Wednesday, June 4, 2014

May Catch-Up. June Here!

(This post was started, stopped, and continued many times over...)

Saturday football today. I grabbed my computer on the way out thinking I could journal a bit during practices. It’s overcast this morning; Olivia and I have a heavy blanket over our legs and we both agree that a nice cup of something hot would nice. It’s actually a perfect morning for sports, weather wise. No doubt it will be hot later this afternoon and I will be shielding myself from the heat during my older kids' game.

We’ve had our first week of summer vacation. Mostly. Of course last Monday was a holiday and then we had a couple mornings wrapping up some science projects. Last weekend, Memorial Day weekend, Olivia and Michael were away on a camping trip-- same place but with different host families. They had been counting down the days, making plans and lists, and using the departure date as a motivation to have their schooling completed for the year. It was a good weekend for us all.

The differences between each of my kids has really stood out to me recently. God's creativity in each personality is really cool. On my way to drop off Olivia for this camping trip, she was furiously working on completing her math unit. Actually, it was the first unit for next year, but it was a goal she had set and she was determined to have it done. She had been up in the six o’clock hour, working hard so that her schooling for the day/year would be finished by 10am. There was little conversation during our car ride, only a couple reminders to be on the look out for opportunities to serve others, to work against the exclusion of certain kids, and to double check herself for ticks each day. She is dependable, she has listened to my instruction, and I trusted her to behave well while having a good time.

Michael’s departure time wasn’t till mid-afternoon, but his excitement was a real impediment to his concentration and I took that into consideration when I looked over his math final exam. He is different from his sister, so laid back in comparison, and I can see benefits to both types of personalities. In the car I shared in his excitement, but I had many reminders to communicate. I tried to pick the points of greatest importance-- Love and obey God above all, help and serve others, be a gentleman, don’t make jokes at the expense of others... The reminders about not scrambling wet, swampy clothes and dirty socks with clean clothes had already been made, and though I wanted to go over every possible thing a boy his age needs to be reminded of, nothing compares to his character. He is growing up fast and becoming more mature, but he is still very much BOY. I want him to be a strong boy, courageous, never afraid to think for himself, to lead, and to go against the flow if necessary. This boy of mine has always been my wild card, and I am sure that in years to come there will be plenty of stories we'll laugh at (some, I am sure, that are still unknown to me)! He has been given a big personality, and therefore a big responsibility. He is doing great, don't get me wrong, but an influential personality comes with much to learn. He is a gifted boy and my task with him is great!

I am thankful for the time both kids had away with strong families, fun friends, and examples of men and women who love the Lord and are committed to their families and to the body of Christ. I am also thankful for the time I got to enjoy with Andrew and Jack. Of course they were feeling left out, but I had determined to make it a special weekend for them too. Mostly I wanted to take advantage of the time to nurture my relationship with them and their relationship with each other.

Their relationship with each other really brings me a lot of joy. Of course they have their disagreements (both accused the other of taking too much space and pulling the blankets each night on the inflatable mattress I had set up for their sleep-overs in the sun room), but overall they are very close. Different, but close. I didn't have to do much to keep them happy and busy, which made it an extra special pleasure on my part to treat them in various ways.

Michael had a free go-cart ride ticket that he had saved for me to treat the younger two while he was away. Sweet, eh? Unfortunately both boys were too short for the go-carts, so they did these bumper boats instead. We did a bunch of "special" stuff, like treats at the ice cream parlor, movie nights, and special breakfasts. Jon and I both saw it as an opportunity to just be with them in a way that isn't always possible. It was special to just focus on them, to take the time to really see them, really listen, and to delight in the gift that they are to us.

When one or two of my kids are away for a day or more, it always strikes me that their absence creates such an obvious gap. Three kids is different than four. And two kids is definitely easier than four. I imagine that five or six would be very different as well. I don't think that four kids makes an unusually big family, but without a doubt it takes thought, planning, and discipline to know them well as individuals and to nurture separate relationships. It takes creativity to draw them out, too, because one method doesn't necessarily work for each child. I want though, that closeness and friendship that is so necessary for influence. I find I spend so much time dealing with them as a group, but I sincerely desire to know them as individuals, separate from the pack.

As they get older, this has increasingly become a matter of prayer.


School is over now. Wow-- we're already settling into the second week of summer vacation, and that thought reminds me that the summer weeks are going to fly by. They always do.

These pictures were on my card, and I thought I'd include them in this post even if they are random. Our last activity for the year was to do some dissections. We've done it once before (here), and still Olivia wanted to dress the part. She's so fun.

Sheep brain, sheep heart, sheep kidney, cow eye, and fetal pig.

Jacob spent extra time afterward poking around. I know, this is not for everyone, but I happen to find it fascinating. Next year the boys want to study "inventions", levers, pulleys, and I'm not sure what. I'm going to go with it because interest/curiosity makes the best instructor. I'm sure they will learn things that will be implement outside somehow.


I like reading JC Ryle. I found little notes I had scribbled out last summer when I re-read his book Duties of Parents. These words of his stuck out to me then as they do again today:

"Soul love is the soul of all love."

The love of an eternal soul, the invisible and immaterial part of our children ought to be the object of our most sincere and unconditional love. I should not base my love on the exterior, on behavior or intelligence, or on whatever else. We are souls that desperately need love. God's love. I want my love to be the outpouring of His love; my imperfect love to point to His perfect love. I want to see beyond what is visible to the human eye, that is, the soul that will never die. I can do this because of God's truth revealed, and because of His enabling power.

God, help me!


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