Sunday, November 29, 2015

Old Grief

I've been thinking about grieving recently and felt like sharing some thoughts.

It never actually goes away does it.  The sadness might not be sharp anymore, like a broken bone's piercing pain, and tears may not randomly come at a surprising moment with a passing thought, but it never fully leaves.

I wonder how much grief changes a person?  If a loss was restored, would it be possible to be as happy as if it never happened?  I honestly don't know.  Maybe there would always be that seed of sadness in experiencing a loss that might stay hidden but always present?

Over time, sad painful memories that once brought sudden tears and pain, bring wistful sadness no longer visible to the outside world.

The outside world forgets or doesn't care, but whatever your grief is, it is not less important or less painful based on outside opinion.  Our culture doesn't have any room for grieving properly.  It's uncomfortable and annoying to others and we cannot change that, but we can give ourselves permission to feel sad if we need to.  We can give value to our own grief no matter how "big" or "small" it seems to others.

The Bible study I'm going through this week "The names of God" was all about his name "Prince of Peace"

- the verses were Luke 2:8-14
John 14:25-27
Philippians 4:6-7
Hebrews 13:20-21

And the last was John 16:31-33  Part of that one is this ".... These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Most of us I'm sure have a personal grief or pain of some kind that can be overwhelming, then add onto that the pain and struggles of friends, then add the problems of the world that we can't do enough about to make truly better.  It's overwhelming until we realize that God didn't ask us to fix the world.

I see posts about making America a "Christian Nation again" and can only think how that completely misses the point.  Our view of peace on earth isn't possible because if we gave this a description it would sound like heaven - no wars, no fighting, loving each other, food for everyone, no sin, or pain, or tears, and everyone treated fairly.  Our frustration with not seeing this heaven on earth NOW causes us to miss out on seeing that peace on earth HAS come.

Jesus wasn't the political earthly ruler they were hoping for to bring about change, yet his kingdom has come and there is peace on earth now.  John 14:27 Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

In grieving I think there can also be worry along with the sadness and there can be a feeling of not getting something that we deeply want.  Some of our deep desires won't be fulfilled till heaven, but does that mean that God doesn't want to hear about these things?  In grief I think we can begin to think that the things we desire aren't important to God.

In the Bible study this week they focused on Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  But the verse right before this one I actually heard a little bit about in a sermon this week on Ecclesiastes.  Verse 6 which is "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." The sermon that touched on this verse was talking about the "requests" part.  That God DOES want to hear what we desire and that he is a good Dad.  He says yes as much as he can.  Many people have the view of God that he is the strict  "no" Dad, but that's not the case.  He says no or wait when it's best for us, but he does want us to have good things and is preparing heaven for us.  On this earth his "yes" might be comfort and peace and something better than what we ask if the thing we desire isn't good for us at the moment.  The point though is that He DOES care and he does want us to request things of Him. 

He delights in His children.  He delights in you, and He cries with us when we cry.

Backing up even farther to verse 4 it says, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice..."  Which could be the band aid verse that has been slapped onto a grieving person.  Perhaps you've been deeply sad and someone threw that verse at you?  As I ponder this verse and look back at my own life.  The times I couldn't rejoice in my circumstances or grief, yet, if I think about it.  I can always rejoice in the Lord.  It doesn't mean I'm always happy, but rejoicing in the hope of heaven and rejoicing in the peace He offers right now on this earth is possible.

People use this "rejoice always" verse out of their discomfort to try to make the other person happy again.  Unfortunately it turns into loading guilt onto them and making them feel like they aren't allowed their grief and sadness.  Or it feels like a short cut to the end of grief because people want to get it over with.  "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me."  We can rejoice always in the Lord because he is walking through that valley of shadow with us.  Other people often do not want to or simply can't.  They throw band aid verses at us, hoping to short circuit that trip through the valley so they can meet us at the end and skip the hard part.

Rather than getting upset with these people though, I want to encourage you, as well as myself, that it's not up to them to walk this valley.  Our Prince of Peace cares and grieves with us.

