This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I Saw Big Don

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.

Running through Wal-Mart trying to remember the odd things on my list I came to a standstill and then had to hurry down the next empty aisle to wipe away the tears because I saw a man who reminded me of Big Don. I don’t see Elaine in many places or many faces, but I have seen Don on occasion and it takes my breath away. Well actually I have seen men who resembled Big Don. You see, Big Don and Elaine have passed away and it’s been awhile.

We lost Don a little over four years ago to pancreatic cancer. It was hard and fast and was unbelievable. And then less than a year later Elaine had a stroke and she was gone within the year.

I miss them still.

Don was a mountain of a man up until the cancer ate away at him. He could hold one child in each arm, high above the crowd and I never saw a child unhappy there. He was a Pied Piper with children, they would flock to him and he held so many fussy babies during church services, I don’t think there is a count to how many. He would stop and help someone in need, he gave his time, his money, his love and his favorite thing to share was his faith. He was a simple man, Elaine told me once he needed to get up by five to get on the road to work before six. But Don got up at four so he could spend an hour with the LORD and read his Bible…he didn’t want to rush through it. He didn’t think he read all that well and he wanted to get each word. Each word. And I don’t doubt that he did.

Where Don was a teddy bear, Elaine was more of a prickly pear…with a soft, soft inside. She was a good hostess in their modest home. I never felt nervous as a mother of young children when I would have the boys to visit there. She had a cookie and a Pepsi or something she had made. There was never a stranger there. She was a rock through all of Don’s illness and then when she was ill, I wondered who would be her rock. She missed him and she longed for home, the real home, and even when she was wheelchair bound and had difficulty with everything, she took the time to write out, “God is good.” That was her message until the day she died.

Don and Elaine were a second set of parents to my DCG, they were an extra set of grandparents to my sons. They took the boys and I to the boys' first dinosaur museum and got them a private guided tour—well, okay, their son worked there. But still…that was one of the most beautiful days I can remember. When DCG was working nine hours away they came and took the boys and I out to dinner—I was without a car, they took me to church and made sure I didn’t feel alone.

The fanciest thing they owned was a Gold Wing motorcycle and they determined to use it only to spread God’s Word. They were Christian Motorcycle Association members. They traveled across the state to carry the Message.

Elaine had an e-mail ministry, and a card sending ministry and she cared for people in need. If you knew her very well you knew she was very insecure about herself. But in truth she was a smart lady and a wonderful role model of a wife and mother.

Don was never afraid to hug someone or shed a tear when moved by the LORD. He was one of the first men I ever saw go forward to the altar to pray. When Don hugged you, you knew you were hugged.

The number of people they touched isn’t able to be measured and their funerals were like none I had ever been too.

I am sure they are home and they are happy, but down here in the worry of the world, they are often missed.

Elaine’s Cabbage Salad
(This was the salad she brought to every potluck at church, I think.)

1 3-oz pkg chicken ramen noodles
6 c shredded cabbage (bok choy works well)
4 green onions
½ c toasted sunflower seeds
½ c sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
Tablespoon sugar

Crush ramen noodles and combine w/sunflower seeds and almonds. In a skillet add butter, sugar and ramen and seeds and nuts, brown lightly. Chop cabbage and green onions add noodle mixture and toss. Whisk dressing ingredients and pour over vegetable and ramen mixture and toss again.

½ c vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1pkg seasoning packet from ramen noodles

Friday, February 16, 2007

Exodus 20

1And God spoke all these words, saying:

2"I am the LORD thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

4"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I, the LORD thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me,

6and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.

7"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.

8"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work;

10but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

12"Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

13"Thou shalt not kill.

14"Thou shalt not commit adultery.

15"Thou shalt not steal.

16"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

17"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

18And all the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off.

19And they said unto Moses, "Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die."

20And Moses said unto the people, "Fear not; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not."

21And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
22And the LORD said unto Moses, "Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel: `Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

23Ye shall not make with Me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

24An altar of earth thou shalt make unto Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings and thy peace offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen. In all places where I record My name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

25And if thou wilt make Me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

26Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered thereon.'

Thursday, February 15, 2007

20 Questions

Twenty Questions again! And it's all about you.

I found this at Amy’s Random Thoughts and borrowed it. Thanks Amy! Anyone’s welcome to play!

1. When you buy a greetings card are the words or the picture more important to you?
I make my own & therefore EVERYTHING is important. Don’t I sound like a snob??
2. What's your favorite kind of cake?
Cheesecake of any flavor.
3. Do you ever make gifts for people, if so what, or do you buy them?
I've made ornaments, afghans, scarves, blankets and sometimes I bake. And I make cards!
4. What's your favorite holiday?
Passover (But if you ask which I make the biggest mess over…now that would be Christmas. Figure that out.)
5. Are you going on holiday this year? If so, where?

