Posted in Faith

Pressing In

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Confession: I have not been able to read my Bible since the beginning of this year.

I can do short verses at church on my phone.  Opening my book Bible and reading through it makes me nauseous.  The words swirl on the pages.  But it’s not just the Bible.  I walk around with this headache and blurry vision that makes reading mac and cheese boxes difficult for me.

This is a side effect of all that is going on in my physical brain. I am serotonin-negative, which is also known as clinically depressed.  I also have ADHD, which can cause random episodes of dyslexia and trouble focusing the eyes.

worshipIt is not, however, a reflection of my faith.  I could not stand firmer on God then I do at this moment.  Let me tell you, we serve a beautiful and personal God.  He is faithful to reach out to me, to captivate my attention when little else in this world does right now. He breaks through the walls caused by my physical symptoms like the kool-aid man!

When I have a difficulty seeing, I tune my ears (spiritually and physically) to listen for Him.

There was one Sunday a while ago (when we still thought we would buy a house this summer) when I was on the worship team at church, singing “Always“.  The Spirit of God showed up that day and in a way I can not explain, He brought me down to my knees in a quiet sob.

I think to most people it would’ve looked like I was distraught.  I wasn’t.  All of me was fully overwhelmed by His love and in worship.  But His Spirit was working in me to express a prayer I didn’t yet know I would need.  It came from the pit of my stomach, this brokenness, this cry for comfort and strength I wasn’t originally asking for when we first started to sing.

prayingSee, I didn’t know my mom had breast cancer, and we would be denied the pre-approval for a mortgage, or that a chiropractor had sued me and was going to levy our entire bank account clean.  I don’t think I could’ve mentally prepared for all this to happen in one week had I been warned anyways.  But when I was standing there completely dumbstruck by all this, that feeling in the pit of my stomach came back and I realized: God in His mercy had interceded for me, calling down the comfort and strength I would need while – in His providence – not revealing to me the very immediate future.

This is just one example of how God is working in my life even though the chemical imbalances in my brain make it difficult to read the instructions on a box of mac and cheese, let alone my Bible.

But I’m not excused from my responsibility to press in to the Lord.  Anxiety still starts building walls around me that suffocate me at times.  My friend Lo Tanner wrote about her experience with anxiety on her blog a while back, and God brought her very post to mind when I was having a rough time with this issue just last week.

So how do I press in?

  1. I listen to my Bible.  I listen to guided meditations based on verses.  And AFTER this I listen to worship music.  I listen to my kids studying their Bibles.  I listen to people who are praying for me and the things God laid in their heart over me. And when I have messages from God through out the day, I try to listen to them too.
  2. I pray.  There’s a whole lot of talking on my part through out the day.  It feels a lot more conversational.  I’m now “that neighbor” who stays in her car, “talking to herself” while sipping a cup of coffee at around 9am.writing
  3. I take notes.  I can’t explain why writing is easier to me than reading except it must be a different process in the brain; I’m regurgitating information and not receiving it.  But I have a journal where I write any thought that is worthy and I try to let go of thoughts that aren’t.  I also write affirmations to declare out loud daily so my brain can hear me in charge and not the other way around.  And I write this blog.

If you look around this blog, you will quickly realize that I’m not an uber-spiritual person.  I’ve talked about parenting, frustrations, weight loss, and other things too.  But if God impresses upon my heart to share a spiritual word, I have to be obedient.  It may be that as a friend you are in a season to receive the instruction to press in and perceive what God is doing in your life right now, and that may have a higher priority than other things in your life right now too.

PS. As a disclaimer I should let you know that the links which lead away from my site are not affiliate links.  I am not paid to advertise for any of these services or music, and I will not receive a dime in commission if you click on the link.  I’m just an honest Christian mom, giving credit where credit is due, and sharing the resources that are helping me in this season of my life.

Posted in Family, Homeschooling

One Week of Idita-Reading

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Confession: My oldest son loves to read.  In fact, when he gets into a book we’re all normally annoyed by how he binge reads – and neglects everything and everyone else.  My daughter likes to read too…

… But when it comes to my youngest, asking him to sit down and read a book is like asking him to volunteer for wisdom tooth extraction.

