Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Inner European

My inner European is a colony. No, not a leper colony...

I took this survey which first concluded that my Inner European was Dutch (tolerant and all that...hmmm...remember that open-mindedness quiz I recently took that rated me at 4% and called me judgmental and unwilling to discuss others' ideas? Apparently, I am an infinitely conflicted human being.)
I knew Dutch couldn't be right, so I re-took the test and changed my answers. :-) This time I was Italian...passionate and colorful. I liked the sound of that better, so I went with it. Even though I found myself somewhat frustrated by the lack of answers that really fit me, I moved on with my life.

UNTIL, I read Angie's blog today. She thought of that which never occurred to me...she gave her own know, personalized the survey. (She's quite the comedian - check out her humor blog - plus she's a Jim Jordan, Peter Leithart, JJM could you not like her?)
Anyway, I am going to piggy-back on her idea and give my own answers to the questions.

1. Your ideal meal is something like...Lobster Bisque, Greens w/ Beets, Mandarin Oranges and Goat Cheese, medium-rare filet mignon, asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes.

2. And you would finish it off with...Missouri port and something very chocolatey.

3. What political issue really gets you going? Taxes...big Oh, that question asked for "issue" singular. Oops. See, that's why I don't read political journals, or newspapers or magazines or listen to or watch shows about politics. It all gets me worked up, so I ignore it and live my life in relative peace.

4. Your dream car is...something classic and old, like a 1965 mustang. I've wanted one of those for a very long time.

5. Your idea of a great night out is...a small group of friends listening to John Pizzarelli at "Jazz at the Bistro," followed by martinis at the Ritz.

6. Your ideal vacation involves... a yacht out in the middle of nowhere, with an ample supply of pens, paper, books, and a tall, dark, handsome....aah, nevermind that part.

So, whad'ya think? What is my Inner European?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Baby

Isn't he just adorable!

This is our surrogate grandchild: he's really my grand-nephew, but he feels like a grandchild to us. We are, after all, old enough to have some, but our children aren't old enough to give us any. He stays with us every other weekend and then he goes's awesome!

Julian is 2 1/2 years old (hardly a "baby", but that's what we call him: The Baby), he has a sweet disposition, is extremely bright and brings lots of joy to our household.

Last Sunday was his first to wear a tie, and he was SO happy about it because he looked like Grant and Eric.

A Few of My Favorite Things

We recently had the hardwood on our main floor refinished (by the same gentleman who did our upstairs the SECOND time this summer). Being able to do this is in itself a great luxury, but it creates such a mess! So, once again, I found myself washing every inch of wall, every interior and exterior furniture surface and, since the fine dust from sanding penetrates every nook and cranny of the house, the contents in/on every wall, cabinet and shelf.

One of the great benefits this affords, is an opportunity to purge my house of "stuff" I no longer need or use and to re-organize those things I choose to hang on to. As I did this, I was reminded of all the material luxuries with which I am blessed as well as how much simple enjoyment I derive from beautiful things. The two cabinets below house a few of my favorite things...most of which are junk-yard or bargain store finds, wedding gifts or inheritance from my husband's family.

Among these tablecloths, is one crocheted by my great-grandmother, and one lace cloth inherited from Steve's grandmother. They are my favorites, but not long enough for my 140" table.

The cabinets themselves were bargains - FREE. The short one came from Steve's sister's garage; the tall one from the house in which my Aunt Norene grew up. Before I inherited it, it had been sitting in her father's old Victorian in Potosi, MO, which had only coal for heat. It was covered in black soot and the finish was badly worn. It, along with a gorgeous old bed from that same house, were my first re-finishing projects and they were SO incredibly beautiful underneath the soot, that I became hooked on re-finishing for about 10 years. About 5-6 years ago, I decided to paint it white. I don't really regret it yet, but am afraid I will someday. When I'm dead, some person will exclaim, "What kind of idiot covered this beautiful oak with PAINT?!! What was she thinking?!"

In the meantime, it beautifully stores a few of my favorite things!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Prayer II: Hindrances

I really am going to finish what I started a couple weeks ago.............eventually. In the meantime, I have been contemplating what it is that hinders my own prayer life. Two major obstacles repeatedly turn my mind and heart from prayer: guilt and doubt.

