Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Marathon of Thanks

Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Some long over-due thanks. This isn't all, but it's a start. More from the children tomorrow, when cooking isn't occupying our time.

~ Peter's had several opportunities for leadership, and he's doing me proud. He's a verse teacher at AWANA for the 3rd and 4th graders, and he's my assistant at Sunday school with the 4 year olds every other week. He prepares for and teaches the girls' science several times a week, including setting up and conducting the experiments once a week. The Lord's grace and blessing is shining upon my boy, I just know it!

~ Peter has also become a real worker, some days doing more honey-dos than he can count. He rather likes being my main assistant, since Daddy is gone so much. He's resembling a man more and more.

~ My boys are in that stage where they stop and really listen to my discipling, especially Paul, who is the better listener with the longer attention span. They especially love to talk about life and the Lord at night, when they're supposed to be falling asleep. :)

~ Dyslexia is scary for the parent/teacher to deal with, but I'm understanding it better all the time. When Mary would ask, after 3 years of trying to learn the teen numbers: "How do you write a 16 again?"--I would feel a serious wave of anxiety with even a tinge of nausea. How is it possible she doesn't know this yet? How will she ever get a job? What am I doing wrong? But now, I get it. Dyslexia is a problem with automaticity. They hesitate, think, then write--it doesn't mean they don't know it. They're just slower. I no longer panic (except when Beth asks me how to write a 10, which makes me wonder if she too will struggle).

~ Mary's reading speed and fluency are picking up! All About Reading Level 2 has been such a blessing for us. And Beth is excelling at Level 1 as well. This has been the year with the most curriculum changes. We just switched from Winston Grammar to Easy Grammar and that is working far better as well.

~ Sheila, our sponsor child from Uganda, is doing very well earning her required high school credits. Her writing amazes me; English is her best subject. Compassion kids don't typically graduate and think primarily of themselves and how they can maximize their own futures. Instead, they focus on giving back and making a success of the communities they started in. Their stories always inspire me to keep giving, and keep praying for Compassional International. Their work is just phenomenal. I pray Sheila will get into the Leadership Development Program Compassion runs, so her college fees and living expenses will be paid for while she attends higher education. I will keep mentioning this possibility to her.

~ We used to have just one older vehicle, which we shared. Then about 4 years ago my husband obtained a 24-year-old vehicle from a PA friend, whose mother has passed away and left it in poor body shape, but with relatively low miles. It was embarrassing to drive and of course as with all older cars, we had to put money into it, but it worked for us. Still, my husband didn't love driving such an ugly, old car, and he quietly prayed. He cleans a church where he is well-liked, and one of the employees, in her seventies, along with her husband, was obtaining a brand new vehicle and they decided to give our family their 2000 Toyota Sienna van for free. So for the first time we now drive two vehicle from the 21st Century--a 2003 Windstar van and a 2000 Toyota Sienna van. We have been car loan free since moving to Ohio from CA in 2005--a situation allowing me to be home with the children and homeschool. We used to have a Sienna van and we drove it to well over 200,000 miles before someone hit me and totaled it, leading to us getting the 2003 Windstar. This newer Sienna van has only 124,000 miles, so we'll likely have it another 100,000 miles or more. Yippee! The Lord is good!

~ I wrote over a week ago about hormones and migraines, and indicated I that was trying Naproxen this month post ovulation to day four of cycle, to try to prevent menstrual migraine (200 mg every 12 hours). Wow! What a difference. I highly recommend this for anyone struggling with menstrual migraine or PMS. Not only did this eliminate menstrual migraine, but it eliminated PMS and bloating as well. I only felt a tinge of nervousness a couple days before day 1 of cycle, which is a miracle. The NSAID inhibits the release of prostaglandins, the hormone leading to all the trouble. I'm not sure why Naproxen works better than ibuprofen, but possibly because it comes in a 12-hour dosing, ensuring that there are no break-through symptoms? The stubborn headaches I had were when I missed the dose by a few hours. (I write this all casually but this has been a many-years prayer request and I'm grateful for the opportunity to research the Internet, because my doctors haven't helped.)