"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21

Monday, November 09, 2015

School at a park day!

 Our spur of the moment trip to the park to do school time last week!  I set a timer for 15 minutes and had them play for 15 minutes and then come do some school for 15 minutes.  We were there about 3 hours and they had a blast and we even got stuff done!
 These pictures are both the "in process" ones while they were off playing.  I got to do my own relaxing coloring while they ran around and played.  :)

These are the things I brought for me!  My Mom journal and some other books and a magazine.  I colored and read and rested most of the time.

Curious to see more of the inside of the mom journal?  These were the prettiest pages, but there's just many that I didn't do an awesome job on.  Keepin' it real.  ;)  Some of the ones in the picture above my girls helped a little with before they got their own journals and coloring books.
One of the pages and writing down some thoughts about their school while I colored.  Also, that chocolate right there is fabulous!  It's sweetened with stevia and is surprisingly good.  :)
The other little book that I had pictured up there was called "How to Homeschool" which might seem like a not helpful thing if you've been homeschooling a while, but it's actually lovely for anyone who is homeschooling or who wants to homeschool and is at any stage in this journy.  She talks about the stages of authentic learning and while her books can help you get there you can take the info she offers and use it with any curriculum you already like.  There's spaces to write down and help you think about your kids school.  All the pictures can be colored so you can use it as a lovely coloring book while you think and plan.  I'm not great at making lists so the artistic aspect of it combined with writing down lists or ideas was helpful for me because I didn't start freaking out like I normally would about planning!
Another page, I took this because I got to thinking about how someone might think they don't have time to color all these little details on the page.  Enter the Prisma colored pencils and smudging with them.  Really, just add color where ever and it looks beautiful and hardly takes any time yet gives a little point in time of rest.  I love making borders of color on my favorite pages.

My 9 year olds chosen four books (the ones on the bottom) to go with her kitty doodle book.  She told me her Kitty Doodle book is her favorite school book ever.
My 7 year old's chosen four books at the bottom there to go with her Bunny Journal.  And her colored pencil box and markers are in this picture as well.
 I'm learning a great thing about my middle daughter and how I can help her learn to be diligent and do her best.  The picture below is one that she did in her "100 Easy Bible verses" book and as you can see it didn't start out so well.  While she was writing though I started to draw the lines of color at the top and talked to her.  She seemed to relax more and had less of an attitude about "I can't" and actually started trying to do her best.  We talked about the verse and other things and I keep telling my girls when they say "I can't." I say, "You can't YET." And smile and talk about all the things I can't do YET.  ;)  Or the things I couldn't do UNTIL I learned how to do them.
 She is now saying that she wants to be an artist and diligently worked through coloring these pages below with tracing paper (she was copying pictures from her favorite books) and this is a big deal for her because she tends to not want to finish something or she'll just want to do it quick, but she colored the WHOLE page of each!  When we work through the "Fun-School Journals" I encourage them to color as much of their page as I can get them to do.  Sometimes I give advice or show them more ways they can add color or just show them what I do on my own pages.

The 4 year old's "Fun-Schooling" with her chosen four books above.
 She's been so excited about this that ever since last Thursday when it came in the mail she's brought it to me practically first thing in the mornings!  Saturday we did a few pages while I was still in bed. 
Here she's picking out some books from the shelves in the background.  I've got it organized so the shelf on the left is all the library books (that change pretty often) and the middle is a lot of books that are early reader types and others they can all read on their own if they want to (some of those are library ones as well) and the right shelf has the oldest's books at the top, middle in the middle, and the 4 year old's at the bottom (to go with their Fun-school journals.) 
 I have another BIG bookshelf upstairs with even more books, but this helps us not get too overwhelmed to organize it like the picture is above.  (Also have a couple cupboards full of school books and another full large shelf of school supplies in the dinning room.)
Some coloring the littlest did with her "Thinking Time"- I am still doing this with her since she's young enough that she's not able to figure it out on her own quite yet.  It probably won't take long though!

