Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Baptist Minister with Guts

People often think I belong to a radically fanatical group of Presbyterians who are just too over the top on things like worship issues, church discipline, and following God's Law as a standard of righteousness (not as a means of salvation). However, one of the things that I truly appreciate about our group is the fact that they are standing firmly and staunchly against so many of today's cultural trends that much of the rest of Christianity has succumbed to.

I found this shocking, but did you know that according to an article in Time magazine, 59% of evangelical Christians approved of starving and dehydrating to death Terri Shiavo? How did the culture of death come to infect so much of the Christian church? I think a large part of where it started was with the idea that children were no longer blessings to be welcomed freely and with joy but rather inconveniences to be limited by whatever means have been deemed acceptable. Most Christians either don't know or else ignore the fact that one of the ways that the birth control pill functions is to abort babies by creating a hostile environment within the uterus. Ditto with the IUD. Worse yet are the statistics that show that the rate of surgical abortion for church goers isn't much different than that of the rest of society.

Anyhow, my hat goes off to Pastor William Rice, the minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Florida. He was pastor to Judge George Greer, a man who on many occasions had the opportunity to demonstrate that God's Law was higher than man's but who opted for pragmatism over principle. Pastor Rice had the intestinal fortitude to ask Judge Greer to resign his membership from the church for his murderous role in Terri Shiavo's death.

If there were more pastors like Mr. Rice, perhaps the Church wouldn't be in such an almighty, backslidden mess.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Acupuncture has won medical acceptance

By Judy Foreman, Globe Staff March 22, 2005

I lie down on the table at Wellspace Inc. in Cambridge, sighing in grateful anticipation as my longtime acupuncturist, Jen Forrest Evans, goes to work. Some days, she gently pokes needles into my chronically tight lower back. Other days, she focuses on my pesky sinuses. Still other days -- the best ones -- the goal is a general tune-up of my Qi (pronounced ''chee"), the Chinese term for vital (and sometimes, not vital enough) energy.

This ancient Chinese technique of sticking needles into the skin to relieve pain, nausea and many other ills never fails to make me feel better -- more mellow and more energized. I used to think this lovely state was mostly due to the placebo effect.

But a growing body of evidence -- brain scans, ultrasound and other techniques -- now shows that acupuncture triggers direct, measurable effects on the body, including perhaps activation of precisely the regions of the brain that would be predicted by ancient Chinese theory. This is potentially good news for the millions of Americans now scrambling for pain relief in the wake of conflicting government recommendations on painkillers Vioxx and Celebrex.

At the University of California at Irvine, researchers have shown that when a needle is placed in a point on the side of the foot that Chinese theorists associate with vision, sure enough, the visual cortex in the brain ''lights up" on functional magnetic resonance imaging scans, though the cause and effect are not totally clear.

Neuroscientist Seung-Schik Yoo of Brigham and Women's Hospital has shown that when a needle is placed in a point called pericardium 6 on the wrist, known in Chinese medicine as a sensitive point for nausea, the part of the brain that controls the vestibular system (which affects balance and nausea) lights up on scans.

While much about acupuncture remains mysterious, at least to Westerners, a great deal is becoming clearer, thanks to an explosion of studies using Western scientific techniques.

''The quality and amount of research being conducted now on acupuncture is improving greatly," said Peter Wayne, director of research at the New England School of Acupuncture, which has received $3.2 million in federal grants to study acupuncture.

Acupuncture, an extraordinarily safe technique, has been used so far by 8.2 million Americans, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a government agency. Some insurers also now pay for acupuncture.

More than 40 clinical trials have shown that acupuncture reduces nausea following chemotherapy or surgery, said Ted Kaptchuk, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who is also a doctor of Chinese medicine.

The data on chronic pain and headache are somewhat mixed, but acupuncture clearly helps with dental pain, Kaptchuk said. A recent, randomized, controlled study of 570 people with osteoarthritis of the knee showed that real acupuncture, as opposed to a fake form used as a control, reduced pain and increased function by about 30 percent.

''This is roughly the same effect size" as with ibuprofen-type drugs, said Dr. Brian Berman, the study leader and director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. At the moment, Berman recommends that patients use acupuncture with, not instead of, pain medications, though it may help reduce the amount of medication needed.

But perhaps the most intriguing scientific question is not whether acupuncture works but how.

In acupuncture theory, there are 360 major points in the skin that lie along the 12 major channels, or meridians, in the body, through which the Qi energy flows. In Western terms, the acupuncture points correspond to areas of decreased electrical resistance on the skin.

Since the 1970s, Western researchers have known that one of the ways acupuncture works is by releasing endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.

Acupuncture seems to calm precisely the part of the brain that controls the emotional response to pain, said Dr. Kathleen K. S. Hui, a neuroscientist at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, which has a $5 million federal grant to study acupuncture's effects on the brain. Her brain-scan studies show decreased activation in deeper brain structures in the limbic system, which governs emotions and other physiological functions.

Researchers also have shown that acupuncture boosts levels of serotonin, which is often deficient in depression, and lowers levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, which are often elevated in stress and pain.

Precisely how signals travel from acupuncture points to the brain is still a matter of some debate. Most researchers, Hui among them, believe that electrical signals travel along nerve tracts that branch off from the brain stem to the limbic system.

Others, like Dr. Helene Langevin, a neurologist at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, believe signals may pass also along the 12 major acupuncture ''meridians" that run through the body.

For years, Western scientists doubted the existence of these meridians. But, in a series of studies using ultrasound, Langevin has found evidence that the meridians lie along the sheets of connective tissue that surround organs. By analyzing meridians in the arm of a cadaver, Langevin said she discovered ''that 80 percent of the acupuncture points coincided to where the major connective tissue plane was. We also did a statistical analysis -- this was not due to chance."

The bottom line? At long last, Western scientists are beginning to show, by their standards, just what Chinese acupuncturists have been saying for millennia: That the effects of acupuncture are real. And that, at least for certain problems and to some degree, acupuncture can help relieve pain and suffering.

Judy Foreman is a freelance columnist who can be contacted at foreman@globe.com

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2005/03/22/acupuncture_has_won_medical_acceptance/

Cheryl's Comment on the above article: I am posting this article because so many people still think that accupuncture is still somewhat mystical, magical, and somewhat occult and therefore they believe that Christians ought not to have anything to do with it or any therapies based on it. Perhaps now that the evidence is growing and getting stronger that the meridians exist, we will some day stop viewing it with suspicion and instead start to be open to a gentler and less invasive means of healing than many current allopathic modalities.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Eleven Weeks and Counting...

