Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Most in need of Him

The Christmas season brings us closer together which means that sin, that universal human condition is present in multiple ways even among the gift exchanging, feasting, games and fun. When your sin or another's threatens to discourage celebrating the holidays with joy and contentment, allow this discord to act as a reminder that this sin is why Jesus came and may you, like me, see how much we need Him right then and every moment after that one.

 Christ took our nature on him, not that he
   'Bove all things loved it, for the purity:
 No, but he dressed him with our human trim,
   Because our flesh stood most in need of him.  
   ~Robert Harrick (1591-1647) from Christmas Spirit by George Grant and Gregory Wilbur 

I quoted the following words in part two Christmas seasons ago, but today I quote it in full.
The holiday season is upon us. 
And along with our many celebrations comes a higher concentration of human beings in limited spaces.
Homes that usually house one family, will receive extra visitors.  
Grandparents will join their children and grandchildren for meals and games.  
Uncles and aunts and cousins will arrive from far-away places.  
Bedrooms will swell with overnight guests.  
Showers will require more hot water than is available.  
Dishes will pile up.  
Toilets will plug.  
Diapers will stink.  
Toddlers will make watching a good movie almost impossible.  
Glasses will break.  
Toys will become tug-of-war victims. 
Along with all the laughter, memories, jokes, conversations, and good food, offenses will come. 
Patience will run short.  
Fatigue will settle in.  
Someone will most likely get sick.  
Loud crying will echo throughout the house. 
There will be spankings and rumors of spankings.  
And then the end will come. 
We tend to anticipate the joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas, without remembering the tensions that accompany sinners wherever we go.  
Our celebrations always bring with them difficulties, because we by nature are difficult to get along with.  
So, how shall we then live, given our own weaknesses and failures? 
By faith. 
By faith we must trust that our mixed-bag celebrations are the context God is using to grow strong sons and grandsons.  
By faith we must trust that these sorts of tensions are fashioning our daughters and granddaughters into beautiful palatial pillars.  
By faith we must believe God is re-making us into his own image through our flawed efforts to please him.  
And that is exactly what we are endeavoring to do here this morning.  
We are trusting he will change us as we seek to please him.  
How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. 
Let us therefore worship the Triune God.

~ Curt Bakker, Christ Covenant Church, Call to Worship, taken from Lift Up Your Hearts

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas celebration, my dear friends and family!  I am so thankful to rejoice with you in the birth of God's Son.
O ye heights of heaven adore him!
     Angel hosts, his praises sing!
All dominions bow before him,
     And extol your God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
     Every voice in concert ring Evermore and evermore.
  quoted by George Grant  

Monday, December 10, 2012

top bunk

Over the weekend while doing some Christmas shopping for the kids, we found a nice pine bunkbed set for Seth and Shane surprised him by putting it together while he was away at a friend's house.  He is very excited about sleeping way up there although I'm less excited about having to climb up there to change the sheets, but I enjoyed a bunk bed when I was his age so I understand the fun of it all.  

Christmas treats redux

It's that time of year again!  I'm buying candy and saving paper rolls to make some of these for my Sunday school children.  There's just something about assembling treats with bright paper and ribbon, candies and handstamped cards that makes me so happy to celebrate the little people in my life. Two years ago I posted a tutorial, not because it's hard but because it makes such pretty pictures!  Click here to find it.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

dear diary

I wrote over here this week to help me keep track of the days as they sail by. It's just a short account of various homemaking and holiday moments from recent weeks with some blurry photos and diary writing.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Advent titles

Handel's Messiah read together, the other two are for me.

buying gifts and creative play

This past year, as I have cleaned and organized various areas of our home, I have been quite bothered and dare I say, convicted of buying toys and gifts for our children for Christmas and their birthdays that have left us with a glut of barely used toys, all the while I thought I was being wise and discerning, much to my chagrin.

