Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dormant Geniuses Lie Sleeping...

"Dormant geniuses lie sleeping down the hall.They eat across from us at the breakfast table, sit next to us in mini-vans taxiing to soccer fields, even look back at us from our bathroom mirrors. What if genius is the normative intent of what God’ bestows and our own lack of faithful stewardship results in malnourished gifts? Hungarian Homeschoolers László and Klara Polgár, parents of three daughters, understood exactly that.

Current research clearly indicates that the top achievers are rarely high-IQ geniuses or former child prodigies.) It was simply the same way Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Tiger Woods found their way: by faithful , wholehearted stewardship.By diligent, attentive nurturing of the gifts God hands out liberally to far more than a select few. It’s dangerously tempting to think that geniuses are exceptional products of blazing, divine intervention.Because then we don’t have to closely examine how we are stewarding the gifts He’s given us. Are geniuses really only better stewards then the rest of us? Recent research suggests that rather unnerving possibility.

1. Geniuses are stewards who Faithfully Practice. Anders Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, posits that "extended deliberate practice" is the ultimate key to successful use of a gift. "Nothing shows that innate factors are a necessary prerequisite for expert-level mastery in most fields," he says. Ericsson’s interviews with 78 German pianists and violinists discovered that by age 20, the best musicians had spent an estimated 10,000 hours practicing,

2. Geniuses are stewards who Faithfully Pioneer. Even if we practice, we’re tempted to keep practicing what we already know. But geniuses steward the gift by faithfully pioneering into unknown territory. How can I gently stretch a gift?

3. Geniuses are stewards who Faithfully Pursue. Geniuses steward the gift by, practice, pioneering and finally, pursuing a mentor. A coach or teacher is necessary to flourish a gift, to grow it into pioneer territory. And pursuing a supportive environment is paramount for fostering a gift. Parents can be mentors. Parents can be the positive environment. When Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, praised children for "how" they did a task—for undergoing the process successfully --- most children wanted to take on increasingly challenging tasks. The children wanted to pioneer."

I am always curious about what "creates" intelligence and leadership because I value both and I want to give my kids advantages in these areas. As a society Americans have become largely soft and lazy (a small for instance, notice many high school/college age writers correspondence-no capitals and very little, or poor, grammar as if it's too much to type 'I' instead of "i"; but the way we communicate is about far more than KNOWING, it's about conveying ideas, beliefs and our understanding of the world and I may just do a study on the meaning of electronic communication and how it has changed and broken the rules of etiquette, meaning and compassion and how post-modernism has infiltrated our beliefs and values and collective intelligence....but I digress...anyway, my recent posts about getting smart, 10,000 hours, 2million minutes all have to do with the same thing: creating a hot house where the people that we are "growing" (i.e. stewarding, training, disciplining, parenting) have the best advantage that we can offer so that they can thrive and grow and fulfill their God given potentials and callings as they face a culture that is grossly apathetic and truly unconcerned with God or callings or potential, or if they are, have very little idea about how to fulfill them.

I have a theory that we are going to see a gaping hole of healthy leadership in the years ahead and I want my kids well-prepared to step up to the plate when the time comes. I have the sneaky suspicion that the ability to write properly, speak well, think quickly and convey coherently will be more valued than ever because of supply and demand theory. In other words it will be in higher demand as people get fed up with the outcome of postmodernism and the death of meaning (and perhaps themselves given certain health care proposals) and the lack of well-prepared apologists, theologians and thinkers who know how to counter nihilism with Truth and counter it in a way that is understandable and desirable.

While my kids, and yours, might not be geniuses from an I.Q. stand-point but just good basic solidly intelligent people, or even just average, or perhaps even challenged or struggling, they can go farther, lead better, think more clearly and influence at a broader and deeper level if we train them up to practice, pioneer and pursue. Who knows, they might truly be sleeping giants.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Berries and Brassicas

Our plans for an edible landscape are well-under way, though I must say it's taken a few years. We have thriving raspberry bushes, grapes vines, a huge area for strawberries, rhubarbville and mulberry trees. We've planted several other fruit trees but between the rabbits, deer and a few extremely cold winters we haven't had a lot of success in keeping them growing.
Last year we had a great harvest of mulberries and this year is no different. We have tarps set up under the trees to catch windfall but we end up eating so many (mainly it's Cub stuffing his face with them. He's hands and face will be stained bright purple as he claims that he "only ate a few!") as we gather and pick that we haven't brought a whole bunch back to the kitchen. They are sweet and delicious. I'm drying some and am going to make a pie for the company coming tomorrow. I might get adventurous ad try mulberry wine.
In the veggie patch we have broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They are big and beautiful. I've never successfully grown any of them before so it's been a blast to watch them get bigger and fill out. My big plan for the cabbage is to delve into the world of making sauerkraut. If you've done it before, lmk how it went! All pointers are most welcome!

