was gray and rainy and felt more like March or April than December. The weather matched my mood. Today is one of the days of the year when I am reminded of something I lost - or perhaps a more accurate way to say it, someone lost me. I can say it's their loss, and that is true, but it doesn't completely take away the pain of being rejected, erased, and replaced. The word for the day is joy, but honestly I felt melancholy.

Driving to Bubby's musical practice tonight, I felt a still, small voice remind me, "I will not leave you as orphans. I will come for you." As the choir sang tonight, I found myself in the cry room at church, holding Bugaboo who was having a meltdown, asking God to show me where I can find joy in this situation, in all of the situations that cause me pain.

"I will not leave you as orphans."

I googled for verses to read for the third week of Advent. We lit three candles, hope, peace and joy.  I read from Isaiah 35:

"Energize the limp hands,
strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls,
'Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here,
on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs.
He’s on his way! He’ll save you!'
Blind eyes will be opened,
deaf ears unstopped,
Lame men and women will leap like deer,
the voiceless break into song. ...
There will be a highway called the Holy Road.
No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road.
It’s for God’s people exclusively—impossible to get lost on this road.
Not even fools can get lost on it.
No lions on this road,
no dangerous wild animals—
Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
The people God has ransomed will come back on this road.
They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion,
unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,
Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness
as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night."

My voice cracked reading it. Everything I needed to read tonight to point me to joy was in this passage. And then there was still more to read.  We are a day behind in our new advent book, and tonight was about the goodness of being adopted into God's family. Fitzpatrick and Thompson wrote:

"If you are in a family, you know that our families are not perfect. Moms and dads sin against children, children disobey their parents, grandparents don't always love their grandchildren the way that they should. Our families aren't perfect. The only perfect Father is God, and He has decided to make you His child. ... In our forever home we will love and be loved perfectly. In our forever home, Heaven, God's love will make us so lovely that we will never sin against anybody or be sinned against. So right now, when you feel like you aren't loved by your parents, you can know that God
loves you completely and fully, and one day you will be home with Him."

Maybe it doesn't seem like much, but sitting tonight with the candles and the verses and the devotional, God reminded me of why I have joy. I am His. He does not leave or reject or replace me. He has given me the hope of heaven and the peace that passes understanding which brings joy on this rainy, melancholy day. He has not left me as an orphan, as the fatherless, He has come for me. That is the joy of Advent and of my faith in Christ.

Monday, December 7, 2015

For Bugaboo as he turns five

Dear Bug,

Five. How is that even possible? Your auntie Lisa texted to say how you look like such a big boy today, and it is true. Before my very eyes you have transformed from baby to toddler to preschooler, and in less than a year, you will be a kindergartner. I still remember the first moment I held you, overwhelmed with love and gratitude that you were here.  Each night I check on you one more time before I go to bed. You are sleeping, and I look at you and have that same overwhelming feeling. I am so glad you are here. I am so glad I get to be your mama.

You are the hardest working child I know, and your perseverance during therapies each week amazes and humbles me.We have seen such growth in speech and gross motor this year.  I love how you and your echolalia attempt to call Dad "Babe" instead of Daddy. I love how you know the names of every kid in your Cubbies class and who is absent. I love how you will sing so many songs when you think no one is listening, and how you have quoted part of Rev. 3:15 for a month now. I love how much you love Christmas trees and books, and how every morning you want a piece of toast.

This year you have really mastered the slides at the park and on the church playground. You are getting faster at the stairs, and your auditory memory is amazing. Your recent favorite thing to do is to attempt to climb on the kitchen table. You reach your hands up to the light fixture and sing loudly, 'The name of the Lord is a strong tower!"  You continue to develop your own sense of humor, and you love to quote a few of your favorite movie lines much like every other male member of both families. This fall you were able to take an art class and a music class, and those have become new favorite activities. You sit in with your big brother's school work a good chunk of the time and can do the recitation work of poetry and songs just as well as he can. You love Robert Lewis Stephenson poems and the book Paddle to the Sea along with your own favorite books of Pete the Cat (still), Winnie the Pooh, the Rhyme Time Bible and any ABC book we bring into the house. We had a Pete party for you a few weeks ago, and you are still talking about it. I have loved watching you learn and play and grow this year.

