the second week in review

Here, again, is this wonderful passage from John Bunyan’s book  All Loves Excelling.

“The High God is yours;  the God that fills heaven and earth is yours;  the God whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain is yours, yea, the God whose works are wonderful, and whose ways are past finding out, is yours!  Consider therefore the greatness that is for you, that taketh part with you, and that will always come in for your help against them that contend with you.     It is my support, it is my relief, it is my comfort in all my tribulations,  and I would have it be yours, and so it will when we live in the lively faith thereof.”

This is an amazing concept.    It’s the most perfect antidote to discouragement.   It is so uplifting to consider that this great God is ours, and is our comfort.   Especially since our week here was not very inspirational or inspired.  But we were carried through and cared for through it all.  That is really marvellous!

This is how the outside world looked last time any of us were in it.     I love the look of the dam on our river  when it freezes.   I went for two very chilly three mile runs on Monday and Tuesday,  in temperatures which were something like -11C, and then, along with  my children, I fell ill.

It’s not surprising that our very satisfying start back to school last week…..complete with ball spike and victory dance by me…..was followed by a really mediocre week in which it has felt that we are marching through molasses.   This, thanks to a funky virus that is claiming us one by one and leaving us curled up under blankets and quilts on every sofa, chair, bed and even on the floor in front of the fireplace.
Not all of us have fallen, and the ones still on their feet have loved us and fed us, and kept things tidy and have kept morale up in something like a symphony of cheerful non-complaint.

Maggie has hardly shown any signs of illness, and has flitted from patient to patient wearing her Queen Elizabeth I dress.

Here she is , wearing her uniform, with a bit of war-paint fading from her cheeks, having just donated her mug of milk to good old Cinder.    Gross, but also sweet.    And it’s OK, she knows not to drink after the dog…..

She ministers to us by snuggling up close to her patient of choice, with the rustling crinolines and stiff collar standing tall.   Once she’s nestled in under the covers,  she  tells the most preposterous stories which include dragons, trips to Costco, a creature who creep into houses to steal ginger-ale, hairy spiders taking up residence in people’s noses, and squirrels in bathing suits.   And it’s really encouraging.   It reminds me that health is still close-by……so close I can almost touch it.   And then, later I find her sleeping, curled up like a pinto bean in front of the fireplace, exhausted by her efforts.

As I have said, we are neither inspired nor inspirational.   But we’re really thankful.   I am so very thankful for those blankets, chairs, beds and fireplace.  For Helen singing while she made breakfast for us all this morning.   For my sweet neighbour who just stopped by with a casserole.  For the good words of Philippians swirling around in my head, reminding me to remember my brothers with thankfulness and to look for how the grace of God is evident in their lives.    And for the blessing that comes to us as we remember to pray for one another.

We were all scheduled for the high entertainment of a debate session tonight, in which the three older kids had each taken a different stand on the topic of who should get the vote (as if it were the 1920’s).   One is arguing for an all white vote, another argues for black and white men voting, and another is taking the side of the women’s votes.    But two of my debaters are too dizzy to fight.

We had hoped to rocket  through the early 1920’s in history, and go straight for The Great Depression starting Monday.   Wonder if we can double up and cover all we missed next week and get back on schedule?    I’ll know in a week.

My older kids are doing two courses of Biology this year.  One is Apologia Biology, which seems to be a big favourite among home-schoolers.  The other course is a far more rigorous Biology with Microbiology which is being taught by their dad.   He usually brings them together for science class on Friday afternoon, and science class is always preceded by a day of jittery nervous energy, and three kids who have their heads buried in textbooks and computer screens in preparation.    I wonder if they will have class today……they don’t like to let Jon down, and it’s really beautiful to me to see them trying to rise to his expectations.

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I made a bit of progress on David’s sweater.   Here it is last week:

And here it is this week:

Here’s the original drawing, the plan for this sweater.   It’s silly, but I’m filling the drawing in with color as I get it knitted up.

He Needs to Lead

The other morning, my husband and I went out for a quiet breakfast together.   That was really delightful!

While we were out, I was trying to sort out some harsh words I had heard from  a Christian brother who was unfairly criticizing people who are not in his family, and who are in no way under his authority.
In trying to help me understand what might be happening, Jon shared  some ideas about what can result when women don’t respond appropriately to their husbands.
He was talking about what happens when habitual inappropriate responses from the wife prevent the husband from leading effectively in his home.

