Thursday, February 22, 2018

*sigh*

Since last summer, our lives have been framed with hard days.

It started with a week in which everything seemed to go wrong from our car not working, to our lawn mower kicking the bucket, to our puppy getting a tummy bug.  Then our plumbing went out and our puppy got a tummy bug.  Then our puppy got another round of diarrhea.  Then we switched vets and he again went through several food changes, probiotics, antibiotics, steroids, puppy Pepto Bismol...meanwhile every few weeks I was up all night with him, his tummy just couldn't seem to get it together.  This all culminated in him getting very, very, very sick a few Sundays ago.  We found an emergency vet that was open, took him in, and I requested an x-ray since every other idea had been tried to this point, with nothing truly helping.  His ribs were showing and he looked like he was just not being fed, yet every meal he attacked his food to the point that several times he choked (not breathing, staggering around...I would have to sweep his mouth free, meanwhile we were all terrified).  We have a maze dish, we have separated out his food scoop by scoop, having him wait to eat each helping, I have even fed him kibble by kibble for his meals.  Nothing helped. 

Well, when the vet showed me his x-ray, I was stunned.  Somehow, this puppy that was chosen to replace my daughter's service dog, who is either always by her side or in his kennel, somehow he had a tummy FULL of foreign objects.  He immediately went in for surgery.  Of course, this came in the midst of other problems, one of which (second time in six months) I had somehow misbalanced our accounts - like REALLY misbalanced them.  And, emergency vet surgery is not cheap.   Two of my kids came down with a skin rash - one that took MONTHS to get over two years ago.  And this is on top of all of the special needs that consume our days and other issues that are too personal to share here. 

It.has.been.hard.

I cannot tell you in words how hard this season has been. 

I feel SO crazy to type that statement.  Because taken on their own all of these issues are so minor in light of what others are going through.  A teenaged boy who lost his mom to cancer right around Christmas, after having lost his dad to a heart attack unexpectedly several years ago.  That's hard.  Or the school shootings. That's incomprehensibly hard.   Or the police officers being gunned down in what seems like daily attacks recently.  That's hard.  Or the people who have lost babies, homes, spouses, or are facing major health crisis. Hard, hard, hard things. 

Yet, to me, these things that just keep happening seem like a tsunami wave of insurmountable difficulties.  Literally, since late summer, every few weeks something happens that just upends everything.  Anxiety and worry claw at my heart.  How are we going to do this?  What if this puppy, who is so important to my daughter's daily care and comfort, what if he dies?  After the disastrous service dog experience, I actually beg God to spare this dog's life.  Daily.  Why can't things just calm down and be boring?  Why can't I handle these things like a duck sheds water?  Why can't I balance everything with grace and patience and trust in God, like other people seem to?   

I

I believe the Gospel with all of my heart, I just never knew it would take such effort to preach it to myself when my circumstances don't unfold smoothly. 


Sunday, February 11, 2018

a book that wrecked my life

I read Insanity of God by Nik Ripken.  

Oh.My.

This book.

This book is shocking.
It is challenging.
It is frustratingly beautiful.
It is one of the most life-changing books I have read.
Ever.

I, originally, checked it out from our library and read it as fast as I could before it had to go back, only to discover that I actually already owned it.  *sigh*

I often times get books as they come available on Kindle for free and then forget them.
Isn't that horrible?
I wish I could figure out a way to catalog them so that the ones I have don't get lost in the shuffle. Which is what obviously happened here.

Anyway, this book.

It begins with this guy from KY and his wife deciding to take the Bible at face value and they go to Africa.  Ending up in Somalia, they spent six or seven years doing relief work during the late 90's, right about the same time the storyline of Black Hawk Down unfolded.  After about six or seven years, the Ripkens left Somalia, heartbroken and completely unsure of what, if anything, they had accomplished.  This story is told in part one of the book.  It is captivating and challenging but then comes part two.

In my opinion, part two is what makes this book worth reading.  Nik Ripken, the author, embarks on a journey - a research project. Totally broken from his experiences in Somalia, he tries to figure out how people suffer for their belief in Jesus, how they actually survive imprisonment, persecution, and not only survive it but thrive.  In seeking these answers, he crosses the globe from KY to Europe, then to Asia, and then I believe circles back to Africa.  What he discovers is that the people that he talks to, who have been persecuted for their faith, they come out on the other side, often times decades later, with a faith that is deeper, stronger, and surer.