Friday, June 26, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

*1* Gardening
Spent lots of time in the garden and on the porch weeding, moving plants, transplanting, harvesting and doing yet more weeding. Homestead tip of the week: When you cut the bottom off of a celery stalk, put it in water and watch it grow. Lots more celery from a throw-away. Also, anyone have a good place to get canning lids in bulk for less?
*2* Traveling to the Party
Planned our summer trip to the Midwest. It's my in-laws 50th anniversary celebration and that is something to celebrate! We are hoping to visit lots of friends along the way.
*3* Places
Jennifer at Conversion Diaries posted about her favorite vacation spot- a remote, desolate part of TX not far from where we lived for 8 years. She describes it this way; "All the towns had that eerie end-of-the-earth vibe...Some of the towns really live up to the name "ghost towns," the "ghost" part coming not only from the vanished people but from that keen awareness of your own vulnerability to larger forces that you feel when you're hours and hours away from the nearest Wal-Mart, and the only light at night comes from the stars." Yep. Sounds like how I remember it. Starkly beautiful, the wilderness puts our small lives in perspective quickly.
*4* De-clutter
One of my summer goals is to de-clutter and to build some organizational/storage units in This Old House (cause if you know old houses they.have.none.) We spent an afternoon cleaning the play-side of the porch. Brio train set out, Playmobile repositioned there, de-cluttering the living room in the process. Thankfully we have a walk-up attic so the toys that are too loved to be parted with get sent there. Our kids LOVED the train set and I have several spreads in the scrapbooks of living room sized "Train Towns." Seems like the boys are a bit past that now. More space, cleaner space and the 3 younger kids have lived out there since, creating fantastical Lego creations.
*5* Suburbia
Spent the afternoon at our friend's house for the parenting class and then stayed for dinner (thanks, Tamara!). Feche-boy spends hours outside on the property walking, thinking, getting his daily dose of "green therapy." It seems quite normal out on our 10 acres but he started doing the "garden pace" in our friend's suburban yard. Seemed a leetle out of place amongst the manicured lawns. And, even though it was a warm day, we noticed how few kids were actually in the yards playing (these are nice yards, complete with nice playscapes). Maybe it's not as fun with just 1-2 kids in a family. Cub said at the end of the day that he wanted to "play outside" when, in reality he'd been playing outside all day long. He clarified that it wasn't "country outside." It's been a long week of feeling hammered by the demands of how we live. That little saying blessed me greatly. Our kids love their life, the freedom they have, the wildness of it, even when I sometimes don't. Little blessings.
*6* Kids
Had a discussion yesterday with a cool group of women about birth control, reversals, adoption and letting God plan your family. Rhonda Jean over at Down to Earth http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2009/06/embrace-work-you-do.html had a good post about "Embracing Your Life." Everyone still breathing has hardships of some sort and while I fully believe in planing your work and working your plan, life and hardships and frustrations happen regardless. Embracing where we're at, and letting God have the last say is the place I'm wanting to get to. And this relates to children and birth control because fertility, while it's talked about and conceptualized as a given and something, in fact, we need to guard against is truly in the hand of the one who creates life by His very ruach.
I certainly don't believe, like some that birth control is a sin. But I do believe that our greater culture and the culture of the church, the American church anyway, acts and behaves in ways that say children are a burden. And if, behaviorally, the church doesn't DO anything MORE than the world in embracing, loving, disciplining the little children than it is as bad, or worse, than the world, who at least is honest in saying that it's all about me.
*7* Beit Midrash
Bible Study- good stuff as always. Lots of laughter, good fellowship, beautiful Godly people. Genesis Chapter 24. Issac pleads, for 20 years, for his wife to conceive. Pleads. Heart poured out intercession.
Two nations are brought forth through 2 sons and I see myself in both of them. One who doesn't take seriously enough that which he has and the other who hungers and strategizes about how to get more. I want to be more grateful and I hunger after more. It's having joy in the journey while still staying focused on the path that is the difficult thing, for me anyway. God says twice (Romans and Malachi), "Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated." This always seemed so unfair to me. Certainly God doesn't create people to do evil or to hate specifically. The commentary states that in thwarting his inheritance Esau thwarted the promise of God. God's displeasure comes from seeing the heart of a man that rejects Him. Not me, Lord. Not those I love. Keep us hungry for YOU. Keep us hungry for more than worldly things, for the mundane (it was for lentils that he gave up his inheritance, hello!).
Which leads me to global thoughts such as Michael Jackson's death and someone who had more- talent, fame, fortune. But true Joy? True Peace? Very debateable. I hope that this man who walked in confusion has finally found rest. I prayed for him each day for about a decade. I felt so burdened for him. I looked at him and saw someone who had influence and power and seemed to squander it. In my own life, I do the same. No judgment here for The King of Pop. I truly hope he is at peace and in the presence of THE King of All.

For more Quick Takes visit Jen of Conversion Diary

Bit of Stormy Weather We've Been Having.....

