For the love . . .

Of For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. I’m probably one of the last bloggers to weigh in today on this book, and I doubt I’ll write the best post, but I wanted to say that this book has irretrievably, irrevocably changed my life. I was one of the lucky five hundred chosen to be part of her launch team. I have likely not been the best launch team member, but I was gifted with the chance to know these words and to know her heart months before the launch of this book.

We all know that my everyone must read this book is Ishamel by Daniel Quinn, but if I can have a second, it’s this book. Why?

Because she tells it like it is and challenges each of us to think seriously about our perspective and whether we might have lost it along the way. She has helped me to be a more passionate member of my church community (I hope others see that), and she reminded me of the one truth I will carry with me always: “Theology is either true everywhere or it isn’t true anywhere” (p 17).

It isn’t necessary to do all the things. You *can’t* do all the things. And this book will help you remember or help you find or reinforce that God never asked us to do all the things. He asked us to do our thing. find your thing and do it well. It’s what we are meant to do, asked to do, and called to do.

Jen’s thing is to write a book that resonates across generations of women and helps build community. Read this, it will make you feel better. You can get it here: For the Love

Tale of the Missing Glasses

So, about a month ago Ben went to see Dr. W and it was determined that, in fact, the reason he has been having so much trouble with everything is because he could not see. Okay, so glasses. My son is a very particular young man, and as expected glasses selection was a grueling process for him, but he finally found a pair that he loved. Not only did he love them, but they were on clearance. My son’s frames, ladies and gentlemen, cost $5. Yes, $5. You could have knocked me over with a feather. And then we discovered that transitions lenses for kids? Not crazy expensive at all AND they work.

So, he got his new glasses, came home with them, and then struggled with wearing them, remembering to put them on, remembering to put them in his case when not on his face, and so on. He had a huge melt down at church and threw them at me. It was a pretty rough adjustment period as those things go.

And then, one day, I realized I hadn’t seen him wear them for a couple of days. He really needs them to spot his turns, and I was all over him about finding them before dance auditions last weekend, but we didn’t find them.  So he had to audition without and he’s a little concerned that it didn’t go as well as he had hoped it would.

Shortly after this, his sister mentions that the last time he had them was at a friend’s house. I called the friend’s mom and operation find Ben’s glasses was undertaken. And for several days, through cleaning his friend’s room, the play room, and so forth,the glasses were not found. Now, perhaps I should have paid closer attention to his sister, because the glasses were found this morning. In his sister’s best friend’s room.

It turns out that Katie saw Ben set his glasses down and walk away (instead of bringing them to me like he was supposed to). She took his glasses and hid them in her friend’s room (without her friend knowing, so Katie says), because she was afraid Ben would start chasing after her when he realized she had his glasses. Then she was afraid to tell us that she hid them because she thought we would be upset with her.

Likely not as much upset as I was about their friends’ house being turned upside down trying to find glasses that Katie could have taken us straight to at any time she wanted to. So, yeah. We had a conversation about the people she put out (all the folks who helped look for Ben’s glasses at the dance studio, at the church, and so forth), the people she hurt (Ben, who was treated to the same consequence Katie receives when Katie loses her glasses, except that he didn’t lose his glasses), and her poor friend who had no idea she was harboring Ben’s glasses the whole time.

She cried a lot. Agreed that a loss of device privileges was fair, plus apologizing to each person who was put out. She started this afternoon, but she will be on an apology tour for a few days. The hardest part for both of us was the fact that this isn’t who she is. Last Sunday, she very proudly read the definition of “honest” from the American Heritage Girls creed. She was so upset that she hadn’t been honest and said it made her feel bad.

Hopefully, this was a learning opportunity for her and she’ll remember the next time. But she’s six, so maybe not. Sigh.

A notable change

Since the beginning of the year, I have been doing two things consistently every morning. I read the daily office and the Forward Movement’s Forward Day by Day meditation (they have an app for that so I’m not constantly hunting for the little book) and I read the Bible in one year reading plan at She Reads Truth. During Lent, I’ve added a couple of different devotionals: Lent is Not Rocket Science; Holy Habits: For the Holy Season of Lent, and 40 Things to Give up for Lent and Beyond. I mostly manage to read these all before or during breakfast and it works for me. I didn’t realize the total change it was making in me, though, until today.

You see, today was hectic. We had our bi-weekly service project that we do with the Men’s Ministry at our church. Last spring, I asked if there were jobs that the kids could do and I was told that they could try, now they are a significant part of the team. But to do this, we have to leave the house rather early and given certain people’s ability to sleep in (mine), especially when I spent a good portion of the night with Katie sleeping on me, it wasn’t possible to read before we left. When we got there, we realized that the job we were doing was going to be quite a bit larger than usual and we were there for a lot longer than planned.