...before baby comes, that is, give or take a few weeks. I was looking over my appointment book the other day and have decided to make May 31 the last day I will be taking appointments in my practice. I also intend to make it the last day of school with the Littles. This will give me nine days before my due date to deep clean a number of places in the house, get baby clothes ready and maybe freeze a few meals ahead of time.

By Friday of this week I will have seen four clients. Doesn't sound like much, but it is on top of everything else and I am looking forward to having some time away from all of this. In some respects, I wish I could slow down now. I am getting quite large all of a sudden and some people think I look due already. Yesterday I went to Wal Mart with the intention of buying some maternity clothes. Do you know, I couldn't find a single dress, maternity or otherwise??? I guess dresses are now only found in the more expensive up-scale clothing stores or else you have to make them yourself. As for maternity wear, there was very little available. I think both of these facts together say that childbearing isn't that important or doens't form a big enough part of the economy and dresses are passe.

I ended up buying a pair of scrubs draw string pants and a matching shirt with a coordinating patterned jacket to wear over the top. They are in extra large size and should accomodate my growing girth to the end of the pregnancy. They look clean and neat, and make me look professional when I work on people, though I intend to wear them when I am out and about too.
I just wish there were some maternity dresses I could wear. I am reaching the stage where I hate the restricted feeling of clothing and something loose and flowing would feel a lot better.

Monday, March 21, 2005

New Venture

I finished my mind maps last week and already they have been put to good use. However, now that they are done, I find myself wanting to continue to work on them. I haven't always had an urge to write things down, but have always wanted to remember things. However, the linear form of just writing in a journal/notebook just doesn't work for me. And now that I completed my mind maps, I find myself still wanting to make some and thinking that I may have just found a way to journal in a form that pleases my urge to record and frees me from linear thinking.

I have a large hardbound book with 8 1/2" x 11" blank pages that I bought some time ago at an art supply store. It is actually an artist's sketching book/journal, but I think I am going to be able to put it to use as a mind map/journal. I still have all my gel pens and markers, and now I can draw/create my own freeform record of my life in a way that feels more natural to me than just line upon line of written words.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I guess I'll find out if it is also a good way to capture a memory.
Easy Cookin'

Sometimes there is nothing better than something that tastes good, is good for you, and is easy to put together. Here are a few of my own inventions, which are mostly my home versions of things I have had elsewhere. Please note that I do not give measurements. You'll have to adjust to your own family size.

Taco Salad

Large head of romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn up
Red and Green peppers, diced
Black olives, whole or sliced
Canned black beans, rinsed and drained
Red Onion, diced
Shredded medium cheddar cheese
Cucumber, peeled, and diced
Fresh tomatoes, diced
Cold steamed corn
Broiled and seasoned chicken breasts, cubed (figure on one breast per person)
Make a dressing by combining mayonnaise with fresh salsa and mix together thoroughly

Toss all of the above together and serve over a heap of lightly salted corn chips with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream on the side and serve immediately so the chips don't become soggy from the dressing.

Cheryl's Trifle

This may be lower in calories than the traditional version. It is definitely lower in sugar and alcohol!

Pound cake (I like using the chocolate marbelized kind), cut in chunks
1 or 2 large containers of French Vanilla yogurt (depending on how much you are making)
Strawberry syrup made from real strawberries
Fresh or frozen strawberries (not in syrup), sliced
Fresh bananas, sliced
Unsweetened whipping cream, whipped to medium stiffness

To assemble:

Place chunks of cake in the bottom of a large, pretty glass bowl
Drizzle strawberry syrup over the cake chunks
Cover with a layer of French Vanilla yogurt
Layer strawberries and bananas over yogurt
Cover with a layer of whipped cream

Repeat layers and cover and let sit overnight in the fridge. Serve the next day and try not to make yourself sick by eating too much.
Good Boy!

Yesterday it snowed enough that driving would have been hazardous. As a result, the kids and I stayed home from church and instead listened to the sermon off the internet. That also meant that my eldest son, Nathanael, wasn't able to make it to church either. I had a brief conversation with him by phone and learned that my boy has been doing very well in his school work.

Last week they had an awards ceremony at school and Nathanael was awarded the following:

A placque for Academic Achievement Award
A certificate for making the Honor Roll
A certificate for Subject Excellence Award for his work in his English course
A certificate for Excellence in Personal Achievement.
A certificate for excellent attendance.

Of all the kids who were there, Nathanael got the most awards of them all. Can you tell I am a proud momma?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Be Edified

If you would like to know about the kind of faith that perseveres, listen to this sermon, or you can read it if you prefer.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ethical Building of an MLM Business

This post is brought to you thanks to a Raging Calvinist who sparked the idea for it after I read a post on his blog. Jerry had been called by an old friend who wanted to introduce him to a great business opportunity, but couldn't tell him the details. Those would be reserved for a meeting instead.

I can't blame anyone for feeling somewhat used and jaded at this typical approach that many people involved in the multi-level marketing industry use. I've had it used on me with less than impressive results for the person using it. The person using it may think that they are doing you a favor by introducing you to this sort of industry, but the net result is that you feel like they are building their business on your back and they expect you to do the same to others. If only everyone would get on board, then we will all be rich, except for the poor suckers who get in at the bottom. This is also the approach that a lot of novice MLM'ers take when they first get into the industry. It is like they have been born again and they can't wait to share the "good news" of how to be born again financially.

Now, I happen to be involved in a network marketing business, but because of the reasons listed above, I have chosen to conduct myself in a far different manner. For one thing, the only reason I got involved with my present company is that the products they offer are based solidly in a new field of scientific research and they are impacting the lives of people in a very positive manner. Some MLM companies are driven by the business model and compensation plan. I'm not interested in that sort of thing. I have enough to do in my life without trying to sell people on a compensation plan and the market of people who actually want to have a network marketing business as a career is extremely small. It just doesn't inspire me with the sort of passion that I think you need to have in order to succeed in this business. The other thing I don't like about these sort of companies is that they often make their pitch by appealing to coveteousness. I struggle with enough sin in my life without needing to cultivate it or by encouraging others to cultivate it. Instead, I prefer to work with a company that is product driven. In other words, you have a valuable and unique product that performs well, and which people will come back for and which can't be found anywhere else. Why pay more money for something you can find cheaper in a grocery or health food store?

I don't hide the fact that I am in a network marketing business, and I don't try to sucker people into coming to meetings or try to hide what I am doing. I hate subterfuge and feel that if what you have can't stand up to the light of day, then you have no business trying to fool people into giving you a hearing.

