Glimpses

 

15 May-2692

We’ve been soaking up the last summer days. Ready (Ian) or not (Zac and I) we’re starting our school year the end of this week.

Here are several pieces of life around here–most of which have to do with going places or conversations that happened while driving– indicative of the types of days we’ve been having.

:: Last week the two older boys attended VBS at a small community church in a neighborhood adjacent to ours. The boys LOVED their time at VBS, and for me the quiet forenoons with Paxton were a gift from heaven.

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:: I registered the boys to participate in several developmental studies at Emory University. They contact us when the boys fit the demographic for a current study.  If the boys participate they get a small compensation after spending about 90 minutes of being evaluated while they play. Since then I’ve become particularly interested when I see articles reference, “In a study conducted by Emory University…”

This week we joined our first study.  They had requested Paxton and Ian, but only Ian met their criteria for participants. The study was looking at how children learn to recognize their surroundings and how they navigate their way around obstacles.  Ian had so much fun playing a guessing game and a video game. He was begging me to sign him up for more studies. As a bonus they gave a gift card big enough to buy a new Lego set.

15 May-3198

:: While we were driving, we noticed a man whose entire chin and jaw was bandaged. The boys were guessing what may have happened.

“Maybe a ball hit him.”

“Maybe he bumped his chin on a cupboard.”

I noticed his unsteady gait and a few details that made me guess something more like a fall due to lack of consciousness or maybe a fight.  But I like that they still voice such innocence when they live in a place where they see so much brokenness. I love that their perspective reminds me to look for the good.

Experiencing generosity has a way of opening our hearts to extend generosity.

This has been true many times in my life, and probably more than ever since we moved to Atlanta. Here we are surrounded by poverty and we get to witness so many people sharing their time and resources to meet other peoples’ needs.  This week someone showed me an example of generosity and now I’m wanting to be a better giver.

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On Wednesday Ruthann drove a little over an hour to spend a day and night with us while Steve was out of town for a couple days. She helped me with housework and childcare during the day. She’s the kind of person who is not intimidated by the mess and dirt in our house and she’s quick to encourage other people. We laughed and talked together over chicken coconut wraps<< on the patio, and had a fun evening walking the Beltline with lots of other Atlantans.

<<a link to the recipe, so you can make them, too

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On the way back to our house we pulled up to a stoplight, and a woman with a cardboard sign caught my attention. We talked through the window, found out what she was needing, and I told her we would buy her some food.

(One of the boys offered the last two bites of the Larabar he was eating. So sweet of him, but we let him finish his snack.) :)

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We drove into a nearby drive thru and Ruthann  pulled her wallet out of her bag. She said she would like to pay for the food we were buying, “Because we don’t get the opportunity to do this for people as often where we live.”

Ruthann’s gesture of paying for the food, her spirit, and the way she saw serving as an honor was so beautiful to me. That word opportunity  has been circling my thoughts ever since.  I’m realizing that as these opportunities have become routine for me, they have started looking a lot less shiny and a lot more inconvenient.

When we got back with the food it took us a minute to find the lady again, but she was still there. She seemed really hungry and almost snatched the bag from my hand. I was so glad we had gotten food for her. We also left info about where to call for more resources.

It’s so good to see our life through fresh eyes. After hearing Ruthann’s perspective, I’m thinking of how much more I could give. Instead of simply handing a bag of food, I could also hop out of my car and give a hug, too. (Kind, human touch is something people living homeless do not get very often.) I could easily spend a few more minutes to really listen if someone wants to talk, and I could ask if they want me to pray with them about their needs.

I’m feeling inspired to find happiness in giving.  I hope you feel the same.  

On Gifts not Received

You would have noticed her, too, the woman leaning into the passenger side window of the car parked next to mine desperately begging from two men who were equally determined not to be disturbed.

When she didn’t leave even after they clearly showed they weren’t offering her any help, they simply drove away without a word–leaving a woman cursing the back of their car and a boy about eight years old watching tail lights.

I’m not sure why I wanted to help her because, If I’m honest, when I walk into the parking lot and see another person looking for charity headed my way I often sigh inwardly. It happens so often and after five years of many people walking away when I offer them the thing they are asking for–food, transit–I’m finding it harder to respond to their requests with patience and love.