How can I ask God to ACT on something on which I am not willing to act? For example, this morning, one of my thought processes led me to pray for peace and unity within the body of Christ...immediately I was reminded of ways in which my attitudes and actions would have to change for that prayer to be answered. Afterall, if I am not willing to let go of offences and actively pursue a life of peace with some whom I know to be brothers, how do I expect that prayer to be answered? Can I pray for God to miraculously bring unity among His People while I nurse resentment toward others within the church, or while I create schisms by pushing or shoring up my own theological agenda, or while I ignore some within the Body because they are just too different than I?

Ultimately, the answer is "yes" I CAN pray for peace and unity because that prayer is most certainly according to His will, and He is able to change EVEN ME. When we pray, we will naturally be convicted of our own sins...and though I must be willing to change my actions and attitudes, I desire God's work to go forward in greater proportion than my willingness or ability to do what's right. In praying, I am made aware of my sin, prompted to confess, repent, and change those attitudes and actions which hinder the answer, all the while acknowledging that I need the Spirit of God to fully work that change in my heart. (As Paul says in Colossians, "I toil, struggling with all His energy which He powerfully works in me..." I must work at changing, but His power must be at work in me to accomplish it.)

So, I pray in spite of myself, because "even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts..."

Doubt and fear also hinder my prayers. I sometimes doubt whether or not I am asking for the right things. And though I never doubt that God CAN do anything, I often wonder if He WILL. If I ask for something that is clearly in accordance with His revealed will (such as a particular person's redemption), and He chooses not to fulfill that request, will I become angry or resentful? Do my prayers REALLY make a difference? Isn't God gonna do what He's gonna do anyway?

These doubts and fears must continually be alleviated by reminding myself of the Truth: The Scriptures command us to pray. God is a loving and faithful Father. He hears our prayers. He is completely sovereign. His "mind is changed" by our requests. Etc. And...these doubts force me to renew my trust in Him, resulting in this plea: "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!"

Prayer is a struggle. It forces me to face my particular sins as well as my unbelief, but ultimately it brings me face to face with Truth as well as truth's Author...that is always a good thing. So, I do it anyway...

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Bondage of the Will

Here's a fun little section where Luther continues to deride Erasmus' view on free will:

"You make the power of 'free-will' to be equal in both directions: by its own power, without grace, it can (you tell us) both apply itself to good and turn itself from evil. You do not realise what a mighty power you are ascribing to it by the pronoun 'itself,'...; for you completely exclude the Holy Spirit and all His power as if superfluous and unnecessary. Your definition, therefore, ought to be condemned even by the Sophists; were they not in the blindness of their hatred so mad against me, they would fume rather against your book. But now, because you are attacking Luther, all that you say is holy and great is the patience of holy men!

"Not that I say this because I approve of the Sophists' view of 'free-will', but because I think it more tolerable than that of Erasmus; for they approach nearer to the truth than he...since they say that it can do nothing of itself without grace, they are at odds with Erasmus; indeed, they seem to be at odds with themselves, caught in the toils of a merely verbal debate, and more desirous of argument than truth - just as Sophists should be! Suppose a Sophist of the best type were given me, with whom I could talk these things over in private discussion, I should ask for his candid opinion like this: 'If anyone should tell you that a thing was free, which of its own power could only go one way, that is, the bad way - it could indeed go the other way, that is, the good way, but not by its own power, only with the help of another - could you refrain from laughing, my friend?' For on these grounds I shall easily establish that a stone or a log has 'free-will' because it can go up and down; though by its own power, it can only go down, and can only go up with the help of another! ...In this way, the Sophists make 'free-will' free by accident. And, as I said above, we shall end by overturning all usage of words and language...."

How can you not love this guy?! :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

You Shall Remember...

My yearly Thanksgiving meditation is Deuteronomy 6-9. These few verses are posted on my dining room wall as a reminder:

"Beware lest you forget Yahweh your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart becomes proud, and you forget Yahweh your God.

"Otherwise you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' But you shall remember Yahweh your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Will We Ever Learn?

Every now and then, my husband and I get a chance to go see a movie together. It is rare for all necessary forces to come together...the man is in town, I am not in the middle of a project, the children are caught up on homework and can take care of themselves for the evening. Now, it is EXTREMELY rare to have all this fall in place AND for there to be a movie we both want to see.

