Thursday, November 29, 2007

Love her like Jesus...

The following post was written last week. For some reason I didn't get around to proofreading and actually publishing it. On Saturday, I was just getting on the computer when the phone rang. It was a friend from church calling to tell us that a 14 year boy in our church, the only child of my friend, had died unexpectedly. It has been a very difficult week, to say the least. I had totally forgotten about this post, until I got on the computer this evening. I debated whether to publish it, but in the end decided God had put this on my heart for a reason. So here it is:

A recent post at Stephanie's Mommy brain, here, reminded me how important our words, or lack thereof can be, especially when dealing with someone in crisis. After the death of our nephew, Tony, last fall, I so wanted to rush in and save the day with all the right things to say. But I truly had no idea what the right things were. The death of a child is such an unthinkable loss. What words of wisdom could I possibly offer my brother and sister in law? I knew words could not erase their anguish, and yet I longed to help them. A few days after the funeral I was cleaning in the kitchen and pouring out my heart to God. I was desperate for some direction in ministering to my sister-in-law. I felt so helpless and useless. God was quick with an answer. I was listening to KLOVE, and immediately after I asked Him what to do, the Casting Crowns song Love Them Like Jesus came on. These words pierced my heart:

"You don't need the answers to all of life's questions, Just know that He loves her, and stay by her side, Love her like Jesus."

Could He have been anymore specific? A peace settled over me, I knew what the Lord was telling me to do. But just how does one love like Jesus? Well, God told me in the song, "stay by her side." Now I have to admit, we weren't the best of buddies before Tony's death. We were always friendly, but not particularly close. (Although we did have the unique bond of sharing the same mother-in-law!) I worried how responsive she would be to my attempts to "be by her side." But I figured God could work that out, and He did. I didn't do anything spectacular. I just called on a regular basis to check in, and allowed her to talk about what she was going through. I let her talk about Tony, without trying to change the subject. I realized that he was always on her mind anyway, so it would be selfish and foolish to avoid the subject. Whenever we could, we'd go out for coffee to just get away for an hour. I have to admit, there were many days when the depths of her grief were overwhelming to me, and I've spent many a night crying and praying for her pain. The only answer I had, she wasn't ready for yet, so I've just let her vent her grief. I was honest in that I had no idea what she was going through, it was unimaginable to me. Apparently this honesty helped her feel safe talking to me. While others offered advice on how to get through the death of a loved one, I just listened and prayed. On many occasions she apologized for "dumping all her crap" on me. I just laughed, and said that's what I'm here for. Well, a funny thing happened. What started out as the verb "love", turned into the noun "love", and in the process we have become the best of friends. Because of the friendship we've developed over the past year, she agreed to visit my church at a recent "Friend's Day". She hadn't stepped foot in any church since her son's funeral, so this was a huge step for her. The service was awesome, and the Gospel was clearly presented. I'd love to say she ran to the front at the invitation, but that didn't happen. However, I do know that seeds were planted. Since visiting my church she has been much more open to spiritual conversations, even to the point of initiating them. You can just feel Him at work. In all the good and bad that has happened in the past year, God just continues to blow my mind. It amazes me how He can use any situation to work out His plan. I can't wait to see what He'll do next.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Maybe they get it

As I was sitting at the computer today, my youngest daughter hugged me and said, " I'm glad you're not a mean mommy!"

My older daughter scoffed from the table, and said,"Yeah, except when she makes us do school."

My knight in shining armor, seven year Alex, came to my defense. "She's not being mean, she's just being a Mother!" To which Rachel replied, "Good point." I didn't have to say a word!

The funny thing is that my daughter is usually very compliant about getting her school done. I'm hardly ever "mean" with her. My son, the rescuer, is the one that might have a case for calling me "mean". Could it be that he's starting to see some point to my insistence that he learn to read and write? Maybe I'm not such a meanie after all.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

PMS or selfish people, you decide...

I have to confess I may be suffering from a bit of PMS, so this may not seem as outrageous to those of you who are currently level-headed, but this really got my blood pressure up today. My kids and I had a 4:15 appointment for the flu clinic at the pediatrician's office. When I got to the office, there was a line out the door. Okay, that's a little annoying, and it was cold, but I can deal, right? At the same time I got in line, a gentleman came over and asked if the line was for those with flu clinic appointments. "Yes" someone replied. He got back in his Lexus SUV with his family and sat there for about five minutes while the rest of us stood in the cold. I wrapped my coat around my shivering daughter, who was not dressed for standing in the cold. I was just getting to the doorway, when the wife struts up to the door announcing that she has plans and can't wait in line, so she must get to the front to reschedule her appointment. I don't know why she would make an appointment for a time when she has plans to be someplace else. And if they were in such a rush, why not get in the line when you arrived, instead of sitting in your warm car? Annoying, but I can deal, right? After several minutes she comes out, gets her family from the car, and marches her family through the line to the waiting area! To top it off, she had a look of superiority as she pranced by us fools standing in line. Okay, now I'm not dealing so well...and neither were the others who were waiting patiently in line. Maybe the whole lot of us had PMS. Conversations began to pop up about the fact that other people had lives as well. The Queen Mama, I'm sure, had to have heard this, but sat with a stony look in her comfy chair. I'm just glad that I kept my mouth shut, considering the unkind thoughts I was having. The ironic thing is that the flu clinic was run very efficiently. We waited in line for about 10 minutes to check in, then were vaccinated and out the door in a matter of minutes. The woman shaved about 5 minutes off her wait time, and in the process alienated and raised the blood pressure of 20 people in line. As we were called in, the royal family was leaving. Innocently my youngest daughter said, "Look, the people who cut everyone!", like it was a celebrity sighting. Apparently, the kids were also aware of what had transpired. This provided some much needed comic relief for those within earshot. It also led to some interesting conversations in the car. So you be the jury: do I just have a raging case of PMS, or was the whole thing just wrong?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Christmas Card conundrum

