Sunday, January 31, 2010

52 Books/Book 4: Being Catholic Now

So why did a nice Protestant girl like me pick up "Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning, by Kerry Kennedy? I've had a fascination with the Kennedy's since 8th grade when I read a book about big Joe's family. Mesmerized, like so many were, by the wealth, religion, immorality, prominence and tragedies, the political aspirations, legacy and bootlegging. Secondly, I consider Catholicism part of my heritage, partly cause Gram was taken in by a Catholic orphanage at the tender age of 5 and partly cause I went to a Catholic high school and partly cause Protestantism was birthed out of it. Lastly, I was curious what people like Susan Sarandon and Martin Sheen and Dan Akroyd and Nancy Pelosi would have to say about faith and religion and moral convictions.

Of course, Kerry Kennedy is a true blue bleeding heart liberal and the majority of her picks as "prominent" are too; one of them even identifies himself as such. Religion, much more than faith, is the topic of discussion, Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount dominate, while justice and concern for the poor permeate each story. Catholic doctrine is a pick-and-choose potluck in the lives of most and there is constant discussion about theology of women and the evolution that must occur in the life of the church. Personal faith in a personal God is not a given. I was also shocked to read about gross misperceptions of Protestantism and little concern for connecting with the wider body of people who share the Christian faith. Catholicism seems to mean, for many still, catholicism, but more to the point, and more disturbing, anything goes.

Grievously, a large proportion of the men interviewed for the book had been molested by priests. Grievous indeed, that this ever occurred, but certainly a disproportionate number of victims were included in this volume.

And Donna Brazile says this, "I'm a fierce advocate for my own values." That seems to be the most consistent theme in this book, which clearly advocated a liberal political and church agenda. The church is about memories and ritual and take-aways and not all that often about faith or about a transcendent God. Though, strangely enough, He did show up every now and then. Sheen, for instance, recounts a beautiful experience of reconnection with God, and Peggy Noonan's interview, very happily, was the last, leaving us with a touching picture of personal faith and hope for Catholicism:

When you start seriously believing in God, and you believe he set the world in motion, that indeed he breathed upon the waters and it was good, you get an advanced appreciation of nature and of the beauty of the not-man-made world. History is the working out of man's fate on earth. That's an expression of God. It didn't make me more "antiabortion"; it made me more loving about life.
It was a very thought provoking book, because while I agree passionately with Christ's call to Justice and the physical outworking of that in our lives I just as passionately disagree with the politics and flippancy shown in some areas such as "American slavery" (hello, that's called illegal immigration) and "female theology" (and that's called abortion).
The writing style was also awkward at times and it's clear that Kennedy was working from a script as the transitions between questions didn't flow on a great many of the interviews. Poorly edited from that perspective, but still, a thought provoking read.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

WR: Tantara Dominates Week

This week we fit in school around drama practice, all of which took place at our house. The notsolittles did math most mornings- Cub is becoming increasingly adept at multiplication and fractions and Flower just keeps crusing through her First Grade book. Cub continues to read 100 Most Important Events in Church History; Pilgrim's Progress has long been a great favorite of his and he read about John Bunyan this week. He was so excited he could hardly contain himself. John was a jailbird!
Feche-boy keeps working diligently on the MP study guide to the Odyssey. Like both of his older sisters, he has a love/hate relationship with the book (see new quote on blog side-bar). Nevertheless, I love how deep he is going. Omnibus was great last year and I felt like he was exposed to a lot of quality literature and history, but the pace was soo fast. I like the depth we're getting into better this year. I've been invited to call MP's excellent sales force this spring to work out Medieval Lit/History for 10th grade and I have every intention of doing so!
He also started IEW's Advanced Spelling & Vocabulary program, starting with Ancient Greece and Rome. It is excellent. The words are advanced, like plebian, and clearly relevant to the subject. There are 24 words on a list, along with 8 geography locations (ancient Greece and Rome). Every 8th word, a poem is read, "for your relaxation." Feche-boy went from getting 19 words correct to 28 within 3 days. It uses the same philosophy as Sequential Spelling. Hear the word, spell it, correct it, rinse, repeat, until you have mastered the list. Perfect.
The rest of the week we did play practice. Tuesday, Wednesday and today a dress rehearsal. We have the best kept secret this year- Mz. Michelle- she is seamstress and prop specialist extraordinaire. Our props and costumes ROCK, I tell you. The acting is fine, too. The kids have really worked hard and are excited about the competition on Saturday.
Tomorrow we are going to an all-day history fair at one of the state universities. They are offering 50 workshop/booths, everything from Bee Keeping and Beaver Trapping to Blacksmithing and Buffalo Bill.
Off to bed so we can hit the highway early.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beauty and Vulgarity

I've been reading. I've always been a reader but I've committed to 52 books this year, and as is so often the case in life, serendipity works its magic. There's been this theme already and World View is taking center stage, which has me thinking about it overtly much of the time.

I received an email this morning full of beautiful pictures, in fact, somehow voted Best Internet Pictures of 2008. My kids and I were mesmerized, enthralled and enriched by looking at almost all of them.There was an immediate response from a young family member who had also received the pictures - full out exuberance about one picture in particular; that of a young kid peeing on a military person, clearly in a war zone. Somehow, this was the picture that stood out most to her, this was the one that caused an enthusiastic response.

