Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Last Christian & King Raven

I failed to win The Last Christian in the book give-away a couple of weeks ago, but I scored a quick read of it today when KB bought it and brought it home to pack for her trip to campaign camp. She leaves in the morning so I had to read fast. Really fast. Which I do.
Singularity ( you can read more about it http://www.singularity.com/ & http://mindstalk.net/vinge/vinge-sing.html ) a concept we are familiar with here, living with Geek Man and all. This book is a look at where Virtual reality, tolerance, and the Matrix will take us. An interesting commentary covering lots of bases, including Barna's research, Artificial Intelligence, the Matrix and Economic trends. It was a bit to TeDekkerish for me at points but still believable. A good read, a prophetic warning perhaps, with a good message to the church. Be relevant. Be real. Live Truth.

Also read Tuck, the final installment in the King Raven trilogy by Stephen Lawhead. Lawhead is a master story-teller. He's one of my favs all because of his little Rhi Bran y Hud trilogy. Robin Hood's been read around here for many a year as our first dd, a precocious reader, was infatuated with him. We have several versions, ranging from easy readers to weighty tomes. This is one of the best. At the end of the book you'll feel like you've sat at a sumptuous feast and eaten well, satisfied and full. It's a classic tale, masterfully told with deep truths woven throughout.
There is a fascinating Author's Note at the end titled "The High Cost of Heaven" with a brief history lesson of the Battle of Agincourt and the importance of the longbow in battle.

About the importance of the longbow, Lawhead writes, "But it was, perhaps, the most powerful demonstration of a now little remembered law of medieval combat-namely, that when two opposing forces met, those with the most archers would invariably win. A sort of corollary stated that when both sides boasted roughly the same number of archers, the side with the most Welsh archer would win. Such was the highly recognized talent of Cymry with the longbow, and their renowned fighting spirit."

This trilogy takes that law of medieval combat and puts flesh to it. An excellent trilogy. Highly recommended.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kitchen Miracle

Feche-boy looks up at the remains of the kitchen just 4 short months ago.
Today it looked like this:

The front cupboards will host a peninsula. It sits where a wall dividing the 5-sided dining room and the kitchen used to be. Gone is the built in, but it was too water damaged to save. Better than before: the entire first floor is one huge "U" shape- wide open with lots of natural sunlight.
See the built in bookshelf at the end of the pennisula? Woohoo. Windows are in the process of being replaced. The cupboards are stained fruit wood, the window sashes and floorboards are mocha.
View of where the refrigerator will sit. The opening to the left is the door going down to the (soon to be finished) basement.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sneak Peak at our NEW KITCHEN....

Contractors Brad, Keith, Jerry and Dick were at the house today installing our beautiful new cabinets and windows. I entrusted Cub with the camera, giving him explicit instructions to get plenty of pictures of the new cupboards and to include people. The following pictures are a testimony to the things that interest a boy, rather than the things that interest his Grandma (who is eagerly awaiting pictures of kitchen, which she had a huge part in designing).

Without further ado...a kitchen tour, as photojournaled by Cub.... pipes...

...can light...

....electrical box innards....
....the hanging bulb in the new 1/2 bath off the kitchen... ...and finallly a picture of some of the cabinets. Crown molding, hardware and counter tops to follow. The wood is birch, the stain is fruitwood. Aren't they lovely??

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One of Life's Necessities

Ari Goldman writes that one of the greatest necessities of life is a loving mother. My mom has been gone for over a decade, finally succumbing to an auto-immune disorder at the beginning of her 6th decade; way to young to die in my opinion. She was a woman that I admired and believed had an enormous amount of courage to overcame obstacles to succeed that few even contemplate.

While I'm not generally sentimental and am relieved that she is no longer physically suffering, I've missed her immensely at times in the past decade. Specifically when I was pregnant with my youngest 2 kids. Whatever my mom lacked as a mom, she more than made up for it as a grandma. She believed that each of her grandchildren were the brightest and the best. She adored them, challenged them, wrote to them regularly, made them books on tape, reading the books herself, sent them charming and delightful Christmas and birthday presents and flamed the fires of bibliphilia till they were blazing in each of her grandchildren.

And this year. This year I've missed having a Momma. My mil has been terrific, answering crisis calls from me as I stand at the paint store contemplating 32,000 different stains for our kitchen cabinets, being one of the first who knew about Sue and grieving with and for me, designing our kitchen and the list goes on. And I know I'm always welcome at her house and she adores the kids, but somehow it's different.

