Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Wednesdays with Words: Crowd of Wonders

We have continued to enjoy Robinson Crusoe together as a family.  Well, most of us. One of the girls keeps asking when it will get exciting, so we try to explain it to her.

I've been thinking about wonder in relationship to learning and loving and living a God fearing life recently and couldn't pass up this passage where Robinson considers his circumstances and what all God has done for him.

With these reflections I worked my mind up, not only to resignation to the will of God in the present disposition of my circumstances, but even to a sincere thankfulness for my condition, and that I, who was yet a living man, ought not to complain seeing I had not the due punishment of my sins; that I enjoyed so many mercies which I had no reason to have expected in that place; that I ought never more to repine at my condition, but to rejoyce (sic), and to give daily thanks for that daily bread which nothing but a croud (sic) of wonders could have brought. That I ought to consider I had been fed even by miracle, even as great as that of feeding Elijah by ravens, nay, by a long series of miracles; and that I could hardly have named a place in the unhabitable part of the world where I could have been cast more to my advantage; a place where as I had no society, which was my affliction on one hand, so I found no ravenous beast, no furious wolves or tygers to threaten my life, no venomous creatures or poisonous, which I might feed on to my hurt, no [other people] to murther and devour me. (pg 142-143, spelling theirs, italics mine)
I love that phrasing, "a crowd of wonders."  I certainly have a crowd of wonders in my life, can I open my eyes to see them?

Wordless Wednesday: Cedar Point

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook for June 29, 2015

For Today... Monday, June 29, 2015 ... whoa, it's been two months!

Outside my is grey, rainy, and cold at 59* F.  I'd complain, but I see what those in the PNW are dealing with ... I'll take cold over too hot any day.

I am thinking... about returning to regularly scheduled blogging *and* a 31 Days series in October.  

I am thankful... that last week's VBS at our church was a huge success.  The children learned so much and had so much fun.  My friend Meg did a great job with it!

I am wearing... long sleeved, long legged, pajamas.  It's not warm here at night.

I am creating... a set of meditations on "I am, I can, I ought, I will" for upper elementary students.  I'm to the I wills ... I shouldn't say for upper elementary 'cause it's convicting me, too.

I am going... grocery shopping tonight. I should make a menu ...

I am wondering... what we want to eat this week.  

I am reading... garbage. I need to get back to my book bag and read better things.  You can tell my blogging takes a hit when I'm ensconced in Flufferton Abbey.

I am hoping... in that promise that all things will be made new.  Even so, come Lord Jesus.

I am learning... 

In my kitchen... meals have been spotty and irregular and off the cuff.  I really want them to get back to normal.

In my garden... Jason and the children weeded (for VBS money) and planted the free tomatoes plants from a friend.  They're surviving better than they were.

In the homeschool... we are finishing up Term 2 Week 4 and 5.  So behind.

A favorite quote for today... "Hear O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one."

A peek into one of my days... last week I had a full van going to VBS.  

One of my favorite things... I love VBS, then I love it to be over.  I'm glad it is only one week a year.

From the board room... I've started a board for ideas I think can be used during Sports Seasons:

Post Script... Mystie's school planning series, if you aren't following it already, is one you ought to follow! So much detail and clarity as to why she makes the choices she makes and the plans.  Love it.

Linking up with The Simple Woman.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesdays with Words: Deliverance

There are gems to be found in a reading from Robinson Crusoe and they always surprise me and make me think.

So often we think sin and affliction are inexorably tied together, one and the same.  But Defoe cuts those lines so we see clearly that while our affliction may result from our sin, God's work of deliverance from sin makes our afflictions pale in comparison.

If you posted last week ... since I didn't ... please feel free to link last week's selections and this week's! I'm sorry to have missed them.

Wordlesss Wednesday: R-girl turned 8!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Dawn and Heather Read Together: Own Your Life, Chapters 6-9

So, I've been slacking a little bit with reading this book.  Heather has posted on Chapter 5 & 6, here.  I hadn't posted on 6 yet.  Neither of us posted on Chapter 7 last week.  Then we decided to start doing two chapters a week.

Huh.  We'll see how that works out for us.

So, today, I bring you some reflections on Chapters 6-9.  Fair warning, it's somewhat long.

In Chapter 6, Clarkson calls us to wonder at our transcendent, preeminent God.  To look and see that we cannot see all, that he is so much bigger and beyond our understanding.

