Both Hands On Board

I’ve never participated in the Homeschool Carnival before because, though we homeschool, I’ve never felt like I’ve had anything carnival worthy. It’s the same thing with homeschool email groups and support forums. I join, but don’t participate. I’m not really sure why other than that all the other moms on board are just that – moms-on-board. And I’m wishy washy, therefore I don’t think I can participate.

By wishy washy I mean this: I second guess every single decision I make regarding my girls. We homeschool, but should we? We use Sonlight, but would Tapestry of Grace be better? Are we in the best church to help us as we spiritually nurture our children? Am I getting the girls involved in community activities enough? Am I doing it too much? Are we structured enough? Do I allow for too much flexibility in our plan? Was pulling Katie out of preschool mid-way through the school year the best thing for her?

Basically this: am I screwing up my children?

The teeter totters look like this: For Maddie (8) the heavy end is reading, creative writing, and arts. The light end is math and handwriting. For Chloe (6) the heavy end is math and logic things, the light end is reading and handwriting. And I wonder – if they were in school, would their teeter totters be more balanced? Or would they still have a heavy/light?

I know I’m weak on working with them in their weak areas. I want to really foster the areas they excel in, partly because they get excited about those things and partly just because it’s easier for me. So I blame myself for their sloppy handwriting, for Maddie’s struggle with math, for Chloe’s low-level reading, for Katie’s mostly just playing all day with Millie, though she’s expressed an interest in her preschool books more often than I pull them out.

And I wonder. Maybe I’m not really a mom-on-board. Maybe I’m not homeschool material. But I want to be. And I do enjoy my time with my girls. I enjoy that a lot. But is that enough?

I don’t know. I’m not sure if I have both my hands on board. And I live with the tension of that every single day.

Thanks to Anne, for hosting the 57th Carnival of Homeschooling today.

The Sin Test

Seminary is full of tests. I mean, of course, there are all kinds of classes, so why am I surprised by the tests? Well, it isn’t those tests I’m thinking of. Seminary has this other test they don’t advertise in the literature wooing folks to come, and I can sort of understand that because who would want to come if they knew they’d be given these pop-quiz doozies about twice a year? Wondering what in the world I’m talking about? It’s the Sin Test. And yes, it’s a requirement of graduating surviving seminary.

Here’s how it goes: Usually at the beginning of the semester the billing office will play games with your account. Sometimes they are just puzzles to figure out and everything is totally kosher once you solve them, but man – solving them takes some real trickery and how you handle that process can be, well, less than seminarian. Maybe even downright sinful.

I’m in the middle of taking it right now and so far, so good. I haven’t failed it yet. I’ll let you know after the grades come in, but let me tell you – studying for this thing is absolutely no fun.

One of My Favorite Walls

Living Room

I love this wall in our house, more than many of the others, because of the display options. We’ve never had built-in book cases before, and haven’t had a fireplace mantle in our last four housing arrangements. I mostly wanted to put this picture up so my sister could see the snow globes because she asked me over Christmas how I display them. Now she knows (and so does everyone else). The two dining table chairs are usually at the table, but we rearranged a bit yesterday for the party.

A Different Way of Reading

I’m sure I’m the last person on earth to read Hosea with this perspective, but allow me a few minutes to demonstrate how slowly my lightbulb turns on sometimes.

I’ve always known about the picture Hosea portrays of Christ redeeming the church and how Hosea is representative of Christ and his prostitute wife the church. Yes, I got that. But still, even knowing that, I’ve usually read the book (the few times I’ve read it) with the thinking of what it would actually be like to be Hosea and be the one asked to marry a whore and the shame that would bring and how noble and heartbreaking that would be.

Last night I read it with the eyes of the whore. [Man, that word doesn’t sound very PC when it’s written out so plainly like that, does it? I’m probably going to pay for it in the spam filter later.] So, I’m changing the subject. Last night I read the book of Hosea as though I were Gomer. And things really changed in my understanding.

“She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him [Hosea], ‘Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all…’ When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said, ‘Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people and I am not your God.’”

