In My Life This Week:
I write this in my teddy bear flannel pajamas (recent thrift store find), with two blankets over my shoulders. It be cold in these parts! But no frozen pipes this week, thank goodness.
On Tuesday I got a call from an elderly church friend who had essentially been kicked out of a small group Bible study. My friend is an excessive talker, and she also suffers from low self-esteem, due to having had an abusive father. The poor self-image causes her to seek attention inappropriately, so right away I could imagine the weekly scene at Bible study.
I think we all seek attention when we feel inadequate -- mostly unconsciously -- to falsely build ourselves up in other's eyes, but for some people, this is a constant state. More Bible and more prayer and more singing praises to the Lord helps, but for some people, the hole is just so deep.
The leaders had to have a meeting with her, after consulting church elders for counsel. In a not-very-pleasant-meeting (but still loving) they asked her to either leave, or stop monopolizing the study. This meeting was initiated after two gentlemen said they would stop coming as long as my friend kept attending. The leaders had to make a tough decision as caretakers of the whole group.
For approximately five hours after her heartbreaking phone call with me, describing her trouble, I prayed and mulled it over (she felt rejected, but didn't really comprehend the issue at hand). What does the Body of Christ do with difficult people? I have encountered my share of these people, and my feeling is that God chooses not to heal many of them, for whatever reason.
Maybe, just maybe, they exist in our churches to increase our long-suffering capabilities? Difficult people are as much a part of the sin curse as cancer is. Sometimes there is healing, sometimes not. We cannot ignore these people and pretend they don't exist. We cannot have the mindset that they're someone else's problem (this is not to say that I fault the decision the leaders made).
After prayer, deliberation, and soul searching, my thoughts were thus: Why can't she and her husband come here for a Bible study? We do a neighborhood Bible study for children on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays, ending at 5:30 PM. The house is already clean, so rather than holding an adult Bible study on another day (necessitating another exhausting day of cleaning), how about doing two in one day? I could take over the teaching of the children's study, and my husband could teach the adult study. We could serve a casual dinner and enjoy fellowship, and then have study.
My friend is a dear person in so many ways, and I do love her. I see the heart behind the hurting, needy little girl (the abused little girl is now 69 years old).
Don't get me wrong -- I roll my eyes at her 40 minute phone calls. Those phone calls drive me crazy, but the Bible teaches us to be long-suffering when there are trials in our lives -- sometimes those trials are in the form of difficult people who seem to have a hole that can't be filled (Christian or not).
I contacted the other Bible study leaders, who happen to be very godly people whom I adore, the husband also being an elder. I asked if it would be stepping on the church leadership's toes for us to minister to this couple in a smaller, more intimate Bible study, where the excessive talking would be less of a problem. Fantastic, they said. The perfect solution.
So, a new community was birthed for us and I feel God will bless it (my husband immediately agreed). I also invited my widow friend, who teaches us knitting, and her two adult twin daughters, who happen to be coming for dinner tomorrow for more fellowship and knitting.
The knitting, by the way, didn't go well for us after the first lesson last month. Our work was so tight we couldn't get our needles under the stitches without tearing apart the yarn. I thought it was the cheap Red Heart yarn, but my friend thought no, because she also uses this brand. So, another lesson is necessary, which promises to be another great time of fellowship.
I put in notice for my Birth - Kinder Children's Ministry Coordinator job at church. There are enough volunteers now, and I will recruit more subs, and then step down from the position at the end of May. It has been wonderful in many ways, but a challenge for a mother who still has young children at home. At times I had to leave my youngest with Daddy at home when she was ill, while I went to church. She always cries if I leave the house while she's down and out, and that breaks my heart. I've always been the one to stay home with the sick ones, and I value being available to my children when they need me.
Of course, I love those babies, so I will still enjoy two Sundays a month in the nursery, and the fifth Sunday I'll teach the preschooler class (Beth's class). Both of these jobs are a joy -- I'm glad I don't have to give up any of the children I've bonded with these months.
Peter had a shocking, but telling reaction when I told him about my notice. "But Mommy, I don't want you to step down. I want you to be important in the church."
Oh, my. How did such pride arise over this? ( I am so not important in the church -- maybe just to a few babies :))
Parenting is so hard, but it's in these teachable moments that a large part of the discipleship get done. I told him we don't do things for the Body of Christ to exalt ourselves, but to humble ourselves as servants, doing God's work. If we have a more visible helper job, we remain humble, or else we dilute the good we do.
We humans are always messing things up with our deceitful pride. When we least expect it, it's there. Heaven help us.
In Our Homeschool This Week:
Oh, my. Around the World in Eighty Days is an exciting book! I started it on Wednesday during speech therapy and arthritis therapy, and then stayed up until 3AM that morning finishing it. Written in 1873, it's just a great story, encompassing much of the globe, and highly unpredictable. I recommend it on a rainy day, a snowy day -- on any day, for you, my friends. I love the different literary devices the author uses to make it a masterpiece. Jules Verne's other famous works are: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), The Mysterious Island (1875),
Jules Verne Biography excerpt, found here: A true inventor and visionary, Jules Verne set ideas and wrote about many important inventions, conveniences and explorations we experience today. He predicted the use of hydrogen as an energy source as well as future technologies such as submarines, airplanes, helicopters and skyscrapers. He also wrote about ways of travelling to and exploring the north, south poles and the moon.
Peter is halfway through the book and mesmerized the whole time he's reading. Paul isn't as far along, but he's excited about this book because he loves maps. He will undoubtedly produce a map of the main character's travels.
