Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Miracles come in all sorts of shapes & sizes, big, small & in between. We have had a small miracle this week.
I think I have mentioned, just once or twice, that Ditz is not real keen on her academic work. Less than enthusiastic even. Worse she has been agitating to go to a *real* school. The public schools are less than ideal round here. Worse the islands are stigmatized as a home for *ferals* & our kids are the prime targets of bullies. The closest school is particularly bad but even the one our older children went to has since gone downhill with a change of Headship. Seriously, the stories I hear make my blood run cold but I'm pretty sure Ditz thought I was making the whole thing up just to spoil her fun.
Apart from any other consideration there is no way we could do all Ditz's music if she was in public school. Between travelling & homework there just aren't enough hours in a day. I might as well have been talking to the wind. I just got attitude & more attitude until I was whinging in the Lord's ear like you wouldn't believe. I do a lot of that, whinging at the Lord. I wanted Him to do something. A major change of attitude was called for. I love my daughter but she was not acting in a very lovable way & I was starting to unravel. It is not pretty when I unravel.
Then the other night the majority of my household was gathered round the other bane of my life ~ the T.V set. The girls were waiting on the news finishing so they could put in a movie when what comes up but a special report on bullying in Queensland schools. Now I missed this whole thing. The t.v irritates me beyond all reason so I rarely watch it but by all accounts it was an eye opener for Ditz. Her eyes got bigger & bigger as the long list of stats started scrolling showing the increase in the level & types of violence in our schools. Some things are up 100% ~ everything from name calling to cyber bullying, stalking, rape, assault & it's kids like Ditz, a little different, a little clever, gifted in unusual areas, who are the primary targets. They interviewed the victims, showed the horrific injuries. Dearest was taking note.
Now Ditz didn't say anything to me but I have been pleasantly surprised the last two mornings to find my reluctant learner more co~operative than usual. In fact we are back to having fun together with her learning rather than me dragging Ditz reluctantly through the motions of learning. This is how homeschooling used to be in our house before Ditz got a bee in her bonnet about missing out on something. We laugh a lot together, make bad jokes, & in between Ditz manages to concentrate enough in short spurts to zoom through her work. She is a clever bunny when she puts her mind to it.
Now we use Sonlight & we aren't bookwork sorts. Drill is just boring so when we began Sonlight I just threw Ditz in at the deep end with her grammar, teaching it like a jig~saw puzzle. Over & over I'd parse sentences with her as they came up ~ interesting because my grammar is not at this level either! The more obscure stuff I just delete but after an 8 week holiday I was expecting to have to run Ditz through a refresher course on even her basics. With a change in attitude Ditz just blitzed her grammar work. Prepositions, that have troubled her for 3 terms, she nailed. Subject V direct object, no problem. Passive V active voice, well her mother likes the passive voice so we have a few problems still with this because sometimes the rhythm & flow is just better in the passive voice.
Ditz is working her way through the next chapter of her science & is on top of her history research paper. She has finished her first 3 readers & reading history is so not Ditz's thing. Her dictation has taken a decided turn for the better as well, which is astounding because I don't do spelling as a subject & haven't since we abandoned BSDE. Ditz rarely makes spelling mistakes though her punctuation can be a tad shaky but she has been asking me to reread her dictation aloud & checks for comma pauses etc then. I've been impressed. There are far fewer grammar errors this year. I'm not relieved so much as I feel things have returned to normal. Ditz is never going to be a brilliant student but I can live with that so long as she does her best with those things that don't interest her as well as those things that do.
Once we had got her wok out of the way this morning I rang her violin teacher to discuss suitable days & times to resume lessons. Althea is lovely & takes so much care with Ditz though violin has taken a third place in Ditz's affections well behind singing & flute. Althea knows this but considers Ditz too gifted with the violin to allow her to give up easily. She has waited patiently for me to sort out our other commitments before slotting in violin. Actually I think she was probably starting to wonder if we were continuing.
Now Althea is a smart lady & her first question was whether Ditz was doing grade 4 flute this year. Yep, Ditz is though I've agreed to forgo the exams this year. Althea is perfectly happy with that. Grade 4 is, she tells me, difficult & you are really getting somewhere if you have got that far. Singing 5/6 part harmony is also difficult. With this information she will bolster Ditz's ego & cajole her into actually working.
Now Ditz is a random visual/spatial learner so what she can't do on the violin she applies to flute & flute to singing & singing to violin ~ any or all of the above combinations. I watch this & stand in awe of the wonderful people God has given Ditz because every single one of them deals with her ratty attention span & erratic learning pattern without batting an eyelash.
Yep, we get miracles in all shapes & sizes round here.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Being neither a rationalist nor a fundamentalist I can only giggle because I am more with Chesterton:Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair. Love affairs are messy but but have the inestimable value of being all about relationship & nothing whatsoever to do with dogma.