I like to think of myself as a humor researcher of sorts. I heard a presentation by Diana Waring ( about "Living Outside of the Box" years ago and she focused quite a bit of time on the importance of humor in the family, teaching our kids about what's funny and how to deliver a joke. I've looked at humor differently since, because JOY, while a gift of the spirit, does not come naturally to me, a task oriented melancholy arteest type. So I've bought my kids joke and comic books and searched out good, clean fun and funny people when we can find them. Sadly, finding good comedians to emulate is difficult because so many of them think vulgarity and bathroom humor are the epitome of a joke, when it's just immaturity vying for a laugh.
Diana had a whole apologetic for Puns. Which is funny in and of itself because Viking Man hails from a family where PUNS can be a conversation, an art form and intelligence test all rolled into one. I myself am convinced that puns will not be in Heaven but Viking Man is praying that my theology will evolve. I should have not underestimated the importance of the Viking Fam Thanksgiving I attended before I had tied the knot where Viking Man, his dad, uncle and a host of cousins spent hours talking in pun alone. Seriously.

A component of humor is the unexpected. I'm good at that, because I'm a middle child and a bit of a rebel so I'm always about saying the wrong thing at the right time- hence I'm funny. Really, I am. So, in a way seeing the picture of a 2 1/2 foot tall kid peeing on a man in full military gear, pointing a loaded automatic is funny. It's certainly not what we expect. But the humor is at the expense of the person, the uniform, our freedom. And that detracts from whatever humor might have been there. It becomes tasteless, cheapening everyone involved; the child, the soldier and us for participating in the degradation of a fellow person.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

All the World's a Stage

This is what happens when play practice goes too long. Characters (and I mean that in every possible sense of the word) Algy and Jack are blocked to shake hands. Instead they belly bump. Oh My!
The Crane meets the late 19th century. Having too much fun at play practice. Mz. Michelle stood in for Gwendolyn and, oh baby, we were laughing so hard....the woman is a Diva, (and I mean that in the best possible way, Michelle- you can act- as if you didn't know that! = )
Social climber, Lady Braknill, played by Miss. Megan.

Algy, Lady B, Gwendolyn, Jack and lots of glare.

Jack, a.k.a. Earnest, a.k.a Feche-boy, a.k.a. Ceaser. My boy, my boy.
Education, that's what I'm talking about... (see, there's even a Latin chart tacked to the wall).

So, how is drama even remotely related to Classical Education. I am so glad you asked!
  1. For starters it's a fun way to make quality literature come alive. Sure, there is lots of crap lit brought to life through drama (I mean, seriously, check out most movies rated Pg13 or above), but we pick quality lit, of which there is an abundance.
  2. Drama engages many of your student's sensory receptors such as sight, sound and touch. The more sensory receptors that are engaged, the more learning takes place.
  3. Drama trains your brain to retain, a.k.a. memorization. There's not much else like the pressure of being on stage to force even a reluctant student to commit lines to memory. It also teaches how to memorize- repetition.
  4. Drama develops rhetoric skills. Rhetoric is about communication. Drama requires good communication- the ability to clearly articulate, to have a stage presence, to project ones voice, to get over ones own shyness, or being unnerved by the public spotlight or pressure. Public speaking is still a greater fear for most people than death and drama is a good way to inoculate ones students against that fear in a fun and engaging way.

We have found good scripts from Logos Press, Contemporary Drama Services, and other sources but by far the easiest way to get a script quickly and cheaply is to adapt a simple story on your own. We've used children's classics like Rumpelstiltskin, Aesop's Fables and more. Cub is determined that someday soon we'll be performing Beowulf, buy KB has her heart set on The Magician's Nephew- mainly cause she wants to perform Jadis! Last year we performed a play on Teresenstadt, doing a very small WWII unit study along the way while campaigning together on Friday's after co-op for Measure 11. The kid's understanding of religious and political freedom will never be the same. The combination of study, drama and political activism was a winning combo and worth all of the drive time and hours put into it.

How does drama fit into classical education? Perfectly. After all, the World's a Stage- so get performing on it!

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's a Rather Blustery Day...

Another blizzard blazing on the high plains- Viking Man was on his way to his out-of-town clinical practice and called it mid-way there. We spent the day inside and cozy, schooling, reading and talking and now playing games. Viking Man and the boys playing Settlers of Catan (very fun!) and Miss Flower, KB and I are playing Apples to Apples, Jr. I'm a go-for-the-throat board game player, (in honor of my paternal grandmother, Audrey, who was far more competitive than either me or my Mom -though Viking Man will never concede that there is anyone more competitive than me at a board game, but hey, what about Cliff Huxtable? He rolls in the Monopoly dough, at least I don't do that!). That's just cause I am queen of certain games- like Chinese Checkers- I Rock and Rule, baby. Anyway...I'm going to go play Apples to Apples with my little, almost no longer 6 year old because I love her. Since there will be no killer instinct involved, it will be a little boring- sigh. Do I get diadems for this? I think it counts for heavenly treasure!
Otherwise I would just continue reading my book: Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk about Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning, by Kerry Kennedy. My brain is working overtime on processing and organizing this one! Don't worry, I'll for sure be posting about it later this week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

100 People Who Are Screwing Up America

I had been reading Philip Yancy's, "The Bible Jesus Read." I'm still reading it, but it's slow going and I decided that I wanted to read the books of the Bible that were being discussed as I went so that book is just simmering.

