Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Baby K


I spend my days with two small, but growing children. One who can talk(and talk and talk some more) and one who babbles and giggles in her own secret language. And growing in secret darkness and warmth, another little one who can by now hear our voices and wonder where we are, the family she hasn't met yet.
To our son, the talker, everything needs an explanation and discussion. Sometimes the why question is a genuine inquiry, a sincere need to know and understand. Other times, the question is asked as a stalling technique, often after a polite, but direct command or order is given. Those are the times that he is reminded to not question but please obey. Say, "Yes, Mommy".
Sighing, he parrots the words back, with slight irritation creeping into his voice.
Then off he goes to complete the task.
With the increase in vocabulary and language skills, I have noticed comes the ability to complain with greater ease and occasion. Complaints about rainy days, complaints about cold days, complaints about bored days, complaints about eating fruits and vegetables, complaints about gum chewing(not enough), complaints about schoolwork, housework, and yardwork. They all find their way into our conversations each day and I find myself complaining about all the complaining. It doesn't surprise me. We are an ungrateful people who have to remind ourselves to be thankful. Strange, since there are many things that require no such reminders, they come so naturally. Complaining being one of them.
It also doesn't surprise me because we are saturated with a worldview that features complaining at every turn and Christians are not immune. The local radio show hosts(Christians included) complain about how long the workday is, the commute, the traffic, the weather conditions for going to work and the worst of all, the weather conditions for the weekend. It's hard not want to complain since apparently there is so much lamenting to be done.
As our son grows and realizes the list of complaints multiply everyday, my job is to reverse those trends. Difficult? Yes, especially without complaining about it.
We start with complaints about the weather.
God sends the rain to make things grow.
What would we eat if God stopped sending the rain?
He answers: Eggs
Chickens need food to lay eggs.
Him: Oh.
And so we thank God for sending the rain despite the fact it pours when he'd rather be outside riding his bike or digging in the dirt with his trucks.
Somehow we must overcome this sinful desire to complain. ("It's not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit" comes to mind, Zech. 4:6)
Here also are some wise words from wise mamas working on similar goals.
Mary from Owlhaven expounds on the same frustration of wanting to see immediate change in her children. She finds her answer in the Bible, where else?
And as Ann so amazingly articulates, even the dirt that we walk on, sweep up and wash away is a gift from God given to us as an inheritance to sustain us until we return to it. Her words as always, are rich and full of meaning. What a gift.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Covenant Children

From the closing paragraphs of When You Rise Up by R.C. Sproul Jr.. I'm posting it here to remind me what is at stake in the teaching and training of our children.
Now to our final objection that comes from within the Christian church. Here the concern isn't that if we homeschool our children, they won't be hip enough to win the lost, but that if we homeschool, they won't ever run into the lost. That is, when we homeschool we fail to send our children out into the dying world as salt and light. After all, isn't the purpose of education that our children might have an opportunity to serve as missionaries? Of all the objections we've considered, this one at least has the virtue of not being motivated by the same greedy pursuit of personal peace and affluence that drives the world. I don't doubt that there are parents who sincerely believe it their duty to send their children into a hostile environment for the sake of lost. Their sincerity however, doesn't make it right.
There are two things, on the other hand, that cause me to question that sincerity. First, there is always a line drawn. I've never met a parent who determined to send their teenage child off to a brothel or a crack house for the sake of the lost. The people there are as a lost as the people at the state school. The only difference is, in the brothel or the crack house, the bad guys don't have the authority to make our children sit and listen to their worldview being taught for seven hours a day. But there's another cause for my doubts. I have yet to hear of a parent who is so concerned for the lost that they actually pay to send their children to attend a Muslim school, or a Roman Catholic school. Isn't it at least suspicious that all those who are motivated to send their children out as missionaries send them where it is "free" to attend?
Do I care about the lost? Of course I do. Do my children care about the lost? Enough that they can pray for them at school, out loud, every day. I am homeschooling precisely so my children will be able to know, recognize, and love the enemy, while not becoming the enemy. And just as their ability to love the enemy into the kingdom isn't contingent on their being trained by the enemy, in like manner their ability to love the enemy into the kingdom isn't contingent on their being in the enemy's schools. The greatest thing our children can do for the lost is to so let their light shine before men that they glorify their Father in heaven. My children do, by the grace of God, show forth the glory of the gospel. They humble their father by constantly eliciting the praise of men for their good behavior. I don't want their bushels buried. But neither do I want their flames extinguished. Never will I put my children under the authority of those who are enemies of the gospel, who despise the lordship of Christ such that his name cannot be mentioned. That we must never negotiate.
And therein is the end of the matter. I have tried to make the case in this book, under the authority of Christ, that parents are commanded to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But let me concede this. While biblical education is done by parents' teaching the Three Gs* to their children when they rise up and whey they lie down, the most grievous error we can make is to send them off to schools where Jesus is not plainly, fully, and publicly honored. In that great name may we hasten the day when no parent at the same time claims to serve the King, and yet allows his child to be trained by those who will not name that King. May it never be said again of any of those who name the name of Christ that they rendered unto Caesar the things that are God's--his covenant children.

