Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Here is the first verse of one of my favorite hymns:

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

There are days when it is entirely necessary that God puts the tunes in my heart, constantly streams mercy into me, calls the songs out of me (loudly), teaches me pretty angelic poetry, and fixes me in one spot so I can’t run away from it all.

Different

I just finished reading a new book written by Sally Clarkson and her son Nathan (c. 2016). It is called Different and tells a non-chronological story of Nathan’s life and how Sally loved him. Nathan was different from his siblings and most of the other people he knew. In his teens he was diagnosed as OCD, ADHD and ODD.

I like the hope and realism and raw truth in this book. They had strong faith in God, but it wasn’t their faith that pulled them through difficulties. They homeschooled, but this isn’t really a homeschool success story. They talked to each other and were honest to each other, but even that didn’t solve problems. This book is about the way they lived. It isn’t really about what they did or how anything was fixed. It’s simply a story of God working in a life, a difficult life. We can all live, right? That’s the hope. Keep living, keep looking to see what God will do next.

Here’s a quote I like from a section where Sally is speaking, “I also realized that each of my children, especially Nathan, needed to feel that the foundation of our relationship was unconditional love and respect for his or her essential self. Home was my primary tool for conveying that truth to them. For Nathan, I wanted it to be a place where he could breathe out the pressure to perform, to conform, to always be ‘good’ when what was defined as good was almost impossible for him, as God made him, to conform to” (141).

Isn’t that what God does for us? He makes us a haven where we can just breathe and be the person He made us. The world has this idea of how I should act, but God knows me best. He has this unconditional love for me that I can just fall back on. The falling back part is difficult, I know. It’s difficult to become different from the world, even from family members who know me well, but being different from the way I am made is even more difficult, almost impossible.

Knowing Your Limitations

Most of the time I know my limitations of what I can do, and I make sure I don’t cross over that boundary (for instance, I know I don’t like fire, so I’ve never even tried to grill food). But when it comes to driving places, I sometimes cast a blind eye to my limitations. An art museum in Oshkosh? Yes, of course, I can do anything to get there! Well, I did try that today. I made it to Oshkosh, but my computer printouts didn’t seem to have directions that made sense, the roundabouts were not fun at all, and my foggy sense of direction ran a great risk of evaporating altogether. Plus, the upcoming roundabout looked very formidable and highway-ish from far down the road. So I turned around. Went back home. The children, who had been looking forward to the little field trip as much as I was, were quiet. (That’s unusual, by the way.) I got honked at twice during my foray into the big city. That was the most troubling thing of all, to me. I don’t think I did anything wrong except act like I’ve never driven in Oshkosh before. Why do people expect everyone else to be a savvy driver? For that matter, why does it seem like everyone else is a savvy driver?

The moral of the story is to know my limitations as a driver. I simply can’t go many places, even to fun field trip places. That is how God made me, and so that is how He wants my life and my homeschool to be. As much as I might want to explore different places, I am to be a homebody. And I need to accept that.

Evening on Calais Beach

IT is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity;
The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the sea:
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder–everlastingly.
Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouch’d by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year;
And worshipp’st at the Temple’s inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

–by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

I’ve been missing the gentleness of life lately. When is the last time I had a really gentle thought? When have the conversations in our house been quiet and peaceful, completely lacking in sarcasm or discontent? Why don’t I have these moments of calm, holy times quiet as a Nun, when the gentleness of heaven broods o’er the sea? We went to a small beach today, just to do something different. The girls enjoyed playing in the sand, but I was uptight because one of them waded too far and got water in her rain boots, and my son laid around on the merry-go-round, clearly not enjoying himself.

If the second part of the poem is correct (and I don’t think the theology is quite right), then my lack of feeling gentle does not mean God’s gentleness is far from me. It seems as if I constantly have to be reminded that God doesn’t leave me alone. He’s there, even when I don’t think He is. Well, then. I go through these ungentle stages of life. But the higher reality is always there, always gentle, always brooding o’er my present time.

