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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

I’ve been reading “A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael” for months and months. It keeps getting put aside for other things (moving, adoption, homeschool planning, etc), however I keep picking it back up and pressing on through it. I am so moved by this woman and so much about her, and then there are moments where I just grin all the way across my face at her brilliance in the practical things ~ including the education of the children in her care. I’ve been struck by many of the principles of education she referred to in small things and particularly grateful for one bigger thing…

Her insight, wisdom, and care are clear in that:

*In referring to keeping lessons short, she says…

“the human soul should not be drawn out

like a piece of elastic and held so for too long at a stretch”

~~~~~

*On the habits of chores/work, she insists the internal

take precedence over the external…

“The great reward was to be trusted with harder, more responsible work.”

~~~~~

*Scripture and hymn memorization were a priority.

~~~~~

*The Indian children in her care grew food and flowers

and sold them at the market and learned much about generosity.

~~~~~

*Elisabeth Elliot writes of her,

“No toy, no picture book reached the hands of her children without prior scrutiny.”

~~~~~

*The children sang, played and listened to music.

~~~~~

While she was a tremendous spiritual pilgrim and warrior, she was also very perceptive regarding children and education.

I love this woman. She’s become a dear friend and mentor to me!

As a matter of fact, I was reading on Sunday and I beckoned {aka ‘hollered at”} my husband to swim down to the end of the pool where I was so I could read something to him that Amy had said years and years ago.

{Yes, I am annoying when I am involved in a book that grips me like this one does :)}

I had to share with him what she had said about “roots”. She had put into words so simply something I have tried to communicate to others for quite some time!

{You see, there are many reasons we homeschool our boys. They are our reasons, and while some people seem to share them, we do not expect anyone to adopt any of them as their own. All families are different :)}

She wrote this, “In other words, till the life of the child has had time to root, it should not be exposed to various winds (confused or conflicting examples and ideals, different ways of making t’s). After it has rooted, let the winds blow as they will. Then they will only cause the roots to take a firmer grip.”

Anyone who knows much at all about growing plants, vegetables, or farming, can get a great visual of the principle she is explaining.

This is one of the aspirations we have for our children as we educate at home. Of course, we provide variety for our children, and of course, things come about that are confusing and/or conflicting. However, we are right there, caring tenderly and consistently to our “young’us” in this early stage of growth, doing our best to help them get “rooted”.

I’m thankful to Amy for countless things. Her life and struggles and victories have taught me more than I can put into words.

Also, I am grateful for her practical wisdom in teaching, training, and educating her children.

I think she, like me, prayed for and eagerly awaited the day when her little ones became “like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

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Ten hours, four boys, one swollen lip, a bloody nose and a black eye between them resulted in one tired mom. When my husband walked through the door I felt an internal defiance, an invisible pout and an unseen crossing of my arms. It was time to switch to the Russian language — his language — and today I did not want to.

Gently, the Word whispered to my heart: the wrong I would be doing would not only affect my husband but those in his charge and under his care. After all, speaking someone’s language goes much further than conjugating verbs correctly and I knew I needed to revisit lessons learned from Vashti not so very long ago…

Breakfast was over and the chores finished. Maxim and Luca were busily building with Legos while I was looking forward to curling up with the Earl of Grey and a good book in front of the fire.  No sooner had I filled the teapot than my husband appeared, announcing that we needed to get our snow gear on and get outside.
Now I had a decision before me.  How would I react:  reason, whine, grumble?  I chose to put my own desires away and take up my husband’s lead.  “Boys, get your snow pants on, we’re going out!”  I called.

Now, I would have been happy to play in our yard but my husband suggested the Pleasant Valley Nature Preserve.  Small choice #2, would I go willingly?…

The soft flakes were coming down fast when we arrived and it was breath-taking.  The gatekeeper said everyone else had been deterred by the snow and we had the park to ourselves.

I am not always an over-comer in each situation.  Lately though, I’ve begun to realize that these small, moment-by-moment decisions we are faced with hundreds of times a day have perhaps as much significance in our lives as those big decisions – such as a home purchase, move, or a job change.

On the drive home I was reminded of Vashti, the queen who scorned her husband’s simple request in the book of Esther.  Like Vashti, I already had my own plans and — though my husband was not surrounded by the princes of Persia and Media — he was in the presence of his children.  Like Vashti, this decision would affect how others viewed my husband, his own feelings of the security of his position, and could easily change the household order.

Turning into our drive, I thanked my husband for such a wonderful day and thanked the Lord that, unlike Vashti, I had not missed out on my blessing.

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For the word of God is living and effective….Hebrews 4:12

This morning for the boys’ quiet time, I had them use Philippians 4:13. I know better than to think this way, but in all honesty, I didn’t have great expectations for discussion on a verse we all know pretty well and hear so often.

How foolish of me to forget,

for even a moment,

that God’s word is alive and active.


They each recorded in their journals three ways to fill in the spaces of “I am able to…through Christ who strengthens me”. One explained that he knew he was able to: be a good sport, be more helpful, and be a good leader…through Christ who could give him the strength. The other shared how he could: obey his parents, stop wanting more things, and let others go first more often…through Christ who could give him strength.

While it may not sound like or look like much to some…it was.

I was overwhelmed with their candor and their humility.