So how do I do it? I offer people information and that is it. I am not a salesman and I don't sell or use high pressure tactics or pout if people turn it down. I answer all questions as honestly and openly as I know how. If I don't know the answer, I say so, and try to find it out.

My main motivation is to help people with their health and I see this as one of the best ways of helping for those who want it. They know where to find me later on if they change their mind. I also make a conscious effort not to view people as so many cash cows to be milked. If people don't want it, I don't see any point in browbeating them or acting like it was an act of betrayal of our relationship or that they are stupid for not seeing what is being offered. People often aren't ready for the information you have and this is not their fault. It often requires a paradigm shift to see what is offered and those sort of shifts often take time to accomplish. Acting like an idiot won't help shift that paradigm and may actually prevent a shift from occuring.

I used to run away from network marketers, and still do in many instances. At the same time, I have made the effort to understand the industry a bit better and have come to realize that if you do it right, it really is a viable way of making a living and helping people while helping yourself. The key is mainly heart motivation. If you sincerely want to help people and put that at the front of your mind and heart, then you can do this with a clear conscience and people can sense that. If your motives are less pure, people can smell it a mile away.

Here are some of my own personal rules for doing my business:

1. Never offer this to someone just because you know them.
2. Always put the best interest of the person you are talking to first. Don't give someone the biggest package because it serves you better. Try to accomodate them where they are at. It is better to have satisfied customers than frustrated would-be business builders who really don't want to be doing this.
3 . Leave friends and relatives alone unless you really think this will be of substantial service to them and the likelihood of them responding is high.
4. Never promise anyone that this is easy. It is a business and needs to be treated like one.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

You Are a Golden Retriever Puppy
Tolerant, fun-loving, and patient.You are eager to please - and attached to your frisbee.

What Breed of Puppy Are You?
Growing Children, Mind Maps, and Rambling Thoughts

Last night the house was uncharacteristically quiet for a few hours. Uncharacteristic for a house that contains eight children, that is. By eight o'clock, everyone was either out somewhere doing something, or sound asleep. My 13 and 10 year old daughters have been getting up early to do their paperroutes so they are typically tired at the end of the day. Garnet went down without a peep, Tamara went to bed early as well, and Elodie crashed on the couch until I took her up to bed with me when it was my turn to go. The three other boys were out at a small engines meeting for 4H until about 8:30. I actually had an hour or so to do some quiet work at my desk.

My mind maps are nearly finished. I re-worked one of them last night because I wasn't pleased with the arrangement of information on the page, and it grew and grew until I had an 81/2 by 11 taped to the edge of an 8 1/7 by 22 inch sheet. However, I think it now contains all the information I wanted to get down. I still have to do my antidote sheet, but haven't decided if I will tape it on the other edge or leave it detached.

I also managed to have a good long talk with my son-in-law, Adam. I had originally called to talk to Trista to see how her drive home with my eldest daughter Patricia went after they left my house the previous evening. I had an inkling it wouldn't go well, particularly as Patricia was in a bad mood by the time the evening was over. We had got on to the subject of her projected marriage in the upcoming year, and she wanted to hear all over again why I won't be attending the wedding or reception. Needless to say, a brief discussion on the demerits of fornication before marriage and unequal yoking with unbelievers didn't sit too well with her. She's willfully running headlong into something I have warned her against and I am not hypocrite enough to show up for a wedding that doesn't have my approval and that violates God's Word.

I didn't approve of Trista and Adam getting married when they did for a variety of reasons, but they are both seeking to serve the Lord and it is a thrill to me to see how they are maturing and growing in grace. Adam is a really nice guy and couldn't be better for Trista in so many ways. We have had some bumps along the way in developing a relationship, but I think we are both at a place where there is now substantial and mutual respect and even admiration.

Yesterday I took Ben and David, the boy next door, to the college career fair. Ben is looking into applying for the College Technical Career program which would enable him to get his first year's apprenticeship in a trade while still going to school and save him 3 grand at the same time. I am hoping that he will take advantage of this opportunity because I think it would be the making of him.

I didn't homeschool the younger kids yesterday , but they did manage to do some work on their own. My laundry is finally caught up, the house is in a decent state of cleanliness, and I slept in a little bit this morning. The sun is shining though we have lost the heat wave that made me think of growing things, but I think it is going to be a good day in spite of it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I Have an Excellent Husband

And here's why: The poor man has been away from home continuously since mid February. First there was a business trip back east to see various business associates in our home-based business. Then when he got home from that, he was sent out of town to work on Vancouver Island for the phone company he works for. He managed to take one of our sons down with him for a bit of some one-on-one time with him and a bit of adventure away from mom while he was at it. Then he flew home for a few days and then was off to Fort Worth for a business convention. While he was gone, my washer had one of its regularly scheduled emotional breakdowns and leaked gallons of water all over my floor. This happens nearly every time Marc leaves town. All my appliances are emotionally attached to him and his maintenance and they can't handle it when he is away. It is hard to let laundry go in this household because of all the people living here, and doing the laundry every few days was costing me $15 just to wash everything.

Marc got home late on Sunday evening and spent Monday getting organized for a business meeting on that evening. He also went to town to see if he could find a part for my washer so it would stop crying all over my mudroom floor. Instead, he came home and announced that on Tuesday I could expect a delivery of not only a new front loading Maytag washer, but also a new Kenmore fridge because our other fridge was crying all over the floor on a daily basis too. On Saturday I am getting a matching Maytag dryer.

Did I also mention that he replaced my set of Lagostina pots because the first set wasn't performing properly, AND he also got me a better massage table for my office? The latter was picked up on a night when I had left the house with all the children so that he could pack without distraction and in peace. Instead, he ran into town to get me the table before he flew away so that I could have a better quality piece of equipment for my own work and surprised me with it when I got home.

I know a lot of women get all pouty if they don't get romantic gifts like jewelry or roses, but it says much more to me when my Beloved gets me the tools I need to get my work done. To me that demonstrates the fact that he is noticing what I do and when I need something, and he does his best to provide for me.

I am very grateful to be married to a man who has supported me and all our children over the past 25 years, and does it all uncomplaining and without grudging us what we need. He's the best!
A Typical Eldest Child?

"Cheryl, your position as eldest child shows most strongly in your
achievements.

Similar to
other eldest children, you are probably more successful than your peers. You
likely have a good education and have achieved a great deal professionally.
Being the eldest child in your family made it natural for you to go for what
you wanted, often with a competitive edge. You tend to be a practical person
who is fairly open to constructive feedback. You continually seek ways to
accomplish your goals more efficiently. "


This is from a test on how to determine how your birth order affects your personality.

