Friday, May 16, 2008

Was I Duped?

Growing up, I fancied myself to be a cool older sister. I only had one younger sibling, and I believed that it was up to me to make sure that he was loved, nurtured, and taught. I liked to think of him as my responsibility, my charge, and to some degree, my child. I think all little girls must be like that. They like to be little mothers. At our house, I'm "Big Mama" and Gloria is "Little Mama".

When my little brother was old enough to have homework, I loved to sit with him and help. I realized, though, that some nights he would sit and talk and talk and talk and talk.... and make precious little progress on his homework. I determined that I would find a reason to leave and say something like, "I'll be back in a minute, Jake, and when I get back, I'll help you with number six if you make it that far. But I doubt that you will." Without fail, I would come back and he would be way past number six, just to prove that he could do it.

That experience served me well. I babysat a 10 year old a couple of times in college, and the same thing worked for him. Proving that he could work alone and work fast was a great motivator for him. And once I married my husband, I got to help his 10 year old sister with her homework in the evenings. One of the great perks of being married to him was that I gained 4 younger siblings. Megan, my 10 year old sister-in-law, could yack it up with the best of them. We talked about what she dreamed the night before, about the baby growing in my belly, about which boys pulled her hair at school. It was great... except that she wasn't actually doing her homework. So I pulled out the great motivator: "I'll be back in a few minutes. I doubt you'll be to number 6 by then, but if you are, I'll help you with it." Every time she exceeded my expectations.

Today, I needed a motivator for Noah. So, experienced as I am, I pulled out the same old trick. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Maybe you'll be to number 4, where you'll need my help. I'll help you with it, if you're there, but I doubt it. There's a lot of hard work between here and there." With that, I left. I went into my bedroom and closed the door. After a few minutes, there was a knock at the door, and a paper slipped under. My pride swelled up in me- it had worked and worked much better than I had anticipated. He was finished, and so quickly. I pictured my smiling 7 year old brother all those years ago, and in my mind, he looked just like Noah. I was a great teacher, and a great motivator. I sighed contentedly.

And then I looked down and saw this:

My son had simply written down random numbers to fill in the blank spots on his paper. He had not even attempted the problems. Now that I am the teacher, I noticed this. I don't think I ever even checked Jake and Megan's work. Did they do this too, knowing that I would never check the answers? The little sneaks... I feel duped.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

My view, straight up.
Looking out...
Scott's working on the roof.
She was mildly amused by something I said.
Eventually she fell asleep and I got around to helping out.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

To Test or Not to Test?

I am considering giving my children the CAT (California Achievement Test) this year. I don't know of anyone who has used this test, but most of the homeschool testing websites use this one. Does anyone have personal experience with it or any other achievement test? We don't follow the state curriculum. We may be learning about the Roman Empire while the state schools are teaching American history. My interest is in finding out how my children perform on the basic skills portion of the test.


Friday, May 2, 2008

More Cabin Work...

There's a hokey little Muppets song that the kids like to sing when we're trekking to the back to work on the cabin. "In a cabin in the woods a monster by the window stood..." It just gets better and better, but you'll have to take my word for it. Here are some shots of what we've gotten done lately.
Nicholas caught my interpretive dance routine on film for all to see. ;) Really, I'm not sure what I was doing.
Daddy taking a break. The siding is up, except for the part that will be under the wall of windows.
We had to clear some trees to make way for the scaffolding. Here's a shot of some of the resulting carnage.

Elijah's first time in the cabin. Note the hillbilly scaffolding. Only 2 windows left to go.
Scott paid $10 for these 8 windows and several other sizes of windows at a yard sale. We're still not sure what we'll do with the others.

Our Sanford & Son Chicken Tractor

We only used those blankets for the first day... :) There is now a well-fitted and tied down tarp providing shade to the not-so-little chicks. That's Elijah inside- dumping out a bucket of worms he collected for the chickens. Isn't that sweet?

Triumph over Tragedy

This week we've had the honor of seeing God work- bringing forth good from the most tragic of circumstances. My words will not do justice to the works of the Lord. But to make no mention of it because I may not be able to adequately share it with you would be wrong. Please accept my humble bumbling attempt to sing the praises of my Jesus.

