the first week in review

The first week back to school, after any event, is always a challenge.  I think I’ve said that before.  And I have learned not to pin too many hopes on that first week.

So this week, we just aimed at getting everybody minimally back up to speed in math, science and grammar.   And I also planned on doing a whole lot of group discussion so we could all remember what it was we were studying in history  last month.
We all wanted to get started memorizing Philippians 1:1-6 together.
I had a pile of war poetry, written by WWI soldiers,  to read and discuss.
And I wanted to get everybody to work on  persuasive  essay projects that would sound enticing.
One of the kids is writing an essay trying to convince the president to join the League of Nations, another  is  writing a proposal to a friend to join her in a business venture, another is writing a paper to persuade her dad that  a vegetable garden would benefit his mental and physical health…..and Daniel is writing a paper about why Lego should be in the home (and all over the floor) of every 8yr old boy.    I’m leaving somebody out, but that happens all the time.

Persuasive essays are a great favorite.  For a brief moment, they are being told that it’s OK to smear their opinions all over somebody else……and that’s way more fun than writing a book report.

I was also hoping, just hoping, that after the disorganization of the past two weeks we could squeak everybody through piano lessons today without too much shame.  And they did it!    They surpassed all my expectations.    I nearly cried.

So,  Hallelujiah, We made it…..on all points.  This has not happened before, I’m sure.  I always fall flat this first week after the break, and it’s always a bit discouraging.  But not this time.
So, I’m pumped now.  I’m taking this as a sign.  We’re about to have a killer second half of the year.

And on top of all that, we got winter.      Here’s our street this afternoon.
And Maggie learned to ice-skate today.
We all went skiing Monday and we tried to teach Maggie to ski.  And that was a comedy show.   She went up the kiddie hill on the magic carpet, sobbing most of the way.  Then she cried in a howling sort of way,  all the way down the hill.  Three times.   Then she went back up for the fourth run, and when she got off the belt at the top, she amazed us all by reaching back, unfastening her  bindings, stepping out of  her skis and marching down the hill.
I gathered up the skis and followed her.
I wish I had a photo…..just try to imagine a three year old dressed up like a hot-pink astronaut stomping down a snowy hill, grim determination and hot chocolate  all over her face.

She can ski next year.   This year she’ll skate, and that’s enough for me.

Oh, and I even got David’s sweater started.   I have never actually made a sweater that  anyone would wear.   So far, I’m just good at flat items.    So here’s the ribbing for the waistband, and I’m working my way up.   I can tell you now that once I get to the arms, and have to actually attach those babies, I’m going to be melting in a pool of sweaty anxiety.   Knitting Drama.  Stay Tuned!

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…..

Encouragement as we Re-enter the Atmosphere

Home education re-commences here at our house today, after a three week break.   It was a refreshing break, but executing a graceful return to routine is sometimes a challenge.

We all have to work together the first week to get the ship back in the water, so to speak.  And sometimes there’s a fair bit of lurching and scrambling before we have smooth sailing again.

By good providence this morning, Jon and I woke up at 4am without the alarm.   So I got an extra hour of quiet this morning to read and prepare.   That was such a sweet gift!

And after I finished my regular readings, I had a little time to follow a few rabbit trails in search of some good ideas to share with my kids. (I am in 2 Kings now, also reading through Psalm where I am at Psalm 141, and reading a Proverb a day, and trying to memorize Philippians with a few others.)

My reading in Philippians made me think I wanted to find a good bit of scripture to pray for the kids, and the widow with the oil in 2 Kings 4  had caused me to stop and wonder  how well I am teaching my kids to expect really big things from God.   So with these two ideas in mind, I went to the back of my Thompson Chain Reference.

After some meandering around,    I ended up in Ephesians 3:14 – 19, where Paul is praying for the Ephesians, saying:

“…I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through this Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge   – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

And that is a great thing to be praying for the kids today!    So I’m praying for that for us all.  Think of what it will be like to see that prayer being answered in our lives.   For us to be strengthened through the Spirit in our inner being, I understand that kind of strength and I want it more.  That is strength to stand firm for what’s right, and to lean on the Spirit for confidence in the truth of what we’ve been taught.  That would lead to all kinds of outrageous obedience.   Being rooted and established in love would mean, for one thing, that we would not be rooted and established in always having to be the one who is right, always having to have our own way.   We would be extending ourselves for one another all over the place.

And this business of grasping how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ is huge.  It sounds huge.  He’s saying that it’s more enormous than our ability to naturally grasp and understand it.  It means that God has to stretch our minds and hearts so we can  understand.  I want that.  And I want that for my family.

And then, in my little journal where I keep notes on whatever I am reading, I was looking around, and stumbled upon a quote from John Bunyan.   This is a little passage from his book All Loves Excelling , and is speaking about exactly those verses in Ephesians.   How cool is that!   And it’s such a wonderful and encouraging paragraph, I have to share it:

“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.”

And what could be more encouraging than that?   I hope everybody who’s reading this can share in this prayer, as this great God is yours and He wants you to understand who He is.

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.