Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Spy’s Prayer

I am Joshua.

I am Caleb.

I am a scout.

I have had my wilderness experience.

I have seen the disobedience of my fathers.

I have seen the Promised Land,
but I am not yet inhabiting it.

There are giants in the land,
but I have seen the fruit.

And the fruit:  it is worth it.

I’m in the minority, on that one:  “it is worth it.”

The majority say, “We are not able to go up against the people for they are too strong for us.”

But, if I must be a giant-killer in order to eat the fruit, then train me, Oh God!

Equip me with a sword.

Thank you for seeing to it that I am part of a fighting army, led by a Moses, a Moses who prays, “Let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared.  The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression…

Make me brave, Oh God!

Give me courage.

Keep my eyes fixed on the prize:  On You.  On the Promised Land,

So that I may accomplish the purpose You have appointed for me.

If You are pleased with me, Oh God,

If I do not rebel against You,

If I fear neither the majority nor the giants of the land,

You will bring me into the place of promise, which does indeed flow with milk and honey!

I am Your servant, Oh God.

I know you have placed a “different spirit” in me.

Empower me to follow You fully.

Bring me into this land I have spied, and let my children take possession of it forever!

For the love of Jesus, and for His glory alone,

Amen.

Poetic birding, summer plans, and a million trips to the potty

  • There are Lesser Nighthawks all over my neighborhood, mostly in the summer.   They wheel in the air close to the streetlights, and rest on the road (!), camouflaged on the asphalt, frequently rising in a flurry of feathers as a car drives by.  I went for a walk with my youngest daughter around sunset last night, and heard what seemed to be two different Lessers calling to each other, but I didn’t see them.  (I’m on a birding listserv, and a guy posted about seeing a Lesser Nighthawk last night.  I replied with this, and after I had written it, I re-read it, and it sounded poetic.)
  • I am very excited to have booked at least part of our summer

    At Limekiln, you get THIS...

    vacation!!  I have wanted to go to California’s Limekiln State Park for a good five years, and this summer it appears that I’m going to get my wish!  My dear hubby is a very linear thinker, and wants to have A, B, and C done and tied neatly with a bow before moving on to D, E, and F.  In other words,he does NOT like to plan ahead, because then there are a million half-done, tentative things hanging around in his brain, and it drives him batty. Additionally,being that we live in the scenic and wonderful state of Arizona, he sees little need to venture out of our borders, with the possible exception of Colorado, since his brother lives there.

    ...only a few hundred feet from THIS.

    He’s NOT into driving long distances.  So, my planning has been made with extra thankfulness for him agreeing — well in advance — to plan for and book a trip that he’s not all that sure is going to be worth the tedium of driving for two days…

  • Fiala, my 26 month old, is potty-training.  She’s doing well!  Mostly, that is.  She even went to church yesterday without a diaper, and stayed dry all day.  She still has to be taken to the potty every 30 minutes or so, though.  When she says, “I fuh-uhgot to go potty!” that means, “I’m wet!”  This morning, I was doing a school with Wesley, and didn’t want to be interrupted to take yet another trip to the bathroom.  So, on a whim, I asked my four-year-old, Audrey, if she would take her.  A few minutes later, they came back, flushed and grinning with triumph, and both very aware of the novelty.  Next up:  Audrey makes dinner for our family of seven and runs a few loads of laundry.  😛

Too good to be true.

Sometimes, I bite down on something, and I just won’t let go.  That can be a good thing, and it can be… well, not so great.  And, sometimes, it takes a bit of sorting to determine whether or not I should have dropped something.

This is a tale of postage.  And who is cheating whom, and is it actually cheating?

Lots o' books!

I am in the market for a Sonlight Core 5.  I’d really like the 5-day, but that’s $603, and we have the money saved for only the 4-day, which is $544.  But, before I click the “purchase” button, I thought I’d check out what’s out there, used.  Over at Homeschool Classifieds, there were three complete curriculum sets for Core 5.  Two of them didn’t return my e-mail;  perhaps they had sold the items and hadn’t removed the listing — I’ve done that myself!  The third was a listing that was for $570, and the seller said that the package was brand-new, simply purchased and completely unused.