On Wednesday evening the youth from our church got to meet a young man named Matthew. Matthew could not be with us in person, but the Lord provided us with photos, video, and a letter from his sister. Matthew would have fit in well with the group of kids we have- several of them said he looked familiar. They felt like they knew him from somewhere. Matthew's favorite song, which was on his Myspace page, is the favorite song of several of the young ladies in our youth group. The song was playing as the kids came in to eat, and we were accused by one of taking it from her Myspace page. It caused a great stir... we don't do secular music, and we give the kids grief about it. So the very fact that they walked in to hear a country music song was shocking.

Matthew was homeschooled- he graduated in 2007. He was one of 7 children. He worked at a fast food restaurant, and had a crush on a girl. Matthew professed to be a Christian. He thought of himself as too pure, and said that if he had obeyed God less, he might have had a more productive life for God in the long run. In a letter, his sister warned him about his prideful heart. "You're own heart is very successfully deceiving you... I constantly pray for you... I often cry. I'm not so scared of the police with you, Matthew, as I am of God's chastisement. Any branch that doesn't bear fruit is cut off... I hope this hurts. Sometimes truth does. I hope it hurts because if you acknowledged the truth as it is right now, it would hurt. So if it doesn't hurt, you're already hardened against God too much--perhaps even given over to a "reprobate mind"! I cry...and pray...every single day... "

Last Friday, while my husband was on vacation, Matthew took his life at Scott's place of business. One of Scott's co-workers, T, watched him die: watched him struggle for his last breaths, watched his body go ashen, watched the blood spill out from his body. T made no attempt to help (not that there was anything that would have stopped his death). T did not speak a word to Matthew. He said, "I didn't even pray for him." He stayed 6 feet away and watched a young man die.

Our youth could identify with one of the "players" in Matthew's story.
Some of them are like Matthew's sister- doing everything they can to minister to the lost and dying around them.
Some of them are like the co-worker- claiming to be Christians but not stepping in to help someone in need of help. They have nothing to give to the dying because they are not filled with the Holy Spirit. So they stand and watch people die and don't get involved.
Some of our kids are like Matthew himself- their hearts are deceiving them. There is something in this life that is more important to them than serving the Lord. When a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend collapses, they feel like it is the end of the world. Or when Mom or Dad let them down in some way, they think life is not worth living.

After Scott's lesson, we went to watch a group of our teens perform a skit they have been working on. Because God's timing is perfect, they were in the right spirit to bring this message to a building full of non-church-going people. The skit was (and we are not big fans of skits!) to a song called "All I Want" by Lifehouse. (There are many versions of it on Youtube if you are interested in seeing it. I don't believe that anyone videotaped our kids, so I can't show you that.) The skit portrays a young woman who is in love with the Lord and then is swept away by a boyfriend, love of money, vanity, drunkenness, and finally death. "Death" shows her how to cut her arms and gives her a gun- urging her to kill herself. When she stops fighting the demons around her and drops down to pray, Jesus defeats the demons, cleans her up, and they walk away arm-in-arm. The young lady who portrayed "Death" wore a mask, and she stated afterward that she cried the whole time, thinking of Matthew.

When they were finished, our pastor spoke about the need for salvation and repentance. He did not have the typical "alter call". He prayed that anyone in need of salvation would come under conviction and would be conflicted and tormented about their condition, so that they would earnestly seek the Lord. Most of the folks who came to see their kids/friends in the skit stayed for the rest of the adult service. Several kids came to Scott stating that there were things in their lives that were keeping them from serving the Lord, and they want to get rid of them.

Another way that the Lord is using this for good: While Scott was putting together the slideshow of photos for the kids at church, someone came to him (at work) and stated that an employee had just come in and told them she was planning to kill herself. Scott had Matthew's picture up on the computer screen- looking right at him. He spent an hour and a half counseling this employee and was able to share Matthew's video with her. She said, "My mind is tricking me. Something keeps telling me that if I kill myself, it won't be permanent." That sends chills down my spine. Satan is the father of all lies.