When this happens, we are elated at the alignment of the stars and rush headlong into the theater....often without "due diligence." And all too often, we regret it. Such was the case Sunday evening.

We both wanted to see Beowulf....he, because it would be action-packed.....I, because it is a glorious piece of literature. Ahhh....a rare meeting of brute force, intellect, poetry and honor.

Well, LET ME TELL YOU, in addition to being very poorly executed - shoddy acting combined with odd, jerky, King-Kongish-like animation - every shred of glory and honor was stripped from this story and replaced with crude humor and debauchery. I never imagined such thorough deconstruction possible. We should've done our homework.

We didn't make it all the way through...we didn't even make it halfway through. Don't waste your time and money.

Do yourself a favor: Get a copy of the Irish poet, Seamus Heaney's translation and read it! (that's Sheemus Heeney) Or better yet...get the audio CD of him reading his own translation. You'll see what I mean. It's beautiful.

Here is the opening paragraph:

"So, the Spear-Danes in days gone by
And the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes heroic campaigns:
There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,
A wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.
This terror of the hall troops had come far.
A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on
As his powers waxed and his worth was proved.
In the end, each clan on the outlying coasts beyond the whale-road
Had to yield to him and begin to pay tribute.
That was one good king."

That was from memory (one benefit of learning!), so don't compare the line breaks to the book...they may not be right. But DO read Heaney's version. It's the best. Period.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

New York, 3 October, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor -- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a DAY of PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER" to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of the Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now, therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be -- that we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks -- for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation --for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war -- for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed -- for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted --for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other trangressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually -- to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed --to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord -- To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us -- and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

See the original article from the Massachusetts Centinel here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

To A Usurper

Here's another great offering from Eugene Field:

Aha! a traitor in the camp,
A rebel strangely bold,-
A lisping, laughing toddling scamp,
Not more than four years old!

To think that I, who've ruled alone
So proudly in the past,
Should be ejected from my throne
By my own son at last!

He trots his treason to and fro,
As only babies can,
And says he'll be his mamma's beau
When he's a "gweat, big man"!

You stingy boy! you've always had
A share in mamma's heart.
Would you begrudge your poor old dad
The tiniest little part?

That mamma, I regret to see,
Inclines to take your part,-
As if a dual monarchy
Should rule her gentle heart!

But when the years of youth have sped,
The bearded man, I trow,
Will quite forget he ever said
He'd be his mamma's beau.

Renounce your treason, little son,
Leave mamma's heart to me;
For there will come another one
To claim your loyalty.

And when that other comes to you,
God grant her love may shine
Through all your life, as fair and true
As mamma's does through mine!

Shadow Puppets

I'm busy...busy...busy! I'll probably spend the next month in the kitchen, so blogging may be sporadic.

A friend sent this video to me this morning...very creative and fun! Thanks, DK.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"My Birthday Coming Down!"

Thus said my now 14 year old when he was about to turn 2!
Happy Birthday!!
Grant Ford Shaffer
9 lbs. 9 oz.
Woodland, CA
Baptized: January 1995
This is Grant at 6 months: AKA - Roly Poly

As I looked through the scrapbooks which chronicle his life, I was astounded once again at how intelligent he was as a little guy. I wrote down a lot of what he said and did, as many of us mothers do with our firstborn. Here are some of his cute sayings:

20 months: When I began to pray at dinnertime, Grant interrupted and prayed, "Pease, Nord, Grant nisten Momma!"

22 months: "No thank you...I no take thank you."

22 months: "No thank spank me, Momma."

23 months: When asked catechism question #3, his enthusiastic answer to "why did God make you and all things" was, "Because.............I'm really special!"

24 months: Grant was in another room and was very quiet (never a good sign), so I called out and asked him what he was doing. His response: "I just sitting here, Mom...thinking 'bout my attitude!"

24 months: "When I get bigger, I get whiskers, then I can drink coffee."

26 months: I was expecting Eric. As I carried Grant upstairs he warned me, "Mom, you hafta be careful 'bout caring (carrying) me so you don't drop the baby out your tummy."