Note: I should add that younger women would probably only need Naproxen 3 or 4 days before menses to 3 or 4 days into menses. My headache cycle is longer due to perimenopause. The idea is to prevent the onset of symptoms, so start the regimen just before you normally would become symptomatic, and continue through one day past the usual duration of symptoms.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends! Bless you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Forgiveness: The Fits and Starts

There's a picture on my fridge of my mother and step-father, and honestly, sometimes when I pass by there, I have to cover it up. Not a day goes by that I don't struggle with boundaries--with the neighbor kids and their problems, regarding church work, regarding almost any endeavor. I hate getting involved in endeavors that weren't worth my time, or that are worth my time, but end up stressing me and my family because I can't decide where the boundaries should fall. I hate constantly wondering how much of my efforts are from God, and how much from my dysfunction.

I hate that my children don't know a loving grandparent, and when I read picture books about grandparents, we all get a far off look in our eyes, and a tear in our hearts. It's always been that way.

I hate that when one of the kids wakes me up in the middle of the night, I can't get back to sleep because of stress--often caused by boundary confusion. I then think of my mother, her drinking, her denial, her making me the villain, and my step-father, her chief enabler, making me the villain.

And next, I experience an awful thing: a bitter heart. And I hurt for the millions in my position.

The picture of my mother is there as a reminder of the commandment to forgive: forgiveness is for God, and for me, and I must do it. I must look at the picture of the elderly, pretty woman, and imagine her as a young child, still incapable of hurting me. I must let go of the notion that I deserved better, and remember that somewhere along the line, she felt that same way. 

I must remember that each time one of us, as children of God, chooses something other than God to spend our allotted devotional time on, that God himself feels the same way...I deserve better.

One of the reasons we have Compassion children is that I believe children deserve to live in dignity. They deserve a childhood. I grieve for the child I once was, and for the childhood that never was. Like Miss L, our twelve year old neighbor, I was mature beyond my years. Life took the child right out of me, and the way I experience everyday life is different because of that.

There's no method to redo a loving, healthy family. We get one chance.

Forgiveness, I'm learning, is never done. Having a clean heart, one free of bitterness, is a life-long endeavor. Because I denied these issues for so long, I'm late in peeling away the layers. Maybe some day I'll be able to pass by that picture, which I will always keep there, and quickly transform the woman into the little girl, and have a genuine love for her. Someday maybe I'll never have to cover it again. I get there sometimes now, to a feeling like love, but then the roadblocks in my life that her choices set up hit me again and the love is gone.

Love is a journey--one we all must diligently continue.

In Christ, all things are new, but the fullness of our glory as Christians won't be here. The last layers of our pain won't be removed here.

I ask you, Jesus, to let your glory shine on my weakness, on my hurt. I offer it up; let it work for you here, and thank you that someday it will be no more. I will be as a child in your perfect arms.

I beg there to be a day my extended family claims you as Lord.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dear Diary: Thank you

I have a long overdue gratitude post to write. All I can say in defense is that it was a long summer and fall.

But first, I want to express some heartfelt thanks to you, out there, either those reading anonymously, or otherwise. It occurred to me today how much of a diary my blog truly is. This may seem strange, but I don't have people I actually see in real life read here. Or even people I know, other than the few people I've met through this blog and email with (currently 3 wonderful ladies). Most bloggers have their families and friends reading and commenting, but in my case, I truly write anonymously. All sorts of reasons make it comfortable to do so.

It would take a great deal of effort to write heartfelt content about what life and the Holy Spirit are teaching me, with an added burden of wondering who might be hurt by it and want to punch me the next time they see me. I don't want that responsibility--I'm not thick-skinned enough, and I'm not of the opinion that anonymous is shameful. And besides, I've given up all thought of ever being a writer.

Firstly, I want to be a very present mother and grandmother, and that wouldn't fit with attempting to write and market professionally (remember I hate social media, for one?). Writers are plentiful and many talented people have the time. And secondly, my spiritual understanding from the start of a post to the end of a post is often very different. I write to think, not to entertain or inform, though sometimes I try to share something helpful. Some people talk to think. Some ruminate in their heads.

But this is more than a diary because of you. You have been my support through the last five years, and I'm so very grateful. I have felt loved. No one has ever written me something mean, no matter how many times they might have been tempted. The Internet can hurt, but you, readers, have loved, in the absence of me having an extended loving family.

Thank you for being a blessing!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Father & Son Clash, Wife Resents Husband

I've already written my post for today, but I wanted to take this downtime opportunity to write a post I've contemplated writing for a long time. It has been delayed because the Lord had to work on sinful things in my heart before I could write with perspective.

I'll bet you've heard plenty of stories about fathers who allegedly treat their sons badly, and of wives who abhor their husbands because of it. Personally, I've never heard such stories about a father's relationship with a daughter.

