Friday, April 30

The New Reality

We have done our research.  We have sought outside help.  We have evaluated where we're at as a family and where we want to be.  We have considered all the needs of all of our children (and their parents).  We have let this decision sit for a good year.  We have prayed.  We have cried.   And we have come out on the other side with peace.

Next fall, my oldest will be going to seventh grade at a small charter school here in town.  I have home schooled him from the beginning.  I have prepared him, loved him, pushed him, prayed for him, encouraged him, led him to knowledge and now it is time for him to drink for himself. 

I think his new wings will be broad and purposeful.

Thank you for your grace.

Wednesday, April 21

When Grace Comes with a Siren

A day after that last post I was in a car accident.


I caused a car accident.

I entered the left turn lane of a busy intersection, noted my green signal, followed the momentum of the car in front of me -- not too closely -- , asked my son about how he'd gotten along in his karate class.  And then I screamed right before the crushing sound, the engine smoke billowing through my steering column, my youngest's giggle that turned into a rabbit-like predator call, the pain radiating in my shins. I was actually stunned to discover I shouldn't have turned.  The other driver had the right of way and I crossed into it.

The thing is that I knew this.  I use this intersection all the time.  I've been driving for over 20 years and I've never turned left when it was dangerous to do so.  I've never been at fault in an accident.  My driving record is clean.  How in the world did I momentarily forget this basic traffic rule?

By way of report, all people involved are fine.  The vehicles were totaled, but no one was hurt and we all walked away merely rattled.

However, I am haunted hourly by what could have happened, by what my two youngest boys will internalize, by the inconvenience and fright I caused another family.

After sitting with this for nearly a week, I've discovered that I'm mostly bothered by my own incompetence.  To my personality profile, incompetence is anathema.  I get stressed out by being around it.  I don't like mistakes, equipment failure, people who don't solve their own problems, or anything that gets in the way of my independence.  This is the unpretty picture of me.  Do I hide it well?  Sometimes.  Why do I hide it? Because it doesn't seem congruent with a life that's convinced of grace.

Sadly, and this is the lesson that I think I'm grasping, I often fall in the trap of even labeling my own children as incompetent.  This has been on my mind for a while now and when I can catch myself viewing them in this way (i.e. getting frustrated) I do a better job of backing up and trying again with a bit more understanding.  But I've been missing the mark and I've been wondering, just what does that kind of motherly grace actually look like? 

Perhaps I was the cause of a car accident because I'd meet a woman who would teach me something I needed to learn.  The mother of the teenage driver I hit leaped out of her Landcruiser and came to my vehicle straightaway.  She asked if I was okay.  She didn't look at me like I was crazy.  She didn't accuse me of anything.  I actually asked her how the accident happened and as she gently explained my incompetence glared me in the face.  I owned it.  I apologized.  She helped call 911 because I didn't look so good.  Later, she hugged me.  She let me cry. She said, "It's okay.  It's only property.  No one is hurt. God was watching out for us today."

Indeed.  And I hope that I got his message:  Grace looks like a hug from a woman who simply wants to believe you are better than that.  Grace offers forgiveness. Grace knows that you can try again and succeed. Grace knows who is in control even when the circumstances seem crazy. 

I hope that I can take this and pass it on to my kids as I daily try to encourage and uplift them toward the people they are becoming.  They make mistakes, they choose unwisely, they don't control themselves... but I can show grace and know that, in the end, they'll be better because I believe it to be so.

Thursday, April 15

What's Good About Thursday

1.  It isn't Tuesday. 
Tuesday was a killer of a day for my oldest.  I found out that he hasn't done one of his subjects for a MONTH.  Seriously.  A month.  He's just been telling me it's done and I've just been wondering why it's taking so long to get through it.  It was my attempt at letting him be an independent learner.  I should have been checking his work, I know.  But, for crying out loud, he's in sixth grade and it's an easy assignment every day.  (Perhaps it's too easy and seems like busy work?)  In the end lying to me for a month breaks my heart more than the fact that he hasn't progressed through the topic.