We went to a gathering at a friends' house this week and she was sharing her plans to have her grandkids over to camp on her screened in porch to watch fire-flies this summer and my throat ached with the longing to have Mom's house to go to. Just a place where Mom was. That was neat and tidy and full of flowers and iced flavored tea. Where I could sit on the screened porch in the evening, watching the stars and the fire-flies appear. Safe, cared for. Unintimidated, unalone.

I feel caught between the decades of my children. The 16 year age span between them all is my constant challenge. Having "kids" gone and adult and living their own choices and wanting to offer support in tangible ways while I am still responsible for a household of technical littles stretches me to the limit. And often my own wishes to create places, spaces, experiences for my kids goes undone. There is only so much time, money and energy to go around and the immediate things are usually the ones that are attended to. And my own wishes to be the loving mother that they all need falls so short way to often.

It's wistful, wishful, magical thinking to want my own Mom back to fill in some of my gaps and some of the gaping holes that this year have rendered. Just to have a place to go when things get too busy, or too harried, or too much. This year, more than ever before, I've wished that the magical thinking would work and I could have my Momma back.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Read a delightful YA book this week: Daddy-Long-Legs, written by Jean Webster. KB read it months ago and said it was terrific. She was right. Written by Jean Webster, the novel is compiled of a series of letters written by an orphan. The orphan finds herself the recipient of a generous college scholarship and allowance, gifted by an anonymous donor who simply requires that she write him each month. Surprisingly the author creates lovable characters, an engaging plot and an (almost) unexpected ending solely through the lens of Jean's letters.

There are a couple movie re-makes of the book, including a 1955 version starring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. As you can guess the movie is full of fantastic dancing. Watching Fred move always brings a smile to my face.
The copy that we read had a great biographical sketch of the author, who was related to both Mark Twain (he was her great uncle) and Daniel Boone. Sadly Jean Webster's life was short, but her literary legacy lives on in the charming work of fiction.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Work, Salary & Motivation

Excellent video on work, salary and motivation. If you have ever tried to get anyone to do anything, this 10 minute video is worth watching!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to some of the Best Dads I know:
My own, Roy. He is tall, smart, curious, always learning and exploring. Intrigued by people and places and new thoughts. A lover of beauty.
My fil, Bob. Thoughtful, an excellent teacher, a lover of plants and music.
My husband. Faithful, caring, loving and kind, thoughtful and dedicated to his family.
My bil's-Doug, Mark and Neil. All of them committed to their families and children.
The Lord. Father of us all.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mourning: Living a Year of Kaddish

"After the grave is covered by earth, the son takes off his shoes, walks a few steps from the cemetery and says kaddish, for it is a prayer that renews the world."
~Rabbi Joesph Caro (in his sixteenth-century code of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch)

It's been over 8 months since my sister Sue passed away at the age 48. The shock is gone, but the sorrow catches me by surprise unexpectedly at times, even now. Sue's struggles with MS had changed her personality in many ways, and the way that she dealt with the world, through a veil of chronic illness, didn't always leave her the easiest person to understand or interact with. Her fil took me aside after the funeral and told me I should be relieved at her sudden and painless death. She was beginning to truly become an invalid and he knew that she wouldn't want to live that way. She left this world still walking, talking, laughing and in control of her body and senses. That is a blessing.

I found "Living the Year of Kaddish" almost by accident. I was, as a joke, compiling a list of "Living a Year" memoirs. Seems I'd inadvertently stumbled upon and read several and decided to see just how many had jumped on the intentional living bandwagon. "Living a Year of Kaddish" is thoughtful and poignant and different from the others of this genre in that the author is already living intentionally as an Orthodox Jew. Kaddish is simply an act of intentional worship within that tradition. Kaddish is the Jewish tradition of mourning a close relative; a parent, sibling or child. Goldman, the author, is saying Kaddish for his father. His relationship with his father, like most of ours with our parents, was complex. This has been my problem this past year as well as when my mom passed away. How do we mourn and grieve appropriately those whose death is painful but also, perhaps, because of chronic pain and illness, whether physical or emotional, a relief . Sorrow and guilt get muddled by the relief from obligation.