This year I was very proud of myself when I ordered my Christmas cards in September. I was most proud of the fact that they were 50% off, the early bird special. Now I tend not to be an "early bird." Generally, I'm rushing at the last minute to reach deadlines. But we're taking a family vacation in December this year, so I'm trying to get all my Christmas to-do lists completed in the next three weeks. The original plan was to have the cards addressed and ready to go by mid-October. Well, that didn't happen, they sat in a drawer, but now I'm on top of it. Unfortunately, I find myself in the same situation I'm in every year, too many addressees and not enough cards. You would think I'd learn by now. This year I ordered 112 cards. That sounds like a ridiculous amount, I know, but let's just say I have a lot of cousins. I did remember as I placed my order, that last year I originally ordered 100, and had to reorder 20 more. But with the early bird special I received 12 free. Surely I could shave 8 people off my list. If I went up to the next level, I'd have 132 cards, and that just seemed extreme. I was sure I could knock off a few people, no problem. I just had to be a little brutal. Like that cousin I send one to every year, that never sends me one. It wouldn't be so annoying if I didn't see the card he manages to send my sister every year. I can finally cut him off the list. How freeing! And what about the old friend from elementary school. We haven't even emailed in years! Gone, off the list! As I started my cards on Monday, I was sure I could get it down to 112. It's not as easy as it sounds. Of course, I forgot to take into account the people I'd be adding to this year's list. Not a lot, but when you're cutting people, 3 or 4 seem like 100. I was fully prepared to be brutal, if I haven't gotten a card from you in the last 10 years, you're not getting one from me. As I came across the first "wayward" cousin in my address book, I suddenly and inexplicably caved! Suddenly it seemed so, well, unChrist-like. How could I deny someone holiday cheer, not to mention my children's cuteness? Maybe I could order more cards...I checked online. 20 more cards would cost me $39.99!! Are you kidding me? If I had ordered them with the rest, it would have cost me about $5.00! Time for plan B. I decided I could send out regular, old cards sans the cute picture of the kids...Now I just have to decide who gets denied their cuteness! This is a painstaking decision for me. Why do I have such a hard time with this? This is causing me way more stress than it should. Realistically, I'm sure no one but me would even notice if they didn't get a card from my family. And yet, I just can't seem to control my Christmas card obsessiveness. Maybe next year I'll smarten up, and either buy more cards, or start axing people for real...but I doubt it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

You learn something new everyday

One thing I love about homeschooling is learning all sorts of interesting facts along with my kids. My oldest daughter is in fourth grade. That's the grade that the powers -that- be have determined must include state history. (I have nothing against learning state history, I just don't like others telling me when to teach anything.) We are studying early American history this year anyway, so it was a natural flow to include our little state's history. Now, having lived here most of my life, and having attended public schools here, you would think it would be all review for me. What I've discovered is that I was cheated out of learning many interesting things about our state. (In fact I don't remember learning any RI history in school, and I was a good student. I'd remember if I did!) Now I'm sure most people know that Roger Williams was the first to start a settlement here. He was the dude who came up with the concept of "Separation of Church and State." He also started the first Baptist Church in America! Williams believed that the Indians should not have their land taken, and instead negotiated the sale of land to new settlers. He was befriended by the Narragansett Indians, and was in fact very friendly with the Chief, Canonicus. (yep, that's where Camp Canonicus gets it's name.) We read about Anne Hutchinson and the early settlement of Portsmouth and Newport. Williams helped out here too, in the purchase of land from the Narragansetts. Then there was a real nut named Samuel Gorton, the founder of a little settlement called Warwick. (also the name of a Jr. High in Warwick) He didn't believe in Heaven or Hell, and his followers were called Gordonites. He was prosecuted for heresy and jailed by the church in Boston. Massachusetts' meddling, prompted Williams to seek a charter to unite the settlements of what is now RI. I'm thinking there might be a few Gordonites still living in Warwick, judging by the spiritual conditions there. But I digress... As an adult, I had heard about King Phillip's War, but didn't really know much about it. The war was the first organized war between the settlers and the Indians in the new world. Unlike Roger Williams, the settlers in Massachusetts had no problem taking the land that had been occupied by the Indians. "King Phillip", Metacomet, was the son of the deceased Wampanoag Chief, Massasoit. (Think Pilgrims) His throne, a natural stone seat, is in Bristol, RI. (We've actually seen it!) He organized tribes in New England to fight to regain their lost land. Although the Narragansetts remained neutral, they were suspected of harboring Wampanoag women and children, and perhaps wounded warriors. They were given an ultimatum from the colonists in Massachusetts. Hand over the Wampanoags or else. Hospitality was a trademark of the Narragansett culture, and it was unthinkable for them to do so. Colonists from Massachusetts and Connecticut launched a surprise attack on a large, winter settlement of the Narragansetts. The colonial soldiers lit the wigwams on fire, and shot men, women and children as they ran from their homes. As many as 1000 Narragansetts were killed that night. I can't tell you how shocked I was to read about this. I live within 20 miles of where this massacre took place, yet in all my schooling I was never taught about this! How can that be?? It was the largest massacre in US history! It's interesting to realize that my 7 year old now knows more RI history that I was ever taught in the public schools. And the government worries whether homeschoolers will provide a thorough education???? I guess we're only supposed to teach the parts that make them look good.