Thursday, July 27, 2006

Prayer for Children's Values
God help us to weave a tapestry of love and not hate in our children, a spirit of tolerance and caring, a dedication to freedom for all and not just some. God help us to sow seeds of peace and justice in our children's hearts today.
- Marian Wright Edelman

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Pictures from Orlando! We visited Epcot, Universal Studios, MGM Studios and, mostly, of course, the hotel swimming pool. Cody is such a fun kid to be around. I was proud of how he handled his first airplane flight: by grabbing our hands and praying before we took off. I am surely blessed by him as my son (blessed with his dad too). This trip was a last minute occurrence due to a work conference. Orlando is a big plastic town; however, it was interesting to meet (and hear) all the people from different countries. In an hour long line at Universal, a little Quebec boy and I practiced our English/French skills on each other. Good times.
Today in church, our associate pastor talked about our responsibilities to take care of the Earth. It was a gentle sermon which was pretaught as being non-agenda driven, but biblically driven as it related to stewardship. I thought it was excellent, and the edginess I felt towards all things Christian administered (per the last emotional post:) was eased. I'm proud of my church for addressing issues like this and attempting to discuss them. He was good at being diplomatic (whereas I would have jumped right into the global warming issue with fire in my eyes) and set out a basic message without offense, without politicizing it (which it doesn't have to be).


Irregulars are disposed of in Flatland. They present a problem to the harmony and safety of the other inhabitants. The Circles, who are the priests, uphold the standards and discourage rebellions by decreeing the disposal. History reveals that leniency and mercy are detrimental to the higher natural order of things. Therefore, Irregulars, those with lines that aren't of equal measurement on either side, are seen as threatening and are thus disposed of for the good of the whole.

As I'm researching Christian private schools in Little Rock for Cody next year when we move, I'm reminded of the Irregulars, which come to life in Edward Abbot's classic satire "Flatland." As I read the schools' policy booklets, I feared that my son, with his high functioning autism and academic and social challenges, will be disposed of by these fine people of high Christ-imbued standards (which are really Greek ideal standards of human achievement and excellence). The more I read, the more my fear began to pivot wildly on the emotional hinges of desperation then anger then depression. I wrote a satire called "Jesus Opens a Christian School in Little Rock". I went on a walk/run with a friend. I prayed frantically. I went to bed early.

And, now .... ? I still want to push the envelope a bit and ask these schools what does it mean "displacement" will occur if their standards aren't met. How much leniency will they show? Will they be agents of mercy and grace to a sweet kid who wants to fit in badly but at times doesn't know how? When will the spelled-out "coroporal punishment" clause be fulfilled? How will they manage to accomodate all God's children, not just the promising ones with a sterling academic and behavioral record? There are mixed messages ... one of learning assistance to those who might need it (at a couple of schools); two of punishment for not being able to fit in. I can already see the wariness in their eyes as I explain Cody's irregularity. They don't know him to love him; they can't see his earnestness; they see that his sides don't match. He doesn't exemplify their version of Christ. I've scouted out these people before and have felt their rejection (of course, few don't represent all, I hope).

I checked out the public school site and their messages were more positive. Come one, come all, and be an Eagle, and see your counselor, and we're mandated to help all [God's]children and so we'll care, or at least attempt to care for our job's sake. There are risks there too as well.

We'll see. I place all of these decisions upon the wings of God. I'll go gather the information I need, and He will help me with trust, hope, and certainty.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The whole Israel and Lebanon conflict has me in tears many times during the day. I despise war and desire that there are never ever innocent victims whose homes or families become blown down and all around because of persistent hatred between groups of people who make their dissensions known. Even though the news is depressing, I can't be unaware and plug my ears. For some reason, this one is hitting me emotionally harder than some. The weariness of the world at odds is quite real.

"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

This is one of my favorite parables in the New Testament. It teaches me that taking care of oneself, as it relates to devotion, is more important than helping others who have chosen wrongly. I've always been taught, through church and family, to put others first which is an excellent value. However, there comes a point when giving away something precious (oil, pearls, devotion to the good) (or conforming to carelessness) can leave you out with the foolish, separated from the purest love, choosing second best. Discernment in this area has always been difficult for me given the conditioning (along with my personality) (along with a gift of 'mercy') so I was happy when I discovered this parable. It has broad application for me but devotionally today reminds me to: prepare, choose wisely, preserve the good, and enjoy the wedding feast.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

