Sunday, August 9, 2020

Monday, August 3, 2020

On the way home from our date, we saw this fawn crossing the road to catch up to his mom. It had so many spots!  We watched the two eat foliage for a few minutes before going on.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Wineberries and Caterpillars

We're back in CT. It's time to harvest wineberries from our backyard. 

And we found a monarch caterpillar on milkweed beside the pond.  

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Date Night

Dwayne's company celebrated 100 years and hosted a picnic for the employees and their families last night.  At that picnic, Dwayne won two gift certificates to Black Angus by answering trivia questions about the company's history.  We had another gift certificate to Black Angus stashed in the drawer from another work event, so all three certificates provided a really lovely date night.  I had a small cup of beef and vegetable broth and a half a wedge salad, then I had the cedar plank salmon, which is probably the best entree I've ever eaten anywhere anytime.  Dwayne had shrimp cocktail and then a really nice filet.  We ended the meal with hot coffees and their amazing chocolate mouse. Oh, the flavors!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Visit to SC Cont.

Right around the end of our visit to Mom's in South Carolina, her cats were finally comfortable with us. It figures, because cats.

Adele drew this doodle of Grandma after the first day. Notice Mom's cats and she's wearing her birdhouse shirt.

Mom wore the same shirt again the last day of our visit, so I got a pic of her with her doodle.

Adele also left Mom with a black eye.  Mom was showing her how to twirl her old baton throughout the week and one thing led to another. Poor Grandma.  This is incredibly heartwarming and funny to me, probably because I am a bad person.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Eclectic Particular Grace

I did not have a happy childhood.

God knows. 

But I must also acknowledge that my childhood was not all bad.

It could have been much worse. 

So even as I look back at the darkness and pain in my memories, I find gratitude in my heart.  

The grace of God works backwards like CS Lewis says and I see my whole life filling up with glory.

There are words I might use to help describe my childhood: poverty, disorder, filth, neglect, violence, anger, abuse.

But if I had to sum up everything in one word it would be sin.   

My parents' sin 
Their parents' sin 
And probably their parents' sin, but the stories in living memory only go back so far.
My parents' siblings' sin 
And my parents' sin in response to their parents' and their siblings' sin 
My siblings' sin 
And my sin in response to my siblings' sin 
And my sin in response to my parents' sin
And my own sin was there, is there still. 

From all the testimonies and from my own memories, I see the problem of sin probably stretches back all the way to Eve and reaches so deep as to infect the whole earth. 

The roots that cause disorder in my life are connected to the roots that cause the disorder in all of Creation.  

But God has been gracious to me.
I came to Christ. 
Or did Christ come to me? 
I started following Him. 
I left home.

He who is loves his father and mother more than me is not worthy of me. 

By leaving home, I mean that God provided for me in nearly miraculous, but also very practical ways, and I found a way out of one lifestyle and into another way of life. 

But I also mean that I "left home" and started walking out of the sins that held my family for generations.

But interestingly, the road to God, through it led away from my family in one sense, has also led me straight back to family in another. 

God has never allowed me to severe relationship with the people who have hurt me the most, though there were times I was tempted to do so. 

He's lead me back, through the chaos, right into it, with the burden of the disorder in my own hands and even, at times, on my own back.  

I don't believe in Purgatory, but then again, I do, since I've been in it. The process of living in family has felt like Purgatory at times.  

We recently took responsibility for my aging mother and bought her a condo to live in.  

Honor thy father and mother. 

God asked us to do what we say we believe. 

But in this, our story is not unique, since we know many people are caring for their parents, just as many have done before. 

We also helped her move out of her old place and into the new.  

For me, personally, unpacking my Mom's boxes and organizing her stuff and getting her settled was like going through Hell, literally. 

Almost every item represented a bitter-sweet, painfully acute, or even Hellish memory for me.  

But I felt the presence of God holding me together as I unpacked her boxes.

And the most interesting thing happened as I submitted to that work.

The items were literally redeemed as they came up out of the boxes and they came together into a beautiful, eclectic mix that fills her dwelling place and is simply beautiful.

And seeing her in that beauty blesses me.  

God uses us to do His work here on earth.  

The wall of photos in the picture above is always a testimony to my soul as I walk through her front door. 

