Sunday, August 13, 2017

Teaching Michael

Teaching Michael
I heard myself make an audible sigh while listening to my seven-year-old son read. He had stumbled over some words and I was getting frustrated. This was the first year that I was attempting to home educate our son after being advised by a well-known child psychologist that it was the best option because of his being diagnosed with severe dyslexia. The Rome Georgia City School system’s answer was to tell me that my son was simply slow, slow, slow and that his father and I needed to understand that he would never learn to read or write or graduate high school and that college was out of the question. His school’s principal told us that we needed a reality check.
Remembering that meeting with that compassionless woman still makes me cringe. That was the moment when Mark and I recognized that we had to advocate for our son to a much higher degree. This principal’s heartless appraisal of our son and his abilities did not match ours. We were experiencing a little boy whose imagination was amazing. His questions regarding sound waves and the workings of television, records, and the radio revealed to us a child who was not slow, slow, slow but one in whom the school system was not willing to invest the time, resources, or effort into discovering how to reach his mind with the intricacies of reading the written word.
Our next step wato find a child psychologist who could evaluate Michael. This search led us to contact Edna Copeland. She and her staff did extensive testing on Michael. Their diagnosis was that he was severely dyslexic in every sphere. He didn’t just see words backwards, as was the common thought, but even the words he heard did not come to him in the order of how they were said. She suggested that I home educate him. My response was not very gracious and with a raised voice I stated, “I am not a hippy. I believe in our education system. I cannot teach him because I do not have a degree in education.” 
Further, I told her that I wanted to force the Rome City School to teach my son. She told us that it was an optionbut fighting the school system would probably take timeand asked if we were willing to waste another year of Michael’s education. I was still unconvinced that I could teach my son. Her gentle words gave me the courage to try.“Mrs. Baskin, I can see that you love your son. No one in that school system cares about him and his future as much as you and your husband do. I know you will find a way to teach him.” Mark was all on board with this home schooling adventure but I wasn’t convinced. Reluctantly, I went forward with a plan to teach him for one year and then to have his reading evaluated to see if he was making progress.
Thus began a new chapter in our lives. This was in 1991 before the days of being able to research quickly with the stroke of a key. I began to study dyslexia, reading books and educational articles at our local library. I talked with all the educators that I knew. If we were going to attempt teaching Michael at home, at least I was going to try to not screw it up. 
One of the best decisions that I made was to contact a friend who worked with illiterate adults. She also trained others how to use the Laubach Method to work with non-readers. She agreed to tutor Michael once a week and I signed up for a training workshop. Michael began to move forward using this method. Still, I was not comfortable and did not know if what I was doing was going to be enough for my son and his future.
Back to my unfortunate sigh. “Mommy, if you could tell me how to do one thing I know that I could read as pretty as you do.” Realizing that he heard me sigh was not a pleasant moment and certainly wouldn’t have won me the elusive Mother-of-the-Year award. Still not fully engagedin the conversation, I asked him what I needed to tell him how to do. Hearing his little voice shake, I looked down at him and saw tears half the size of dimes falling down his small face as he asked his question. “Please tell me the secret of how to make the words stand still on the page.”
What was the secret to making the words stand still on the page? I didn’t know a secret. How was I going to answer my son? I gathered him up in my arms and said through a choked voice, “School is done for today! You decide what we should play and I will join you in a few minutes after I pick up the school books.” My smart child knew I was avoiding answering him. He reached up and touched my cheek and said, “The words don’t move around for you, do they?” 
My tears joined his, “No, they don’t. But I will figure out a way to help you. I promise. Now, go play.” Yes, I told him that I would figure out how to help him make those words stop dancing around his page. Was I insane? How could I accomplish what the educational professionals had not achieved?
Michael left to find something for us to do as I gathered up the school supplies. I put them on the bookshelf and went into my room where I closed the door. Dropping to my knees, I cried out to the God who had created my son for wisdom and guidance. And, He began to direct me to more resources. 
My time at the library increased. Lots of the material that I was reading could not be checked out so I would carry change to make copies of salient educational articles. I would try various suggestions and different methods that were supposed to help dyslexic children learn how to read or to remember which side a circle attached to a stick to form a lower case b. One of the things that seemed to help his words stand still was covering the page with different colored transparenciesI don’t really know if that helped as much as Michael claimed or if he just liked the different bright colors. Honestly, I didn’t care what was helping to keep him engaged in trying to read. I was seeking ways to make reading fun and not drudgery