I can't argue Christianity. I wouldn't even try. I leave that for Liddy who seems to think you can argue people into things. If that were true we'd all be rationalists because I'm pretty sure Christianity is the most contradictory, illogical, religion out there ~ except for one thing. The bible pulls no punches when it comes to discussing human behaviour & humans have got to be the most irrational, illogical creatures God made. We don't seem to be real strong on consistency either which means we can say one thing & do another without even blinking an eye.
Over the years I have worshipped in all sorts of places. Our mangrove walk is my all time favourite place ~ except for the swarms of mozzies & an incoming tide. Stave churches are nice but questions would be asked if I erected one of these in the back yard. So having *church* in my living room doesn't rattle my brain box too much. The very first churches met in each others homes because all a church is, if you want to get technical, is the body of believers & not a building.
It was a very quiet & humble beginning to home churching on Sunday ~ & a jolly good thing. The Lord knows us very well & made sure we weren't overwhelmed & that was a good thing too because the house went under spiritual attack. You would think I would learn but I remain convinced we are so useless & unimportant I can never believe the demonic hordes would be the least interested in any of us. Nevertheless the fact remains that on Friday Dearest, who is not prone to headaches [they're my province] went down with a terrible headache that medication wasn't relieving. He went to bed very early & slept like the dead. Saturday I woke under the sort of oppression I only normally get if I'm preaching. This is not good news for my household who tend to avoid me under such circumstances as being something of a Jonah & best avoided. I see their point but it's no fun for me either. Dearest annoyed me no end by rejoicing that it was more confirmation. I saw his point but I can seriously do without that sort of confirmation.
The girls were asked to put some music together. They're the ones with all the Christian CDs. Dearest & I rely on the radio. Liddy really got into it & chose a Rebecca St James & a Casting Crowns song for us to listen too that she knew Ditz liked though Ditz is terror struck she will be asked to take on the music ministry & is pretending she's not here. We wouldn't do that to her. It's important that the girls feel a part of this too though Ditz seems to be having some sort of spiritual crisis at the moment. She wants to be careful because the Lord is a far better disciplinarian than I am. Liddy was validated. Her choice of songs spoke to people ~ tears in the eyes even ~ so she was pretty chuffed as she toddled off back to work.
We need to relook at how we slot Liddy in because of the disruption to what's going on & we still have some kinks to iron out with everyone else but I am hopeful something worthwhile will evolve so long as we listen carefully to the Lord's leading & don't go chasing after our own phantoms. For the first time in a long while Sunday has resumed the sort of ambiance it should have & we were given a word from Revelation to the church at Philipi which sort of spun me out. I might have thought it was all in my head except that it was confirmed.
By the time we were done I felt like a wrung out dishcloth. I do find people exhausting ~ interesting & fun but exhausting non the less. I was pleased to crawl into my bed last night & sleep the sleep of the just but I woke this morning feeling spiritually refreshed & with my spirit singing so even though it was a lot less than perfect yesterday something was very right because I would certainly not be feeling so spiritually well today if it was wrong. We've had a lot of experience with spiritual sickness last year & are well acquainted with how that leaves us feeling. This is a nice change. It is not feeling burdensome either & that is always a good sign that we are on track. I am looking forward to next week.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Have you seen the news today? A 13 year old boy in Britain, who looks about 8, has just become the daddy to an adorable little girl ~ pending DNA testing. His *partner* is just 15. I am neither shocked nor disgusted, certainly not surprised. We have taken our children's innocence & this is the unenviable result.
Certainly healthy children want to grow up. Most eventually want to become mummies & daddies themselves but as I look around I seriously wonder about the world. There seem to be a lot of *Peter Pan* parents around who seriously don't ever want to grow up & take responsibility for anything, certainly not for their children, while their children, in their anxious rush to be thought all grown up, have latched on to the worst aspects of the adult culture they see all around them.
Nothing convicts me more of the idea of original sin than my children. Now my kids are blessings & most of them are grown up now but I remember they couldn't wait to be stained by the world. They didn't want to be fresh & innocent, especially when they were the only ones not allowed to watch particular t.v shows, not allowed to wander willy~nilly around the island & whose parents had a terrible habit of insisting on knowing who they were with, where they were going & what they would be doing. Nothing saddens me more than to watch so many of Liddy's peers succumb to the pressure to be sexually active then pregnant & unmarried. They have no job, no savings, no hope of better things to come to offer a child.
My issue is not really with children having sex. Ethiopia has child brides of just 8 & yes, I believe the fathers know the men concerned will not honour the agreement not to violate the child until she has matured. Many countries practise teen marriages~ India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia; the list goes on & on. You can make all the rules you like & people will circumvent them because they want to. I don't even get indignant on a moral level because I think the bible is pretty clear about that. Those who belong to the world act as the world dictates. No surprises there.
