Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When God opens one door, He sometimes closes another...

This past Friday we received news that we had long been waiting for.

For the past couple of years, as we've discussed education for our children, one of the unknowns was whether or not K would receive adequate funding to safely and meaningfully attending school. In Manitoba, children that have learning difficulties and disabilities are eligible for funding from the government so that they can attend school with the support of an educational assistant (now called inclusion workers). Funding is available in three levels -
Level 1 being resource hours/support (think 20-30 minutes outside of the classroom, receiving one-on-one help);
Level 2 being 3 hours (out of a 6.5 hour day) that is assisted with an inclusion worker (safety first, meaning first lunch and/or recess is covered, then any other time that might be a hazard, like gym class, and then any remaining minutes are used as support in the classroom - likely 30-60 minutes out of 5ish hours of direct "learning time");
Level 3 considered "full time funding" (6 hours out of a 6.5 hour day) that is supervised. This is ideal, especially for K, particularly in the early years. Covers both inside and outside classroom time.

Based on what we knew of the system, we suspected it was not very likely that K would receive full-time funding (usually reserved for students with behavioral issues and/or medical needs that require more attentive care). We thought, at best, K would receive Level 2 funding, possibly for a year, maybe two, at which point we would have to reapply, and possibly not receive any funding at all. We knew we would not be comfortable with part-time funding in the long run, and were seriously considering the learn-at-home lifestyle. I've been busy researching options and ideas, consulting with our various therapists (who, aside from whatever personal opinion they might have, are actually very supportive, which is surprising to me!) and setting up a possible "game plan" that might help us navigate this particular situation.

Then the phone call came.
"And the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

The teacher from the school's resource department called to share the news that K was granted full-time funding for the FIRST THREE YEARS of her education!

I was totally stunned. What? I thought to myself, trying to mentally calculate this. The resource teacher informed me that this covers her until the end of grade two. For three years we have an idea of what the "game plan" will be; for three years we don't have to go through those funding meetings that are hard on your head and heart.

I am EXCITED for K and all she will learn and adapt to in the coming years.
I am THRILLED that we don't have to navigate those funding meetings again for quite a while (and a lot can change in that while too!).
I am THANKFUL for this provision that God has given to us. It is a gift.

Except.... except.... except........ this "game plan" was different from the one I'd been envisioning. I can still keenly recall the moment I prayed, "Lord, it would be an honor to teach my children at home. If you think that this is what is best, I pray that you would make it so." Oh the sense of relief I felt after months of wrestling! And though I did my thorough research and homework, never once did I feel the pressure to convince anyone (aka Jon or M!) - I simply trusted that if this is what was best, they soon would share the same convictions I did. It was such a great learning opportunity.

As we began to look toward this coming year, as we navigated our way through the first year of learning at home, with all it's ups and downs, as we waited for funding, I began to believe that while we would send K to kindergarten part time, and M to grade 2 full time, in a year or so we'd be back into learning at home. And it was an idea that really resonated positively with me! I was very excited about the direction I thought the LORD might be taking us in.

But sometimes, when God opens one door, He closes another.

M really wants to go to public school too, and unless there is a dramatic change of heart, we see no reason why she shouldn't. K will be able to attend school safely for three years, unless we really determine that this is not best at all.

It has taken me some time to absorb this. And though I am grateful for God's timing and provision, I am grieving in a way, sad that this journey will be taking a different direction than I'd envisioned. I was reminded of Paul's journeys - and times when he was clearly prevented from going in a direction in which he'd set out. For example, Acts 16:6-10. I can't remember where I'd read it, but it talked about Paul's passion for heading out to Asia --- instead, God had different plans. It's not that Paul's passion was misdirected or mistaken in any way, but God was going to redirect it, at least for the time being.

Sometimes I wonder - God, this is such a good thing! Teaching our children at home has many benefits. Are we moving in the right direction by moving away from it? And then there is a gentle reassurance --- This funding has been a provisional gift (and very unexpected!). We are free to embrace it. When God opens one door, He does sometimes close another ---- only to open yet another. My understanding is that God may choose to invest my time and energies elsewhere, knowing that my children are well cared for, and my responsibility for them shifts a little, at least for the time being.

Would I love to come back to this!? Yes. At the moment :), I could see us embracing this lifestyle again down the line. And who knows where God will lead next!!?

We can only hold this journey with open hands, doing our part to learn and listen and obey, and watching Him do the rest!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

34 Trips Around The Sun

This past week marked my birthday ... my almost 1/2-way point through my 30's :) ...

The one thing I "asked for" for my birthday - a QUIET DAY!! A Sunday with a nap, no obligations, and a family bike ride to play at the park.

It was perfect :).

In fact, the excitement for this day had been building for quite some time! Two or three weeks beforehand, and completely on her own initiative, M decided to make a countdown calendar for my birthday. Each day she faithfully crossed off another day... made me feel very very honored!

