Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Papa, We LOVE You!

Papa came down last weekend and while he was here to see his dad, he stayed with us for a night. It was so good to be with him. He takes such good care of us (Nana too!). He is counting down the days until our vacation near Chatanooga when he gets to be with ALL of his kids!

The boys and "Papa" or "Grandpa Andy" to us.

While he was here, Andrew had his Daycamp closing program, so Papa went with us. I think he had a lot of fun reminiscing about his days as a scout. AJ was thrilled to have someone besides Mom taking pride in his activities. Notice how DIRTY that shirt is. I've washed it and it still doesn't look clean!

Top Ten Reasons I Want to Marry McGyver

The boys and I've been watching re-runs of my old favorites. I had forgotten how impressive this guy is . . . even more so than he is in Stargate SG-1. So here are my reasons:

  1. He's always a gentleman!
  2. Kiss goodbye to stressing over all the stuff breaking down around my house.
  3. He'd keep Stephen busy for hours with all the science stuff
  4. He knows about every country in the world--even the little ones!
  5. My spontaneous, impulsive nature would clearly not be a problem for him.
  6. He likes kids and can talk to them!
  7. I'd never have to worry about that tool I misplaced--he can use a pocket knife, twist ties, and paper clips!
  8. Oh, how I've missed that 80's hair cut!
  9. The never-a-dull-moment pace of my house wouldn't bother him.
  10. The boys would have someone to blow things up with!
The only thing that would have to go is that 80's synthesized music. What WAS it with that? Did people really like it?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Needing the Rock Today

So often I am made aware that I need a rock. I don’t know why I am still so thrown for a loop when I discover how unpredictable life is . . . and unpredictably hard. Big trials and little stresses are so common that they are . . . well . . . predictable, and yet they still catch me unaware. All of us live on a rough sea of raging waves. I am seasick, and I need a rock.

Rock of Ages cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
Let the waters and the blood
From Thy wounded side which flowed
Be for sin a double cure
Save from wrath and make me pure.

The thought of hiding in the crevice of a rock is warming to me—the security it affords is what my heart craves. Unlike a ship, caught unexpectedly on a wild sea in a storm, my raging sea is one of my own making. Daily . . . hourly, I am reminded of my duplicitous heart, driven by pride and selfishness. I am capable of every evil known to man. Even on my worst day, if I try I can feel God’s restraining power preventing me from being the worst I could be. I deserve judgment and death. I am ever conscious that I have no merit with which to enter His presence. And then . . . I remember the blood which washed me clean. I remember the righteous acts of Christ that were credited to me. I recall the continued cleansing of the water of the Holy Spirit. Justified and being sanctified. I can enter the presence of the Most High God.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill Thy laws demands
Could my zeal no respite know
Could my tears forever flow
All for sin could not atone
Thou must save, and Thou alone

Nothing. That is what I have to offer God which He needs. I watched the shock wash over the faces of some ladies in a Sunday School class when the lecturer on the CD reminded us that God really doesn’t need us for anything. We like to think He does. But the truth is, my work couldn’t save me. How could it possibly be required by Him to build a kingdom? There is also no catalyst that makes that work more effective so that it will be effective enough to save me or serve Him. I am aware often that I am unable to be pure in my motives, but even if I could be zealous enough in my devotion to God, it wouldn’t be enough. Neither could penitence make my works more acceptable to Him. Yet He longs for me to be a part of His work. So He saves. He saves me. I was dead and rotting . . . . He gave me life and made me useful.

Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling
Naked come to Thee for dress
Helpless look to Thee for grace
Foul I to the fountain fly
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Finally I realize it . . . again and again. I’ve tried to earn it again. I’ve tried to pay Him back. I’ve tried to prove my worthiness to Him. And I’ve failed . . . again and again. There I stand again, just like I did the day He saved me the first time, with nothing to offer. I grab hold of the Gospel, and for a moment cling with all my might. I watch for just a second as He again puts beautiful garments on me. For one minute, I am aware of my weakness—of my labored breathing, the fatigue of my spiritual muscles, the distraction of my mind, the fickleness of my affections. In that moment, I look to Him for help. And suddenly, His glory is blinding to me. And I glimpse others beholding it because He is using me, His weak and frail vessel, His lifeless tool now animated.