Nope. What gets me really worried is not all the symptoms ~ & that's all these things are: symptoms ~ but what I believe to be the root problem, a deep disregard for the intrinsic value of another human being. The bible doesn't limit sexual activity to the marriage bed to spoil people's fun but because we shouldn't use each other to pleasure ourselves selfishly. Again & again the bible teaches to consider other peoples needs, other people's feelings, other people, period! It is not all about us!
The teen years are essentially selfish years. Most teens are pretty obsessed with themselves one way or another. Grown ups need to consider each other as well as themselves. They need to be able to put their children's needs before their own. They need to be able to consider what's best for the family as a whole, their church or community as a whole. They need to be able to wait & practise self restraint. And we have societies in the west that are struggling to do any of these things. We have children birthing children because they have not been taught that controlling one's instinctual urges might just be a good thing. We have a culture out of control on alcohol & drugs because people have put personal freedom of choice above duty & responsibility to others.
So pardon me if, much as I adore my kids, I don't tell them they're the centre of the world & do require of them some vestiges of adult behaviour the older they become. This can be a bumpy ride but I am the adult & it's what I signed up for when I had kids.
Come away, O human child!To the waters and the wild With a faery hand in hand,For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.~William Butler Yeats, "The Stolen Child"
Monday, February 16, 2009
My children are debaters. They debate, I provide the bullets they fire. So last night after Liddy kicked me off the computer she had me calling out biblical quotes for her so she could clobber some misinformed person who told her she was an atheist who didn't believe in Creationism. Oh, & obscure scientific facts like the sun pulsates to a beat, that if the world were off it's orbit by the size of a pinpoint life couldn't exist on this planet & ditto freezing water expanding rather than contracting. BTW, there are more atoms in a bucket of water than there are buckets of water in the Atlantic ocean. Just so you know. I have no idea how scientists come up with these *facts*. Probably some mathematical equation I have no chance of comprehending. And I don't specifically teach Creationism, only wonder. Seriously, I'm the lady who tells every one I know some Japanese biologist put the DNA of bog moss & mice to music & came up with something that sounds like Bach. Weird or what?
So I spent last night paddling round cyberspace reading some really random stuff & I got what I so richly deserved ~ the Voynich Manuscript!
It is beautiful ~ & completely unreadable!!! How frustrating is that for a chronic bookworm?!Cryptologists have been trying to decode this for at least 4 centuries & aren't even close to being able to read this. They're not even sure it's not someone's idea of a massive hoax. The beautiful illustrations of plants look like they belong in a herbal ~ except they aren't real. The drawings seem to be composites of several different types of plants. As the book belonged to several different alchemists one can only wonder if they had some weird experiment going on.
Then there are the weird *plumbing* drawings full of naked ladies doing weird things in water. OK, bypass the ladies & try the astronomy. I took one look & figured I was looking at a spiral galaxy before remembering you can only see galaxies from out in space, which a Medieval alchemist certainly wasn't doing. Other drawings look like they are from a microscope. Mind you the mind that came up with making gold from a base metal had an eye for the main chance so anything produced from the medieval era I would view with a good dose of scepticism.
More things, Horatio, & all that. Something to mull over in those quiet moments when you have nothing better to do ~ or if you're of a mathematical persuasion [which I'm not] have a go at decoding the thing yourself.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Every so often my Ditz likes to astonish me. She fusses & pouts & makes a great to do about nothing & just when I'm ready to dig a hole & drop her in she changes horses mid~stream.
Those who have been round for a while know that we struggled for years to get Ditz to write. She could write but she didn't like it so she fought doing it & she fought hard. I was starting to get a little wild~eyed. People were asking questions & we were getting *those* sort of comments about homeschoolers. It's one thing to know your child can do something but when she objects to proving it ....!
Anyway I got sneaky. Each year I do NaNo & I make a bit of a thing about it. [Please, no comparisons; don't you know comparisons are odious; Disraeli said so.] NaNo is my excuse for being allowed to concentrate on writing for a whole 30 days despite November being a terrible month for something so time consuming & fraught making. Ditz watched this for one November. She saw I got unlimited computer time. She saw the cute little book thing. She saw you got a friends list. The next year she was lining up to do NaNo. We fought over the computer. Ditz wrote up a storm. I think she got about 6,ooo words done. I was flabbergasted. Mind you, she now costs me a small fortune in stationary because she hasn't stopped writing since. She's discovered it's a great way to torture all the people who upset her [please, she a teen; everyone upsets her!]
I still struggle to get her to write for school but I've been privileged to see some of what she's written & she's good...& getting better. English & History are my strong areas so while we are often highly unorthodox I'm pretty secure that Ditz has got some sort of a grasp on these subjects however much she fusses about *the boring stuff.* I also know that as a visual/spatial learner she is both random & extremely lopsided with her learning & mostly I'm o.k with that. I know it evens out a bit before lopsiding in another direction. That's just Ditz. I also know that in her own mind [& her mind alone] she thinks the only thing she's good at is music & then she's only really good at singing. No~one yet has been able to convince her that all musicians must work really, really hard to be any good ~ which is why so few people become musicians.