In my research I had found out about the different learning modalities. Michael was a tactile child. He loved the way things felt. He was drawn to colors. The rhythm of poetry helped him when reading. So I found ways to incorporate these elements into his reading and writing lessons. There were tin pie plates filled with beans, rice, and sand. I would take his finger and draw a letter in the one of the plates and say the letter out loud, and then draw it again and say the sound. Michael would draw the letter and say the name and sound. After doing this several times, he would write that letter on paper. We did air writing. I taped giant letters to the floor and we would crawl around them as we said their names.
He was still reversing several of his letters. The Laubach Method used pictures to help people remember the sounds of the various letters and how they looked. Michael loved drawing and he could remember details. I decided to change from the ball and stick writing method to pre-cursive since once you began writing a letter your pencil stayed planted on the page. His reversal of letters stopped immediately. To help with the letters moving all over the page, he covered all the words except for the line he was reading with blank sheets of paper. We covered the words above and below so there were fewer words to cause confusion. Since he loved music, he began taking piano lessons. I felt that having to follow notes going from left to right might help with his reading.
Instead of using the basal readers, I had him read using Dr. Seuss books. I would have him sound out the words. Afterwards, I would read a page. He would then“read” the page, or perhaps he was simply parroting me. He loved it because suddenly, his reading had begun to sound pretty due to the rhythm of the poetry that he could mimic.
I quickly discovered that Michael was better able to concentrate on his reading lessons early in the day before we did any other subject. Once his eyes got tired, he was unable to focus on the words and both of us would become frustrated. His schedule was reading, writing, math, and then either science or social studiesWe took several breaks during the day. He was doing second grade materials in all subjects except his reading. We were using Dr. Seuss, Laubach books, and other children’s storybooks. For his other subjects, I would read his textbooks to him and we would discuss the materialsAnytime I could incorporate an art project with his math, science or history, I did. He was learning and seemed to be thriving.
One day, Michael picked up his Bible. It was a children’s, Bible written on a fourth grade level. I was sitting on my bed reading. He brought the book over and climbed up next to me. He opened it up to Genesis and began reading. Since we had read that several days before, I assumed he had memorized the passage. I told him that was great and then randomly opened to another passage. Slowly, he read several verses to me. I wept. He started crying because I was and wanted to know what was wrong. I told him that I was crying because I was so very proud of him. Our tears had changed from ones of hopelessness to tears of joy.
My friend who was tutoring Michael evaluated his reading at the end of our first year of home education. When the school year had started he was assessed with a reading level of pre-K; at the end of the year he was reading at a low fourth grade level and we had just completed second grade. Somehow, through many trials and errors and a very imperfect teacher, this child had learned to read. He was flourishing and loved the learning process
As I remember that conference with the all-knowing principal and his first grade teacher, I am very sad but also angry. How many other parents over the years did these women convince to give up on their children simply because they were the educational professionals?Ultimately, a child’s education is not the responsibility of the school system. It’s the responsibility of the people who love him or her the most. Never give up on your child.
Michael is now a man. We home educated him through high school and he went on to college, where he graduated with a BA in Fine Arts, focused on Film and Script writing. Currently, he has been writing and illustrating poetry that he plans to publish with the hopethat as Dr. Seuss’ books encouraged him, his books will encourage other children to discover the love of reading.
Michael’s determination also motivated me. It’s amazing what a parent can learn from a child. When Michael started college, I decided it was time to finally finish my degree. I completed a degree in Early Childhood education and went on to earn two Seminary Masterdegrees, one in Theological Studies and the other in Christian Education. Today when I look at my son, I can still remember that little boy who never gave up. He was determined to learn how to read and excel in other subjects. I thought I was being selfless by sacrificing my time for my son, but in reality I learned how to persevere through the hard things in life by watching him. All those years that I thought I was teaching him, in actuality he was teaching me how to endure even when the odds are against you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My book is done!