While I draw this fleeting breath
When my eyes shall close in death
When I soar to worlds unknown
See Thee on Thy judgment throne
Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Today I hide . . . again. Not out of hopelessness or self-loathing. I hide because the rock is safer and more predictable than the sea. Out there, I work and work, yet if I get anywhere I can’t even see my progress. Here I cannot see progress either, but I can see Him. And I know He isn’t going anywhere. I am safe. I can rest.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Review-Piecing Together the High School Puzzle

Homeschooling into high school is remnant to me of anticipating teaching my first son to read. I knew I knew how to read, I just didn't know where to begin in passing along that knowledge. High school is worse. I remember what things were like when I went to high school . . . but everything seems different now. One of my goals for the next year has been to begin training myself for the record-keeping required for high school. So I bought Piecing Together the High School Puzzle by my friend Joanne Mastrioncola to get an idea of what is going to be required.

This book is intended to be specific to Florida high school students, which is OK with me. It walks you through the different high school plans, how to keep records, where to find more information, and even what fun things are available for high school seniors (Didn't know that homeschool seniors could go to grad night!). It explains grade point averages, different kinds of tests, and how to apply for college and scholarships. The book also includes reproducible worksheets and samples for record keeping. It even has checklists of what needs to be done during the students junior and senior years!

This book was straight to the point, yet well-communicated. It comes in a binder, which is great for making copies of the reproducibles. Of course, I was pre-disposed to liking this book because I know that Joanne has a heart for helping others along in their homeschool journey.

After reading this book, I don't feel so intimidated now about homeschooling through high school, if that is what the Lord has planned for us. Now if I could just find a cheap way to keep all those records without putting much time into it . . . .

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Homeschooling the Challenging Child

Hooray!!! I've finished another book on my list. (Still have a lot of reading to do this summer.)

Homeschooling the Challenging Child, by Christine Field is an extremely helpful book for anyone who wonders if their homeschooled child might be facing some kind of behavioral or learning disabilities. Although the struggles my youngest two children face are mild, it was helpful to read this book, and the book itself gave me lots of ideas to try with him. It is a book full of encouragement when you begin to wonder if homeschooling a "special needs" child is worth it--when you wonder if they would be better off in school with a "professional." It is also full of helpful resource links, a walk-through on the process of having a special needs child evaluated, as well as many other thoughts and advice that Ms. Field learned through experience.

Although this book covers technical material, it is very readable.

Monday, June 02, 2008

My 888 Challenge

OK. I added Shelfari to my blog tonight, and in doing so reviewed my reading list for this year. Not doing so well. Sooo . . .

  • Less TV. I gotta turn that thing off.
  • Keep my list in front of me. Concentrate my reading on the books I've listed, even if it means changing the list a little as I go.
  • Carry it with me. Remember I have it.
Today is Monday. By the end of the week I want to have made progress on one I want to read aloud, and I want to have finished ONE of my books. (I'm close to finishing a couple of them.)

Next year I'm doing my 9-9-9 Diet List.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Life Lessons

One of the things I love about living life is the occasional peek it gives me into the divine. I have often pondered the relationship between faith and works. It almost boggles my mind sometimes to try to tease apart the motivation for works--that they shouldn't come from obligation or an attempt to earn God's love or favor, but out of love for Him and a desire to do what He delights in. Still . . . everything I know, the way the world I live in is so driven by what I do and what I earn . . . it is so hard to live without a works motivation.

This week I had just a peek into what pleases God. My best friend has been sick all week, but it steadily progressed until Thursday the decision was made that she just had to go to the doctor. She has six children, so doctors visits and the like have to be carefully planned and orchestrated, but there she was needing to go and needing to do it that very day. She knows I'm here for her, so she called and asked if I could take the kids for the afternoon. As we talked on the phone, it became afternoon and evening, because she hadn't slept much all week and I knew she needed time to rest. Then by the time she dropped them off, I had pretty much decided they should just stay the night, since both she and her husband really did need a good night's sleep. It was a decision I never even considered a burden. Her kids are so much fun, and I love them. I love her. And she and her husband have done so much for me that I wanted to do something for them.

It wasn't about paying them back. I didn't feel I owed it to them, nor did I feel I needed to earn a few favors for the next time I need help. It wasn't about obligation at all. My heart just wanted to do it. I trust them and love them, and I wanted them to have a tangible reminder of my love. Suddenly I realized that this is exactly the motivation God wants for my works. At great cost to Himself, He gave me salvation and reconciled me to Himself asking nothing on my part. My works should be done out of love for Him, with a desire that He see that love. No paybacks. No guilt or obligation. Just love. A relationship where we both desire to delight each other for no other reason than to delight each other.