Friday, July 30, 2010

No Ordinary View

Book Review: No Ordinary View, by Naomi Reed

About a year ago I read and reviewed My Seventh Monsoon, by Naomi Reed. I came back to it a few months ago because I was working through Ecclesiastes and recalled that she had structured her book around the seasons of life, just like the writer of Ecclesiastes does in chapter 3. I enjoyed reading it again just as much as the first time.

It has been my plan this year to also read her follow-up book, No Ordinary View. Partly because I loved the first book and wanted to see what happened, but also because she is one of the speakers at next year’s CMS-SA Summer Encounter and I wanted to read it before I heard her speak.

This book retells the three years she and her family spent in Nepal, serving as cross-cultural workers training native physiotherapists. Her husband did most of the training, and she primarily home-schooled their 3 boys. All of this took place in a country suffering civil war, poverty and monsoons of continuous rain lasting for months.

She has a real gift for recounting events in a way that is both interesting and engaging, and then reflecting and seeing what she learnt about God in that time, what He taught her and how she grew.

In the middle of their term, she found herself becoming increasingly dissatisfied with things, including the requirements of home schooling – she found herself desiring patience:
As I fixed my eyes on the horizon, I was aware of only one thought. “You can desire it. You can ask for it. You can break down and cry out load. But that’s not how you get patience. The only way to grow in patience is to walk a path where patience is required. It comes when it’s practiced.” There were no easy answers. There were no easy solutions. I breathed in deeply and returned to the stage where I would learn it. (p84)
I found her honesty refreshing. While my challenges in life are far less, I return to this thought often as I parent and I reflect on the patience required in such a role. It’s been very helpful.

The civil war came very close to them at times, requiring evacuation from their home. This taught her that she had come to treat her home as a place of refuge rather than God:
And then as I sat there that morning, I realised that in most part, I had put my confidence in almost everything but the Almighty God. I hadn’t normally admitted to it, I had just done it very quietly. I had put my confidence in my home, my husband, my profession, my own ability to problem solve. But mostly, I had put my confidence in my home. I had though that my home was my refuge. I had thought that the walls could keep out the enemy and provide us with a place of safety. I thought that I could be confident as long as I was within my home. [then they evacuated] … I realised that it was the first time that God alone was my refuge. My home had become as unsafe place to be, but in losing my home, I had found refuge in God. And I realised in that moment, I exchanged the theoretical understanding of his presence to the comfort of the tangible. (p119)

They also climbed some of Everest, which again made her think about her spiritual journey:
As I stared out at the physical path ahead, the parallels with my spiritual journey spoke to me. If in my walk with God I have a destination, then right now today, I’m further along the road that I was yesterday… As I sat facing the tallest mountain in the world and thinking about the route to its summit, I was reminded that the route I walk with God is also a path, a path with both a beginning and a destination. And the destination is important. It’s the only answer that counts. Heaven. (p131)

It’s a great read, very interesting and at times quite exciting. But, as I said, it’s her reflections of the events of their lives that really got me thinking. Well worth a read.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Calvin - Chapter 8

Chapter 8: So far as human reason goes, sufficiently firm proofs are at hand to establish the credibility of scripture*

Calvin starts by saying scripture is superior to all human wisdom. When we read it, we cannot help be swept away by what it is saying – not the eloquence or the writing, but rather its grand and sweeping content – God. No other writings can affect us in the way the bible does:
so deeply will is affect you, so penetrate your hearts, so fix itself in your very marrow, that … it is easy to see that the Sacred Scriptures, which so far surpass all gifts and graces of human endeavour, breathe something divine (Ch 8, pt 1, p 82).
Do you ever feel that when you have spent time in the bible? God’s word is overwhelmingly powerful.

Calvin goes on to deal with some common objections to the credibility of scripture, starting with numerous examples from the OT. He then covers the NT, the witness of the church and the martyrs willing to die for the doctrines of scripture. See Cathy’s post for some of the details here, I like her summary. In the end, the conclusion he made in chapter 7 remains – only the work of the Holy Spirit within us can convince us that scripture is the word of God.
Scripture will ultimately suffice for a saving knowledge of God when its certainty is founded upon the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit … those who wish to prove to unbelievers that Scripture is the Word of God are acting foolishly, for only by faith can this be known. (Ch 8, pt 13, p92)
Upon reflection, I have found this argument more comforting than I did in Chapter 7. The Holy Spirit must convict people that the bible is God’s word. I cannot do it by powers of persuasion or reason. God alone works that change. Perhaps we should be praying more that God changes people’s hearts, rather than praying that we have the right words to say to them.




(* this is a very delayed post, we were supposed to cover ch 8 in May, then June for the slackers…! I will do posts on ch 9 & 10 in the next few weeks too – then I’ll feel more up to date!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Raising kids with God at the centre - intro

Before we kick off with the ways we want to raise our children with God at the centre, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of some key things:

1. God is in control

God is fully, completely sovereign. He provides what our children need and he takes care of them.

God alone is the one who will act in our children’s hearts to lead them to a saving faith. As parents we want to be faithful in teaching our children about God, his world and his word. However, in the end God will work in their lives and they will respond to him, or not.

