Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to school 2014

I've seen a few blog posts and such lately in which a mom is reveling in the joy of dropping off all her kids back at school. The house is now quiet. Her time is her own. A full day without the interruptions of children. Let the celebrating commence!

These moms love their children and acknowledge the joy of motherhood. No doubt many of them miss their children during these blissfully quiet days. But I found myself not liking these posts. Jealous? Probably.

I want to be happy for them. I assume they've thought through all the options and decided homeschooling is not right for their family. I don't think homeschooling is right for every family. I'm a semi-reluctant homeschooler myself. It's the best choice for us out of the available options. But I have lots of things I'd rather do with my time. I want to train for a 10k or at least to go to the gym when I'm awake and not exhausted. I want to get lunch with a friend or coffee by myself and read a book or just go to the grocery store without having to keep track of my brood. I want to go to the dentist/dr/hairdresser without having to line up babysitting. Older moms will say "it's just a season of life." Well, that may be, but this is a really long season.

So I'm writing this post just to remind myself that it's worth it. I don't want to change the decisions I've made to have more than 2.14 children and homeschool most of them. I want to encourage my fellow mamas in the trenches. This is a good work we've chosen to do. We are well-equipped to educate our children because we're their mothers.

So many wonderful resources for homeschooling!

Christian mothers, we need to make sure we're listening to God's wisdom, not the world's. I'm not saying every mom who sends her four-year-old off to preschool is worldly, but every mom should examine her motives. The Bible tells mothers:

  • to love their children and husbands (Titus 2:4)
  • to teach their children diligently (Deut. 6:7)
  • to bring children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) 
  • to not neglect discipline (Prov. 13:24)

These things are best accomplished in our family if my children are with me.

Mary "needed" a backpack this year too.

Again, I say NOT EVERYONE HAS TO HOMESCHOOL! In fact, we've had two kids attending a local Christian school for several years.

I AM saying (most of all too myself) DON'T LET THE WORLD'S VALUES DISCOURAGE YOU! The moms doing the happy dance as they drive away from the elementary school with an empty mini-van are not to be envied. Consider carefully the decision to let your children be taught by someone else for most of their waking hours. I hope this doesn't sound judgmental. I'd love to talk more about this with any interested friends, but I've already spent way too much time on this blog and we've got to get back to the books!

Ruth at her desk.

Paul's lucky he's not in "real" school b/c they'd never allow him to sit like this.

So here's my pep talk to all the mamas of littles, many, and tiny ones still on their way:

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Prov. 31-27-31

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Camp Shasta

We took a little family trip this week to a PG&E camp up north near Lake Britton. PG&E has several of these camps scattered throughout northern California. They are very rustic cabins (I like to call it "camping") but they do have electricity and indoor plumbing. It's actually quite humorous, the cabins look to have been build in the 1940's? and are not extremely well maintained, but they are decked out with crazy amounts of electric wiring.

We did a great hike on Mt. Shasta

We checked out Burney Falls (someone put a nice smudge on the camera lens)

We watched blue jays eat peanuts off the deck

We tried to stay cool but it was crazy hot. I knew it'd be warm when we scheduled this trip for late July, but I stuck it out as long as I could then talked the family into coming home a day early. I'm a wimp, I know. I missed my a/c. This would be a good "camping" spot for late spring or early fall when the temps are cooler!

A fun trip, though, and I'm super blessed to get to do life with all these souls.

Now we gear up for school and soccer season! Bring it on!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Child Was Bored in the Service

I was going to post this on Facebook because it's SO GOOD! But then I thought "most of my friends on Facebook just want to see cute pictures of my kids." But I feel compelled to share this with the web because it's almost word-for-word a conversation we've had numerous times in our home. We believe this concept is so important to raising godly children in our culture. We'd welcome discussion about this with anyone -- here in the comments or, preferably, in our living room while we allow our children to be "bored" in the back yard for hours.

H/t Phil Johnson who tweeted this post from Banner of Truth with this caption: "If more churches had confetti canons, tragedies like this wouldn't be so widespread:" Amen and amen :-)