I would say that assessment of me is fairly accurate.

I learned something new about one of my boys today. He takes after me in his preferred method of doing something: in other words, one thing at a time. He remarked to my next door neighbor the other day that he just likes working on one school subject at a time and finishing it up before moving on to something else and that it is frustrating to have to try and do too many subjects at the same time. She said that as soon as he said that, it reminded her of me and my preferred method of homeschooling.

Birth order can be an interesting subject, but I question how accurate it can be. I know some people who are atypical for their birth order. My mom, for instance, is the sort of person I think of as being a typical first child: she is extremely organized, orderly, goal oriented, and successful in achieving her goals. But she is actually the third born in her family. My friend, Willena, is a first born child, but would rather tell goals to take a flying leap while she stops to smell the roses.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Pulling Back

I am pooped and it is only 2 pm. In an hour I am expecting the distance ed teacher to show up and collect all the schoolwork samples I have managed to put together for her evaluation. Tonight I have to do an educational meeting on carbohydrate addiction and insulin resistance and how they contribute to fat to do, and then I am going to collapse.

In a few days, I will officially enter my third trimester of pregnancy and already I am showing signs of being there. My tummy is huge at the end of the day thanks to gravitational pull and the fact that I am a *senile* grand multipara (to use the official medical lingo) and have no muscle tone left in my abdominals. Everything hurts whether I sit or stand, and my hips ache at night from lying on one side or the other, while lying on my back makes me breathless.

It is time to cut out the evening activities because I am finding that I just don't have the stamina for it anymore. I did some work the other evening, and by the time I was finished around 9, I literally felt sick with the fatigue. If it doesn't get done in the day, it won't get done.

I am looking forward to June. With all being well, I should have the kids I am teaching done all their schoolwork for the year by May 30 or so. Then I will collapse and kick back to rest until baby arrives. Of course, I may get bit by the painting bug. I am already feeling the urge to repaint the downstairs hallway and touch up the odd spot here and there on the living room walls. Why do I find it so hard to take the rest my body is shrilly demanding?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A God Who is Both Immanent AND Personal

About 15 years ago I read Dr. Francis Schaeffer's book, The God Who Is There. That particular book was very instrumental in helping me understand some of the basic differences in presuppositions that underlie the various religions of the world. Eastern religions teach a god who is transcendant above creation, but not immanent or personal. Western religions, like the Greco-Roman and Germanic mythologies teach of gods who are personally involved in creation, but who are not transcendant above it. It is only in Christianity that you find a God who is both above His creation, and yet personally involved with it.

Sometimes as a Christian, it is easy for me to forget the personal nature of God. I don't mean that I am actively denying this aspect of the triune God, but that it is natural for me to think of Him as being remote and distant. And then, somehow He crashes through this false construct and reminds me that He is personal, and close, and right in there with me.

Remember my mind maps? I had identified four areas that needed work and sanctification and I have been busy the last few days filling in details on each of them. I have a page for each area of work. Today's sermon not only touched on the main points that needed work, but even went so far as to deal with the minutae of what I had written! One of the things that I was finding in doing this work, is that self examination can lead to despair. I mean when you start listing out all the things that are wrong with you that you are aware of, and if you are being honest about it, the list can get rather long. And we aren't even talking about the sins I am unaware of. Imagine my wonder when one of the main points of the sermon made a distinction between a despair that leads to death and one that leads to Christ! Imagine my amazement when a number of the things I have been struggling with were actually touched on specifically in the sermon.

Does God speak through our ministers? He surely does, which is why men should approach these offices with fear and trembling lest they speak amiss. Does God speak with us directly, cleaving through all our pretenses and forcing us into the light? He surely does.

I am going to tape a page to the side of each mind map and here is what will be on it: for every area and specific sin/problem that has been covered, I am going to make an accompanying mind map with the antidote as found in Scripture. These are the things that will enable me to conquer in Christ. These are the things that my despair over my sinful nature have driven me to. In Christ is my peace.
Whose Will It Be After I am Gone -- Part Two

...can be found here.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I Have ADD

At least that is the prognosis of a friend of mine who is experienced in this field. I have to admit that I was greatly surprised and didn't believe him initially, but upon more mature reflection, I can see his point.

I have always thought ADD/ADHD manifested as an inability to focus on one thing for very long and being really scatty and hyper. However, it can also manifest as the ability to focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. This might explain why my kids frequently have to block the computer screen bodily or close my book on me while trying to get my attention and yelling, "MOM!MOM!" at the same time. And here I thought I just had super powers of concentration.

This goes a long way towards explaining one of my major frustrations with homeschooling. I am a project-oriented person and like to focus on one project at a time, doing a good job on it, until it is brought to completion. When I am having to jump from subject to subject, and grade level to grade level, I never can really see that anything got done or done well. That is why I recently switched to just doing one or two subjects at a time per day. Then I feel like we have made measurable progress and I don't feel so scatty, and I am able to be more thorough in teaching and checking everyone's work.

You know, I don't remember having this problem when I was in school. Maybe it was because the projects were imposed on me by others, and consisted only in getting done what was required in that particular subject for that particular class and so the projects were completed in a short period of time. Physically moving from one class to the next may have provided the break in continuity that was needed in order to switch gears for the next class. Or it could be that I have developed ADD like tendencies as the children came along. I have noticed a distinct tendency for my brain to shut off and the placenta to take over when I am pregnant. Some friends of mine are also convinced that women lose brain cells out their nipples when they nurse. Perhaps there is where my multi-tasking brain cells went: into the children.

At any rate, I am going to start doing some Brain Gym activities on a daily basis and hope to regain some focus. ...Err, I mean multi-tasking abilities. Maybe this will short circuit the frustration that constant interruptions usually nets me.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

On Peeling Onions

I got to thinking the other day after experiencing some freedom from a rather perplexing problem that I had been struggling with, if it might not be a good idea to take a systematic approach to ridding myself of other things that have been nagging me for years. Accordingly, I have identified four areas of my life that need some work.

I bought myself some markers and gel pens and a new notebook for taking down notes on these four areas, but when it came time to actually write in the notebook, I found it didn't feel right. Instead, I got some large sheets of paper and on each sheet I have written in the middle of it the particular topic that I am working on in the color that I thought best represented it.