I don't write much about the boys' non-fiction selections, but they have assigned readers (which I detail here), and assigned history readers, (sometimes non-fiction, sometimes fiction), and some World Book DVD ROM country research, as part of each segment of the Eastern Hemisphere we travel through this year. A few books are thrown in just because they're great books, but not necessary about the Eastern Hemisphere, such as The Hobbit, which they will read this year.
I read some nice selections from the library this week, mostly for my girls, ages 5 and 7.
Raising Yoder's Barn, by Jane Yolen
Publisher Synopsis: This powerful and triumphant story is told by a young Amish boy whose family's barn is destroyed in a huge fire. The Amish community comes together to build a new barn, bringing tools, wood, dozens of workers, and food to feed them all. Jane Yolen's lyrical prose and Bernie Fuchs's illuminating oil paintings deftly capture the spirit of an Amish barn raising.
Jane Yolen's prose is beautiful, and I love the way this book celebrates family, togetherness, hardwork, and sharing one another's burdens. A wonderful story, beautifully told. Ms. Nolan has written over 200 books!
Coming On Home Soon, by Jacqueline Woodson
Ada Ruth's mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It's war time, and women are needed to fill the men's jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their daily routine, missing Mama all the time. They find strength in each other, and a stray kitten even arrives one day to keep them company, but nothing can fill the hole Mama left. Every day they wait, watching for the letter that says Mama will be coming on home soon. Set during World War II, Coming On Home Soon has a timeless quality that will appeal to all who wait and hope.
A 2005 Caldecott Honor Book___________________________________
Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, by Barb Rosenstock
Publisher Synopsis: As soon as Thomas Jefferson learned to read, he found his passion: books, books, and more books! Before, during, and after the American Revolution, Jefferson collected thousands of books on hundreds of subjects. In fact, his massive collection eventually helped rebuild the Library of Congress—now the largest library in the world. Barb Rosenstock’s rhythmic words and John O’Brien’s whimsical illustrations capture Jefferson’s passion for the written word as well as little-known details about book collecting. Author and artist worked closely with experts to create the first picture book on Jefferson’s love of reading, writing, and books. An author’s note, bibliography, and source notes for quotations are also included.
This book charmed me! The illustrations, the words, everything. What a treasure, and what a strong message about the value of books.
The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson
Publisher Synopsis: Clover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups' rules by sitting on top of the fence together.
With the addition of a brand-new author's note, this special edition celebrates the tenth anniversary of this classic book. As always, Woodson moves readers with her lyrical narrative, and E. B. Lewis's amazing talent shines in his gorgeous watercolor illustrations.
Two girls, one white and one black, gradually get to know each other as they sit on the fence that divides their town.
We continued this week listening to Farmer Boy on audiobook. I keep falling in love with this story over and over, and I'm still caught up with the folding of laundry! (All done while we listen to two chapters together). My son Peter so wants to be a farmer! The fire in his soul for farming kindled anew by listening to this -- a story that about 2 or 3 years ago cemented his desire to be a farmer.
Beth is starting to sound out words in her journal each morning, writing one sentence usually, as we do 10-minute quick write. I am so excited about this progress, and about her desire to write along with the big kids. She still needs a great deal of help printing lower case letters, but her capitals are coming along nicely.
We finished 1 Kings during daily Devotions, and started 2 Kings, reading about Elijah and Elisha. They're great stories of faith!
Homeschooling Advice to Share:
For a few years I wrote a daily schedule that seemed forced, rather than natural. This semester I'm observing and building a natural flow of learning segments that makes it easy to stay on track. Everything fits together with our energy levels, our motivation, our natural family rhythm.
First, work on getting your morning working like a charm. Observe how different sequences work for you or against you, and then slowly add one more thing to your successful line-up, seeing how it fits. If you rarely stay on track, it's a poor sequence you're dealing with, possibly.
The things you dread most in the school line-up? Consider getting them out of the way fast, so you won't end up neglecting that aspect of their education, feeling guilty in the process.
My Favorite Thing This Week:
I worked out to a wonderful DVD on Tuesday and Thursday, entitled "Get Moving Mix" (recent thrift store find). It's fun and I look forward to it. For the first time in a long time, I'm back into fitness, and I'm grateful to have finally found something that works for me. My body needs some good toning, and I want to lose about 6 pounds, and fight stress along the way. The teacher is about my age, which is a good thing at age 47 -- not to have some young thing staring you in the face. She has a sweet personality, too.
After a few months I may need something more challenging, but this is a great beginning after three relatively sedentary years (except for housework and some hikes in the woods).
~ A new community for my family to enjoy (in the form of a Bible study).
~ Being with my children everyday, to enjoy them, disciple them, homeschool them.
~ The dryer, I discovered, screeches less loudly when I only put in half a load -- that was such a relief today.
~ Farmer Boy
~ Library books
~ Kids who get excited about going to the library, still.
~ Great Classic Literature, like Around the World in Eighty Days -- books that never lose their appeal.
~ The furnace working hard in these frigid temperatures, and keeping up for the most part.
~ Community in general -- what a wonderful thing.
~ A steadfast husband.
~ Boys growing in responsibility.
~ Beth, my five year old, who still cuddles like she's one. Praise God for that young lady, who charms my socks off.
For healing of Beth's Juvenile Rhematoid Arthritis. It's not giving her trouble in terms of serious pain or diminished activity, but she's quite swollen in both knees and in her left ankle, which worries me. The methotrexate is not fighting the swelling, which means her joints will eventually get damaged, and she'll need joint replacement surgery, if it persists. Plus, there is always the risk of a stomach ulcer from the anti-inflammatories, which she will be on indefinitely. Sigh. This disease has really been bothering me lately.
I'm also praying for the two families who will join us for Bible study, and that I'll be able to find just the right study booklet, or book.
How can I pray for you, friend? How was your week?
Quote to Share:
Romans 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.