Anyway, the book I landed on for the week was 100 People who are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37) by Bernard Goldberg. Goldberg focuses on the cultural demise in America and the naysayers, who have prospered in a country of freedom, tearing down the very fabric of society. He says it best,

"Here's the problem, as far as I'm concerned: Over the years, as we became less closed-minded and more tolerant of all the right things, like civil rights, somehow, we became indiscriminately tolerant, "You're so judgmental" became a major-league put-down in Anything Goes America - as if being
judgemental of crap in the culture is a bad thing...In a way, this tolerance - or avoidance- gets to the very heart of the problem, and to some of the names on the list of 100. There's always been ugliness in the world, and there have always been those who peddled it for profit. We live in a society that is free enough for even the demented to operate in the marketplace. But until very recently, those whom society regarded as "responsible people" -including leaders in the entertainment field and critics at important national publications- treated them with the contempt they deserved, thereby protecting the culture by holding the line on standards. No more. Today, too many of those who should be protecting the culture at too busy applauding those tearing it down. "In the end, there will be a price to be paid for this, "says Herb London," the price one always pays for ignoring evil. Some of the best potential minds will be decimated. Culture will be assaulted beyond repair and the nation will be undermined from within." Or, as author John Underwood, has so elegantly put it, "In a society where anything goes, everything, eventually, will. A society that stands for nothing will fall for anything- and then, of course, will just simply fall."
Throughout the book, Goldberg purports the idea that the cultural wars are not so much about "right and wrong" but about good and evil. Because we live in a country with the freedom to do and be pretty much anything we want, we have a higher moral standard to live up to. Yet all to often, the other extreme is given in to; public vulgarity and the dishonoring of public officials as well as those who have died in service to this country, white collar crime that leaves dedicated employees job and penniless, gossip masquerading as news and gansta rap, full of vengeful hate, murder and the degradation of women.

Goldberg's list was fascinating, including several names that I wasn't familiar with, and, while it did include a lot of liberals on the list he doesn't limit himself to them, Judge Roy Moore and Jimmy Swaggart on in there too.

A fascinating read.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Plugged In

"If your kids are awake, they're probably online," asserts today's NYT.

The study’s findings shocked its authors, who had concluded in 2005 that use could not possibly grow further, and confirmed the fears of many parents whose children are constantly tethered to media devices. It found, moreover, that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems and lower grades.The third in a series, the study found that young people’s media consumption grew far more in the last five years than from 1999 to 2004, as sophisticated mobile technology like iPods and smart phones brought media access into teenagers’ pockets and beds.

While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users — those who consumed at least 16 hours a day — had mostly C’s or lower, compared with 23 percent of those who typically consumed media three hours a day or less. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school."

Victoria Rideout, a Kaiser vice president who is lead author of the study, said that although it has become harder for parents to control what their children do, they can still have an effect."

Perspective, eh?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekly Report


Tantara (tan·ta·ra (t n-t r , -tär ). n. 1. a. A trumpet or horn fanfare. b. A sound resembling such a fanfare. 2. A hunting cry. ...) Season is here! Tantara is the yearly Festival of One Act Plays for homeschoolers in our neck of the woods. The kids perform at the local college theater to a packed audience (friends and family) after weeks of memorization, practice and laughs! The years alternate between tragedy and comedy (this year is comedy) and we have another award winning play that is being polished for performance!

We had a peaceful and productive week of homeschooling. WWE- LOVE it. Cub started an IEW theme book and despite his apprehension, had a great time with it. Math, of course. Cub's ability seems to have returned after weeks and weeks of not being able to remember what 8+3 was! Argh. Just too much stress for his 10 year old mind. It's nice to see my smart boy back on track. KB read Habibi out loud this week and they loved it. Lots of questions regarding faith, the Middle East and salvation. I love books that get them thinking! Mazes for both, and Cub continues to read Augustus Cesar's World and 100 Most Important Church Events. Flower is reading with more and more ease and has begun reading to herself. It's really started to "click" for her and she is handling 3 syllable words with not too much effort. Next week I plan on adding in History and Latin- woohoo. Feche-Boy delved deeply into MP's study guide on The Odyssey. Couple of comments from him this week focused on how beautiful and lovely and rich The Odyssey was, and also that he wants to read it in the original Greek. My little homeschoolin' Momma's heart just goes pitter-patter when I hear words like that! He's also reading "100 Most Important Church Events." I've ordered Life of Fred for him for math and we are waiting on that and signed him up for Latin on line (his request). I also unearthed IEW's Advanced Spelling and Vocabulary and we'll start that on Monday. Living Memory arrived and memory work is on the docket for Monday. Can't wait to get back to some poetry, Latin phrases and grammar catechism.
Watched "All Passion Spent," another Masterpiece Theater production. We really enjoy Dame Wendy Hiller's performances, she is so elegant! This piece focuses on expectations, roles and fulfilling one's destiny; letting your "light" shine rather than hiding it behind social roles.


This week's read has been Philip Yancy's "The Bible Jesus Read," which is about the beauty and wisdom of the Old Testament. I've always loved the O.T. so I don't need convincing, but he does have great insight into specific books, like Job. His premise is that many of us don't question God's existence, but rather God's goodness. Food for thought.


Beit Midrash. Genesis 45. Another great Bible Study. Viking Man keeps using imagery such as "the hell's angel's of the desert" (i.e. the Canaanites) and I have this emerging Rock Opera going on in my head. I just keep getting pictures of Genesis in leather (not goatskin, more like Davidson) with lots of booming operatic histrionic in the background. Maybe someday I'll have the time and develop the talent (cause I don't' have it now) to write something so profound. My favorite line of the chapter is when Joe tells his bro's "don't fight on the way home, boys." Great chapter on forgiveness and God's fulfillment of vision.


Our good friend Kathy gave us a Yiddish Word of the Day calendar. Viking Man received Rosetta Stone Hebrew for Christmas and I have been known to exclaim, "Oy, vey!" so she thought it would be fun present for us. It is!! She does, however, ask me what the word for the day is everytime I see her! I'm much better at memorizing phrases each week than each day! The calendar is a hoot, however, and we LOVE it, despite the pressure = ).