When we got home, after a stop at Steak and Shake because the kids worked super hard and because the thought of trying to make lunch actually terrified me in that moment, we were in a whirlwind of homeschool stuff and then blessed quiet time. Except that during quiet time I was trying to deal with things that need to be dealt with before we go on a field trip tomorrow followed by me teaching a children’s lesson during our Wednesday night program at church. So, no the reading didn’t get done then either.

After P came home, it was dinner: biscuits, brisket, and broccoli — one of Ben’s favorite meals (partially the alliteration, partially all his favorite foods on one plate). And then it was on to working on a paper for my paying job. It took longer than planned (they always do) and then it was bedtime and story time.

Once my little people were tucked into bed, then it was time to crank out the stuff for the church newsletter. This involves editing, hunting down photos and other such fun tasks, so I can hand it all off to the person who doesn’t use a Mac and who does all this spiffy stuff in Microsoft Publisher. So, again, no reading for me.

Once I finished all of that I realized that my edges seemed sharper today. I was more emotional and more easily upset. I sat down a bit ago and did the reading that I hadn’t done this morning and I noted a significant change in attitude just from reading. I feel calmer. I feel more at peace and more connected with the world and more forgiving.

I hesitate to call it intentional time with the Lord because, well, I feel like I’m making more of what I do than it is, but on the other hand, that’s my time to seek to understand and to pray and to make requests. I pray at other times, too, but I think the daily action has spawned something I didn’t anticipate.

Evolving Theory of Homeschooling

I’ve been homeschooling since Ben was 4 years old. We started out doing what we can generously call school at home. Ben did worksheets, lots of worksheets. But as we’ve progressed in homeschooling, I’m finding that I’m not satisfied with school at home and I’m not comfortable working on the “conveyer belt.” I’ve been doing a lot of reading in Charlotte Mason and Thomas Jefferson Education. Both of these are gentler forms of education and put less pressure on the kids and allow them to develop a more natural love of learning.

Of course, Ben is suspicious of anything new or that even smells like pushing himself. It takes time and patience to get him to try new things. What I’m learning from all of my reading is that he needs to see me doing things, hard things, and pushing myself to encourage him to push himself. I also know that I need to work along side him and help him learn how to do things himself.

I think about this stuff in terms of Ben because Katie’s love of learning is natural whereas Ben’s has been a struggle to bring to life. He did love learning when he was little, but I think I pushed to hard on the wrong things and didn’t give him a good chance to get a foundation underneath him.

He’s having successes in classes and that is huge for him and I’m seeing him express more interest in learning than he ever has before, but I know I can’ t push and that I have to take my time in order to get him where he needs to go. Fortunately, time is something that we have.

The Shrinking of Time

I realized earlier this week that I am possibly going to collapse from the sheer amount of “stuff” that we’re doing this month. I always say that I get sick in March, but it never really occurred to me until today that I get sick because February somehow always ends up super-stacked and I have so much going on that I can’t stop and rest. I’m not complaining. My kids are healthy, active kids involved in a few activities, but not, I don’t think overscheduled, but somehow February seems to be the confluence point of all the activities into one haze of busy stuff.

Part of it is my seeming inability to say no. What I find fascinating about it is that people have started volunteering me for things I neither offered nor was asked to do. I want to figure out how to not promise things I may not be able to deliver. I’m just so tired.

My goal this year is to use the word “inspire” as my focus. As I look back on January, I don’t know if I can honestly say that I have inspired anyone at anything. I love the activities I do and the things I’m involved in and I don’t want to give any of them up, but I also don’t want to drown or develop yet another upper respiratory infection. I can do with out that. So, I am thinking about how to protect my health this month and still accomplish the list of things that I have to do.

Basically, it’s about eating well, drinking tons of water, and resting where I can. I may not be the first person to come up with that; won’t be the last, but I also know that I need to reevaluate the way I schedule activities and my time so that I don’t end up with these sorts of energy crises on a regular basis.

About a Week Ago

We were back in Dr. T’s office for Katie’s annual visit. We had done a lot of preparatory work with Katie for this visit. We had discussed things he might want to do. Things he might need her to do (e.g., have an x-ray taken), and we talked about how she could make it easier for herself and for everyone else (lie still and not fidget so they didn’t have to use a needle in her arm to help her stay still). We knew going in that the news wouldn’t be what any parent would hope for in this situation. We were not going to be told that the hole was closed and she was free to go. We all knew it. The last remaining hole is still there. So we were prepared for the worst.