This is what our sky looked like on Tuesday evening... we spent some time in the basement after the town sirens went off, having to wake up the notsolittles. The wind was a blowin' and howling. The river is flooded and the rain continues....Photo courtesy of Nick Hartley, Brookings Register

Thursday, June 25, 2009

WW: Summer Happenings

Isn't this a beautiful shot. KB took it. It's a keeper and going in the kitchen, framed in an old barn window. The easeful days, the deamless nights;
the homely round of plain delights.
The calm unambitioned mind,
The simple stuff of summer time.
~ Aster Austin Dobson
We have been spending much time in the "yard." First fruits: strawberries, ohlala, sweet and tangy summer perfection. Swiss chard and parsley. New potatoes, served hot with steamed parsley and fish burritos (baked fish, fresh lettuce, thin sliced cheese, mayo if you want and wrapped in a tortilla). Also, several more pounds of lettuce and the spinach, after a 2nd planting, is up! After an afternoon of "hose wars" we settled down and ate cookies and played with kittens. Flower looks funny because her mouth is full of chocolate chip (without the chip) cookies. KB added cocoa and they were yummy.
Feche-boy at his normal speed- fast. We've called him "the phantom" for years. This was the path our dear old Bree made. We miss having a horse!!

These tasted as good as they look. Lemon muffins by Queen KB. A Taste of Home recipe, again. My friend Lorena, from our gals group in CA- years and years ago, still sends me a sub every Xmas. It was a great group. We meet every.single. week. for 3 years and had dinners, went to art shows (cause one of the gals in the group was an artist- they were HER shows) Lorena taught us all how to make apple pies, and knit, they had a beautiful baby shower for me when we left CA and I was pregnant with Feche-boy and on and on and on. We were more than a Bible study or focus group or whatever. We were FRIENDS and talked about God and theology and books and art and husbands and growing and therapy and children and hardships and joys. We were all different ages and at all different places in life but we all offered something to the others and received so much. I sure miss it, sniffle. Yes, I do.
Seasons. People seasons and weather seasons and faith seasons and family seasons....and gardening seasons. Why is it that playing in the dirt is healing? I think Sir Francis Bacon might know...
God Almighty first planted a garden and indeed it is the purest of human pleasure.
~ Sir Francis Bacon

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Get Smart

  1. 1. An obvious recommendation to getting smart is to stop doing things that cause stupidity- like watching most or all of what's on T.V. many "games" etc. This will free up a lot of time and brain space. Yet again I recommend Neil Postman's Dumbing Us Down.
  2. Decide that it is o.k. to fail and look stupid. I've learned a lot by admitting I don't know something. I ask questions all the time. I have disciplined myself and challenge the students that I have each year to think of questions to ask every time they hear a presentation, sermon or speech. This requires analytical thinking skills, discipline and humility. Surprisingly, I've had people respond to a question condescendingly, as if there really are stupid questions.. Thankfully I'm old enough that I no longer care.
  3. If something is foolish (a movie, music, book, decor, clothes) get rid of it. Let's face it- some books are not worth reading (my list is long- especially of young adult books). Some fashions are best forgotten (in reality the 70's look was unattractive when it first came out-WHY revisit it?) Let Philippians 4:8 be your guide: Finally brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think of these things." David deSilva's book Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture is a paradigm shifting read and addresses holiness and honor in a way that our culture just doesn't get and might just change your understanding of what is worthy of your life.
  4. Develop critical thinking skills. Critical Thinking Co. http://www.criticalthinking.com/index.jsp has excellent tools and resources for students of all ages. Learn about Socratic Questioning, Literary Analysis and the Scientific Method.
  5. Read. Read some more. Read even more. If you don't "like" to read, discipline yourself to read anyway. Oftentimes we don't like what we're not good at. The more you read the better you'll be at it and the easier it will be for you. There are many great books like Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book that will give you tools needed to read well.
  6. Listen - there are tons of teaching tapes, materials, music out there that will expand how you think. The Internet is a great resource. Train yourself to be an auditory learner. I am naturally not an auditory learner but I have become one. I listen, ask questions, rewind, play back, ask questions, think it through.
  7. Read.
  8. Surround yourself with smart people. My dh is currently insanely interested in Hebraic Christianity- the history, architecture, language, sociology, scripture, travel, timeline, etc of this topic. He is a deep thinker who structures the information that he has well, strategies and synthesizes it with other information that he owns, makes connections. It is a joy to listen and learn from him because he is an extraordinary and disciplined thinker and brilliant teacher.
  9. Follow "rabbit trails" of interest to you. My dd has been interested in tea parties since she was a little girl. This interest has led to her knowledge about food, cooking and baking, herbs, gardening, decorating, the history and ritual of tea, the importance of ritual and purity, modesty, and femininity, etc.
  10. Share your knowledge. Teach a class, start a blog, write a magazine article, teach a group of kids, give a slide show, join a hobby group. Teaching something forces you to learn it very well or look like an idiot.
  11. Realize that you will be "smart" in some areas and not in others. I think I'm pretty smart in some areas and definitely inferior in others. That's o.k. I only have so much time so I "get smart" in areas that are of value to me or an area I need to understand- like gardening, education, human development, etc. I'm saving areas, like, say, math for other people to be smart in. I think that's pretty generous of me, don't you?
  12. Read. Read some more. Take the 9/9/9 challenge or the 52 books a year challenge (lots of reading groups to join on line). It's a great way to discipline your reading and delve into areas that you might not otherwise.
  13. Seek wisdom. There is a proverb that says "By knowledge a house is built. By understanding it is established. By wisdom it is filled with pleasant and precious riches." Following the trivium, a classical approach to education and learning (knowledge =grammar, understanding =dialectic and wisdom = rhetoric) in how we approach subjects. We learn bit by bit instead of being overwhelmed by what we don't know.
  14. Read.
  15. Learn how to memorize. I truly believe that teaching my children how to memorize is one of the greatest gifts (along with reading) that we've given them.
  16. Memorize a timeline of history. You would be surprised at how much information starts making sense when you have a framework to organize the content with. Timelines rock- check out Vertias Press' http://www.veritaspress.com/illustrated timeline cards.
  17. Realize that it takes TIME to get smart. Andrew Crouch of Culture Making http://www.culture-making.com/states that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. Sticktoittiveness counts for a lot in the smart department.
  18. You have to want it cause you'll probably have to work for it. I've known some truly brilliant people in my life. I'm not one of them. No matter how much I study and learn I'll just never have their smarts. That's o.k, I'll have my own. There are different kinds of intelligence as well and you can check out 7 Types of Intelligence by Howard Gardner to find out more about them.
  19. Develop a love of learning. Be curious, inquisitive, willing to look like a simpleton, hungry for more. Live large, dream big, want more. Don't settle for status quo, get comfortable, settle in. The world is a oyster waiting for you to discover the mystery and beauty hidden within.
  20. READ.

