Saturday, January 31, 2009

Check Out This Blog

I heard Michael Yon interviewed on the radio today. I checked out his online magazine and was spellbound. He is an embedded independent journalist whose eye-witness reports give a fresh, and often differing account of what is really is going on around the world. Check it out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tying Strings

We got snow! A lot of snow! Here in southern Illinois we don't see a lot of snow. We get cold and wet, but rarely a sparkling cover of whiteness like we have seen this week. It started falling Monday night, but I assumed by Tuesday morning it all would be gone. It was with joy that we awoke to a yard and woods full of snow. I started to mentally plan my day. "We would have a snow day, no school. I would bundle the boys up and send them out for some much needed outdoor recreation. I would do the dishes, throw in a load of laundry then put the kettle on and curl up with a good book to enjoy, I mean our day off."

As Matt was getting ready for work, I excitedly told him I was going to give the boys a snow day. He innocently said, "You should go out and play with the boys." I gave him the look. He said, "They would love it." Hmmm? What to do? Then I heard the ideas I once read ringing in my mind. "I can discipline my children and they will be well behaved. I can train them in morality and they will have ethics. But it is the time I spend with them, it is giving up my own agenda and enjoying life with them that ties their hearts to mine. It is each act of selflessness, of enjoying what they enjoy that ties their hearts to mine. String by string a relationship is built. A relationship that will endure them to me and to the God I represent. A relationship that will stave off rebellion, that will lead them to Christ.

Suddenly that cup of hot chocolate and book didn't look quite so enticing. So we donned our snow things and trekked through the snow. We threw snowballs, we were snowplows we laughed and I tied strings. In 20 years I will never remember on what days I got to relax and have "me time". I do believe though, I will remember playing with my boys. I'll remember because by God's kindness they will be beside me, not only as my sons, but hopefully as my brothers in Christ.

Monday, January 26, 2009

God Box

The other day I was speaking to a gentleman and in the course of the conversation he said, “Well you don’t think we can ever be in God’s perfect will, do you? We certainly can be in His permissive will, but we are humans. We cannot be in His perfect will.” Inside, my mind was reeling. “What does that mean? Where do those ideas and terms come from? Why even ask the question?” Outside, I just said, “Well, I’m not exactly sure what you mean by perfect will and permissive will. The conversation went on congenially. He is a precious man who I respect, and he has wisdom that I would be a fool to ignore. However, his question got my mind to turning.

Why do we do that? Why do we have the compulsion to put everything into neat little boxes, especially when it comes to God? Perhaps we get overwhelmed by how big God is and how much we really will never be able to completely wrap our minds around Him. Or perhaps we feel the need of the security that “knowing” brings. I suppose our human answer is to categorize, outline and alliterate our relationship with Him into a neat package that can be put into a book, sermon, or theology class notes.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand more now than ever my need for true Bible study. Not just reading a few chapters and checking that duty off my list, but the need to bathe myself in the word. To eat, as it where, the bread of life and let it become part of me, to change me from within. To take in His perspective and let it change how I see life, how I think, how I act. But is it helpful to make our charts? Does it encourage me to question my heart and motives (which after all is what Jesus is most concerned with) to have an outline that I can check off and then go about my life? If I already have it all figured out and have given it my own man-made terms, then do I really come to scripture open and ready to conform myself to it’s teachings as opposed to making it fit into mine?

I know that as humans we are limited. We can only communicate with language, and so at some point there may be a need for charts and outlines. However, when I look at what a relationship ought to be, I can’t help but think how meaningless a relationship would become if we had to categorize everything. I can see it now. Matt and I have a contract, I do the dishes everyday, however on days that I am unwell, busy or otherwise predisposed he is to awaken early and unload the dishwasher. This is called prevenient love. On days when I unload the dishwasher, even if I’m not feeling well, all because Matt has provided food from which I gain strength to do the said task, this is called provisional love. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Takes the beauty of Matt and I both doing all that we can for the other simply out of love and trust, doesn’t it? The further danger is that the contract becomes our law, and so I only do what is specified in the contract, because that is all that is required in order to still be married. Furthermore, I have the “right” to be mad if Matt doesn’t fulfill all of my expectations of what I read into the contract. It turns beautiful acts of love and devotion into servitude, and it gives permission to do what I want within the bounds of the contract. Somehow we go from being focused on the other to being focused on ourselves.

