Friday, June 12, 2015

The End of our Preschool Years!

With one child doing two years at CCP, another attending three years, and the last attending two, we have come to the end of our run.  A special thanks to the staff and team who keep play alive at Christ Church Preschool. We are so thankful for your ministry with our children and for adapting to the needs of all of our children.

Today was Josiah's last day; he is now onto kindergarten. He sang his little heart out and even had a bit of a solo for Rocking My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.


Josiah with his teacher.

In case you were thinking that he is big, you are absolutely right. Doctor's appointment yesterday confirmed he is in the 95% for height and 90% for weight--and he was not even born in Wisconsin. Our baby boy is truly a big boy.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Double Vision: Compensating for 9.5 years

 In the midst of our occupational therapy sessions with Elias I noticed in Eli's writing a lack of spacing between words. I had always wondered if he had eye problems just because of some handwriting and some copying issues, but also knew that could just be the result of his poor fine motor in general.  I asked  the OT if she could just do some visual tests on him in the next few sessions. She agreed. And, when the session was over she came out explaining that she identified three challenges, but that it would be good for us to get him checked out by a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Now part of me thought, "Good God, not other appointment. But, another part of me thought that perhaps we should follow through on this, especially because I vaguely remember Elias complaining that he was seeing double back in January." So, I booked the appointment and the first available was Easter Monday.

We went into this dark room and Elias was tested in all kinds of ways. I still remember him telling the doctor she should get a good insurance policy because she kept handing him glasses with a lens missing in each side.  (Of course, that was to test one eye  more than the other but Elias does not get subtlety.)  When she finished with shining lights, watching videos, and having him recite letters she immediately asked me "How does he do in school?" I told her he does really well with reading, science, and some writing and then she filled in my words and said, "but he has trouble with visual things like puzzles, block design etc."  I looked at her in awe.  She then asked me if he had ever had a Weschler Intelligence Test and I said yes and she said, "And I bet he's off the charts verbally and then has much lower visual scores" and I said yes again. And, I felt vindicated one more time.

You see, when Elias had such disparate scores when he did the psychological exams with the school psychologist I kept asking if that was a sign of a learning disability and they adamantly denied there was any connection. Rather, we were accused of being Lake Wobegon parents who wanted our child to excel in all things.  Clearly, this child had a reason for these differentiated scores. The ophthalmologist diagnosed him with Convergence Insufficiency. Essentially, he sees double and has been doing that his whole little life.  He has compensated extraordinarily well. In fact, the doctor believes he takes almost like an x-ray picture in his mind and then scans that for reading--this probably explains why he reads so fast.  Elias tells me if he reads fast enough the letters don't become double.

The good news is that Convergence Insufficiency is treatable. So, we have begun weekly sessions with the doctor and then Elias also does vision exercises on the computer that she assigns.  Hopefully, his eye muscles will adjust and the double vision will be corrected. In the meantime, we will not  be signing him up for Little League. I had to chuckle when I asked Elias if this was one of the reasons it was so hard for him to catch a ball. he said, "Yes. I never knew which ball to catch as they were coming at me!"

Genesis: God walks to us and we fight over Trader Joe's lemonade

We all think we know this story so well.
Good. Evil. Naked. Clothed. Temptation. Sin. Shame.  I’m sure there are more.
But what if this third chapter of Genesis portrays a God seeking intimacy with humanity in a delightful place and then shows us how we human beings are all so much alike from the beginning of time.
Too often, we have the concept of our God from the Old Testament as a white bearded man who sits far, far away and looks down at the world he created whilst he clutches a long staff in his hand.  
We give this God a Greek worldview in which he is omniscient and in control.  
A God who is able to, and most willing to, shape the circumstances of people’s lives.  
A God who may sit on high, but a God who can alter situations on demand.
And this kind of God sees the physical body as a hindrance, a burden, sometimes even as the tomb of the soul.
A Greek worldview conceives of salvation as the freeing of the soul from its entanglement in the physical world that it may wing its way back to the heavenly world.
But, our Hebrew God in Genesis is most decidedly different than a Greek philosophical God.
And the reason is that this strongly Hebrew text shows us a God who is nothing like the God we so often assign to the Old Testament.
In Genesis, our God is a distinctly Hebrew God.
The world is God's world; humanity is God's creature, although rebellious, sinful and fallen.
Salvation is achieved not by a flight from the world but by God's coming to us in his earthly, historical experience.