So, I e-mailed the seller, to get more details, including if he’d come down any on the price.  My idea was that, if it was the 5-day package, and I could get it for the same or less than buying the 4-day from Sonlight, I’d purchase from him.  This is our fifth Core purchase, and only our first was used;  the rest I’ve purchased from Sonlight.  What with the free shipping and 10% discount off of face value from Sonlight, buying new from them has been at least a comparable deal to what I’d spend used, added to vast amounts of hours trying to find three books here, one book there, paying multiple shipping charges, etc.  Sonlight has great customer service, and it’s just easier and not any — or not much — more expensive to purchase new, from them.

Anyway.

Let me just say that I have been less-than-pleased with the exchange with the seller.

My first questions were along the lines of:

  • What year was it purchased — what year is the Instructor’s Guide?
  • Is the set complete?
  • Is it 5-day, or 4-day?
  • Why so pricey?

The seller was a guy (a little surprisingly — I have bought dozens of homeschooling books from homeschooling parents, and I think I have dealt with the mother every single time), and his answers were:

  • (Well, in 5-6 e-mail exchanges, he’s never answered about what year the curriculum is from.)
  • He said it was 100% complete, and here is the book list.
  • It’s a 5-day
  • He could come down to $520, but I would have to pay with a postal money order, and ship to a place of business.

Hm.

I’m totally OK paying with a postal money order.  That costs only $1.50, and as someone who has used PayPal as a seller, I know that what PayPal charges is just shy of highway robbery.  I don’t blame him for that one.

However, I told him I’d rather just pay the shipping charges to have it sent Media Mail through the post office to my home.  The “ship to a place of business” thing seemed fishy to me.

We continued to have an e-mail conversation about it, and it turns out that — as he describes it — his employer allows the employees to ship their personal items for free, as long as it is to another business address.

I responded as gently but firmly as I could, saying that it appeared from that description that the employer is defrauding the IRS, making personal expenses appear business-related, allowing him, as the employer, to deduct business expenses from income (or however he’d work it) for something that is completely un-business-related.

The man responded by asking me, basically, who am I to judge him, and told me that I’d better take my business elsewhere if I can’t appreciate an employee “perk”.

I’m fine with taking my business elsewhere, especially when I noticed that the $40 2010 World Book Encyclopedia DVD-ROM was missing from the book list, and upon inquiry, he said, “Oh.  Yeah.  We used that.  We loaded it onto three computers, and that’s the max it will let you do.  So, that’s not included.”

So.

His “complete” Core 5 is not actually complete, even though he said it was.  He’s complicit with his employer defrauding the IRS.  He refuses to allow me to NOT participate in that — refuses to ship the set any other way, because he thinks I’m getting riled up over nothing.

And, he never told me what year the set was from, which does affect its current value, and its resale value (not that I’d likely resell it), as well as its usability, as Sonlight, from time to time, discontinues books that are out-of-print, updates its Instructor’s Guides regularly, etc.

Once I catch someone in something dishonest, or in a “sin of omission”, or in any sort of questionable dealing, it’s hard for me to trust that person, especially to the tune of $500+.

Hmph.

Maybe it is “nothing.”  But, I just can’t willingly participate in free shipping that’s not really free, because it is tricks and loopholes like that that lend to our taxes escalating ever higher!

I was going to ask you, fair reader, what you’d do, but I guess now that you know I’m so strident in my stance, those who think that a wee bit of pulling the wool over the IRS’s eyes is OK probably wouldn’t comment.

And, it looks like, after a week of wrangling with the seller, I just may end up having to purchase the whole thing new, after all.  Week lost.  Time wasted.  Grrr…

(P.S.  As I write this, an e-mail from a different seller popped in, telling me exactly the state that the materials are in, what year it’s from, what’s missing…  Hmm… Timing is everything, right???)

Have you ever dissuaded someone from homeschooling?

I built up a head of steam yesterday.

Perhaps it was a bit misplaced.

I still haven’t decided.

The shortish version is that I read a blog post from someone — we’ll call her Rosie — who was “inspired” by the blog post of another blogger — we’ll call her Patience.  Patience’s post had sung the praises of the benefits of homeschooling, and had said, in essence, that every family would benefit from it.  In Rosie’s response, she took each of Patience’s numbered points, and rewrote and dismantled them, supplying her own life as a better example, which was, in short, homeschooling for the younger years, and public/charter schooling for the older years.