Most of those frames were salvaged out of random boxes filled with random junk.

The frames were often purchased on impulse with money better spent on necessities we may have gone without. 

Many of the frames were never even used, just hoarded like many other things were hoarded.

But when all the unpacking and organizing and purging was done, these frames had been collected into a pile, and it was time to decorate. These came together with old photos into this eclectic collection that adorns her wall.  

God brings everything together like that.   

He gives beauty for ashes.  

He made something beautiful and unique out of all those poor choices, those seemingly unredeemable particularities.  

Such is the grace of God for my particular family. His grace is beautiful and unique to us. 

I just look at the whole thing in wonder and awe. 

Even though God is using my hands to do the work, I often feel I am just a bystander.  

Don't be afraid to follow God anywhere He leads, even if it is to confront your painful past and work to redeem it.  

Submit to a relationship with God and be ready when you are in relationship with Him, for a relationship with the triune God may lead you to have to submit to various relationships with others.  

Blessed are the peacemakers. 

With God's help, do what is right by the people in your life even if they are undeserving.

Who is deserving of God's grace anyway?

I think of Christ in Gethsemane.  

He did not deserve to suffer, but He chose relationship.  

Even the best of us would be poor and desperate without Him. 

On the other side of this process of relationship to God and others, He will have fashioned a diamond from the rough. 

In the end, you, and perhaps your family, too, will be able to reflect facets of His glory in particular ways that no one else can.  

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Visit to Grandma's in SC

We're taking near daily drives through Dunkin. 
It's nice to get cold drinks in the southern heat. 

My mom was a majorette in college and my youngest is learning to twirl her old baton. 

We've been going to the pool everyday, sometimes twice a day. 

I added some more photos to Mom's collages. 

Mom made homemade vanilla- banana- Nilla wafer pudding. 

We hung a bunch of paintings for Mom. This one is a watercolor done by her sister Patty. 

My oldest is making Mom a new dishcloth. Note: Croqueted dish cloths are the best. 

I've been making three meals a day at home. I'm making stuff Mom likes like beans and cornbread.  

Friday, July 24, 2020

Redeeming My Education

I'm preparing to direct Challenge 3 next year, so I'm working through Apologia's Chemistry text ahead of time.

I got to the part in Module 3 where I had to solve for frequency and/or wavelength, etc.

That necessitated knowing how to divide exponents, some of which are negative.

That necessitated relearning exponents using my Understanding Mathematics texts.

I also had to relearn how to divide with decimals, and use scientific notation and a scientific calculator.

There were tears and at one or two points, there was total despair.

I put my face in my hands, and cried out to God, and prayed, and questioned everything, especially my calling to direct Challenge 3.

Credit to my husband for helping and really struggling with me. It wasn't easy for him, either.

I worked for hours and we talked about the concepts all day and now I can say, I've got it.

I think.

I learned a lot of math today, but I learned some deeply personal lessons, too.

I know how to solve for frequency and wavelength with and without a calculator.

I learned that I'm tougher and smarter than I thought.

I also learned that I'm weak enough to question homeschooling over a difficult math concept. It really got to that point for a few moments when I couldn't see my way and that's really humbling.

But praise God, I did it!

Next time my daughter lacks faith or is struggling, I'll have some fresh grace to give her, because of this struggle/ victory.

Glory to God for helping me surmount what seemed insurmountable.

I begin to wonder what all I can do with my brain if I am just willing to wrestle long enough.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Vacation Puzzles

I always put a puzzle (or two or three) out in the dining room during vacations.  Dwayne and Norah worked on it for a while one Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

New Planners

The two oldest girls were excited to go to Staples and pick out their new planners for the coming school year.

I usually have them fill out their planners on Friday, the day after we meet for Classical Conversations.

They plan their school days from Friday through Wednesday of the next week.

Then I take a look and I'll ask them to add things or move things around.

We often debate about the changes.

But I do alot of discipleship through this process.

And I save myself a lot of headaches through the week by doing this the day the week begins.

The calendar serves me as much as it serves them, since it reminds me what I decided to have them do everyday.

And this way, they aren't looking to me to remember what's expected of them every single day.

They can look at their own schedule and I can just make sure and keep them accountable to what's there.