reflections on our home learning journey 29

Well it was not the week I had planned but neither am I writing the week off totally. I returned Monday after my first fun weekend away from the children and Tuesday was going to see a new pattern established as all 3 now have French on Tuesdays. Wednesday the plumber was due to come for the day to sort out our radiators with the possibility of the job spilling into some of Thursday morning. And so my back up plan for Wednesday was to take my friend up on her offer to use their home as a base for the day. Thursday we were due our visit from the LEA (Local education authority) and Friday Matthew was having a field trip (more about that later).

Tuesday rolled around and we had French for all followed by a picnic with other home educating families at the park and pond dipping. And while this is what the boys wanted to do and not miss, in reality and hindsight what was needed to set us up for the week and to regroup after the weekend was a day where it was just us. And I really should have known and responded to that having spent the train journeys that weekend reading a great book called The Highly Sensitive Child, which highlighted the wiring and workings of our boys and the best ways to help them flourish with their character. But I risked it thinking we would make up for it all on Wednesday with down time. Also for Zog the new boots were not comfortable and he was peopled out and so hid in the stroller for most of the time the others were pond dipping. Bob has grown up so much and is able to stretch himself further now as he had great fun in the moment and hold it together his limit was reached once home and this has impacted his sleep this week as he tries to get back on an even keel. Having read the book though I have found myself able to respond with less frustration to his actions when in this place of reaching his limit as I can now see where he is coming from and why.

Tuesday night I learnt that my friend was not able to offer her house as a base for us and then the plumber showed up on Wednesday morning and it quickly became apparent this was a three day job and that there would be no water each day. This was not my plan and I postponed the LEA visit as that was going to be one too many things to juggle. Just like Bob I do not do well with sudden unexpected changes of plans and so all this change to my neatly thought through planned week left me in a complete spin along with other things going on for Mark and I that had come up unexpectedly. Everything becomes too much and I become useless in thought and action and crazily emotional. I think I might need to get a copy of the book the Highly Sensitive Person for myself by the same author. In the end we went with Mark into town and played at college and had a picnic tea. On the walk through the park from the bus to college we came across a lad riding a small motorbike at speed and no consideration for others in the park across the paths and grassy areas. Bob was most put out by this and on our return home he wrote a letter to the local police which he then took to the post office the next morning and bought a stamp and posted it. So without even trying writing and maths and independence were all being lived out without him thinking about it as he does with ‘lessons’ . Thursday we spent at the local park and library. I was very thankful Kanga slept for most of the time we were at the park so I could give the boys some time and it was so much fun to watch them play together completely immersed in their own imaginary world, which often is the combination of their own worlds which they navigate to bring together into one so that they can play together. And considering that Zog has declared that he is a real African buffalo ( the ‘real’ being stressed as real buffalos don’t have their hair washed apparently) this can make their games amusing when Bob is either being a Greek fighting the Trojans or a policeman catching robbers or a hunter. Yes we have reached that point when all sticks become weapons of some sort of other. Today we cocooned ourselves upstairs in our room as the boys had made it quite clear they were no longer interested in going out and to give them their due they played really well on our bed and accepted the situation with no complaint. Which in itself showed how much they needed so home time this week. For such a time as this I had a new game (from our local charity shop) which has provided hours of fun as they built shapes and objects and buffalos with up and down horns out of magnet rods and balls. I also managed to get some actual maths done with Bob as he used the magnets to do his sums before he realised what I was doing.

The highlight though for Bob this week has been his field trip this afternoon to Pitville Park for a wildlife photography lesson. He has become fascinated with wildlife photography thanks to Winter and Springwatch and so a friend of ours from church who is a keen photographer took Bob and Mark out for a lesson at the park and by the level of chat and excitement when they got home I think we can safely declare a great time was had. And as a treat they got to see a Great Crested Grebe which we had not come across before and we have been doing nature walks at that park every week since last summer. We will have to wait until our friend sorts out the photos to see the finished results.

DSCN2674 DSCN2690 DSCN2691

Learning has happened this week in bucketfuls. Not the way and means I had intended at the start but it has happened for all of us in different ways. I still have my dreams and ideals but we also have a gift of three incredible blessings to raise and they do not come neat and tidy and consistent. They come as they come in all their fullness and I am learning to learn with them and adapt rather than coerce them and myself.


The source of all strength, hope and joy…

I’ve nearly finished reading through the Psalms.  Last Sunday I had the wonderful gift of being able to go for a half hour stroll in the fresh morning sun, and then sit for half an hour or so in order to read and ponder Psalm 145, which begins:

“I will extol you, my God and King
and bless your name for ever and ever
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name for ever and ever.

