Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Don't Quit by Charles Swindoll selected from
Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous composer-pianist, was scheduled to perform at a great concert hall in America. It was an evening to remember - black tuxedos and long evening dresses, a high-society extravaganza. Present in the audience that evening was a mother with her fidgety nine-year-old son. Weary of waiting, he squirmed constantly in his seat. His mother was in hopes that her son would be encouraged to practice the piano if he could just hear the immortal Paderewski at the keyboard. So - against his wishes - he had come.
As she turned to talk with friends, her son could stay seated no longer. He slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the ebony concert grand Steinway and its leather tufted stool on the huge stage flooded with blinding lights. Without much notice from the sophisticated audience, the boy sat down at the stool, staring wide-eyed at the black and white keys. He placed his small, trembling fingers in the right location and began to play "chopsticks." The roar of the crowd was hushed as hundreds of frowning faces pointed in his direction. Irritated and embarrassed, they began to shout:
"Get the boy away from there!"
"Who'd bring a kid that young in here?"
"Where's his mother?"
"Somebody stop him!"
Backstage, the master overheard the sounds out front and quickly put together in his mind what was happening. Hurriedly, he grabbed his coat and rushed toward the stage. Without one word of announcement he stooped over behind the boy, reached around both sides, and began to improvise a counter melody to harmonize with and enhance "chopsticks." As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy's ear:
Keep going. Don't quit. Keep on playing...don't stop...don't quit.
And so it is with us. We hammer away on our project, which seems about as significant as "chopsticks" in a concert hall. And about the time we are ready to give up, along comes the Master who leans over and whispers:
Now keep going; don't quit. Keep on...don't stop; don't quit, as He improvises on our behalf, providing just the right touch at just the right moment.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
Tonight we were out and I happened to have some loose change so I thought once and for all I would give in and show him how hard it is to win those games. I gave each of the older two boys fifty cents and turned my back to the game. But before I turned my back I noticed the machine's claw had two handicapped pincers, leaving only one working pincer, nice.
Guess what? They BOTH WON something! Oh my, are you even for real? It was ridiculous. I have a very strong dislike for stuffed animals so I told them they were going to have to donate them. To this The Thinker quipped "but these are very rare, it's very difficult to win this game and we can't give them away". Right, so rare and difficult you did it on your first try with a dysfunctional claw.
So I was pleased as punch when 80% of my Geometry for Teachers class was all about learning how to give instructions. While my classmates groaned about quadrants and planes I secretly soaked it all in.
When The Thinker was putting together a Lego creation the other night I jumped at the chance to work with him. Legos, or other building blocks, are perfect for this exercise because they are descript, in color, shape and size. I happen to be married to a man who ate, slept and breathed Legos growing up so everyone in my house knows what a 1 x 2 and a 2 x 6 are when speaking Legoese. Also, Legos come with great detailed instructions which help the speaker to give directions. This is not what he was building but this would be a great starting point for a kindergartner or first grader.Try this at your house, hold the instructions to where the listener can't see them and give him very explicit directions. Don't say "take this and put it there", say "stack the two blue 2 x 4s and place them one row from the right on the second and third post so the long end is facing you" This would be a great opportunity to practice left and right, top and bottom, etc. The biggest trick to this is the listener has to keep the creation turned the way you are reading the instructions. Keep it light, if he starts to get frustrated put it away and try with something simpler another time.
Let me know if you do this and how it turns out. You'll learn as much, if not more, than the listener. Oh yes, and make sure the instructions are for something he's never built before or else he'll be doing it from memory instead of listening to you.
Last week during the "baby" snow. Hoping to have a snow day tomorrow so we can sled and board some more. Listen to him bounce. At the end he says "that was fun!"
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Until last summer Mr. Steady and I never tithed regularly. Last summer, at a time when my world had been shattered and my marriage was hanging by a thread and we were, very literally, living on the charity of others, I decided we would start tithing. One dime of every dollar that came into my hands went back to our home church. My husband had no job and I made about $700 a month.
One day on the way to church I clenched our last $50 in my fist. We hadn't paid our rent, we were behind on most of our utilities, and our gas tank was toeing the red E. I had a choice. We could place that last $50 in the offering plate and give God back a small portion of what was rightfully His. Or we could fill the gas tank up and be able to take my family where they needed to go. I decided to give God His portion. After church I found out we had been blessed by a loving Christian family with double the amount that we gave God. Double. Keep that story in your back pocket....
This Christmas a loving Christian sister gave me a gift of $50 with instructions to spend it on myself. Recently God reminded me that I had a debt of $50 to pay someone I had borrowed money from a long time ago. That debt tugged at my heart and I reasoned with my conscience for a while. "It was a gift to me, I should use it for what it was meant for." But God kept nudging me to do the right thing. So I sent it to my lender post haste before I could change my mind again. The very next night a dear, dear couple knocked on my door and handed me $60.