In cleaning closets today, I found the beautiful illustrated family Bible of a doctor who lived in my hometown. My uncle gave it to me ~~ having been published in 1881, it contains amazing illustrations. What's even more fun is that within the pages are pressed old roses, carnations, a homemade Valentine, a tin photograph of Dr. Hubbard himself, a Scottish song, and some locks of hair. What a bizarre feeling to hold them now in their far future, entrusted with their proof of intense meaning within past life. I feel quite special, yet quite fleeting myself, part of the flow who keeps emblems of love to be found far in the future perhaps. Sometimes the transitoriness of this life makes me feel internally thin from the rushing of the motion of people who walk across this earth and then are gone, who make me feel part of their throng even now while alive. I've gotten lost in this feeling before (which perhaps is what made me an English major to begin with:). There are stories rushing forth constantly, isn't there?, both from the alive and dead (through their records if not anything else).

Anyway, along with 2500 illustrations, the Bible includes the Apocrypha (which interestingly enough was included in all King James versions from 1611 until 1880 when the American Bible Society voted to leave it out -- we often think of it as antitraditional, when in fact it was a traditional inclusion of the KJV), Old and New Testaments, Dr. William Smith's Bible Dictionary, a History of Denominations and other interesting commentary.

I've taken it out of the closet and think I will smell and meander in it for a while, fortunate for the spell of time.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

For some reason, I've been absorbed by John Wesley today (in between the usual house and family life). I'm impressed by 1) his abhorence of slavery; 2) his ideas on Christian 'perfection'; 3) his acceptance of women as spiritual leaders; 4) his belief in free-will instead of predestination (as in Calvinism). I took an excellent college class from a professor who wrote her Harvard dissertation on the holiness/evangelical movements/revivals that swept across America in the 19th and 20th centuries ~~ some of this is coming back ~~ which has its roots in Methodism that Wesley founded. Here's a link in case you're interested in his take on things:

Anyway, it has been a lovely day of being heady regarding spiritual matters of the heart. On Tuesday, we fly off to sunny Orlando where I'll be tailing Goofy instead.

The true, living faith, which the Holy Spirit instills into the heart, simply cannot be idle.
Martin Luther

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The parent support group was wonderful tonight. There were probably about 50 parents there altogether, and we broke up into three groups. I went into a newcomer group and listened to the personal "stories" of two parents who have experienced heartbreak with their children and growth through the Crossroads program. Crossroads is a program designed for kids who get wrapped up in chemical dependency and for parents to support one another. They both meet (separately) in the same church. My daughter is in the gray area; her behaviors point to a problem, yet she hasn't hit rock bottom to admit that her incessant desire to party may be an issue in her life. When she didn't go to school much last semester, it was an issue. When the estrangement happens with family, it's an issue. There are others which I won't name here. Anyway, I'm thankful to have met up with hope tonight in the form of people offering their hearts to one another and to me. I have one plan in place to work on for the week, which is more than I had before. Thank you, Crossroads. What a cool supportive, essential group of people!

With my talkative boy at his grandmother's this week, I can focus more on contemplative matters, which I really enjoy. Here's an excellent,helpful quote on prayer instruction from a book I'm reading:

If you want to gather all your desire into one simple word that the mind can retain, choose a short word rather than a long one. A one-syllable word such as 'God' or 'love' is best. But choose one that is meaningful for you. Then fix it in your mind so it will remain there come what may. The word will be your defense in conflict and in peace. Use it to beat upon the cloud of darkness above you and subdue all distractions consigning them to the cloud of forgetting beneath you. Should some thought go on annoying you, demanding to know what you are doing, answer with this word alone." William Johnston

The big question once more

My friend gave me some good advice many years ago which I still remember: "Don't make decisions during your weak times." I'm remembering that today (frankly, this month) as I stomp around cleaning, running (stomp-jogging:), contemplating, fretting. The whole issue of "Should I homeschool this year or not?" has crossed and recrossed and zizgazzed all over the vast spaces of my mind. I was relieved to see the same topic broached on a Homeschool online newsletter that I receive. Thank God, the homeschool community at large encounters The Decision as a common, real issue. At times, it's easy to believe that all homeschoolers are much better, and much more committed, and much more superior in so many ways than I am. They know the stakes; they clothe themselves with commitment; they are always prepared and happy. Always.

As some of you know, I began homeschooling Cody due to problems at public school. His Asperger Syndrome (high functioning autism) and adhd issues were quite disruptive. I consoled him daily after school for hours; I met with teachers and principals frequently; we tried medicine against my better judgment. He was physically sick; the learning specialist thought he needed to go see a counselor; Cody frequently wrote things on paper like "I hate myself; I am stupid and ugly." As a mother, I felt wrung out constantly trying to figure ways out to help him, being an advocate. Finally, after going to one more IEP (individualized education plan) meeting and hearing what was wrong with my son, I felt like it was time to focus on what is right about him. Lots of things. I pulled him out, and he became healthier, happier, and more mentally confident.