Our home is little compared to most families', but as I have learned in the five years living here with three young children, it's smallness forces me to keep only things we truly need and like best. So books are found nearly in every room and I constantly assess the kids' toys to only keep those that are truly worth their time and energy. In a way, I have begun to dread buying gifts for them, other than books and clothes of course, because the playthings found in most brick-and-mortar stores offers nothing that they really need to expand their imaginations and be creative in their play.

Several years ago I began to make homemade greeting cards for whatever occasion arose for friends and family. I invested in stamps and inks and stickers and paper, not really knowing what I would do with all of it. It has become a labor of love as I attempt to create a card that reflects my relationship to them and something that is unique as they are. I truly enjoy the creative moment and would say that it is a form of play for me as I design and arrange the cards just so.

A quick trip this past Saturday morning, to a large toy store left me quite disappointed as there was not a single item, save a bike, that I would have felt satisfied purchasing for our kids.  Nothing.
We already have all the good stuff and I am still weeding out all the not-so-good stuff accumulated over the years.

In less than two week, Kate turns five and although she is not developmentally five, she enjoys many of the same play items that a typical five year old would play with: dolls and strollers, pretend kitchen sets, dress-up clothes, etc. But we have all those items, so this year I expanded by search to more lasting play toys, like wooden tree blocks and a wooden clothesline stand from Montessori Services. The shipment didn't make it to my parents' home in time for them to bring it, but I know the items are ready for us after Christmas so in the meantime, I need something small for her actual birthday in two weekends.

We have enough items in our home, treasured from my childhood and Shane's, that I know our children can enjoy, older or handmade toys just as much as the newer items. And looking back as an adult now, I treasure those items passed on down from one generation to the next. Many toys made today are not worth the next generation's time, nor are they made to endure for that long. I know this, because every week or so I am super-gluing some cheap plastic back together and lamenting the money on poorly constructed playthings.

I would love to know your thoughts on this as well, so please share anything you like.


Some of my closest friends are not on Facebook so I thought I would share some of my recent posts from there on here as well as a video and photos of Kate from this morning, entitled Kate the Hairdresser.  :)

A Facebook update from Friday afternoon:
Seth and I were finishing up our All About Spelling Lesson which has brightly colored phonogram magnetic tiles when Laura came down from her nap and snuggled in my lap while we continued to work. After watching Seth and I manipulate the letter tiles for the lesson work, she looked very sweetly up at me and said, "When I grow up...(and at this point I was totally convinced that she was going to say, "I'm going to learn with this stuff too" or something similar since she has done that before, but no, she had something different in mind this time, very different)...I'm going to have bumps on my face like you, Mama!" Oh, the honesty and innocence of children! My face fell and I said fervently, "I hope not, Laura, I hope not." On the bright side, I am thankful that she overlooks my ongoing beauty blemishes and loves me nonetheless.

Another one from Satuday afternoon:
Oh dear, it was one those parenting moments where you wish you could disappear into the floor. Before I could stop her, Kate leaned over from our Michael's shopping cart and reached into an elderly woman's purse nestled in her cart. I instantly grabbed Kate's hand back, scolded her and apologized profusely to the non-smiling lady who was now carefully and firmly zipping her handbag closed. I don't think she ever even looked at Kate to see who she was dealing with. LOL

Daddy's photo

Fun in the snow, Seth and Laura

Thursday, November 29, 2012

making connections, even in Narnia

As we were listening to Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, this afternoon, I heard something in the exchange with the professor and Susan and Peter about Lucy that I had never noticed before but I'm sure many others have. Concerning Lucy's supposed lying about going into Narnia through the wardrobe, the professor suggested that they only had three options when considering the matter of Lucy.  He suggests that she is either lying, mad or telling the truth.  As I fed Kate and listened to this dramatized conversation, I remembered that Lewis is famous for his defense of Christ's divinity by proposing similar three options.  I found the following paragraph after a quick internet search, indicating that it indeed was a teaching technique employed by Lewis throughout his writings.
In addition to demonstrating a Socratic teaching method, the discussion among the Professor, Peter and Susan, shows another mode of teaching used by Lewis--a trichotomy. A trichotomy is a three-part version of the philosophical "dichotomy," which dramatizes that there are only two real choices or options in assessing the truth of a proposition; a trichotomy attempts to force a choice among threethings. The Professor explains that Lucy's story of Narnia shows that she is (a) lying, (b) mad, or (c) telling the truth. Put this way, they all agree that the "logical" conclusion is that Lucy is telling the truth about her adventures beyond the wardrobe. Lewis also uses the trichotomy in Mere Christianity to defend the divinity of Christ, who men variously refer to as "liar, lunatic, or Lord." Lewis adeptly champions the last option.
from The Socratic Teaching Method 