To the county fair to see my niece show in her first horse show.
6.What was the best party you've ever been to?
I really don’t like parties. I avoid them if I can and it’s been years since I’ve really enjoyed one. I’m kind of a hermit and like one on one or couple get togethers.
7. If you are married, describe your wedding. If not, what would your ideal wedding be like?
Outside a friend’s lake house on the deck. Less than 50 people. Sister made the dresses. Mom made the cake. Dad (and Mom) catered the food. Fall, simple, affordable, sweet, memorable.
I got my veil caught in the rain gutter.

8. What's the most romantic thing that's ever happened to you?
My husband still loves me. Warts, weight, idiosyncrasies and all.
9. What's your favorite romantic song?
I Cross My Heart—George Strait
10. Which celebrity would you like a dream date with?
Don’t need one…like my DCG
11. Which female celebrity do you find beautiful?
Madeleine Stowe
12. Which male celebrity do you think is attractive?
Sean Connery
13. If you could be a fictional character from a book who would you choose?
14. If you could be in a television sit-com, which would you choose?
Happy Days
15. Which character would you like to be?
Marion—“Sit on it, Howard!”
16. What's your favorite girl's name?
Ariana or Isabeau
17. What's your favorite boy's name?
Noah (after of course the two names my boys have, which I’m not sharing.)
18. What's your supermarket of choice?

19. What is your best character trait?
20. What is your worst habit?
Being compulsive

If you read to the end, feel free to grab it & participate too. Let me know if you do!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Unrelated Reading

Gradually, night stumbled as if stunned and wandering aimlessly into an overcast day—limped through the wilderland of transition as though there were no knowing where the waste of darkness ended and the ashes of light began. The low clouds seemed full of grief—tense and uneasy with accumulated woe—and yet affectless, unable to rain, as if the air clenched itself too hard for tears. –Stephen Donaldson Lord Foul’s Bane—the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

At the end of last year I was attempting to read four or five books at a time. Now I am capable of doing that. If that is the only thing I need to do. But these short people at this house keep insisting they need food. And clothing. And transportation. What’s up with that?

So one of my resolutions (you know, a manageable one) was to keep no more than two books going at a time. But I’ve come upon two that have me stalled. They are totally unrelated other than they were both on my recommended reading list. The first book has been recommended by my sister and many other homeschool moms. It is The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. The second was recommended to my by a dear friend and my husband within the same week. Oddly enough neither had read it for years. It is Lord Foul’s Bane—the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.

The Practice of the Presence of God sounded like such a good, life changing book. The premise of the book had been explained to me long ago. Brother Lawrence, a monk, kept a constant rapport with God. He prayed and praised not only during set aside prayer time but also while at menial chores. I heard about that and purposed to do the same thing. I’ve found that it is sometimes in the smallest, meanest chores that I have felt the closest to God.

But reading the book has been somewhat of a struggle. I am pretty sure the problem is me. Brother Lawrence has the seventeenth century motto of Nike—“Just Do It.” It is a simple formula. Your mind strays, you just redirect it. You just keep moving forward, one step at a time. I want to shout because I am so frustrated. I don’t think Brother Lawrence had two young boys giving accounts of the imaginary land of Whozitwhatsits complete with shouts of victorious Whachmacallits fighting. I don’t think he had the phone ringing, the dog begging to go pee and the neighbor girl wanting to sell me magazine subscriptions. To help a school I already have paid taxes for. I just don’t think he did. So what do I do with Brother Lawrence? He makes me feel that one of us is being simple. Sigh. Yes, I am sure it is me. I see where as a country (and individually) we are drowning in our excess. We have too much to distract us from Jesus. We cannot focus for all of our previous choices. And when I say we, the finger is pointing at me. It just makes me feel less alone to think I might not be the only one.

I am pressing on. Knowing Brother Lawrence is right. And I am distracted. And I need to practice God’s presence. A lot.

The second book, a fantasy, first book in a series, didn’t grab me at first. Thomas Covenant is a leper who has lost life—his life—because of his disease. It is at the scene of an impending accident that he is transported to another world where he seems to be expected to be a hero (don’t worry, I haven’t gotten far enough to really give a good spoiler). Definitely a unique twist, but I allowed myself to be led there.

In the second world, while his health appears to be improving, it is his mind he worried about losing.

Stephen Donaldson is a beautiful writer. He is a wordsmith. I have read and re-read paragraphs just for the sheer beauty of the words. But his wonderful words paint an aching picture. I kept feeling related to Thomas Covenant. Why was I feeling related to a leper? Slowly I am coming to see the metaphor that is this character. He is an outcast. He is locked out of society. He is different. His disease is unlovable. He is grasping to hold onto not just his physical, but also his mental health. He makes his way through both worlds one step at a time. He keeps moving. He does the next thing presented to him. And how many days have I felt like that? I don’t know, maybe my struggle with Covenant is that I have identified with him a little too much and if he fails, see a prophecy for myself. Yes, yes…over analyzing a bit much there. But when you suspend disbelief that happens.