You have taught me to pray and to persevere and to be thankful, and I will always be your advocate as well as your mama. Happy birthday, Bugaboo! We delight that God gave us you, and we have confidence that He has a plan for your life.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Advent - peace

It is the second Sunday of Advent, the day we light a candle labeled peace and remember the Prince of Peace.  But I don't feel much peace this year. Just days ago, in a city very close to where The Hubs grew up, a place where his family members still live, terrorists killed fourteen people. We are told to trust our government, that they will keep us safe from this, but they don't. And now they want to limit even more the ways I can protect my family - ways guaranteed by the Constitution. This makes me anxious, angry, and unsettled. I do not feel the spirit of peace this week. Instead I feel sorrow, and I wonder what kind of country my children are going to grow up in?

We lit the candle, and I read from John 14. Jesus is telling His friends to not be troubled because He is going away to make a place for them and for those of us who believe. He promises the gift of the Holy Spirit, and He promises to leave us His peace. "Not as the world gives do I give to you," Jesus says. I'm wrestling with that tonight. How does Jesus give us peace in this world that offers false peace or no peace at all? I know He is the Prince of Peace, but I was hoping I'd feel it a little more than I do.

We also read the first part of Isaiah 11 tonight, and Bubby's big question was about the child playing over the cobra hole.  "How can a kid play with a poisonous snake?" he wondered aloud. So I explained that someday Jesus is coming back and creating a new world for all His believers to live in where the animals won't be dangerous and everyone will be kind. There will be no more sin. "And He will kill all the wicked guys with just using His breath!" Bubby summarized.

"Peace on earth, goodwill to men," we sing, but that peace is not fully realized yet. I have peace with God because of the gift of Jesus taking God's wrath for me on the cross. I have peace in my heart, but the right-now-peace-on-earth seems not quite yet. I desperately want peace, but the peace I desire is not possible in this present world. Why won't you fix all of this right now, I pray. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, because this world just feels awful this week.

And then I recall 2 Peter 3:8-9, "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

God Almighty is waiting because He wants more people to experience the peace that comes with repentance and leads to an eternity of peace. In these turbulent times, I will choose to rest in His plan, be obedient to what He calls me to do, and be thankful for the peace that I have in my heart and the peace I am assured of inheriting one day.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Being Picked

I help in Cubbies every week at our church. I am the secretary, and I also help Bugaboo with the things he needs assistance with - holding the styrofoam cup at snack, helping him up and down the stairs, removing him if he has a meltdown, and being his helper during game time.

Preschoolers are a squirrelly bunch. I say that with love and affection.  They all could use a one on one helper during game time, I think. But a lot of the activities would be impossible for Bug to do without me lifting him to jump or hold his hand to run the relays. Earlier in the year there were a couple of things that happened during game time that broke my heart. There have been a couple times I have had to hide and cry in the ladies' room. Some weeks I wait and break down at home. But we show up every week and give it a try because overall it is a good thing for both of us. Most weeks there aren't any tears.

This week though there was a wonderful moment. It came time for a relay with partners. Usually I'm Bug's only partner because he can't keep up with his peers for these activities, and four year olds aren't great about slowing down to help their teammates. But this week a little girl on his team declared that she wanted Bug as her partner. She ran slowly. She laughed (in a nice way, not a mocking way) when he ran the wrong way. She let me help both of them finish. She encouraged him by just being his friend. And she encouraged me because she picked him for a race even though she did not have to.  My son was picked, and in that moment I was given another glimpse of the goodness of God.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

advent - hope

Yesterday I assembled a make-shift Advent candle wreath.  In a handmade pie plate (gifted to me in my teaching days) now sit three green candles (which were a wedding present and which were used quite a bit in the ice storm of 2007) and a random taller red candle (which I acquired in a white elephant gift exchange last year). I cut an index card in fourths, wrote the Advent words on them, and tied them on the candles with twine.  It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful, says The Nester. And I quite agree.

Today was the start of Advent. One of the things I miss about our previous church is the lighting of the Advent candles and the readings that went along with it. I did not grow up with Advent. However, I want my children to experience it. So last year I made a point to start the lighting of candles in our own home.  Tonight when we sat down to light and to read, Bubby exclaimed, "I remember this from last year!" This is what I want. In a world often devoid of tradition and simplicity, I want my boys to remember that during the weeks before Christmas we lit candles, not for the sake of lighting candles, but for remembering the Light of the World, our source of hope, joy, peace, and love.