Jon’s idea is that a man is built with the capacity and desire to lead, and  the need to lead.   We all know this.
And this husband should be leading with love and kindness and gentleness, leading the ones who are dear to him.    But when that husband’s leadership, in the place where he is made to lead,  is impeded by the woman who should be following him with a smile on her face, he often responds by leading more harshly and sometimes in places where his leadership is not appropriate.

He may try to supervise the behaviour of  others, like siblings, co-workers,  neighbours,  in ways which are unwelcome and unkind.    He may even become overbearing.    He’s got the desire to exert authority appropriately, but when it’s thwarted he may force authority in another setting.    And if these other individuals….the ones who are on the receiving end of unwelcome, inappropriate leadership…….  are endeavouring to respond biblically, they might find that  harsh leadership to be something that stumbles them, until  they come to understand it rightly .

I find it’s helpful  to me to keep it in mind that when I am cheerfully submissive and working as a good team-mate alongside my husband, I am protecting our home, my husband, and also protecting other people.

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I don’t mean to say that if a man is exercising harsh and inappropriate authority, that it’s his wife’s fault.

He is accountable for his own behaviour.

But Jon’s perspective on how one person’s sin can trigger the sin  of another was interesting to me.

The question of how one individual  may respond biblically and rightly to habitual offences of another is also a good one to consider.

I wonder if anyone else has thoughts on this topic.

Memorizing Scripture in 2011

It’s not too late to begin a good scripture memory program for 2011.    Our family is memorizing Philippians using the  downloadable PDF  schedule at    timmybrister.com.     This program is very well organized and includes many good suggestions for how to keep yourself accountable as you memorize.   I would recommend the format heartily!    All of us in my family are (almost)  right on schedule.    Michael has got verses 1-7 down pat, I am just right behind him…..just having a bit of trouble keeping all those prepositions sorted.    And the rest are all making a valiant effort and all are able to recite verses 1-5 without a bump.

My friend Allyson sort of challenged me also to memorize the book of Colossians in a year, using the schedule at  A Holy Experience.    And since it’s only two verses a week, I thought I could manage that.   I know I will never regret it.   And it’s a small commitment, really.

It’s always such a blessing to have scripture in your head, easily brought to mind.   It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit uses that memorized word to speak to you in moments when it is perfect and right.     Memorizing scripture is like an invitation to the Spirit of God to speak to you and through you.   And that is really exciting!

So, like I said, it’s not too late to begin.

Complaining Women

Here  is a post I wrote almost a year ago at my old blog.
The post below this one which links to Doug Wilson’s article on keeping family matters private made me think of it.
So, I rummaged around and found it.
I promise I will not run it every January.
Here it is again:

I want to unburden myself of some thoughts on women who complain about their inlaws.

Somebody else can write a post on men who are fussers.

This one is for the ladies, because I am pretty well convinced that women’s complaining can absolutely destroy a family.  The collateral damage is then often permanent, or at least very slow and difficult to heal.

When my  husband and I first married, I had the same temptation most other women have to pick away at the habits, tastes, food, holiday traditions…..you name it….of my in-laws.  I think I might have thought that I could pull all his loyalty over to my camp by enlightening him to the shortcomings of his ancestors and his home country.

Jon very wisely told me to just cut it out, as they were not only His family, they were now My family.

And so, despite feeling very much un-loved by my mother in law, I determined to be kind and polite and to not give her any reason to complain about me.  And I really made an effort to grow a sweeter attitude toward her.  This is what it means to honour my husband in such a situation, and it’s also what it means to honour my mother, even if she’s my mother-in-law.  And the most amazing thing happened!   As I stopped thinking about her the wrong way, I stopped talking about her the wrong way, and it became apparent to her, and she and I really came to love one another.   I had to get my heart in line first.  And then came such a sweet reward.

The result of this is that I have a really lovely relationship with my in-laws.  All of them.

By not complaining about them and by purposefully looking for the best in them, I have really learned to love them.   Had I complained about them on and on for the past 17 years, I would certainly have built up such a stockpile of reasons not to be kind to them, that there would be no harmony at all between us now.

And as some of this family are growing older and in need of extra doses of respect and kindness and understanding, I am so thankful for habits of respect and kindness with them.

These make it less difficult to figure out “What is the best way to love them in this hard time…..”