What I feel I am getting from both books is a message to focus on the now. Walk to joy one step at a time. Even though our difficulties as a family have been minor compared to some, this is the first time in my life I have really questioned God. I have had difficulty finding praise. I haven’t had music on for me in the house for a few months. I’ve never felt like this before. Now know, I don’t question God’s existence, I don’t question He is right. I am just confused as to the whys and wherefores. It comes down to something I have said before. “The problem is not with God, but with me.” But it’s just a different problem and, like Thomas Covenant, I feel stranded in a different land. Hopefully I can hang on to Brother Lawrence’s arm and fall in step and refocus. Hopefully Thomas Covenant and I will come through the impending battle.

O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy presence; and to this end do Thou prosper me with Thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections. –Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Why We Homeschool the Way We Do--

Journey and Curriculum Choices
A Meandering and Musing

Part Four—what you would see at our house these days.
(Part One, Part Two, Part Three)
Today…Boo can read quite well. He is pleased when he does his math worksheet. But it can’t be long and repetitive. And it doesn’t need to be. For him.

Roo is five years away from fourteen but I don’t think he’ll be heading to college anytime soon.

If you looked at our day you would see we are at the same time very musically and artistically oriented and very technology oriented. We love reading and own lots of books. Our boys play the piano, they dance, they write their own stories by hand and on the computer, they create art, both techno art and traditional. They use the computer for learning and fun. And sometimes when they have fun they are learning.

As mentioned we’ve added what some see as an unusual choice for an extra curricular—ballet. Roo showed a desire and facility early on and we were fortunate to have access to an exceptional school for ballet. Boo, in traditional Boo form, declared he was having none of THAT. Which was fine with us. But after watching Roo during watch week and meeting the teacher, who may qualify for the sweetest young woman in the world (oh, and she’s a beautiful ballerina) Boo insisted at the last minute he WAS going to dance. Okeedoke.

My approach would be best described as relaxed an eclectic these days. I would love to totally unschool, but don’t see us as having enough drive to arrive at our goals. So we vary what we do. Right now we have a flexible schedule, we may do a unit study in few months and take a break and unschool for awhile after.

Because piano and dance take up a lot of our time I’ve made our schedule around those things for now. Piano is done totally at home so there is no down time or driving time. But we spend a lot of time on the piano. A lot.

Reading is important to me. We read every day Monday through Friday. We read aloud, we do Silent Sustained Reading, we read what is on our lists and things that happen to catch our attention. We have this new basketball class and it is on a dance day so we are out of the house for a long time that day. We still fit reading in. Piano takes a day off that day.

Workbooks are done for a very short time three days a week. I have a large collection and they cover a wide selection of studies. Boo has just a couple he works on. Roo has a different set for each of the three days. Each set has some form of math, some form of English and language arts a dab of history and a little science. These subjects are addressed in his reading time also. The workbooks are a nod to the yardstick traditionalists measure by. It is not a bad thing to measure. But I will not teach to a test or standard that is not ours.

I also believe we are, as a country, sleep deprived. DarlingCaveGeek and I also have strangely wired body clocks that function well later in the day. Did the boys acquire our habits genetically or just by association? I am not sure, but unless there is a pressing reason for rising early Roo and Boo are allowed to sleep until they are no longer tired. Now we do have the occasional bug run through the house, but I do believe that bodies not sleep deprived can fight off illness more effectively and much faster. And so far the theory seems to work for us. So you won’t see us shiny and scrubbed at the table at 7:30, chores done and doing our devotional. We sort of ease into our day.

We school using the computer, occasional field trips, using videos and television. For the first time in our journey we’ve joined a relaxed group of homeschoolers for our P.E. We are starting to school at the grocery store. I’m not counting that so much in the record-keeping, but it does become a natural progression. And time needs to be allowed for it. With some apprehension, I see that schooling is taking place in the car. It’s not the geography/map reading skills that worry me. It’s the, “Now when I start driving…” questions. But, hey! At least they are asking. And they are becoming quite the proficient backseat drivers.

What was my goal in writing this long, long, piece on our school and my philosophy? I think I have arrived at the belief that every parent should choose the best for their child within the framework of what is feasible in their lives. Not every one should homeschool. Homeschool may only last a season for some. Everyone who homeschools has a right to school the way they feel led to that is best for their children. It will not always look the same. Before someone accuses someone else of not “doing it right” the fruit of the family should be examined. I do not advocate abuse, but that is the exception, not the rule. That should never happen, but sadly it does.

I think for the most part we are over-legislated and people are trained to let others think for them. Many people really do believe that the school system today is what has always been in place. And it hasn’t and it isn’t perfect. But I know many beautiful teachers who do the best they can. And for some children it is a safer haven than home. That is sad.

My goal is to encourage people to pray, research and explore options for their families. To share resources and not judge but build up other families in their choices. To pray if you think someone could do better, offer only options and leave it be at that. I think school should be a joy. I think learning should be a joy and a delight and never end as we travel through this amazing world the Creator has graced us with.

Done now.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My Vision

Words attributed to Dallan Forgaill,
Translated from Irish to English by Mary E. Byrne
Verse formatted by Eleanor H. Hull. Music Slane
From Irish folk origin.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.