Anyways.....I digress. I do have a point. Ditz, who has fussed at me all week [& yes I get tired of it] sidled up to me last night & said, "I'm going to regret this but..." What an opening line! My heart quailed within me. "Could you teach me how to write poetry properly?" I very properly hid my absolute delight & amusement. Yes, I can do this standing on my head. Ditz has no idea what she's just let herself in for. And why, you may very well ask, does my Ditz want to learn all about poetry? Because, Dear Readers, she has made the connection between poetry & lyrics! She sees it will help her song writing to learn the mechanics of poetry. Oh Joyous Day! Oh, Rapturous Wonder! Dancing a little jig here.
Whatever else, I can never say that life with Ditz is dull.
A poet can survive everything but a misprint. ~Oscar Wilde
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Omelets are of French origin ~ naturally ~ & date back to the 14th century. They are a great way to use up an excess of eggs, a filling alternative to a meat meal [especially if you add a salad] or even as desert.
Our favourite omelet recipe is actually a sweet omelet & it is so scrumptious & filling that we use it as a main meal, sometimes when we have time for a prolonged breakfast & very occasionally as an evening meal.
Last night Dearest wasn't feeling up to anything much except fruit, Liddy was working late & left to our own devices neither Ditz nor I are big meat eaters so I suggested we make sweet omelets for dinner. The idea was greeted with rapture by both girls.
The filling is basically a fruit salad of whatever is in season or fruit that you like diced up. I do the fruit first as each omelet must be made individually.
For each omelet separate 3 eggs. Beat the whites till they are nice & stiff & set aside. In a separate bowl add 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 of plain flour & 1 of cream to the yolks & beat until smooth. Fold in the whites & pour into a hot skillet.
This omelet does fluff up quite considerably & like pancakes I wait till the surface is bubbling before I try & flip it over. When it is golden brown on both sides slide it onto a plate. Add the fruit along one side with a sprinkling of icing [powdered?] sugar & some cream & fold it over.
No~one here can eat more than one of these at a time & of course if you want a healthier meal just omit the sugar & cream. There are no leftovers either so if you want a taste, I'm sorry but you'll have to make your own.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I like the ocean. I like the sea. I like the way waves curl & the salt smell, the way sunlight dances across the dimpled surface & the sloshing sound of water sneaking through the mangroves. I don't want to be in it or on it ~ just watching it.
Today I have to be on it ~ times 2. Once to another island for flute, once to the mainland for choir. It's at moments like this I look at the body of water separating us from the mainland & actively dislike it.
Now when I have time on my hands I don't much mind wending my way between the islands. It is oddly peacful slipping through the slick water with the engine chug~chugging away & not having to do anything to get me to where we're going. It is different when I have things to do.
When Ditz was younger I would take school work with us. It was an unsatisfactory arrangement. Ditz was, & is, highly distractable. She can't concentrate to read either but she will draw. She will sit & read music ~ which I think is beyond weird & verging into the realms of lunacy.
Travelling exhausts me. I am not looking forward to today & yet I actually enjoy Ditz's music. I enjoy listening to a lesson I neither understand nor comprehend & Ditz huffing & puffing into her flute. Jan, bless his little heart, knows how to silently terrify my child into working her butt off for him. I enjoy choir. Listening to Alison work a difficult song until those kids can sound professional, in 3 or 4 part harmony is an absolute joy...but I still have to get there & getting there means boats & boats mean waiting & travelling & time out of my day with me always thinking ahead to the next thing that has to be done to keep the whole circus revolving. I exhaust me just thinking about it.
Monday, February 9, 2009
"Congratulations! Ditz has been successful in gaining a position in the Australian Vocal Arts Ensemble within the Vocal Manoeuvres Academy for 2009."
I love my Ditz...& I'm really proud of her. Oh she drives everyone wild & [edited at Ditz's request], just the same she's a pretty terrific kid.
She's been hanging out for that e~mail for nearly a week knowing that there were just 16 places for that ensemble & unless something really untoward happened quite a few of those places were already allocated. Everyone else takes private lessons too & most of the choir has been conscripted from the private lesson people.
Music is expensive & last year, when we were totally new to this whole circus, I came home from the orientation class having a total breakdown with Ditz fussing about me in a whirl of worry. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined my little canary would incur the sort of costs we had to consider. This year we thought we knew what we had to deal with.
For a month or more my household has suffered Ditz. If the child confined herself to practising her choice of song we might have grown bored but she would have raised no comment. Ditz makes noise the way the sun makes shine; it's an act of nature, an irrefutable law of cause & effect. Not Ditz. She has had a year of Alison. She has had 4 very public, high profile performances & if Ditz has learnt nothing else she's learnt a certain amount of professionalism.