Last night I started work on the one sheet and I am developing almost a mind map/collage with a variety of colors for each topic and even some drawings but more detail than you usually find in most mind maps. I decide which color feels most like what I am writing/drawing about, and then use it to right a few representative thoughts. Very right-brained, but it feels good to get some of this stuff down and think about it in some respects. I won't be scanning it to share with you, but I have to tell you, that self examination is not completely fun, especially if the purpose of the exercise is to focus on things that are your area of weakness. I imagine it will be even less fun during the Judgement when we really get to see what it is we have been saved from!

Rather than making the whole exercise a totally negative thing, I have also been thinking of making a mindmap/collage of all the blessings I have. I'll let you know if this has been a productive exercise or a complete waste of time when I am through.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Faith Enough

The ice is thin enough for walkin’
The rope is worn enough to climb
My throat is dry enough for talkin’
The world is crumblin’ but I know why
The world is crumblin’ but I know why

The storm is wild enough for sailing
The bridge is weak enough to cross
This body frail enough for fighting
I’m home enough to know I’m lost
I’m home enough to know I’m lost

It’s just enough to be strong
In the broken places,
In the broken places
It’s just enough to be strong
Should the world rely on faith tonight.

The land unfit enough for planting
Barren enough to conceive
Poor enough to gain the treasure
Enough a cynic to believe
Enough a cynic to believe

Confused enough to know direction
The sun eclipsed enough to shine
Be still enough to finally tremble
And see enough to know I’m blind
And see enough to know I’m blind

It’s just enough to be strong
In the broken places
In the broken places
It’s just enough to be strong
Should the world rely on faith tonight.
Lyrics by Dan Haseltine, Charlie Lowell, Stephen Mason, and Matt Odmark
of the musical group
Jars of Clay
Faith the Grain of a Mustard Seed

"...if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20b)

"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (I Corinthians 10:13)

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one..." (Matthew 6:13a)

"My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons..." Hebrews 12:5b-7a

All of the above verses are verses that came to mind as I was reading the notes from the sermon on Ecclesiastes posted below. Why these particular verses? Because when I read the sermon, I was blown away by how specific it is to some struggles I have been having lately and are yet another confirmation of the existence, mercy, and love of God to me.

There is no need for me to go into specifics about which sin I am dealing with. Plus, I am assured by Scripture that the struggles I have are the same ones that are common to all mankind. I am not as unique as I would fondly like to imagine.

I have to confess that many times my faith is a weak and puny thing. Too often (daily?) I struggle with unbelief of the sort that makes me constantly cry out, "Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief." Yet God is gracious and doesn't quench a smoking flax nor stomp on a bruised reed who ought to know better, especially after all the prior evidences of His intimate knowledge and personal love of me and mine.

In the past year I have had to struggle with some mighty hard temptations that at times threatened to overwhelm me. I have been left with no doubt as to my own moral strength and character. If I came through the temptations without falling into them or rushing headlong to embrace them, it was no thanks to me. God gets all the glory for my preservation, because my own foolish heart often wants the very things that would destroy me.

Do I need evidence of God's existence? Or assurance of salvation? I have it in the fact that I have the tiniest of the tiny mustard seeds that God has planted in me. I was given strength enough to believe that God actually would deliver me from the evil one and rescue me from temptation when I asked Him and He has come through in spades. Not only has He rescued me from folly once again, but now I have such a loathing for that sin that it makes me physically nauseated to even think about it. I have been spanked by God, but the spanking was precisely what was needed, was a direct answer to prayer, and I bless the rod and Him who wielded it.

There is so much encouragement in this fact, that it gives me hope to carry on with the knowledge that other besetting sins of mine can fall by the wayside if I only believe that the Lord will provide a means for me to escape the temptation to fall into them. I am not a victim of my circumstances, and no longer captive to my sinful nature. Sin no longer need rule over me.

Cast my crown at His feet? I wonder that He even thinks to give it to me in the first place. It so obviously belongs to Him.
Whose Will It Be After I'm Gone? Part I

Ecclesiastes 2:18-23
Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church, Albany NY
Rev. Greg L. Price

When we are so attached to someone or something in this life that we worry and fret over what will become of that someone or something after we die, we will likely not find true joy in that someone or that something while we yet live. For how can you presently enjoy what you fear losing? Or how can you enjoy what you fear leaving when you die?

For example, if a man works hard all of his life and builds a sizable estate, but he lies awake at night worrying about what will happen to his estate once he dies, his worry and fear will rob him of the joy he might have in his estate while he yet lives. Or if a woman has become a mother and loves her children dearly, but she worries day and night what will become of her children when she dies, her worry and fear will likewise rob her of the joy she might have in her children while she yet lives.

The problem is not that it is wicked to enjoy an estate in this world or to enjoy the children we dearly love. However, we can be assured that joy in anything in this life will continually elude our grasp if we worry, fret, and fear losing it when we die. This was a question that plagued King Solomon as he considered his great wealth, large family, and vast possessions. Whose will they be when I die?

From our text in Ecclesiastes 2:18-23, we will consider three areas related to Solomon's death which he considers to be vanity:

(I) It Is Vain To Leave All That I Have Worked For To A Fool Who Will Waste It (Ecclesiastes 2:18,19);

(II) It Is Vain To Leave All That I Have Worked For To One Who Has Not Earned It (Ecclesiastes 2:20,21);

(III) It Is Vain To Worry About All That I Have Worked For And Will Surely Leave Behind (Ecclesiastes 2:22,23).

This Lord's Day we will only have time to cover the first main point from our text.

I. It Is Vain To Leave All That I Have Worked For To A Fool Who Will Waste It (Ecclesiastes 2:18,19).

A. In the previous sermon from Ecclesiastes 2:12-17, you will recall that Solomon introduces an event that comes upon the wise man just as it comes upon the foolish man: DEATH. Solomon concludes that this certain event of death which comes upon both the wise and the foolish makes all of the time and resources he invested in knowledge and wisdom to be vanity and emptiness. In fact, Solomon in his backslidden state declares that he grew to "hate" the life he was living because there was no advantage to the wise man over the foolish man as it relates to their common end on this earth: DEATH. Frustration seemed to envelope Solomon when he saw that all of his worldly knowledge and wisdom did not help him grasp that everlasting joy any better than the foolish man who gave himself up to the mere pleasures of life. Solomon in great turmoil of soul cries out, "all is vanity and vexation of soul" (Ecclesiastes 2:17).