Now you tell me, do you think that $100 or $60 would have been given to us if we had not been obedient? Over and over again I have heard sermons preached on tithing and over and over again I have read Malachi 3:10 and know this is the only area God allows us to test Him. We don't tithe or pay our debts to reap blessings, we do it because it's right and we want to honor Him. But I can attest to you that by honoring Him, He will bless you.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Please bring 1 (one) item that has a $10-$15 resale value, and 2 (two) items that have $5 or less resale value. You will take home three items with similar value.
I WILL have pizza, I WILL have homegoods to swap with you (I've been filling a tote for months), I WILL have cute napkins, I WILL have children who misbehave, I MIGHT clean the toilet, I MIGHT vacuum my floor, I MIGHT have ice, I WON'T stress over whether or not my windows are clean (they won't be, because, hello, have you ever tried to shovel your sidewalk during a blizzard?), I WON'T clean my bathroom cabinet for fear you might look in there, I WON'T apologize for the disarray of my house, but most importantly, I WON'T regret spending a few hours with my friends.
I wouldn't be human if I didn't ask God the hard questions about my mom's death. Why? Why didn't you stop it? Why did you allow this? What good could possibly come of this? And even though He hasn't answered me directly, He did use Max Lucado's words to give me Hope. I pray they do the same for you today.
From Max Lucado's book Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear:
"What makes no sense in this life will make perfect sense in the
next. I have proof: you in the womb....Every gestation day equipped you
for your earthly life. Your bones solidified, your eyes developed, the
umbilical cord transported nutrients into your growing frame...for what
reason? So you might remain enwombed? Quite the contrary. Womb
time equipped you for earth time, suited you up for your postpartum
existence. Some prenatal features went unused before birth. You grew
a nose but didn't breathe. Eyes developed, but could you see? Your
tongue, toenails, and crop of hair served no function in your mother's
belly. But aren't you glad you have them now? Certain chapters in
this life seem so unnecessary, like nostrils on the preborn.
Suffering. Loneliness. Disease. Holocausts.
Martyrdom. Monsoons. If we assume this world exists just for
pregrace happiness, these atrocities disqualify it from doing so. But
what if this earth is the womb? Might these challenges, severe as they may
be, serve to prepare us, equip us for the world to come? As Paul wrote
"These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make
all our troubles seem like nothing" (2 Corinthians 4:17 CEV)"
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
About a month or so ago God spoke to me. He told me to quit school and bring my boys home to home school. He also had some fascinating other ideas that I am not ready to talk about here (but no, it didn't have anything to do with having a baby). I thought I was going crazy so for a couple of days I ignored Him.
You see, I have a plan. It may not be traditional or expedient but it has, for the most part, worked for my family thus far. I jokingly tell everyone I'm on the ten-year plan for my college degree. I have about three years left at the rate I'm currently going. Then I would teach in the classroom for three years and then be hired on by a virtual charter school. After this I would bring my boys home to home school while I work from home.
Herein lies the problem that God revealed to me. I want to bring The Thinker home when he is in fifth grade. Right now he is in third grade. Let's do the math:
Just in case you are worried, math is not my concentration.
So okay, I got it. I don't have six years. I will bring the boys home next year, Lord.
First I threw a Jonah sized fit. Then I mourned. Typing that out just now seems silly. I mourned my degree? But it was more than that. It was me seemingly failing, yet again. I
Somehow Mr. Steady understood this as I relayed it over the phone through my slurpy tears and snotty-nosed sniffles. The Lord used my husband to answer "Are you living to please such-and-so or are you living to please the Lord? Who matters in the end?"
When God says "Jump!" I say "I will Lord! I love you so much that I will do that. But first, I have to (insert your own pathetic excuse here)" And again He says "Jump!" and I say "I truly intend to, Lord, but I've got this (insert seemingly pressing issue here) to take care of."
Have you ever thought the disciples? I have often wondered what would have happened if Simon Peter said "Rabbi, if you knew how much debt I have you would never ask me to leave my business. I have three more years to pay it all off. Once that is off my back I will surely come and find you and follow you."
Or what if Thomas had said "Gee, God, that seems like a great plan but my wife is having a party next week and she's making my favorite latkes. As soon as that is cleared off my schedule I'll look you up next time you're in town and maybe we can get together then?"
What if we are missing the biggest and best blessing of our life by telling God He has to wait? Wait until my faith is stronger, my sin is diminished, my husband/wife/son/daughter has changed, the debt is gone, the children are bigger, the business is thriving, the degree is awarded, the weight is lost, the.......
About two weeks after God revealed his plan* to me, I was at peace with homeschooling. I will put down my degree and enjoy these last fourteen or so years I have left with my children at home.
*or at least what I interpret His plan to be. As an aside, how many times have I prayed "Lord, reveal your will to me"? And then when He does I laugh and say "No way, uh huh, what's plan B? What else have you got?"
He says "Jump!" I'm learning to say "How High?"
To Be Continued.....