I'd love to hear your ideas for getting smart. Just leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

One Second After & Related Rant.

I read One Second After this week...a fictionalized account of what could happen in America if we were hit with an EMP. I'm not the scientist in the family so I won't try to explain, better to look it up. It could be a real deal. I finished One Second After and then was invited into the study by Viking Man to watch the "protests" (what little footage there was) in Iran. We went from that to a Beck piece on $1Billion in Treasury bonds being either counterfeited or "lost" (sold, traded, bartered, or whatever other BAD scenario) in Italy and NO WORD 2 weeks out from the administration on it. 1Billion Dollars of U.S. Money that is not accounted for or forged means...well, BAD things for America.

And why the HECK hasn't the media talked about the ding-dang inflation that we are experiencing NOW?? I'm a cash in hand grocery shopper who lives on a gestapo grocery budget. When I am buying 20- 30% LESS food than I was 5 months ago I wonder WHY I am the only one talking about it. Surely I can't be the only one who's noticed? Gas prices have increased by 50 cents a gallon in a matter of weeks. Obamavision isn't doing any of us who value freedom as we've known it a favor.

Sobered. That's the word. Deeply, deeply sobered.
Wars and rumors of wars.
Inflation ramping up.
Media black-outs on what's really happening.
A president who puts off responding to a situation in a county that is clearly unstable. And finally he does. Watching the video of the president addressing the nation of Iran reminded me of a Lion King scene, where Scar addresses the hyenas, promising that a new day has dawned.

And this from the Ayatollah Khomeini: "Our land has always been the seed-bed of true freedom--even before the Prophet came to correct the errors of time. Once again Persia shall lead the world as before. Conquest through Ji’had shall be our deliverance and our glory." Do a little history search on Persia and let me know if freedom Persia style is what you want for your grandchildren.

2 world leaders both stating their case. One uncompromising and frightening. The other willing to compromise everything and equally frightening. Neville Chamberlain politics don't work with people willing to kill in the morning those they've slept with the night before.

Father's Day

Today we celebrated Father's Day at our house by making homemade waffles on a waffle iron primarily purchased by kids who love their Pa (Flower's latest name for Viking Man), and topped with homemade strawberry syrup made with berries picked by kids who are grateful to the man who has played with them, wrestled with them, talked with them about mundane as well as profoundly important things, sacrificed professionally and monetarily for them, lived a life that has been uncompromisingly faithful, prayed with them, snuggled with them, given them shoulder rides, taken them on adventures and believed in the ones they took without him, demanded from them effort and compassion and maturity. Talked with them about astronomy, science, news, politics, human nature, theology and what God's purpose is for them.

I think about the Father's that I've been most impacted by: my own Dad, my father in law and my husband. They are all well educated, strong and creative. They are all able to articulate difficult things well and with clarity. I am blessed beyond measure to know each one of them.

I look at my sons and know that they will be awesome Dads. They are both witty and growing in wisdom, full of questions and many times answers as well. They are both bibliophiles, eager to gain knowledge and understanding. They love babies and little kids and both have a playful spirit that I hope time doesn't wear away.

I look at my daughters and pray that God brings good and faithful men into their lives that will love them and their children well and will be Dad's that bring honor and respect to their families.

I am overwhelmed that the Father of us all; the One, True Living God has allowed us to call him Father. Papa, Pa, Daddy. He has called us by name, we are His if we choose to be. And he loves His little children well.

Friday, June 19, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

We watched "Contact" this week. The classic dialog between science and faith, Much of what was presented by Jodi Foster's characters is the basic response to people of faith where science is concerened, but the conclusion was good. I love the shot after she travels throught he wormhole and says, "It's so beautiful, I can't describe it, they should have sent a poet instead of a scientist." Anyway, her concluding "testimony" was a good harmnization of faith and science. I had the privilege of working for Dr. Hugh Ross eons ago in a land far away and if you're not familiar with Reasons to Believe, you should check it out. It is a science apologetics ministry aimed at revealing how science, hard science, reveals the God of the Bible. http://www.reasons.org/
Gen 24; Abraham's House of Love. Abraham loved Sarah. His Steward loved Abraham. Issac loved Rebekah. Hearts that sympathized and harmonized with one another, that went beyond the cultural norms of serve, be served, fulfill a role or a duty, I'll get mine. Responses that resonated with a purpose beyond and bigger than each of themselves. Synergy.