For those of us who are at more of the ‘control’ end of the spectrum, this can terrify us, because we would love to be able to guarantee the faith of our children by the amount we teach them. However, in reality this is freeing, because we can rest in the fact that God is in control, and our children’s response to God is ultimately between them and God, and not up to us (however scary that may be).


2. God loves our children more than we do

Really! He cares about them more than we do and he grieves more than we do when they turn astray. This helps us to trust God – he knows what he is doing, even though we may not be able to see how.


3. We (as parents) are not alone

As parents we are the main teachers and role models for our children, but we cannot do it all nor are we expected to. We are part of a community – be it extended family, church and/or friends. Our children will (hopefully) also learn the things of God at church, at some schools, from some family & friends.

For those of us who are godparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, we form a team with parents to help them raise children as part of a community.


4. It’s never too late to start

Don’t feel like you have missed out and it’s too late to teach your children about Jesus, it’s not. You can start today teaching your children the things of God.


5. Our families are unique

Think about your family when you teach them about God. We are a ‘book’ family – we love reading. So, we make sure we have lots of good books to read which teach our children about God.

Your family might be different. You might love the outdoors, and you use that to teach about God’s amazing creation. You might be musical or artistic and you can use that to start teaching children about the creativity that God gives to people.

Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking "we aren’t like them, so we can’t do that". When you read Noel Piper’s Treasuring God in Our Traditions, you find out that John Piper writes poems to each of his children for their birthdays. I could read that and think "we would never do that, my husband would never do that – we’re not like them, it’s all too hard". Do what works for your family.

The circumstances of our families will also mean that children learn things at different times. For example, in a family where someone is very sick, children may well learn to be caring and compassionate quicker than another family. A family who earn a lot of money may well need to focus on service and generosity sooner. Obviously, we want to eventually teach about all of these things, but the way we do it may change with circumstance.



In all of these things, we need to remember to trust God. He is in control of all things and he loves our children, in whatever circumstance they are in. Therefore, we need to remember to pray to him about the children in our lives.


***

The next three posts will outline the 3 goals that I suggest we want for our children, and they will be the way we plan to keep God at the centre of our families.

The goals are that our children:
  1. Grow up in the knowledge and love of God as their heavenly Father, & Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour
  2. Mature in godliness; including character, speech & attitude
  3. Develop a life-time habit of bible reading, prayer and church attendance


Next post: # 1 – Growing up in the knowledge and love of God as their heavenly Father, & Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour

Monday, July 26, 2010

Raising kids with God at the centre

Raising kids with God at the centre - new series

I did a seminar a few months ago, titled Raising kids with God at the centre. I have now turned it into a blog series. There are 6 posts, which will be posted over the coming weeks.

It was designed both for parents of young children (babies to primary school) and others involved in the lives of young children (grandparents, godparents, and aunts/uncles). Actually, it was at a women’s conference, so I angled it at mothers, grandmothers, godmothers and aunts. But it’s applicable to both men and women!

Stay tuned...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sleep, glorious sleep

Change #4

I came to a sudden realisation about 2 months ago - we are all sleeping!

We all sleep through the night and we all sleep in to a reasonable hour in the morning (after 6:30am).

This has not occurred since 2003, but now it seems we are finally there.

Those of you who are also parents of young children may either be rejoicing with me, because you know what I am talking about; or grinding your teeth in annoyance and perhaps a little envious, because you also know what I am talking about.

People used to say "you will sleep again - one day". I struggled to wonder when that would be. And all of a sudden, we are here too - the land of unbroken (mostly) sleep, a regular 7-8 hours overnight, and a slow wakeup in the morning to little happy voices playing out the back, rather than crying or screaming.

Ah, sleep - I missed you - it's so nice to have you back.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Only one child at home

Change #3

To be honest, this is the change that I am most apprehensive about. Now that Mr 7 and Miss 5, I have only Miss 2 at home.

I find the pre-schooling years very hard work, enjoyable they are - but also tough. My suspicion has often been that the school years will be ones we really enjoy and so far with Mr 7 that has proven to be the case. It’s probably not ‘school’ so much, but the added development, maturity and thought that a child over 5 has, compared with the under 5s.

Miss 2 has had playmate siblings at home since she was born, and she will especially miss Miss 5 now that she has gone to school. That means I am now the playmate. I wish I could say that it fills me with joy, but it doesn’t really – I have always struggled with pre-schooler play: the pretending, the dress ups, playdough, painting, etc.