It left me wondering what the point of my life is.  I haven't ever, not once, had to read the Bible in secret, I haven't ever, not once, had to hide my faith in Jesus for fear of my life, livelihood, or the lives of those that I love most.  I was raised on a different branding of Christianity than the one that I see in the Bible and the one I see in books like this one, and it makes me wonder, what exactly is the point of my belief in Jesus?  To just save me from hell?  To make me a better person?  To help me be, stay, or become healthy, wealthy, wise, comfortable, happy...?  If that were the entire point of the Bible, would it be so polarizing?  Why would there still be suffering and hard days and things that were beyond my ability to handle?

What if God's purpose in sending Jesus was to do something so radical, something so huge, that it was worth my dying for to share that with someone else?  That it was worth losing everything for?

What would be worth that?

The only thing I can think of, the only thing that I would be willing to give up everything for and suffer for would be love.  Total, all-encompassing love.  If I knew that my husband's life or my children's lives were at stake, there would be nothing that would be too great for me to lay down.  I would gladly give up anything for them to have a chance at life.

That right there is a small glimpse of what God did for the world.

The sin problem is too deep for it to be a self-resolving fix.   We as humans are full of sin, whereas He is holy and pureSomething had to happen to regarding our sin problem(s), something drastic and dramatic.  Our hearts are consumed with ourselves and we are incapable of fixing that.  We cannot make up for our self-centeredness any more than a two-year-old can think rationally when it is hungry and tired.  We need someone to come in and change us from the inside out.  In short, we need a new heart, a new spirit.  God promised to do just that.  So roughly 2000+ years ago, God sent His Son as a tiny baby and that Son lived a perfect, sinless life.  Then He launched a ministry that shook the world starting with just twelve men, one of whom betrayed Him.  He then proceeded to lay down His life, and  became sin.  In that moment, He who was sinless, became sin, so that (don't you LOVE the so that?) so that you and I have hope.  In that moment He took the wrath that was due to us.  (Anyone else so overwhelmed by their own failures, their own sin, that the truth in these passages just offers you hope to anchor your soul to?  Grab onto that with both hands!)

He was willing to give up everything just to redeem the lives of those that He loves.

But, see the problem is this.  He doesn't just love me that much.  He doesn't just love my husband, my kids, my family, and friends and neighbors that much.  He doesn't just love my city, my state, my country, or my continent that much.

He loves the entire world that much.

And He redeems us so that we can then reach out and connect to others.  To love them and live life with them and to share our single greatest hope with them.

Jesus.

Jesus, the perfect Lamb of GodThe MessiahThe Son of God.

So, why don't I tell more people about this?  I am not sure what is going to have to change in my life, but something will.  I cannot read a book like that and still be the same person I was beforehand.  I cannot just be content to read my Bible each day and not hold my life up to it, letting it sift me like a sieve.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What we have read so far this school year (from late summer until now)

It has been a while since I have had time to sit down and post something.

I wanted to take a minute to jot down what we have read so far this school year before I forget (I did post here about my favorites, but this list includes all of the books we've read - not just those that were our favorites).  As it is already, I have texted myself a dozen "oh yeah, don't forget this one...".

By the way, completely random, does anyone else text themselves so they won't forget something?  It works fine until I accidentally send it to someone other than me :).  I usually get a "what in the world?!?!"  Ha!

So here is what we have read in no particular order...

Echo (I read this one, holding off on reading it aloud for now, but WONDERFUL book!)

Okay For Now (same thing - AWESOME book, just not right at this moment for us)

Insanity of God (THIS BOOK!  Wow - this book.  I will do a whole post on just this book)

21 Balloons (delightful book about the adventures to be had in a hot air balloon)

Remember My Name (about the trail of tears...how did I NOT know about this before now?!?! Highly recommend this read aloud)

Little Women (still reading this one aloud, already have marked several passages I want to commonplace)

Number the Stars (about World War II in Denmark.  We just finished this one today.)

Naya Niku (a friend of Sacagawea, LOVED this book)

Anne of Green Gables (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!!!! this book!  My kids were just ok with it, how is that possible?  I wish I could step into this book and walk the paths that Anne tread and hear her talk.)