I guess with my current studies in mind the word “name” was always going to leap out at me, immersed as I am in Exodus and the way in which the meaning and  significance of God’s name develops through the book.  But it wasn’t those studies that my mind leapt to first, rather it was a number of songs that have had significance for me over the years.  I remembered song lines such as:

You are the Sovereign I am
Your name is holy
You are the pure spotless lamb
Your name is holy

In Your name
There is mercy for sin
There is safetly within
In Your holy name

In Your name
There is strength to remain
To stand in spite of pain
In Your holy name

(Brian Doerksen)

This week at a prayer meeting in church we sang:

In the name of the Father
In the name of the Son
In the name of the Spirit
Lord we’ve come

We’re gathered together
To lift up Your name
To call on our Savior
To fall on Your grace

Our God saves, our God saves
There is hope in Your name (Paul Baloche)

We know, and the Psalmist knows, that the name of God is hugely significant.  However, not many of our songs spell out why this is so.  What struck me about Psalm 145 is that it is all about the name of God.

v3-7 are a call to praise this God, and in particular for one generation to tell to the next of the sheer greatness of God.  God’s works, God’s mighty acts, God’s wonders, God’s awesome (fearsome) deeds – all of these things are to be recounted, and all these things tell of the “glorious splendour of his majesty”.  But what is this glorious splendour all about?  We begin to get a hint in verse 7 where the call to praise culminates in speaking of the fame of God’s abundant goodness and his righteousness.  God is not just glorious in the sense that he is King and Sovereign (although he is), he is glorious because he is good and upright.

That comes home in the next verses:

8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate
Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9 The LORD is good to all
and his compassion is over all that he has made (all his works)

Verse 8 is a direct quote from Exodus 34.  In Exodus 32 Israel have sinned.  Because Moses has been such a long time up the mountain (40 days and nights) they want a replacement, and they have Aaron construct a golden calf to represent the god(s) who brought them up out of Egypt.  It is either the first or second commandment (worship of other gods, or worship of the true God by means of man made images) broken before the tablets have even been received.  Moses has received the instructions to build a sanctuary by which God will be with his people, in their midst – but the people have instead tried a do-it-yourself approach.  Exodus 32-33 paint a vivid picture of God’s wrath against the people’s sin, and by the beginning of chapter 33 the tension in the narrative has reached a climatic point. Moses has interceeded with God and secured the people’s ongoing existence, but God cannot go with them, because they are so stiff necked he might destroy them at any minute.

In Exodus 33 Moses seeks a re-confirmation of God’s promise to go with the people, and having secured some sort of assurance in 33:17 then goes on to ask “Show me, please, your glory”.  I don’t know what Moses means by that question, but the answer in 33:19 and onwards is breathtaking.  God will pass all his goodness (same word as in Psalm 145:7) before Moses, and he will proclaim his name – he will have compassion to whom he will have compassion, he will show grace to whom he will show grace to – but Moses will not see God’s face, because no-one can see God’s face and live.  Moses is going to see as much of God as any mortal man can.  Even though no one can see God’s face and live, God will provide a place where Moses can stand, and he will cover Moses with his hand, and he will proclaim his name, and Moses will see the “back” of God as he passes by on that rock.

It is in that context that the verse Psalm 145:8 quotes comes. God himself is standing before Moses, proclaiming his own name, expounding what that  name means to Moses.  And he begins:

The LORD, the LORD (possibly “the LORD is the LORD”), a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…

It is this compassion and steadfast love that the Psalmist praises God for in the rest of the Psalm.  The foundational truth for Psalm 145 is that the LORD is good, and his compassion is over all that he has made, or perhaps even more comprehensively “over all his works”.  This compassion word is related to the word for womb, and it speaks of the tender mercies of our God (Zechariah’s song), of the love that God has for his people.  The love that Isaiah (49:15) speaks about when he records God’s words “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

The bond between God and his people is stronger than that of a mother and the child she is nursing.  I think we are meant to know as we read that verse from Isaiah that if a mother forgets her child her body will remind her.  The physical reality of that connection is meant to make us realise how intimately God has tied himself to his people.  When we cry for him God knows.  He has compassion.  His compassion is written over all he does.  That  is the compassion he feels for us and has for us.

God’s awesome splendour, and glorious majesty are exercised in loving compassion.  In the season of Easter we see that most supremely in the cross.  John paints a picture for us Jesus as God himself come to us, the “I am”, full of grace and truth.  John shows us the Jesus whose glorification comes by being nailed to a cross.