*His Three Gs are:
Who is God?
What has God done?
What does God require?

Recently Read

My reading pace has slowed somewhat for various reasons. I'm not able to stay awake very long after the kids are in bed to read like I'm used to. I also have been scouring homeschooling catalogs and websites for a math program for our son. In addition, I have been working at keeping the house tidy so the workload does not get out of control. Mountains of laundry and disorganized shelves and closets really drag me down. Maintaining order means constant vigilance on my part.

But here are the few titles I have managed to work my way through in recent weeks.

I think the The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards was on the bestseller list around the time our daughter with Down Syndrome was born. One of the hospital pediatricians recommended the book to me when she came to my room discuss the nature of Down Syndrome children. That was 16 months ago. I found the book second-hand somewhere months ago and let it sit on my shelf. I wasn't exactly afraid to read it but I was concerned that the Down Syndrome girl may be abused in the book and I didn't think I could really handle that.(My sensitivities to child abuse, abortion stories, etc have become very heightened since becoming a mother almost six years ago.)
But thankfully the story includes none of this and I could read it quite easily. I enjoyed the book in the sense that I was intrigued by the progress of the story and curious to see how it would end. However, I have to admit that I found it a bit depressing in the end. Not due to anything that happens to the girl, just the relationship wreckage that follows poor choices and sinful acts.

This weekend I read R.C. Sproul Jr.'s When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling. In it he advocates that the clear teaching of Deuteronomy 6:1-9 is that parents are the ones that God has given the responsibility to teach and train their children and this can only be accomplished through being at home with them, aka homeschooling. Placing your children under the authority of public school teachers and administrators is directly opposed to the Word of God. And he sees Christian schools as simply attempting to reform public school failings but not going far enough. He answers objections that people offer to him and others as to why they do not homeschool or why they did but stopped. He also deals with answering Christians who want their children in public schools to share the gospel with teachers and classmates. (I posted a lengthy quote here.)
The book is fairly short at just under 150 pages but he seems to cover quite a bit in a short amount of space. We made the decision to homeschool almost two years ago and have not had any reason to change our plans. Even after reading this book, I'm not sure how I feel about Christian schools even though I am a product of one(attending K-12). Through my interaction with the other kids away from the supervision of my parents, I learned a lot of things that were not beneficial to my spiritual growth. So with those experiences in my mind, I am more likely to desire our children home with us as they learn and grow.

Another topic I've reading up on is vegetable gardening. I have been reading Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte as well as her other book, Astrological Gardening: The Ancient Wisdom of Successful Planting & Harvesting by the Stars. I found a wealth of information in both books and will refer to them as I begin to purchase plants and plant our garden. The second book, Astrological Gardening may sound a little dubious to some but the science behind the effect of the moon and the zodiac signs on the ground and earth is amazing to consider. Most of us upon hearing the term "zodiac signs" instantly think of horoscopes and fortune-telling. The fact that this information has been used in this unbiblical manner does not negate the benefits of using the moon's calendar to garden or farm successfully. I have to get a 2009 lunar calendar but would like to try my own experimentation in our garden and see for ourselves what the science shows.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Our friend Julie running to greet her husband, Nic who returned home from Afghanistan earlier this week. I just love this photo, don't you?
For the news article, click here

Monday, April 13, 2009


Some Sunday school lessons do stick apparently.
Two weeks ago after discussing the story of Mary and Martha having Jesus come to their home, I was scurrying around my son to complete a task and was scolded by him with the following statement: "You're rushing around like Martha!"
My husband and I both burst out laughing. Of course, I was proud that he remembered the lesson since I had been the one teaching that week. :)