More time spent with the Pod People. So many books have molded, but we need to inventory them all before they're pitched. Some we'll have cleaned but a lot of just going in the trash. So much waste. We've talked about it a lot because we are re-use, re-cycle, re-claim kinda people; pitching so much that could be re-done (albeit with a time, effort and money) has been a stress. So we've had to re-define. Fires waste. That's just how it is.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Annus Vox (Yearly Word)

Ann Voskamp over at Holy Experience and Jen at Conversion Diaries have both written about their "words" for the year. I read their posts days and days ago, but nothing came to mind; in fact I felt rather blase and completely devoid of creativity. But today, back over at Jen's blog, I decided quickly upon a word:

Maybe I choose this word because it seems for so long my word has been "Stuck" and perhaps that word comes to mind because our Pastor has been preaching a series on "Stuck."

Either way, I like the possibilities of DREAM. It's the only reason I'm attempting the 52 books in a Year Challenge because it's hard to fit in so much personal reading time when the house is full of people who want and need to interact. DREAM also represents so much of the fall-out, if you will, from the fire and the funeral. Both represented endings, and like seeds that fall to a ground and die, they also, in an upside down and topsy-turvy way, represent new things. For one, no small feat that it is, I'll have a new kitchen, new wiring, new heating, new plumbing. Lots of new.

It seems to me that the year is fresh enough and newly born to live large, think beyond, and DREAM.

Do you have a word for the year? I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


2010 Election Results


Scott Brown (R): 52.4% (1,036,855)
Martha Coakley (D): 46.6% (921,459)
89% of precincts reporting

AFP - Republicans won a stunning upset in Massachusetts' Senate election Tuesday, US television networks reported, dealing a potentially fatal blow to President Barack Obama's health care reforms.
Republican Scott Brown pulled off the surprise victory in the historically Democratic state in a rebuke of Obama one year after he took office.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Week 3, book 2

A week behind and the year has just started. Ah well. I'm plugging away and knocked out a few words this week-end.

Finished Habibi , by Nye yesterday, which is a lovely book. Beautiful, actually. The author is a poet and the book was full of rich imagery. Another peek into pre-post modern and even pre-modernist thinking. Wouldn't it be fascinating to live in a world that thrived on relationships rather than production?
Went from Palestinian Middle East tensions to The Wrong Side of the Door: Why Ideas Matter by Everett Piper, Ph.D. Dr. Piper is the president of Oklahoma Weslyan University, an educator, Christian and apologist. He relies heavily on the writings of C.S. Lewis, which is always a bonus from my pov. The book is a seris of essays, broken down into 3 parts: Education, Politics & Pop Culture and Q & A. The chapter on "Change" is worth the price of the book alone. Excellent piece. Any invested in it or who voted for it, really should take the time to read his thoughts.
The main premise of each essay is that all ideas have tremendous potential and power and that they are always directional. Consequences follow ideas. This is completly antithetical to the world of postmodern thought, where opinions mean everything and truth is as you see it. A good read and one I'm adding to my high schoolers required reading list for the year.
To read other book reviews for week three, head over to 52 Books in 52 Weeks.


Watched 2 very interesting flicks this week. Akeelah & the Bee. Brought back fond memories of police helicopters patrolling our Pasadena neighborhood. Besides that it was a fun family movie where the smart and caring kids finish well.
Also watched Masterpiece Theater's The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton, the most famous cookery writer in Britain's history. The deceased Mrs. Beeton is the narrator, which is an interesting perspective. While the real Mrs. Beeton died of Childbed fever the premise in the story is that she contracted syphilis from her philandering husband,and died as a result. The movie was a tragedy and left me feeling unsettled and sad.

Reading Habibi, by Nye- a Palestinian-American family moves home to Israel. Lots of interesting discussion about Palestinian/Israeli relations, history and ways of understanding. A great kids read-aloud but good for those of us interested in knowing more about the Middle East.
Our friend Laura sent us Glory Revealed a couple months ago and it's been my fav CD since. Lots of good Christian classics, gone folk. A group of very talented musicians got together for a week-end at a farm, recorded in a barn and came out with this. Good listening and feet tapping fun.
Beit Midrash- Genesis 44 -Joseph's cup. Application included:
  1. Joseph lived where he was put, did all that he did to God's glory, and was not corrupted by the culture. How often are we transplanted by unusual or difficult circumstances and gripe and complain?
  2. The brother's Jacobson stood on their own righteousness, despite previous questionable activity. How often do we do the same? Reminded me of the Mrs. Beeton flick. Often, maybe more than we realize, a priori rules.
  3. Judah, the root of the Tribe from whence Jesus comes, offered himself up as a living sacrifice, that his brother might live.

For the record, I love our Bible Study. It is full of thoughtful, kind, committed Christians who are hungry for the word, laugh out loud and pray with purpose.

That's about it- did check out the weekly political cartoons:

Praying for Haiti.

A blessed Sabbath.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I have lived in the land of my youth for 15 out of the 295 months of my marriage and I miss it. I am a deciduous tree kind a gal- great lakes, forests, spring thundershowers and verdant summers. You can have the gloomy, overcast, wet and dirty winters, but if you like the lush and living color green, or the feel of a spring shower, wet and thirst quenching and earthy and clean, then it's the place to be.
We've lived now for 6+ years in a unique part of the country where family still rules, multi-generations live close by, occasionally on the homestead that a grandparent or father farmed. And it's a fine place. Big skies, wide, wide-open space and wild-life; a place to roam. But honestly, lately, I've felt a little homesick. It started this summer when we went "home" for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. All of their kids and grand-kids were there, of course, along with almost all of their siblings and spouses. Nieces, nephews and cousins showed up, many of whom we hadn't seen since our wedding.