 

It didn’t dawn on me until hours later…

I needed…wanted…to do the same exercise they had done.

I very much ached, especially on this day, to be infused with the supernatural strength that comes from Him.

Very.very.much.

(You see…I had been walking in my own for several weeks and it had been quite futile.)

I needed to not just give it a passing thought.

I needed to stop. Be still and quiet. Meditate on it.

So I did.

It makes me smile, even now…

as I think about how a morning “assignment” for my boys,

became a much needed “assignment” of my own.

The end result…???

I walked away reassured that I am able to

meet the physical demands that have come with helping care for a disabled loved one

bear up under the angst of a parent just diagnosed with cancer

take this class that I feel totally and completely inadequate to attempt, but feel compelled by God to engage in

continue to praise and give glory to God even in the midst of financial circumstances that continue to burden us

remain consistent in training my boys even among the chaos and inconsistency of life

be victorious in the schemes and lies the enemy is using to try and render me useless

love…love like crazy the way God loves…without hesitation…without excuse…without favoritism…even when it’s hard…even when it’s uncomfortable…even when it doesn’t seem possible

through Him who strengthens me.

It all started as a teaching opportunity for the children.

It became a reminder for Mom.

His word is alive and active.

I wonder if anyone else might need a new dose of strength

found in the truth of a seemingly old, familiar scripture.

You are able to….through Him who strengthens you.

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Pink Snowshoes


Each morning, as I strap on my snowshoes, I am  reminded.  Reminded of my nephew at twelve years of age — the same brink-of-manhood-age as Jesus when he sat among the teachers of the temple in Jerusalem, astounding them with his understanding.   One snowy day two years ago,  with the phone drawing us close despite the 1,200 miles that stretched achingly between us, my nephew listened to his aunt tell a story of how she had longed for snowshoes since childhood.

Some days later a box arrived with pink snowshoes and a card saying simply: Love, Santa.  Pink!  I ecstatically called my sister, asking if they were from her.  Receiving a negative response,  I turned to my mother and then my husband but got the same reply.   Befuddled, I called my sister again and pressed.  Choking back tears, she told me how her son — her twelve.year.old.son — had so carefully pondered each selection in the outdoor catalog then, taking his own money, set out to fulfill his aunt’s dream of long ago.


I strap on these pink snowshoes and they take me places.  They take me past the woodshed…

and I am led to the place where fox tracks meet up with a rabbit’s.  Following until sure of an escape, I contemplate the time when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat

and I come to a cathedral under the pine branches – heavy with snow and weighed to the ground.  A place of silence where I can be still and know that He is God.

Each morning, as I strap on my snowshoes, I am reminded.  Reminded of my nephew who, foregoing any thought of thanksgiving due him, had determined a secret giver would only add to the excitement awaiting me.  With that one fell swoop, he unwittingly proved that Jim and Della from O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi have nothing in the generosity department on him.

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Storytime

My grandmother tells me I’ve been known as the storyteller in our family since I was about four-years-old. A few years ago I began taking workshops and classes for my personal enjoyment at the Eric Carle Museum on a range of topics that consider the art of the story. This past Sunday I found myself entertaining even deeper thoughts on storytelling while attending a local performance of The Nutcracker ballet.   We had progressed to Act II where candies from around the world entertain the young heroine, Clara, by performing traditional dances from their countries.

Imagine if you will, the famous Russian dance known as the Trepak – which tells it’s own political story since it is more factually Central Ukrainian via Zaporozhian Cossacks – being performed as part of a larger story which is told both through performance dance and Tchaikovsky’s most famous composition.   Better yet, the ballet is based on an adaptation by Alexandre Dumas — yes, of Three Musketeers fame —  of E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Add to that the recollection of a conversation I’d had years earlier with a friend who believes Hoffman’s work is an allegory of the Book of Revelation – though I would argue the symbolism goes even further.

Whew… can see why my head was spinning like a pirouette?

What is this fascination with stories?  I imagine you share the same fascination as an educating mother and lover of living books.   Two years ago I decided to really push myself and give oral storytelling a go.  I’ve now performed a handful of times, including at a Native-American Pow Wow and a Kabbalat Shabbat.    These experiences are positively scary but also exhilarating and, as the audience sits listening with wide-eyed attentiveness, I wonder if I’m being given a glimpse of what some of those story-tellers of old might have experienced.

Bible stories are my favorite to tell – heroic and romantic adventures that are even better because they are true.  The influence of story is evident, though in a subtler manner,  in the first chapter of Luke.   After Mary receives Elizabeth’s blessing which recognizes the deity of the child to be born to her, Mary exults in God and magnifies the Lord. Mary’s poetic praise is so full of quotations from the Old Testament, we can assume that as a child many were the occasions Mary also sat in wide-eyed attention as the stories of God’s merciful and faithful doings were told to her.

This Thursday I am to give a storytelling at a local women’s ministry, and I’m thinking of one along the lines of Song of Solomon, which recounts how the king disguised himself as a country man in order to woo a Shulammite girl.  You see, I’m wondering if they have ever met the Word from eternity past that stepped out of the Godhead and clothed Himself in humanity in order to gain a bride.  They may have heard that God is called the author of our life and the author of our faith, but I would like to introduce them to the Hero and their own part in the story.   Now that’s a romance even the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier’s Pas de Deux can’t hold a candle to.

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