A Child Was Bored in the Service 

An elder preceded the minister into the pulpit and then came to the front and addressed the congregation. “Last week…a child was bored in the service.” A gasp went through the congregation. Men looked at their feet, women cried quietly, and children went white. “The church officers are meeting with the minister during the week and will announce our conclusions next Sunday. In the meantime we want to apologise to that child and his parents and all the other children,” the elder concluded before leaving the pulpit. The ashen-faced preacher came to the pulpit, and in a trembling voice began the service…
This imaginary scenario is not very far from the prevailing ecclesiastical situation today in which many consider the worst sin a church can commit is to bore children. Yet is not the routine and dull pattern of much of our toil the very life which all mankind must face, especially in the Third World. We shall be ill-equipped for living if we do not come armed and trained to be bored much of the time. Many of the hours fathers spend at work are boringly repetitive, while the work mothers do is a regimen of tedious chores.
The background to the churches’ determination to make their worship boredom-free zones is a era of rampant materialism which the western world has never experienced before. For example, at parties today each child who comes expects to go home with a party bag full of goodies. Entertainers are booked, magicians, and performers – one, for example, will bring half a dozen exotic animals, – a snake, a huge owl, a spider, a lizard. That entertainer charges £500 for a visit.
Parents spend ridiculous sums of money on clothes, toys and other fripperies for their children. Almost every boy and girl has more than they can possibly enjoy. Nobody can imagine that they are happier for this glut. Impoverished parents often feel under great pressure to work insanely long hours or to contract unsustainable debts – or both – to buy superfluous luxuries for their children. We have lost any idea that austerity – not unremitting poverty, but a decent restraint – might actually be of benefit to children. It is not easy for the body of Christ to preach self-denial and cross-bearing in the midst of a frenzied spending spree. It has become a disaster for many congregations, especially in the USA.
We no longer expect children to endure boredom for a second. In our infancy we bounced balls, fed the rabbits, made a model with Mechano and watched the ascent and descent of a yo-yo. We also read books. Our meals were pretty predictable, and a visit to the local park was an event. Today visits to the zoo, bouncy castles, jumping on a trampoline are routine necessities. Daily playgroups and day-nurseries fill every vacant minute with watching videos, learning how to play with computers and bouncing on the soft-play. Everything is wound up to a pitch of noisy razzmatazz. The toys children play with are made of garish plastic of primary colours. The child who would cheerfully have eaten mashed potatoes and vegetables every day is now encouraged to stimulate its palate and develop a taste for chillies, aubergines, vindaloo curry or garlic.
A.N. Wilson has written, “Pascal said that all human trouble stemmed from our inability to sit quietly in one room. If he was right, then we have serious trouble ahead, with an extraordinarily restless, vacuous generation of human individuals waiting to take over the world. The lesson of how to be bored must be learnt if the child is to grow up sane, and this is for two reasons.
First, boredom is what most human lives consist of. Few jobs are interesting all of the time; and when retirement age has been reached, the long days of emptiness cannot possibly be entirely devoid of tedium. Learning how to cope with these periods of vacancy can actually reduce, or eliminate their boringness. A human being who has only grown up with the notion that he or she must be stimulated all the time will never be able to assuage ennui in the way that we grown-ups do – by walks, gardening, crosswords, or the inner life.
And this is the second and greater reason for hoping that a child will learn how to cope with an eventless afternoon. Out of what feels like boredom comes the capacity to be inward. Unless you have been bored, an essential part of your imagination will never have been allowed to grow. Stories, poetry, prayer and mathematics, all activities which have stretched the human race…have developed out of its capacity to live with boredom.”
But into the morning services all over the land come children carrying bags, and in their bags they have colouring books, pencil boxes, toys, small computers, reading books etc. This is because there is no Sunday School going on at the same time as the sermon, and it would be an unthinkable disaster if children were to be bored. These families never bring their children to the evening service for the same reason. I know a church in Africa which has a white pastor. Several other white Christian missionaries and their families worship there, but the other white mothers and their children do not attend the morning service, leaving the building and going home after the pre-service Sunday School. Only the men remain and worship, but every other family in the church, who are all African, and whose second language is English, are there for the entire service. Is it the western world’s hatred of boredom that is affecting us?
We are speaking of churches where there is the power of God in the ministry. There is relevance, application, affection for the congregation, illustration and the presence of the Spirit upon the Word. Men and women are being converted and sanctified. The children are always spoken to, and the whole service is over in 75 minutes. Yet still during those services the children are encouraged to be stimulated by anything other than the message being preached to them. Imagine you could take your children to listen to Spurgeon preaching. Would you go with a bag full of distractions to occupy them during the sermon, or would you pray that they would be touched and converted by his pleading message?
Where there are enough bored families a great change takes place. Sunday mornings are designated on notice boards, “Family Worship,” and everything is done in a lively manner with the children in mind. The focus is no longer on what pleases Almighty God. The tunes are lively, accompanied by a band. There are all kinds of visual stimuli, overhead projectors, choreography and drama spots. Laughter registers the successfulness of the service. Many people take part, and the role of the minister is to be master of ceremonies. Every item is brief, and before the short sermon the children are taken out – even up to 16 years of age – to have their own classes of Sunday School elsewhere. They are taken away from the man whom God has called, given authority and teaching gifts to, and they are taken to people who base what they say on books written by other people. There is no likelihood of a man of the Word being called to the pastorate in such congregations. They are doomed to a future of superficial religion.
But children are unregenerate. They do not know God. There is a natural enmity in their hearts against him. Their boredom is not principally caused by their immaturity but because of their hearts of stone. This is to be combated by the loving lives of their parents, regular family devotions in which they become familiar with the teaching of the Bible, the language of prayer and they are confronted with their need to be born again. Their parents’ love, respect and enthusiasm for the church services, the pastor and his preaching will be contagious. They will admire and hear the one to whom their parents pay such attention. But where the parents themselves are bored – or just one parent – then there is little hope for the children becoming gripped with the most exciting message in the world – the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When children have been taught to sit still at home, and hear the word of God read each day, and listen to parents coming with thanksgiving and petition to a heavenly Father who cares and provides every good thing the children experience, then they sweetly learn to be still during a sermon on Sunday morning, and to cry from their childish hearts to the Lord for help to worship and serve him, the living God.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