Kaddish, a prayer offered with regularity during a specific period of time,offers the solution. A Jew prays the prayer of mourning for a year on the Jewish calendar within the community of a minyon (10 men within the Orthodox tradition) each morning, noon and evening. Throughout and at the end of Kaddish, the community resounds with "Amen." Goldman speaks about those he met through praying Kaddish throughout the year. Those praying for their own families, for someone else's family, for the millions who died during the horror of the Holocaust and had no one to pray Kaddish for them. I envy this tradition. A form. Substance. A daily act and ritual that defines and justifies the grief and sorrow one has over a painful loss. A time and sequence. A community that mourns with those who are mourning. Sweet comfort.

Our culture says, far too often, "move on." And yet I know so very many who don't. Those who have lost a child, a parent, a spouse. That loss defines them. Keeps them from appropriately supporting others in their own grief, keeps them from loving healthily and wholeheartedly those among the Land of the Living. Keeps them looking backwards, always hoping for a glimpse, or a dream or a vision of those who have passed away. Perhaps, like Saul, desperately seeking comfort or command from those who have left us, demanding that we do the right thing all on our own, know our own minds, stand for justice rather than ease, demanding that we get over the childish insistence that we get our own way. Our culture lacks substance during the time of important passage; death. Passage for the deceased and passage for those of us left behind. We now navigate through life without them. How can it be that a father continues on beyond a daughter, a sister just 12 months and 1 week younger lives in a world that her big sister no longer contains? Yes, death is an important passage, just as much for those of us still alive. I'm the big sister now, not a middle. My family of origin that not long ago consisted of 5, is now a measly 3.

Goldman writes this, "At a time of great loss, the natural inclination is to question, rebel, reject and diminish God. But the tradition calls on the mourner not merely to praise God, but to lead others in this ancient praise poem, "Yitkadal veyitdakash sh'mei reabah, " it begins. "May His great name grow exalted and sanctified forever and ever." He goes on to say that Kaddish "thrusts the mourner out of his or her home and into the community at a time when it might be easier to withdraw and quietly grieve. Community has therapeutic properties." And finally, in the same section, "Kaddish binds the mourner to the past and the present."

After the year of Kaddish there continues a yearly remembrance of the lost ones lives in the annual yahrtzeit; a child says Kaddish in a minyan and then friends and relatives gather in remembrance. This serves two purposes, to continue the sadness and contemplation over the loss of a close relative and secondly, to sponsor a celebration of the life of the deceased. I love this idea. My two youngest children were born after my mom passed away. A celebration such as this would keep her memories intentionally alive for them. And, again, it binds those of us navigating through life without our loved ones to both the past and the present.

Goldman writes throughout this memoir of the angst he felt as the child of divorce. The angst he felt as the son of a distant father. The angst he feels as an orphan at 50. But the form of his faith traditions give him the ritual and connection to clarify and make sense of the gifts he received from his parents union, his fathers love, his family that has been, once again, through the finality of death, reconfigured.

Kaddish is an affirmation of life. A magnificat. The Lord God Almighty gives and takes away and he is worthy of praise at all times. I sorely wish my faith tradition had rituals such as these. Rituals to lean and rely on during times of pain and loss. Still, reading Goldman's book and hearing of his struggles as the son of imperfect parents, who is honoring them with all that he knows how, was good. Relational complexities are allowed and expected, even while honoring the life that is now gone. A beautiful memoir. And soothing balm to others walking a path of sorrow.

Mourners Kaddish

May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (`Cong: Amen.)
in the world that He created as He willed.
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
swiftly and soon. Now say:
(Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One
Blessed is He.
beyond any blessing and song,
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say:
May there be abundant peace from Heaven
and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:

Friday, June 18, 2010

7 Quick Takes

Saturday and Monday KB, Feche Boy and I taped and mudded. First the attic then the 2nd floor, then the basement. Still have some ceiling in the basement to do- ugh. And the pro that did the first floor makes us look like the amateurs that we truly are. He did come down and give us some pointers, and kudos to him, didn't lol at our work. Still, it's mostly done and we have the sore shoulder muscles to prove it.