Sarah Bishop (we have discovered and fallen in love with Scott O'Dell)

Island of the Blue Dolphins (my kids absolutely LOVED this book)

Mysterious Benedict Society (recently got books two and three on Audible and cannot wait to start them)

Tom Sawyer (a favorite from my childhood, but my kids did not like it.  At all.)

Harriet the Spy (I remember my third-grade teacher reading this aloud to us.  I loved it then.  Did NOT love it now.  Neither did my kids.)

A Long Walk to Water (HIGHLY recommend this book)

Tree in the Trail (Sante Fe trail.  Holling C Holling - really, really like this author)

Crenshaw (GREAT book!  Eye opening for those going through hard times)

Inside Out and Back Again (had no idea this is what refugees sometimes experience(d).  This one was during Vietnam.  I really appreciated this story, my kids did not enjoy it, but they learned quite a bit and sometimes that is enough).

Robin Hood

King Arthur

The Bronze Bow (a favorite of mine - so glad my kids enjoyed this one too)

Bambi's Children (my oldest read Bambi aloud to us earlier last year, and is now reading this one aloud to us.  We think we like this one better than Bambi, but they are both wonderful books.)

These next seven books my oldest read aloud to my youngest
Sword in the Tree

Light at Tern Rock

Twenty and Ten

A Lion to Guard Us

The Courage of Sarah Noble

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie

The Matchlock Gun (I had not read this story before, we really enjoyed it)

The Castle Glower Series (utterly enchanted with this series, we got it on Audible and LOVED it!)

8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel/ 1 Dog = Chaos (laughed ourselves silly over this one)

George Frederick Handel (neat story - afterward we followed it up with listening to The Messiah and also reading excerpts from Cindy Rollins advent book called Hallelujah)

Mere Motherhood (I love Cindy Rollins)

Gladys Aylward (it has been probably six months, maybe more, since we read this, but my kids STILL talk about this book.  Almost daily.  That is the mark of a great book!)

Clementine series (adorable series!)

In Grandma's Attic (my oldest read this whole series to us this year)

The Reluctant Dragon (a favorite of my youngest)

Caddie Woodlawn (looking forward to the sequel Magical Melons)

Stuart Little (did not like the ending on this one)

Daring to Hope (really, really, really loved this book.  Have debated on reading it aloud to my kids.  Maybe next year?)

Sacred Mundane (this was going to be just a 'me' book, but will definitely be a read aloud at some point.  Too many great points covered not to read it aloud to my kids)

Each and every book on this list carries with it a cache of memories.

I found myself, as I was typing thinking....'yep, we read that one when our sewage pipes busted and sewage was spewing out of all three bathrooms'. Or 'yep, we listened to that series driving back and forth to KY several times this year'.  Or, 'we read that one waiting.  Waiting in dr offices, in parking lots for appointments to begin or end and while we (somewhat) patiently waited for Daddy to get done with work so we could run errands together'.  Such fun and such love unfolds with each moment spent reading to these kids.  I LOVE getting to do this daily, I love getting to be their momma, I love, love, love to watch their own love of reading take root and blossom.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Happy Holidays

I hope your holiday season has been beautiful.  My husband has been off for the past few days, it has been GLORIOUS.  Even though he worked most of one day in his study and we had a day full of doctor appointments another, there is something so awesome about his just being here, you know what I mean?  Outside of my kids, my husband is my favorite person on earth.  I am sad to see Monday come because I know it will be back to long days and late nights. 

I was sad to hear that the pastor RC Sproul passed away this week.  I love listening to his sermons online and know that we, as Christ followers, have lost a great voice in defense of, explanation of, and reveling in the Gospel.  May God comfort his family, friends, and church members. 

We baked cookies this week and spiced nuts.  We passed them out to neighbors, but I somehow managed to eat the most...I felt like a stuffed turkey when I went to bed on Thursday night.  :(

My middle child got up with me early this morning, we took our elderly dog in the car and traveled to Starbucks.  I am now happily sipping my peppermint hot chocolate.  Just another week, and then it will be time to face reality.  The reality of, I cannot eat and drink whatever I want without gaining lots of weight.  Pooh.  So oatmeal, salads, fruit smoothies, and lots and lots of water will be my menu to choose from.