Then we went "home" again in October for my sisters funeral. We saw all of the fam all over again along with tons of friends, most of whom I haven't seen since high school. And now we're back in the land of every one else's family. Which is cool for them, but also means that if you're not from around here, don't expect folks to have lots of emotional room to add you to their repertoire. Cause this is the land of my Big Fat Norwegian Wedding and most folks have 37 blond haired, blue-eyed first cousins alone.
And now "home," our house, isn't even really where we are. But a home is more than just a house, it's the people, of course, and who's included and how often. A friend in college, who hailed from Pennsylvania and who considered Indiana quite droll, often quoted, "Home is where the heart is" intending, of course, that her heart wasn't in Indiana, where her body dwelled. She returned quickly to the east and has resided there since. If the above quote is true I 'm not really sure where home is. Not here, but no longer there.

We've lived coast to coast (Connecticut to California) southwest to north (New Mexico to the Territories) with some Midwest thrown in to boot (cause you can't get more Midwest than central Indiana, or Ohio either) and I've felt like an alien in each and every place. Never really belonging, enough of an outsider to observe folks feeling stuck where they're at but not willing to leave cause it's "home." Filled up with gas at the local B & P in Ohio years ago and the cashier looked at my NM license wistfully and pleaded, "take me with you, it's so boring here at home." But home is good enough, so much so, that despite the mundane hum-drum, many, many people are enticed to stay.

My 10 year stated this fall that he felt like an alien. And in many ways, we all are, if we believe in a heavenly place. We are just passing through, going through the preface, gearing up for the main performance. Still, the ache is there cause, like my friend of long-ago, I'm not home yet and doubt I ever will be this side of heaven. A place to belong, and settle in to. To be accepted and treasured and valued, despite who we are or aren't. No criticism, no complaints. Just Home.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Heavenly Treasures

I offer my mite
and know that I've given enough.
It seems so much
compared to what I have.

My Lord smiles at me.
Lovingly, His deep resonate voice speaks
One Word.

I've given so much, more than enough.

He smiles. Pure love.
For me.
And breathes.
One Word

I protest.
Do you not see the others?
In their finery and pride.
What they've given is left overs. They won't even miss it.
It's not a sacrifice. It's not from what they need.

He smiles.
Pure Love.
This story is all yours. Why compare?
He shows me another.
With less. Giving More.
and I know the question.
Would He compare me to her?

No, I slowly shake my head.
But I'm tired. I've worked hard. Certainly I deserve a rest.
No more worries. No more stress.
No more giving this when that demands a payment.
I plead.
Whine. Cry.

He smiles.
Pure love.
For me.
Despite what I give.
Despite how I whine.
No demands.

His holy presence, though, is question enough.
I can not breathe. Sleep. Go about my day.
What more?
He breathes the answer.
Wind words touch the air around me, convey to my heart His answer;
Everything. All that you have. All that you are.
Nothing held back.

I gasp. Too much, Lord. Too much. You demand too much.
You can't mean my ideas, hopes, dreams, stuff, family, kids?
You can't mean that.
What will be left?
Who will I be.

He smiles. Pure Love.
And I know. He won't take what I won't give.
His love is steadfast and true. He is reliable.

He invites me deeper in to His adventure.
Unfathomable mysteries await
Where hidden manna is served
And new names, written on pure white stones, are given.

But my hands on my stuff hold me back. My heart with my treasure ground me.

He waits. Patient and Sure.
Pure Love.
For me.
And smiles.
He is compelling.
Beauty itself.
I am dazzled. Suddenly sure.

More of you Lord.
Your Righteousness.
Your goodness.
Your mercy.
Your beauty.

Wind words lovingly unclench my fingers.
Those that gripped too tightly are gently removed.
People, stuff, hopes- released.

Just He and I now. Unfettered by all that I brought.
My mite has grown, consuming dross.

I offer it up.
He smiles.
Pure Love.
For me.
And on His breathe the words, "Well done."

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all, for all these out of their abundance have put in offering for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had. Luke 21: 1-4

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some for the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. Revelation 2:17

His Lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord. Matthew 25:23

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WW: Off with Their Heads!

This is what happens to bad little dollies who get in the way of big, ugly fires.

KB (who goes by "The Disturber" as well as Queen KB) had doll cleaning duty this week after another foray to the Pod People. Above is what I found in my bathroom later that day.

Trusting God...again.

Talked with "the last" (as in, last hope- as in, if he didn't have a viable bid for the house we were moving on) contractor on Sunday. This guy has restored many historic homes in our city's "Cathedral District" as well as built several million dollar homes. He met dh at the acreage a couple of weeks ago just to consult and let us know if he thought the house was worth saving and ended up wanting to put a bid on it. Which he did. 'Bout 1/2 as much as almost all the others without picking up the back 1/2 of the house (to replace the sill under the kitchen which are burned out). With lots of cool additions, like A.C. (oh, baby) and building out the attic. Which, even with a 30% leeway for cost overage leaves us money to do stuff like, say, add a 2 car garage, or any other number of The possibilities are exciting.

But, for the record, can I just calmly state:
AMBIGUITY DRIVES ME CRAZY, GIVES ME STOMACH ACHES AND STRESSES ME OUT!!! Ambiguity blows smoke in the face of my need for control and knowing what's ahead and the assurance that my lists (a.k.a. what I want, hope, need) will get accomplished. ACK!
Thanks, I'm better now.

So, I spent time yesterday looking at kitchen remodels. Not that I don't already have, pretty clearly in mind, what I'd like the kitchen to look and function like. But, as soon as we decide, for.sure, on a yes to a re-build, I'll be calling my mil. She has this gift for space, which I do not. And she and Grandpa Bob, along with their 2 sons, one of whom is my Man, have done lots of home construction and re-builds that would blow your socks off. Seriously. They are handy men/women extraordinaire. So, it could be a fun, creative, new venture kind of spring.