My bookBroken Faith: Picking Up the Pieces was written to encourage those who have lived through tragedies and sorrows. This is a short book. After serving in various ministry positions with my husband for 36 year, I have discovered that most people who are in the midst of extreme circumstances do not have the stamina to read a two or three hundred page book. Often, they are barely able to function. The length of this book would not seem to be another insurmountable task. My book is filled with raw emotions and I openly share the struggles with my faith that I encountered in my journey. Audiences for this book would include a similar group that Carol Kent, Joyce Meyer, and Beth Moore attract since all of these women have overcome diverse sorrows in their lives. Men would be ministered to in the reading of this book since I include stories that feature my husband’s faith and actions.

There is a short preface that briefly explains how this book came to be. This is followed by eight chapters: 1) A Beginning, 2) Expectation, 3) Assurance, 4) Deliverance, 5) Sustainer, 6) Intercessor, 7) Holy and 8) Promise Keeper. I end the book with a short epilogue. Each chapter begins with a memory from my life. This memory is discussed with a spiritual meaning or life lesson and all of the chapters, except for chapter one, end with a miracle that I have experienced.

Despite not getting the “happy ending” of restoration, the book expounds about God’s grace and mercy and how He has shown Himself to be faithful in our lives. Vividly illustrated in my story is the verse, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…” The stories I share demonstrate how to live with joy regardless of one’s circumstances. 

Please pray as I seek a publisher.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Pondering on what inspires...

I find it so interesting what folks find inspiring. There are normal things that I do when I need to be inspired to keep on keeping on such as listening to music, reading the Bible, writing, praying, or talking with a friend who I know will encourage me. There are certain passages in Isaiah that I go to or certain ones in Philippians. Unfortunately, there are times when ALL of my usual tactics fail. I do realize that they most likely fail because of the condition of my heart. But, the heart is a delicate thing and it is easily wounded.

Sometimes, I will just sit on the back porch and watch the pond and the sky. Other times I try to stay VERY busy so that my mind has no time to sit and ponder. Lately, I have been fighting overwhelming sadness in regard to Christi and Bobby - in regard to losing my entire family.

This week and last week, I have really not spent much time with God. I know that this is not a good thing for me and truly I have no excuse other than I want Him to answer some of my biggest and most heartfelt prayers with a resounding, "Yes." I feel ignored. Notice, I am talking feelings here and not what my mind tells me is the truth. My feelings are raw and they ache.

The truth is - I am sad. I have been sad for years. Even my happier times are filtered through this sadness. I want to see my oldest two children's faces in the land of the living. I want to get the opportunity to share the rest of my life with them. I want to hear about their growing up years. I want to rejoice about their successes and cry in their failures. I want to hold them in my arms.

I want reconciliation with my sisters. I want them to admit that they were deceived and I want to laugh with them again. I want to begin making new and happy memories with them.

For some reason, God keeps answering my cries and prayers with silence or keeps saying wait or answers with a no. I do not like nor understand His answer. I do not understand why He allowed this to ever happen and certainly not why He has allowed it to continue. My reformed friends would say it's part of His sovereign plan; however, my free will friends would say that He allows men and women freedom of choice and He allowed it to happen because of the sin present in this world. Whatever the reason, it has not been a joyful experience.

Therefore, I am sad. Bobby's birthday is Nov. 16. He will be 34. I have missed too many to count.

I believe and hope that God will send encouragement and I would love it to be in the form of my children.

Phil. 4: 6 & 7, NIV
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Not sure that this verse has anything to do with my sorrow but I hope that God's peace will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Bright lights

Have you ever wanted to turn back the clock? I have. Yesterday, the sun was shining brightly in my bathroom mirror. I should have walked away or turned off some lights but instead I looked into the mirror and the reflection that I saw was shocking. I saw lots of tiny "new" wrinkles that had previously been hidden from view in dimmer conditions. So, I started pulling out ALL of those magical creams that I purchased which had promised all of these amazing results - eye creams, firming creams, heavy duty moisturizers, and serums ... whatever I could find and started slathering all of them on my face.

Sadlly, those wrinkles did not disappear instead they were just soothed a bit by lots of cream which now gave my face a glistening sort of effect. Not exactly the look I was going for.

Time... it moves forward whether we welcome it or try to fight it.   

Each of us has to decide what our reaction will be to the issues that the passage of time has in our lives, hearts, and minds. We can  bemoan it and race to plastic surgeons for facelifts, tummy tucks, and injections of botox. We can spend hard earned dollars on speciality creams from far off places that promise us youth in a bottle. Or, we can simply try to make wise and healthy choices in our lives.

We can spend time with God. We can laugh with loved ones. We can try to see the beauty that the passage of time allows us to witness. 

I have been blessed to get to share nearly 36 years as the wife of my best friend. We have been blessed with 4 children. During these years, we have shared sorrows and we have shared joys. I am amazed that this man still can make my heart skip a beat when he walks into a room. I like being near him whether we are discussing our kids, current events, theological issues, social issues; or, whether we are watching a tv show, reading a book, or in silence. Just being near him brings me joy. 