26 months: As he was pretending to talk on his play phone: "Dr., can you fix my Dad? You may NOT say 'No'!" He hung up and announced, "He said, 'Yes.'"

Here he is at age 3 with his little brother, Eric:

Then in 5th Grade:

This is him today:

14 years old! For years I have carried on about what a difficult child he is...and he HAS been difficult. From about age 4 1/2, Grant was determined to set his own path, and in so doing, has reduced me to tears more times than I can count.

But God is faithful. Grant has grown into a strong young man who is a joy to be around. He loves and respects us and is a lot of fun right now! He's good to little children. When I'm under pressure, he goes out of his way to help me. He opens my car door for me. He starts the car for me on cold mornings. And...I think he even listens to me now. That prayer he prayed as a toddler is being answered! I'm so glad he's my son!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our Whippings

Eugene Field was a wonderful poet whom I never had the opportunity to read growing up, but his works are delightful. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites over the next weeks:
Our Whippings

Come, Harvey, let us sit a while and talk about the times

Before you went to selling clothes and I to peddling rimes-

The days when we were little boys, as naughty little boys

As ever worried home-folks with their everlasting noise!

Egad! and, were we so disposed, I'll venture we could show

The scars of wallopings we got some forty years ago;

What wallopings I mean I think I need not specify-

Mother's whippings didn't hurt, but father's! oh, my!

The way that we played hookey those many years ago-

We'd rather give 'most anything than have our children know!

The thousand naughty things we did, the thousand fibs we told-

Why, thinking of them makes my Presbyterian blood run cold!

How often Deacon Sabine Morse remarked, if we were his

He'd tan our "pesky little hides until the blishters riz"!

It's many a hearty thrashing to that Deacon Morse we owe-

Mother's whippings didn't count - father's did, though!

We used to sneak off swimmin' in those careless boyish days,

And come back home of evenings with our necks and backs ablaze;

How mother used to wonder why our clothes were full of sand,

But father, having been a boy, appeared to understand.

And after tea, he'd beckon us to join him in the shed

Where he'd proceed to tinge our backs a deeper, darker red;

Say what we will of mother's, there is none will controvert

The proposition that our father's licking always hurt!

For mother was by nature so forgiving and so mild

That she inclined to spare the rod, although she spoiled the child;

And when at last in self-defence she had to whip us, she

Appeared to feel those whippings a great deal more than we!

But how we bellowed and took on, as if we'd like to die-

Poor mother really thought she hurt, and that's what made her cry!

Then how we youngsters snickered as out the door we slid,

For mother's whippings never hurt, though father's always did.

In after years poor father simmered down to five feet four,

But in our youth he seemed to us in height eight feet or more!

Oh, how we shivered when he quoth in cold, suggestive tones:

"I'll see you in the woodshed after supper all alone!"

Oh, how the legs and arms and dust and trouser buttons flew-

What florid vocalisms marked that vesper interview!

Yes, after all this lapse of years, I feelingly assert,

With all respect to mother, it was father's whippings hurt!

The little boy experiencing that tingling 'neath his vest

Is often loath to realize that all is for the best;

Yet, when the boy gets older, he pictures with delight

The buffetings of childhood - as we do here tonight.

The years, the gracious years, have smoothed and beautified the ways

That to our little feet seemed all too rugged in the days

Before you went to selling clothes and I to peddling rimes-

So, Harvey, let us sit a while and think upon those times.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Friends In Low Places

We just returned from The Garth Brook, as our foreign hotel concierge called it.


I must say.......

I liked it. It pains me to admit it, but "the truth will out."

I actually had no idea what to expect, since I've never attended a REAL concert before. The kind where everyone remains seated and nobody screams don't count as real concerts.

For those who care, here's the scoop:

First of all, thanks to our host, we had terrific seats! The concert began around 7:40 with Trisha Yearwood (GB's wife) performing a couple of her old songs. She has an excellent, strong voice, but is unimpressive as an entertainer. She finished by about 8:00. We then waited while the stage was re-configured for Mr. Brooks, which took about 20 minutes, after which we waited and waited and waited some more. For nearly an hour, we received no communication about the I decided that Garth must've dropped dead of a heart attack or something and the powers-that-be were trying to decide how to inform the crowd without inducing mass hysteria.