Listen to the text as it so illustrates God’s human side: “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze…”
Right here, God is given legs and seems to be meandering through a lush garden.
And we soon learn God is ambulating through this garden because he is seeking out the company of humanity.
He asks, “Where are you?”
This remarkably simple question tells us two things: First, that God is not omniscient because he doesn’t know exactly where his human friends are.
And the second thing we learn is that God is seeking out the company of human beings.
God desires both to be with humans and to enjoy the good gifts of creation.

Now we all know things go South pretty quickly, but is critical to note the nature of God, before we examine God’s responses to a situation gone awry.  
It is very helpful for me to frame this story in light of the experience of raising children.  
Most of us can agree that before children can speak, or have some degree of autonomy or free will, they are in some ways “perfect.”  
That is to say, their thoughts and actions have yet to make them do things that intentionally defy us.
They cry, they eat, they sleep, but they do not say utterly mean words or do decidedly defiant deeds.

Over time, as they begin to feel confident in their created world and start to imagine that they, like Adam and Eve, are entitled to more, they may act in ways that befuddle us.  
In the case of Adam and Eve, they longed to be like God.
They felt that what God had given them was just short of enough and they felt that perhaps maybe they were being gypped.
They had forgotten that they were told that they could have everything in the whole damn creation except for the fruit of the tree of the good and evil.

Likewise children get caught in similar predicaments.  
In my household right now it revolves around Trader Joe’s lemonade.  
You see, I don’t enjoy beer and I don’t want to open a whole bottle of wine for myself, but I do enjoy sipping on seltzer with a splash of lemonade after the kids are in bed.
Our refrigerator is one of those double sided doors with the freezer on the bottom and it is, most often filled with delectables for children—from yogurt sticks, to frozen waffles, to Pomegranate juice, to gallons of full fat milk.
I have asked my children not to touch one thing in the whole refrigerator- my much loved Trader Joe’s lemonade.  
This is my one treat, which I can nurse for a week.
If they touch it, three cups later, it is gone.  
Well, wouldn’t you know that last week, I found an empty carton in the trash when I came home from work.
When I inquired who drank of the forbidden juice, it was a scene out of Genesis.
My daughter said she saw Elias do it so she had to do the same.
And when the youngest saw the two older having their fill, he told Daddy that Mommy said it was OK.
Each child blamed another, each person felt entitled to MY juice, and Daddy just got duped in the process.
This story in Genesis really touches on the reality of our human condition.
We want to know the way God knows.
We are afraid what is enough, might NOT be enough. And we have blame down to a science.  
Call it what you may, much of this boils down to fear in some form or another.
Fear of not knowing.
Fear of not being satisfied.
And fear of taking responsibility for wrong doing.
Genesis reminds us that the reality of our sinfulness and creatureliness is real, but it also reminds us that we are not alone in these faults.
Adam, Eve, and the serpent were all guilty of the same mistakes.

And herein lies the mystery of our God.
Our Hebrew Scriptures God walks in the cool night evening to be with us. Our God seeks out our humanity and our company.
And yet our God is also fully aware that the limitations placed on us will cause us to sin.
Adam, the man of dust, blames Eve, while then Eve blames the snake. And before you know it, our sin is compounded.
But, what if we were like the Psalmist who waits for God like watchmen wait for the morning?  
What if we all waited for God in the cool, evening breeze like watchmen waiting for the morning?
If we set our eyes on watching for God, rather than measuring God’s bounty, we might be much more able to stop eating from the one tree we were told not to eat.
Life in God is eating the fruits of God’s good creation all the time—tasting, savoring, and being made full.
Life without God is standing beneath a coconut tree staring at that one last nut waiting for it to drop, shaking that tree as if your life depended on it.