2.  It's tax day. 
I have some friends who owe 10K to the government this year.  We were on the other end of that and received a return which we are very grateful for.  Aside from all that it's free kids meal day at Claim Jumper (and more free stuff at Cinnabon and Starbucks and Maggie Moo's) so we're going out to eat tonight.  DH and I can share a meal and get out of there for a steal.

3.  It's my Friday. 
The older boys have classes away from home on Fridays.  Recently I have found myself purging the basement of all school-related items every Thursday, happily bringing in my weekend and putting all thoughts of books and projects out of my mind.  Our family room is so much more relaxing when you don't have to sit on colored pencils and I look forward to Fridays with just my little guy, my gym class and, if I plan it right, a couple hours of quiet while he naps. 

Monday, April 12

What's Good About Monday

1. The beginning of a new unit on land animals. Here's a snippet of what we're doing for the rest of the month.
  • Science: Review of Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Insects.
  • Reading: Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book for J, Aesop's Fables for B.
  • Bible: Epistles for J and Animals in the Bible for B.
  • Geography: Biome maps and habitats.
  • Math: Math games & review for B (who has finished 2nd grade Math for the year). J will be Multiplying Polynomials and Adding and Subtracting Time with the Same Difference Theorem.
  • Language Arts:  We're reviewing adjectives at both of their levels, B has a phonics review and drawing/cursive penmanship practice copying the morals from the fables, and J is choosing an animal to do a full report on.
  • Read AloudAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Field Trips:  1. The Wildlife Experience in Parker  2. CYT's production of Alice in Wonderland
2.  Good feelings left over from a very productive weekend:
  • laying a new red-brick front walk (almost done).
  • hosting dinner for a really fun team of church planters here.
  • finishing up the electrical in the garage (let's just say the boys have TESTED the new garage door opener today).
  • hanging out with friends and dialoguing with TNL leaders. 
  • a library run for this unit's materials.
  • getting repairs done on one of our vehicles.
  • watching my boys play flag football with their dad as coach.
3.  And this swing...which the boys did all by themselves today. It's level and everything.

That's the kind of ingenuity that makes Monday totally worthwhile.

Thursday, April 8

What Came Up

I had an ambitious winter reading list. I got through 10 books in the past 3 months, which is a record for me. I didn't get through everything I had hoped, but a few other books came up:

Bird by Bird
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. My best friend gave me this years ago and inscribed, "Never stop writing." Well, I did stop writing. And now I'm slapping myself in the head and getting back to it. So, although I have read this book several times over the past several years, it was time to do it again and take it bite by bite. In addition to giving you permission to be you, Anne gives you so many great things to chew on if you are on the writing road as I am.

Homer and Langley
Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow. It's interesting that as a former creative writing major, I now have to remind myself to read fiction. There have been times when my efforts to do so have proven to just be time wasted. Perhaps, that's why I don't run to it straightaway anymore. This selection proved to be worth my time, however. Two brothers, their life and the changes of the 20th century, all of the paraphernalia they collected (read: hoarded) as they persevered through a life without connection and community. It's a thought provoking read.

The Reflective Life: Becoming More Spiritually Sensitive to the Everyday Moments of Life (Reflective Living Series)

The Reflective Life by Ken Gire. My husband was talking about me one day to a man whom our community views as a sort of "spiritual Jedi." He immediately thought of this book and gave it to him to give to me. There's something to that Jedi thing, because this one is spot on. I'll be getting to it soon.

Living With the Active Alert Child: Groundbreaking Strategies for Parents
Living with the Active Alert Child by Linda S. Budd. We are on a quest to really help our oldest son. We've had unconfirmed diagnosis regarding ADHD, ODD and even Tourettes. I was in contact with a counselor recently (who, it appears, has already raised a son like mine) and she said, "Are you sure he's ADHD and not Active Alert?" Um, well, I've never heard of that. So, she suggested this book. I'm putting on my seat belt now because I think there's more to come in this wild ride.