The evening before "the big day," Daddy & M got to work making me my birthday cake. I was delighted with Rainbow Bit cake, in a tube pan so it looked extra fancy, with cream cheese frosting. Seriously, the best cake ever :) (because it was made with a lotta love :P).

With each year that passes, I grow more grateful over for this very sweet life. The LORD continues to show His love over and over, through family, friends, the quiet and the busy busy busy, and all through the lessons learned along the way.

When I think of the life I could've lived, without His sweet grace, I cannot imagine how empty it would be. How boring!!!

Thank you Jesus, for another trip around the sun. You have been good to me.

"My lips will shout for joy - when I sing praise to you - I, whom you have redeemed."
Psalm 71:22

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

George Muller and his wife, Mary

This year we've been introduced to the Christian Heroes Series through our curriculum. Wow! What a great gift! These books are written for kids, but are sure to teach the grown-up who is reading them as well!! Accounts of God's faithfulness to those who spend their lives serving Him, trusting Him, worshipping Him. We are hooked and can't wait to read another one!

We started things off with George Muller.

Out of the many many (many) lessons packed into this little paperback, two stand out....

George's understanding that a life of prayer is work.
How often do I say "I'll pray about it" or "I'll pray for you" and mean it - like truly, intercessory, fully-committed mean it? To enter into true intercession requires letting go of our best laid plans, and investing time listening and waiting for God's response to any given situation. And sometimes we have to be willing to persevere and wait a while! In one situation, George and Mary needed to leave the orphanages in someone else's care while traveling back to Prussia. For George, timing was of utmost importance. He prayed and waited - not until the cheapest travel tickets became available, or things were most convenient for their own family -- but because he wanted to make sure there was sufficient funds in the treasury so that those running the orphanages in his absence would not need to engage in the prayer-work of relying on God daily for the needs of the orphans as George so often had to do. He prayed until the bread or milk came, until the money arrived, until the home was provided, or the way through a particular situation was clear. After receiving the first donation towards the second 400-child orphanage, these were George's reflections on prayer: "The greatness of the sum required affords me a kind of great joy; for the greater the difficulty to be overcome, the more will it be seen to the glory of God how much can be done by prayer and faith" (p. 158).

Mary's meekness
When George and Mary first get married, George is perplexed by the "earthly goods" Mary brings into the matrimonial picture. Which really amounted to a few family heirlooms and the family silverware collection. Not a big deal, by most of our standards, though he is concerned because he sees it as extra baggage to move when God calls them to the next mission field; as unnecessary ties to this world. What does he do? He asks Mary to sell it. "Mary opened her mouth, then closed it without saying a single word. The next evening when George came home, the silverware, china, and tapestries were all gone."  (p. 78).

Meekness is not weakness, I keep hearing over and over in my heart. Mary could've pitched quite a fit (I shudder to think of what my reaction would've been if Jon would've said the same thing to me one week after our wedding vows were said!!). Instead, she honored her husband's request, and in the end, I believe the LORD blessed her immensely for her commitment and support. As the reader we get a peek into George's thoughts and journal entries. I wonder, though, what Mary's journal entries may have been like! It must have been quite the interesting adventure; George's bold personality seems so different from her own. Here she thought she was marrying a "missionary man," and ended up with orphanages that housed over 1,000 kids at a time!!! Yet through it all, she demonstrates a meekness that is strength and courage. And she is teaching me ;).

A sold-out life for Jesus is not for the faint of heart!! It is a daring, wild adventure of learning to listen to the voice of the One Who created all and makes all things new and following His lead in obedience.

George, and his lovely wife Mary, have inspired me!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Music for Mellow Moments

Recently my dishwasher went on the fritz.
Well, actually, it's been fritzing for a while, and I just kept hoping that with enough rinse cycles, vinegar washes and CLR, that perhaps we'd get it working properly again. A visit from the repairman revealed that the dishwasher was only using approx. 1/8!! of the water required to do a proper cycle - and now we wait for parts!!!!
So, I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, doing sinkfuls of dishes as the girls are winding down in bed (depending on the day, that can take a little while --- at least they're contained, and mostly .... mostly .... quiet!).
Usually, I use the time to catch up on an episode of Law & Order: SVU that I've missed..... very very occasionally I'll listen to a Charles Stanley message. Sometimes I just hum quietly or listen to music.

My sister, actually, sent me a link to this band that she'd been lovin'. Admittedly, it took a while for me to catch the thrill --- but now that I have, I love listening especially at this time of the day night :). It's perfect for those quiet-soul moments. These songs become prayers (all good music does, in my opinion), and minister to my heart.

Thought I'd share. Enjoy!

'Cause I am a sinner
If it's not one thing it's another
Caught up in words
Tangled in lies
But You are a Savior
And You take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus

I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that you're still holding
the whole world in your hands
I need a reason to sing


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