What gives? Why is this such a hotbed issue in marriages? And why always over fathers and sons?

A woman we casually know divorced almost two years ago, mostly because of the way her husband treated their son. From her perspective, her husband didn't understand the son, he didn't try to nurture him, develop a bond, discover what was wonderful and unique about him. I can't say for sure, but she probably feared the dad was ruining the son, who was artsy, highly intelligent, and somewhat effeminate.

There were other marital issues, but this loomed largest. She complains about it to her girlfriends at work to this day. (She's an office worker in one of the buildings my husband cleans, and she used to be part of my now defunct homeschool group. I'd met her once back then).

Two years out from the divorce, does her son feel "rescued" from his "vastly inferior" father? No. He has a contentious relationship with his mother. Now 16 years old, he blames her for the divorce.

My husband and son have a contentious relationship. My husband has, if not bonafide ADHD, enough symptoms to make it pretty close. My 12-year-old son has moderate ADHD and OCD. These two are more alike than they'd like to admit and they clash. Neither sings the other's praises, and neither has much grace to offer the other.

My husband loves to read to the boys at night. In fact, it's how he contributes to our homeschooling effort. He does the read-alouds that go with their curriculum. If anything gets in the way of this time, my husband is disappointed.

However, it's also a challenging time because Peter, like most ADHD children, interrupts every 3 sentences or so to ask questions or make comments. My husband then, also having ADHD, has no patience for this; he has a short fuse. About every 5 minutes I hear, "Stop talking!" He doesn't have the discipline skills to come up with a strategy to get Peter to self-monitor, so every night it's the same thing. Neither learns from their mistakes, which is characteristic of ADHD.

When husband walks through the door at 7 PM every night, I look like I've been through an epic battle, and I have. I'm drained emotionally and I can barely manage a smile. Husband resents Peter for doing this to me. He can barely manage a hello for Peter, but for the other kids he does much more.

This disdain for Peter breaks my heart, and I think he should be capable of more grace than that. Peter didn't ask for a disorder that makes him question his salvation all day, or that makes him feel in deep sin if he brushed past my bra that was hanging to dry on the chart paper stand, or that makes him cringe as he sits next to his sister to teach her science.

He didn't ask for ADHD that makes him interrupt and have trouble sitting still at meals, and makes him follow me around and talk incessantly and ask for dogs incessantly. He didn't ask for a mind for which the grass is always greener on the other side because he can.  never. get. enough. stimulation.

Since the concussion that occurred in late August, both his ADHD and OCD are worse, but his academic status is back to normal. Just getting out of bed and doing it all again another day is challenging for Peter some days. My husband does get that I think, but if he gave it too much thought, he would get too mad at God.

You have an ideal picture in your mind of the father you want your husband to be, but remember, your son doesn't necessarily have that same image in his. Think of the story I relayed above. The woman's son wasn't complaining about his father. She was. When she divorced, the son wasn't mad at his father for upsetting his mother. He was mad at his mother for breaking up their family.

From the gossip in the office, it appears the son still isn't complaining about his father.

My own husband's father was far from stellar, but my husband spends two hours every two days on the phone with him, despite my husband working 54-hour weeks, on his feet doing custodial work. His dad is almost 92 and lives alone and needs these phone calls.

My husband bears his father no ill will, despite the fact that his father never said I love you to him, never once affirmed him, never asks about our kids, never even asks how my husband is, etc. The list is long of what this father never did for his son or with his son. (I should say there's some mental illness present.)

My point is, don't get in the way by forcing your ideal view of a father down your son's throat. The ideal father is just that...ideal. He exists, but mostly he will come out of a generational Christian home, or from the fruit of a long-standing discipleship relationship.

The other thing to remember is, what kind of dad did your husband have growing up? If you must judge his fathering, judge it based on the modeling he had, not on your ideal. Even if he's heard plenty of sermons on what a Christian father should be, it's hard to drop the patterns he grew up with.

My husband is an amazing father considering the lack of affirmation he grew up with. I am astounded at what the Lord has done! He comes home and never takes a minute to himself.

Yes, I wish he viewed children as a blessing and not as a stresser. Yes, I wish he didn't view his work as a relief from the stress of his children's problems. He and I view children differently, and that is one of the main things God has taught me. Read on to see what else I've learned.

