Decisions

Speak Up

One evening, I looked around my crowded living room where families had gathered and wondered, “Am I crazy, or are they crazy?”

My husband and I continued to wonder if others saw the same dysfunctionality that we did. When the group gathered for a meal, we wondered if our host and hostess were naïve.

Finally, my husband met with a leader. The man was working quietly to rectify the situation. The young couple who had hosted our meal left the organization. Later, we learned that they had found the situation intolerable.

I learned a lesson I have never forgotten. Even in silence, I am not alone in my perceptions. Some may not have the disposition or courage to speak up or have done so and been shut down.

A decade later, a friend expressed frustration about a situation and asked, “Why won’t others say something. I’m told I’m the only one concerned.”

“That’s not true,” I said. “We’ve complained.”

Another decade passed. Another friend told me about a school situation and asked, “Why won’t other parents complain?”

“Maybe they have and have been told that no one else cares,” I said. “Add your voice and support them.”

Speaking up?

Book Recommendations

Untidy Books: Ungifted

Along the way, I learned that not only do many adults not recognize bullying or destructive behavior, but also don’t know how to deal with it when they do. Gordon Korman has filled that gap with three conversation starting books—Restart, The Unteachables (both here), and Ungifted.

Although Ungifted deals with destructive behavior, the focus is elsewhere. What does it mean to be gifted?

As a result of a school prank wreaking unintended havoc, the prankster, is transferred accidentally to an academy for the gifted and talented. Donovan is below average academically while his new classmates are geniuses. Korman explores the definition of gifted as Donovan makes minor but important contributions to the school’s robotics team.

Separated from classmates who participated in his pranks, Donovan gains perspective on his motives and the consequences of his actions at his previous school. Like Restart and The Unteachables, we leave the story with hope.

One rating was a fifth-grade reading level, which makes it an easy, quick discussion book. Also helpful is Korman’s interesting characters and engaging writing style.

Has a book made a difficult or unpopular topic easier for you to discuss?

Book Recommendations, Parenting

Untidy Books: Gordon Korman

I like tidy books—especially when my family and house aren’t. Good morals. Tight endings. Families you wish would adopt you. Or you could adopt. But, regardless of how satisfying tidy books are, they don’t necessarily change readers.

Last Fall, I discovered and binge-read five Gordon Korman messy, middle-grade novels. We leave some characters on a better—but still rocky—path.

My favorites were Restart and The Unteachables because they explored what I have long believed. Bullies and other wounders are unaware of the damage they inflict. After thrusting their swords and exiting the stage, they forget those left behind—bleeding people with wounds that may leave lifetime scars.

In Restart, Chase has amnesia after falling off a roof. Why does his four-year-old stepsister scream when he is near, and classmates avoid him? As his memory returns, he is appalled at the bully he used to be.

In The Unteachables, teacher-of-the-year Zachery Kermit was shunned and relegated to the worst assignments after an eighth-grader’s folly.  After twenty-seven years, Mr. Kermit’s former student learns the consequences of his behavior and wants to make amends.

Although the themes are serious, the creative plots and memorable characters entertain.

Have you discovered an author?

God's Faithfulness, Stories I Share

The Stories I Share: Plane Tickets

My youngest spent a college semester traveling through six countries.

Colossi of Memnon, Egypt
Nafplio, Greece

After arriving in Athens, the study abroad group disbanded for an eight-day spring break. Students either flew home or were joined by family—too expensive for us.

After exploring numerous options, it became clear that my husband must join our son. How did we afford such a trip? I sold used, unwanted college textbooks on Amazon. In one day, I raised much of the $800+ airfare.

This “cheap” flight had an Amsterdam layover and arrived hours after my son. For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to book it. Perhaps, I hoped for price drop? And then, I forgot.

I remembered the Thursday of the historic landing of a US Airways plane in the Hudson River—fourteen years ago today. Travelers briefly became wary of New York City departures. My coveted, nonstop flight from New York City plummeted to $600. I snatched it.

My son emailed “How will I find Dad?”

“He will be waiting at your airport exit gate.”

“Wonderful.”

Athens arrival

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

Decisions, Homeschooling

Homeschooling This Year?

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God. not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Homeschooling did many things for our family. My children could learn at their own pace. We weren’t confined to grade levels when choosing curricula. We had flexibility if I didn’t let others claim it. (See here.) We shared experiences. We traveled outside of the summer season.

Most importantly, homeschooling allowed my husband and me to share and reinforce our Christian beliefs. However, one thing homeschooling could not do is impart saving faith to my sons.

The fact that only Jesus saves should be obvious—like the fact that homeschooling works best if you want to homeschool (See here). However, my friends and I occasionally crossed into dangerous territory by believing that our “works”—such as homeschooling—mattered as much or perhaps even more than Jesus.

As my family and others look back over our homeschool efforts, some of our children chose our faith and some didn’t. Discouraging? Not necessarily. Their stories aren’t finished.

Setting any goals beyond your control this year?