Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quarter 1 Recap

So, we've finished 10 weeks of school and I thought that this would be a good time to recap the things that we've done, mostly so I can pat myself on the back and say "good job, me!" Because even though I love it, this homeschooling stuff is hard work: it gobbles up a fair bit of my time and energy, demands patience and love and a huge helping of the Holy Spirit, and my house is pretty much a disaster all of the time.

But I love it! Why? well because I get to study history and science and math and writing with my kids. I get to hear Katie getting a better grasp on reading and watch Josh understand the math concepts of carrying and borrowing. Josh & Katie have also started asking questions that have forced us to explore more deeply, try a bit harder. Why isn't there more about women in the Middle Ages? What is the code of chivalry?  Olivia is excited to learn her letters and is dying for the opportunity to read.

We have explored the crust of the earth with a pizza and started testing minerals. We have travelled with Richard the Lion-hearted, Joan of Arc, the Black Prince, Marco Polo, and St. Francis of Assissi. We have visited Scandinavia in the winter with the Tomten, sailed with the Vikings to Greenland and beyond, and marched across Europe through Asia minor for the glory of God. We've learned that sometimes priests are focused on things other than God, women had a strong presence in the Middle Ages (who do you think cared for farms when all the men went off to war), and becoming a knight was not easy. We've learned our Spanish vowels and pointed out many el camion and el autobus.

We' ve met the God of the Bible: Jehovah, El Elyon, El Kana, El Shaddai, and Elohim--and learned that he is a loving, Creator God who deserves and demands our full attention and lives. Before Him there can be no other.

In life, we've encountered some bumps, been bruised, but have used creative thinking to overcome. There are now chore charts and kid calendars and places where the kids learn from others than me. They've brought me to tears, I've made them cry. School at our house is life magnified by 1,000.

But we're looking forward: to the Renaissance, the Age of Discovery, The Reformation, Shakespeare. Minerals and Rocks. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division. Spanish. And most importantly, Christ Incarnate: the Son of our Living God, come to earth as baby to live life and die for all our sins.

There is so much to be thankful for, so much more to learn.

And now, for your viewing pleasure: A smilebox album on our trip to the Renaissance fair in mid-September. We had a fantastic time and I hope to use much of what we saw to bring home the lessons we are learning in the weeks to come.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writer's Block

So, if you know anything about me, you know two very basic things:
1} I love the written word. I love the way it flows on  paper. I love the way the way words force me to consider things that I wouldn't on my own: an emotion, a question, a problem, a solution. I could spend most of my time thinking about words.
2} I love to learn new things. I love to ask questions and learn about people and places. I like going a bit deeper and asking uncomfortable questions that get at the heart of a feeling or problem or situation or person. When I meet someone who views, thinks, or knows differently from me, I want to know about it--so I ask a ton of questions. I am truly interested in what other people have to say.

Add to that the fact that I love the quirky things in life, the small details that others may notice but not pay attention to and that I love to express myself with the written word, mostly for me, but also for others.

So I ask you? Why in the world do I have writer's block?

I mean, seriously, I have ten thousand ideas in my head. Every day I think of new questions to ask, find out about, write about, explore. I've even thought of a blog post that just lists a ton of questions I have, things that I am curious about.

And every time I sit down at a computer to type or write something out, I completely freeze. The words are stilted, forced, fake. They aren't what I write in my head. It doesn't have the rhythm, force of meaning, provocativeness, or lilt that I hear when I recite them in my head.

Why are these words stuck inside my head?

Honestly, it's because I care too much about what other people will think. And isn't that true in so much of life? We are free in our heads and stilted on paper because of how others will judge us and what we look like on the outside.

In much of the way that I live my life, I have stopped depending on others approval to validate who I am. And that is what I need to do more in my writing. Oh yes, I have a ton to say. And you might not like it. But if I am truly honest about who I am and who God has created me to be and the fantastic things that are in my head--Watch out! 'Cause there is some sweet writing comin' your way.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Love that doesn't make sense

I have some dear friends who recently brought into their home a new baby. Sometimes I get lost when I am watching the mom and the dad and baby J interact: there is such intensity, such love in their expressions, my heart wants to break for it.

You see, baby J came to their home after months of prayer and waiting and has become their child through adoption. He is not their child by birth, but knowing the difficulty of the road they walked to bring him home, he is their child, a child of their hearts.

And I marvel at this. Because it is obvious they love him deeply, they enjoy having him there, they are thrilled he is a part of their wonderful family.

But what I marvel the most (and have been thinking about quite a bit lately) is the deep love they have for baby J. Their love for him is equal to their love for their other kids.

And that is what doesn't make sense, sometimes to me, sometimes to the world: how can you love a person enough to sacrifice everything if they have no ties to you except your commitment to them?

That is what I think the essence of adoption is. I think about our kids, the ones we are waiting for. And right now our waiting feels patient, it's manageable. Eric and I talk in broad terms about what our family might be like when they finally come home. But right now it is purely an academic exercise. Sure, I feel some sort of affection for whoever they are, this vague idea of a boy and girl who are coming home to us. But it surely isn't real.

It is a lot like before I ever had children. I had no idea I could love so deeply, so instantly. Kids were actually a scary idea: they ruined your marriage, took away your personal time and money, sucked away your joy and energy. Even during pregnancy, I wasn't one to wax deep loving thoughts over that little one who was growing inside me. But the minute I met my son, the love was fierce.

I know that when we get that referral, everything changes . The kids will then have names, faces, stories. They are on their way to becoming ours. Our love, concern, and care for them grows. And then the moment we meet them for the first time. Well, although those two kids might not understand what is happening, tears of joy, relief, and thankfulness will be shed. In fact, I can make myself cry just thinking about it.

And now as I look at our adding to our family, I know I will love these kids. I know I will be willing to sacrifice anything and everything for them to be safe and whole and loved. But as I read about the trials that we might face, I question this love: why would anyone want to do this? Why do I want to make it that we stick out in a crowd? Why do we want to deal with the struggles of adjusting to life in this family when (usually) we like it just the way it is? Why should we voluntarily make life harder than it is, taxing our physical, emotional, and mental resources?

See, it doesn't make sense.

Does it make sense?

Yes it does. Don't worry. I don't know how it happens or how it works, but I know it does. I will love those kids enough to break my heart.

How do I know?

I seen it in the examples of many, many families with adopted kids, both young and old. I have heard the tears and anguish of when a child chooses the wrong path, the pain of a child removed back to a birth mother, the joy felt when a child has reached a milestone. God has a way of weaving families together.

I also know because God is in the business of adoption. He adopted me. He used his Son to bring the two of us together. I did nothing to deserve a place in His family. And even though I have fought him and grieved against him and not trusted him to do what's best for me, he has always remained my Father. Nothing can remove me from his family. Not height nor depth, nor life nor death, nor things present nor things to come, nor things in heaven or on the earth or below the earth will be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It's a love that doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense that God would love me in spite of who I am and I how I fight his goodness. Just like it doesn't make sense that I will love a child who will fight me (well, sorta like I am loving children who are fighting against me now!) But it is True. It is real.

It is a love that doesn't make sense. But it will. Because it does.