A little time to write

A little time to write, a little time to pray, a little time to prepare for the day…

I’m not normally up early in the morning, but this morning I am, probably because my husband forgot to set his alarm, therefore I slept straight until 4:30 am, when he eventually woke himself up, and I did not have to get up at 3 to shake him awake. A blessing for me, although probably not for him. At least I’ve reminded myself that I do something constructive for him besides pointing out the many ways our house is falling apart. I think he still better appreciates the hired girl who sincerely cares about his calves and cows. And the hired boy who brings him coffee and donuts at least once a week.

I’m going to pray while I have a little cry…

Dear Lord, I know You are the bigger reality. I know that you are using this strange life, this strange marriage to care for me and the children. I am thankful for the freedom to stay home and care for them. I am also thankful for the freedom to get out of the house and go other places. Please, Lord, don’t let this house fall around us. Help us figure out what is wiser–to keep the smoke alarms connected and working or to deal with chirping alarms in the middle of the night nine and half feet in the air. And help me to know what to do about the spot above the bathtub. And help Dean to fix the porch steps. It’s very discouraging to have someone over for dinner (which You know I hardly ever do) and then the porch steps break under them as they leave. Are You telling me it’s okay not to have people over? Or is it to point out that I married someone who doesn’t care about much?

Dear Lord, please just keep near to me and the children. Please help us to live. Help me to counteract the things Dean says to them. Give us love for each other. For You nothing is impossible.

Dear Lord, there is the sunset. It is maroon under blue, overlaid with the black lace of bare branches. People are driving on the road, quiet headlights going here and there. The first bird woke up. Probably the one above my bedroom window. I’ve become almost reconciled to them. They haven’t scratched through the drywall in eleven years. Perhaps they never will.

Please dear Lord, forgive me my despair. Your kingdom is about joy and hope. I belong to that, but I live here. It’s good to know that You wept, too. Maybe depression doesn’t always equal sin.

Thank you for being my God and making me Your people. May my family be Your people, too.

In Your Name, Amen.

And now to prepare for the day, make a schedule for the school week, think about what kinds of things I need to cook. I don’t know… somehow I’ll make it through. If you don’t mind, and if you’ve read this far, you probably care a little, please pray a little prayer for us, too.

Two Books

I’m reading my youngest daughter a book about a dog named Three Names, so I decided to name this post Two Books.

First is a book I haven’t read yet, but I’m seeing it everywhere! It must be that I need to read it. It’s called Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. It’s an old book, so I’m not sure why I’m seeing it pop up all over lately. Has anyone read it and enjoyed it?

Second is a book my son and I are reading, Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat. We both had our misgivings before we began this book, but now my son begs to read it more often than I have it on the school schedule. I think he likes the hunting in it. We are not a hunting family, and he has a soft spot for animals anyway, so this may be as close as he gets to actual hunting. I like the book because I have no idea what is going to happen. It’s a survival story, but it also contains an element of revenge and upholding one’s honor. The main protector of the children has died, and now what? I don’t know yet. Maybe my son will ask for an extra chapter tomorrow.

 

Lean Not On Your Own Understanding

Do you ever get stressed out with your children and not realize it? I just realized that’s what has been happening to me. Thankfully, I have a lovely monthly Charlotte Mason book study to attend and mentally recharge for two hours. It’s good to go someplace where you are reminded to stay relational with your children, to fill their different needs, to build their character rather than their conduct. It’s wonderful to remember that I need to step out of the way of the Holy Spirit. Serve my children, give them what they need, be quiet and trust in the Lord. Lean not on my own understanding.

This is hard to do. Especially when the children are very loud and annoying. But if God can provide this little two hour break for me once a month, then that’s something to rejoice about. I tend to worry that these parenting things don’t work if both parents aren’t doing them. But then again, if I am doing something positive and relational in my children’s lives, that is much better than if I wasn’t. I’m doing what I can. I’m going to pray more about it. And maybe peace will come.