Sunday, April 10, 2011

52 Blessings – Rachel's E-mails

Pal telling Cali and Ty about Key to the Treasure -- a favorite book of all three -- when
we visited in December.

My sister Rachel and I have sent weekly, if not daily, e-mails for nearly fifteen years.  Our whole family feels very attached to Aunt Rachel because of these e-mails.  Everybody read them when they came home from school, sometimes we even read them aloud at the supper table.  Even now the kids will ask me to forward her e-mails to them.  Calvin will often say, “What’s new with Rachel’s family today?”  My family knows her.  They know Bert.  They know their children.  And . . . they love all of them.  I have laughed, worried, cried, been asked for advice, and been given advice through Rachel’s e-mails.  Rachel’s e-mails have been one grand blessing in my life.  I’m very grateful for her willingness to frequently correspond, her example . . . and her stories. 
Rachel sent me this e-mail a couple of days ago.  Bert and Rachel have seven children and several of their children have moderate to severe dyslexia.  The public schools could not address the needs of their children and so, through wisdom, inspiration, and even the school’s suggestion, they began to school their children at home.  They’ve been doing this for ten years and have done a remarkable job.  Because of the tremendous pressure Rachel feels to provide all of the learning opportunities for their children, she sometimes feels inadequate and overwhelmed.  Here is an excerpt from her letter:

                I guess I'll end by sharing the answer I got in General Conference on Sunday.
                Thursday I told Pal, “Pal, we need to find something you and I can read while Maddie, Calder, and Jesse have their Latin class – just something special for you and me, something besides Animal Farm. (Yes.  It's that time again.)  Any suggestions?” 
                Pal looked through the bookshelf for a bit and then said, “I really would like to do another Shakespeare.  But I don't know which one.  Which one do you think?”
                I went over and looked and looked, trying to figure out which one would best keep his attention.  I said, “Well, what about Hamlet?  It's about a prince who kills a king.  I think you'd like it.”
                He said, “YES!  That sounds awesome.”  So we began to read.  He was in love.  After every chapter he would say, “More.  Pleeease?  Just a little?”  And I would read one more. 
                I wanted to end that day on an exciting part that would keep him wanting to read it the next time, so I thought I would end it on the scary part.  But he kept begging, so against my better judgment I continued.  I went to the part where he is in the garden and says, “To BE, or NOT to be....”  Then I stopped and said, “Hey Pal, those are some pretty heavy words right there.  You'll hear them everywhere, even on Bugs Bunny.  I bet you that within the next 6 months you'll hear them somewhere.  Any idea what they mean?”  So we talked about it.  And he surprised me at the end by saying, “Is it kind of like those words ‘Et tu Brute?’ and ‘Lend me your ears’?”
                “Yes, exactly!” 
                He was pretty excited and went to write them down on his important-words-to-remember card.  (He made a 5 x 7 card of tiny little sayings and words that he thinks are really important to ‘memrisse.’  It's darling, if I do say so myself.)  So, anyway, conference comes around.  And it's time for me to figure out what I would like an answer to in my life.  Things are not quite so dire financially anymore, and although it's tight we're okay at the moment.  We have one son on a mission, one that just got a scholarship and will be mission bound soon, a daughter whose boyfriend is far, far away on a mission, and life is seeming to give me a small breather.  So what would I like to pray for an answer for?  Then I remembered.  “Oh yeah.  Homeschool.”  All the never ending regular questions that assail and haunt me, “Am I still supposed to do it?  Are we covering the right things?  Am I harming them for life?  Am I on the right track? Am I still ok?  Am I on the right track, even when some of the kids seem behind? etc...” 
                So, that was my question, “Help.  Please.  Does it really matter?  Am I on the right track?”  And then Sunday afternoon - the one session I have Pal watch- we're sitting on the couch and Elder Robbins gets up and begins his talk, “TO BE, OR NOT TO BE . . . ”  Pal gasped.  I gasped.  Then we both just grinned from ear to ear.  It. was. amazing.  Ok, well at first I'll admit I questioned it.  I mean, after all, they are pretty famous words.  But then Elder Holland spoke at the end about getting answers to our questions, and I decided that was the second confirmation and I better not ask for a third if I wanted to keep my tongue and away from a comatose state.  And it's true.  What are the odds that that book would be picked by Pal, Me, AND the speaker?  What are the odds I kept reading just until that point and then stopped for the day?  What are the odds that we would have a very long discussion on it just prior to hearing them less than 72 hours later?  Not extremely high.  It was a very nice little blessing. 
                Much love,  Rachel


Deidra said...

I love daily communication with my sister and nephews. I'm so grateful for our nearly daily video chats. Going from so involved in their lives to 1500 miles away, it helps me feel like I still know them so well.

I love answers to prayers through Conference. I asked for guidance on parenting and got enough to keep me busy re-reading and studying talks for a while. The Lord is generous and so good at finding ways to hit just what we need.

Brenda Goodrich said...

I loved this.

Jill said...

I immediately thought of this talk when Rachel said Pal chose to read Hamlet, I loved that talk!

What a treasure to have a rich correspondence between the two of you! I'm sure it would make an amazing book for the rest of us.

Amie said...

Oh my. I feel goosebumps... so many great things in this post. I LOVE that you and your sister communicate everyday. AND you have tangible evidence. I can't believe there are two of you so wise... I agree with Jill, that is a book the rest of us would benefit from the sharing of your wisdom. And I can't believe there are "two of you" - so cool. Rachel sounds fabulous!

Becky said...

Just what I needed to hear this morning...thank you! And tell Rachel thank you...I might need to pick her brain about this homeschool thing :)

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

I cannot tell you how much moments like that make it all worth it!
I am in a constant state of worry. Worry, worry and worry some more. I know how that feels.

"To be or not to be", that is a sweet moments of peace.