Seth apparently was making his own connections as he listened before heading outside to play in the snow.  He said, "Narnia sounds like the land of Canaan, you know, with honey."  Not sure what he heard that made him think of that, but the point is, he is listening and that's important.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tolkien singing from The Hobbit

In the first chapter of The Hobbit, the dwarves are cleaning up Bilbo Baggins' kitchen and this is the song that they sing while they work.
Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
        Blunt the knives and bend the fork!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hate-
       Smash the bottles and burn the corks!
Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
       Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
      Splash the wine on every door!
Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
      Pound them up with a thumping pole;
And when you've finished, if any are whole,
     Send them down the hall to roll!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So carefully! carefully with the plates!

You can listen to a truly delightful recording of J.R.R. Tolkien singing the dwarves' song himself. It's quite catchy, so you might find yourself singing it for the rest of the day! We are!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving to Advent

My parents joined us for several days to celebrate American Thanksgiving and they left this morning trekking their way south through a light and powdery blanket of snow that settled here overnight.  The snow inspired me to let the kids set up our little Christmas tree today and the calendar caused me to turn my thoughts toward preparations for Advent.

festive Saturday breakfast table

Early morning snow play

snow covered cedar
candlelight comfort
Every year we transition from Thanksgiving to Advent, a strange segue in many ways. But there’s at least one thread that passes through these very different celebrations. 

The Pilgrims left the Old World, hoping to find in the New World a place where they could worship in liberty. A place to be with God. They did and did not find it. Since the first century, Christians here and everywhere have been living in the tension of having, and waiting to have, the New World. 

Come, Lord Jesus.

Advent is a period of focusing on the longing we feel for the true New World, when the dwelling place of God will be with man and each man will sit beneath his tree and we will be home again on earth. New Earth. We long for that New World, the new heavens and new earth, completed recreation in and by the Second Adam. He was conceived as a man as the Holy Spirit hovered over the formless void of the virgin Mary’s womb. So began the New World. He arrived and nothing has been precisely the same since. Glory to God, the King has come.
Read the rest of The New World and the New World by S.D. Smith from The Rabbit Room.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


To outsiders, the five energetic women seemed to rule the house, and so they did in many things; but the quiet scholar, sitting among his books, was still the head of the family, the household conscience, anchor, and comforter for to him the busy, anxious women always turned in troublous times, finding him, in the truest sense of those sacred words, husband and father
The girls gave their hearts into their mother's keeping, their souls into their father's; and to both parents, who lived and laboured so faithfully for them, they gave a love that grew with their growth, and bound them tenderly together by the sweetest tie which blesses life and outlives death.
          ~Good Wives, Louisa May Alcott

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

important work

Driving somewhere recently in a more rural area not far from our home, I came upon a parcel of personal property that had many scattered and abandoned vehicles, large and small, old and new with several derelict buildings and a house that I cannot recall at all.  My immediate thought at seeing such a chaotic and unkempt piece of property was to wonder if the owners were Christians or not and that inner question surprised me.  Did it matter if they were Christians or not?  Surely many people have clean and organized homes and property and yet profess no allegiance to Christ.  What then of these people and their allegiances?  What did the mess tell us about them who were strangers to us?  Did they care that their property and the hunks of auto metal and dilapidated buildings that were strewn among the trees and overgrown grass was a huge eyesore to those passing by?  It was pure ugliness and only the thick green grass and large mature trees gave you any relief from the offensive view.