Some of the coloring on the left page my 4 year old and I did together.  We talked and I'm noticing that by doing this there's less chatting in bed at night when they are supposed to be going to sleep!  I guess some extra chat time in the day is helpful that way.  Also, it's less stressful for me to chat during the day while coloring and doing school than at bedtime when I'm all worn out!
She's been asking me how to spell words and she wants to darken the lines when I write a word lightly for her!  My oldest was so resistant to writing and reading that it's weird almost to see this initiative!

 Sunday we stayed home because the little two were sick and my youngest wanted to do more of her school!  Well, the page she happened to be on was the "watch a documentary or educational show" page.  She chose "Super Why" and all by herself she paused Netflix to write down the "super letters" on her page.
 She colored her page as well and her sister joined her.  I turned on Fantasia while they did more coloring and they got some good inspiration.  ;)

One of my favorite things about these journals is that my girls are doing so much on each page instead of just getting it all over with. It's clear that they are enjoying the Journals!  Also don't underestimate coloring, especially if you are dealing with emotional kids.  Coloring is calming for all of us and it helps us think and develop diligence and pen control and strengthens our creative muscles as they choose all sorts of different colors to draw a picture.

I really think you could use these along with or incorporated with other curriculum choices, OR you could use a book like this for the summer time to help them keep their brains working but still have freedom with what they are doing.  For a summer thing it could be to do so many journal pages before any screen time is allowed for instance.  :)

If you haven't thought of this yet I must emphasize to NOT point out when a child doesn't get "everything in the lines" and not make rules about coloring the pictures realistically.  If they want to color the bunny purple.. why not?  Really.  Maybe it's a dream bunny?   

Imposing our own ideas of what something should look like on another artist isn't encouraging at all.  

It's okay to give ideas, but it's vital to accept how they choose to draw something.  We don't want our kids to give up.  Art is a skill just like any other and I think it's so sad when people say that they can't draw.  Or aren't artistic.  We are created in God's image, which means we all ARE creative because He is!  Sure, it comes out differently in all of us, but putting value judgements is what we need to avoid.  Encouraging whatever they want to create and celebrating their hard work is the most important thing.

 Last week everyone wanted to make pizza and I thought I'd mix one recipe with our usual gluten free pizza crust recipe.  Trying to figure out how to make the crust a little more fluffy and less chewy while still keeping it relatively easy to do!  While I was rolling out the dough I asked my 9 year old to write down our new ingredients in our DIY Cooking Journal that we'd added to the recipe.  AND SHE DID!
Top left is the pizza by the 7 year old.  It's quite fancy. ;)  Bottom left is by the 4 year old and bottom right by the 9 year old!
 Perhaps I should explain something about why it's so significant that my 9 year old wrote down what I told her to write down - it's because she's been so resistant to writing for so long!  Also, even this last summer if I told her how to write something she wouldn't hear me or she'd hear wrong or she'd forget how one letter or another looked and couldn't spell the word even if I was spelling it out loud for her to write down.

Also, understand that she is very sweet and willing to do things that I ask her to do, so it hasn't been the lack of trying like her younger sister was going through.  All the "Right Brain Learning" that we've been doing has helped so much more than the way I started out with her.  Now I just need to keep at it and have her practice reading in her head more and so on.

Honestly, when I first got this DIY cooking journal (and some of the other DIY books) I wasn't sure what to do with it or really saw the value in it.  It's just a blank book right?  Well, yes and no.  See, do you know how hard it is to find pretty sketch books?  Actually, I can't remember seeing one (or hardly ever!) that had parts that were lined AND parts that were blank for drawing.. let alone parts that were lovely boarders of drawing to be colored as well.  I know these could be used well for sure and I'm thinking that my girls can get more used to cooking and following recipes if they have to copy the recipe before they can make it.  And I'm SURE they will be fine with that plan when I mention chocolate chip cookies.  ;)

And the pizza!  The verdict was that the crust WAS fluffier though I thought it tasted slightly too sweet for a pizza so possibly a couple more tweaks the next time we do it. ;)