Read an awesome book this week, "Living a Year of Kaddish." I found this as I was compiling a list of "living a year" memoirs, of which there are many. It puts meat and bones on Chaim Potok's writing. Goldman grew up in the cottages Potok writes about, knows the rabbi's that Potok alludes to. Kaddish is the Jewish mourning prayers said morning, noon and night for one's parents, siblings or children for an entire year after their demise. A beautifully written memoir. (review to follow)


Miss. R left 2 seasons of "StartGate Atlantis" for us to watch this summer at the behest of Feche Boy. KB refuses to watch and we won't let the notsolittles so it's become FB's and my thang to do together. The acting is cheesy, character development still in the development stages, the plot generally predictable. It's good, cheap summer time entertainment. I am mesmerized by the Wraith. They are creepy on a primal level (which I'm sure is the point) and make a great metaphor for Satan. They are, after all, a life-sucking force that feed off of humans, draining away the very days of their victims. Isn't that the quest of the Enemy of our Souls? To drain us of purpose, days, life, and ultimately destroy us, physically and spiritually? I think if more of the church got ahold of that, not on a "living cause I'm terrified" level, but more on a "so this is the reality" level, there would be a greater sense of urgency about all that we do.

Bought a van to replace the one the transmission fell out of early November. Runs well. Is super clean and, surprisingly, in our price range (no thanks to Cash 4 Clunkers). Our good friend, Used Car Salesman, Honest Mark, called us asap, cause he said vans in this price range sell within a day- geez louise! We are hoping to, once again, put Old Faithful, our 92 GMC Suburban, with over 350,000 miles on it, back out to pasture and quite using it as daily transport. Old Faithful still runs well but is a gas hog.
Went to a salon with the girls. A good hair stylist is worth, well, I'm not sure just what. But to find one that is a a pro, easy to chat with, and fun- YES!! May you all be blessed with such a person in your life. Flower kept wandering between KB and I who were alternatively reading mags or getting our hair done. She has this cute little "wave" that she gives people, along with a smile and a "Hi." She kept coming back to my chair saying, "Why does everyone think I'm adorable?" Cause, cutie- you are!

The notsolittles are in heaven. We purchased a pass to the neighborhood pool, which is uber cool and within walking distance. They are loving, loving, loving it.

Made summer's first batch of pesto from our potted basil plant. Delish on sandwiches with fresh tomato, a long cold glass of iced tea and a comfortable porch chair. Here's a simple recipe so you can enjoy one of summer's simple pleasures: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/fresh_basil_pesto/

Monday, June 14, 2010

Duty & Results

"Duty is ours, results are God's"

John Quincy Adams
President of the United States, Diplomate, Legislator. A man who did not rest on his laurels. A man who kept fighting the good fight, even when he'd "achieved" fame, fortune, status. A man of vision.

I've heard this sentence quoted three times in the past few weeks and it's something I'm going to adopt, take to heart, tattoo on my mind.
I've also heard a couple of times this spring how I've disappointed people and they are angry about that. I've apologized but it seems to have done little good. They are committed to their disappointment or perhaps their belief that I've not done what I should have. Maybe I haven't. I don't even know.
It's been a tiring spring. We've worked physically hard consistently. Which normally I love to do. But my skeletal system has taken a beating in the past couple of years and my knee, or my spine, or my hip rebel and I hurt. And I feel emotional hurt. Drained. Deeply tired in a way I don't ever remember feeling. Weary of hearing words that don't make sense to me, and sorting possesions that are now meaningless and the constant inventorying of our lives and just tired of explaining anything to anybody.
It is odd how a trauma such as a house burning, or the loss of a baby or a sibling or a parent or a dream hurts in a way that is every bit as physical as a knee that is wretched and won't cooperate on stairs. I feel raw and exposed by the tears that are constantly at the ready. And for what? Things are, as a friend prophesied the day of the fire are, "better than before." But we are still unsettled and things are still unsettling. I feel pressed down. Pressed on all sides. And I wondered today after church if God is o.k. when I cry out in distress and pain at His pruning or does He think I should just cowboy up like I think I should. Honestly, I don't appreciate neediness or weakness or tears from myself and yet I seem to have an abundance of all of these.

I had a revelation this spring and that is this: I've been committed to outcomes. Far more than I should be. Married to them. And when the outcomes don't come...well, then I am frustrated and disappointed. Because I expected that C follows A and B. I am a very task oriented person. I get focused and get things done. But often done isn't. And things come unraveled and relationships don't work out and problems aren't solved and we're in a battle. Yea, the battle. We're not wrestling with flesh and blood. I think I have battle fatigue.
And while I'm recuperating, which is taking far longer than I want or expect, and which hasn't included much actual rest, I think I'm going to engrave the above on my heart and my mind. The battle is worth fighting. Check. But the outcomes aren't my problemo. Gotit.