Professionalism sounds sooo good, doesn't it? *sigh* What it means in practise is you're driving along thinking quiet thoughts & Ditz goes, 'Wheee!' Liddy nearly drives off the road. Ditz goes, 'Whooosh!' Followed by doe, ray, me & far, so. la Then scales & arpeggios. Liddy begs for the radio to be turned on. Ditz screams that the radio will put her off pitch. I wish my car were bigger or than one or other of my girls weren't in it. And so it goes. Ditz warming up & Liddy totally convinced all musicians are incurably mad.
Ditz mightn't have private lessons but what she's learnt in class she's applying. She was also far less nervous for her audition this time round because she knew exactly what to expect & if Ditz is nothing else she's a superbly confident young lady. I thought she'd done a pretty good job at her audition. Ditz thought she'd done a pretty good job. Whether it was enough to secure her a place in the smaller, more elite ensemble we weren't sure. Ditz thought so; I hoped so because not having private lessons this is the next best way to get the best learning time.
I tend to only focus on one hurdle at a time. No point in worrying until I know what I'm worrying about, right? Now Ditz is in I get to worry. Last year Ditz did an hour of theory & an hour of rehearsal. We got home about 8pm which isn't too fraught making though we were always tired & meals got a tad erratic. We just added another hour to that. I'm looking at being parked in a freezing cold high school classroom for 3 solid hours through winter & we won't be home till 9pm in the middle of the week.
See Alison has this tendency to take a small group of kids & work them super hard. They then form the core of a larger choir & drag the other choir up, plug the mistakes, hold them steady ~ which is why, of course, we wanted to be in the smaller choir. The training is much more intense. It is also far more time consuming. I feel tired already.
And just so you know because I whinge enough about Ditz's academics, I know nothing whatsoever about music. For Ditz to have auditioned at all she had to work everything out on her own ~ choice of song suitable for her voice & range, practise, a way to learn the music without a backing tape, warm up, posture, recall everything she'd ever been told about music for the sight reading & sound tests, everything she's learnt about performance & put it all together on the day. Which she did. Now why can't she apply the same skill level to her academics?
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
What I want as a pet is one of these.
I'm told they make very good pets being far more trustworthy than a tiger, you just have to watch the dew claws when you're playing tag. Apparently any cuts are very prone to infection.
Dearest is not being encouraging. He says they'd cost too much to feed & Issi is psychotic enough already. I see his point about Issi. When mum visited Issi's nose twitched so fast I thought it would fall right off his face. You could practically hear him thinking, 'So this is where they go when they desert me. I can smell that other thing,' meaning Pixie. Mum was accepted though. Issi has been known to growl like a bull mastiff when he doesn't like someone & freeze them in their tracks. He terrified a visiting Pentecostalist by twining round his ankles purring like a coffee peculator while growling like the mastiff at the same time. The poor man didn't know if he was friend or foe, being loved or about to become dinner.
The thing with Iss is he's always had an overinflated sense of himself despite being the world's biggest woos. Months it took of gentle encouragement to get him to go outside. If I disappeared from his sight he lay down & cried ~ literally! Outside he had to go because I only keep kitty litter for emergencies when outside is not possible. When he began taking himself it was a moment for rejoicing. Worse than toilet training a toddler I'm telling you but as I told my son at the time he was removed from his mummy far too soon & he hasn't developed right.
When Issi first arrived we owned another cat ~ my part Siamese, Gyver, who was not impressed by this interloper at all. Iss, on the other hand, adored Gyver & wanted to be just like him when he grew up. Gyver had inherited the Siamese raucous ability to make himself heard over any amount of noise. Despite his best efforts & considerable size Iss has a squeak softer than a mouse's. After finding him crying softly at the door on more than one occasion we took to leaving the doors open while we knew he was outside.
We knew Iss wasn't very brave but we also thought he was pretty brainless & as we were having trouble with feral cats of an enormous size we took care to keep the cats in at night. This particular evening Gyver had already come in & was quietly grooming himself when there was a kerfuffle at the front door. Iss shot down the hall at a 100 miles an hour, hurtled round the corner & out the verandah door. Hot on his heels came the most enormous black cat I have ever seen. He screeched to a halt on finding people about but before he could gather his scattered wits Gyver reared up from beside the wall & soundly boxed his ears while Iss slunk back to watch with a smug smile of satisfaction.
And the motto of this story: When in doubt bring them home to mum.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
There is enough light for those who desire to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.’ Blaise Pascal ~ Pensees
I've been thinking about this for some time in my own disorganized way & it's still bugging me so bear with me or not as the whim takes you.
The greatest fault of the organised church as I see it is that they have misunderstood a basic tenet of the faith. They have taken the premise known as *The Great Commission* to go into all the world & make disciples as permission to convert the heathen. The arrogance, the sheer audacity, of the assumption boggles my mind for one simple reason. Scripture does not say to convert the heathen. It says to make disciples.