Each year for the past few years I have chosen a word. My word of the year this year is hope.  That also happens to be the first word of Advent. While I was preparing something to read and say for this evening's family time, I felt intimidated. There is so much to say about hope.So much I still, eleven months later,  have not learned.  When I started to reflect upon hope this weekend I felt a bit defeated because  in some situations hope seems to be hiding. How can I teach my boys about hope when there are days I barely understand it at all?

Then I read Sarah Bessey's blog today, as she also wrote about hope. I read the Scriptures she picked around my own kitchen table tonight. (Isaiah 60:1-5 and Isaiah 9:2 in The Message. I chose to read John 1:1-5 in the ESV. I also went on to read Romans 15:13 from the ESV.)

The Hubs lit the candle before I started reading and explaining. The power of the little light in a dark room hit me as my little green candle reminded me of great and glorious promises and of prophecies fulfilled. Hundreds of years before Jesus came, Isaiah prophesied that He would.  John reminds us that Jesus has been there since the beginning. Paul encourages us in Romans that God is the one who fills us with hope by His Spirit.

The fact that Hope has always been a part of the plan - that it has always been the plan - amazes me.  The world is dark, but there is a light that still shines, that will always shine.  Just as two thousand years ago, God's people waited for the promise of True Hope to arrive, I find myself waiting for and anticipating True Hope coming back again.  He has not left us alone. His light still shines, even in the darkness.

There is hope.

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." Isaiah 9:2 (The Message)

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:1-5 (ESV)

"May the God of hope fill you with all you and peace in believing so that by the poewr of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13 (ESV)

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!

Monday, September 21, 2015

opening my eyes fully (or thirty-four can be hard)

Today I briefly vented on Facebook about a certain aspect of a phase of life we were in. It wasn't mean, and I received many "same here!" comments from my friends. And then I read this article about treating our children as our neighbors. I found myself pondering if complaining about this phase of life is treating my neighbor - my child - as I would want to be treated. I would be mortified if my mom or husband wrote, "Thirty-four is hard," because everyone would know they were talking about  me.

And yes, thirty-four can be hard. Just like two. And six. And sixteen. There are parts of every age that are hard or challenging or just new and different.

But what is a mom, especially a stay at home mom who homeschools and is with her children all of the time, supposed to do? A generation or two ago, I would have chatted with a neighbor friend in a similar phase of life or my own mom or mother-in-law would be nearby. But that is not the case for me or many of my friends. I think many of us, in matter if we are stay at home or working moms, feel like little islands. Even  with all of this technology to keep us connected, we still feel isolated and so we turn to Facebook as a mini-cry for help or seeking affirmation that we are doing a good job, that we are not alone in our mothering, that we are not screwing up our kids by telling them  for the fiftieth time they cannot try to swing like Tarzan from a piece of equipment at occupation therapy.

I don't have all the answers, but I want to try to do better at connecting and encouraging. I want to remind my friends with toddlers that many things get easier, and I want my friends with teenagers and grown children to remind me that things get easier. I want to see my friends with six year olds, really see them, and tell them they are not alone. I want to link arms with my friends with children with special needs and truly be in this together with them - whatever that may look like. I want to notice what my friends' kids are doing well - not just the trophy moments but the character moments - and specifically say the good thing I noticed. I want to pray for my friends who are weary with the same battles I am encountering.

Life is full at our house these days. School and work for the Hubs.  Activities for Bubby.  Therapies for Bugaboo. Volunteer ministries for me.  And the daily stuff like learning and playing and chores.  But I don't want things to get so full that I stop noticing my friends. And I don't want things to get so full I stop noticing and acknowledging the good my kids are doing.

Bubby helps to carry in groceries. He has a tender heart. He loves telling us about his day. He is a patient and kind big brother. He asks great questions.  Bugaboo perseveres when learning new skills. He prays for both real friends and animated ones. He loves saying, "Hi Dad!" when The Hubs walks in the door. He has made it through one month of Sunday morning services without having to go to the lobby.

Life is full. These ages and phases are hard some days. But every day there is so much good. I want to open my eyes fully and see it. Will you help me? Will you join me?

