Category Archives: Just Life

A Needed Adjustment in Perspective

On Friday we had a speech evaluation for the Cheesedoodle. Getting help for school aged children is more difficult here, but the therapist who has been seeing the Snickerdoodle had agreed to evaluate Cheesedoodle in order to give me tools to help him continue with his speech development. Her words to me at the end of it were an amazing answer to prayer.

She said, “If I didn’t know his history, I would have told you he has no speech issues. He is in the normal spectrum for speech development for a 6 year old.”

“But people still don’t always understand him!” I said.

She leaned across the table, and looked into my mothering soul and said, “He is small for his age, and he is six. People are expecting him to tell them about baseball, or hockey, or his pet dog. They are not expecting him to explain static electricity to them. He is just fine. Keep doing what you are doing. He is an amazing boy.”

So I can hear the chorus of praises from across the continent as people who have prayed for and loved my little boy. This is such a great thing to hear, after all the work and the struggles. It was also exactly what I need to hear at the end of this second full year of home schooling. “He’s fine. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

The truth is, I have spent the last two years feeling ill equipped and unprepared for these uncharted educational waters. I spent three years freaking out about Moriah’s birthday and cut-off dates for school and getting her in the right place. Now we’re homeschooling, where the grades don’t matter. Half of her friends don’t even know what grade they’re in, and no one cares. She’s fine. We’re going to keep  doing what we’re doing.

On the way home, the snickerdoodle was in the back seat singing, “2+2 is 4, 3+3 is 6, 4+4 is 8, 5+5 is ten, 6+6 is Idon’tknow, 7+7 is Idon’tknow, . . . ” She just turned five. I can’t freak out about the “I don’t know”s, when the sane realization is She’s fine. Just keep doing what we’re doing.

In the midst of the weight and lack of definition of homeschooling, it was really nice to have a neutral, non-homeschooling party reassure me that my kids are doing fine, and we should keep doing what we are doing.

 


For Your Entertainment: A Story I Did Not Write

039Today we drove to St. Andrews and St. Stephen with our friend Miriam and had a wonderful day. While eating lunch in the Ganong Nature Park, our middle doodle (and only son) looked at this building  and asked, “Who’s house is that?”

Jonathan answered, “I don’t know. Let’s make up a story about it. I think it was the home of a Ganong Aunt, who would wander these trails seeking her only love who was lost at sea.”

Mackerdoodle: “And then, one day, he came back and found her, and brought her a special present.”

Cheesedoodle: “Her very own sea turtle.”

Miriam: “And she was very upset that it wasn’t a ring.”

 


A Break With Tradition

It is the beginning of 2015 and I have been in the habit of ringing in the New Year by posting a retrospective of posts from the past year. This year, however, is better remembered by the things I didn’t post than the ones I did. 

If I were to pick a single post from 2014 to summarize the year, I think it would be this one from last March in which I ask the question “How do homeschooling bloggers do it?” Every church to which we have belonged since 2004 has had a school, so I assumed that the pattern would continue. I never thought I would be educating my children at home, and I think much of 2014 has been a year of adjusting to that new reality, and realizing how often I had assumed I would have more time to write after Jonathan finished with seminary. Turns out that was a flawed assumption.

In the summer there was the garden to keep me busy, and then Jonathan was being examined and licensed by Presbytery and then he was installed as the minister. We bought a house and tore out the carpet and we’re still putting the floor back. More to do. No time to write.

In addition, in September I began working as an evaluator for Tree of Life school. I am grading seventh and eighth grade writing assignments, which is certainly not a stretch for me. Now, often when I pick up my computer thinking that I may carve out a minute or two for writing, I see Mike’s face in my head and hear him saying, in an excellent Ricky Ricardo accent, ” Coralie. you got some grading to do!” To be clear, he has never, ever said those words to me in any accent (including his own), but you get the idea. More teaching. Less writing.

2014 can best be remembered in the silence of the blog and how the Lord has been teaching me contentment with what is, not what I think it should be.


A Pity Party and a Pretty Party

I have been in a bit of a pity party lately. We’re rapidly approaching the anniversary of our mid winter, mid-blizzard move here to the frozen north, and that is a difficult time for me. All of the novelty of moving has worn off. You know where to buy tuna and tires and you have a general idea of where neighborhoods and major streets lie, but information transmits so much faster than relationships, and right about now I always remember that real friendships take about three years to form. Over the last two weeks I was feeling misunderstood, and unneeded and generally lonely as activity and life in the church seemed to pass me completely by.

Turns out, a few of the ladies were planning me a surprise 40th birthday party, four months after my actual birthday, because . . . SURPRISE. It was sweet and beautiful and Bob cooked piles of bacon, and there was a TARDIS card. It was pretty perfect.

