Quick to listen?

The speech therapist at Schreiber gave me the results of her evaluation. “This must be a mistake,” I thought. “Instead of a percentile of .2, it must be a 2 or a 20.” But it wasn’t. In Matthew’s receptive language, in a group of 100 children his age, 99.8 kids are better at hearing and understanding.

On the other hand, he is much better at expressive language. He can tell us what he is thinking or letting us know what he wants to know. Usually those statement begin with “I want…” or “What’s next…” or “What’s for dinner?” In fact, he is so good at this, that we hear these expressions constantly and endlessly.

All the above helps me understand why I can get frustrated so often in a day. I almost always need to say things more than once. And if I hear one more “I want…” I think I’m going to go crazy. Or, if I must tell him one more time that, “I don’t know what’s for dinner. Mom is the one makes dinner…” that too could be enough to send me to the funny farm.

This receptive language deficit also helps explain why my role as teacher is so challenging for me. Here is the essence of it: With a lack of receptive language, it is very difficult to learn. And, if a student doesn’t understand the question, chances are good that he won’t give the correct answer.

A couple takeaways to all this:

1. If I am to survive teaching my child anything new, I must slow it down and make sure he hears and understand what I’m telling him. By the way, the effort is worth it. If he gets it, he really gets it! When that happens it really does seem that he is super smart – in the words of Matthew, “I’m a genius!”

2. The truth is that I myself am much better at expressive language than I am at receptive language. It isn’t just Matthew. I too am more naturally skilled at telling you how I feel than I am at hearing how you are doing. I’m much better at telling you what I’d like you to do than I am at hearing what you want me to do. I need to figure out how to overcome or compensate for this weakness.

Maybe most of us are this way – better at expressing than receiving – perhaps the reason James said, “EVERYONE should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (1:21) I think I’d better read that a few more times. Perhaps then it will start to sink in.

Thanks for taking time to “listen” to my expressions of things I’m learning here in the “homeland.”


Love is costly

Since I recently upgraded my house with replacement windows, I expected to see yet another 15% savings in my electric statement. Instead, I was shocked to see my highest bill ever! 60% higher than last year during the same month (with an identical average temperature).

Surely it was a mistake. Perhaps the power company misread the meter? They hadn’t. What possible other explanation could there be. Had I not changed the air filters recently? Had we been that lax in making sure the door to the unheated garage was kept shut?

Then I noticed it – the thermostat! It had been changed to the emergency heat setting – the most inefficient mode. Of course. Another set of buttons being pushed when my eyes were not fixed upon him.

A few weeks earlier I had the expense of replacing the TV. While exploring percussive sounds made upon common household items, it was discovered that a 39” LED HD screen is no match for a drumstick.

Then, a few weeks later Joan found her phone was switched to mobile data. Yes, we are the kind of frugal people who limit (or at least try) to 100 mb apart from connection to a hot spot. And then there was the special snowman (ballerina in this case) globe with music box that was shattered. How many times did I say, “It’s a decoration, not a toy to be played with?”

But most costly is lack of sleep. 5:00 AM is tolerable, but typical early hours like that plus being awakened several times a night? Seems too much to pay sometimes.

I’ve noticed love is costly. The other day “Our Daily Bread” reminded me that I need God-sized love, the kind of love that doesn’t expect to be repaid. The suggested prayer: “Jesus, pour love into me so I may pour it out to others – even to those who can’t repay.”

Whatever expectation of reward I might have as a parent, there are times when I wonder if I’ll be repaid enough. But then, this past Sunday I participated in communion and was reminded of the costliest, God-sized love. He loved, knowing he would never fully be repaid.

Our First Blog Post

Stepping out in faith

After years of writing and editing, we have three books in print. It has been 18 years since we took all our savings and invested in a book. It felt like a giant step of faith for us. We were often fearful we would have a basement filled with books. Thankfully, in a few years we had sold or given away most of them. In return, we were blessed with kind words about the book and many testimonies of how God used Joy in a Foreign Land.

Well, here we are again, taking another step of faith. In our second book we encourage others to move out in faith, so it makes sense that God would have us do the same – again. Our basement holds more than twice as many books as last time. We’re hoping it doesn’t stay that way for long. Mostly, we are hoping to hear that our books are helpful.

Thank you for your prayers for this venture of faith.