Monday, September 7, 2015

books I read in August

I managed to read a decent amount of books during the month of August, even as we got into the back-to-school swing of things.  Less Netflix, more books. That is the key, my friends. Here's what I stuck with this last month:

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 
Quick and easy novel with quirky characters. I laughed quite a bit and couldn't help keeping track of all of the main character's quirks. Entertaining and fun as the main character, Ron, a genetics professor,  tries to help a bartender, Rosie, find her biological father.

When Fraser Met Billy by Louise Booth
There was a lot of this book I connected with. Louise's son, Fraser, has autism as well as muscle tone issues that made him have delayed motor skills. She writes on some of the struggles in their life as well as how life improved quite a bit when her son Fraser connected with the cat, Billy, whom they adopted from a rescue.  Some of the stories were really beautiful and amazing.  It wasn't the most well-written memoir I have ever read, but I was interested and connected enough to keep reading. I am not a cat person, but that might change if I could find a cat like Billy for Bug (and if I was not allergic. Achoo!)

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
I had never read this book before, even though I have read Charlotte's Web multiple times. I needed to preview it to see if/when I would read it to the boys. It is about a swan, Louis, who is born without a voice, and he learns to overcome it by playing the trumpet. To me, this story did not have the same magic Charlotte's Web has. I didn't like Louis being called defective, but the perseverance of Louis was inspiring as far as children's books go.  Much of the book had wonderful descriptions of nature - so I will probably read it to the boys in the next year or so as we are trying to do a lot of nature study in our schooling. I'm glad I read this book, but it has not earned a place on my favorite list of kiddie lit.

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty
I don't believe in hypnotism, but I really like Liane Moriarty's characters.  This is the third or fourth book I have read of hers, and I wanted to befriend both the hypnotist and the other main female character in the story.  This wasn't my favorite by this author, but it was another quick and fun read.

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality by Kevin DeYoung
I went through this book with a class at church this summer. Kevin DeYoung is a Presbyterian pastor and also part of the Reformed/Gospel Coalition movement.  I found his book very straight-forward and kind. He addresses questions, concerns, and objections in a thoughtful manner. He is theologically conservative so his answers reflect that. I am theologically conservative so his answers made sense to me, but also didn't embarrass me. (There are a lot of crazy theologians out there on both sides of this issue/question.) 

Fear and Faith by Trillia J. Newbell
I first heard of Trillia Newbell when I watched the "A Time to Speak" panel about a year ago on race relations and the church.  I have read a few blog posts by Newbell, but this is the first book of hers that I have read.  She covered many of the areas we experience fear (failure, rejection, death of loved ones, etc) and then spent a lot of time on what to with these fears in terms of our faith.  My favorite quote from this book is: 
"When your fears tell you that you are alone, God whispers, 'I am your God.'...Your fears tell you that you have to be strong. God tells you, 'I will strengthen you.' Your fears will tell you that you will fall and fail. Your fears will tell you that you have to muster up the strength to be all that you think the Lord desires you to be, and that you must do it on your own. Your fears tell you that you don't measure up and never will. God tells you, 'I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.' Your fears will tell you to fear. God tells you, 'Do not be dismayed.'" 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

when I just sit down and write

I have so many half-posts written in my head these days, and a few quarter-posts in the drafts section of this blog. I want to write something different, something new, something that might make a difference, but at the end of each day I come back to my life and the stories it is giving me. I worry that by writing about autism or cerebral palsy or faith or even homeschooling  so much that people might be like, "Meh. This again." 

But this blog isn't about them. And in a way it isn't even about me. It is about the stories I have to tell, so I will keep telling them.

Both of the boys were NICU babies, and from day 1 we heard "The NICU is a roller coaster experience." And it was. And it is. For some the NICU was an even longer and more intense journey than what we had.  My roller coaster ride there lasted seven weeks and then two weeks, and then it was more or less over.

Living as a mom who is caring for a child with disabilities is very much that cliched roller coaster experience.

I'm struggling to understand why Bug was able to stand on stage and sing (well, dance around to) songs at the VBS performance night, but when it was music class performance night on the same stage with the same kids just a month later, he couldn't do it.  He melted down because his Wednesday night routine changed, and nothing I tried could fix it so he would go on stage - or even in the sanctuary.  We sat in the cry room (where he stopped crying and I started crying) and watched through the window as his friends and Bubby sang and did motions.