But, then again, I have loved living closer to civilization, a.k.a the largest TOWN in the Territories, which is technically a city, albeit a small one, though no one ever calls it that. I am a visual person. VISUAL. I have a minor in ART, o.k, mainly cause I am addicted to color and texture and ideas and possibilities. And I love the prairie. I really, really do. But, let's face it. Once you've seen it, and looked at it for, say, 14 years, it's not that visually stimulating. At least in town, you can watch the cars whizz by. So, I'm trying to get over my need for visuals and console myself with the thought that we might be able to create this dream home on 10 acres bordered by a river. Without getting too invested in that either, cause, ya know, it might all change tomorrow.

This letting God be in control thing and trusting Him for what's ahead is WORK, can I get an Amen? And I do, really, but, True Confessions, I have a stomach ache and have actually chewed my nails. But, always I come back to God, relieved that He is God and I am not. Relieved that He has plans and dreams for me that are full of extraordinary possiblities, despite my puny ways of understanding.

"You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.
Bow down Your ear to me,
Deliver me speedily,
Be my rock of refuge,
A fortress of defense to save me.
For you are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your names sake,
Lead me and guide me.
Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into your hand I commit my spirit.
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.....
But, as for me,
I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, You are my God."
My times are in Your hand...
(from Psalm 31)

Monday, January 11, 2010

If We are the Body.....

This post is written by an Africa missionary and Momma who details the shocking poverty that she sees all around her. There are about 168.8 million children in the world in dire need...and 2.1 billion people who profess to be Christians. If only 8% of those Christians would help one needy child, all the children would be taken care of. She states "I DO NOT BELIEVE that the God of the universe created too many children in His image and not enough love or food or care to go around. In fact I believe that He created the Body of Christ for just that, to help these little ones, the least of these. And I believe that except for a handful, the Body of Christ is failing."

Friday, January 8, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday

The kids have been clamoring for their Legos and Playmobile back. The Pod People expedition unearthed a bin of each, which we bleached and they smell just fine. Having resided on the porch instead of in the house probably made a difference too. I'm such a housewife, getting all excited over a utility tub in the laundry room. The 3 younger kids have spent hours and hours and hours in front of the fire place building and creating and wondering where the remaining 2 billion Lego pieces are (apparently, they inherited my odd and uncanny ability to inventory and track seemingly senseless bits of information like that we used to own 459 Lego bodies and 423 Lego heads and we currently only have 37 bodies and 12 heads, so where, oh where are the rest?! Most likely, sad to say, gone, but not forgotten.....).

Lo -27 °F

We survived another blizzard this week. We survived shoveling by hand (in the midst of Snowblowerville) our driveway. Below zero temps had our nature loving, outdoor junkie children begging to come in from snow removal duty to guzzle down boatloads of coffee laced with syrup, steaming cups of tea and huge mugs of hot chocolate. Cub's new fav movie quote, done TimAllenesque...."Whoa, Santa's got a buzz!". Probably unchristian of us to laugh as long and hard as we do, but he does it deadpan. Another offspring with brilliant comedic timing.

Homeschooling is a verb; this week anyway. WWE rocks. Switched Cub to a Math 3/4 workbook from Sam's. Same work as Horizons but he doesn't finish feeling like a math dope, so bonus. Have to make some decisions regarding Feche-Boy's Math- Life of Fred, Teaching Textbooks or Jacobs. Any opinions or thoughts or reviews? Please leave me a comment!!

This weeks Read-Aloud was The Big Wheel. Late 19th century. I love this period in American history. You get the sense that anything can happen, anyone can succeed, there are marvels and opportunities around every corner. I've done enough history reading/research to realize that Manifest Destiny wasn't all it was cracked up to be from the Natives pov and that's another, much longer blog post, waiting to be written. That aside, it's a great read about Mr. Ferris, his Big.Idea and a sweet courtship.

My suspicion has been confirmed. Our house had been filled with the oddest disparity of items that landed in one of 2 camps: valuable, expensive and difficult to replace collectors items or WalMartesque junk. (-esque is my new fav ending). I am stunned at the value of some of what we owned. Stunned at what WalMartesque stuff cost. Egads. Yet I am ever more grateful for Google. Without it I would be wondering idiotesque the aisles of Walmart, pricing items. Hail Google!

Watched Because of Winn Dixie this week. A fun little flick. Truly family friendly it speaks to the bitter sweetness of life- sweet and sour, joy and sorrow all mixed up together. It was a gift from the "Ghosts of Christmas" and it is a great movie about loss, longing and growing beyond sorrow. Speaking of which, the Month of Movies post did have some movies with questionable content. We watch with remote in hand.

We signed up for Library Cards today, the first we've had since stepping foot on Territory Soil 6 years ago. We had a huge library and our small village a small one, and we just didn't want to pay the fee for an in-town one. We bit the bullet and did it today and then KB and I went back and loaded up with books on birds, astronomy, cooking, food, robotics, Rome and Greece plus a couple of Books on Tape and some DVD's. Within minutes of being home, once the groceries were off-loaded, the kids were on the floor in the living room, pouring over books, bibliophiles, one and all.

You can participate in 7 Quick Takes every Friday at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sorting Rubble

I know I'm stuck on sorting stuff and inventory sheets but it's consumed my time and thoughts. My big take-away from our last foray to the Pod People was how much like rubble our stuff not only looked like, but was.

How often we heard, and are hearing, just throw it away. As we went through bins of items, in their damp, moldy, smoky disarray; as friends carried and hauled for us, it's been impossible to tell the care and thought we've put into our possessions and life because in it's premature (the definition of an accident) end, it looks like rubble, smells like rubble and goes into the dump truck like rubble.

