One Day’s Trouble Met With One Day’s Mercies

Today was our first day of school. It went well, overall. We dove in, there was nothing else for it.

After a pep talk given by me (and for me, if I’m being honest) about committing our year to “work heartily as to the Lord,” even in multiplication tables and lamentable fractions, and encouragement that we’ve been given a Helper and Comforter called the Holy Spirit who helps us turn from anger and frustration to working heartily as to the Lord, we began.

Sometimes when things go well it’s as daunting as when they go poorly. The kids did well, and in that, they showed me what a “good” day is going to take. It takes a lot–a lot of time, a lot of patience and a lot of sticktoitiveness. By the end, I was sapped and wondering what a bad day might do to me.

Then I remembered Matthew 6, “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” A day’s worth of trouble is all I can do, even if it’s only a good day’s worth of trouble. And I remembered Lamentations, “His mercies are new every morning.” New, clean mercies for old, rotten troubles.

The troubles just seem to recycle themselves and I just keep being troubled by them, even knowing there is nothing new under the sun. But the mercies aren’t recycled. They’re new–fresh mercy and grace from the cross everyday. God grants “grace to help in our time of need.”

There are times when I’d like to short circuit the whole thing and and have the two somehow cancel each other out in perpetuity, so that I don’t have to deal with the trouble or applying the mercy! But that’s not the Christian life. The Christian life is day after day, step after step, a plodding (sometimes racing! whee!) kind of life–not coasting, legs going up and down.

Trouble is part of the deal, so is mercy and grace. So today I face the trouble and triumphs of today and I receive the mercy  and grace for the present moment from a God who makes the earth spin around everyday, and causes the tides to move everyday, and makes flowers bloom everyday, and makes our hearts beat every second and does a million other repetitive glorious things.

I imitate His constancy in the repetitive everyday work of facing trouble and receiving daily grace and mercy. Make this sinner faithful, Lord, because of your steadfast-everyday-fresh-repetitive-irresistible love.

1st Day of Homeschool 2012. Elianna-K; Eliza-3rd; Seth-1st (Evangeline, not pictured, in the School of Napping and Potty-Training par Excellence).

curriculum review: Explode the Code

We’ve been using the Explode the Code series of workbooks this year.

Explode the Code, Book 1   -              By: Nancy Hall

Eliza has completed book 1 and 2 and is halfway through book 3.  I ordered them as a supplement to the language/phonics program we would be doing when we started last fall and they quickly became a primary tool for us.

I would not say ETC is a comprehensive program for phonics or spelling, but it does cover those disciplines in wonderful bite-sized ways.  It also gives your child handwriting practice.

ETC assumes when you start book 1 that your child knows their consonant sounds, but does a brief review of them in the beginning of the book.  It then moves to the vowel sound ‘a’ and, by the end of book 1, covers all the vowels, with the child spelling short one-syllable words from the get go and progressively incorporating the new vowel sounds.

Book 2 covers initial consonant blends and final consonant blends.  Book 3 reiterates all the skills taught so far and moves on to one-syllable words ending with a long vowel (such as -y and silent -e words).  It also teaches digraphs (-sh, -th, -wh, -ch, -ng, -ck) and trigraphs (-tch, -ee-ea, -ai-ay, and -oa-ow).

Also, there are Explode the Code primers which teach the consonant sounds in order to prepare for the basic Explode the Code.  Furthermore they have ETC books 1 1/2 and 2 1/2, etc.  These in between books provide extra practice for the student who needs it.

The ETC series has 8 books total that range from dipthongs, word families, three letter blends, soft c and g and suffixes/endings.  I’m not sure if we’ll continue on with it or not, but for this Kindergarten year, ETC has been invaluable for phonics reinforcement and basic spelling.

The workbooks are not overwhelming.  The pages are easy to complete and really boost the child’s confidence.  Eliza has felt very competent to work in them independently and we have found 2 pages per day to be manageable and suit our needs.

If you have a preschool, kindergarten or 1st grade student (depending on their abilities) these first Explode the Code books may be useful for you to check out.

the rich young man and the widow's mite

I listened to Pastor John’s message to the graduating seniors at Bethlehem, given a couple weeks ago. 

It was the title that caught me (simply, Remember the Rich Young Man) and I am glad I went ahead and listened to it.  I think it would be a good sermon to give to young marrieds, or mid-lifers.  Call it a course correction sermon, rather than a launching pad one.

If you want a vision cast for your life that values what’s valuable: CHRIST; and is able to let go of what’s not: money, listen to this message.  

At the end of this sermon I felt great fear.  Fear that money could be holding my affection in ways I’m not aware of, or in ways that I think I’m “over.”  I should be afraid to be rich.  Not that being rich is wrong.  But I think the quickness with which I understand wealth as reward rather than as a minefield of ego-puffing danger is revealing of my heart.

I’m thankful to have some great examples around me of what it’s like to have wealth without having a grasp on it.  One example is Pastor John, who takes no royalties or money from Desiring God ministry.  Another is a good friend and elder who owns successful businesses, but only takes a certain amount in income and gives the rest away.  

He also gives away his time in serving at the church; he works four days a week at “work” and devotes his other time to ministry.  Finally, my parents are a good example as they share all they have with others and are quick to give to let possessions pass through their hands.  

But the examples to the contrary are more numerous than can be counted.

 It is our whole culture.  Wealth is status; nice things are addicting, and Christians compete on these levels more than we could possibly recognize.  So, I’m thankful for Pastor John’s message.  I might just go get some sh-lack, a dollar bill and a piece of wood.  (That will make sense if you listen to it).

Here’s sermon jam with a related message:

And, finally, I got a “widow’s mite” sent to me in the mail.  It came to me with my homeschool curriculum.  It is to be a reminder of the sacrifice that a mother gives (meaning all she has, just like the poor widow) to instruct and love her children in the ways of the Lord.

I want to love and instruct my children in a way that makes Christ appear as valuable as He is.  And I am willing to give it all to that end.  I want to live all of life that way.  

Oh that I could bring glory to God in some small but significant way, I would have more than the richest man in the world and my widow’s mite would be multiplied a million times over.