B. Now as if that realization about death was not enough, Solomon moves to another sobering thought about death in Ecclesiastes 2:18,19. Solomon in effect says, "It's bad enough that I have no advantage over the fool in enjoying life. For death will snatch away from me (just as from the fool) whatever I have worked so hard to obtain. But add to that this depressing thought: "After all I have worked so hard to accomplish in my life, I may leave it all to one who will be a fool and waste it all." The thought of this possibility drives Solomon to worry about what will become of all that he has accomplished. And that worry and fear robs him of any enduring satisfaction in the work of his hands. After all, how can you enjoy what you have if you fear losing it all or if you fear it will fall into the hands of a fool who will destroy it all? Dear ones, when that happens our work becomes a curse rather than a blessing to us. For every thought we might have about our work or our accomplishments only reminds us of what we will sooner or later leave behind to one who may waste it or squander it. Such is the end of all those who look and seek for a lasting joy and contentment in the creature rather than in the Creator, in the gift rather than in the Giver of all good gifts. Their fears rob them of true enjoyment in those earthly possessions.

1. Note carefully how this truth hit Solomon, one of the richest men that ever lived and the wisest man who ever lived (except for Jesus Christ), "Yea, I HATED all my labor which I had taken under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 2:18). Here is strong language, but honest language nevertheless. Solomon grew to despise all his work and all that he had accomplished (as magnificent and beautiful as it was). Why? Read Ecclesiastes 2:18b,19. Solomon hated his work, and he SINFULLY hated it (I would submit) because he feared what would become of it after he died. But I would ask you a question which perhaps you never really considered? Is there a right and biblical sense in which we should hate our work? Actually, there is a proper and biblical sense in which we should HATE our work as well as a biblical sense in which we should LOVE our work.a. First, how should we HATE our work in a way that pleases God? We should HATE our work whenever it becomes the first love of our life, or when we make unethical decisions at work in order to keep our job or in order to move up the ladder. In this sense, Jesus says we are even to hate many other important things in this life: Read Luke 14:26. When it comes to being a faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should so cherish Christ and His promises, Christ and His righteousness, Christ and His love, Christ and His commandments that anything else in life that may compete in our heart for that supreme love and obedience which Christ alone deserves, we turn away from it as if we hated it. Not that we actually hate mother or father, husband or wife, children, brother or sister, our work or our own life, but that we have such a love for Christ that we desire Him and His will more than we desire anything else in this life (Matthew 10:37,38). Dear ones, we must be so jealous of that supreme love we have for Christ above everything else in life that any competing lover is hated in vying for our supreme affection. Let me illustrate it this way.

(1) Those of you who are married, let me ask you: Should you enjoy the flirting of men and women in this world that would seek to turn you from that special love you should have for your wife or husband to other women or men? Or should you not rather be righteously angry that someone even attempted to turn your eyes or your affections from your husband and wife?

(2) And if we should have that unique love for our husband or wife, how much more so for Christ, our first and supreme love. What is there in your life presently that you desire and would sacrifice even obedience to Christ in order to have and to hold? Is it a friend? Is it a family member? Is it a job? Is it financial prosperity? Is it a home in that special location? Is it your health? Is it popularity? Whatever we would forsake our Savior and His commandments in order to enjoy has become a harlot that we are cherishing in our hearts and lives (according to James 4:4). So in this sense Christ commands us to hate our work.b. However, I do not want to leave you with only a right and biblical sense in which you are to hate your work, but I want to leave you also with a proper and biblical sense in which you are to LOVE and to enjoy your work and the fruit of all your labors in this life (Ecclesiastes 2:24). Dear ones, God commanded Adam to work and to till the Garden of Eden even before the fall of man into sin, not as a punishment to bring misery, but as a means of enjoying God and all that with which God had blessed him. Hard work is good for us and God does want us to love and to enjoy our work. For God gives us richly all things in this life to enjoy (including our jobs) according to 1 Timothy 6:17.

(1) Now what if you are not presently doing the kind of work that you would like to do? You can still find joy and contentment in serving the Lord in whatever you are presently doing. You don't have to be miserable. If you are miserable in your present work, it is because you have chosen to be miserable (and likely to make others around you miserable as well). For you can (by God's grace) look to Christ and find your joy and contentment in Him who has you right where He wants you in order to grow you and in order to use you for His glory.

(2) We always seem to think that we would be so much more happy if we were only doing what we really wanted to do in life. Such an attitude only reveals our ignorance and immaturity in not recognizing the sin of discontentment that is active in each of our own hearts. For the grass is always greener any where except for where we presently are. Dear ones, do not deceive yourself into thinking that true joy is found in a particular job. It isn't. True contentment and joy is found in a particular Person (Jesus Christ) who is able to give us a song in our hearts whatever job we are doing.

(3) Paul and Silas had been beaten for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their backs were bleeding and raw from the beating they had just received. They were isolated in a dark, damp, prison. Their feet were in stocks so that they could not find a comfortable position for their body. But there was a song of praise to Christ in their hearts which then flowed out to their tongues (as we see in Acts 16:23-25). And here we are enjoying all of the necessities and many of the comforts of life by means of the job that we have, and we have no song in our hearts, but only bitterness which rises like venom from our hearts to our tongues. Even if we cannot enjoy the kind of work that we are doing or the people that we work with, we can still learn to enjoy Christ in our work. We can still learn to be thankful to Christ for even the crumbs that fall from the table or that same manna that falls from heaven. We can choose to complain about the crumbs and the manna or we can choose to see Christ in the crumbs and in the manna.

c. Now when Solomon says that he had come to hate all his work, clearly it was not in a biblical sense that he hated it. He did not hate his work as Jesus said we should hate anything that competes for that place that Christ alone should hold in our lives as our first love. It was rather in a sinful and unbiblical sense that he had come to hate all his work. Why did Solomon confess that he hated all his work? He says it was because he might leave all that he had worked for to fools. Solomon had set up in his mind sinful expectations concerning his work, namely that his work would bring him a lasting joy in and of itself. And when it did not do so, he hated it.

(1) This is precisely what happens in so many marriages today. A husband has the false expectation that his wife can make him truly happy, and a wife has the unrealistic expectation that her husband can meet all of her needs. And because of these sinful and unrealistic expectations, they soon become utterly frustrated with one another. And then they begin to despise one another and pick one another apart. Hopelessness with regard to the marriage then settles over their minds, and a bitter divorce finally ensues. How did such a beautiful beginning end in such a horrible divorce? If you are expecting your husband or wife to meet all your needs or to make you happy, you are placing more on his/her shoulders than any one mere human being can possibly bear. For only the one true living God has the power to make us truly happy. Only He who is perfectly at peace in heaven, who is completely filled with joy, who needs no one outside of Himself to make Him happy, who is dependent upon no one or nothing for his life, breath, or existence, only He can make us truly happy.