I feel like God has given me a glimpse ahead of what it will be like looking back on my life. That the things and plans that we consider important, spend our time, money and life on, are oftentimes what gets thrown at the Dung Gate. That the really vital things, those they don't end up burning, are oftentimes what we can't see.
So, I'm still sorting. Both stuff and in my head. What's important. What's o.k. to let go of. What really needs replaced. What is vitally important and sorta important and that which is not important at all. In the end, it's all gonna burn...would it be fair to say that we live precociously?

"But the day of the lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved , being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent hear? Nevertheless, we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which rigtheousness dwells. 2 Peter 3: 10-13

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bittersweet Legacies

I received a gift subscription to a magazine last week, "From a Friend." I opened up the enclosed gift card and the friend identified was my sister who unexpectedly passed away in October. She left behind one last Christmas gift...
Derek Loux, Christian artist, father of 10 and minister of the Gospel died tragically this past Christmas Eve. He and his wife lived the Word and had adopted 8 children, along with starting the Josiah Organization: You can hear some of what he left behind here:

Blow My Mind - Paper Religion - 2007 - 5:38
Dance With Me - Paper Religion - 2007 - 4:57
Love You Much - Paper Religion - 2007 - 5:42
Your Only Child - Paper Religion - 2007 - 5:07o

Today the girls and I went over to what we refer to as "The Pod People." More accurately it's Service Masters and the Pod that we rent sits on their property, but somehow they've all become one under our sci-fi title. Basically, of what we saved, they are recommending that we dispose of 85-90%. The smell and stain just won't come out. And basically, I'm o.k. with that. We've been living with, well..more than the basics, but less than normal-kwim? We are still living in an odd, twilight zone gray of in between where we were and not to where we'll be So, today KB and I went over to see just what school curriculum we had left and it looks like nothing but some CD's. We'll copy a couple of books but the rest are soggy and smell and are molding. Sigh.

I started using Sonlight Curriculum back in 91'- the 2nd year they were in existence. Becky Lewis, co-creator of Sonlight was actually in our Sunday School at church in CA before they went back to the Middle East with Frontiers. I've bought into the "building a legacy library" for the past 20 years but it looks like the majority of 1000's of books that we've invested in are not worth saving. Sigh.

So then we went looking for the photo albums. Moldy. Damp. Stained. Our family has been into scrapbooking for the past decade and a half, and like everything else we do, we either don't or we over-do and of the almost 20 albums that my dd's, mil and I have created there was not one worth saving. We tore the pages out, tore the edges off, and spread them out, not even sure what to do with all the ripped and torn pages once they dry.
And then I started crying. Not so much for the stuff, but for the memories. The legacies that we had been creating to pass on. The pictures and memories, the quality toys that we scrimped and saved for, the literature and movies and somehow my Great Aunt's beautiful, pale yellow China. Gone.
I've been dwelling a lot on legacies and God's purpose. Sue and Derek are gone, without warning. They didn't get to chose what they left behind, but we see the beauty of their lives. Beloved spouses, beautiful and gifted children, friends.

And I'm assessing: What have I invested in that's of lasting value? What will survive after I'm gone? Have I stewarded my time and life wisely?
And I'm wondering: What is God doing through all of this? What is He hoping to refine in us in this? What is hoping to birth in us through this?
And I'm questioning: What next, Lord? and Where?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What do I Have in my Hand?

Years ago I subscribed to a magazine called "Gentle Spirit." I loved that magazine. The purpose of it was to put forth of vision of Godly Womanhood in the Spirit of Titus 2, and it did a great job. Being a keeper of home was put forth as an exciting adventure and worthy of lifetime pursuit. One of the consistent themes throughout was the query, "What do you have in your hand." It's been a transforming question for me for years.
Yesterday at Saturday morning prayer I was seeking an answer about a situation that has had me stuck for a month and a half or more. Actually about a 1/2 a decade. Stuck in others ideals, stuck in what's not happening, resources not available, discouragement, people being disappointed and angry with me. Stuck in the obstacles ahead. Why do I have these longings when it seems like the reality I face has nothing to do with the heart vision?

My answer was this:
What do you have in your hand?

And it's enough. Because I realized I was trying to fulfill others expectations, make them happy, fulfill their vision, keep everybody satisfied. I don't have in my hand what it takes to do those things. I have in my hand what I've been equipped for. And frankly, I'm not the happiness guru.
So, that's what I'm going to do. Simple. Stick to forms. Do what I know. Clarify the vision.

That's how it goes. I can't be more than I am and I can only do what I know.
Back to basics.
New Year. New Beginnings.

What do you have in your hand? How is God calling you to be faithful to what He's equipped you for?
I'd love to hear about it; it's in the sharing of testimonies that our faith is built.

A Blessed Sabbath!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Month of Movies