Great thread on TWTM boards on "Getting Smart." Of course, I had to jump in and I want to save a longer response for a separate post. My #1 advice. Stop doing things that create stupidity. Turn off the T.V., quite gaming. Start with Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and follow up with The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.

Doing math with the notsolittles this week I hit a wall. We are done with school for awhile; I need a break. We spent the rest of the week playing, gardening, mowing, yard work, scrapping and painting the front fence. Soaking up the way-to-short summer rays and scents and sounds and feels of the season. Chatted about simple and all important things like who is stronger Batman or Superman (Cub is, afterall, 9), porch sitting, being together.

One of our goals as parents has been to create a "Beautiful Family Culture." (see Stephen Covey "7 Habits of Higly Effective Familes") The parenting video we watched this week focused on "creating a culture of honor and respect," creating choices for our kids that allows them the ability to have ownership for their actions at a young age and become internally motivated/controlled rather than externally so. Good food for thought.

Dried parsley already this week. Fresh parsley smells and tastes so delish. If you haven't grown any, you should, it is super easy and super healthy and one of life's simple pleasures.

Received "Horatio at the Bridge" by Memoria Press in the mail this week. The study looks great and the poetry is wonderful. It's on the list for next year and will be a good next step after "The Grammar of Poetry" by Logos this year. And speaking of next year, we'll are getting together a group of interested parents to talk about starting a Daniel Academy http://www.thedanielacademy.com/at church. It is a University Model school http://www.naums.net/with some interesting and intriguing twists. We'll meet for 8 weeks and see how far we get.

Have an Grace & Peace-filled weekend! For more "Quick Takes," go to Conversion Diary

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WW: Look What We're Growing! Kittens, Cabbages & More!

Our "Little House on the Prairie." It is a wonderful house. You can just barely see the eyebrow window on the right hand side- that's the dining room. The enclosed front porch is where we are spending lots of time these days. Grandma Donna gave us her comfy and beautiful porch furniture and it is one of our favorite places. (disregard front flower bed. It's "in progress.") A 99 cent seed pack of lettuce has yielded so much lettuce we can't keep up with it. I'm giving it away at every turn and we are eating salads daily. Leaf, Red Leaf and Romaine. 100% wonderful.
Our spring crop of kittens. 3 males, 1 female. Oh well. Momma Sophie and babies

Metal Man holding a viola, just outside the front steps.
The Brassicas (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli) are thriving in all of the cool, rainy weather we've been having. Melons in upper left hand corner.

'Taters and Onions. Our first year of growing potatoes. They seem to like it here.

After 4 years of working on the strawberry's we are having a bumper crop. They are big, beautiful and delicious. I was thinking we might have some extra to freeze but the kids keep having snack time in the berry beds!

Feche-boy's grapes. We had to put netting over them. The deer were coming right up in to the yard and helping themselves to the vines. Last year we canned 6 quarts of grape juice. It looks like it will be a lot more this year!


A friend gave me a wild rose start 5 years ago and it's never bloomed. This year it is blooming like mad and sending runners everywhere. The scent is heavenly. I've always wanted to make rose-hip jelly and it looks like I'll finally have my chance!

Roses and peonies. All pink. All gorgeous. The peonies were here when we moved but in a small circle in the front yard. I moved them against the fence. We have one deep wine color on the other fence and we planted white last year but they didn't come up.

The hosta bed, complete with wagon rims found on the property as we were cleaning up. There's a columbine hidden in amongst the hostas in front of the wind chime. Viking Man rolled a huge log up next to this area and it is lovely to sit here in the heat of the day.

The front flower bed, chock full of flowers and herbs. The poor pine tree was ravaged by goats a few years ago and is just now looking respectable again. I'm not sure the bottom half will ever fully recover.

So far I've harvested Swiss chard, several pounds of lettuce, strawberries, parsley. I dried our first batch of parsley yesterday and will do more today. We ran out of everything dried last year way too fast so I'm hoping to rectify that this year.

What's growing at your place?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rise Up Ye Prayer

"Prayer should be the breath of our breathing,
the thought of our thinking,
the soul of our feeling,
the life of our living,
the sound of our hearing,
and the growth of our growing.
Prayer is length without end,
width without bounds,
height without top,
and depth without bottom;
illimitable in its breadth,
exhaustless in height,
fathomless in depths,
and infinite in extension.
Oh, for determined men and women who will rise early and really burn for God.
Oh for a faith that will sweep into heaven with the early dawning of morning
and have ships from a shoreless sea loaded in the soul's harbor
ere the ordinary laborer has knocked the dew from the scythe
or the lackluster has turned from his pallet of straw
to spread nature's treasures of fruit before the early buyers.
Oh for the Holy Spirit to so work in us a passion for His presence.
Oh that the fruit of Gospel transformation might make of us men and women of prayer."
Homer W. Hodge

Monday, June 15, 2009

Worries Cease.

