Friday, January 29, 2010

Keep Moving Forward

"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
- Walt Disney

Many times the past few weeks, I've been frustrated, confused, upset, and unsure.

To see my son struggle with first grade has broken my heart. I know that Wilkin is a smart boy. He loves to build, create, draw and craft inventions. His mind is always at work, but not always on the task his teacher had for him. He was labeled with ADHD and told he was easily distracted. We arranged for Wil to be evaluated for learning issues. He tested low on a variety of things, primarily because he lacked basic confidence to complete tasks and "show off" what he knows. While his scores were low, he did not show any indications of dyslexia, hyperactivity, or attention deficit disorder. His evaluation confirmed what we had started to believe - that our son needed a new path.

When talking to Wilkin, I described him as an octagon, and the class as a square. Nothing wrong with being a square. Nothing wrong with being an octagon. They're just not good fits for each other. He kept trying to jam himself into the square, and, as he said, "my edges kept getting banged up." He said he even tried to shrink himself to the size of the square, but doing that made him feel bad about himself.

Yesterday, I formally withdrew him from school and started to homeschool him, with the help of my wonderful and gifted mother-in-law, Judy. She holds a masters in education, with a specialty in learning disabilities. She will tutor him and guide me as I teach him. He will have times each day of concentrated teaching, and he will have the rest of the day to build, create, draw, dream and craft inventions.

We're starting with the absolute basics. Today we finger-painted letters and made a train out of them. One thing that broke my heart was how he repeatedly said:

"This is hard"
"I don't know how to do this."
"I'm not good at this."

Every time he said something bad about himself, I made him "fix" the statement and say it to me seven times.

"This isn't hard if I keep trying."
"I can do this."
"I'm good at this."

We then read "The Little Engine That Could." Wilkin said he used to feel like the tired engine that couldn't pull the train, but now he feels like the little blue engine - small and slow at first, but going faster and faster as he says "I think I can, I think I can."

We used boxes and toys to add, subtract and multiply.

We watched "Meet the Robinsons" while we ate lunch. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. It will inspire you to "keep moving forward" in whatever struggle you may be facing, and even celebrate your failures as just a step on the path toward greatness.

Yeah, it wasn't a big first day of homeschool. It wasn't even challenging. But, while we wait for curriculum, I'm going to lay the foundation for confidence. The work we're doing is intentionally easy. We'll build on what he knows as he grows in knowledge and confidence. Wilkin will get through this hard time. He will thrive. He may return to a traditional school situation, but he may not. Whatever we do, we will keep moving forward and encourage him to be himself - the perfect little octagon God has made him to be.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"I'll run the course you lay out for me if you'll just show me how. God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. ive me insight so I can do what you tell me—my whole life one long, obedient response."

- Psalm 119:32-34 (the Message)

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart."
- Psalm 119:32-34 (NIV)

"I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding. Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart."
- Psalm 119:32-34 (NLT)

"I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart."
- Psalm 119:32-34 (NASB)

So, here comes the commentary by Jamie:
I LOVE how different translations interpret verse 32.

"If you'll just show me how"
"You have set my heart free"
"You expand my understanding"

"You will enlarge my heart"

All of those phrases speak to me in the way I am developed by Him when I just stay running on the course he has for me. I don't have to understand it all - just keep running, and my heart is set free to understand and grow.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (TNIV)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's Complicated ... A Review

"Remember the Scripture that says, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights'? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are 'legal.' Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you're responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you're automatically an adulterer yourself. You can't use legal cover to mask a moral failure." - Matthew 5:31-32 (the Message)

There is a danger when people in "church work" recommend movies or advise people not to go to movies. There is even a danger when people in "church work" go to movies - even the purchase of a ticket can be seen as a tacit stamp of approval on the language/violence/sex that is (undoubtedly) present in the film.

So, I purchased a ticket to see "It's Complicated" and saw it with a friend. I laughed at the funny parts and cringed at the horrible parts - and there were plenty of both (and many of the horrible parts were meant to be funny, I'm sure).

The basic story: Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) were married for 20 years, have 3 grown children, and have been divorced for 10 years. Jake is remarried to a younger woman (Lake Bell) and trying to have a child with her. Jane and Jake have become friendly again, after an acrimonious time when they didn't even want to be under the same roof.

At their son's graduation in New York, they reconnect and begin an affair. Jane finds herself being the "other woman" in Jake's second marriage. Jake sees no problem with this at all - he is thrilled with the new arrangement. Sex from both women, and Jane is even willing to fix him his favorite foods. He doesn't seem to be at all concerned for the well-being of his current wife, and seems to have learned nothing from the damage cause by his divorce.

Jane is morally confused. She knows she is having an affair, and knows this is wrong, even though she was married to him first. She seeks advice from her group of girlfriends, and they encourage her to continue. She seeks advice from her therapist, and he encourages her to continue. None of her circle of friends or advisers seems to have a moral compass - a sense of right and wrong. The look on the second wife's face when she realizes the truth confirms what the audience has known all along - that sex outside of marriage is a sin, and causes irreparable damage not only to the people committing the sin, but everyone in their family and circle of friends.

To be fair, "It's Complicated" did not glorify adultery. In fact, the movie detailed how damaging it had been to the former spouses as well as the children. Even Jane's architect, Adam (Steve Martin), has been divorced for 2 1/2 years and is still struggling and damaged emotionally. Jane and Jake's children are out of the house, 10 years post-divorce, and still bear the bruises wrought by the break-up of their parents' marriage. The revelation of the affair sends them running from the home and into a child-like cuddle session under blankets in the oldest daughter's house.

By this point in the movie, we realize why Jane stopped trying in her marriage. Jake is a jerk who is only concerned with himself. But Jane doesn't give herself a pass. She knows she was at fault too in their marriage. She stopped trying - and we all know that marriage is work - and as a result, Jake sought companionship outside of the marriage. So, he's a jerk. But she didn't fight for her marriage and help them "grow into the people they each wanted the other to be." She gave up, and she very maturely accepts blame.

Marriages are made up of two imperfect people, but together they can be so much more than that. Marriages are supposed to be about spouses sticking together and make each other better people as a result of the hard times, the good times, the self-sacrificing times and the selfish times. If Jake and Jane had stuck it out, this would have been a much different film. At one point, when they were dancing and having a great time together, I turned to my friend and said "this will be me and Tim in 20 years, except without the divorced part." I KNOW we will be happy and in love even more than we are today, because we are fighting for our marriage and we will never let go. It's not simple for us, indeed, it is "Complicated," but it's best for us, our future, and our children's future well-being.

Do I recommend "It's Complicated"? No. I don't. Besides the moral ambiguity about sex, there is drug use and language. I'm not sorry I saw it, because it made me appreciate my husband and our marriage and want to work harder. But I wouldn't put it on your Netflix queue...