All things...for good

Today I watched this sweet video about a precious baby who lived for 10 days. The parents found out at 20wks that their baby had trisomy 18 and, although the doctors told them his condition was "incompatable with life" they chose to continue the pregnancy and celebrate his short life. (warning: do not watch without a full box of tissues)

It made me thankful our Ben has trisomy 21 and not a different trisomy. When we first found out Ben would have Down syndrome our doctors gave us a copy of his karyotype, a picture of his chromosomes. They explained that Down syndrome occurs when a baby has three copies (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome. It looked similar to this image (although these chromosomes are from a girl - hence the two "x's." A boy would have an "x" and a "y.")

What's so amazing about Down syndrome is the 21st chromosome is the smallest DNA pair. That means that, although Ben has an extra chromosome in every cell of his body, it's the smallest possible amount of "extra." Babies with more significant trisomies are often miscarried or face significant birth defects. Only 8% of babies with trisomy 18 will see their first birthday.

Because of my experience with Ben I just want to encourage parents, or those hoping to be parents, to be prepared with your answer before you're halfway through your pregnancy sitting across the desk from your doctor hearing him tell you your baby has Down syndrome, another trisomy, or other serious birth defect. They will offer you options. They may tell you things about your child's potential quality of life or physical suffering. If you are a Christian, then you must be prepared with a solid confidence in the sanctity of life: that God creates all life for His glory, and that life begins at conception, and there are no stray molecules in the universe. God is sovereign.

What your doctors can't tell you (unless you have a really cool doctor), is that "for those who love God, all things work together for good." (Romans 8:28) I often hear Christians disparage this oft quoted verse as not really being comforting to those who are hurting. I guess I can't expect a single verse to turn someone's true sorrow to joy. But I know if you truly believe this promise it will help: if you truly believe "all things" means "all things" and if you allow the whole counsel of God to shape your definition of "good."

Yet, not every providence of God is as obviously "good" as this one:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Update on Grandma Bobbi

Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be writing this post. I'm sure most of my blog readers know what's been going on with my dear mom, but I know there are some readers who don't so thought it'd be a good idea to update y'all.

It's been almost two years since mom was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Craziness. Brain cancer? She had a benign lung tumor that required the removal of one of her lungs when she was in her late 30's? And I've always assumed all us white folk from So Cal will get melanoma, but brain cancer? Didn't see that one coming.

The Dr.'s gave her 6 months to live at diagnosis. We opted to try chemo/radiation and it seemed to really work. But it also weakened her. Dad has been such an awesome trooper with all this. He shouldered the role of primary care-giver with grace, love and such tenderness. But it's been a tiring two years for him.

Mom has really declined since the holidays. She was hospitalized for dehydration a couple weeks ago and the decision was made to bring her home on hospice. Her health has deteriorated quickly, and, although none of us knows the future, it seems the end of her earthly life is quickly approaching.

I am confident of mom's salvation. She has pursued Christ in true love and knowledge of Him for all the years I've know her. This is a great comfort. Yet the loss is immense.

A visit with G'ma in 2011

We covet your prayers to our good, sovereign God that Mom would be comforted with the great love of our great Savior in her last days before glory. That Dad would be strengthened in body and soul and given the peace that passes all understanding. That all of us who love Mom and love Christ would cling to His cross as the lump rises in our throat and we behold our own mortality and need of such grace.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Day in the Life

What is it like raising 6 children ages 17 (almost) to 15 months?

I thought it might be fun to give a run down of a typical day. Mostly for myself, so I can look back on this time years from now and remember what it's like. Also for my family who may wonder why I never have time to call. And to encourage anyone else in the trenches: you're not alone.