Things of this world cause concern. Financial disaster, divorce, a friend that finds a lump, anarchy and despotism, brothers in Christ who suffer and are tortured for their faith, governments that act illegally. The list goes on. And on. Wearily on.
We are studying Genesis in Bible Study.
Abraham tells his steward to go find a wife for Isaac.
The steward knows, believes and trusts that "the girl" will be found.
It is part of the promise, it is destined. No surprises.
Just walk it out, believe, do what you're told, trust, hope.
Hope- fulfillment.
Everyone doing their part.
Abraham sending,
The steward watching,
The girl accepting,
The groom rejoicing.
The promise fulfilled.
The worries gone.
Yes, Lord. Your will. Your way. Your time. Your Purpose.
My belief. My trust. My faith.
Your Way.
Yes, Lord.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dear Daughters

Miss R has been in Romania now for a couple of weeks (you can read all about her adventures at her blog- great pictures and commentary http://blindlyservinghim.blogspot.com/. KB has been in the Black Hills this past week running around with kids from all over the state at camp. She arrived home yesterday happy as a clam. You can read about her adventures and thoughts at http://theartoffemininity.blogspot.com/
They are both so different: one petite and gregarious. The other stately and quiet. Both opinionated, articulate, gifted at writing, art and understanding theology, people and doing the right thing. Little Miss. Flower has been very put out having both sisters gone again. She loves her bros but thinks the world of her sisters. Miss R takes her out to eat, to the zoo, snuggles with her and will happily sit down and watch The Aristocats for the 90 zillionth time in a row. KB creates fantastical tea-parties, dresses her up, braids her hair, paints her nails
The juxtaposition of launching "children" into adulthood; excitement at seeing them create wonderful lives for themselves and the desire to have them close and home and here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In The Beginning

Another great read by Chiam Potok. Same setting, similar characters, time period slightly before The Chosen and Asher Lev. Same despair and crying out to the Master of the Universe regarding the almost complete annihilation of the Jewish people. Still the same GREAT writing. The character development is exquisite.
I was struck by this passage:

"The noise inside the synagogue poured out into the night, an undulating, swelling and receding and thinning and growing sound. The joy of dancing with the Torah, holding it close to you, the words of God to Moses at Sinai. I wondered if gentiles ever danced with their Bible. "Hey, Tony,. do you ever dance with your Bible?" .....Do you ever read your Bible? Do you ever hold it to you and know how much you love it?"
And later,
"You see, people have taken the book that I love and have emasculated it. We died for its ideas, and they have drained those ideas of life. Yet there is something in what those people claim; but they cannot have said it all. I stake my life on that...The Torah is not the word of God to Moses at Sinai. But neither is it infantile stories and fables and legends and borrowed pagan myths.... I want to know the truth."

How many have lost their faith because it could not stand up to historical criticism? Another sweeping theme in Potok's work. But he responds, "...if the Torah cannot go out into your world of scholarship and return stronger, than we are all fools and charlatans. I have faith in the Torah. I am not afraid of truth... Bring yourself back an answer...do not bring yourself back shallowness....Merely to destroy. That is a form of shallowness."
How much of our culture is bent on destroying definitions, standards, understandings all under the guise of tolerance and compassion. Shallowness reigns. Who dances still? Dances with Joy. Holding their faith close to their heart, dancing with abandon and passion and joy becasue they believe in a reality that cannot be contained or written well enough or seen with the eye's of man?
Truth is truth regardless of annihilation or destruction or denial. Truth reigns.
Well said Potok. Well said.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wind Words

Old stuff churned up, like salad in a spinner.
Looking back, Lot's wife.
Called to move forward,
press towards the goal, face front.
There's more ahead.
Do you hear the Wind Words, calling to the churches? Calling you?
Like the woman at the well, sun scorched from desert heat and Sodom's fire,
Thirsty, Parched, Wanting more.
Tentatively stepping instead of boldly going forth.
Listening for others, the familiar demands, strong words, dissatisfaction, words of contention, failture.
I defend. Look back. Live in distraction.
Cacophony. Noise.
Like the fire burning wicked towns, God's displeasure.
Distraction cost Lot's wife Life.
Soul cry despite self - "Not me, Lord. Not me."
I am called. Despite the others. Desptite myself.
Called to rest. Walk forward.
To put away old things, ignore other's voices. Ignore my own.
HE calls. He leads. He brings drink that quenches thirst.
Hear Him.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
Drench me in your purpose.
Give me clarity of vision. Humility. Grace.
All that I need you provide.
The Word of the Lord to me today is I Am; He has called. Follow Him. Eyes forward. To what's ahead. His purpose. His plan. His victory.
My life; His.

A blessed Sabbath.

