Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Breakthrough in the Little Dude's Brain

I was a firstborn child.  When my brother was born, Mom said we were total opposites.  Then when my other brother was born, Mom said he was completely opposite from the both of us.  We are given personalities and genetic tendencies from the very beginning of our lives.

I have always known that Elisa and Wilkin were totally different.  They're female and male, yes, but different in ways that transcend chromosomes and Princesses v. Dinosaurs.

Elisa "gets it" right away.  Whether it's auditory, visual, tactile, she gets it.  She reads a spelling list and can take the test a week later without reviewing the words.  She reads a book and discusses intricate plot points months after the book is back on the shelf.  

Wilkin "gets it" best when he comes up with the conclusion, fact or solution on his own.  His dad is the same way (makes couple discussion time lots of fun), but not to this extreme.  Simply asking Wilkin to sit down and look at a worksheet results in a brick wall slamming up in front of his face, tears springing to his eyes, and arms folding across his chest.

In school, Wilkin's greatest struggle was for automaticity and speed in writing the responses for math and English on his worksheets.  Many days Wil would take hours to complete a worksheet for many reasons - inability to concentrate, the tendency toward distraction (he is seven, after all), but the main reason was his that he would not listen to instruction.  He was told many times by his teacher - and as well, by his parents - that the speediest way to copy his spelling words was to look at the entire word and write it without looking back at the word.  If he couldn't remember the word, then he needed to keep a finger on the word so he could easily refer back to the original word.  Although it would have saved him so much time and frustration, Wilkin would not listen, would not do what we suggested.

Yesterday, Wilkin was copying words in his endeavor to learn "long vowel" sounds.  He had completed a word search, then began to write the words on the lines provided.  As before, he wrote the words letter by letter: F (then back up to see the next letter) - E (write the letter, then look back up at the word to find the next letter) - A (write the letter, look back up to find the next letter in the word) - S (write the letter, then search for the next letter in the word) - T.  The next word proved to be just as painstaking, until Wilkin said to me, "Hey mom, what if I looked at the word while I wrote down below, then I wouldn't have to look back and forth?" 

"Well, buddy, that's a good idea, except that you can't see what you are writing down below, so you can't tell if you're writing neatly or not."

Wilkin thought about that.  "Hmmm.  You're right.  What about if I look at the word, read it, and remember the letters, then write it down below?"


"Yeah, dude, I think that might work.  You're a smart one.  You can remember all the letters and write it down - I know you can."

With each successive word, Wilkin became more and more excited that he was completing the task so quickly. "Hey, Mom!  If I had done this in school, I could have done a worksheet with everybody else and would never have had to put it under my desk to do later!  I wouldn't have had to miss playtime to do my work!"


That's why I'm homeschooling my son.  He may not listen to what I think is reason at the time, but if I am patient with him, he will find his way and be a confident learner.  I can't forge the path for him, he must tread it on his own.  Forcing him to process his learning the way I process learning is ineffective at best, abusive at worst.  I'm going to be as patient with my boy as I can, and be his guide along the way to knowledge.  His way ... on his timetable.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Grace and Love in the Chronicles of Narnia � Escape to Reality

Eye-opening post on being God's beloved ...

Remember the scene in The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis where Emeth is accepted by Aslan, although he has been a Tash-worshiper?

Monday, March 15, 2010

I went running today

I've started a little adventure called "Couch to 5K."  For the uninitiated, it means those lazy people who don't move at all except from couch to car and back again can get in shape through a period of alternating running and walking, 30 minutes 3 days a week, gradually working up to a 5K run in 9 weeks.

I'm not saying it will be easy, but there are a lot of tools that make it easier.  I used a Christian indie music podcast for my running this morning and found an incredible song that I wanted to share.  After the Chase is a husband-and-wife worship leading, music writing team in California.  My goal in this Couch to 5K endeavor is not to be skinny, not to look better, but to be disciplined in the way I use my body.  My appearance should be a declaration of devotion to God, not chips and candy bars.  Here's a link to the song (click on "Run") - hope it blesses you the way it did me.

More info on After the Chase and Couch to 5K (including links to running guide podcasts):

Couch to 5K on Facebook

Tampa Area - Couch to 4K Club on Facebook

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Jesus Storybook Bible

Someday I'm going to write a blog post JUST about this amazing book.  Until then, check out this great review and giveaway!

Jesus is Coming (Look Busy)

Driving through downtown Roanoke yesterday, I saw a bumper sticker I'd never seen before: Jesus is coming (look busy).  

I couldn't help but laugh at the misinformation perpetuated by such a message, and then be immediately convicted of my own busyness.

I am too often wrapped up in activities for Jesus instead of abiding in Jesus.  Church work can really get to be a busy work.  Especially as the church grows (this is a good thing), the busyness increases (this is a bad thing).  If I am not careful and intentional about my life, I end up acting like Martha in the kitchen, grumbling that I never get to spend time with Jesus.  But oh, the work I'm accomplishing FOR him! 