Two Sunday mornings ago Bugaboo finally made it through an entire church service. We celebrated, rewarded, and made a big deal about it. Last week he got loud before our pastor even really started in on the sermon.  It was a little disheartening, but I did not cry. Two steps forward, one step back, or so the saying goes.

This same child who struggles with church and messed-up routines, is sitting in on much of the schooling I do with his older brother this year.  Bug's favorite time to participate is what I call "binder time" in the morning. In a binder we have our motto (which he already knows most of - and it's lengthy), a hymn of the month, a patriotic song of the month (or in our case two because Bug requests both songs we have learned so far each day), catechism for Bubby (which Bug calls "questions), Bible reading, prayer (which every morning Bug prays, "Dear Jesus, Help us to watch VeggieTales today. In Jesus' name. Amen."), and poetry.  We have been reading one new Robert Louis Stevenson poem every day so far this school year, and now Bug requests his favorites by name, "Singing. Foreign Lands. A Good Play" He also can fill in the rhymes and some entire lines. I am amazed and baffled and humbled by this.

The highs of each day is when Bug does something beautifully different than what anyone would expect.  The hard parts are when he reacts to something differently than he should and I cannot discover a way to fix it or calm him.  There is so much in his little head and heart that we only get glimpses of right now, and so much of what we have to do feels so useless - the waiting and trying and waiting and guessing and waiting - all the time wondering if I am doing enough both for him and for Bubby. I replay my day in my head most nights thinking of time I wasted or mistakes I made, wishing I could let go of my fear of screwing up this parenting thing.

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me if I struggle with God's love - with knowing God loves me. I answered her rather quickly, "No," because I don't really struggle with that. I know God loves me not because of anything I do or don't do but because He is God and I am His, and that is why He loves me.  He loved me before the foundation of the world, so I know that I cannot lose it.  I realize this confidence is a rare gift even for the Christian, and I am thankful for it.

But I also answered that while I don't struggle with God's love or with the idea of losing God's love, I do struggle with the why's. "Since God loves me, then why ________?" I struggle with that a lot more than I think I realized. Right now it's with the idea of healing. Time after time Jesus healed all sorts of people in the New Testament, and I believe He still heals today. Yet, my son still struggles to use his hands, he can't use stairs independently, he can't hold a conversation with people, and he doesn't engage the way a typical four and a half year old would.  Where is his healing? is the question I come back to.

I don't have a great answer for that one, and I certainly don't want a cookie-cutter response to the question. I know the theology of why God might not heal Bug the way I would like Him to. But I also know the theology of why God might heal Bug the way I would like Him to. So I'm trying to be realistic while at the same time having hope while at the same time clinging to the faith that will get me through no matter what God decides to do in our lives.

God is good and God loves me. God is good and God loves my kids. I come back to those truths to find my rest.

Monday, August 3, 2015

books I read over the summer (June/July)

My entire life, well my entire reading life, which has been all of my life that I remember, I have spent many summer days reading. As a child I preferred to be with my books than outside in the heat (though I spent a fair amount of time riding bikes, playing kickball and kick-the-can in our cul-de-sac with the neighborhood kids). Becoming a mom means no longer having long summer days to leisurely read all day.  I did, however, manage to read a few good books this summer, and I am about to finish up a couple more. Here's what I read in June and July:

Still Alice by Lisa Genova - 
A professor at Harvard is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers.  I connected with the characters in this book, even though I don't have much in common with them. It was a beautiful and hard story, but also a quick read. After reading, I vented to The Hubs for about ten minutes about one character. Actually I am still ticked off at one character in the book. I would love to vent about him/her on here, but then I would need to post a spoiler alert. I know there is a movie based on the book, but I am not sure if I want to see it or not. Has anyone watched the movie?

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
Rachel and I are very different in our current theologies, but she asks many of the same questions in her book that I have asked or am asking. We just often arrive at different answers. Of the three books of hers I have read/attempted to read, this one was easier for me to stick with. I was frustrated with some of her conclusions and opinions, but I think I saw her more as a person rather than "that blogger that I no longer read," and that was refreshing. I still do not quite understand how her faith shifted so much, but I am trying. The book reminded me of the beauty and truth to be found in churches that don't look like mine, and as a multi-denominational gal, I appreciated that. 