Friday, June 5, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

*1* Friends
This week I spent a couple hours on the phone with Jean the Bean- good friend from FTS days, catching up. She is doing lots of mural painting, raising kids and is a Financial Peace junkie, too. They are newly settled in the Pike's Peak area and loving it.
Spent an afternoon with a group of new friends from church doing a study on Parenting. It's good stuff; loving your kids intentionally and offering positive choices. Spent this afternoon with my friend from Alaska who loves classical ed. She dropped off kids for an overnight and we spent a too much time yapping about school and talking with her fil who is moving here and has great stories of Alaska and living life.
*2* Gardening

The lettuce is going full throttle and we've been eating salads daily and giving lettuce away. The rhubarb is 3 feet high and we are making a pie tonight in honor of my Gramma Rummel who served rhubarb pie (along with cherry, apple and peach) every.single.night. of any visit we ever made to her house. It was guaranteed to put you into a diabetic comma and I didn't really care for it. I've found a recipe I like better with meringue. Still, great memories of Gramma who could have won awards cooking. It was her craft.
The rest of the garden is looking good. The beans, parsley, tomatoes, squash, melons, peppers, cukes, zukes, and some basil are all up and growing. The berry bushes, grape vines are thriving and the strawberries are loaded. woohoo. Miss. Flower keeps asking when I am making crepes again-maybe when we pick our first strawberries.
*3* Books
Continued Climbing Parnassus. Simmons states that the 3 purposes of education should be:
To teach us to earn a living. To teach us to be good citizens. To help us understand the meaning of a good life. He goes on to quote Robert Hutchins who writes, "a system that denies the existence of values denies the possibility of education. Relativism, scientism, skepticism, and anti-intellectualism, the four horsemen of the philosophical apocalypse, have produced that chaos in education which will end in the disintegration of the West." Thought provoking.

*4* School
The older kids continued working on Latin, Logic and Math. They'll be done soon and ready for a break. We are using Traditional Logic this year (from MP) and did books I & II in a year. It was a rigorous challenge, one which KB has loved and Feche-boy has really struggled with. Viking Man to the rescue (insert superman music here).
The littles continue to do math daily. We are going with Horizons 1 & 4. Cub just finished Copybook 3- (beautiful last poem at the end) and we'll start "First Fun" from IEW on Monday. I purchased Usborne mazzes and dot-to-dots at the regional conference and Cub is loving the maze puzzles. These books have been staple early ed books for us. Great thinking skills packaged as pure fun. We love UBAH!!

*5* De-cluttering
Tackled the girls room. My wonderful sil, who has pretty much single-handedly clothed and shod Flower for 6 years in beautiful and fashionable clothing sent along 4 more huge bags of clothes and another box of shoes. College Woman brought stuff home for summer and stored it in that poor getting little room, off-loaded books, CD's and clothes from the study into the same area as she got ready to go over-seas, KB did all sorts of scrapbooking for the grad party, add in Flower's usually purses and backpacks loaded to the gills, and KB's actual living in the room and you can imagine the royal mess. Spent 3 hours in there and it still needs work. The good news is I was able to unload 2 bags of clothes/toys on my friend Anne who has a littler girl, Miss. R's stuff is all sorted in a corner and Flower's summer clothes are in her drawers. Phew.

*6* Movies
Watched part of "Dances with Wolves" this week. I haven't seen it since it first came out and it is very poignant. Couldn't bring myself to re-discover if everyone gets blown away at the end. I like the characters too much. Gotta love the 80's hair that Kevin sports. How much mousse did we use?!?!
*7* Bible Study
Was so good again this week. Genesis 22. Abraham buys a burial plot for Sarah. Through her life the child of promise is born. Through her death, the Israel rights to the land are birthed. It's amazing how much we all come away with by looking at the scripture together. Viking Man uses a Navigator's approach: read, observe, apply. Very simple, powerful and effective way of really being able to see the Bible as applicable to one's life. Good, good stuff and, as always, great fellowship.

For more quick takes, hop on over to Conversion Diaries. Always a good read: http://www.conversiondiary.com/ From her post today: "Remember that every single word you say to someone will either curse them or bless them." Mother Antonio.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Future of Homeschooling