Reading and homeschooling took a back seat this past month and a half and it felt like on the days that we weren't working like dogs cleaning up the aftermath from the fire, we were sitting around in a stupor. As a result we watched a lot of movies. Somehow I don't feel quite as lame sitting in a stupor if there's a movie on. Anyway, some were better than others...maybe you'll find one in my list below that piques your interest:
  • The Last Samari- I'm not sure I buy PTSD among survivors of the 7th (this is the 2nd movie, Hildago was the first) that uses that as a major premise. My historical sensibilities aside, it was a great drama and an intriguing look into a unique country.
  • Iron Man- Marvel Comics did a marvelous job. Good, clean, cheesy entertainment. Love it.
  • The Kid -Some screen writer's Inner Child Therapy on the Big Screen. Witty lines, lots of laughs. Lilly Tomlin is brilliant in her cameo.
  • Bee Season -Beautiful Mind from a feminine perspective. What happens when people seek the Spirit without connection to the Father. Well written and interesting look at Kabbalaism and Family Dynamics.
  • Narnia I & II. True Confessions, I can't stand Susan in these films and that ruins the whole thing for me. The WonderWorks productions are better. The books better yet. Read them often and outloud.
  • The Nativity - Beautiful and poignant. My fav flick of the year.
  • Barbie Nutcracker - loved by my 6 yo. I watched it with her - that's love, baby.
  • Star Trek, The Movie - I loved Star Trek, and Ray Bradbury, as a kid cause sci-fi used to be written by scientists and who knew what could end up being the real McCoy? Now it's just cheesy fantasy with special effects thrown in.
  • Rome: The History Channel - Violence, power, narcissism. Lots of detail. Very well done.
  • Santa Claus I, II, III -Tim Allen, despite the mild bathroom humor, is always funny. We loved III- Martin Short and Tim Allen together- twofer! Marty is brilliant as Jack Frost... "Yea, And?!
  • The Bucket List - Coming to terms with one's life. Better done before the end.
  • Pendragon - Good message. Well done flick by a group of homeschoolers.
  • Paul: The Apostle - Interesting perspective on Paul's conversion and ministry. Showed the beginning of Peter's ministry as well, though little was mentioned of James.
  • Another Perfect Stranger - A skeptic sits next to Jesus on an airplane and He responds to her doubts and disbelief. Difficult to create a lot of visual excitement when the majority of the movie is dialog. Still, the notsolittles enjoyed it and had lots of questions as a result.
What have you been watching? Any good family films we should check out? I'd love to hear about them.

Friday, January 1, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Happy New Year.
I'm a list maker and love this time of year (and early summer) to plan, tweak, think, research, and over plan what's coming. Oftentimes I'll find lists later and realize that they remain unfulfilled, but just as frequently I'll discover that long-forgotten hopes and dreams have became reality. The power of the pen. How bout' you? Do you make a resolution list?

2. Goals that I'm concerned I won't meet are those I'm not willing to publicly expose. I hate not getting to where I want to be.

3. The fine line between my resolution's and God's will for my life remains a genuine query for me. Certainly we aren't the only ones who struggle with this? The pragmatists in our life are certain that it's all about personal will. Thoughts?

4. I'm doing a Book Challenge this year- 52 Books in 2010. I had a list going but misplaced it in the move from the hotel. Life of Pi keeps coming up and Christianity Today, news to me, has a mag called books and letters with lots of great literary many books and I'm determined to read more of them in 2010.

5. The Daniel Academy (the U.M.S that we started this past fall) has been taking up lots of brain space lately. What to do with it this spring. Where to go with it beyond that...

6. Contentment and lack of has been something I've been meditating on. I'm always looking for the next thing. Always seeing "out there," never feeling settled or "at home." Not sure if it's a visionary gift or a discontentment curse.

7. Our 3 older kids are back "in place." KB and Feche Boy were at a week-long youth conference and returned home today. Miss. R and I rendezvoused with her ride in MN yesterday and she arrived in the south late last night. Just in time to miss a night of -25 degree weather!

Wising you a New Year filled with warmth and fulfilled HOPES!
Jen has more Quick Takes today at her blog, Conversion Diary. Stop by and wish her a New Year!

52 Books in 2009 Wrap-Up

As you can see by my side-bar list of books read in 2009 I didn't make a book-a-week. I barely made 1/2 that, even with throwing in some of the eled read-alouds I did with the notsolittles and books of the Bible. Oh Well. It was a worthy goal, a challenge and as hard as I thought it would be given what life is like. I did peruse Science News each and every week and actually read some of the articles there and in National Geographic and Ranger Rick = ).
However, it was great to be more intentional about reading. Robin, host of the 52 Books a Week Blog, had some great questions for year-end-review:

  1. Even if you didn't, how many did you manage to read? 24 + part of 1 (Climbing Parnassus)
  2. Did you discover a new author or a new genre. Chiam Potok
  3. Did you rediscover an old classic or reread a book from years gone by? Old Yeller-beautiful and poignant. Little House Books- maybe my 5th time reading them outloud. Classic, charming, beautiful.
  4. What book did you finish up the challenge with? Old Yeller...wait, can I add another Amelia Bedelia? I read "....runs for Mayor" last night before bed and that takes me to 25!!
  5. Did you read from a list and fly by the seat of your pants choosing a different book each week? I started with a very carefully planned list. hahaha. Reverted quickly to flying by the seat of my pants...
  6. What was your favorite book? The Chosen. Wow. And Climbing Parnassus.Wow.
  7. What was your least favorite book? The Road. Blech.
  8. Did you learn something new about reading, yourself or a topic you read? Reading Potok more clearly refined my vision for education. In his writing education and relationship are intertwined. Education is not about learning facts or knowing how to do a thing, it is about becoming the person you are called to be, stewarding your gifts, talents, skills, place and time in life, serving the Master of the Universe with all that you are. The educational model that Potok writes about (Hebraic) blows away the triviality of post-modern thinking, gets way beyond the pragmatics of modernistic thinking and gets to the heart of who a person is. As an educator, mom, friend, Christian, I want that for myself and I want to inspire others to get there.
  9. What is on your wish list for 2010? Revisiting the Odyssey and the Iliad (partly cause Feche-Boy has that on his list next and partly cause The Trojan War was so good). Finishing Climbing Parnassus. A couple of books on Writing and Getting Published. I'd also like to re-visit the list I made last year that included several books on the "World of Google" and other marketing related books. Still have a couple Potok books to read and I never did get to "Three Cups of Tea."
Robin is hosting another Challenge for 2010, so hop on over to her site and join in!