So, here are my thoughts about the next few years:
  • My main prayer points for myself will be for patience and contentment, knowing that these will the areas I will be tested in.
  • We have decided not to ‘overschedule’ our time. It is very tempting to enrol in dance, kindergym and swimming classes so that we don’t have to fill in so much free time together. However, that is not beneficial for Miss 2 (I think) and definitely not necessary. We might do one activity like this together, but not yet. Realistically, with bible study, mothers group and other things, the week can actually fill up quite fast.
  • I want to use some of our time to catch up with friends. Coincidentally, I have a lot of friends that will also soon have only 1 or 2 children at home (who are close to the same age as Miss 2), and other friends whose eldest or only child is the same age as her. I hope to use that time to strengthen those friendships for her, and also me with their mums.
  • I discovered some time ago that you do not have to be a mum who loves everything. Having realised that playing with playdough drives me nuts, I no longer make it. Having realised painting creates a lot of stress, I don’t get it out. In our house you “play with playdough at crèche and you paint at kindy”. It’s OK not to do everything.
  • We will continue to have ‘rest time’. 1 hour of ABC2 or DVD time after lunch, rest time for Miss 2 and rest time for me. We will also continue to have ‘daycare day’, otherwise known as ‘Mummy’s mental health day’.
  • One wise friend told me to turn these few years into a more indulgent time. Take them out for lunch. Go have a coffee. Go on a bus trip. Do fun things together that you didn't do (due to money or ease) with more kids at home.
  • I will keep reminding myself how much easier things are with one child. One child who doesn’t need a day sleep. One child who can walk everywhere. One child who doesn’t need a pram. One child who can climb in and out of her own carseat. One child who can feed herself. One child who can talk and tell me she is hungry, thirsty or tired.

So, this is what have I decided:

We will have fun together. We will go to the zoo. We will go to the park. We will play with friends. We will play together. We will do craft (when I can handle it!). We will talk about things just the two of us. We will do some little bible studies aimed at her level, not the level of her older siblings. We will read books together. And we will have fun Mummy & Miss time, because we will never get the time back again.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Running

Change #2

Over the last 6 months I have started running. For those that have not known me for long, this may not seem like a big deal, but some of you out there know that it really is. I used to hate running.

Yet I have continued to search for exercise options. The gym is less and less appealing because of the effort to get there and the volume of the music. The pool is only open 6 months of the year. However, the river and the tracks along it are there all year round – quiet and free.

I started walking almost every day about 9 months ago, to deal with some ongoing health and pain issues. As we moved into summer, the walking was boring me a little, so I started running occasionally. The running has steadily increased and now I am running.

I’m not sure I would go so far as to say I am now a “runner”, but I am definitely “running”. I regularly run 4km, but have managed to stretch it out to 6.5km on a good day. The aim is to go 3-4 times a week.

Some things I have discovered are:
  • I am really enjoying it. Surprise of all surprises!
  • I run much better before lunch or mid-afternoon. I do not even try to go early morning, I want my sleep and at the moment it’s too cold. Therefore, some careful management of when Husband can be home to mind the kids is required.
  • Husband will do almost anything to enable me to do exercise – he knows how good it is for me, both physically and mentally and he will make it happen. Reminds me of this chapter in for women only.
  • I need to keep listening to new things. A song playlist bores me after a while – although does provide some good beats at times to keep you going! I am now choosing to listen to audiobooks or sermons. My mind has to focus on something other than the running.
  • I can now do something I previously thought was impossible (ie. run for 30-45 mins non-stop). Helps to give the self-confidence a boost at times!
  • I need to stop expecting dramatic body shape changes as a result – nothing appears to have changed at all. However, my pain issues are decreased, which is much more important.
  • I need motivation. I have a friend in Sydney who has started running, and another friend here who regularly runs >10kms - she confided that she only started running when she was 35. I kept thinking that they could do it, and so could I – and it’s true, I can! So, if you need motivation also, feel free to use me, think to yourself: “Wendy managed it, I can too”
  • I have a little goal: to run in a fun run (6kms) in a few months. My friend from Sydney may well join me and that would be great fun to do it together. Even if it doesn’t work out, I know now that I could do it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another child at school

Change #1

My daughter, Miss 5, started school yesterday. Now I find myself with more children at school than children at home. She has been very excited, so I am not suspecting it will be a dramatic adjustment for her, but it’s going to take some getting used to for me.

We said goodbye to her ‘minis’ carers on the last Tuesday of last term – this is the program for pre-schoolers at the ladies bible study group I attend. It was a poignant moment for me as I explained to her that she has been coming with me to that group for her entire life, first in a pram and sitting with me as a little baby, moving into crèche at 6 months, then onto minis at age 3. She has always loved it and always been happy to go. She is our first child born in Adelaide, so it feels somehow more significant that these things she has been doing with me for her whole 5 years are now finished.

It will also take a more concerted effort this term to settle her into school. I never needed to be very involved with any of Mr 7’s reading or spelling as he grasped it all very quickly. I suspect Miss 5 will not be quite the same, so there will be more of an adjustment as I need to listen to readers, help with spelling practice, etc.

I am also recalling just how tired Mr 7 was in the first few terms of him starting school, so I am preparing myself for that – and the need to have very quiet afternoons and weekends until we get into the swing of it all again.

Hard to imagine I am now the mum of 2 school kids!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Back again!

Well, I’m back online. In the end I took 2 months off and am very glad I did. It’s been an interesting few months. I was over-committed last term, but just managed to get through it all. Now, as we enter Term 3, I have had a chance to think about all the changes that have occurred here recently.

I thought I’d let you know of one each day this week, as a kind of ‘up to date’ of where we are at, where my time has been spent and some the things that have required a bit of adjustment/ thought. Then you will know more of where my mind has been!




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