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Showing posts from August, 2020

Riding the Rails

If God is a magnet, I have the opposite attraction. It's in my nature. I am naturally repelled by that all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present being who desires me, not to consume me but to dwell within and be king there.And although I have confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I now have opposite magnetic poles within me: a repulsion of God, which is the old life, and an attraction to God, which is the life of the spirit.Or think of it another way.  My life is like a bowling ball pitched down the lane towards the pin deck where I'm expected to get a strike. But I was thrown askew and there is absolutely no way I'm going to stay in my lane. I will be in the gutter long before I'm even close to the pins. But, since my faith in Christ, God has set up the bumpers so that now this wayward ball goes bumping down the rails to where Christ has already knocked over the pins scoring a perfect 300 for me. The correct…

Love Thy Neighbor

"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-39 NASB)
To love thy neighbor as thyself
Because it's the nice thing to do,
The unselfish thing,
Because we ought, Because we can't do otherwise With God's law woven  Into the very fabric of our hearts, Echoing God's yes and no, Right and wrong. (Rm 2:15 MSG) And if we don't at least try Our conscience will accuse us
Or our conflicting thoughts  Will try to excuse us. (Rm 2:15 ESV)

"Well, I gave it my best shot;
I followed regulations;
I wore my mask;
I kept my distance.
No one can say that I didn't
Love my neighbor as myself
Or that I somehow interfered with his good,
Even though I don't know what his good is,
Nor what God is doing in him, Nor what he most needs right now. But I think I do" For the heart is deceitful  And desperat…

Completing the Argument Cycle

A few weeks ago Phil's cousin, Heidi Dehart, explained an argument cycle to me, and I'm finding it so helpful that I'm writing it here. Who knows? Maybe it'll help other parents.The argument cycle begins with a disagreement. Big brother found little sister's fake jewelry laying on the couch, and he took them. She begins to scream. (By the way, my kids are 8 and 6.)Usually at this point I interrupt because screaming is unpleasant and not the way to discuss a problem. But interrupting an argument at this early stage, robs my children of an opportunity for them to work through their emotions, listen to one another, come to an agreement, and make amends. I have found that when I interrupt, they rarely listen to me because they're too mad, and the anger that was previously directed at the brother or sister gets transferred to me. The trick is to only interrupt the cycle if we believe their argument will permanently damage personal property or their relationship. Th…

The Spirits Behind the Bad Attitudes

What if some of the demons cast out at the time of Christ found their foothold in people's hearts through a particular weakness? I mean a spirit bent on a particular sin, or, what we might call now-a-days, a bad attitude.What if those attitudes, those inclinations brought about by our own insecurities, can become the foothold upon which the devil enters and becomes within us an evil spirit, a spirit that consumes us like too much drink or imbalanced hormones, poisoning every thought and desire, word and action.How dare those people make that sort of mistake—a spirit of wrath.Only I know what is best for these people—a spirit of pride.I'll show them only what I want them to see—a spirit of deceit.If they had what I had, they wouldn't be so happy, and if I had what they had, I would—a spirit of envy.If I give of myself, I won't have enough for me—a spirit of greed.I can't decide; someone else must do it for me—a spirit of fear.I need this to keep me safe from tomorro…

How Much The Children Cost

Window screens bent in and the latches lost in the Clivia below . . . an escape route.The balusters jostled loose on the outdoor handrails . . . weeks of sliding down the banister.A half-dollar-sized gouge in the drywall . . . the beginnings of a tunnel from bedroom to bath.A hairline crack across the porcelain pedestal sink . . . a monkey-branch? a climbing step? How did that come to be?A curl in the laminate, peeled back a great length down the kitchen cabinet . . . an enticing experiment.A watermelon-sized balloon hooked up to the faucet in the bathroom sink with the water left on . . . an explosive thrill.Chunks of dried mud stuck 14 feet up the stucco on the back apartment building . . . target practice.The slashes in the armrests of two new sofa chairs . . . a table for a cutting craft.The green fruit picked from the navel orange tree long before their time . . . harvesting lessons.A chunk of plastic broken off the shroud of the lamp's socket . . . gymnastics and climbing.An…

Book Review: A Survivor's Guide to Home Schooling

I don't care how old this book is (published 1988), it has such delightfully practical words for parents of both home and online schooled children alike. In fact, I'd like to recommend this book to every mom who is stuck in quarantine with kids. After all, everyone needs to know how to talk to relatives who don't agree with our decisions, how to make decisions and stay flexible, how to discipline well, how to view cleaning, cooking, and laundry realistically, how to understand the limited abilities of our kids, how to put the most important things first, and yes, how to teach our kids stuff. Am I allowed to give a book kudos if one of the authors is my husband's aunt? Oh, well. Here it is anyways.The thing I like most about this book is that it's all straight talk. It's not full of whimsical tra-la-la about the idyllic life of homeschooling. And it's not full of a bunch of over-educated technical blather. This was written by a mom of seven kids who at one po…