Reading as the fallen one, to have my children named No Mercy and Not My People broke my heart last night. And not because I didn’t think it wasn’t deserved, but rather because I knew it was.
To know the things you do are an 11 on a terrible scale of 1-5, to understand what a rotten being you are and to sometimes feel sorry for those things, but to always go back to them, to experience the mercy of one you don’t even feel worthy about being in the same room with, let alone forgiven from. To not really care about it. I felt the weight of that last night.
And then this:

“And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”

Sure it doesn’t end there. There are many more failures on the part of the church, on the part of Gomer. But as I read the despair of the former there – your children are No Mercy and Not My People, and felt that hopelessness, and then read of the redemption – No Mercy, I will have mercy on you. And Not My People, you really are my people – I felt the relief.

If you could love me as a wife
and for my wedding gift, your life
Should that be all I’d ever need
or is there more I’m looking for

and should I read between the lines
and look for blessings in disguise
To make me handsome, rich, and wise
Is that really what you want

I am a whore I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
and I run down the aisle
and I run down the aisle
I’m a prodigal with no way home
but I put you on just like a ring of gold
and I run down the aisle to you

So could you love this bastard child
Though I don’t trust you to provide
With one hand in a pot of gold
and with the other in your side

I am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash
Over your very flesh and blood

Because money cannot buy
a husband’s jealous eye
When you have knowingly deceived his wife

(Wedding Dress by Derek Webb)

These Boots Were Made for Walking

There was a fair amount of snow this morning on the sidewalk of our church’s street. I was holding Katie’s hand, but she was walking timidly, almost non-walking and we were way behind the others. I said to her, “Katie, you’re wearing your snow boots, remember? You can walk on this stuff.” The transformation was instantaneous as she said, “OH!” She immediately began walking quickly and with confidence.

Once again she mirrored me. I have all the resources to live this life right at my fingertips. I’ve been equipped. Yet I do this almost non-walk through life, scared to death that I’m going to fall. I can walk confidently. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that and it takes a 4-year-old to do it.

2006 Booklist

I dropped off the public reading map in June. I think my mid-west to west excursion did it to me, followed by receiving the reading list for my one fall class. Then there was the fall class combined with moving. If I didn’t homeschool the girls and take an occasional seminary class, I’m not sure what I’d be doing right now in the reading world. Oh yes, maybe some grown-up fiction, or even good product reviews, I find myself reading reviews of tactical watches and being satisfied. My guess is I need to go on another excursion.  Oh well. Still, I loved many of the books I read to the girls this year and I’m counting them because I did read them after all.

So here’s the list in pseudo-as-I-read-them order:

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Clearly
Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture by William Romanowski
Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies by Roy Anker
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
Calvin for Armchair Theologians by Christopher Elwood
Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary
The Age of Reform 1250-1550 by Steven Ozment
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary*
Kristin Lavransdatter, Part 1: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset, Translated by Tiiina Nunnally
Lost in Rooville by Ray Blackston
Abby Takes a Stand by Patricia McKissack
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
The Story of Christianity: Reformation to the Modern Day by Justos Gonzalez
Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop
On Being Presbyterian by Sean Michael Lucas
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Socks by Beverly Cleary
Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
Perelandra by C. S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
A Grief Observed by C. L. Lewis
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis
Missionary Stories with the Millers by Mildred A. Martin
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates
Greek Myths by Heather Amery
Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield

Speaking of that Reset Button…

Let’s see. Where is it? I know it’s got to be around here somewhere. Have you seen it? My Bible – It was just over there. Or maybe it was over there. I’m just certain it made the move to the new house with us…

Among the things I don’t tell report on a daily basis is how often I fall short in spending time in the Word. And everyone knows I’m a pitiful failure at fulfilling my new year’s goals (I’m thinking of my McDonald’s “fast” from last year and my sugar “fast” the year before). I was just on the floor assembling some fine furniture from Target (honest – this is what it said on the instructions:

Congratulations on your purchase of fine furniture – since when did a $35 chrome cart that any idiot can screw together in under ten minutes qualify as fine furniture?) when I about panicked. I’ve got only one hour left to prevent ending the first day of the new year without at least trying to pick up the quiet time habit again. Because if I don’t do it today I have a better excuse tomorrow…

Anyway, I’m stalling. I do know where that Bible is and I’m signing off right now to go get it. And no, I don’t think God loves me more if I do it, but darn it if I don’t want to want to do this because I love Him. So why is it so hard sometimes?

Happy New Year. Here’s to fresh starts in more ways than one.