Living Water Christian Church is all about creating "reproducing" disciples as part of our discipleship process - meaning we connect people to God, help them grow and serve, then duplicate themselves in the lives of other people.  That means one doesn't just keep piling more and more activities and work on oneself - one creates apprentices and other workers, then goes out to create more disciples.

It's a very biblical, thoughtful, intentional concept - one that I am finally starting to understand.  In the hands of Jesus, I help him create reproducing disciples (disciples make more disciples; small groups make more small groups; churches make more churches).

But left to my own devices, I putter about, doing, doing, doing... and feeling right proud of myself.  This puttering feeds the heresy that we can do anything on our own accord to earn salvation or the grace of Jesus.  How many jokes have you heard about the priest, the rabbi and the so-and-so who meet St. Peter at the pearly gates and plead their case to get into heaven?  One of Satan's most successful lies is that humankind can earn salvation.  

Jesus IS COMING again ... but busyness and toil will not save us.  Jesus already did all the work necessary for our salvation when he died on the cross.  I Timothy 1:9 tells us "For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus." (NLT)  God saved us not because we deserved it - not because we were busy - but because that was his plan; to show us grace.

Grace trumps busyness.

Grace covers the weary and heavy laden, too worn to be busy.  Jesus's yoke is light, not heavy.  He gives us rest, not work.  As Eugene Peterson's Message translation of Matthew 11:29-30 puts it: "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Jesus IS coming ... but the only thing I need to do about it is accept him, obey him, and begin to live in him.  He did it all for me.  If I were the only person on earth, Jesus still would have died to save me.  My life in Jesus should only be a visceral, grateful  response to his grace and mercy.  All else is busywork, not holy, and it definitely does not save me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Living Water is CELEBRATING this Sunday!

On March 14 at 9:30 and 11:00, we're celebrating what God has done through us at Living Water and in our hearts and lives!

We'll show this video, hear inspiring stories of life change, and (of course) eat together after second service.

It's going to be an exciting Sunday!

So Salem: Community news from Salem - For the Love of Isabelle

Great article on Salem blog - featuring Isabelle Simmons and work done by the amazing Tabitha Concepcion and other friends from area churches.  I'm incredibly proud to have just a tiny part of this beautiful event.

So Salem: Community news from Salem - For the Love of Isabelle: Dinner, Auction and Entertainment March 13

Isabelle Simmons, 2, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Nov. 8. While her parents, Ben and Tabitha Simmons, were "still spinning from the diagnosis," friends and family jumped in and started organizing a fundraiser.
Family members estimate that the Simmonses’ out-of-pocket expenses could exceed $200,000. This estimate includes chemotherapy treatments that Isabelle will undergo for 2½ years. The exact cost will depend on the number of times Isabelle is hospitalized and has transfusions, as well as if bone marrow transplants are necessary.
A spaghetti dinner, organized by family friend Tabitha Concepcion, is being held in order to help the Simmons family with medical expenses. Entertainment will include a bluegrass band and Christian musician Tony Vines. Items contributed for the silent auction by local businesses include a Deep Creek Lake House Vacation for 14, Coach bags and a Thunder Valley package. Various themed baskets have been donated by local churches whose members are also pitching in to help cook dinner.
"I attend the Living Water Christian church in Salem," says Isabelle’s uncle, Don Charles of Salem. "They have been such a blessing to my life, and as soon as they heard about my niece, they immediately offered their help. They have offered to let people send their donations for Isabelle to the church in order to have a tax deduction. Members of the congregation are also on the committee that is planning Isabelle’s fundraiser. We’re thankful for Living Water and the other congregations in the valley who have reached out with ‘concrete acts of love’ in support our family during a difficult time."
"The thing that I am looking forward to the most is not the money, but getting to see so many people who are there to love and support Isabelle," says her mom. "Our hope and prayer is that her story can be an encouragement to other families going through similar situations."
What: For the Love of Isabelle: Dinner, auction and entertainment
When: Saturday, March 13, 5 p.m.
Where: Roanoke Moose Lodge, 3233 Catawba Valley Drive
How much: $8 adults/$4 children
For information, contact Tabitha Concepcion 986-6718
Submitted by Laura Wade, special to SoSalem.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A God-Shaped Life

"A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree." 

- Proverbs 11:28 (the Message)

"Trust in your money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring."
- Proverbs 11:28 (NLT)

"Trust in your wealth, and you will be a failure, but God's people will prosper like healthy plants."- Proverbs 11:28 (CEV)

"Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf."
- Proverbs 11:28 (TNIV)

We had such a great discussion in Financial Peace University last night. In Proverbs 22:7, it says that the borrower is slave to the lender.
In Luke 16:13, it says we cannot serve both God and money.
If I'm in debt to anyone but God, I'm torn between two masters. Clinging to one, despising the other.
Who am I clinging to?
I'm so excited about the debt Tim and I have already paid off, and the snowball effect in place for the rest of it.  

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand (especially consumer debt).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inviting outsiders, not coddling insiders

Living Water Christian Church is preparing for Easter, which falls on April 4 this year.

