Thursday, May 15, 2014

another school year draws to a close

Can it really be possible we are coming to the end of another year of school for the kids?  It doesn't seem like it was that long ago I was nervously anticipating the huge change that would come from having the boys back in school.  To look back now at all that has transpired leaves me breathless to consider the greatness of all God has done this year. 

Micah has happily settled in to high school, finding his niche in band.  Next year he wants to do it all: marching band, jazz band, and the new wind ensemble he auditioned into.  When I think about the options we were considering, it makes me thankful for the door that opened (or should I say the others that closed?) that allowed him to go to West.  They have an excellent music program!  He isn't sure what he wants to do in college yet except he is already contemplating a minor in music.  We shall see what may come of that dream.  He is such a special young man who loves the Lord and humbly serves our family and others.

Rachel--my goodness, how she has grown up this year.  She's more than halfway through her time in braces, got contacts, grew several inches (along with Micah), and really has stepped up in her maturity.  I have watched her writing skills continue to blossom and in math she has soared.  We enjoyed Heart of Dakota very much.  Looking back, I could wish I had placed her a little higher, but it is also hard to imagine not having this year of church history intertwined with the middle ages.  I trust God does not waste anything, and she did really enjoy it!  It was really neat to use HOD's student notebooking pages, leaving her a detailed record of things she learned this year, and helping me gauge how her handwriting, summarizing, and note-taking skills grew as the year progressed.  She is well prepared for 8th grade!  I have loved seeing her heart growing ever more tender toward the Lord and His word.

Josiah transitioned to school so well.  An eager learner, he would often talk to me about the things he was soaking up with great accuracy.  Somehow so many of his sensory issues faded this year as his mind found more and more things to keep him occupied.  He is ending the year much stronger in math than where he began, and of course still loves to read his comic books.  We are thrilled with how well he has done, with no academic or behavioral support needed apart from meeting with a social worker once a week for social skill training.  We do need to be honest and admit it is not always smooth sailing for him, but are still thankful for the things he is learning about self-control...sometimes the hard way.  A semester in speech at ISU has also helped him in so many ways.  He wants to do right and is learning more about what that looks like as he grows, but he does need extra help understanding the skills necessary to make good choices.

We anticipate more changes next year with Rachel headed to private school.  It will be the first time in over 15 years I will have no one at home with me during the day!!  It's going to be an even busier season of life, but we continue to treasure our family times together.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity I had to homeschool the kids for a time, and we trust God for what is yet to come, knowing there will be challenges even while acknowledging He can be trusted and His ways are always good.

Friday, January 3, 2014

the climber

At our local children's museum there is a play area that wins all awards in the eyes of my oldest two children.  It is a climber, a labyrinth that winds itself around and up from the second to the third floor.  Both Micah and Rachel hesitated years ago, the first time they saw this climber, but Micah quickly overcame his fear and got busy with the task at hand, and since Rachel did whatever her older brother could do, she happily followed him wherever he might lead.  The two have been climbing partners ever since.

Even with much coaxing, Josiah has never been comfortable about the climber. From the time he was a toddler, he's watched his older siblings trot off and spend most of their museum time there, but he's never had much interest in venturing in.  With plenty of other sensory-related fears to help him tackle, I have never been one to urge him forward.  But today, we found ourselves at the museum together sans older siblings.  Sadly, they have outgrown these sweet childish pursuits, quite literally as they cannot fit in its small spaces with their adult-like bodies.  When we reached the second floor, Josiah and I found ourselves in front of the climber.

"Why don't you try going in?" I asked Josiah.  He shrank back but looked intrigued in spite of himself.  "Look at this, Josiah.  If you just go in this far," I pointed to the first carpeted rectangle, held up by diamonds of well-secured wire, "you can get right back out.  Just try it and see how it feels."

Feeling a bit braver, Josiah took a step into the climber.  "Now look," I said.  "If you climb to this next place, you can get right back down and come out.  What do you think?"  Josiah tentatively climbed up one rectangle.  He flashed a grin, got down, and came out.

For the next 25 minutes, I watched Josiah venture just one step further and then another, turning around each time to make sure he could find his way back out of the maze.  Finally, feeling completely confident, his face lit up with a smile and he began to climb, around and up.  I heard his triumphant little voice long after his body disappeared from my view.  "Mom!  I made it to the tippy top!  Woohoo!"