Results are God's.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, EPH 6:12.
2010-06-13 Testimony of the Trailblazers: Boldness in the Face of Giants (Numbers 13:25-14:9, Joshua 14:6-12) 12.61 MB

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Playing in the Mud!

I'm going to assume the best about our landlords and believe that they weren't intentionally trying to put us over the edge by starting to show the (leased) house this week-end. After 1/2 a week of family, extra meals and working hard during the week, we ended up spending the end of the week doing more sorting and deep cleaning the leased house. Saturday the girls and I spent at the UMakeIt Warehouse store- going back 4 different times (who said cell phones were a blessing?) as Viking Man called in more supplies we needed. He, Feche-Boy and our good friend Travis (We LOVE you Travis- and
family, too!) spent Saturday completing the basement sheetrocking project.
Meanwhile, the girls and I played in the mud. KB and I mudded in the attic and 2nd floor. The notsolittles entertained themselves by watching movies, running errands and playing. We've had torrential rain and the fields are flooded, and of course, the river is up to the first field south of the house.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This...

..is a memoir written by Bob Newhart. I picked this book up for 3 reasons:
1-I've always like Bob. Along with Carol Burnett, Harvey Kormak, Don Knotts and so many others. Back when humor was actually funny, instead of gross or crude and cheap. Great, great comedians, one and all. My mom hated "slapstick" and couldn't stand the Carol Burnett show. I loved her. I really loved it when Harvey Kormak was in a sketch and started cracking up. Good times. Truthfully, though, I've never been a huge T.V. watcher, and while I did catch many of the "Bob Newhart" shows I only watched a couple episodes of "Newhart." I always felt that I'd missed a great T.V. moment by not seeing the concluding episode. In the book he explains that I wasn't the only one, so I feel better about that.

2- Bob's funny. I've been in a slump. I believed that this book could provide some laughs. It did. Some of them I didn't actually get. But it's also an interesting look into what his life was like as a wildly successful comedienne, the friend of the rich and more rich and Bel Air golf junkie.
3-The title. "I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This" is actually the punch line of a sorta crude joke. Regardless of that, I could relate. I think I may adopt this line as my new slogan cause it sums up so much of my response as I go through life. Seriously. We are continually finding our selves in situations, circumstances, outcomes beyond our control, beyond our expectations or exceedingly odd. Both of us spend a fair amount of time looking around going, "how did this happen?" I think I'm going to add to that, "I shouldn't even be doing this!"
A fun and easy read about a truly funny person. Who, btw, has been happily married to the same woman for a gazillion years, has 4 kids and 7 grandkids. Mr. PG lives it out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Bit of Stormy Weather

My bil commented (again) just recently that dh and I live in places that are "extreme." He left the territories the morning of the night that this storm took place. Up to 100 mile winds in our neighborhood. The house in the photo is just blocks from us.
(And just cause I posted this doesn't mean I'm admitting that I'm agreeing with him).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Work Week

3 days of family here to work. Which we did. Worked and ate and compared sore and tired muscles. KB taking a break from hauling shed sides to the fire. Between going to work and helping us work, she also managed to fit in planning a 2-week campaigning trip to GA for a friend of ours. She'll be flying the friendly skies in a couple of weeks to brave the humidity of the south.
By the end of the 3rd day the littles were begging for a break. The Bananas relaxed by creating mud-pies.

Grandpa planted grass seed along our new walk. The 4 littles hauled boatloads of dirt to fill in the sides and then removed boatloads of rocks from it.

Tired and dirty from a day of window staining, wall sealing, shed destruction and burning. My nails may never be the same again. From here, Miss R goes to work at a summer camp. As usual her, "What I did on my Summer Vacation" paper will include many diverse tasks!

Sealed the porch top to bottom (well, almost- the floor isn't done).

Hauling yet more rock. The base of the shed was reinforced with rock. Miss R was the official rock hauler.

Burning the shed.

Excavating the shed area. Boards, nails, tools, rocks, more metal and nails, nails, nails.

Taking a break from dirt hauling and rock sorting.

What a scaffolding is good for!

A room full of "N" men. Power tools and a project. Lots of whistling going on!
Sheet rocking the basement ceiling.

Masking off wood for more plaster sealing.

The shed is down (see the rubble to the left of the shed still standing).