Caleb at Iditarod Start
Here’s Caleb, freezing cold but happy to see the Iditarod Ceremonial Start in Anchorage!

Sit the youngest in front of the pediatrician and  he can read 4th grade level texts at age 7.  He knows a lot of “encyclopedic information” from books about animals and human anatomy.  But there’s something about sitting down with a book for a few minutes, specially a fiction book or a chapter book, that he was just not having it.

Enter IDEA, stage right! (Interior Distance Education of Alaska)

Anakin's Artwork
Original Artwork by Anakin Hass, done entirely by freehand 3/4/17

They are our homeschooling charter school.  I’m always very thankful of their educational support.  They have always stood behind me as a homeschooling parent – an experience I’ve heard is unique to charter schools in Alaska.

Our schools every year participate in the Iditaread, a race against mushers actively competing in IditarodThis race to Nome is a big deal for us Alaskans, as these Mushers access towns that are off the road system completely – only reachable by dog mushing or plane.

http://iditarod.com/photo/
Mats Pettersson lead dog jumps and is ready to continue to run after Mats checked in at the Kaltag checkpoint during the 2017 Iditarod on Sunday afternoon March 12, 2017.Photo by Jeff Schultz/SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

In the Iditaread, kids read on average a page per musher’s miles.  They log their miles and try to make it from Fairbanks (only this year) to Nome (979 miles) before their selected musher does.  Many homeschooling families do this challenge outside of the official Iditaread because it’s very fun for readers. (That’s the key… It’s a marathon of reading, usually all pages are done in two to three weeks!). 

http://iditarod.com/photo/
Jason Mackey runs on the Yukon River with many snowmachine tracks running alongside on the trail nearng the Kaltag checkpoint during the 2017 Iditarod on Sunday afternoon March 12, 2017.Photo by Jeff Schultz/SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Obviously, this was daunting for my 7 year old.  But I have a couple of liberties recommended to me by the teachers and staff at IDEA:

  • Pick rookie mushers for emergent readers!  Caleb is racing against Roger Lee in his first Iditarod, all the way from England! It gives them a chance to learn about new mushers.  If your kid is a good speedster reader, he can tackle the more challenging mushers.  My son always races against Dallas Seavey – and that’s hard to beat! He’s won multiple times and finished last year in record time.
  • I get to “vet check” the books the way veterinarians check the dogs to make sure they’re healthy.  In that sense, I can offer Caleb 2 miles per page if the book is more 2nd-3rd grade level, as well as make sure with my oldest who has read the entire I Am Number Four series that the content isn’t entirely inappropriate for a 10 year old.
  • Keep track with maps and colors and progress book marks – provided entirely by IDEA, Caleb now has a visual so he doesn’t feel discouraged.  He can trace his finger along his map and see how far he’s come!

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We started with a kick off party at the school where each kid did a cut out of their lead dog.  Then the staff can move their dogs along as the kids reach the check points along the way.  This captivated all three of my kids!

Then we added a twist: Mom and Dad are doing the Iditaread too!  We’re racing mushers as well (and falling tragically behind, but it’s the effort and attitude that counts!).  We’re leading by example.  The rules for us are a little different though:

  • I can’t count pages I read during Paul’s work hours, because that’s not fair!  So the pages I read have to be between 12-1pm (his lunch break) or after 5pm in the evening.
  • Pages of books we read aloud to the kids in the evening or during lunch count for the parent who reads and the children who sit still and actively listen.  Woo-hoo for the Read Aloud Revival led by Sarah McKenzie!

iditaread2

We’ve spent a lot of evenings just reading after dinner until bed time. The TV is collecting dust, and I kind of like it that way! However, we decided to take the weekend off, and our mushers didn’t, so now we’re pretty far behind them.  But there has to be a balance to everything – a big learning point when you have 1 confirmed and one awaiting diagnosis for ADHD.  So there is still school work, math, writing, chores, family board games, outings and church.

And for the record, Caleb read 300 pages this week.  Motivated himself to make it 400 pages starting tomorrow.  He’ll make it to Nome with his “lead dog Max” in no time!

caleb and max

How do you motivate children to love reading when they seem to prefer doing ANYTHING else?