Jesus had disciples. They walked, ate, slept with him. They sat at his feet & listened while he taught. They saw him perform miracles. Under his guidance they had a shot at one or two miracles themselves. They argued with him. Peter was particularly prone to that; I have rather a soft spot for Peter. In Jesus they found something they desperately wanted & they hung around, even when it started to get dangerous. The surprising thing is not that Peter betrayed Jesus but that he even followed him so far! Come on people! Judea was a subjugated nation living under military rule. Walking into that courtyard was courting disaster.
Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down because he did not deem himself worthy to be crucified as his Lord & Saviour was, so what happened? What changed the man whose nerve gave out on that first Good Friday? He met the resurrected Christ. And this is where the church in general & Christ's people in particular, have failed.
It is so much simpler to say, ' Well, you need Christ or you're going to hell', or 'Just pray the sinner's pray & you are saved.' It's not that those things are necessarily wrong in themselves but they don't go far enough. You can tell about; that is easy. Really introducing someone to Christ is a much much harder thing. Firstly it requires that I am living my life in such a way that I can invite someone into my life & have them examine it without fear. Oh my! That means putting away all my little pet sins that no~one knows about except me. That means living what I preach. That means having an answer for the hope that is in me for anyone who asks ~ which means I have to examine my faith & understand what I believe. See Christianity is not for wooses. It requires commitment. It requires endurance & perseverance. It requires time.
The church has boxed religion up into neat compartments ~ Sunday worship, Wednesday prayer meeting, Saturday youth group & I don't think it was ever meant to be like that. It was meant to be life. When people asked Jesus he didn't say, " Come along to Sunday worship & all will be revealed.' He said, " Come & see' & took them into his own home. Hands on teacher! :)
Christianity is not a philosophy. It is not a moral guide. It is not a legal system. It is a relationship. If you do not have relationship you have nothing. Your hands & your heart are empty & it is for this reason I take umbrage with the evangelical movement. They are good at telling people about Christ ~ who he is , what he has done for us, what we need to do to come into relationship with him, but all to often that's where it begins & ends & that is just not good enough. We are meant to disciple people so that they learn from us how to be in relationship, how one holds oneself constantly in the presence of Christ, constantly in prayer while going about one's daily life with joy.
I know we all like to sing 'And they will know we are brothers by our love' [ouch!] but what I have noticed marking my life more & more is not love per se, not happiness, but joy, the joy of the Lord & it is this joy I wish I could express better, this joy I wish I could share because it is not mine, it is a gift & it is born of knowing Christ.
I have such a fellow feeling for Peter. He wanted to stay on the mountain top with the visions & the ecstasy; me too. Christ sent Peter back down into the valleys of life, to the everyday trials & tribulations, the failures & frustrations; me too. But, & this is the thing, having sent me back He came with me. So when my brother, Mark, died, yes I grieved but I had Christ's joy as well. At my centre there is a place that nothing in this life can disturb. Here the well of living water springs forth.
I am blessed. I have experienced the reality of Christ in deeply profound ways. I have no doubt of the reality of God. Living out that reality is much harder. I don't suffer fools gladly. I get frustrated with glibness. I'm opinionated & stubborn & bone lazy. I want to spin in my cosy little world with well behaved children, a good book & plenty of coffee & chocolate. I don't want to be getting my hands dirty in other people's messy little lives & that is exactly what I am called to do ~ with love & patience & infinite kindness when I am not loving or patient or kind; & I'm to do it joyfully! Uh~huh.
What I have learnt as people have passed through our lives is that while lots of people want what we have as a family very, very few are actually willing to pay the price. They want to be blessed with no strings attached. They want to be saved without repentance. Many are deeply cynical because they have been damaged by a flawed church system. It's not that they haven't heard the good news; it's that they haven't met the one the good news is all about.
So how do you share the Good News in such a way people meet Jesus? I don't know. I know Jesus found me, not the other way round, & having experienced His presence I long desperately for that day when I will no longer *see through a glass darkly but face to face.* I have met the one who undergirded people like Kolbe & ten Boom, Peter & Paul & scores of others all down the centuries since Christ rose from the dead & sent His Spirit out into the world to seal those who are His unto the day of Redemption. We do the world a disservice when we only tell people about Christ without introducing them to our Hope but I still struggle each & every time to convey the reality I know to people who are not even sure God exists, let alone if they have a soul worth saving & a life worth living after death.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Time literally melts away round here. Each day has the same number of hours in it but as I work my way down the list of things that have to be done the minutes get whittled away until I literally have none left yet seem to have achieved very little.
I have the academics desire for a perceivable outcome: do your research, write your paper, collect your A but running a family does not work like that. After 5 kids you would think I had that one worked out but no. I still wonder why the daughter work perceives as highly organised with good managing skills is running round like a headless chook begging me to iron her work shirt, find her socks & a hairbrush, make her lunch & then leaves one or all of the above sitting on the kitchen bench?! Meanwhile I, who do not have good managerial skills, is stolidly plodding down her list getting one thing after another done because Liddy in a right old tizz because she can't make life do what she wants it to do is unlivable with. Liddy is already there at work before she has ever left the house. Tanned & with her cheeks filled out instead of model gaunt she at least looks like she's had a holiday but stocktaking starts today now they have Liddy back so that relaxed serene look is unlikely to last long.