Today Josiah learned a lesson about the joy of overcoming fear, and taught me one in the process.  There are times I look at his ASD diagnosis and in every way, it resembles the tangled labyrinth of the climber.  I understand enough about how he is wired to venture in a few steps toward helping him tackle the next challenge, then timidly turn around and to find my way back out again, denying and ignoring the unique ways we have to face situations.  I balk, just wanting things to get easier rather than having to find the patience and creativity to meet the next difficult challenge.  Looking up, there are places I cannot begin to imagine we might have to climb.  Concerns about handling Josiah's food sensitivities as he grows, facing academic and social issues, and eventually letting this impulsive child climb behind the wheel of a car loom like insurmountable obstacles between Josiah's childhood and the day he will launch off on his own as an adult. 

I am grateful there is a Voice right by my side, to encourage me, guide me, and give wisdom for each step, the loving presence of a heavenly Father who knows Josiah better and loves him more than I ever will.  There are things about Josiah's upbringing that I need to consider and think about that may be variations from that of a typical child, but I'm also learning that much of what I need to give him is also the same as that of any of my children.  Josiah needs love, he needs to learn grace and know the victory Christ has won for his sin, he needs encouragement, and he needs to know how to access the God of the Bible who will walk with him through every challenge.

I'm gaining confidence that someday I will hear a much deeper voice say, "Mom!  I made it!" 

There is something inherently joyful about having the confidence to climb.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

treasuring the Word

In the midst reading Anne of Green Gables aloud to my daughter recently, I had to stop at the end of the following paragraph and sigh, so complete was my delight in reading such well chosen words that painted a picture of longing not only on my mind but also in my heart:

"The Barry garden was a bowery wilderness of flowers which would have delighted Anne's heart at any time less fraught with destiny.  It was encircled by huge old willows and tall firs, beneath which flourished flowers that loved the shade.  Prim, right-angled paths, neatly bordered with clamshells, intersected it like moist red ribbons and in the beds between old-fashioned flowers ran riot.  There were rosy bleeding hearts and great splendid crimson peonies; white, fragrant narcissi and thorny, sweet Scotch roses; pink and blue and white columbines and lilac-tinted Bouncing Bets; clumps of southernwood and ribbon grass and mint; purple Adam-and-Eve, daffodils, and masses of sweet clover white with its delicate, fragrant, feathery sprays; scarlet lightning that shot its fiery lances over prim white musk-flowers; a garden it was where sunshine lingered and bees hummed, and winds, beguiled into loitering, purred and rustled."

It reminded me of another paragraph that left me the same way feeling the same way in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm:

"Mr. Cobb felt like a fish removed from his native element and left panting in the sand; there was no evading the awful responsibility of a reply, for Rebecca's eyes were like searchlights that pierced the fiction of his brain and perceived the bald spot on the back of his head."

As avid reader and aspiring writer (in my best daydreams), I love to soak up beautiful words.  Whether they are written on a page, spoken in a conversation, or launched from a pulpit, I tend to gather the ideas they express like precious stones to turn over in my mind that I may admire their beauty and take in the message they are meant to convey.  The best words speak not only to my mind and heart, but also to my soul, and they do not leave without transforming me into something I was not before I heard them.

But there is one Word that is like a diamond among pebbles, that is worth pondering and treasuring long after other words have ceased to work their wonder.  That Word is Jesus.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

Before there were words, there was the Word.  That Word spoke the universe into existence, breathed life into the first man, pronounced the curse on the first sin; directed, pleaded, promised, and warned through Israel's history, and then the unimaginable but wonderful happened.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." (John 1:14)

That Word came to man by becoming man, and so brought redemption from the curse, kept every promise, pointed man back to God, and gave hope of future restoration.

This year, I want resolve again to marvel over this Word, collecting the treasures Jesus intended to convey in His coming to this world.  I trust by the end of this year I will not be the same person, but instead be transformed by the power of the message God sent in Him. Will you join me?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

a better way

Today is a holiday from school, with much joy in the house as my children spend time together in ways that school days do not allow (alas, I miss this about homeschooling!)  Eric and I have been busy with errands and Thanksgiving preparations, and I've been guiding the kids into a few activities I know will bless others.  And the tension begins to build as Josiah grows frustrated with some of his tasks, usually expressed in disapproval over the way I am doing things.  This is a small reminder of how his mind processes life and tries to make sense of so much extra sensory "noise" by insisting on order and his own, often narrow way of thinking. 