5:15am: Baby wakes up. Already was up to feed him at 2am, but since I went to bed at 9pm the night before I really got plenty of sleep. Somehow though, the sleep between 5am and 6am is particularly restful for me. Missing that today.

6:00am: Husband plays with baby while I make coffee and check my email for the first time. We drink coffee, talk, I do some dishes and get the day started.

7:45am: Take the big kids to school. I load up all the kids in the van, a couple of them are eating toast while we drive. The biggest kid says he forgot to wash his basketball jersey for his game tonight. I suggest that wearing a stinky jersey that's just going to get stinky again is no big deal, but he's not convinced. I'll wash it for him but not tell him that until I pick him up this afternoon. We listen to John MacArthur on the way home.

8:30am I feed the baby his breakfast (applesauce and baby oatmeal) and put him down for a morning nap since he's been up since 5:15! Get the homeschool kids started on some work.

We all work to pick up the house a little since we have Ruth's piano teacher and our homeschool teacher coming over today. The kids need snacks.

10:00am Ruth has her piano lesson with her wonderful teacher. Ruth is really loving learning the piano. Eventually Ben wakes up from his nap and nurses. We finish school work and I finish grading their work from the last month to be ready to show their CT (Credentialed Teacher). The kids eat lunch. Teacher calls and says she'll be here early. Oh goody.

12:30pm We meet with our CT and go over Ruth and Paul's school work. This year I'm trying a public charter homeschool. It has many pros and cons, but basically allows me to use state $ for curriculum and extra curricular activities. The CT verifies that the kids are actually learning. While meeting with the CT I feed Ben lunch.

2:30pm Nurse Ben and load up to pick up the kids from school. Sarah and Phillip have piano lessons after school today. I play with the little ones in Mrs. Ward's den while listening to make sure the big kids have been practicing well enough and see if there's anything I need to remind them of this week. They have their Christmas recital on Saturday. Ben crawls forward about 2 feet to get to his puff snacks. He loves those things.

4:30pm Sarah gets started on her homework. I get dinner started. Tonight it's spaghetti. Russell will be home in just enough time to take Phillip and the big girls to the basketball game. Ben is fussy b/c he hasn't napped since 11am. He gets dinner too (a smashed-up version of spaghetti). After the group leaves for the game I let Paul and Mary watch some TV while I nurse Ben and get him down for the night.

6:45pm Baby is asleep. I tackle the mountain of laundry that needs to be folded on my bed. Paul and Mary ask for hot chocolate. I do dishes while they drink. We read some books, pray and sing a hymn and they're in bed by 8:30.

Now it's 9:15. They're back from the basketball game. Phillip says the game was bad because they lost. Russell says it was a good game. They were down by 20 but rallied to come back within reach. I need to get to bed myself, though, because I have a feeling I'll be hearing from someone around 2am.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Year Ago Today

One year ago today our Ben got yanked from his cozy, warm, quiet nest and tossed into this crazy, bright, loud, gravity-bound world.

He's fit right in and his siblings just adore him, as do Mom and Dad.

As the local weather begins to transition from summer to fall I'm often drawn to memories from last year. All the hours spent in my glider attached to the breast pump making sure I had enough milk for Ben when he finally got the hang of breastfeeding. Helping Sarah with her homework as she adjusted from homeschool to Cornerstone Christian School. A dear friend who helped watch the kids a few mornings each week after Russell went back to work. Sweet memories.

Paul and Mary are especially drawn to Ben.

Paul reading to Mary and Ben

Mary helping Ben with his crawling skills

My overarching reality for Ben's first year of life is how "normal" he is. Not that "normal" is some goal or anything, but His extra chromosome has presented very few issues for us thus far. Ben is definitely small (even by Lowery baby standards), and delayed (not crawling or babbling much yet), but those things don't bother me the slightest. In fact, I'm happy he's giving us a little longer to get the house ready a mobile baby again! I know Ben will learn to talk, walk, eat real food, drink from a cup (INSTEAD OF MOMMY!) read, sing (hopefully IN TUNE), swim, play sports, and WHO KNOWS WHAT ELSE! I'm not at all concerned that he's a little behind his peers. He's got an extra chromosome people!

Life now hums along at a fairly steady clip. My days are still busy but not as desperate as they were in those first few weeks after Ben's arrival! School is in full swing with me teaching Ruth (2nd grade) and Paul (Kindergarten) at home. Phillip (11th) and Sarah (5th) at Cornerstone. We're busy with soccer and piano and co-op class and church and trips to the library and family outings and who has time to do dishes or fold laundry! Not me :-)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.