I gave this incident no further thought until this past week as I was reading through Francis Schaeffer's essay, Pollution and the Death of Man where he describes lecturing at a Christian school whose neighboring property across a ravine was what they termed a "hippie community" which included trees and farms where pagan grape stomps were enjoyed by the members of this "Bohemian" community.  Francis Schaeffer's curiosity was stirred so he visited the community and met one of the leaders and enjoyed a conversation which included Schaeffer's views on the Christian answer to life and ecology.  The leader complimented Schaeffer by telling him that he was the first person from "across the ravine" who had ever been shown the pagan grape stomping area, complete with a pagan image.   I will let Schaeffer tell it now:

Having shown me all this, he looked across to the Christian school and said to me, "Look at that, isn't that ugly?" And it was!  I could not deny it.  It was an ugly building, without even trees around it.
It was then that I realized what a poor situation this was. When I stood on Christian ground and looked at the Bohemian people's place, it was beautiful.  They had even gone to the trouble of running their electricity cables under the level of the trees so that they couldn't be seen.  Then I stood on pagan ground and looked at the Christian community and saw ugliness. Here you have a Christianity that is failing to take into account man's responsibility and proper relationship to nature.

Several pages later, he comes back to this thought as he writes how the Christian church can exercise dominion over nature without being destructive.

For instance, the area of nature, we ought to be exhibiting the very opposite of the situation I described earlier, where the pagans who had their wine stomps provided a beautiful setting for the Christians to look at, while the Christians provided something ugly for the pagans to see.  That sort of situation should be reversed, or our words and our philosophy will, predictably, be ignored.
It is always true that if you treat the land properly, you have to make two choices.  The first is in the area of economics.  It costs more money, at least at first, to treat the land well. For instance, in the case of the school I have mentioned, all they had to do to improve the place was to plant trees, and somebody decided that instead of planting trees they would prefer to do something else with the money.  Of course, the school needs the money for its important work; but there is a time when planting trees is an important work.

His account really resonated with me.  Christians should be providing something beautiful for the pagans to look at.   When the hippie community looked across the ravine, they saw no culture worth pursing, no nourishment for their souls, no ideas for their consideration.  They saw ugliness and there was no relief from it, except to turn away. And while Schaeffer was writing especially about nature and ecology, this has implications for all of our endeavors as Christians.

Doug Wilson recently urged something similar following the election earlier this month:
We also need Christians with a thorough-going biblical worldview writing good books, making good movies, and recording good music. As I have argued before, you can't have a naval war without ships, you can't have tank warfare without tanks, and you can't fight a culture war without a culture. ~Seven Post Mortem Principles 
Charlotte Mason in her book A Philosophy of Education concludes a chapter with these words written shortly after World War 1:
We are filled with compassion when we detect the lifeless hand or leg, the artificial nose or jaw that many a man has brought home as a consequence of the War.  But many of our young men and women go about more seriously maimed than these.  They are devoid of intellectual interests, history and poetry are without charm for them, the scientific work of the day is only slightly interesting, their 'job' and the social amenities they can secure are all that their life has for them.
The maimed existence in which a man goes on from day to day without either nourishing or using his intellect, is causing anxiety to those interested in education, who know that after religion it is our chief concern, is indeed, the necessary handmaid of religion.
Francis Schaeffer again:
These are reasons why the church seems irrelevant and helpless in our generation.  We are living in and practicing a sub-Christianity. 
A paraphrase of a definition of education as put forth by Christians like Andrew Kern and others is:  to cultivate a love for beauty, wisdom and goodness.  I've added order to that list for my family. To cultivate a love for beauty, order, wisdom and goodness that brings life to our family and to those we meet.