My life is written in those wrinkles around my eyes and mouth. Some are from tears and some are from laughter. They announce to the world that I am alive and have lived a real life not one filled in with plastic. 

Now, do I like those wrinkles? Not really. Would I prefer that I had fewer? Of course, I would. I will continue to try to smooth them over with my creams but I will also try to understand that they are part of who I am. They remind me of the roads that I had traveled. They show a life that has been lived. And, I imagine in about 5 or 10 years that I will be looking back at pictures of me from today and wishing that I looked this good. Ha. My perception seems to change as I age. I believe that I will try to enjoy life at this stage without worrying about bright lights.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Really? Getting older is not for the weak or the vain...

Today I uncovered another little known fact about aging. At least, little known to me. This newest discovery shocked me as I didn't know "it" could occur. Now, my lack of knowledge might be that my wee brain never considered it or that I am just plain dumb. I honestly can say that I have never noticed this lovely new thing with my friends because either: a) it hasn't happened for any of them, b) they have disguised it well, or c) I have pitiful powers of observation. Selfishly, I am hoping that the answer is c because I would love to complain with someone who understands my grievance.

I have been sick and my blessed thoughts were that I should take a shower and it would improve my mood and perhaps my health and it would definitely endear me a bit to my family.

After my loving husband left for church this evening, I took my shower. As I was drying off, I looked in the mirror. The sun was coming through the window in such a way to show all of one's flaws - like a stray hair on my chin. grrr. I got my tweezers and it was removed. Problem solved. I've learned the routine in dealing with that lovely issue.

As I stood looking at my reflection, I studied my eyes. I thought, oh my... I guess I pulled some of my eyelashes out yesterday while going nuts with my eye pain. I couldn't hardly see any on the bottom. However, I noticed the top lashes were looking thin, too. I sort of growled at myself. Then, the sunlight lit up my face at just the right angle. I did indeed have my lashes but they had turned white.


I couldn't believe it. I thought that was one area that the passage of time left alone. I grabbed my iPad and did a quick google search. Eyelashes can and do turn white.

I really felt the need to write this down so that if you haven't had this happen to you, you will be prepared. I don't want anyone to scream when it happens to them causing them to pee their pants. Weak bladders are another area that I could write about. I want to share my knowledge with my friends. Also, if you are dealing with this - bless your hearts.

Honestly, maybe it's time to buy a red hat and wear Ray Bans ALL of the time. I may not tell Mark. He freaked out a couple of years ago when he realized that his wife, who is three years younger than him, had more gray hair than he did. But, that's another story somewhere in my blog.

Be Blessed and may hair color, tweezers and mascara always be your friends.

Good Bye to Daisy


Daisy was born 10 years ago January. Her momma was Minnie. Minnie had had two litters of pups before Daisy. Her puppies were always bright, healthy, and beautiful. But, her third and last litter was different. All the puppies were born dead or deformed and died almost immediately. But, one little short-haired red girl was hanging on. Daisy was so weak that she could stay lashed when trying to eat. I had to sit with her and hold her up to her Momma and I gave her a supplement that I got from the vet for about 2 or 3 weeks. After that, she was strong enough to eat on her own.

When you spend that much time trying to keep a puppy alive, you cannot sell her or give her away. Daisy and her momma were a sweet pair.

Minnie, her momma, was a bright little dog. She was housebroken but LOVED being outside. Daisy was a sweet little dog but we could not house break her. I called her my "wee-pee brain". She ended spending most of her time outside. Of course, she slept in a crate in the house at night. And, when it was too hot or cold we had fans or heaters on the screened in porch for her during the day or I would block her in our kitchen (tile flooring in there).

When her momma died a few years ago, Daisy mourned her. She was so depressed. I tried, once again, for several weeks to housebreak her. I read up on several methods. Nothing worked. So, most afternoons, I would bring her in the house and block her in the kitchen while I cooked supper. She, of course, peed all over the kitchen floor.

When we got Toby, Daisy was thrilled. She finally had a playmate again and she seemed to stop mourning the loss of her momma.

Daisy never growled and snapped at anyone. She loved attention and people. She was a baby. She hated getting her nails filed down. Jessie, our groomer, had to put up with lots of fussing from her when she would come and do her nails.