In the meantime, the crowd inside the Sprint Center grew restless and performed round after round of.........the WAVE! Yep. The wave.

Finally, just before 9pm, Garth made his grand entrance. Not too grand or flashy, but fun, as he sprang onto the stage from underneath. We stood for the next 2 1/2 hours singing along with all the old Garth favorites...yes, I said "we." You see, I married a country music fan and thereby inherited a couple of Garth's Greatest Hits CD's...and I used to listen to them quite often. I might have even enjoyed them. Maybe.

Unlike his wife, Mr. Brooks is the consummate performer/entertainer. It was obvious that he was in his element and enjoying every minute as the recipient of our attention and adulation. The little hair he has left is completely white, but his energy and stamina were equal to a much younger man's.

So, even though I would never have pursued tickets for Garth Brooks on my own, and really did go because it was DK's birthday, I actually enjoyed the concert a great deal! Of course, the rest of the trip, hanging with our friends, wasn't half bad either. It pays to have friends in low places.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Boots Required

O, the things we do for the sake of "one-anothering" the Body of Christ. This may be my greatest sacrifice yet...

See, I have this girlfriend (whom I will refrain from calling a redneck), who LOVES country music. She eats, drinks and breathes it. Now, if you met her, you would never GUESS this about her...I certainly didn't. It's true nevertheless and this friend just had a birthday. For her birthday she invited my husband and me to join her and her husband at a country concert...but not just ANY country concert - a GARTH BROOKS concert. Now, you can't get much more bona fide country than that, can you?

The real sacrifice is laying aside my pride when people find out that I'm going to a GB concert. I have not revealed it to anyone (until now), but somehow the word is out...people KNOW! So, just so you all know...I AM DOING THIS FOR MY FRIEND. It is a supreme sacrifice of love. And the kicker? AFTER we accepted the invitation....OUT OF LOVE, I might add...they informed us that cowboy boots are required! Oh, dear.

This whole friendship-love-sacrifice thing just isn't all it's cracked up to be... ;-)

Happy Birthday, DK!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Grace in the Blade

John Newton references 3 stages of growth in the Christian's walk, paralleling them with stages of growth in a corn stalk...the blade, the ear and the full corn. The following comment is regarding those who are newly come to faith...whose eyes have been opened, but whose experience in grace is limited:

"The grace of God influences both the understanding and the affections. Warm affections, without knowledge, can rise no higher than superstition; and that knowledge which does not influence the heart and affections, will only make a hypocrite. The true believer is rewarded in both respects; yet we may observe, that though [the young Christian] is not without knowledge, this state is more usually remarkable for the warmth and liveliness of the affections. On the other hand, as the work advances, though the affections are not left out, yet it seems to be carried on principally in the understanding.

The old Christian has more solid, judicious, connected views of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the glories of his person and redeeming love; hence his hope is more established,, his dependence more simple, and his peace and strength more abiding and uniform than in the case of a young convert; but the latter has, for the most part, the advantage in point of sensible fervency.

A tree is most valuable when laden with ripe fruit, but it has a peculiar beauty when in blossom."

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Love For Fire

This young, self-motivated, creative, adventurous boy of mine loves more than learning...he loves fire. During the winter, this works in my favor because he is always ready and willing to get the fireplace roaring.

Last week, however, it nearly worked against us all...

At bedtime, I went upstairs to complete my almost-nightly routine with the boys. I possess a very keen olfactory sense - which has serious disadvantages when you live in a house full of males - and as I ascended the stairs, I became aware of a distinct smoky smell. Having had a fire in this house before, I don't take that odor lightly. I walked around, checked rooms, closets and even attic spaces.

Little one informs me, somewhat nonchalantly, that his Jack-o-lantern is in his room and he has had it lit. was there with our permission, and we had allowed him to light it while completing homework. But I began to wonder if that had been a dangerous I went and checked out his problems or funny odors there. At the same time, I kept thinking that this odor did not resemble a burning candle, or even burning pumpkin. It's an enigma, I hint of fire in any visible places.