This past Sunday we stayed after our morning worship time to enjoy a meal with our church family.  As I was feeding Kate her lunch, I realized that in my running to and fro to get food and utensils for all of us, that Seth was seated at the other end of the table and a young woman that I did not know was speaking to him as they both ate their food.  I strained to hear their conversation but could really only hear her side as Seth's voice was quieter and more timid.  But I realized she was asking him questions like "what do you think you want to do when you grow up" and I was disappointed I could not hear his replies very well.  I did hear some talk of different video games he enjoyed and she seemed to know about the games he mentioned.  I'm not sure how long their conversation lasted as my eavesdropping efforts were not very successful.  Later when the kids were down from the table and the adults were left to chat, I was able to be part of a conversation that was happening between her and several other people close by.  I still didn't know her name as the time came for me to clean up and get ready to go.  I introduced myself to her and thanked her for talking to Seth and taking an interest in him.  She smiled very kindly and said she very much enjoyed talking him and that she was surprised at how articulate he was for being nine.  I expressed doubt that he was really any different than other nine year old boys, but she genuinely assured me it was her pleasure to talk with him.

David Mills, writes to Christian parents in particular, on what is necessary to form our children's imaginations, which is required if we are going to create beauty for the pagan world to see and cultivate a culture which gives evidence of allegiance to our King.
To put it another way, we want to raise kings, children at least somewhat worthy of the status of sons of God they have received through our Lord’s death on the Cross. We do not want the average, the mean, the mediocre. We want the elite.
Children with a special calling must be trained in a special way. They must be set apart. More must be asked of them than we would ask of other children. This is not easy to do. We are giving them a privilege that will seem to them like a burden.
One way to set them apart is to try to form their imaginations, to give them an alternative to the worldly lessons even the sheltered child absorbs as if from the air, by immersing them in books that express the Christian understanding of the world. ~Enchanting Children 
As Christians, we need to cultivate a Christian understanding of the world  and we need to make it obvious, whether it shows in planting trees and flowers, making good music, writing lasting stories, building beautiful buildings or cooking wholesome food.  May it no longer be said that we as Christians have only contributed that which is sterile, but instead that we have sought to cultivate a culture of beauty through wisdom and virtue.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kate at work

This past weekend, Kate passed some of her Saturday afternoon by playing with the onions she found in the pantry.  She was told to put them back and clean up the onion peel mess left on the floor.  The dustpan and brush were all her idea and she has grown quite adept at handling them during clean-ups.  Laura makes a few cameo appearances as well and is content with her spectator role as becomes apparent in the second video. The following two videos were shared on Facebook already, so forgive me if you've already seen them.  Enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Monday, November 05, 2012

my favorite baking

banana chocolate chip muffins:  recipe previously posted here.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

family time

This is the first Sunday in November and the weather has become dangerously close to bringing snow into our lives, but instead the clouds hang onto their dark gray loads and we to our leaf raking and piling.  I'm layering the garden with as many blankets of leaves as I can pile on and hidden in the blankets are packets of vegetable scraps and banana peels.  I'm looking forward to adding some dark, rich earth to grow next year's garden in.

We celebrated Shane and Joel's birthday together this year with dinner, spaghetti and Caesar salad and ice cream cake.  They(Joel, Karla and Tessa) couldn't stay for long, but it was a fun time and I think Shane and Joel both enjoyed being together on their birthday.

Lovely table setting, although Kate pulled on the tablecloth and spilled some water.

Trying to get our camera to take photos of candlelight. 

Ready to put the blaze out.

This year the girls joined Seth in trick-or-treating in our little neighborhood and they had a great time.  I think eight or nine neighbors participated by opening their doors and admiring our little family.  Laura pointed out all the lights and jack-o-lanterns as we walked up each path and Kate did well collecting her share of candy that she can't eat but enjoyed dumping on the floor once we were back home and then re-bagging it into many different bags.  Shane and Seth took off for other streets around the area and the girls and I handed out candy to the other neighborhood kids who came to our door, most of them Laura knows by name.  It was a wonderful evening together and the girls did so well with all the commotion, I was so proud of them.

Trying out the costumes.

Trying out the jack-o-lantern.

Getting the treats ready.

Angry Bird lit and ready to go.

Quick group shot before we head out.

First stop, our next-door neighbors.

Next day, organizing the loot together.
Shane and I did some shopping together the weekend before his birthday while the kids were at the sitter's house and he picked out some pink cowboy boots for Laura that were at the consignment shop in her size and in perfect condition.  She now wears them to church each Sunday which I sure would scandalize some church members, but not ours obviously as I see people admire them and snicker as she trots by.