Caught Up in a Story by Sarah Clarkson
This is a book about what books to read to your children. I have read a couple of books by Sarah's mother, Sally, but this is the first one I have read by Sarah. Caught Up in a Story was delightful and helpful. It made me sad about many of the wonderful stories (and experiences) I missed as a child, but it was encouraging and challenging to me as mother of what I want to provide for my own children's reading (and imaginative) experiences. I highly recommend this for parents wanting to know about what their children should read. It is more than a list.

The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater
This has been one of the most helpful Charlotte Mason books I have read so far. It gave me many answers for some of the how-to's and how-does-it-look questions I have had. At some point, I will be purchasing this for my own library.

Anchored by Kayla Aimee
My mom sent this book to me, and a friend had offered to loan me her copy. It is about Kayla's experience as  NICU mom. Her daughter was born at twenty-six weeks, and she spent several months in the NICU. Kayla shares about her experiences and struggles, but there is also humor in this book. I found myself going from crying to laughing within the same chapter.  Though my boys were just in the NICU for seven weeks and two weeks, I related so much to her experience, not just as a NICU mom, but in my newer journey as a special needs mom.

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
I actually read this book in late spring, but somehow it didn't make the list in previous months.  A great, informative, but easy read on how to study the Bible.  If you don't know what to do or how to start actually digging into the Word for yourself, get this book. Much of it I knew from classes I took in college or other studies I have done, but I took a lot of notes from Jen's book. Also, it was nice to have a book for women without flowers or princess themes - instead it was content without fluff that some authors think appeal to women.  Even if you are a man, I would recommend this book to you for how to dig into the Bible. 

Favorite children's book of mine this summer:
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
A group of children use their imagination to build a town out of boxes, rocks, and other items.  I don't know how I haven't read this book before. It brought back happy, though different, memories of the games played in my own neighborhood growing up. I cried at the end of this story. Bubby wondered why. I couldn't explain. Read it and perhaps you will see why I cried.   Bonus: It takes place in Yuma, Arizona, where I lived for two years.

Books I started reading but had to return to the library before I finished: Living Well, Spending Less; Wearing God; and Undone: a story of making peace with an unexpected life

Sunday, August 2, 2015

living fully alive - the back to school edition

It's Sunday night, and I do not have the Sunday night blues.  Our first week of homeschooling for the new school year went well, and I am as ready as I think I can be for week number two.  I know homeschooling isn't for everybody, but I am loving what I am doing this year. I love the curriculum I have/am piecing together for both boys. I love using living books. Bubby is excited about learning history and geography this year. I am pleased with how well his first attempts at narrating (summarizing) have gone. Bugaboo is joining in for many parts of our day in addition to the part of the day set aside for his own learning and therapy homework. I am tired, but I am content.

The only hard part for Bubby and me is handwriting. I hate teaching it. He doesn't like doing it. Handwriting is over-rated. (There, I said it.) Also, there is glitter all over my house from Bugaboo's preschool art. He already has done more hands-on activities in five days at home than he did in two and a half months in his special education preschool last year. (Yep, I said that, too.) Even with the glitter that is still appearing in random places around the house, I say that last week was a wonderful week.

St. Irenaeus said, "The glory of God is man fully alive." I feel fully alive in my current roles.

I have friends who make beautiful cakes and cards and quilts. I have friends who run marathons and balance budgets for large companies.  I have friends who preach and teach and advise and heal.  I am amazed by all of their gifts, most of them which I do not possess.   Thankfully, August reminds me what my gifts are. It always has, and it hopefully always will.

I miss the regular classroom a little bit. Mostly I miss the interaction with other adults and the feeling of making a difference in the lives of students.  The other parts that I miss - the planning and organizing and teaching - I still get to do, and I get to be the one in charge of it, rather than an administrator, publishing company or government bureaucracy.  In the 21st century sometimes it is not admirable to say that one loves being a mom, especially that one loves being a homeschooling mom. But I love it. This isn't about mommy-wars. This is about what my calling is, and I firmly believe that this is my calling for this season in our family's life. It comes with sacrifice, just like any callings do. Yet, it doesn't feel like a hard sacrifice when I'm doing what I love.

Find what you love to do, what you are called to do in this season, and pursue it. Don't worry so much about what others think. Make the most of your gifts and live fully alive.