(2) The example of Solomon shouts at us that whenever we look to someone or something in this life to bring that fulfillment and satisfaction to our lives which only Christ can bring, we will likely end up despising and resenting it just as Solomon did his work. Remember that Solomon in his backslidden condition had said earlier in Ecclesiastes 2:10: "And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; FOR MY HEART REJOICED IN ALL MY LABOR; and this was my portion of all my labor." Solomon did find a measure of joy at the outset in his work and in his many accomplishments. But because he sinfully expected he would find a lasting joy and satisfaction in the creature, he deceived himself with a lie and was bitterly disappointed when his new god did not deliver an enduring contentment as he believed it would.

(3) And the way to a deep enduring joy that can face the various storms in life is one of trust in Christ and obedience to Christ. For we cannot be truly happy if we are not united by faith to Him who is the source of real joy. And we cannot be truly happy if we are not desiring and endeavoring to see the holiness of Christ more and more manifested in our lives. The world has lied to us in saying that obedience to Christ and holiness unto the Lord is the surest way to squelch all of our joy in this life. And we have believed that lie to varying degrees. However, dear ones, the road to happiness is called "HOLINESS." Why (I might ask) will we be completely happy IN HEAVEN? Why will all tears be wiped from our eyes IN HEAVEN? Why will all sorrow be blotted out IN HEAVEN? Because God will make us completely holy so that we think no evil, speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil, and do no evil. Disobedience to Christ and His commandments brings misery. Obedience to Christ and His commandments brings contentment and joy. Dear ones, the Lord says that His commandments are not grievous to those who love Him (1 John 5:2). There may be that struggle in our hearts with our own wicked desires to obey the Lord, but God's commandments are not a heavy burden to those who love the Lord. Loving and obeying the Lord may cost us relationships with people. Loving and obeying the Lord may cost us certain pleasures in this life. But loving and obeying the Lord will bring a joy and happiness that no relationship or pleasure on earth can match.

2. Solomon says that all of his worries about who would inherit what he had accomplished in this life did not cause him to enjoy his work, but rather caused him only to see the vanity of his work. All that he had worked so hard to accomplish might in fact be wasted upon the desires and pleasures of a fool.

a. Do you see, dear ones, the underlying problem that Solomon had here and which led to the overwhelming sense of vanity and emptiness? Solomon believed he could control what he possessed. He thought he could command what he possessed to make him happy. He have come to believe that what he possessed was his gift to himself rather than God's gift to him.

b. Dear ones, the thought of leaving our loved ones in death or leaving all of our possessions in death may simply reveal who we really believe owns all that we have. Do we believe and act as if we are the source of all that we possess? If so we will always fear losing it and will cling even more tightly to it for fear of losing it. Or do we believe and act as if God is the source of all that we possess? Do we see ourselves as masters of all that we have or as stewards of all that we have? Do we view ourselves as managing the measure of wealth, gifts, graces, family, and friends that our heavenly Lord and Master has allotted to us? If so, we are not going to fear giving it back to the Lord who gave it all to us in the first place when we die. We are not going to worry about the child who may become a fool in wasting all that we have accomplished. For we know that God sovereignly disposes all these earthly blessings upon whom He wishes. Our duty is simply to be faithful in our use of what the Lord has given us to enjoy and to be faithful in leaving what the Lord has given us to enjoy to those who are walking faithfully in covenant with the Lord. What our heirs may do with their inheritance after we are dead, we need not worry about. Do you worry as though all that you possess belongs to you? Or do you rest as though all that you possess actually belongs to the Lord?

Saturday, March 05, 2005





You are






Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Rewards of Persevering --Take 2

(Elodie went and sent this before I was ready to publish, and then Blogger went and lost the rest of the post when I did re-publish. So here is the complete post, re-posted AGAIN to prove that I have what it takes to persevere!)

Today was a productive day in a number of ways. The kids and I blasted our way through a bunch of grammar, my bed was made and bedroom tidied up as well as the ensuite, I thoroughly cleaned the half bath downstairs, my mudroom/laundry room was spotless, the laundry got done, Garnet did all his homeschooling, I went for a walk in the morning, I had a client in the afternoon, and it looks like he might be interested in becoming a business partner with my husband and I in our rapidly expanding home-based business and most of the housework is completed and it isn't even 7 pm yet.

One of the questions I get from time to time is "how do you do it all?" And then I have to sit down and think, "How DO I do it all?"

There was a time when I didn't do it all and I couldn't have managed the amount of children or work that I am doing now. When I only had one child, learning to manage her and my other duties consumed my time. Then 14 months later, another baby was added, and again I was stretched to accomodate two little people plus all the work they caused on top of looking after my home, cooking, etc. I didn't have the benefit of grandparents who were able to help out because they were 3 000 miles away. In addition, we moved around a lot which meant not being able to get to know anyone well enough to feel safe leaving the girls with them while I ran errands or went on a date with my husband. My husband also spent a lot of time away from home due to work, so single parenting was often something I had to do.

We hit critical mass when baby #6 was born and I had 3 in diapers (all cloth, the kind you had to fold) and my eldest was 9. At that point, I was not only doing most of the cleaning (with the children learning to do dishes and easy chores), I was also doing a load of diapers daily, several loads of other laundry, all the cooking, most of the cleaning, homeschooling, and baking bread and all other foods from scratch (meaning grinding the flour, etc.) and managing a garden. The pace was exhausting and somehow homeschooling was done in between it all. It was about this time that I began to read books on home management and to try and find ways to streamline what it is that I had to do. Books like Side-Tracked Home Executives (the same system adapted by the Fly Lady), and Don Aslett's Make Your House Do the Housework, were read and devoured and applied by yours truly. I also took his words about de-cluttering to heart and to this day try not to keep around things that are not being used on a regular basis because they only create more work in keeping them nice, storing , and cleaning them.

A few years ago I found out what all this sort of activity forced me into when my husband took an extended trip across Canada with four of my boys. All of a sudden, the number of hands I had available to help with chores went down, but so did the work. The laundry load dropped, the amount of food needed to feed people fell, as did the dishes and all sorts of other things. Cleaning the house with only five children left at home, including a toddler and baby, was a breeze and it was amazing how fast and easy it was to accomplish this. I was able to clean a
3 000 square foot home in half of the time it took me to clean a 1000 foot condo with only two children back in my young mothering days. In other words, I had grown into the job as it had grown, and the hardships and hard work had served to make me more efficient and proficient at what I was doing.