I didn’t entirely disagree with most of Rosie’s suggestions.  I was, though, aghast that she would publicly take a specific blogger — a friend, no less — to task.  And, that she would say, in essence, “I have learned much better, grasshopper.  Mine is the more excellent way.”  Though Patience responded and didn’t seem miffed, I couldn’t help but feel for her.  I would be horrified if someone I had known personally had done that to me.

One thing, though, about which I did completely agree with Rosie, was that homeschooling is not for everyone.  I have steered an inquiring mother in another direction, on more than one occasion.  One, which made me giggle at the memory, was from a mother who

  • said she had zero budget for homeschooling
  • balked at my suggestion that she go to a library:  “I don’t think I’ve ever been to a library.”
  • didn’t have a clear reason about why she wanted to homeschool
  • did not have the support of her husband
  • did not research or follow up on any of the material I gave her, over a couple months’ period

What it came down to was that this mother wanted:

  • ME or some government entity to supply her with an entire curriculum (she didn’t want to participate with one of the assorted charter “homeschooling” programs, where the school provides the curriculum, and often a computer, and then checks up on the student, like Arizona Virtual Academy or Connections Academy).
  • ME to tell her husband that she should homeschool.  She figured that, as I have a (small) leadership role in the church, I’d outweigh his authority on the matter.

Her audacity made my jaw drop.  I declined to help on either count, and never heard from her again.

Now, the story makes me giggle.

Do you have any similar stories??   Or, do you, too think that homeschooling is for everyone?  (I won’t rip you apart if you do!)

EDITED TO ADD: Names have been changed to protect the parties involved, of course.  “Rosie” has only very rarely ever been to my blog, and I don’t believe “Patience” ever has.  I don’t think it likely that either will ever see this post.  And, even if they do, no one would ever know it’s them, unless they out themselves in a comment, or something like that.  So, I think the dignity of the bloggers is protected.

An evening in the life of a honest-to-goodness Mommy

So, my dear husband came home from work tonight with a monster headache — migraine-y, wanting to lay down and hold his head very still, lights off…  Perhaps only the second migraine of his life.  I gave him some Tylenol and water, and hurried him off to bed.  Distracted, I was, by dinner preparations…  Minutes later, as I was feeling badly for not being very attentive to my hubby’s needs and pain, I went into the bedroom to check on him.  Audrey was standing by his side, and had put the Kleenexes next to his head — just in case.  She had the idea to get the ice packs for his neck, as that was hurting as well.  She had already prayed for him — her idea — and as I stood there, she kept a gentle hand on his head…  Gave me hope, that did, for that crazy, rough, rowdy, smart-as-a-whip, loud little four-year-old.  It made me remember when I was 36 weeks pregnant with Fiala and ill, and Audrey took care of me by covering me with her favorite blanket and commanding, “Now, suck your thumb!

I sent a text to Martin’s small group leader, letting him know that Martin would likely not be in attendance tonight.

Martin borrowed Ethan’s old MP3 player which has some great worship music on it, and plugged in.

About 45 minutes later, Martin staggered out.  Either prayer, Tylenol, worship, a profound sense of responsibility (he’s the worship leader for his small group), or a combination of those allowed him to rouse to his feet and head out the door, our 13-year-old, Ethan, carrying the guitar.  (The small group meets at the home of one of Ethan’s friends;  he accompanies Martin most weeks.  Ethan and his buddy play video games pretty much nonstop during their “time together”.  The ideas about what constitutes relationship are much different between a mother and her teenaged son.)

A short time later, I put dinner on the table for myself, Fiala, Grant, Wesley, and Audrey.  Fiala had been fussy all evening, but that’s common after a late nap, as today’s had been, as we had been at a park with a number of other homeschooling families, during what would normally be Fi’s nap time.

Early into the meal, it became apparent that Fiala would rather go back to bed than eat, so I gave the other children some instructions, and went to put Fiala down for the night.  She kept saying her tummy hurt.  “Uh oh,” I thought.

I returned to the other three children, and fielded a somber report from Grant that, in my absence, Audrey had been speaking something so dastardly that he could not repeat it.  After assurances that Grant would not get in trouble for repeating what Audrey had said, and more than a little curious, I asked him to divulge what had happened.  “How bad could it be?  She’s four,” I thought.  I won’t write it here, but suffice it to say, it was startlingly crude, disrespectful, and downright ugly, and all of it had been apparently directed at me.

