Friday, October 05, 2012

Having my pie and eating it, too

I ate a pie this week.  And not just a piece.  The whole thing.  Perhaps you've tried the recipe before, too.  It's called Humble Pie.  Anyone with me?

This has been a difficult week for a lot of reasons, one of which you'll find here.  I had no intentions of even sharing this, but the Holy Spirit has led me otherwise.  So for the five or so people who read this blog, perhaps this is for one of you.  I've not shared those raw places in my heart for many reasons, but I will share one now.

Mason's strongest subject is math.  His favorite subject is math.  He just gets it, and it's effortless to him.  I can actually leave him be to do his math homework each afternoon, and he'll get it done quickly and correctly.  He's can not wait to learn his multiplication tables.  I'm not sure when he will be introduced to those at school, but he asks about them all the time.  One day last week I overheard a conversation between he and his daddy as I was nursing Ellie.  It went something like this:

Mason: What's 15 times 15?
Daddy: 90

Yes, I know.  But please.  Just don't get hung up on that and keep on going.

Mason (after a minute or so of thought): Dad, that can't be right.  Ten times ten is 100.  So 15 times 15 has to be more than 100.

Seth was pretty impressed, as he should be.  But reading?  Well, reading is a different story.  Mason struggled a lot with reading in 1st grade, in particular fluency and comprehension.  And now there is this huge focus on how many words per minute a child can read so that was a big deal last year.  I realized in January just how hard it was for him, and we have been working very diligently since then.  He initially scored very low in timed reading and honestly never made it to benchmark by the end of 1st grade.  He was required to read 60 words per minute (wpm), but he read 37.  Let me tell you.  I was just thankful for that 37!  Even though he was below benchmark, I didn't care.

And, let me tell you, I did my research.  I met with his teacher, as well as other teachers in his school and other schools.  I asked my favorite teacher, my aunt, to assess his reading skills last February.  She did and helped me devise a strategy to strengthen his reading skills, which I implemented immediately.  I also carried it through the summer.  It was not always easy, and I can also honestly say that it seemed like we were making little to no progress at all.  But we kept at it.

And then came 2nd grade.  He was tested the second week in September.  Can you imagine my jubliation when his teacher sent home a note saying he not only met but SURPASSED benchmark by 40 POINTS?!  I know you probably don't even know what benchmark is, and I'm not even going to go there because then I'd have to explain the tedious process as to how this is assessed, and I just really don't want to do that.  Nor would you want to read about it.  Just take my word for it.  That was a VERY GOOD thing.  It was validation that all of our hard work was paying off.  Smooth sailing.  But, alas, not so fast.  Choppy waters were ahead.

The first semester of school comes to a conclusion next week.  And, as usual, Mason has an A in math, spelling, social studies and science.  But not so much in reading and grammar.  He started out okay in reading.  But his last three test grades have not been okay.  They have not been okay at all.  We've been studying so hard, spending nearly an hour and a half a day on homework, nearly all of which is devoted to reading.  But instead of seeing an improvement in his reading test grades, they have dropped.  I met with his teacher last week (whom we absolutely LOVE, by the way) because I thought surely there is a common thread across these tests that would indicate what he's lacking, where we need to focus.  Well, there was not.  Each week was not the same.  There was no common thread, nothing particular that we could see.  But, nevertheless, we talked through it, and Mrs. M identified some strategies for us to implement at home, as well as a few things she was going to do at school with him.  So we set to work.  I expected to see some improvement on last week's reading test.  But there was not.  At all.

Mrs. M sent home a note this past Monday with a copy of his reading test.  When I saw it, I lost it.  I'll spare you the ugly details, but let's just say it was NOT a good afternoon at our house.  I cried.  And cried.  And cried.  I cried all the way through homework, all the way through supper, all the way through bathtime.  I was utterly distraught.  Over one test grade, you ask?  Well, it's a little bit bigger than that.

Mason goes to a magnet school.  And there are certain requirements for continued enrollment in that school, including a minimum GPA that must be met.  And beginning third semester, the GPA requirement is going to be increased by .2 point.  Once a student falls below the required GPA, he is put on probationary status and will be given the following semester to bring it up.  If not, he will no longer be enrolled and will have to go to another school.  If you are not from here, you don't understand this.  And this is yet something else that I will not explain.  But just take my word for it.  There are no other public schools in our parish (county, for those of you outside of Louisiana) that we will send out children to.  Private school is not an option for us as long as I'm not working because of the cost.  So, the way I saw it on Monday afternoon, that leaves me with one option.

Homeschool.  Now.  I have MANY friends who homeschool and LOVE it.  They don't understand why in the world I don't do it, why in the world I wouldn't want to do it.  Well.  I'll just be honest.  I don't.  I have absolutely no desire (at this time) to homeschool.  I get it.  I really do.  And sometimes I wish I had the desire to homeschool.  But. I. do. not.  And that's okay.  I promise.  It really is.  We have prayed about this MUCH, and I can assure you that we are following God's leadership for our family and our children.

Let me say that Mason is NOT in danger at this time of falling below the required minimum GPA; however, with the increased GPA requirement next spring, the grammar and reading grades are going to have to come up a bit because even the other grades will not be enough to give us what we need.  But all I could see on Monday afternoon was that low reading test grade, that GPA requirement and a paralyzing fear that it would be too much.  I was discouraged.  I was frustrated.  I was even angry.  We have worked so hard, spent SO MUCH TIME EVERY DAY studying and preparing and reading, but it wasn't translating to those tests at school.  As much as it was bothering me, it definitely WASN'T bothering Mason.  And that became a big problem in my eyes, too.  I'll bet he was even more glad than I was when bedtime finally came on Monday night.