21 windows stained. Between the stain, the sealer and the paint remover some of us were feeling a bit woozy throughout.

Lots done. More to go.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Happy 25th Anniversary to Us!

For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer. Check.
We've moved coast to coast, having spent years in CA, CT, SD, OH, IN, and NM.
Birthed, raised, mentored and home educated 5 beautiful, intelligent, Godly and gifted children- the delight of our lives.
Said our last good-byes to 5 our of our grand-parents, a parent, a sibling and a niece. Heart-ache.
Personally experienced earthquakes, fires, tornado's, blizzards, the Rodney King riot (ashes in our CA living room), the O.J. Simpson chase (police & news helicopters flying over our home), the Atlantic, Pacific and mountain ranges on both coasts and in between.
Earned degrees and shared ideas, hopes, dreams, thoughts, paradigm shifts.
Laughed, cried, fought, mourned, grown and been refined by living together.
Grown in our love for the Lord together.
He is still the one for me. More than ever. I am his.
Our greatest accomplishment. Staying together. Choosing Love.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Paradigm Shift

Read Exodus 19 & 20 this week in Biet Midrash, where God gives the 10 Commandments to the people. It's one of those stories that we've heard so many times, in so many ways, that we think we know it, understand the nuances and details and could say in our sleep. "Moses went up the mountain, God wrote the 10 commandments on stone, Moses came down the mountain, the people were dancing before a golden calf and Moses broke the stone tablets."
Right, except. In 19 God tells Moses to assemble the people- HE will meet with them in a cloud of smoke. Israel is to consecrate itself before meeting with the Lord. He comes, amidst thunder and lightening, a cloud of smoke, a loud trumpet. We spent a couple of minutes talking about when God has spoken and what it was like- when heaven opened, a dove alighted and Jesus was proclaimed God's son, at the burning bush, in the Revelation when he comes like many waters. God speaking is so...organic. It is so part of the natural world. God speaks at Mt. Sinai, but it is the thunder roaring and out of the roar, words are heard. God speaks the world into being but the speaking and the being are part of the same. Even the rocks and stones will cry out, perhaps because, like eternity that is written in the heart of man, God's speaking into existence each thing leaves His echo with it.
The mountain trembles, the earth shakes, there is lightening and thunder and God speaks. Whoa. And then the list:
*Have no other gods- well o.k. Though in Egypt there was a god for everything.
*Make no graven images- don't idolize me. Though in Egypt Pharaoh worship and idolization was encouraged and expected.
*Don't take my name in vain- in other words, respect my position of authority as Emperor, even when it's not convenient, because, though I, Yahweh, Lord of hosts, bear you up on eagles wings to bring you to myself (Exodus 19:3), I am still the Master of the Universe. It's not just political, it's personal and consuming.
*Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy-even though days off in the Ancient World don't exist. Sounds like it should be easier to do than it is. The work never ends, especially when one is self employed (the Israelites are free now. Free to make their own choices, work their own businesses, etc).

And it says the people witnessed the thunder and lightening flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking and they trembled and were afraid.
Really? I'm not sure I blame them. These are people who had been part of a culture that worshipped-well, not God, so I assume by default the enemy. They were used to smoke and mirrors religion, or worse (having read enough accounts of missionary stories, one gets the distinct idea that when the the One True Living God is not being worshipped, other darker realities show up to glean the praise and win and terrorize the hearts and minds of the people). They had just witnessed deliverance in a specific and unusual way. After all, God did not have to send the plagues, He could have simply forced Pharaohs hand at the beginning of the discussion. He did not have to part the Red Sea. He could have simply allowed the weary, enslaved huddled masses to fight and win. He did not have to let them wander for 3 days with out water. He could have simply provided water along the way. My point is that these people have just left a wearisome and oppressive life, to be confronted by a God that is glamorous, dynamic, alive, all-powerful, intimidating, earth shaking, organic, intense, glorious, frightening and has an agenda.

Their response, "Whoa, Nellie. Moses, you just talk to the Man. We'll be chilling here in the desert, cause this all powerful, righteous, smoking God could kill us." They recognize the power. They see the reality. They stand in fear.