Meanwhile the list of things I wanted to get done [wash the dishes, sweep the floors, put on the wash, copy the map work for Ditz's history] has to wait & Ditz, who has all the attention span of an oversized gnat, has wandered off to do something else from which she is loath to be removed for school work. On days we go out it is even worse & I keep a running list of things I need in my head: boat fares, mainland keys, reading material, flute times, choir times, violin times. Ditz at least can be relied upon to organise herself & be ready, hair brushed, music & instrument packed, when I yell at her to head for the car.
Frantic, frenetic & frazzled are terms that come to mind. My goal this year is to try & achieve all that has to be achieved at a more peaceable pace. If the boys head north this may just be possible. Liddy is an excellent little 2nd in command & willingly picks up the slack on those days I am on the mainland with Ditz organizing dinner for herself & Dearest, putting her own wash through, leaving me a note before she heads to bed if there is any change to the morning routine that I need to be aware of. Ditz is getting older too & I am considering sending her island hopping for flute on her own this year, which will give me some much needed breathing space. There is nothing I can do about the mainland activities. Despite what Ditz thinks letting her parade round town after dark is just not on & only someone who has tried to untangle what Ditz has understood from a set of instructions has any idea of how confusing that child can make a simple requirement.
In the shermozzle blogging becomes a little erratic but I like to blog. It helps ground me; keeps me sane; puts my life back into perspective & reminds me that the can I'm carrying is no heavier or harder than anyone else's & is considerably easier than some. So I'm off to find my erratic daughter & do our re~aloud, the map work I finally got printed out, the science & her dictation ~ all of which require little me ~ remembering that not only do I choose to do this but I do actually enjoy homeschooling. Pity I can't say the same for Ditz!
Ditz has been an only child for a week. She likes being an only child. Liddy says bluntly we should have discarded the male prototypes & only kept the one perfect girl ~ her!
Today Liddy came home.
Today Ditz had her singing audition.
Today Ma came over to the island for lunch having driven Liddy down the coast.
Ma thinks Liddy is pretty special too. Not only was she the first grand~daughter after all those boys but her misguided parents named her after her maternal grandmother. Dearest, who has a wicked sense of humour, arrived home from the hospital shaking his head & announcing sadly that James James, Morrison Morrison, or whatever name we had actually decided upon for a boy, was a wonderful name but unfortunately inappropriate for a girl! My mother went from concealed disappointment to tears of happiness in a matter of moments & Liddy has a special place in her heart in consequence.We got a pretty pleasant day & had lunch on the verandah. Ma does like a good water view!
It was a pretty quick visit. Ma had a psychotic cat waiting for her at home too & a long drive back to boot ~ & we had Ditz. If you prayed ~ Many Thanks. Ditz was nervous but not overly so. Some of that was simply she knew what to expect this time. Some of it was we've put up with Ditz for weeks going up & down her scales & doing her "Whees" & "whooops"! And practising her choice of song over & over...& over.
Triads ~ consistent, which is good news. Sight reading ~ good. Scales ~ yep. Only then was Ditz asked to sing. Now Alison, like me, can remember back 18 months to when she first worked with Ditz, a Ditz who hunched her shoulders & slouched & sang so softly there was no way anyone was going to hear her over the big sound of other singers. That was not the Ditz who fronted today. Todays Ditz stood tall with excellent posture & she let rip. When she was done Alison was silent & then she just said 'Wow.' Even I can hear the difference in Ditz's voice. We have our fingers crossed that Ditz has made the smaller, more select AVAE ensemble which will have only 16 members. If Alison runs true to form this will form the core of the larger choir & Ditz would perform with both.
Nice things got said about Ditz's singing...& about how her voice is developing. That makes for a happy Ditz because Alison Rocks!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. ~Attributed to Harry S. Truman
My beautiful Ditz is not madly keen on anything school despite my best efforts. Mind you I did dyslexics ~ 3 of them with varying degrees of dyslexia ~ so if nothing else the girl reads well. No way, no how, was anyone leaving my house unable to read & write. We won't go into the math.
What Ditz does well is aplomb! And attitude; Ditz does a great attitude. Which is why I was dreading the start of the school year & the dreaded, 'But what do I need this for?' Basically I don't want to go to jail, dear, so smile & pretend you like it. Capiche?