After the children were in bed, I found myself in the family room about to study my Sunday School lesson when Seth called.  So it started all over again as I had to explain everything to him and talk through it with him.  By the time I went to bed, I was a mess.  and that's when it started.  As soon as I crawled under the covers, I started shaking.  I couldn't stop.  I was freezing cold.  I had on long pants, socks and was covered with a quilt and a duvet.  The shaking continued for what seemed like forever, but it was probably only an hour or so.  It was one of the most miserable hours of my life.  I finally fell asleep.

I woke up.  It was dark.  Ellie was still sleeping so I knew it wasn't yet 4:30, but I didn't know what time it was.  I wasn't cold anymore.  I was burning up hot.  And my mouth was dry.  Sticky dry.  I was dehydrated, and I knew it.  I also remembered I hadn't eaten supper.  I got up out of bed and barely made it to the kitchen.  I grabbed a saltine cracker because I wasn't sure if anything I ate would even stay down.  Note to self: Do NOT eat a saltine cracker if you are dehydrated.  I choked on it and then I couldn't get it out of my mouth because it was stuck there.  So I drank a couple of glasses of water.  My fever was 102.  It was 2:30am.  I went back to bed.

Before I knew it, Ellie was stirring.  I wasn't even sure if I could pick her up.  I was afraid I would drop her.  But I didn't.  Somehow I nursed her and then put her back down.  It was 4:30am.  I drank some more water.  My temperature was down to 100.6.  I sent Seth a text message and told him I needed him to come home immediately.  I went back to bed until it was time to wake Mason up for school.  I'm not sure how his breakfast got made or his lunchbox packed, but it did.  I nursed Ellie again and put her down to play.  I crawled up on the sofa and slept the entire day, waking only to nurse Ellie and drink liquids.  I'd called my doctor as soon as her office opened, and she determined that I probably had a virus so she didn't prescribe anything for me.  Seth was home by 9:00am.  So I just slept.  Exhausted.

My fever broke, and I was feeling better into the evening.  Seth went back to work on Wednesday but made the decision to stay in town the remainder of the week.  And I've been absolutely fine since then.  Throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday, I spent much time in prayer.  Well, as much time as I could with Hannah Kate and Ellie under foot.  I had to face the ugly truth, the reality of all that had happened on Monday afternoon.  I realized that whatever it was I had was probably, well most definitely, the result of stress compounded by a lack of sleep during the past few months.

The lack of sleep . . . well, that's understandable since I have three children, one of which is a newborn.  And there's just not anything I can do about that right now as far as I can see.  But the stress?  And the worry?  And the constant pressure I heap on myself to do or to be?  The truth was staring me in the face.  I was not fully trusting God.  Lack of trust.

The Lord had already begun dealing me with me regarding that issue as I studied Genesis 1 last week.  I never expected or imagined a lesson on trust to come out of a study of God creating the world, especially since that's a passage of scripture I'm very familiar with and have read over and over and over and over and heard since I was two or three years old.  But trust.  God.  GOD.  The God Who SPOKE the heavens, the earth, the galaxies into being.  Just His very voice commanded the stars and moon and sun where to lay.  Power.  Now that's power.  Indescribable.  Majestic.  Awesome-ness.  If He can do all of that, which HE DID, by the way, He can take care of Mason and reading and 2nd grade.  Yes, He can.  Yes, He WILL.  But I have to trust Him with it.

So as the Holy Spirit was sowing this truth across the tattered edges of my heart and mind, my cousin posted the following verses on Facebook yesterday (She prefaced this post by saying, This is the Lord's response to me, uh, I mean Job.  Me, too, Niece.  Me, too.):

"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions?  Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone -
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, 'This far you may come and no father;
here is where your proud waves halt'?"
~Job 38:4-11

Proud waves halt . . .


Yes, Julie, this is where your proud waves halt.  Humble pie, anyone?

So I sought forgiveness from the Lord.  I sought forgiveness from my son.  And while I still feel the sting of a proud heart and prideful spirit that ultimately led to the Lord's chastisement, I also feel the sweet waves of restoration.

I'm not sure what lesson, if any, there is in all of that mess for you.  But, whatever you're going through, TRUST GOD.  GOD is BIGGER.

And, of course, I can't do a blog post without a picture.  Three weeks ago, I was inspired to fancy things up a bit.  During their last visit to Louisiana, my sister-in-law was talking about how my nephew just loves to have his after school drink and snack served to him in a wine glass and on a china plate.  This seems to add a little extra motivation to homework time.  So I decided to try my own variation.  Hannah Kate and I made home made ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.  When Mason got home, I layered the ice cream and cookies along with some whipped cream and a cherry on top in the parfait glasses I inherited from my Grandmother.  Well, Mason wasn't impressed.  He thought the glass was silly.  Hannah Kate was a little easier on me.  But here they are enjoying their ice cream and chocolate chip cookie parfaits.

Yeah, those tasted much better than that humble pie.  Trust me.  I know.


Anonymous said...

With tears in my eyes....I love you Julie.
Elaine :-)

tracy said...

Oh, Julie. These words are from God, to me, thru you ! Thank you!
Love, Tracy