Wow, it's done me some good to even write that to recall the problems we had and why would I want to risk that again? Not to mention some other benefits of homeschooling we've had: the ability to travel when we want; the slowness of the morning and the stress-free evenings, which would normally be filled with homework; the sharing of learning; the jumping on the trampoline breaks; more frequent visits with grandparents, etc.

It's just sometimes I long for "normalcy" with him. Normal school, normal adaptations, normal mother and father attendance of normal events (like sports for instance). I would like to work and could've stayed in a public school teaching role without these concerns. To be honest, I still would like to work as crazy as that sounds. My whole view of Normal has got to be adjusted I've been realizing lately. With my daughter's unforeseen issues too, The Normal Child/Life might be a slippery eel that may not even exist.

Homeschooling. I shouldn't make the decision now. I should just remember why we're doing it and let it seep in and speak to me with reassurance. I know that Cody is not ready for public school again. I'm just a bit tired from constantly encouraging him, worrying for him, feeling generally inadequate, but at least I have the time and energy to do what I think is best to help him as a homeschool mother. For that, I'm grateful. Lord, help me to know and yield to your better purposes. Amen.

Monday, July 10, 2006

We walk in hope of light but often we find ourselves in darkness. We at times walk in gardens, in our own backyard, happily with our smiling children, laughingly at a water park, peacefully on our couch with a good book. And, then other times, we have the metaphorical desert times, which often are not spoken of except furtively across the table to a friend at a coffee shop. Or, sulkingly to a husband who nods and listens, not knowing how to fix it. Or, perhaps we speak of it only to the pages of our journal, which only boomerang our own misery back to us (although therapeutic). I will try something new on Tuesday night, though, which is called a support group. One for parents of wayward teenagers. There, I will find other parents who are looking for oasis and for honesty from other parents who struggle. I can't relate to the parents who only speak of their good efforts with good rewards forthcoming. I'm tired of the braggy Christmas letters. The glossy images which hide. I confess to being in the desert, despite my good intentions and efforts which I painstakingly enumerate. I confess that the world is stronger than me (yet not stronger than He that is in me) and has captured one who is dear to me. I confess that I need to release anger and jealousy and sharp-tongued responses to provocation and to judgment that severs. I confess I need reliance as in:

He who walks in darkness, to whom no light appears, let him trust in the Name of Yahweh, let him rely upon his God. Isaiah 50:10

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My son is making me keep a dream diary. I have it right beside my bed and when I wake up, I'm supposed to grab it and write like crazy before my short term memory buzzes out once more rapidly (one of the big impediments during my public school teaching days). He's quite interested and eagerly awaits my retrieval of it the next day as I read nonsensical things like, "My friend is going on a trip to Oregon and will stay at 'The Tilting Bear hotel" which I scrawled at 2:30 a.m. on the way to the bathroom. Hmmm... He often becomes angry because my dreams are not as frightening as his are. It's not fair, he repeats. Most of my dreams are silly seeming. However, one last night involved a self-minimizing surgical procedure of my tongue. I know what this signifies. A flameout of the week. An imperfection of the Christian parent. A parting retort. A tearing. An exit. A hole. Perhaps we deal with our weaknesses already when we agonize in our sleep. When we awake, perhaps we feel a little better, prepared to make a tentative step forward into reparation of some sort.

Monday, July 03, 2006

What Philosopher Are You?

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new Ethical Philosophy Selector page.

My Results:
Kant (100%)
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St. Augustine (96%)
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John Stuart Mill (95%)
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Jeremy Bentham (91%)
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Aquinas (80%)
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Spinoza (79%)
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Plato (77%)
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Prescriptivism (75%)
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Epicureans (58%)
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Nel Noddings (58%)
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Ockham (58%)
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Ayn Rand (53%)
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Jean-Paul Sartre (53%)
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Aristotle (40%)
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Stoics (40%)
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Cynics (29%)
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Nietzsche (19%)
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David Hume (14%)
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Thomas Hobbes (4%)
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Saturday, July 01, 2006

This picture was supposed to be last in the lineup. It shows the aftereffects of Cody's racing-around-the-house jamboree, which we did at my mother-in-law's. We had obstacles and everything to race around. I was definitely concerned with my mom-in-law's friend as he lay panting on the bench afterwards. Unfortunately, he could never tell Cody no. :)
Cody and I are off!

Cody still (always!) has energy after the race.