We do not have the Home Beautiful homeschool family with a neat & organized mum supervising neat, enthusiastic & brilliant children. Heck, Ditz rolls out of bed looking like a bomb victim & doesn't function till after lunch these days. We should be unschoolers ~ only we'd do nothing but read fantasy & watch movies in between singing & painting ~ which does not make for a well rounded education. Not that Ditz would mind only it would be a little hard to explain to our umbrella school & they already do a great job covering us because Ditz likes math so much she is several grades behind but several ahead in English/history & she only really likes art & music but hates exams. Try juggling that in practical terms. It works like this: On Saturday we visit Sian who gives Ditz a two hour piano/singing lesson while discussing theology with me; On Wednesdays we travel for an hour each way so Ditz can do a two hour singing lesson & travel 1/2 an hour each way so Ditz can have a flute lesson. On one other day we have 1 1/2 hours of violin. That's 6 hours of music lessons a week. Add in practice ~ an hour per instrument each day [no, Ditz doesn't often actually do all that but that's the general idea] & you begin to see there's not a lot of hours left for other things ~ like math.
Now being a sneaky mama I figured out I could make some subjects more palatable by tying them in to art &/ or music ~ which is why we do so well in English & history & manage science & do not do so well with theoretical math. I have my eye on getting my hands on a very practical hands on everyday math program ~ if such a thing even exists; you know, how to balance your cheque book, budget for a family of 5, measure up a set of windows for curtains, convert strange American recipes into understandable metric, work out how much petrol you need at what cost to travel from Brisbane to Noosa, negotiate a rental agreement & make sure your record company isn't fleecing you dry ~ especially that last. Do you know how many musicians have been fleeced by their managers? Nor do I but I bet it's a lot!
Unfortunately for me Ditz has outgrown the *make it look pretty* aspect of her school work. Her art has improved. Her art, like her music, is brilliantly impressive but drawing amazing dragons with glinty eyes & toothy smiles is not the sort of decoration required on maps of Ancient Rome ~ but it is glinty eyed dragons Ditz is into drawing at present. So I opened the test papers required at the beginning of every school year with some trepidation.
"Do I have to?' Ditz whined. 'Why do I have to?' There is no good answer to that question except that the school requires it so they can keep the government of their backs & keep their funding which means they can keep the government off our backs ~ none of which is an adequate reason in Ditz's book. Ditz blitzed the reading/comprehension. I don't think she got an answer wrong. Her writing was adequate & it was about something she learned while she was on holidays so double bonus. Besides she used paragraphing. This is impressive from a child who believes in making up her own grammar rules as she goes. Which left the math paper & the math paper was all Algebra. Ditz managed one sum, the one that wasn't an Algebra question. I am so over worrying about my kids' education. Experience has taught me my kids are really good at learning what they really need to know when they need it; that is, they know how to learn & that's the important thing.
I bundled the tests up before I could start fretting & shoved them in the mail & got home to find an e~mail from our supervisor , who is lovely beyond words & appreciates Ditz [although being a math teacher she doesn't appreciate trying to teach Ditz math] saying not to worry about the math, just stick a note on it saying we're not at that level yet, which is what I'd already done.
I love this lady. Ditz basically took a fortnight's academic leave of absence last year for the QPAC concert & she didn't even blink an eye, just said to make a note of it so it was included in Ditz's assessment. Ditto the whole flute thing with Ditz in full meltdown so that her exam results arrived too late for inclusion but because she'd heard Ditz on a home visit she just included it *pending results*. The Lord has truly blessed us with this wonderful lady & trust me, we suffered some shockers in the State Distance system with their *one size fits all* thinking.
Today began our first real school day of the year. It will take a little bit to get our rhythm back. I don't schedule well & while I love the literature rich programme we use for History & English I get lost pretty easily. I just need to make sure Ditz has all the books she needs marked & basically she reads her way down the list until I'm ready to work with her. Yeah, there's a reason the kid reads well!
I'm still waiting on her music history & bible curriculum but having the workbook we've still been able to do most of the first music lesson & get the workbook set up. History picks up where we left off moving into my favourite period before heading into Medieval Europe. Ditz fusses but actually has a pretty good grasp of this subject in her own inimitable way. Ditto English & while it is like bleeding stones to get her to write an English paper she has notebooks full of her stories & I've noticed a marked improvement in the quality of her writing just from all the reading she does. Science got a little messy last year. We were using 2 very different curriculum as the Apologia, which I like, proved far too academic for Ditz & I had to compensate heavily. By the end of the week I really hope we will be up & running properly, ready to add all the extras next week.
Oh, & if you're the praying sort send a little prayer up for Ditz tomorrow. Tomorrow she auditions again for her ensemble & while I have no doubts she will be accepted it is still a fraught making process & I do have to live with the child while not actually braining her. She will sing a Capella, which means she has to pitch herself & stay on pitch without any help. Rather her than me. Seriously, regular academics looks a cinch by comparison.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Kondilla was wonderful & we happily picnicked in the park for lunch but then...ah, then we drove down into Montville & the damage was done! The Poet's Cafe ~ one of many cafes along the tourist strip offering a tempting array of goodies.
Mum's garden is getting pretty overgrown thanks to all the rain & I guess once Liddy comes home at the end of this week she will begin the serious business of cutting everything back.