I chose our word to govern our school year in 2018 and the word to govern my life in 2018.  Fluency for school (fluency in everything - learning until we are fluent in whatever is in front of us - be it math, science, latin, history etc;).  And Holiness for me.  I want my life to be saturated in holiness. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Amen and Amen!

This is AWESOME!  Please, please read this article entitled God has a heart for the vulnerable, do you?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!

I hope this makes sense, it is so much easier to talk about this with a whiteboard and lots of decaf coffee to sip while contemplating.

But, we found something to help the grammar lesson from h*ll.

Grammar....I LOVE grammar class, but it can be sooooo frustrating.

Or am I alone in that?

Either way, this whole week has felt much like beating our head against a brick wall.  But today, FINALLY, today we found something that works.  YAY!!  And so I won't forget when it is time for the next kid to work through this book, I am commemorating it with a blog post.

The tools:

This video from Khan Academy and this post from last year that I wrote (ACK...CANNOT find the post, but that's ok, I will explain in a minute), combined to help me teach this lesson and HALLELUJAH it made sense to my kid.

YAY.

OK, linking verbs vs helping verbs and linking verb adjectives vs action verbs - UGH soooo frustrating.  Even just typing that out makes my temples twinge with a tension headache.

I wrote the other day about asking yourself if it could receive an object - but that didn't work on all of the sentences.  It was as if this program (which we LOVE...just not this particular lesson) selected all sentences that were almost impossible to decode without the teacher manual.  Well, the purpose of the lesson isn't to just get the right answer, and I will not move on until I am sure learning has taken place.

After all, that is why we homeschool.

So I kept digging & finally, today, something clicked.

OK the post from last year:
The list of linking verbs includes am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been (aka state of being verb list and also the first part of the helping verb list).  But linking verbs can also include verb words like smell, taste, become, feel etc;  Last year I found an easy test to determine whether it is a linking or an action verb when it could be both.

In the example sentence below, the word tasted can be a linking verb, but also an action verb - how do you tell the difference between the two?

My soup tasted awesome.

I tasted the soup.

Substitute the correct form of 'be' and if the meaning does not change, then it is a linking verb, but if the meaning changes then it is NOT a linking verb, but an action verb.

My soup is awesome.  Tasted is a linking verb here.

I am the soup.  Tasted is an action verb here.

But what do you when you are trying to decipher whether the last word of a sentence is a predicate adjective (linking verb complement adjective) or an action verb?  Because sometimes the word can be a verb or an adjective - depending on how it is used.  Well, after watching the above video I mentioned and combining it with the test of substituting the verb be in place of it, I combined both and came up with this:

My brother should be sleeping.  Sleeping here can describe the brother or it can be an action verb.

So we tried this

My brother is sleep.
My brother did sleep.

My brother obviously isn't sleep - he is actively doing the action of sleeping - so sleeping is an action verb here.  So should be are helping verbs and sleeping is an action verb.

The man was being questioned.

The man is question.
The man did question.

The man isn't question, he is actively expereicing the action of being questioned.  So was and being are helping verbs and questioned is the action verb.

One last example:

The team had been discouraged.

The team is discouraged.
The team did discourage.

Discouraged is describing the team, not showing an action that the team is doing.

Now for math...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

randomness

I 'think' we just discovered a good way to tell a linking verb complement - adjective (aka predicate adjective) apart from an action verb at the end of a sentence.

Action verbs have direct objects and indirect objects.
The first sentence my kiddo stumbled over today:
Our team had been winning
Depending on where winning comes in the sentence it can be an adjective.  It can also be an action - because you can do that - you can win.  So try asking yourself can I place a direct object after it and the sentence will still make sense?
Let's try it...
Our team had been winning the game.  Yep, it's an action verb.

Another one my kiddo stumbled over today:
My brother should be excited.
It ends in -ed, which forms the past tense of many, many verb words right?!  But it also describes the brother...so let's try it and see if it can receive a direct object.
My brother should be excited the party.  Nope.  It's describing how he feels, it is an adjective.

Have you heard of Nathan Pacheco?  Oh man, he is awesome.

I am excited to get my hands on this book :



and leaving you with a cutie-patootie picture