3 Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!
4 Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.
5 Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.
The Lord has spoken!”
After a year full of activity and ups and downs, personally, locally and internationally, I was recently reflecting on this passage of hope about John the Baptist and the Christ who would come. While these verses are full of many things, here are a couple that I've been thinking about.
One observation is that our world today is not that different than it was in the time of Isaiah. Wilderness and wasteland are still apt descriptors for many places where there is chaos, injustice, suffering and war. Whether it's our personal lives, issues in our families and communities, or conflict in Syria, (insert place _______), and among world leaders, this planet is groaning (sometimes screaming) for change and help.
In this passage is the call for God's justice and the invitation to be a part of levelling the mountains and clearing the rough places for the Messiah to be revealed. We believers are all called to the privileged task of actively sharing God's love with family, neighbours, coworkers, even strangers and enemies. I wonder how, exactly, I can remember this task as a privilege when the kids are fighting, and the landlord raises his asking price for the Wood Shop, and our staff don't see eye to eye, local traffic is exasperating, and violence seems ready to erupt around all the corners and in the lives of so many people we work with here. I simultaneously wonder at how much LOVE and JUSTICE are all the more needed in times like these.
Lord, help us to do all the hard work of love. And help us to count it as a privilege to do so.
Finally, we are reminded to hope in the promise that God's glory WILL be revealed, and that ALL the people will see it. God is faithful, and in this season of Advent, we remember that faithfulness in the glory-revealed-form of Emmanuel, God with us; Jesus, the gift sent for all the world (universe!). Even in the wasteland, we hope for what is to come. Our call is the same as Isaiah's, as John's, to level the mountains, clear the way, shout about Jesus who came, who still comes to us in the middle of all the messes and loves us, and who will come again to once-and-for-all make everything right. Even in our wastelands, we fight for love, hope, justice.
God will have the last word, and God will get all the glory. Give us eyes to see it!
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Monday, June 20, 2016
As I opened the blog this morning, I realised just how long it's been since I wrote anything. It was the day before my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The day before. Now it's been well over a year since he went to be with Jesus. I don't know that there's any possible way to fill in all the gaps with the feelings and events that have transpired during this last year+. So, for now, anyway, I'm going to leave it all where it is. And we'll see. . .
Saturday, March 14, 2015
There is part of me that still can't believe I'm actually homeschooling Sawyer this year. There's another part of me that can't believe I actually like it. We're about ready to start week 6, and I thought I'd share my thoughts so far and give a little update.
The end of 2014, as the school year was wrapping up here in CR, and even though his report card showed excellent grades, I suddenly had this sense that maybe I needed to homeschool Sawyer for 3rd grade. Those of you that have known me for awhile, and know that I was a public school teacher, know the biases I've had against homeschooling. BUT. . . over the last few years, my heart has softened. I can't exactly say how this happened. Maybe it's because I've met and talked with many homeschooled kids and families and have seen "good fruit" in the way of relevant, poised and deep-thinking kids that challenged my prejudices. Maybe because my belief in the public education system went out the window when we realised we needed to put our kids in private school here, and a door was cracked open that I didn't notice, opening up my mind to a variety of school options. Maybe it was because the first time I really considered homeschool was a few years ago as a way to help our monthly budget. I don't know.
Anyway, we wrestled with what to do. Would homeschool give Sawyer the one-on-one attention that his teachers couldn't give him? Would we jeopardise his sociability? Should we make him tough it out and have a more 'typical' school experience? Would he grow to hate school if we put him in this year b/c he wouldn't be able to copy things fast enough, read well enough, or write neatly enough? Would he be able to enter the Costa Rican school system in the future without a 'real' school report card? Would the potential benefits outweigh the risks? We prayed and went back and forth. As I investigated the legalities, looked at curriculums, analysed Sawyer's strengths (math, creativity, intelligence, energy, passion) and weaknesses (focus, impulse control, fine motor skills, etc), and prayed, I came to the conclusion that it was 'now or never' if we were going to try homeschool. In short, I decided to go for it, was able to order curriculum and my parents brought it down in a suitcase in January when they visited. (It was nearly 50 lbs. of books!)
So. . . I'm relieved to say it's been going well. Sawyer asked me the other day if it was possible to homeschool through college; I told him we weren't ready to make that decision yet.
He does enjoy homeschool, though we have had our moments of conflict. It's been really insightful for me and is helping me to understand the things that must have been a challenge for both him and his teachers in the past!! In the moments where he would give up or tune out and take an incomplete in school, I am able to insist he finish his work. When he needs a break to use up some energy or to refocus, I can let him run around outside, play with legos, or bounce a basket ball. (Can I just say again how THANKFUL I am for this house and YARD we are living in!!?!?) We are able to move around the house for different 'subjects' to keep things new and interesting. I can give him immediate follow-up and feedback all day long. We do science experiments, reading, and I can let him skip a few math problems if he already knows how to do them. I can add or take away curriculum according to his needs. One thing we did over the last 2 weeks was an animal research report that got him writing about something he was interested in (chipmunks :) ), and helped teach the writing process. He's also learning world history (let's face it--I'm learning, too), and geography. We are even going through the Spanish and Social Studies books that his school uses, just to stay in the loop here. Added bonus: he gets to do PE with Thompson at our sports site and Art at the Wood Shop with Joshua.
So far the biggest challenges for me have been related to schedule and also my role in SI. Sawyer focuses and cooperates much better in the morning, so if we can plow through everything from 7-12 we finish without too many bumps in the road. But when we run errands, or do anything out of the 'ordinary' it's tough to regain focus later on. The other hard thing is scaling back my involvement in all things SI-CR-related. I'm still trying to find a good rhythm for myself in this area. I told Jeff early on that I was willing to sacrifice that stuff if we decided that homeschool was the best choice for this year. I meant it, but I also want to be careful to stay connected with our staff and the things going on in sites. Homeschool can be very isolating, which is probably one of the biggest drawbacks. In the States people have formed well-organised co-ops and schools sometimes allow kids to still do sports or other activities on their campuses. Here, there is very little of that since homeschool isn't recognised.
I still worry that I will do things wrong, or screw him up somehow, but mostly I have deep peace about homeschooling Sawyer this year. A friend once, very wisely, advised us to take school one year at a time. So here we are in this year. One kid in private school, one in a private preschool, and one in homeschool.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014