Eighteen months to two years ago, Daisy jumped off the bottom step and hurt her shoulder. She was in major pain and let us know it. Mark carried her to the vet and she was given a shot with pain medication and steroids. We had to keep her still, so she stayed in the house during her recovery for about two weeks. We carried her outside to do her business. Last year, she stopped eating for a couple of days, and again Mark carried her to the vet. He was told she had the flu and was given antibiotics and something else (not sure but a think some steroids). She recovered quickly.

She started acting the same way this week. We realized on Friday that she wasn't eating. Saturday, we brought her inside so we could baby her. She wouldn't even drink water at first and refused to eat anything. By, last night she seemed to have gained back some strength. She was able to walk around a bit, drank some water. Her breathing was no longer labored. She slept on the cool tile floor in the kitchen and then came and got back in her bed next to me.

Mark and I were relieved and both thought that she probably had the flu again. My plan was to carry her to the vet Monday morning.

God had another plan. Daisy died in her sleep sometime after midnight (the last time we checked on her). She was curled up in her normal position. She never cried out. My prayer is that she went peacefully.

I have been distraught because she couldn't be in the house more with the family. Mark reminded me that Daisy actually had a pretty good little life. She was loved, always taken care of, got to run and play with first her momma and later Toby and Marcie. She seemed to be a happy little dog.

I do not believe that dogs have souls and go to heaven. The life we provide for them is it. My little dog never knew abuse, never knew hunger, and was always in a sweet mood. How sad that some dogs are neglected, allowed to have parasites, beaten, and abused. I hope that her life was happy.
We will bury her today next to her momma.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thoughts on Chambers' April 25 devotion

"The proof that we are rightly related to God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not... If you make a god of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life and never come back until you do the duty that lies nearest, and have learned not to make a fetish of your rare moments" (Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 25).

Mountain top experiences with our Lord are the absolute best; however, those moments are not the norm. They are bonuses. They are wonderful. But, they cannot be the moments that keep you on track with The Lord and His ministry. Look for moments with God in your daily life. That unexpected hug from a child, a sweet note from a friend, a bad situation that gets easily resolved. We are called to be in the world but not of the world. God's sovereignty is abundantly clear in our daily lives.  I would rather have 365 days spent with God than one holiday every year or two.

Perhaps, your life is dull at times or those mountain top moments come infrequently. That does not give you license to neglect your duty and not to be the best ambassador for Christ. Serve Jesus in and out of season. When we serve Him, we will begin to recognize Him in our daily moments and all the pomp and circumstance will be unnecessary.

Be Blessed,

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


“Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace" (Luke 7: 44b-50, ESV).

Christ's questions to me, "Do you love Me? Do you believe in Me? If so, where is your peace?"

Jesus didn't measure this woman's faith. He stated simply, "Your faith has saved you, go in peace." Peace. This little word packed with meaning left me questioning the state of my heart. Do I go in peace?

When others view my walk, do they see peace and assurance or trepidation and unrest? When I lay my head down to sleep, is my mind quiet with full trust in Jesus?

Today, I intend to live more fully in the spirit. My prayer is that I walk in peace and live my faith as I love my God. No other action is required. I must love The Lord my God with all my heart, strength, and soul. And, He is faithful to forgive and give us peace.

Be Blessed and go in peace,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Are You the One?

Are You the One?

"And said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me’” (Matthew 10:3-6, ESV).

Dear One,

Occasionally in our walk with The Lord, we ask the question that John posed, "Are you the One?" Our faith sometimes falters especially when feeling attacked on all fronts. My sweet husband once told me that asking God this type of question was not a denial of faith but showed a hope for a response from Christ.

Mark elaborated that if my faith were totally depleted, I would not be begging for God to respond to me. Being hurt, ill, feeling alone, empty and betrayed does not mean that Christ is not the Savior. It simply means that we are living in a fallen world where His salvation is desperately needed.

Mark suggested for me to remember the times when Jesus showed up in my life.  I needed to recall His responses when I felt that He was not hearing, seeing, or caring about whatever was going on at the moment causing me to suffer and to wonder, "Where are you, Jesus? Are you the One?"

These principles still work for me today. When I am hurting and my faith feels weakened, I remember. I stop and remember when Jesus responded to my prayers. I remember the work of Christ in the lives of loved ones and friends. I remember what I have seen Jesus do.

Asking God questions is not a sign of lost faith. It is a sign of conversation and expectation.

Be Blessed,