Looking serious in her new boots.

Going out to the car for church.
And here is one last shot taken from this morning in church where Kate and Laura are standing while we sing.  Kate held on to her Psalter despite many close calls where gravity was ready to claim victory.  Two different times before the service actually started, I turned around from speaking to someone else to find her comfortably sitting next to people many rows away that she doesn't really know very well.  She looked at me as if to say, "What, don't I sit with these nice people every Sunday?"  They all of course enjoyed her company and laughed over her ways and were very sweet as I led her back to our seated family.

Messy-haired sisters standing together in church.  

Thursday, November 01, 2012

like brother, like sister

God or Mother Nature?

This week's catechism question and answer has been very well timed as we have listened to the news and seen online images of the devastation caused by what was named Hurricane Sandy.
Q: What are the decrees of God?
 A: The decrees of God are his eternal plan based on the purpose of His will, by which, for His own glory He has foreordained everything that happens.

This is what we read on Monday:
God had a purpose for everything He made. He has a purpose for everything that happens: God's purpose is to glorify Himself. Before He began to create, God planned how every single thing He would create would fit together and how all of it together would bring Him glory. To be certain that everything would happen just as He had planned it, He foreordained, or gave orders in advance, for everything that would ever happen. We call these orders God's decrees. Read Psalm 33:11. We often make plans and have to change them. We might plan a picnic, then have to change our plans because of rain. When we made our plans we did not know it would rain and rain is outside our control. God never changes His plans. Nothing surprises God because He knows everything. Nothing is outside His control because He is all-powerful. God's plan is eternal. It is based on His purpose, which never changes.
Tuesday's reading taught that God's purpose for all He has made and for everything that happens is to make His glory known. Here Habakkuk 2:14 and Isaiah 40:5 were read.

Tomorrow's reading deals with how the things that seem contrary to God's purposes, sad things and bad things, still fit into His plan. We will read Isaiah 45:6,7.

Next week in learning how God carries out His decrees we will look at the world's worst evil act, the most wicked plan ever devised and executed, the torture and killing of God's Son, Jesus Christ. And we will read in Acts 4:27,28 that the disciples understood that God used the actions of His enemies to carry out His decree.

All of this leads me to say that I can say with certainty that the Bible leaves no room for some version of Mother Nature. The only active force behind storms and other natural events(and indeed everything) is the Lord God, Creator of heavens and earth, the Ultimate cause of all things.
 Praise the Lord.
 Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. 
 Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 
 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. 
 Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. 
 He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away. 
 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, 
 lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,  
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, 
wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, 
kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, 
young men and maidens, old men and children. 
~Psalm 148:1-12
So while we grieve over the loss of life and the destruction of homes and property,(and it is terrible) we should never assent to any view that substitutes Mother Nature or Mother Earth for the power and decrees of the God who first revealed Himself through the Old Testament and finally through His Son, Jesus Christ as seen in the New Testament. Invariably people want to find a purpose for this horrendous destruction, they want to know that this destruction matters and is not just a random purposeless act and if they can identify a purpose, they will feel empowered to prevent something similar from happening in the future. And while there may be a genuine problem with the way we treat God's creation, we be assured that God is in control of all things and no storm or catastrophic event can occur without His express order and purpose. Understanding this then leads you to appropriately and meaningfully seek God's help for protection, wisdom and understanding through prayer and the study of His Word.

Our family was fairly removed from the brunt of the storm but we spent many anxious moments asking God to protect our families and friends who were directly in the path of the storm. Knowing that God is in control and is all-powerful causes me to rightly seek His help. He can and will act as He has decreed. What a comfort to know that He has purpose for His actions, they are not capricious or random, but come from His infinitely wise and eternal plan. That is why we can say with Job in the midst of life's terrible trials, "Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him." Job 13:15.