Happy Back to School season!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I don't often remember my dreams, but the other night I had two vivid ones.  In the first, I was moving across campus of my alma mater to a northside dorm. I was hauling my pillow and other things down the sidewalk. While doing this I was bit by a raccoon, which refused to let go.  I was not hurt or scared by this in my dream, but rather annoyed.  Bizarre.

The other dream was not bizarre, rather, it was beautiful.

I was outside somewhere with Bug and he was jumping. He was effortlessly jumping on the sidewalk, with feet clearly above the ground in perfect preschooler jumping form. He was smiling and having a wonderful time. In my dream I remember thinking, "He is jumping!" amazed at this new skill, and then simultaneously in my dream I was thinking this was how it always had been.  I woke up in the morning vaguely remembering the jumping dream, but vividly remembering that stupid raccoon.

But then I was working with Bugaboo on the therapy ball and the stepstool, and my dream came rushing back to me.My child who cannot jump, even though he's been working on it for such a long time, had been delighted to jump in my dream.  He was beautiful and free and unhindered by cerebral palsy and autism.

I do not know what to do with that dream which on one hand brought me such joy, but now in the daylight makes me weep.  Someday Bug will run and jump and play in all the ways we were designed to because someday we will live in a land of no disease or sadness or sin. And it will be glorious.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Our life in smartphone pictures (weeks 27 -?)

This is how the MacB family spent their summer vacation (via smartphone pictures):

We went to Silver Dollar City and learned that I cannot handle spinning rides at all any more.  Here is our last family teacup ride selfie.

At Dream Night at the zoo, the boys got to meet some StarWars characters.  They also were able to pet some creepy animals, and I managed to help Bugaboo pet things that I normally would avoid.

The boys went to Illinois for a few days, so The Hubs and I actually got a couple of date nights in.

Here's Bubby and Bugaboo enjoying the best ice cream ever - which happens to be in my hometown.

We discovered the awesomeness that is corn on the cob grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Bubby and I took turns being sick for a big part of the month of July. It also rained quite a bit, so we had to find indoor activities.  Here is one of them:

Our third year going to our local 4th of July parade.

Took the boys roller skating with our co-op. It was Bubby's second time (though it has been a few years) and Bug's first time.  Bug did not enjoy it at all, but we tried! Bubby started getting the hang of it, especially on the carpeted areas.

 Bubby went to a soccer camp and a basketball camp here in town. At soccer camp he earned the "Most Christlike" award. I'm not sure if it is Christlike for me to be proud of him for that, but I hope it is.

The boys went to two VBS programs this summer. It was Bug's first time to go to one that wasn't at our church, and it was also his first time being out of the nursery VBS program at our church. He did well at both programs, and I am so thankful for the volunteers who made it possible for him to attend. I am also worn out from teaching third and fourth graders this week. Hard to believe I used to teach fourth graders all day every day.

Bubby starts first grade in a little over a week. So even though there is still a month left of summer, we are getting started with our modified year-round schedule. Looking forward to the weeks ahead of us!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Some thoughts on my word for 2015 - hope

My word for 2015 is hope. I haven't written much about this word because I haven't been sure why it is my word this year. Am I going to be given renewed hope? Am I supposed to look for hope? Keep hoping? And for what am I allowed to hope?

Hope is a scary thing for me because many things for which I have hoped have not happened. People change, diagnosis remain unchanged, situations disappoint, and I am left frustrated and confused. Yet my word for the year is hope.

It stands out these days when I read it in a verse, hear it in a song, or notice it as a theme. But I don't feel like I personally grasp it. Some days hope feels like sand, slipping between my fingers as I try to hold onto it.

A number of years ago, a Christian counselor told me to "fake it till you make it." It was some of the worst advice I've ever received. What happens when you fake it and you don't make it? What happens when you try so hard to be what people need you to be and it destroys your heart and soul in the process? Isn't honestly the best policy? Wouldn't it be less destructive to say, I cannot be what you want me to be at this time or maybe ever, and deal with the consequences of that mess rather than realize months later that you were wrong. That you can't handle the emotional and spiritual pain of a situation, so you will not be faking anything, even to keep the peace (which in itself is fake peace)? The fake it till you make it philosophy felt hopeless because I never ended up making it.