More than preparing with invite cards, sermons on evangelism and encouragements to pray for and invite our friends to Easter, I'm working to prepare my heart.

Many people have preconceptions of Easter Sunday services ... the choir cantatas, the rousing resurrection sermons, the "up from the grave he arose!"

This Sunday, we're challenging people to turn to Jesus, the one who can help them become the best version of themselves!  We're kicking off a sermon series called "The Me I Want To Be" and inviting our friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members to encounter the person who can create their own best version of "me."

I'm challenging myself to show the unchurched people around me who Jesus really is.  Maybe that's babysitting, lending a hand out to their car at the grocery store, paying for their meal at Burger King, dropping off a bag of groceries with an anonymous "I love you" from Jesus.

We're not inviting people who already know Jesus.  We can't.  They already know the way, the truth and the life.  Jesus isn't calling the righteous, but the sinners ... the "sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit." (Mark 2:17 - the Message)

The Message interpretation of the Bible is sometimes harsh, but hits me directly where I need to hear it: in the ninth chapter of the book of Matthew 9, Jesus is hanging out with Matthew, the sinning tax collector who is also the author of this account of Jesus' life.  Jesus is eating and enjoying the company of people who are less than reputable in society, especially religious society, and they (the religious ones, the holier-than-thou, the showoffs) take him to task for it.

... Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders." 
- Matthew 9:12-13 (the Message)

Am I an insider wanting to be coddled?  Am I one of the holier-than-thou, look-down-my-nose-at-the-dirty-people, self-righteous believers?

OR am I inviting outsiders to hear and be transformed by the amazing, life-renewing, blast-the-doors-off-death, true-life story of Jesus?

Are you?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Math Worksheets - the bane of my existence

I love my octagon.
I love my octagon.
I love my octagon.
Say it until you feel it.  

The little dude is bright.  He could do math equations in his head, craft fact families out of legos, toys, boxes, etc. until the cows come home.  But will he WILLINGLY do a math worksheet?  Absolutely not.  

All I ask is one a day, so he can practice actually writing the numbers.  
Right now he's up in his room for 5 minutes because he put up a fight on today's worksheet.  He zipped through the most recent math "tricks" in Two Plus Two Is Not Five by Susan R. Greenwald, but self-determined he was not prepared for the test (I use one of the review sheets at the end of each tier).  So, we're doing one review sheet each day this week to get ready for the test. 

Reasoning with him doesn't work.  Wheedling and cajoling SURE doesn't work.  Forcing him to sit at the table until it's done doesn't work (I've got a life too; he's along for the ride.  He knows this and will hold out until it's time to leave the house.  Problem solved).  So, he's in his room for 5 minutes or until he's ready to buckle down and get to work.  My guess?  5 minutes will come sooner.

Everything I hear says he needs to be writing his math answers out to be at the right level for first grade.  His tutor and my mother-in-law, my go-to-gal for first grade standards and development, and the esteemed math professor at Lander, my go-to gal for out-of-the-box math thinking, both say "the boy needs to be writing down his math."
I don't know if it's a reaction to being forced to write out answers in a timed environment in the traditional school setting, or just a natural aversion to the way his brain works.
He loves math.  Am I making him hate it by forcing him to do math worksheets?
Oh wait ... I hear footsteps on the stairs.  With a hug from mom and an "I believe in you," my little octagon is ready to work. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Octagon-style learning about the Circulatory System

So Wilkin has been confused about veins/muscles/nerves for a while now. Fascinated with bionics and nerves and muscles, but calling all of them veins.

My good friend Josie Ryan came for a short visit on her way through to Washington, D.C. and decided Wilkin needed to know the difference between veins/muscles/nerves.

At the library, she found lots of books on how the body functions. He went home with 
Your Body by Stephanie Turnbull: Amazon listing of Your Body and A Drop of Blood by Paul Showers: Amazon listing of A Drop of Blood.

He read and re-read the information on the circulatory system, especially when he learned that he was born with a small VSD - ventricular septal defect - and that Josie was born with a hole in her heart as well. Wilkin's VSD was so small that, at his last pediatric cardiologist visit, they said we didn't need to come back for three years. By that time, they thought that the VSD could be completely closed.

We have read and re-read these books, as well as checking out videos on the 
Britannica website. Yesterday, I had an appointment scheduled to give blood at the Red Cross. Since we had been reading about the circulatory system, we took A Drop of Blood along with us. Our phlebotomist, Fran, was very patient with us, answering all of Wilkin's questions and even letting him touch the warm bag of blood after the donation was over. I learned a lot about anti-coagulants and the process of storage and identification of blood, too.

Just by searching around, we found a 
classroom lecture and echocardiogram on Youtube. On Wednesday, March 10, Wilkin has his three-year check up with the pediatric cardiologist, where he will have his very own echocardiogram.

Thanks to Josie, who picked up on some misinformation Wilkin had - and knowing he was bright enough to be able to learn more - and amazing timing with a blood donation and echocardiogram - Wilkin now is very knowledgeable about the heart, blood, oxygenation, arteries and veins. Now THAT'S some great octagon-style learning.