What I’m learning is that I don’t need to focus on all the terms if my heart is where it should be. If I am completely surrendered to my Father’s will, if I wholeheartedly trust Jesus with my life , than the obvious desire of my heart will be to please him, to obey him, to study his life and teachings. My understanding at this point is that if I am there, if I am honest before my God and willing to do, go , or be whatever would please Him, than I am acceptable in His sight. Perhaps we should take the energy that we spend on terms and “what ifs” and do the hard work of examining our hearts, asking ourselves the tough questions, crying out, “Search me O God and know my heart today.”

Before I close let me add a disclaimer. I realize that ideas have consequences. Some ideas must be addressed because of the consequence of following after them. So often, terms and charts must be discussed for good reason. Even in this, the terms or ideas are not the focus though; the focus is coming to the place of a heart fully surrendered to God. But that is for another blog…..

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Crow and the Pitcher (A Narration Exercise)

One of my favorite things we do occasionally in Language is Narration. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Narration, it is the process of reading a story to a child and having them tell the story back to you in their own words. This can also be done with art, the child looks at a picture or work of art and tells the story of the picture. In both cases it encourages the child to listen/look for detail, to imagine the story in their own mind and in their own words (comprehension) and it helps them learn pre-writing skills and sentence structure. Not to mention, when you read back to them their exact words and they hear inappropriate grammar it helps them to correct themselves. Obviously if they don't catch the mistakes, I will point them out. It is so fun for the boys to see "their words" put into story form to read or to read to Daddy when he gets home.

Today we read, The Crow and the Pitcher by Aesop. Below is their Narration.

The crow and the pitcher (Micah)
One day the crow was getting really thirsty because he was flying hard and it was hot. Just then he saw a pitcher on the bottom of a cool patio. He went down and he tried to drink, but there was just a bitty bitty bit of water inside the pitcher. And so he tried to get it with his beak, but his beak was too short. And so he went out under a tree looking and thinking of what could help him. Just then he saw some pebbles, he said, “Oh, maybe I could drop them inside the pitcher and then the water would rise.” He dropped the pebbles in one by one. The water rised and he drank and he drank and he drank and he drank until he was full.

Moral: “Many hard things can be accomplished with stuff.”

The Crow and the Pitcher (Josiah)
Once upon a time there was a crow flying over cottages and he began to get thirstier and thirstier. At the edge of a little patio there was a little pitcher with a bit of water in it. The crow thought, “I will try to tip the jar over and drink what spills.” But the jar was too heavy. So the crow tried to stretch his neck as long as he could to get the water, but he still couldn't drink the water because his neck was too short. And then the crow sat under the shade of a tree so that he could think for a bit. In the cool shade of that tree he noticed by the patio a bunch of pebbles. And he said, “If I can put those pebbles in the pitcher the water will rise and I can drink.” And so he began, one by one, picking up the pebbles and putting them in, picking up the pebbles and putting them in. Sooner or later the water was high enough for the crow to drink.

Moral: Hard work makes joy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Where Have I Been?

It's been too long and I make no excuse except to say between our church Christmas play, Christmas, a trip to Michigan and starting school...well, enough said. All is well and I've celebrated another anniversary of my birth, had a great Christmas with my family, enjoyed a wonderful Christmas play and have a great start on second semester.

Our boys were in the younger children's play this year (3-9 years old) All the children did a superb job and I was amazed at how well they did under Miss. Jo and Miss Rachel Ryder's instruction.(Two kiddos are missing from this photo)

Micah played the part of "The Angel of the Lord" and "The Constable". Josiah was the "Sheep who was allergic to cotton".

Becca and I had the privilege of directing the Play for the older kids (9 - 14year olds). We had a blast and were SO proud our "our" talented kids.

Detroit Louie and his side kick, Harry the Lift!

Our two Angels

The Doctor

Mrs. Aiken, Julie, a blind girl, and Mr. Varner. (Don't you love Mrs. Aiken's hair? What a blast from the past. :))


Thank you Alice!