About 2 minutes later, my little sensitive-conscience boy asks to talk to my room...alone. Anytime this happens, I know a confession is forthcoming. I enter the room, where he informs me that he had used the pumpkin-lighter to set some paper on fire - he burst into tears. Apparently, his "experiment" had gotten a little out of hand and scared the bejeebers out of him...but somehow, he had managed to put the fire out, clean up the mess and disguise his criminal activity - except for the odor, of course!

Though my response to him was very grave, in retrospect - because I think he learned his lesson, and because no one was hurt - it makes me grin. HE doesn't know that! But his father and I both chuckle about it...this experiment-loving, adventure-loving, fire-loving boy of ours...may the Lord's protection be with him always, because we obviously aren't!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Love For Adventure

Couple my youngest son's love for learning and creating with his desire for adventure, and here's what you get:

E: Hey, Mom, come see what I made.

Me: O-K...where? In your room?

E: Well, actually, go to the front yard. You can see it better from there.

So, I walk out to the front yard where he proceeds to call my name from his 2nd-story bedroom window. When I look up, I find that he previously ventured out onto the roof and set up a car racing ramp stretching from his window to the edge of the know, so the cars will jump off the ramp and land in the front yard.

E: Watch! (he sends a car shooting off the roof) Isn't that awesome?

Me: (open-mouthed and silent)

E: Hey Mom! Did you see that? Isn't that great!?


You really was quite the cool set-up, but I can't have the kid thinking he can just play on roof willy-nilly, now can I? I mean, the fact that I used to jump off cliffs in Chattanooga has nothing to do with it...I was fully armed with safety equipment...which, BTW, had been "installed" by very mature and responsible........18-19 year old boys. I don't even want to think about it.

Finally this blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy resembles his mother...even if only in his sense for adventure.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Love For Learning

As an educator and parent, one of my primary desires is for my children to develop a love for learning...a delight for exploring the physical creation as well as ideas from a standpoint of truth.

Previously, I have attributed the development of this characteristic to the educational process, believing that an engaging curricula coupled with parents and teachers who themselves love to learn, explore and teach would bring this about. Time and experience may alter my viewpoint...all I know is that my boys have been similarly educated and one has a much greater, and seemingly natural, desire to learn.

In spite of early indications that our younger son's intellect dimmed in comparison to big brother's, he shines when it comes to self-motivated interest in learning. He is forever creating, studying or tackling something new that is not required of him. Oh, he does all of his required work faithfully, but life doesn't end there.

Through the years, his primary creative outlet has been Legos...he's a fanatic; however, these days he is branching out a bit.

He recently bought himself a ginormous nerf gun and spent days figuring out its exact trajectories. He's fashioned targets of every shape, size and material - and of course, being his father's son, he has labeled each one with a point value! Some are still attached with red duct-tape to various spots around his room.

And when he watches a movie, reads or listens to a book, he either finds a way to "become" those characters (usually involving some kind of make-shift weapon or costume); or he writes his own story using the original as a springboard; or he recruits a child-artist to render particular characters or scenes from the story; or he reads about how the movie was created; etc. etc.

That one experience (book or movie), opens up for him a world of possibilities and draws out that enviable childlike delight in life!

He spent the last year trudging through Lord of the Rings (mostly because he wanted to see the movies, but I wouldn't let him until he read them - meanie!). The Fellowship took him nearly 8 months to read (he's 11), but he sailed right through The Two Towers and The Return in about 2 months total! So NOW, he is re-reading The Hobbit for the 3rd time...but he's not just reading it. Of course not...

He came downstairs the other morning and quoted a whole poem from the book which he had memorized the night before...just because he liked it. But that's not all...

He took it upon himself to find and learn the Elvish alphabet and began translating The Hobbit into Elvish! As if that weren't enough, he did the same with the Dwarvish alphabet and is now simultaneously translating it into both! And you should see it! This is a child whose teachers' primary concern has been his very poor handwriting...if only they'd let him do his work in's beautiful!

Anyway, it is such fun to observe that delight...that pursuit of something new and interesting JUST BECAUSE. Even though it creates messes in my house and doesn't fit my ordered world, I hope he never loses that - I'm doing my best not to squelch that sense of wonder.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Christ All Sufficient

As I have previously expressed, this little book, Letters of John Newton, has been most influential in my life. Here is another quote from our faithful brother and servant of Christ:

"I encourage you to put your strength in him, and not to be afraid, even when you feel your own weakness and insufficiency most sensibly. We are never more safe, never have more reason to expect the Lord's help, than when we are most sensible that we can do nothing without him. This way of being saved entirely by grace from first to last, is contrary to our natural wills: it mortifies self, leaving it nothing to boast of...