Another thing that happened along the way was that a lot of the fear and angst about babyhood and toddlers fell by the wayside as I became more experienced with having babies around. Instead, all my anxiety was reserved for the teen years, and I can honestly say that it has only been in the last few months that even that is beginning to give way as my husband and I have gained experience and counsel from those who have gone before us. Bear in mind, that it has taken us five teens to get to this point. Short of booting all the children out at the age of 13, we have had to persevere in learning the skills necessary for raising teens.

To sum up what I am trying to say: mothers and fathers should take encouragement from the fact that they can learn to be proficient at being parents and all round citizens if they stick with it. As a wise friend once told me, the only way to fail at this is to quit.
What to Post when You have No Topic

This came to me via Samantha, who got it from Donna, who got it from Julie D...

1. Grab the nearest book
2. Open the book to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it. Just grab what is closest!

"The crazy thing is that our father always said that he loved us, but he could be so hurtful. I have a brother who is quite heavy, and he'd ridicule him in front of people. He'd say some terrible things to him."

The above is from the book, When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection by Gabor Mate, M.D.

I am trying to increase my knowledge of the biochemical changes that stress places upon the body as well as learning about effective ways of dealing with it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Mental Bric a Brac

This blog post is probably going to be my "rapidwrite" equivalent to what Samantha does, except that I like to put in paragraph breaks to denote a change of subject matter and I can't quite free myself up to just let it all go. At least not yet.

Lately I got into a bit of hot-water on one of my lists (what else is new? sigh) by stating that I hate homeschooling and would rather stick pins in my eyes than teach small children to read. The obviously un-pinned state of my eyes should tell people how seriously I really am about hating this particular chore, btw. When I sat down to really analyze it, it isn't really hatred that I feel for homeschooling. Instead frustration would probably be a more accurate term to use. The frustration stems, not from the homeschooling itself, but rather having to homeschool in combination with doing laundry, cooking, cleaning the house, planning meals, errands, deal with toddlers who table dance where we are doing schoolwork, being pregnant and wanting to sleep in the middle of a lesson, finding lost books and tools needed for a particular subject, and running two home-based businesses on the side. I like to be focus in on what I do and naturally tend to being project oriented. The often fractured nature of trying to do multiple things all at the same time and not being able to give my mind over completely to one of them is very trying for me and any sense of accomplishment I may feel on any given day. One of the reasons I prefer to do housework instead of homeschooling is that it is often mindless work that allows me to focus on doing a good job in cleaning, while still contemplating interesting things or listening to good music or informational radio or tapes while I do it. It is a form of productive meditation if you will.

Despite the fractured nature of our homeschool, when I was taking stock of things the other day I found that I am not doing as badly as I feared I was. I was reminded of the fact that when my daughters went to highschool, they had to be tested because the schools didn't know what to do with them. They tested in third year university levels in some of their subjects, which surprised all of us quite greatly. Patricia landed a job as a store manager for a shoe store when she was 19 and has been quite successful at it. Trista is now a mother of two, but she was a supervisor when she was working in some of her jobs despite her tender years, and her diligence has always been a welcome aspect when it comes to getting employment. Nathanael, who is 18, is now a foreman for the landscaping company he works for and will be in charge of a work crew on his own this summer. He's also completing his highschool through a local flex-time program at the community college. He managed to get 92% on his trigonometry test despite not having any tutoring from the teachers nor really displaying an interest or aptitude for math in previous years. Benjamin, who is almost 17, is a favored employee at the local forestry nursery because he is a hard and diligent worker. They tend to call him before even some of the more experienced workers.

Call me slow, but I finally figured out one of the ways to alleviate my homeschool fractured frustration. Instead of trying to do half a dozen subjects every day, I am focusing on just one or two until we get large chunks of it done. The past week we finished up some social studies work, we are almost completed a year's worth of spelling lessons, and I intend to blast our way through the grammar work this week. All this is in preparation for sending in some sample work for the purpose of getting it graded for report cards through the E Bus program we are using this year. In fact, I am seriously contemplating on sticking with a few subjects over the summer in order to get a leg up on next years work. After we finish the spelling and grammar, we are going to do some intensive stuff on creative writing and focus on science experiments for the rest of the year. My goal is to have all the work completed by the end of May so that I don't have to think of school while I am getting ready to have this baby.

Garnet, my five year old is now counting to 100 by one's, can count by 10's and is working on counting by 5's. He is also reading and his printing is coming along nicely. Tamara is our spelling whiz. It isn't uncommon for her to get almost all her spelling words correct on the pretest. Bethany has finally been bitten by the reading bug and has been gobbling up Patricia St. John novels in her spare time. Elodie, at 2 has already learned how to count and spits out the occasional bit of knowledge that has us wondering when and where she picked it up.

Anyhow, I don't feel so bad about my homeschooling as I used to. It seems to be working, even if it is lamer and I'm more frazzled than I would like it to be. With the older children, I have often fretted because I hadn't seen them applying themselves to their work the way I would have liked to. In each one of their cases, the real self-motivated learning started to happen when they found some motivation outside of getting a nagging mother off their case that helped them get going. It is hard work trying to drag reluctant learners over the finish line. However, when they catch the vision for themselves, it is hard to hold them back, and all the effort goes out of it. You just stand there and try not to eat too much of their dust as they whizz by.

When I really think about it, I am a product of homeschooling despite the 12 years I spent in the public school system. Most of the most useful and important learning I have had took place in the environment of my own home through a variety of means like correspondance schools. I am currently enrolled in a nutrition course through the University of Miami's School of Medicine, for instance. I also have done applied nutrition courses, continuing education courses for medical professionals, and am studying anatomy and physiology on my own time through books I have picked up here and there. I have a midwifery course that I worked through part time, did doula training in labor support, apprenticed as a midwife's second attendant for a short time, took a neonatal resuscitation course (but wasn't allowed to write the exam because of medical politics of the time -- others were able to do so later, but I was pregnant again and opted not to take it over), have studied herbology on my own time, learned how to read medical studies and sort fact from fiction and junk science from valid studies. In short, I am a homeschool student myself. Homeschooling must not stink so badly or I guess I wouldn't do so much of it personally. Hopefully some of this practical example will rub off on the kids and they will do the same. I am also hoping that some of the shortcuts in housekeeping and home managment will help them to be more organized than I was when I first started out. I have had to learn to streamline my methods and plan ahead in order to accomplish everything I want to do in a day. If nothing else, they will have a leg up in getting things in order so that they don't have to figure out how to do it all .

Anyhow, I was going to write more on other topics, but I have run out of time and need to get back to the grammar.