When it rains or it shines on this pillow of mine
I will lift up my head to the sky
So I have chance to see where my hope has come from
Know there's nothing that I can't abide

When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
Hold my hand
(Jennifer Knapp)

Somewhere in the Bible it says hope does not disappoint. I've been pretty disappointed by hoping in my life. Hoping for it not to be a miscarriage.  Hoping for my dad not to leave. Hoping for the diagnosis to be wrong. Hoping for people to do the right thing. Hoping to not be erased and replaced. All that hoping has only disappointed me.

But tonight I realized that's not the Hope that does not disappoint. People disappoint. Bodies disappoint. Circumstances disappoint. Relationships disappoint. But Hope does not disappoint because my hope is not about the temporary (and still very painful) situations. The hope that does not disappoint is the "hope of salvation." Romans 5 goes on to say, "And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners." (v.5-7 NLT)

Without Jesus, my dad will never change. Nothing anyone can do will turn him into the person he should be. It is hopeless, and no amount of pretending can make it better. I can't make people want me to be in their family, and that feels pretty hopeless if I dwell on that.

But my hope isn't in a relationship with my dad. My identity isn't found in his acceptance or rejection of me as his child. There is hope for a hopeless me, and it isn't in circumstances but in salvation. I can have hope this year because I have been accepted by the author of Hope.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What I Read in May

We are a week into June, and I'm just now blogging about what I read in May. I am also using our iPad to type this, so there will probably be typos. Consider yourself warned.

Consider this : Charlotte Mason and the classical tradition by Karen Glass. -  I have beenreading about   Charlotte Mason and her methods for over a year now, perhaps close to two years. I was hoping for something more from this book. I found it a bit dry, although if you are looking to understand why the CM method is classical education, this book would be helpful. A lot of interesting points, but it won't be one I purchase. It did solidify my belief that the CM method is one of the best educational philosophies out there - when implemented correctly. 

The mingling of souls : God's design for love, marriage, sex & redemption by Matt Chandler with Jared C. Wilson.  I would recommend this book to high schoolers, college students, and those who are single, dating or engaged. Half of the book is geared toward the pre-marriage phase. Chandler refers to Tommy Nelson's The Book of Romance quite a bit.  I read that one in college and it is very good. I liked Chandler's book but found it very similar to Nelson's, if memory is serving me well. I like Chandler's preaching, so perhaps I was hoping for more. If you are married and can on,y read one marriage book this year, read Francjs Chan's instead. But if you have time for two, this one is a pretty good one. 

A day no pigs would die by Robert Newton Peck..  - I'm trying to read some children's lit that I haven't before. This book was well written, but depressing. It was on a must-read list from a source I trust, but it was just so-so in my opinion. It won't be on Bubby's required reading list in his upper elementary years. 

Scary Close - Donald Miller - I think I actually finished this in April and forgot to write about it. I read Miller's Blue Like Jazz like everyone lead about a decade ago, but if don't think I've rad anything else by him. His theology is different than mine, but some of his thoughts on boundaries and people who have hurt you made a lot of sense to me. This isn't a book that was very memorable to me overall though. 

The Gospel-Centered Woman by Wendy Alsup - A friend let me borrow this book as I am wrestling with some theological issues and questions regarding women. Honestly, I thought I didn't want to read this book (because I'm reading another one of similar topics by a different author that I want to throw across the room half of the time because she doesn't seem to wrestle with the questions I have.) But this book was so good and not what i expected. First of all it wasn't pink. (Finally a Christian woman's book without pink or princess themes!) This book is about  understanding my identity because of the gospel. I even appreciated her thoughts on the Proverbs 31 woman (and any discussion of that woman usually puts me in fight or flight mode).  Alsup is a complementarian, but even if you are not there is a lot more to this book than that issue. One of my favorite quotes from her book, "Godliness with contentment does not mean pulling yourself up from your bootstraps. If the phrase fills you euthanized guilt, you are missing the entire point. The gospel does not obligate you to contentment. It equips you for contentment. That battle with your sin, the temptation to gossip, anger with your children, church conflict, failing marriages, suffering, death- the gospel equips you to do battle with sin and suffering with the very same power that raised Christ from the dead."

I need some great fiction for the summer. I have a list of suggestions I refer to when I remember, but I'm always looking for more ideas.