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Pain, Joy, and Books (Weeks 14 and 15)

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Every day we try to be faithful in all the little aspects of homeschooling.  Each day it seems we accomplish only a little bit and in bad moments I wonder if we will ever get our work finished, but by the end of the week it all adds up to so much!

Math was a major focus these weeks, with both girls moving ahead significantly, and I’m still insisting on at least an hour of reading a day beyond schoolwork.  We also started watching some experimental archeology—Secrets of the Castle, a BBC documentary about building a castle in 13th century France, available on YouTube similar to documentaries mentioned in this review.

Miss 13 enjoyed the musical Anne and Gilbert, thanks to a kind invitation from a small private school.  Her horseback riding opportunity was cancelled, but there’s a possibility for later on.  She got to eat at McDonald’s for supper once, a real treat, and did as much judo as she could manage.  Miss 15’s part time job was very busy at this time of year, so she had some days off school, but she did manage to do most of her scheduled learning.


Even so, the past two weeks were the kind that shake a person up.  How do you weep with those who weep without being a Job’s comforter?  How do you weep like that without being consumed in the pain yourself?  How do you watch suffering without being able to help?

It seemed I was surrounded by pain.  It started with the book of Job, which I was planning to go through using Mason’s The Gospel According to Job, written, it turns out, after a time of depression.  There was the pain of ill-health around me, physical pain, emergencies, possibilities of serious diagnoses.  I read Total Recovery, about the discoveries and recommendations of a pain expert (review coming up).   I started Do You Call This a Life?  and understand more about the ramifications of euthanasia, but could not finish the book.  I saw anger used to cover pain, the effects of trauma, the loss of hope, the fear of despair, the pain of betrayal, the suffering of temptation, the hollowness of being brushed off.  The Hittite Warrior, a school novel, showed the pain of idol worship—and how many millions and millions have not suffered from this?  Trial and Triumph, also for school, highlighted Christian heroes, many of whom were martyrs.  After finishing Isaiah, we turned to Jeremiah which is tears distilled and crystalized.  And this list of sorrows does not even include the news!  It all was enough to make me wish for Jesus’ return immediately, but there, too, is pain.

My perceptive husband said something about laughing because you would rather do that than cry.  That reminds me of Ecclesiastes:  sorrow is real, but the ability to enjoy God’s gifts is in itself a gift from him.  Splashes of joy stand out so vividly against a dark background!

And in that spirit we deeply enjoyed three concerts, one a carol service with an award-winning choir, one a pleasant community choir concert, and one a performance with adorably cute children enjoying the bells, the words, and the attention.  And, this evening there is one more, The Messiah.

Furthermore, we decorated, laughed, made music, walked, enjoyed the lovely weather, played with our bunny, walked the dogs, followed a wedding from afar, and ate special foods.

We finished laughing through The Mouse on Wall Street together and Miss 15 said, “That’s one of the best books.”

I also worked hard.  Cleaning, organizing, teaching, planning, cooking good food, supervising the kids’ work, driving—even pumping up a van tire and crawling half inside the dryer to identify the source of an ear-piercing squeak.  Physical work is always a good answer to difficult times, isn’t it?

I also worked to understand Job and his friends, and what it means to comfort people and really live side by side with them.  I struggled to understand the effects of euthanasia on society, and the terrifying mystery involved When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, two more aspects of Satan’s horrible work.  Yet there is always the comfort of the Psalms, like the Songs of Ascent that our Bible study is focusing on.


As mentioned, I finished Job, Total Recovery, and The Hittite Warrior.  Currently I’m reading Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn; Stepping Up; Trial and Triumph; King Alfred’s English; Pilot Literature 3; Story of the World 4;  and When Godly People Do Ungodly Things.  I skimmed through The Scent of Water, Heart of Darkness, and Hannah Coulter but each of these is too intense for me right now.

The girls have been reading Hardy Boys as well as books by Jeremy Clarkson and Enid Blyton.

Reading aloud:

We finished The Mouse on Wall Street, Isaiah, and Romans.  Next are Jeremiah and 1 Corinthians for our mealtime Bible reading, and Sun on the Stubble for our lunchtime read aloud.


  • Secrets of the Castle, for school.
  • Miss 15 has been watching Top Gear.
  • My husband and I enjoyed The Fascinating Mr. Feynman, about one of the world’s most fascinating and gifted physicists, from Netflicks. However, each time I think of Richard Feynman, I mourn that such a wonderful person did not love the Lord.

Recommended Links:

Here’s something comforting from John Piper.  We all know it, but he has a great way of reminding us, ending with these lines:

You fearful saints fresh courage take

The clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and will break

In blessings on your head.

This post is linked to Kris’s Weekly Wrap Up and Finishing Strong.


  1. Jenn says:

    First, thank you for your sweet comment. I really need a lot of support to live beyond disordered eating. Second, the little things do add up quickly for sure in a school week. We just ended our first semester. I remember thinking at the beginning that we’d never finish. Third, this world is so full of heartbreaking situations. It is so hard not to give into despair or give up and have a hard heart.

  2. Yes, that hymn from Cowper is a favourite when times are hard. I’ve had times it has been the sound track to my life. (The quoted hymn is part of “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”) Perhaps you would enjoy this link with its’ story: http://www.challies.com/articles/hymn-stories-god-moves-in-a-mysterious-way

    1. Annie Kate says:

      You are welcome Jenn. I think you’ve some such a long way in your approach to your health!

      And, yes, Jenn, sometimes those seems to be the only two choices, ‘to give in to despair or to give up and have a hard heart’ but I believe that neither one is right.

      I think Nelleke’s link gives the answer beautifully. Thank you, Nelleke!

  3. Aritha says:

    Thank you so much for this blog. Je schrijft heel goed en herkenbaar. Ben blij dat ik de tijd nam.

    Super: de link naar Piper

  4. Kathleen says:

    I do pray the little drips and drabs add up these days. I fret sometimes that the sum total will be wanting. I often feel so unaccomplished by the end of the week….

    We walk this road in faith.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.


    1. Annie Kate says:

      Dear Kathleen,

      We just need to be faithful in the everyday things God gives us to do. That is how we walk this road in faith. Simple, but not easy.

      God bless you in your everyday!

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