Exodus 34 and Psalm 145 show us why God’s compassion needs to go to the cross.  Psalm 145:20 echoes Exodus 34:7 – while God is full of compassion and grace, God will nonetheless punish sin.  This makes the warning of Exodus 32:34 a full part of the revelation of God’s character.  The warning is stark, the ESV (somewhat awkwardly literal in English translation) preserves the ambiguity of the Hebrew verb when it says “in the day when I visit I will visit their sin on them”.  “Visit” can be used positively – in Exodus 3 for example – of God’s help, or “negatively”, in Exodus 20 and 34 (probably) of God’s punishment on sin.  This is not surprising when we realise that God is a Holy God.  When he turns up and dwells among sinful people then he will punish.  That is one reason for the book of Leviticus.  And it leaves us with a question.  How can I be sure I will experience God’s compassion?

And that question drives us back to the cross.  It is at the cross where, as for Moses in Exodus 33, God provides a place we can stand.  It is at the cross that God comes into the world, that he “visits” the world, and where he “visits” sin on himself, on the spotless Son of God.  “Because my sinless saviour died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the just is satisfied to look on him and pardon me.”  “my sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the LORD, praise the LORD, O my soul.”  His compassion is over all his deeds – and the ultimate proof of that is that he was willing to give himself to death, even death on a cross.  I love the way that in Getty/Townend’s “O to see the dawn” the final chorus switches from “took the blame, bore the wrath” to “what a love, what a cost”.  It is right to speak of God’s wrath at the cross, but it is vital too to know that the reason Jesus bore the wrath was because of the love, the compassion that Father and Son have for us.

And so we see that the name of God is all about the compassion of God, and the love of God, and therefore that it is all about the Cross where we see God’s compassion written over all he does.  God’s splendour and majesty and glory are shown in nail scarred hands of love.  When we speak of God’s glory we speak of nails, of blood, of tears.  When we speak of God’s majesty we speak of a wooden cross, a darkened sky and unspeakable agony.

And then we turn with Mary through our tears and hear that voice speaking our name, and we know that God’s compassion is not an empty love, is not a failing love.  We know that it is a love stronger than death, a love that defeats death.  A love that through the place of greatest pain gives birth to a new creation, a new world, a new promised land.

We see that one day God’s compassion will shine out still more as he wipes away every tear from every eye.  When all trace of pain and sorrow, of sickness and sin is gone, and all that is left is joy and peace and unspeakable joy full of glory as we spend eternity seeing the face of God that Moses could not see.  Where “we shall see his face, and never, never sin, and from the rivers of his grace drink endless pleasures in” (Isaac Watts).

When we speak of praising God’s name it is that compassion and grace and love we praise – and so we take up the old words of Psalm 145 and with eyes filled with the knowledge of the cross and the glimpse of the new creation we can use those words to praise the God who hid Moses to give him a glimpse of glory, and we can live now knowing that one day we will be like him, for we will see him as he is – utterly transformed by the sight of God.

reflections on our home learning journey 28

Spring has sprung and with thanks to the survey request from the BBC Easter Special Springwatch Bob has been making sure we have not missed any of the signs of spring. I have always enjoyed watching as spring comes forth but seen through the attentive eyes and hands and words of small children it is so much richer and deeper than I could remember.

We have also been spoilt with summer like weather for the past couple of weeks and so this week has been very much a hands on week in nature for Bob. Monday saw us attend a Home Education picnic at a park and then Tuesday Bob went off with others for a picnic and nature walk and Thursday he was at a Home Ed day at a farm learning about lambing and today was his first session at a local Forest School. All this has been made possible by other mums giving him a lift to places for which I am very thankful and he has loved. It has given us a very different feel for our week when I have had extended time with Zog and Kanga which rarely happens. In some ways it has given me a taste of what it is like for those whose children go to school. And as Bob is a processer it will take until next week no doubt before all of this weeks experiences are expressed, we just need to be patient. And to finish his days off he has taken to winding down with Countryfile thanks to iplayer. In fact as I sit here and write he is watching Countryfile as he winds down from a full day with forest school, friends over for dinner and youth group this evening.

Zog is continuing his love and fascination with numbers and identifying number groupings. And just as Bob went through a phase of saying a word and needing to know what it began with Zog is now doing the same. Whereas Bob’s words were very historically rooted Zog’s are rooted in the world of animals and at present all horned african plains animals and I have to say I never knew there were so many different styles of horns. But I am now able to spot a Bison from a Buffalo from a Wilderbeest with the best of them.