Sunday School update

In September, I mentioned that I was going be teaching Sunday School at our church. I was assigned five students with two of them coming every other week. The plan was to have a large group time with all the students and then break up into our smaller classes for the last 10-15 minutes for more individualized instruction. Well, it is now April and I am the only teacher left!
Three weeks into the school year, the superintendent and her family left the church unexpectedly and permanently. So the other teacher and I cobbled together a plan each week and covered for each other's absences. Between us and another girl who helped with the singing time, we have managed to continue nicely through the year.
March brought an engagement and May wedding plans to the other remaining teacher who will be joining her new husband at his church and ministry. In order to prepare for this transition, she is attending church with him now and has finished her Sunday School duties. I am very happy for her and do not mind her absence one bit.
I am now the only teacher for a widely varying number of children who range in ages from 2.5 to 10 years old. I still have help with the singing time and helping keeping the children attentive as we have a few on and off visitors who are becoming acclimated to the whole concept of Sunday School. We usually start off with a quick snack, followed by some singing time, share the Bible lesson and end with a activity or quick craft. The order changes from week to week with the exception of the snack time. That always comes first! Because we transitioned through the school year, my original students have a small notebook that we have been using to write in after the lesson. With the change in class size and arrangements, I have given my students their books and instructions for them while helping the younger kids do another writing or coloring craft or paper. A few weeks have been very busy as the kids were all at the same table but working on different projects. One particular solo Sunday in March, brought three little ones who could only scribble with crayons, three kindergardeners who could write their names and cut and paste with scissors and glue and my three students who had their notebooks to work in. It was a challenge to keep everyone busy and on-task, but everyone helped each other and shared the various supplies quite easily. But I'm glad that doesn't happen every week.
I enjoy the time with the kids and I think that a few of them are actually remembering the lessons and enjoying the time together. There are a few others who would rather be outside playing or running around the building with playmates. They are the hardest to keep interested and on-task. However, I'm not above speaking to them about their uhhh, distracting behavior and requesting that it be stopped and desisted from in the future.
But surprisingly my low-tech Betty Luken flannel graph(inherited from my grandfather and mother)is always a big hit.
They sit mesmerized by the figures and scenery. And having them participate by answering questions about who the people are or what will happen next on the board helps keep the lesson flowing. If we haven't used the flannel graph in a few weeks one of the kids usually asks why I don't have the story board. Who knew colored scraps of fabric could be so entertaining to kids in the high-tech era? :)
All in all, I have had a great year working with the kids and it makes me glad that I signed up to help even if I have ended up teaching all the kids now. My elementary education background certainly has helped in countless ways which hopefully has made my student loans seem worthwhile. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


When He comes our glorious King
All His ransomed home to bring
Then anew this song we'll sing
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
As we sang this last verse to close the Good Friday service, I was struck with the sudden thought to ask the Lord to take Euri home to heaven that day. So while the singing carried on around me, I took a few seconds and pleaded with the Lord to take Euri to be with Himself. I finished singing and could not get that thought out of my head. All through the day that we spent quietly at home, I prayed constantly for us to receive word of her passing. I went to bed that night with those thoughts still on my mind. Saturday morning, up early with the kids and mapping out the day, we frequently checked our email. A little before 9am, my husband sat down at the computer and when the screen came up, there was the email from one of our church's elders.
The subject line read, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints", and the details were brief: Euri went into the presence of Jesus around 2am Friday night/Saturday morning. I took a deep breath and said, "Thank you, God!" What a tremendous relief it is to know that she is in heaven rejoicing with the Lord. I felt and still do feel overwhelmed that the Lord answered my prayer (and perhaps the prayers of others) and she died peacefully with her husband by her side.
This Easter weekend has been a very special learning time for our son. His prayers for Euri have been very sweet as we continued to pray for her all this last week. And on Saturday, he thanked the Lord for her "passing away". Talking about Jesus' death and resurrection has seemed more poignant in these last few days and I hope these life events will help him grow in his understanding of the gospel.