I hope you are encouraged, like me, to look at your own trials as coming from an all-powerful God who not only sees your trouble, but has with purpose sent them to you, that you may praise His name and make His glory known among the peoples, even while you cry out for His help. Psalm 96:7-10

 I speak to myself first and have written about thinking this way before, especially about the birth of Kate. You can read that here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

pastoral thoughts on infant baptism

The distinction and concession underscores the reality that Salvation is always by Grace and not Race while at the same time maintaining that because of Grace, Grace often runs in familial lines (Deuteronomy 7:9).
And so we believe with Scripture that whenever God made covenant with man He always included the children of whom He made covenant with in that covenantal arrangement.
A Short Rationale for Infant Baptism by Pastor Bret McAtee of Iron Ink

"The father says, in effect, by keeping him at arm's length from any covenant blessings, that his profession of faith and trust is more worthy of doubt than credence, and this is the first (twisted) covenantal lesson the child learns. Christian parents are commanded to teach their children to believe, and instead, in the name of high conversion standards, we teach them to doubt. Then, when they grow up and mature in the doubting that we have taught them, we point to that doubt as clear evidence that we did the right thing in keeping them away in the first place" (A Primer on Worship and Reformation, p. 73).
from Pastor Douglas Wilson of Blog and Mablog

lessons of the heart

I have struggled with how to document this school year's progress.  In some ways, I feel like I am still trying to figure some things out which leaves me in no position to speak with confidence or authority about methods or materials.
And then, in other ways, I do feel confident in what I want learning to look like in our home, but I hate making it sound like I've got it all together.
How about some transparency?
I'm typing this right now when normally we would be working on grammar, spelling, read alouds and other quieter work while the girls nap.
But a little while ago, as I was looking over some copywork that Seth had completed in cursive earlier this morning, I noticed two letters that I wanted him to re-write a different way.  His cursive is very nice and I am very pleased with the neatness and accuracy of his handwriting.  However, I saw some changes that needed to be made. I also noticed that he missed a word in the copywork, so I pointed that out as well, asking him to correct that.  Something else that he was doing, not related to academics, needed some correcting, until it all snowballed into him becoming upset and bringing further problems to the table.
As I spoke to him about these issues and watched him angrily correct the mistakes, I was reading through the passage that he had previously read and completed both a oral and written narration on and found many details that he had neglected to tell and write about.  His narrations were very skimpy, given the rich detail found in the few paragraphs of material.  By now, he is no mood to hear any further reproof and was quite upset and complaining that he should be able to have a nap(unheard of for him).
And by now, I'm quite annoyed by all that has transpired in the last five minutes, so I order him up to his room with his book to re-read the selected passage and add to his written narration.  He left quite mad.  I also was mad over how quickly the situation had deteriorated.
At this point, I couldn't care less about his handwriting or written narration, I am much more focused on helping him mature in his character development(and mine too!) Or what I think of as his spiritual training, his discipling.  Biblical parenting is a fully-orbed discipleship program.  One minute you are discussing barnacles and the next, you are asking them to maturely handle making corrections to their work.  Minutes later, you are praying with them to be victorious in a bad habit and then going on to enjoy the next chapter of Little Men together, which is how I hoped this afternoon could end.
But the day is not over and since he has fallen asleep now (which is definitely not normal for him), I will give him time to rest and when he comes back downstairs, I will offer a hug and speak with more gentleness about how we can do better tomorrow.  Yes, I have lessons and books planned, but I don't put much hope in lessons on grammar and spelling when the lessons of the heart need more attention.
I have found that all of this, whether it is planning science lessons or teaching self control, require me to be in constant prayer for wisdom and a gentle spirit, because my natural personality is not to be gentle.  As soon as I start thinking, "I've got this under control or I've got this great routine", then I forget to pray and seek God's help for each situation.
This is not the homeschool update I thought I was going to try to write today.  I will try to post something more typical soon, but some days don't happen the way you think they will.  <Nervous laugh>  And that's the lesson for everyday.

In his heart a man plans his course,
    but the Lord determines his steps.
~Proverbs 16:9

Saturday, October 13, 2012

fall days

Snapshots of our day at the apple orchard, untouched and very realistic!