As wives, if we complain to our husbands about their parents or siblings, if we try to “help” by shining a brighter light on the failings and inconsistencies of the ones who raised them and prepared them for life with US…..we are destroying the fiber of their families.  One thread at a time perhaps, but we are destroying it.
The casualties of this will be elderly parents who don’t receive the best care, and also our own children who don’t have that blanket of loving family.
And when it is the turn for those children to look after us, how lonely we will be if we have trained them to complain and criticize the family.

Wilson on Not Airing our Dirty Laundry

Nancy Wilson shared this link to an article written by her husband on the subject of husbands and wives not chatting all over town about their differences with one another.    Doug Wilson is taking aim at “Christian transparency” which encourages us to share all the messes of our lives and our family members’s lives with people  outside the protected confines of the family.
Nancy describes this article as “helpful”.   I think that’s an understatement of the highest degree.

One of my favorite lines from this article is this one:

“A tiff, properly contained, is what it is. But a tiff performed on stage is a species of high contempt for the other person.”

It is an excellent post!   And one that can be well applied to all family members, as it’s not only spouses who like to discuss the shortcomings of others which would be better kept confidential.    It can also be parents, sibling, in-laws, me, you…..

Please be careful in this New Year

I saw this video at Dan Philip’s blog.

It’s  part of a campaign launched by AT&T to discourage cell-phone texting while driving.

I have some really precious teenagers at my house, and found these stories heartbreaking.

Let’s all take really good care of one another  in 2011.

Resolved

For 2011, I am resolving to do one thing in a very new way.
This year,I’m not making a long impressive list of resolutions.
I think anyone who has read any blog of mine for any amount of time at all would agree that
I am some kind of “Resolution Queen”  I make a lovely list every year,
always with a mix of old resolutions and new.
And I have kept those lists, and when I look over them
I can only agree with the woman I was when  I wrote them that they are really excellent goals.
Some are more enticing,  some are more attainable , and some are more practical than others.
All have value.
All my resolutions over the years have, to a greater or lesser degree, been helpful to me .
Whether or not they have been achieved fully, they have all raised my sights and my standards in some way.
A new year is a new beginning, and a great time to start fresh.
It marks a launching pad from which it is almost natural to sort of re-pack your bags,
check the map and plot a better course.
And to do those things is wise.
So, I don’t ever want to become cynical at the prospect of New Year’s resolutions.
In fact, I’ll have a nice list of resolutions for 2012.
But this year, I’m resolving to not leap out and grab more projects, bigger and more beautiful.
This year, I’m just going to take the projects I have and slow down with them all, giving them better attention.   I’m going to focus on schooling my kids in a quieter way,  focussing on the details and fine-tuning the daily disciplines better.
Focusing on listening to what I have been taught, so I can apply it better.
This idea seems so obvious!
To give it my keener attention, though,  is  really necessary.
This simple plan grows out of my resolution for last year, which was to use the stuff I had better.
I think that the theme of 2010 was for me to look around at the abundance of what I have……the curricula,  the cookbooks,  the clothing,  the closet space,  the home-schooling room, the art supplies, the skills, the raw materials in my home…..and try and get better use from it all.    That was not a very glamorous resolution.   But it was HUGE!
For me to “smaller” myself, focusing of being thankful for what we have and using it better was much needed and really illuminating.
I have come to see more clearly (a bit more clearly)  my character flaws of laziness and wastefulness.   These are  flaws which have been plain and obvious to many others, and it is quite humbling to begin to understand how much they have gotten in the way of good productivity and a smooth running house.
So, to continue in this way is essential.
To look at my day and our schooling plans with an eye to get the most use of what’s been provided for us will continue to be Goal Number One.
And since last year the focus was on using the physical resources more wisely and well, the next step in the progression would seem to be that I use the teachings I have received better.  So my thought for 2011 is that this will be the year when I learn better how to apply the things I know.
I have a better understanding now, compared to a year ago, of how easily I waste
the “stuff” in my life.
Having some clearer insights about my failure over the years to use curricula, supplies, groceries, space….etc, and to get the most from what was provided by God for me,
I am sure that I am also failing to get the full value of all that I am reading, hearing, and seeing.
So, if there is a resolution for this year, it is to pay closer attention to what I am reading,
to what God has already instructed me to do,
to what my husband has asked me to do,
to the spoken requests of my children,
to the great possibilities set before me in the books and resources we have right here under our roof for the purpose of educating our children.
We have so much to be thankful for, and God has been really outrageously gracious to our family.
So I just want to faithfully use it all better, and to do so with a heart of thanksgiving.