I was hurt and disturbed, and decided that Audrey needed a spank.  (Yes, we spank on occasion.  Wooden spoon.  One to three whacks.  Then, kisses, forgiveness, love, and reassurance, restoring the relationship.)

After I spanked her, we sat talking.  I felt a need to know what was going on in her little mind, why she could say what she had about me.  She started out by telling me that her brothers had made her say it.  I knew it wasn’t true, but I just kept calm, kept my voice gentle, made sure I was motivated by love and concern for her and for our relationship. It turns out that she had had a bad dream about me the previous night, and in her little heart lurked offense, hurt, and even fear over how I had treated her, in the dream.  Saying yucky things about mom behind her back was her way of “getting back.”  I gently assured her that I would never, ever, ever do what I had “done,” in the dream — tossing her bodily out a window, telling her that I wouldn’t keep her any more, and that I didn’t love her.

We were both in tears, Audrey apologizing with sobs, and me holding her close and loving on her, making a mental note that perhaps she needs more attention from me…  Since I do structured school with the boys, and Fiala is the “baby,” honestly, Audrey gets short shrift many days.

Audrey, who thinks she is the bomb, quite certain that her external prettiness is the trump card that allows her to do anything, only very, very rarely acknowledges her sin — not too surprising for a four-year-old.  She then leveled me by telling me that she was afraid the dream would come back because her heart was “crooked” and her crooked heart would tell her brain what to dream, and her brain would tell her thoughts, and that she would dream the bad dream again.  We then had the most heart-to-heart talk ever, about how only Jesus can come in and heal crooked hearts and make them soft and kind, and that He can bring His goodness to her brain and her thoughts, and that He LOVES it when little girls ask His forgiveness, and that He delights to come in and fix crooked hearts…

Part of me wanted to assure her that her heart wasn’t crooked;  it breaks my heart to think of a preschool-aged wisp of a beautiful girl bearing anguish over her “crooked” heart.  However, I fully remember when I was four, and one Sunday morning, somehow, in an instant, becoming aware of the blackness of my sin, and feeling the weight and the depth of the guilt of it, and knowing that I needed salvation.  Though I was only four, the absolute tearful, distraught conviction I felt needed a true… release, a true healing, and I’m so glad that my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Hammons, took me very seriously, and tenderly took me onto her knee and led me in prayer confessing my sin and asking for Jesus to come into my heart.

I just knew that Audrey didn’t need reassurance from me.  She needed Jesus.

It was beyond touching, how very sincere she was, and how she obviously felt the depth of her error, and how she acknowledged that it was beyond her, and how relieved she honestly was, that Jesus would come in and heal her.  She prayed a sweet, simple, heart-felt prayer, asking Jesus to forgive her for saying ugly things about her Mommy, for lying (she even threw in a bonus confession for another lie I didn’t know she had told), and asked Jesus to heal her crooked heart.

Then, as Audrey and I tearfully clung to each other, from the other side of the house, Fiala started throwing up.

I wrapped up things as quickly as I could with Audrey, ran past the boys at the kitchen table, wiping my eyes, and burst into the girls’ room, where, sure enough, there was my little two-year-old, in tears and muck, saying that she had “hiccuped yuck.”

I got her cleaned up, and Audrey sat with Fiala, singing sweet songs to her while I changed Fiala’s sheets and started the load of laundry…

Twenty minutes later or so, after I had tucked both girls in for the night, and re-prayed for both of them, I left the room with a sigh and a prayer of my own for their sleep to be peaceful in every way.

I stepped back into the living area of our home, and my 11 year old, Grant, piped up, “Can Wes and I take turns playing on the computer?”

Deep breath.

Not, “How’s Fiala?”  No, not a word of concern for either sister…  just looking for the computer time he always feels is “due” to him.

I had to work hard to keep my voice even-keeled, as I expressed to him that I understood that though he has a hard time with empathy for others,  he needs to understand that absolutely no empathy is really not acceptable, and that if he can’t bring himself to care about others who are spanked or crying or throwing up, the least he could do is just keep his mouth shut.

Perhaps I over-reacted.  I was just gob-smacked that, after coming up from the depths of emotion and deep spiritual issues and tears and throw-up, Grant’s first thought was, “I want computer time.”

~sigh~

Still, I think it was a good night.

Now, I’ll go eat my dinner and read a book.

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