Having my youngest in school has put a buffer between us that is much appreciated.  He has a teacher telling him what to do all day, and because she is the teacher guiding children in a highly structured environment, he gladly and humbly obliges (at least so far as I can tell).  When he gets home and it is mom doing the directing, he bristles, hems and haws, and otherwise makes it clear that if he were in charge, this or that would not be done in this way.  Because his teacher is the authority and there is uniformity in his day he trusts her, but somehow he's not quite sure he should feel the same way about mom's instructions in the more unstructured setting of our home.

However, at one point this morning while I was making his gluten free rolls, I saw a glimmer of something else, something that gave me hope.  He eyed my yeast and water mixture with great suspicion, started to protest the process, and then took a deep breath.

"Ok, Mom.  I trust you."  He patted me and walked away with a smile.

Once again, I am humbled by a little boy and the way the need for order and control in his life mirror my own.  How often do I look at the things God is doing in my life, see the chaos that seems to characterize my own existence, and try to insist that He do things my way?  That somehow, my plans would turn out infinitely better...(deep breath) than they would with the God of wisdom sovereignly working out His great purposes in ways I could never improve upon.

"Have Your way, Lord.  I trust you."

this moment in time

It's so hard to find time these days to blog, but today I'm trying.  Here's a glimpse into my children's lives in this busy season of one in elementary, one in junior high, and one in high school!

Micah: relishes playing trumpet with great improvement shown with no braces, found soccer was not for him, enjoying high school with band and lunch his favorite times of the day, two more months until driver's education begins, pizza, youth group, missions-minded, hugs, delightful, cowboy hat, black or gray, technology class, misses homeschooling, music

Rachel: writing, writing, writing!, stuffed animals, braces, Siberia and Siberian Huskies, cousin Anna, cell phone, art projects, broken toe, tacos, chocolate, youth group, worship team, piano and clarinet but "mom please can I stop playing clarinet?," science classes at the discovery museum, little girl turning young woman

Josiah: school is awesome!, science and astronomy, dogs and cats, pizza, Star Wars, library, reading books, Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes, music, embracing every day with enthusiasm, turquoise, making friends, loving Jesus, hugs, archery, Playmobil, growing up in so many ways

Friday, September 13, 2013

in full swing

Since it has been almost a month since my last post, I just thought I would provide a quick update.

Micah is enjoying high school.  At the last soccer practice before his first game, he broke his pinky and is in a cast and then a splint for 6 weeks, cutting his season quite short.  Although it is a bit frustrating, he's had a terrific attitude and is serving his team from the sidelines.  He says he does not care to do soccer again, not because of the injury but because he has realized how good the other players are.  (He may have had potential as a goalie but finds the footwork challenging.)  This is the time to find out what he likes and doesn't!  This week he stayed after school for an outdoor adventure club hosted by his math teacher who is in the army.  Their first activity is paintballing.  My guess is that is something Micah will like!

Rachel has settled into her school routine and loves her studies so far.  It took us both about a week to learn a new way of doing things, but now it feels very comfortable and she is able to work fairly independently in most areas.  Saxon math is going well and I'm surprised at how much we both enjoy it, but should have known their systematic way of doing things would click for her.  When she's done with school she goes off on her own to write stories.  I love seeing Rachel's creative side!

Josiah loves school--what a blessing!  He comes home very excited every day, telling me the things he's done and learned.  I am seeing so many changes in how he behaves at home now that he's being kept busy and having more stimulation throughout his day.  He seems to thrive on a fast pace,  but he's always had challenges in what to do with his free time since imaginative play is so difficult for him.  It's been encouraging to see his papers come home and have a glimpse at how quickly he's picking up writing and math.  The school is collecting data to see what kind of help he may need, but so far his teacher reports that he's been doing great!

All three kids are in BSF this year thanks to a friend who offered to take them to the evening women's class.  It's going to be a blessing to study Matthew with them!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


It seems I must give equal time to all 3 kids tonight, so my addition for Micah is this: he made the JV soccer team at West.  Go Wildcats!  There are several home games this season.  Feel free to come cheer him on!!