Monday, April 06, 2009


I don't have the adequate words to write this post but I want to write while the memories and moments are fresh. My dear friend Euri is laying in a hospice room in the city awaiting the moment that the Lord takes her home. We went to see her yesterday right after church and Sunday School so that we could kiss her cheek and whisper that we love her once more. Her eyes were closed but after several minutes of speaking softly to her and caressing her hair and reaching for her warm hand tucked under the quilt, she whispered words of love back. Moments later, the nurses appeared to change her position so we excused ourselves from the room and chatted quietly in the hallway with a church friend. We were then allowed back in the room and as I bent over her again, I could see her eyes were open. I hurried around to the other side of the bed and crawled up on the bed that her sister sleeps next to her in. As I lay there, looking at her eyes and touching her face, speaking to her of heaven and memories of our visits and outings, my eyes became blurry with tears. But not wanting to miss seeing her eyes open, I brushed them away and continued to speak with her. Her lips moved and I bent my ear even closer. "I love you", she whispered. And "Yes", she said in response to my words. It was happiness mixed with sorrow and tears for us all. Her eyes moved from side to side, yet I felt like perhaps she wasn't really seeing, but I know she must have been listening. And I was listening very hard and blinking the tears away. I wanted to stay by her side until her eyes closed, but there were others waiting in the hallway and my own family needing to be on our way home. I finally climbed off the bed and went and stood looking out the large window trying to stem the flow of tears that I felt wetting my face. I knew that the others would see the tears in my eyes and that no one would think it strange or awkward, but it wasn't the time to cry for me or Euri or her husband and two children. But soon the tears will flow unchecked as we wait for the message to come that Euri has gone home and we are left behind, for now.
I am crying now as I think of her lying on the bed, warm but not well and lips forming words that once came so easy. I am confident that our God cares for our sorrows and that He cares for Euri like no one else. Jesus' life from the grave brings hope that one day we will be with Euri in a life that will never end. This hope makes all the difference in my tears.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Recently read

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico - I really liked this British-based story and am looking forward to reading the other Mrs. 'Arris titles.

Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther - Very well-known WW2 era British book and movie but wasn't particularly engaging to me, but many others have found it a wonderful read, in particular Susan, from High Desert Home.

Magic and the Magician: E. Nesbit and Her Children's Books by Noel Streatfeild - I found this biography (or detailed bibliography perhaps)of Edith Nesbit while doing some research on Noel Streatfeild. Both women are popular British authors who wrote many titles for children including Nesbit's The Railway Children and Streatfeild's "Shoe books". The book for the most part proved to be an interesting look at E. Nesbit's upbringing and how she incorporated it into her various children's books. If you have read Nesbit's children's books, then you may enjoy this in-depth look at her writings and characters.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell - I am halfway through this book but thought I would comment on it now. This story is written about a small British village and it's inhabitants as they interact with each other. It remotely reminds me of the Miss Read books, but does not have the nearly as funny or engaging characters. I probably will finish it but not with much enthusiasm.

Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth - I came across this book while looking at other nature books being used by the popular homeschooling site Handbook of Nature Study. The book is very nicely illustrated and inspiring, but the website has more than enough information and tutorials for a beginner naturalist such as myself. But someday I wouldn't mind having this book.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White - A concise book on writing and grammar rules that I found quoted at Worthwhile Books. Still working my way through it.

Seed Sowing and Saving by Carole B. Turner - Love this book! Covers a wide variety of topics but my favorite part is the attention given to garden vegetables and fruits and how to harvest the seed for sowing. The illustrations are large and very detailed. A great resource for a seed-saving gardener!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver - I heard a lot of buzz about this book but after seeing the request queue on our local library's website, I figured I should just break-down and buy it. So I did. In hardcover, for $4 at a church booksale this past February! Very excited, I began to read it at once. I faltered a bit in the first chapter as I initially mentioned. I went and read the negative reviews posted on Amazon and thought, Hmmm, I'll have to see if those few reviews have merit. As I buried myself in the book at any available time, I found her experiences to be extremely helpful and well-written. I didn't want to put the book down, frankly. The essays by her husband and recipes by her daughter were mostly a distraction to me as I was eager to see what happened next on her farm. The book is a valuable resource if you are looking for what species to plant or grow: animal or vegetable. Her continuing story about raising the turkeys kept me glued to the very last word and her youngest daughter's dedication to her laying hens was amazing and amusing. While I don't agree with her humanist views on evolution, for me it really did not take anything away from her book. You just choose to get over it.
As for the negative reviews on Amazon, in the end, I found little substance to most of the complaints. Not that I agree with everything she or her husband expounded but I think her main premises are accurate. For me, the book provided a gardener's year-on-the-farm experience. And I enjoyed it simply for that reason.

river morning

First canoe ride of the year with Daddy.