The U.S. Department of Education has released its periodic review of schooling in America, and it offers a revealing look at the growth of homeschooling. The picture of contemporary homeschooling offers some real surprises and raises some new questions."The Condition of Education 2009" is produced by the National Center for Education Statistics, and it contains a wealth of statistical data. Approximately 50 million children are enrolled in the public schools for grades K-12. In 2007 5.9 million children were enrolled in private schools and the percentage of those enrolled in "Conservative Christian schools" increased from 13 to 15 percent of that total.Homeschooling was the choice of families for 2.9 percent of all school-age children in the United States in 2007, involving 1.5 million students. By comparison, in 1999 only 850,000 children were homeschooled. By 2003, that number was up to 1.1 million. This report indicates significant jumps in homeschooling as compared to other educational options. In fact, the report reveals that the actual number of American children whose parents choose homeschooling for at least part of their education exceeds 3 million. According to the report, 1.5 million children are exclusively homeschooled while another 1.5 million are homeschooled for at least part of the school week.At this point, the picture grows even more interesting. When parents were asked why they chose to homeschool their children, 36 percent cited a desire to provide children specifically religious or moral instruction. After that, 21 percent of parents pointed to concerns about the environment of schools, 17 percent cited dissatisfaction with educational quality in the schools, and 14 percent cited "other reasons." Among those "other reasons" was a concern for more family time together.Higher numbers of parents with college educations and greater family incomes are now homeschooling. This trend points to the fact that homeschooling is increasingly the option of first choice for many parents. This pattern is also revealed in increasing numbers of college students, primarily young women, who indicate that they desire a college education so that they will be better equipped in years ahead to be homeschooling parents.One area of concern is also revealed in the study. In 1999, 49 percent of homeschooled children were boys and 51 percent were girls. Now, boys account for only 42 percent of homeschooled students. This represents a significant shift that raises a host of questions. Why the drop in the percentage of boys?One reason often cited is a desire on the part of boys to play team sports. This becomes especially acute during the high school years, when schools emerge as the main arena for organized team sports. But there are surely other factors in play here. Mothers often cite greater difficulty in teaching boys as they move into middle school and high school levels. For this reason alone, most fathers should be far more engaged in the homeschool experience. Homeschooling will suffer a significant loss if a gender imbalance among students continues or increases.An interesting aspect of this report is the fact that so many parents cite a desire for more time with their children as a motivation for homeschooling. The average child is awake for just over 100 hours a week. During the school year, traditional schooling requires students to be at the school for about 35 of those 100 waking hours. Add to that the additional hours involved in transportation to and from the school and then homework assignments, and the total investment of time can easily claim half of the child's waking hours -- and these are usually the prime waking hours as well.Homeschooling is now a major force in American education, and Christian parents have been in the vanguard of this movement. For many Christian parents, homeschooling represents the fulfillment of the biblical mandate for parents to teach their children. These parents deserve our respect, our support, our advocacy, and our prayers. This movement is a sign of hope on our educational horizon, and a phenomenon that can no longer be dismissed as a fringe movement.As president of a seminary and college, I can attest to the fact that questions about the educational aptitude of homeschooled students are now settled. These students can hold their own as compared to students from all other educational backgrounds. One other fact speaks loudly to me concerning their education. Most of the homeschooled students I meet at the college and graduate levels indicate an eager determination to homeschool their own children when that time comes.Education cannot be reduced to statistics, but the trends revealed in this new report from the Department of Education deserve close attention. In our day, education represents a clash of worldviews. Increasingly toxic approaches to education (or what is called education) drive many schools and many school systems. In that light, the fact that so many Christian parents are taking education into their own hands is a sign of hope. As this new report makes clear, we should expect homeschooling to be a growth industry in years ahead.


I want to address a name I am called rather frequently. Frankly, the fact that adults are still calling names is something to blog about but I'll save that one for later.

I'm called a sucker.

I'm called a sucker in the context of serving. Of giving. Of living selflessly. Of sacrificing.
Of creating opportunities that others benefit from.
Frequently the person calling me a sucker is one of the people benefitting from my serving.
Almost 100% of the time the person calling me a sucker is a Christian.

I always undestood the word sucker to symbolize a remora. Someone who latches on and takes from. Not the person on the front line, forging new territories, giving, living selflessly. I always defined those types of people as pioneers, leaders, sacrificially living Christians.

Seems we have definintion problem going on. Seems we have a Christian living problem going on. Maybe I'm expecting too much. Maybe I'm expecting other Christians to get off their butts and actually serve others sacrifically. Too often there's awhole army of side-liners criticisizing the few in the field, coaching from the bench in their lily whites, griping about how bad those who are dirty and beat up in the field are making them look.

I just can't live that way. Neither can Viking Man, neither can our poor, deluded sucker children. Cause problem is, if none of us were "suckers" nothing would get done. Opportunities would remain slim. Life would be bland, wonder-bread stale. Nothing new would be created. Nothing new would be explored or discovered. Becasue of that I'm committed to suckerhood. Working hard, getting things done, living beyond what is in front of me. Not settling for status-quo and simply living to look good.

Yea. If cutting the trail means being a sucker, guess I am one. Why don't you join me? Live out loud for a change. The water's just fine.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Planting Seeds & Waiting

We watched a terrific movie yesterday, "We Are Marshall." KB said it was a little bit sad at the beggining. Yea. I cried through the first 15 minutes of it and was snifflin through the rest. Besides being a true story, a true tragedy and truly inspiring it is a great analogy about planting seeds. Watering. Waiting.
Don't quote me, as usual, on the details, but the gist of it is that after this horrific tragedy some determined folks try to build something from nothing. They spend a decade losing, but then, something really cool happens. They kick some honey-bun. For about a decade. I don't want to give you too much of the plot because you really should get yerself a box of kleenex, rent the movie and watch it. And, in reality, it is a tragedy. There is no good solution to the conflict. It's one of those stories where you can either crump or keep going, be defeated or continue standing.

I was really struck at the end how this coach just stuck it out. For about a decade. Just kept plugging along, just kept seeing that vision way out there, striving towards it. And eventually, waay down the road, it paid off. His team won, and kept winning. Seeds were planted. Seeds were watered. Seeds were waited upon. And eventually seeds bore fruit. Big, beautiful, abundant fruit.

Now that it's gardening season I'm outside a lot and I've been contemplating how every thing has it's own time; it's own season. The tulips bloom first, then the lilacs and just before they are done, the iris. Pretty soon the peonies will bloom and fill the yard with pink and scent and later on the lillies will be glorious. It is all so ordered and it's all on it's own time. Not mine. I think how often I've wanted to see the fruit of my labor long before I do, but it's just not the time yet. It will be, in due season. And until then, I am called to water, to wait, to persevere and to hope in what's to come.