Tuesday, April 6

A Time for Holy

Before I ever made the choice to educate my kids at home I wanted to do two things: teach them to read and lead them to Christ. It was an amazing honor to teach my oldest son to read when he was just 4 years old. He just wanted it so badly and all I really had to do was open the door for him, give him some guidance and he was off and running. In regards to faith, he is on his own wandering journey that I cannot control. So far, he has really only taken to reading.

My second son, conversely, seems to be wandering in his journey toward reading, and yet is the one who has taken to living like Jesus lived. He chose to demonstrate that this weekend.

On Good Friday, I took him to a church near our home that had set up a walk-through Easter experience. It was a contemplative time to consider not just the story of Easter but the impact of the life and death of Christ and the whole story of God throughout human history. And it was brimming with creative expression.

As B and I walked through he wanted to engage in all of it, stations for children, stories for adults, explanations of Old Testament sacrifices and how Jesus fulfilled them all. Together, we put ashes on our hands, nailed crimson cloth to the cross, fingered through some smooth rocks, and walked through an interpretation of the empty tomb. At the end of our journey there was a private space for taking communion.

He asked, "What do we do here?"

I said, " Well, this is something you do if you consider yourself to be a follower of Christ. It's a way to identify or connect with Jesus who gave his body and blood for you to take away the consequences of our sins. If we believe Jesus was who he said he was and that he did what he said he did then we can take these symbols as a way of remembering his sacrifice for our sins."

He said, "I believe, Mom. Can I have some?"

I know he does. "Yes," I said. "This is the body of Christ, broken for you. This is the blood of Jesus, shed for you."

And I shared communion with my 8 year old son... for the very first time.

"Can I have more?"
"It's not a snack. It's a reminder."
"I like it."
"Me too."
"Can I keep the cup?"

It was wonderful to share this quiet little moment of eternal significance with my boy at such an unexpected time and place. All I really had to do was open the door, give him a little guidance and he, too, is off and running.

Thursday, April 1

April First and Holy Week

Every year we take a two week spring break; we can observe Holy Week before Easter and take a week for renewal the week after Easter.

Years ago, when this tradition began and having no prior experience observing Holy Week, I simply wanted to leave a void and see what developed. In my head I pictured it as something like an advent wreath or a nightly family vespers. However, nothing has materialized that we routinely repeat every year.

This year's Holy Week has been filled with meaning for me. The events that have converged during this week have been thoughtfilled, introspective, communal, and worshipful.

The weekend began with a silent retreat with my community. I've never spent an entire day in silence and being silent when there are so many inspiring people a whisper away is a foreign experience. But because we all struggled in that silence together, it was powerful for me to walk alongside my friends practicing this discipline with them. It was a time of joy for me, for remembrance, for renewal. And Palm Sunday began with our first spoken words as we served one another communion. A fitting entry back into the verbally worshipping world.

Our church community worships on Tuesday nights. This means we don't have Palm Sunday or even Easter Sunday to begin and end the story. It seems to create an even quieter Holy Week. But we entered into worship on Tuesday already in process. While we were engaged in life the holy had begun and I caught up my breath to remember it.

Dotted throughout the week there were times for community. A friend and her son joined us for dinner before worship, we engaged in experiences with our co-op several days this week, time with a friend at the park, coffee, planning meetings... as if the holy week is huddling us together reminding us that relationship is the very essence of God.

And today.

Today is the first of April. And in our house it's not about fooling one another, but about remembering God's help and presence. Today is our own Ebenezer. And we observe it by remembering and helping those without homes, as we once were. It just happens to fall on Maundy Thursday this year; a fitting time to offer a "stone of help" to others.

Friday is coming and I look forward to taking the boys through an interactive Easter experience close to our house. Annually, Friday is a sweet time for me as I pray that God will be made real in the hearts of my boys.

Sunday. Resurrection day. Our first year here in Denver, our first anniversary being the church with the people of TNL, and marking for me the thirty-second year that I've walked this journey after Christ.

Perhaps you observe Holy Week in a formal way. Perhaps it's a bittersweet time of remembering your Lenten commitment. Perhaps you run through it preparing Easter dinner, baskets and family gatherings this weekend. To all of us, may we consider how the holy is persistently awaiting our notice of it and turn to look at it.