One of my favorite families moved to Colorado this summer, and as I read about their journey into a new state, a new culture and a new season of their life, I was slapped past my pity party. I have been so blessed, as all pastoral families are, to be dropped into the midst of a church family who loves us, who wants us, and who is eager to begin building those friendships. Most people move somewhere without that head start to relationship building. To say that I have been lonely is to completely deny the overwhelming love and welcome we have received here. Sure I don’t have the depth of relationship with people that two more, or six more, or seventeen more years of living and serving and praying alongside folks will give me; but I have 11 months of relationship, and a surprise party, which is more than most people get 11 months after a move.


This is All New to Me

I grew up with snow. Despite my protestations about cold, I was born and raised a northern girl, and I have snow experience. I know how to get a truck out of a snow bank. I have been to bonfire/sledding parties. I have skated on lakes. I am not a stranger to this season we call winter.

I have never, however, experienced a first snowfall that lasted twenty-four hours and resulted in an accumulation of fourteen inches of snow until this week. It is like someone flipped a switch from “autumn” to “winter” and shouted “ready or not, here it comes.” Turns out, not ready.

This New Brunswick weather is all new to me. This is going to take some adjustment.


Some Reflections on Providential Provision

Tonight, for the first time in my life, I served a meal in which not a single ingredient (unless you count the salt and pepper) was purchased in a store. We had roasted potatoes and carrots from our garden, corn from the Budd’s garden and one of “our” chickens. I hesitate to entirely claim those chickens, as Owen and Aimee put in most of the hard labor to raise them; nevertheless, they have never seen the inside of a grocery store. For dessert we had watermelon, also from the Budds. You’ve heard of the 100 mile diet? Tonight we had the 10 mile meal.

When we lived in St. Louis, I shopped at ALDI to make the food stamps stretch as far as they could. I have no idea where that food was farmed or grown, but we thanked the Lord for it all the same. In that place and situation we were trying to be the best stewards of the provision the Lord had granted us, and we are trying to do the same thing here.

Tonight as we prayed “give us today our daily bread” with the children, the Lord brought to mind all the ways in which His provision of daily food has changed over the years. The details of the daily bread has been different in every place, but the principle of dependence upon the Lord has remained.  The way the Lord provides, and the decisions we make about how to use that provision, is not only different from person to person, but from circumstance to circumstance; however, it is always, and only, the Lord who provides.

For that provision, in whatever form it comes, may we be forever grateful.


Some Thoughts on Privilege and Prosperity

Having read Little House in the Big Woods, my mackerdoodle has now, in her trademark fashion, begun peppering me with questions that begin with, “If Laura Ingalls were here, what would she think of [insert random place/item/event here.]?” It is a thought provoking way of looking at the world, and it has opened my eyes to the levels of extravagant opulence in which we really live.

For instance, we have a large number of whole chickens sitting in a freezer in our garage, just waiting to be eaten at our convenience. They are joined by a large selection of bagged, frozen vegetables. I don’t have to salt or smoke or dry things in order to preserve them for the winter ahead. I just freeze them and thaw them later. This has only been a reliable form of food preservation for less than 100 years, and is still not available to the parts of the world in which electricity is largely unreliable. What a tremendous luxury! Ma Ingalls would have loved such an option in her many cabins.

The house we are renting sits on 25ish acres and since the hay has been cut, the children have been flying kites up in the fields where the wind comes off the valley and the highway and goes for a run behind the house. In most of human history, and indeed, in most of the contemporary world, having that much land left open for luxuries like flying kites, is a privilege reserved for monarchs and despots, not the children of country preachers.

School has started for us this week and as I sat down with my plans and my goals and my new books, I realized that this, too, is a luxury. For a family to be able to dedicate one parent to the education of the children is a sign of our relative and societal wealth. It does not require all members of the family to labor for most of the day just to provide the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing. Instead we can read and write and learn together of times and places in which it has not been so. A machine washes our clothes as we read about wind and build kites to fly in our opulent meadow. I take food from my freezer for lunch instead of walking to the market to barter what we have for a little bit of what we may need. The children can sit at my feet and complain lightly about their tasks instead of spending their days searching out clean (or less dirty) water to bring back to the family, or searching for fuel to keep the fire lit so that we can cook and clean and live. What a privilege. What a luxury.

I have been busy for a few days, and grumbling in my tasks. I have resented the tasks as onerous, instead of seeing the extraordinary prosperity they represent. I have coveted while all the time living a life that someone like Ma Ingalls would have not been able to imagine, let alone wish for. The Lord has inexplicably placed me in a time and place of milk and honey, and I grumble that I cannot “sit by the meat pots and eat bread.” The Lord has used my mackerdoodle’s questions to remind my grumbling, covetous heart of the true lavishness of His provision to me, and that, in all things, is the greatest privilege of all.