He is a suitable Saviour! He has power, authority and compassion to save to the uttermost. He has given his word of promise to engage our confidence, and he is able and faithful to make good the expectations and desires he has raised in us. Put your trust in him in defiance of all objections from within and without. For this, Abraham is recommended as a pattern to us.

I wish you may be enabled to leave all your concerns in his hands. He has a sovereign right to do with us as he pleases...and to those who seek him, his sovereignty is exercised in a way of grace. All shall work together for good: everything is needful that he sends; nothing can be needful that he withholds. Be content to bear the cross; others have borne it before you...rely upon his care and power.

When you cannot see your way, be satisfied that he is your leader. When your spirit is overwhelmed within you, he knows your path: he will not leave you to sink. He has appointed seasons of refreshment, and you shall find he does not forget you. Above all, keep close to the throne of grace. If we seem to get no good by attempting to draw near him, we may be sure we shall get none by keeping away from him."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Submission to the Will of the Lord II

"I can hardly recollect a single plan of mine that...had it taken place in season and circumstance just as I proposed, it would, humanly speaking, have proved my ruin; or, at least it would have deprived me of the greater good the Lord had designed for me. We judge of things by their appearances, but the Lord sees them in their consequences; if we could do so likewise, we should be perfectly of his mind; but as we cannot, it is an unspeakable mercy that he will manage for us, whether we are pleased with his management or not; and it is spoken of as one of his heaviest judgements, when he gives any person or people up to the way of their own hearts...

Indeed, we may admire his patience toward us. If we were blind, and reduced to desire a person to lead us, and should at every step pretend to dispute with him and direct him at every step, we should soon weary him, and provoke him to leave us to find the way by ourselves if we could. But our gracious Lord is longsuffering and full of compassion...he will take methods to humble us, and to bring us to a confession that he is wiser than we. The great and unexpected benefit he intends to tread down our wills and bring them in subjection to his. So far as we attain to this, we are out of the reach of disappointment; for when the will of God can please us, we shall be pleased every day...

O, the happiness of such a life! I have an idea of it; I hope I am aiming at it, but surely I have not attained it. Self is active in my heart, if it does not absolutely reign there. I profess to believe that one thing is needful and sufficient, and yet my thoughts are prone to wander after a hundred more. If it be true that the light of his countenance is better than life, why am I solicitous about anything else? If the smallest, as well as the greatest events in which I am concerned are under his immediate direction; if the very hairs of my head are numbered; then my care (any farther than a care to walk in the paths of his precepts and to follow the opening of his providence), must be useless and needless, yea indeed sinful and heathenish, burdensome to myself, and dishonourable to my profession.

Let us cast down the load we are unable to carry, and if the Lord be our shepherd, refer all and trust all to him. Let us endeavor to live to him and for him today, and be glad that tomorrow, with all that is behind it, is in his hands." 

From: Letters of John Newton

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Old Girlfriends

Tonight I head down to Lake of the Ozarks with seven of my girlfriends from church. We've done this every November for 9-10 years now. When we started, most of our children were quite young (toddler- grade school) and most of us were dirt poor. Now 5 of the gals have kids in college, although the prolific ones among us still have little ones (3 is the youngest), and none of us are all that poor now either. We used to head out on our 3 1/2 hour drive late on Friday evening and we'd drive home Saturday night. Over the years, we have stretched the time on both leaving on Thursday afternoon/evening and coming home Sunday evening!

We laugh a ton, make fun of each other and ourselves (mostly each other), drink good wine and eat gourmet food in the evenings, and spend our days at the outlet mall. It's refreshing, even though we sleep little and go, go, go....

I thank God for the steady friendship of Christian women from whom I learn to be wiser, and with whom I can relax and enjoy the bountiful gifts we've received from our Father. And, of course, where would we be without faithful husbands who give us the freedom to do this?!

I'll not be blogging until at least Sunday PM. See ya!