I've felt a bit like the Israelites lately. God's power is at work. He is doing things beyond the ordinary-they are extraordinary and intense and amazing. And, like the Israelites I've been going through a bit of a paradigm shift. The ways in which the Israelites defined themselves were no longer true. No longer slaves, residents of Egypt, crying out for deliverance. They were now free Israelites. Which is awesome. But really, how often are people able to move on to new definitions, new realities? I've done enough therapy, read enough books to know that even when people's realities change in fundamental ways, how they see themselves remains the same. Isn't' that what is so cool about those stories of re-definition? Like Corrie Ten Boom instead of Elie Wiesel (with NO condemnation for Elie. It's just that Corrie was victorious in the light of damnation and degradation and Elie despaired). I feel like I've been at the base of the mountain being redefined, watching this God who is beyond definition, create a new thing. Paradigm shifted. Tweaked. Re-shaped. Feeling raw and tired and re-purposed and not sure of what's next.
And at those times, for the Israelites, for us, for me, it's easy to want to slink off, let someone else speak to the man, keep a low profile, just lay low, be religious instead of faithful. But right away, God says, "you won't make anything to be with me." Nothing. Not gold or silver, not pastor, or thing or other teaching, or religion. Which is ridiculous. What could even compare? Anything we bring cheapens Him, exposes itself as dime-store junk. Fake, plastic snap pearls, next to the real, genuine, luminesce beauty. He knows our temptation-to bring something else alongside of Him and says, "Don't." It's me and you, baby. Cause I love you. And I invite you to love me.
"In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you." (Exodus 20: 24c)
Just get over the fear, the intimidation, our own disobedience and He will bless us.
The One True Living, glorious, dynamic, all-powerful, intimidating, earth shaking, organic, intense, glorious, frightening Master of the Universe.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Necessary Tools

The following is unabashedly harvested from the blog one of my favorite thinkers and educators, George Grant. You can find more of his musings at: http://grantian.blogspot.com/

The Habit of Thinking
The students in America’s earliest schools, academies, and colleges were educated according to the great traditions of the Christian and Classical heritage—beginning at the Latin School of Plymouth, established on this day in 1623. They were the beneficiaries of a rich legacy of art, music, and ideas that had not only trained the extraordinary minds of our Founding Fathers but had provoked the remarkable flowering of culture throughout Western Civilization. It was a pattern of academic discipleship that had hardly changed at all since the dawning days of the Reformation and Renaissance—a pattern though that has almost entirely vanished today.

Indeed, those first Americans were educated in a way that we can only dream of today despite all our nifty gadgets, gimmicks, and bright ideas. They were steeped in the ethos of Augustine, Dante, Plutarch, and Vasari. They were conversant in the ideas of Seneca, Ptolemy, Virgil, and Aristophanes. The notions of Athanasius, Chrysostom, Anselm, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Abelard, and Wyclif informed their thinking and shaped their worldview.

The now carelessly discarded traditional medieval Trivium—emphasizing the basic Classical scholastic categories of grammar, logic, and rhetoric—equipped them with the tools for a lifetime of learning: a working knowledge of the timetables of history, a background understanding of the great literary classics, a structural competency in Greek and Latin-based grammars, a familiarity with the sweep of art, music, and ideas, a grasp of research and writing skills, a worldview comprehension for math and science basics, a principle approach to current events, and an emphasis on a Christian life paradigm.

The methodologies of this kind of Christian and Classical learning adhered to the time-honored principles of creative learning: an emphasis on structural memorization, an exposure to the best of Christendom's cultural ethos, a wide array of focused reading, an opportunity for disciplined presentations, a catechizing for orthopraxy as well as orthodoxy, and a broad experience honing the basic academic skills of listening, journaling, thinking, processing, integrating, extemporizing, and applying.

The object of this kind of Christian and Classical education was not merely the accumulation of knowledge. Instead it was to equip a whole new generation of leaders with the necessary tools to exercise discernment, discretion, and discipline in their lives and over their callings. Despite their meager resources, rough-hewn facilities, and down-to-earth frontier ethic, they maintained continuity with all that had given birth to the wisdom of the West.

It was the modern abandonment of these Christian and Classical standards a generation later that provoked G.K. Chesterton to remark, “The great intellectual tradition that comes down to us from the past was never interrupted or lost through such trifles as the sack of Rome, the triumph of Attila, or all the barbarian invasions of the Dark Ages. It was lost after…the coming of the marvels of technology, the establishment of universal education, and all the enlightenment of the modern world. And thus was lost—or impatiently snapped—the long thin delicate thread that had descended from distant antiquity; the thread of that unusual human hobby: the habit of thinking.”