What God has Shown Me:

~ It's not a triangle

We have to stop thinking of the problem as a triangle involving father, son, and mother. Instead, think of a vertical line image. Each of us is responsible to God for our relationships. I answer to God regarding my relationship with my husband, and my husband answers to God regarding his relationship with his son. If I make my husband answer to me regarding his relationship with his son, many things will go awry. That triangle reality is not biblical and we need to avoid it.

~ Don't Underestimate Your Son's Maturity

With you out of the way, your son will likely have the maturity to realize that yes, my dad has some issues, but all in all, he's a great guy. He'll love him, warts and all. As a tween or teen, your son will encounter some dads out there far worse than his own, and from that, some perspective will come. He may also encounter a few who seem better, and that's when your own maturity will come into play. Start building up his father in his eyes, if you haven't already done so. Learning to count our blessings always helps when the grass looks greener elsewhere.

~ Emphasis The Perfect Parent, Our Heavenly Father

My son and I have had conversations about his father, but not since the Lord has given me new perspective. I've explained that the lack of patience stems from his father's ADHD tendencies. Now, my conversations about parents focus on the fact that all earthly parents are flawed. We can never get it right. We can never love as perfectly as we'd unselfishly as we imagine we should. I ask that my children please look to their heavenly father for perfection, not to us.

I tell them that mommy and daddy get tired, frustrated, cranky and punchy. We say the wrong things, or the right things the wrong ways. Sometimes we fail to say things that need to be said. Sometimes as sinful as we parents are, we assume our children should be perfect and keep their rooms nice and be nice to each other and do school work without griping.

~ It Could Be Jealousy

Women tend to be devoted mothers, but not devoted wives once they become mothers. My husband misses me. He will miss me until the kids move out and he finally has me back. He loves his children, but they took me away, so in a sense, I think some men are jealous of their children (maybe more so of sons, because they have special relationships with mothers?).

If this might be the case, the answer is to concentrate on honoring and serving our husbands. I know energy is not limitless, but even making their favorite dessert, wearing their favorite bedtime thing, trying to go to bed at the same time they do once or twice a week...whatever. Doing one kind thing a week for them to start would make a difference.

God is a jealous God for his bride, The Church. The husband is jealous too for his bride.

~ Someday, The Children Will Be Gone

If you make your entire marriage about your husband's fathering skills, what will you do when the children are all gone and you and your husband hate each other, but don't believe in divorce? Nurture your marriage if for no other reason than that God expects you to live with this man forever. There is no way out, my Christian friend. I tell you, there are good things about the man sitting across from you. Find them out and give thanks for them.

~ Trust God to be the Making of Your Son

Even if things are really as bad as you allege, trust God to be the making of your son. Be a Christian soldier of a mother. Concentrate on that.

Really, do children succeed because of parents, or in spite of them? God can redeem anything for his glory, and he often chooses the worst examples of sin from which to shine his glory. Didn't the line of Christ include prostitutes?

~ Concentrate on the Plank in Your Own Eye

We women can be bossy and critical and as such, we keep missing the planks in our own eyes. Humble yourself before the Lord and get off your husband's back. I actually have way more flaws than my husband, if I'm honest with myself. There, I said it. Thank you, Lord, for the courage to do so.

~ Encourage One on One

If you get involved at all, let it be to encourage one on one dates between father and son. My husband and son get along well when it's just the two of them. Last time the two of them went to the park alone, my son told me later that night how much he loved his father. Warmed my heart. ADHD always minimizes in one-on-one situations.

I remember having to send this severe ADHD first grader down to the principal's office back in my teaching days. When I'd go to the office to use the bathroom later that day, the secretaries would say how charming the little boy was. Oh, how I wanted to roll my eyes. He retired me from teaching. This is the same boy who pulled a knife on two kids when he was in the second grade.

Yes, ADHD kids are charming all right...when they're one on one with you. It's when they have to compete for attention that they have problems.

~ Pray For Your Husband in All His God-Given Roles

One of the most loving, sacrificial acts of the mother and wife, is prayer.

Bless you, friend, if you struggle with this in your home. Trust God.

Better Than Black Friday

I've never done a Black Friday in my life, but you can bet I'll be doing a Giving Tuesday this year.

Please, let me tell you about it?

What do you know about India?

Nearly 1 in every 3 newborn deaths in the world occurs in India. (Facts and stats courtesy Compassion International)

Every year, more than 2 million children under age 5 die in India — most from treatable and preventable causes including malnutrition and dehydration. Nearly half of those children do not even survive their first year.