What we got was both better and worse than we expected. Katie was Katie. She read herself a book while she waited for Dr. T to come in. She felt very sorry for the child in the other room who was screaming and wanted to go let the other kid know that Dr. T is awesome and he doesn’t need to be afraid, but we convinced her that she didn’t need to do that. They checked height, weight, and head circumference. Unsurprisingly, Katie has gained a pound since he saw her last year and approximately one inch. So the growth spurt we were all eagerly anticipating did not occur. Sigh.

When Dr. T came in, he asked if she could read. She looked at him like you’d expect — silly man, I could do that last year. Heck last year, she wrote her own list of requests. This year she didn’t come with any because she knew this was likely a take away appointment rather than a give to her appointment. He asked Katie how her head is and she was up front with him. I still have a hole right here, and she rubbed her fingers over the spot. He wooged her head (imagine someone else rubbing shampoo into your scalp, that’s kind of like what he does). He said it feels a little smaller, doesn’t it? Katie said she thought so, but she knew it wasn’t closed.

And then we started discussing. January or June. He first wanted to see her again in June 2016 so that if we have to do something we could do it after school let’s out and she would be all set to go when school restarts in August. When I reminded him that we homeschool so that’s irrelevant, then he said, well, then I guess we could go with January. And then he said, no, June. Let’s stick with June. And then the blow, whatever minimally invasive procedure might have been on the table for her is now off the table. If the hole doesn’t fill in she will need surgery.

I understand the reasoning. The minimally invasive procedure has an approximate 50% success rate and it takes a year to determine if it has been successful or not. If we did it now, that would be fine, but if we want to wait, doing full blown cranial surgery at age 8 1/2 is not ideal. It’s not ideal for multiple reasons, but the one that likely makes a difference is that it can destroy a girl’s self-image to have her scar revealed for the world to see and lose a substantial amount of hair. Especially for a girl who has been so patient and worked so hard to grow out her hair. Although, speaking of hair we have learned that the reason that Katie rejects buns so strenuously in dance is because setting one up (that will stay while she dances) pulls on her scar and hurts her.

The surgical procedure is deceptively simple. He will reopen the incision (as we now get to call it instead of the scar, since it may soon be an active part of her body again rather than a reminder of past events), peel back her skin and seed the whole with bone fragments from her and from the bone bank. While there, he also wants to shore up her temples because they are sinking, which they should not be doing. He’ll put a plate over the hole and hopefully the whole thing will heal up and grow and that will be the end of it.

Her restrictions remain the same, no sharp sticks, no soccer, and no body weight over her head (so no hanging upside down on the monkey bars for Katie — not that she would, she says the blood rushing to her head feeling hurts her scar, sigh). And now we have a ticking clock.

Katie sees this as a continuation of God’s plan for her. Whatever happens is what is supposed to happen so that other people can learn about her birth defect and learn how all the treatments work. She’s an amazing kid is our Katie. All she asks of all of you is that you lift her in prayer that God’s will be done with her head. So, if you’ve put her on your church’s prayer chain, leave her there. If you haven’t, please feel free to add her. She believes she has come as far as she has through prayer and the grace of God, and she believes that He will answer our prayers in the way that is best for Katie and her “ministry” (she sees my blogging about her head as a ministry for those who come behind her with trig).

One Little Word 2015

I’ve been flirting with Ali Edwards’ One Little Word project since 2011. I picked a word in 2011 (Joy) and I did a few of the prompts, but the good Lord knows that I am not a scrapbooker. I was disappointed with myself and didn’t try it again for a couple of years, but last year I decided to choose the word Brave. It ended up being a far more challenging year than I could ever have imagined and yet, I think I lived out my word far more than I could have imagined. I knew that in 2014 I would have to face a huge loss, and I did, ten days into the year. But beyond that, I did things in the last year that I simply would not have done, but I used the word brave as a spur even though I, again, failed at the scrapbooking aspect of it. I spoke in front of a group of adults who weren’t students. I have danced in a semi-public forum. I have done activities with both of my kids that I would not have considered before. I even took on a leadership role in an organization that my daughter is now involved in.

All of that said, I am giving this whole thing another go. This year, for so many reasons, I’ve chosen the word “inspire.” We’ve been exploring some alternative ways of approaching school with the kids because I’ve been seeing too much stress in our six year old. One of the methods we’ve been looking at has as one of its mantras “inspire, not require” and that was part of the word choosing me. Part of it was an alternative definition, inspire also means to breathe. I love it. I’m excited to see where inspire leads all of us this year.