My Home Schooling Reminders For This Year

No one's education was totally destroyed in a year.No activity or assignment absolutely MUST get done today!How I teach is more important than what I teach. And loving God is more important than telling my kids to love God.Spending money for little tricks, baby sitters, and reward-snacks is totally acceptable.Make a plan. But then be ready to change the plan.Even if I taught nothing, the children were learning. Teaching my children to care for their baby brother, to wipe the toilet, and pick up their things are legitimate lessons.Experimentation seems wasteful. It probably is, but the Lord is also okay with "wasting" trees and water and day light hours on me.I don't have to strictly follow any curriculum or advice.I am trying to do the jobs of many people. Pick the moment's most important occupation and do that. Don't do multiple jobs at once.Don't do it alone. Be in community. Hear other's stories. If something isn't work, talk the problem out wi…

You Don't Have To Do That Anymore

Occasionally in the morning before the sun comes up, I manage to dress and eat without waking anyone. Then I, with my tea in hand, flit from one idea to the next. Should I write my blessings in my journal? Should I read something in the Bible? Should I fix the lamp or scrub jam off the counter? Should I pray for something exceptional to happen today? How can I best use these precious moments?It's as if I have been given one golden token to insert into the slot machine before the children wake up, and if I choose wisely, I may win a small allotment of peace or contentment or strength before the day starts. It's a fumbling sort of game, a desperate sort of game, perhaps even a demanding sort of game . . . unless I remember that I don't have to do that anymore. I don't have to get something quick before it's too late. I have all I need already.The pre-lunch preparations are fraught with whining because that's when I assign one child to set the table and the other …

If Our Lives Didn't Revolve Around COVID-19 . . .

If our lives didn't revolve around COVID-19, we would feel compassion for certain friends instead of annoyance or anger or impatience.If our lives weren't dictated by COVID-19, we wouldn't fearfully contemplate viral droplets after an unplanned visit with people outside our regular circles.If our lives weren't so swayed by COVID-19, we wouldn't formulate rebuttal arguments hours after others had foisted questionable news upon us.If our happiness wasn't based on COVID-19, we wouldn't begrudge the authorities whenever we submitted to their ordinances.If our moods weren't controlled by COVID-19, we wouldn't feel the need to vent pent-up opinions about other's contradictory thought patterns. If our opinions about ourselves weren't so altered by COVID-19, we wouldn't be afraid to ask others to hang out even if they'd most likely say no.If our self-confidence operated apart from COVID-19, we wouldn't have trouble asking others for help…

Enneagram 4's: Clinging to the Drowning

You did not love me Like I wanted.Listening without interrupting,Asking without teaching,Seeking my heart without blinding meWith yours.
I was hoping for understanding,Deep and rich as a five-course meal.I was hoping for companionshipIn tracing my heart's wanderings.I was hoping for curiosityIn exploring the unknown.And I was hoping for acceptanceRegardless of what was found.
But you didn't give me what I neededSo desperately,Like water in a desertLike a buoy when drowning. I was drowning,And it took clinging to you To realize you were drowning too.
I see now that we are the same—Bearing different burdensAnd straining different musclesBut floundering in the same violent sea.And as long as we cast about untetheredThe struggle will merely exasperate you and me.
O when did I let go of that tether,Which round my waist had been tied?When did I start clinging to youHoping you’d keep me safe and alive?I release you from holding me up,I recall now that you can't.I confess I was seeking…

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (A Mother's Version)

If I speak in a calm and rational tone, but do not have love, I am like those obnoxious educational talking toys that speak in annoyingly cheerful voices while I'm trying to think. If I have the gift of poetry and can fathom all sorts of insights into my and my children's hearts, and if I have the oomph to get a myriad of things done, but do not love, I am pointless. If I give all I possess to my children and give over my rest and my personal hygiene and all the hours of my day so that no one can say that I didn't give it my all, but do not have love, I have earned myself nothing.

Love can sit through the first-grader's painstakingly-slow reading of Green Eggs and Ham, love is kind enough to ignore those questions that she knows she won't be able to answer without bombastically venting all her pent-up anger. It does not envy all the other moms who also don't post their messy moments on facebook, it does not boast about all the vegetables her kids eat or the book…

Library Finds: Great Books for Everyone

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry: I cannot think of when I have laughed more. Perhaps with The Princess Bride, the book. A great read-aloud book about four children who are trying to get rid of their parents while their parents are trying to get rid of them. The glossary and bibliography at the end are just as hilarious to read as the story itself. For ages 8-12 (Book Rating: 10)

A Single Shardby Linda Sue Park: A 2002 Newberry Book award winner and a beautifully written story about an orphan in 12-century Korea who becomes an apprentice to a gruff potter. I appreciated this book's realistic portrayal of the time period and the making of ceramics. Rather sad, thought provoking, and educational. For ages 8-12. (Book Rating: 8)

Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt: A 1967 Newberry Award winning book about a girl who goes to live with her strict aunt for ten years. I thought Hunt did a superb job portraying believable characters and emotions through the first-person narrative of her protagonist…