This year, Giving Tuesday's goal at Compassion International is funding a Child Survival Program in a small community in Gujarat, India. The goal is $25,000. 

About Gujarat, India:

~ The average woman is just 18 when she becomes a mother there.

~ She has four children.

~ More than 70 percent of the mothers give birth in their homes.

~ Their children are malnourished.

~ They are surrounded by illiteracy, alcoholism, child labor, child marriage and abuse.

Those first years are filled with dangers for these vulnerable children. They face the threat of disease and abuse, lacking a strong start to launch them into childhood.

Your gifts will:
~ prepare moms with training to help care for their babies
~ help mothers learn to read and write
~ give children a safe place to learn and grow
~ ensure lifesaving medical care for babies and moms
~ proclaim the hope of God to families living in poverty

Pushparani’s first child was born the color of a bruise. He was one of the 30,000 babies in India each year who don’t survive their first day. And then, less than a year later, Pushparani buried another child, this time a daughter who lived for just two months.
Pushparani and her son Ishu
Then, a third pregnancy. But this one would be different. This time, Pushparani had the support of the Child Survival Program that had recently opened in her community.
Every moment of this pregnancy Pushparani felt cared for and loved. She was well-nourished and went to regular prenatal appointments. When the time came to give birth to her son, she did so in a hospital, surrounded by friends who had prayed her out of the darkest place of her life.
Pushparani held her son in her arms, her little Ishu. Ray of light. A reminder of God’s promises.
“I owe what I am today to Compassion’s Child Survival Program,” says Pushparani. “Had I not been in the Child Survival Program, I would have ended my life. And now, I have big dreams for my son, Ishu — dreams of a healthy, happy child with hopes of the future. It did not seem possible before, but now I am filled with great hope and my dreams for my son will become reality. I look upon God and I will hold on to my dream.”

In Jesus' name, please care for the children of India by Tuesday, December 2, using this link, and going to the donate now button. 

I thank you, all the mothers of India thank you. 

We are correspondent sponsors to a child in India, a delightful young lady almost eleven now who has been a part of Compassion for 3.5 years. Compassion International has served her and her family very well, giving her Jesus, love, nourishment, a sense of belonging, safety, hope, and a future. When she entered the program she was an average student, and this year, for the first time, she was rated above average in her school work. Her letters are full of joy and she writes of Bible studies and a hunger for spiritual truth. I write her every 3 to 5 weeks, and she writes about 5 times a year, filling us with joy. She remembers what we like, what happened to us, what we pray for. I can't imagine my life without her, and I can't imagine her life without Compassion International. This organization is a gift from God. We write to four children, all of whom are living changed lives.

Their Child Survival Programs are second to none in bringing Jesus and hope.

Your gift to the Child Survival Program is a one-time gift.

Sponsoring a Child

If you would like to sponsor a child (ages 3 to 19) through Compassion International for $38 a month, click here. Writing letters to your child is of utmost importance in breaking the cycle of poverty. The love and attention in your letters affirms them and tells them they matter, whereas poverty screams the opposite.

If you write online using the links provided to you when you open a Compassion account, you'll be able to write very long letters and include scripture and easily upload pictures. If you use the letter forms Compassion sends you, you are limited to short letters.

There is a longest waiting list at the sponsor link, or you can scroll through all the pictures to choose your child. Older children are chosen less often, and almost always wait quite long.

We sponsor Sheila from Uganda, who is almost 15, and she writes the longest letters, in English in her own hand. We are correspondents with Raphael in Burkina Faso who is 15, and he writes the shortest letters, but they are sweet. We sponsor Nelson in El Salvador, almost 11, and his letters get longer and more abundant all the time, so I can't say boys always write the shorter letters. I feared as Nelson got closer to puberty his letters might get shorter, but no, praise God!

If you choose a very young child, it takes far longer for the give and take to develop, as dictating a letter to you will require them to develop an attention span first. Thus, in the early letters they will circle things about themselves on pre-made forms and draw you a picture.

I just wanted to give you some idea of what to expect from the different ages. My advice is, sponsor one preschool child, one elementary, and one teen! You won't be sorry and God will return the money to you manyfold.

Someone just gave my husband a used van for free--a 2000 Toyota Sienna. Give and trust is our motto. The day he got the van, the door broke on the driver's side on his old car (his extremely old 20+ years car). How's that for timing? And it happened to be the same week we did Operation Christmas Child. There's no doubt, you have nothing to fear when you give.


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