Thursday, September 17, 2009


Time to count some blessings:

1. Another awesome homeschooling playdate today.  Weather was again perfect for hiking--at a new park this time.  The children all waded in a lovely stream, looked for wildlife and thoroughly enjoyed each other's fellowship.  A new child, Elizabeth, age 7 (and her dad) joined us.  Elizabeth is another tomboy--a child after my Daniel's heart, much like Faith, the four-year-old who joins us every time.  Only Elizabeth is Daniel's same age and she's more verbal and outgoing.  Possibly the perfect friend for him.  She collects as many creatures as Daniel and loves nature with the same intensity.

Her dad owns a toy shop; please say a quick prayer for him.  Business is poor right now, due to the economy.  He is struggling to stay open and had to recently apply for a credit card to get his car transmission fixed.  Ouch.  We can so relate to his struggles right now.  God brought our two families together right now for a purpose, perhaps?  Absolutely, I think.  We can lend a listening ear, help take Elizabeth to activities, and have her over for playdates.  It's a divorce situation, and dad is trying to homeschool her while continuing to run the business.  She doesn't get as much social interaction as dad would like to provide.

2.  I've mentioned that my husband probably has ADHD or ADD?  He loses things frequently and needs help getting out the door with glasses, keys and wallet in hand.  His inattentiveness means that he leaves knives within the kids' reach, forgets to lock the door at night, leaves the kids outside too long without supervision, leaves our two-year-old on the potty and forgets her....etc.  He helps a lot, but I always have to be paying attention.  I have to do a lot of checking.   ADHD/ADD sufferers (kids AND adults) are commonly deemed lazy and irresponsible, by unknowing outsiders.  Yes, an adult should know to put wallet/keys/glasses in the same place every time.  It shouldn't be an issue before every outing, but it is.  It's easy for me to get extremely irritated at all the ways this brain disorder makes my husband seem childlike.  But God doesn't allow that.  Don's dad couldn't take it (didn't understand it) and the two of them had a horrible relationship.  God doesn't want that unhealthy pattern repeated between Don and me. So he gave me a son who struggles in related areas (less inattentive but more impulsive).  Thus, I have an understanding of my husband's struggles.  Most of the time I see these two not as the rest of the world sees them, but as God sees them.  I can look for the glasses or keys for the millionth time and hand them over with a smile, knowing that my husband is doing his best.  I look at him and I don't see lazy or irresponsible.  I see unique, godly qualities.  It's a privilege to extend grace toward my husband.   It's a blessing that he extends it to me, everyday.  My marriage is a blessing--such a rock in these troubled times.

3.  I helped in AWANA at church the last two weeks.  Timothy is in my class this year (Sparks K-2), along with Daniel.  It's the first time I've seen Timothy in a classroom situation.  He's a very good boy!  I wanted to scoop him up tonight and squeeze the stuffing out of him--I was so proud!  Daniel has his wiggle, tapping, and voice-volume issues, and needs to remember not to sit next to someone he'll talk to, but he is mostly good as well.  They enjoy the lessons and activities, which are very well thought out.

Tonight the main teacher held up a piece of paper with a magnet behind it and a paper clip in front of it.  The paper clip was being moved around by the magnet.  The lesson was that we can't see God--like the paper clip can't see the magnet--but we can still be (must be) subject to his lead.  Such visual demonstrations are valuable for kids like Timothy, who need to see, see, see to comprehend.  AWANA is a blessing!

4.  Another blessing that's come out of this bad economy has to do with my increased ability to extend grace toward strangers.  Before, I was quicker to judge things I just didn't understand.  The school I taught in for nine years comes to mind a lot now.  It was a low-income area, with 90% of the student body receiving free lunch/breakfast.  The teachers--me included--had a tendency to look down on the parents for failing to do any homework with their students, come to conferences, remember needed items, get rid of lice quickly, etc.  We were easily irritated by what seemed to be blatant irresponsibility.  Many of them didn't even work, or they were among the working poor (working part-time or full-time for a low wage).

Now that we are doing creative math with our checking account--juggling two part-time job paydays with partial unemployment disbursements--to get the mortgage and utilities paid and keep the meals coming, my eyes have been opened to how hard daily life is for the economically disadvantaged.  Routine things take a lot longer to accomplish.  You can't mail a bill because you don't have money for stamps...or you need groceries but you can only get a few things, until payday.  You live on a day-to-day basis, spending more time shopping, bill paying, checkbook watching, etc.  Nothing is simple or routine.  There is a steady stream of financial issues, partially because you can't afford to do things well, or ahead of time, like fix that car properly, deal with that roof issue, buy clothes that last, buy resume paper, have enough gas to get to the interview, etc.  I could go on and on.

We have God to lift us up and give us hope, but those families I worked with as a teacher didn't.  Reading to their kids once a day was the last thing on their minds.  They were just trying to survive.  They couldn't get rid of lice quickly because buying the lice-removal equipment and having the quarters for all the extra loads of laundry was just too much of a burden.  (No, my kids don't have lice...just an example.)

I'm deeply, deeply ashamed for every minute I spent judging them.  No, I was never rude or even short with them; I behaved professionally.  But my heart wasn't soft. There was no there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I sentiments.  They should be trying harder, I thought.  We all thought it, at that school.  Shame on us!  We had no idea!  They were in a state of constant stress, with no hope of improvement.  It wasn't temporary hardship due to a bad economy--it was a way of life.  Some of them had never known anything different.

Passing judgement is folly.  Always.