Zog and Kanga have had lots of fun exploring our back garden and water play with complete abandonment which has been a delight to watch. It has been a week for Zog to rebalance himself as Bob has been off out more than usual and Zog has found that hard to work out playing as the eldest rather than following the lead of his hero Bob. Zog has also been stretching his legs and running everywhere be it outdoors or indoors. Just as Bob started talking and has never stopped, Zog who has always been our active boy has started to run rather than walk whenever he is on the move. The question now will be what activity will Kanga develop with no stop in sight.

It has been a week of learning out and about rather than at the desk and has done us all the world of good.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!  This is how Charles Simeon, Anglican Evangelical minister in Cambridge in the 19th century described the Easter week he was converted.  May we all know the joy of Christ’s resurrection this week.

In Passion Week, as I was reading Bishop Wilson on the Lord’s Supper, I met with an expression to this effect – “That the Jews knew what they did, when they transferred their sin to the head of their offering.” The thought came into my mind, What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an Offering for me, that I may lay my sins on His head? Then, God willing, I will not bear them on my own soul one moment longer. Accordingly I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus; and on the Wednesday began to have a hope of mercy; on the Thursday that hope increased; on the Friday and Saturday it became more strong; and on the Sunday morning, Easter-day, April 4, I awoke early with those words upon my heart and lips, ‘Jesus Christ is risen to-day! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!’ From that hour peace flowed in rich abundance into my soul; and at the Lord’s Table in our Chapel I had the sweetest access to God through my blessed Saviour.

Or if you like a picture better:

The rising of the sun had made everything look so different – all colours and shadows were changed that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing. Then they did. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan…

“Who’s done it?” cried Susan. “What does it mean? Is it magic?”

“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.

“Oh, Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.

“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” said Lucy.

“Not now,” said Aslan…

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know: Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitors stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards…”

“And now,” said Aslan presently, “to business. I feel I am going to roar. You had better put your fingers in your ears.”

And they did. And Aslan stood up and when he opened his mouth to roar his face became so terrible that they did not dare to look at it. And they saw all the trees in front of him bend before the blast of his roaring as grass bends in a meadow before the wind.

Go back to the garden, where death died.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

And so this is true also

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

From Revelation 7

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

And from Isaiah 25

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
    the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
    He will swallow up death for ever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
    “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Christ is Risen!

He is risen indeed – Halleljuah (Praise Yahweh!)

reflections on our home learning 27

Happy Easter to all of you. It has been a short week for lessons this week with a strong emphasis on Romans not that we have started Romans yet. Bob though got a book on Romans for his birthday and this week with his reading taking leaps each week he set about creating all a Roman solider would need for war with whatever cardboard and as much tape as possible. I still need to get some photos but at this point as soon as the camera appears Kanga goes crazy so photo taking has been limited.

I am also starting to browse material for next year and working out what we will need. This raises excitement but also many questions as we do not know where we will be come the fall.

Zog has been immersing himself ever deeper in the world of animals, in particular African Animals through his love of Tinga Tales – books and online. Zog is rarely to be found without his giraffe and bison in hand and French lessons are loved because there are toy zebras and tigers for him to play with. This means my brain is being stretched yet again, as well as learning all things historical for Bob, but as usual both boys are keen to share all they know and are learning and to quiz us on a regular basis to check we have been listening.

Zog is also stretching my quick fire responses to questions as he seems to have an answer for everything. Once this week when I was tying his shoes he stroked my hair and for a moment I thought he was being affectionate only for him to turn around and say ‘those would make great buffalo horns’ and when asked ‘what would?’ he responded ‘ those grey hairs’ and I replied that ‘those grey hairs where from having children’ and without a moment of hesitation he replied ‘ no mummy we gave you silver hair, the grey ones are because you are getting old’…… Then this evening staying up due to a power nap he had in the car this afternoon he has been quizzing Mark and I on the number of brains and lungs horned animals have and what a whole variety of animals eat. Having suggested that ants eat leaves he said that they couldn’t as they climb down not up trees. (why this would stop them eating leaves is yet to be explained if indeed that is correct) But when asked how did the ants get up the tree in order to climb down his response straight back was ‘that the eagles picked them up and dropped them in their nests from where they then climbed down the trees.’  On reflection I think Tinga Tales might have something to do with that response. I think we need make friends with a local vet for him though.

Right its been a short week and sleep has been short this week and this evening looks like being a long one so time for me to go and return to learning about animals.