As I unloaded my groceries I found myself hoping I’d get a chance to talk with her.  Not surprisingly, she headed my way next. She said she she needed help, that she was homeless, that her little brother was killed in a fire in a hotel a few days ago.

I asked if they needed a place to stay. Surprised at my question, she said they did, but her needs became deeper with every offer I made. There were eight of them. Her mom is in a wheelchair.  She didn’t want to go to a shelter because her sister was raped in one a few days ago.

She was shaking all over and her shoulder muscles were bulging. Her son yawned as though he was bored. A security guard was keeping an eye on us–ready to step in if needed.  I was doubting her story; but if it was true, if even part of it was true, she really did need help.

I told her I’d make some calls to see what I could do to help. She stepped aside, and I went to the back of my vehicle to get a couple bananas while I was calling Steve. I had a pretty strong sense that her story might not be true, but still wanted to help if I could.

A few minutes later I had the phone number ready. I looked up expecting to see her at another car begging the next person while waiting for me, but she hadn’t stayed  to see if I could help. Another time I might have left, but God had stirred compassion in my heart and I circled the garage over and over hoping to see her again.

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She was gone. I drove home with the phone number and a couple bananas on my lap, a little sad, praying for a stranger, hoping that she would find the help she needs even if it looks different than the help she’s looking for.

When people are desperate and we want to offer hope. We give freely because we know a God who offers second chances, who loves unconditionally, and who can completely change lives. We really want to share Him with others.

What we have to offer could change someone’s life.  It might be passed by.  It’s disappointing when our gifts (whether it’s just a couple bananas or something much more life changing) are rejected or abused, but there is peace in following God when He leads us to do good whether or not giving results in changes we want to see.

Sometimes stories don’t end the way we wish, but it’s always right to offer love.  And when you think about it, the story might not be over.

Golden.

14 Sept-0153_WEBOne night Zac and I took a walk at sunset and were treated to such a pretty show.

Sometimes only one of the boys walks with me. They feel really special to have a little outing with mama all to themselves. They chatter and tell me their deep thoughts.

These pictures were taken in October, but I loved the golden sunset so much, I still wanted to post them.

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Walking up the street from our house toward the park:14 Sept-0136_WEB

At the top of the bridge we cross, we can see the skyline to the left. To the right we watch trains coming and going. MARTA runs every fifteen minutes and the freight trains go through several times a day.

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The sunset cast a golden glow on the city–absolutely beautiful!   14 Sept-0171_WEB

 

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We crossed the bridge and walked to the park. It was warm, but cool, so we just sat and looked at the sky. 14 Sept-0185_WEB  A few bats came out for the night (look closely and you can see tiny black dots close to the lights). Bats are Ian’s favorite animal, so now we’re excited whenever we spot them. 14 Sept-0192_WEB

Recommendations: Homeschool Edition

After so many, many words (Homeschooling Methods Part I and Part II) I need a minute to catch my breath.

Today I’ll share inspiration from others.

1) In the get-it-right-frenzy that homeschooling posts can be, this is an invitation to take a seat: Homeschooling from a Place of Peace and Rest

 

2) A cute craft.  (Mrs. Tiggy Winkle?) It would be nice if there were instructions, but the website is unresponsive. Making this hedgehog looks simple, though–like a paper plate folded in half and shaped just a little for the face. Great scissors practice for little ones.

(Edit: We just made a hedgehog with a coffee filter. It was fun, but Ian had a hard time cutting the filter.  Our scissors were pretty dull,  but maybe a paper might be a better material to cut.)

paper hedgehog for scissor practice -- too cute

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3) Listening to stories is a great diversion for winter days. The boys like listening to audio books while we’re traveling and while they’re building or drawing. Books Should be Free is a  website that offers free audio books. I linked to a classic that we’ve listened to several times.

4) The Biggest Bear is a delightful read–both because of the story and the illustrations. Enjoyed by ages two to adult.  If you haven’t read it, add it to your library list.

5) It’s Christmas vacation, so you might need extra activities to keep everyone busy. Here’s a chart to help children create their own fun if they run out of ideas on their own.

Free printable - no more, "Mom, I'm bored!"... This is going up on our wall ASAP!

[Get the free printable copy here]

An Atlanta family's story: learning to love God and others

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