Yesterday, I posted about wonder and thought some about the connections between wonder and work and wisdom and worship. I see that paradigm in this chapter. She points us to awe and wonder at God and his being so totally above and separate from us. She calls us to work in the paradigm of wonder in knowledge that God is so-far-beyond-us-in-every-way, that He will bring about greater than we can do ourselves.  The fear - wonder, awe - of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Wisdom leads us to worship rightly, to bring glory to the one who inspires wonder, work, and grants wisdom.

I really liked the quote above because I think so often we think we can define what and who God is. Yet, He is preeminent over all creation: he caused all things to be, and as Job, we cannot understand his vastness.  He is transcendant, beyond, out of phase with us, yet reachable.  My husband, Jason, is reading a book about the men who defined the meter. He told me they were trying to measure the earth and had mostly been cartographers previously. They used the stars as an outside reference point to do their calculations; they needed something separate from, outside, the earth to calculate the size of the earth.  We need something separate from, outside our lives to live holy lives.  If we can define God and put Him into a box, then he isn't very God-like. If he is bigger and outside of us, if we cannot sound his fathoms, He is worthy of dependence and worship.

While he is beyond us and our understanding, his Spirit comes to us, lives within us, propels us, strengthens us, encourages us, transforms us. In Chapter 7, Clarkson is clear that
we ... acquire spiritual maturity and strength by walking with the Spirit over many years ... yielding our thoughts, attitudes, desires, prayers, and goals to theSpirit as we go about our days. (pg 89)
Or we should.  Do we trust the Spirit as we ought? Do we really believe he lives within us to guide and strengthen, to help us? I know I tend to rely on my intuition (as INFJs are wont to do) ... how do we determine when it is our intuition or the nudge of the Spirit?

I don't know.

I suspect it is some of both. Chapter 8 encourages us to cultivate practices that deepen our faith.  Clarkson gives strong argument for what she calls the Spiritual Disciplines, but I would call the Means of Grace.

God has given us His Word: read it. 
Jesus grants us access to boldly come before the throne in prayer: pray. 
The apostles call us to not forsake rest in the gathering of believers: worship corporately.  
No excuses.  

I have a lot of excuses, none of them good, but Clarkson convicts me:
If you have time for television but not for personal time with the Father, then you don't understand the value of your relationship with Him. If you spend hours on the Internet each week but rarely open your Bible, you are not committed to the honor of knowing and listening to Him. (pg 101)

Habits, rhythms of the day. I hate habits. [sigh]

Then, for me the hardest chapter, taking risks. Chapter 9.

If we believe that God is transcendant and preeminent, if we believe that He sends His Spirit to help us, if we believe that we can know Him through the means of grace, we can take risks, trusting in Him, to do work for Him.

I just think working for Him can come in big or small packages.  Some are called to big, noticable things like the Clarksons, yet if all of us ran a publishing company and ministry to moms, we would all be competing with one another.  Some of us are called to middling things, like committee leadership within the church or a local charity.  Some of us are called to roll up our sleeves and serve - without fanfare -, wherever, whenever, however.

As I said before, I believe owning our life includes understanding the nature of the person God has created us to be and serving him within those capacities.  We are to enjoy God - that relationship with Him; and we are - I don't think Clarkson clarifies this well - to glorify God. In worship, in the task(s) at hand, in all things we are to glorify God. If that is organizing and being certain that there is someone coordinating meals when a baby is born in a family; or the actual call for and coordination of meals; or the provision of meals ... we glorify God if that is the work we're called to.  If we are Daniel in the lion's den, or the martyrs in the Coliseum, we are to glorify God.

I do like her faith stealers (pg 117-118) in this chapter:

  1. Fear paralyzes us from moving forward.
  2. Formula: We feel more secure when we have rules to follow than when we have to live in the mystery of trusting God by faith
  3. Flesh is the attempt to live the Christian life by works and by manipulating circumstances on our own power ... it attempts todo only what is logical (fear) or acceptable (formula) 
The prescription against these maladies is faith: seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.  Glorify God in the circumstances and see how he is strengthening you, re-creating you (New Creation!), and forcing you to trust him.

My father-in-law is reading Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series. I read it many, many years ago, but I still remember when Hadassah is facing the lions in the Coliseum. God freed her from her fears in that place of terror by allowing her to sing hymns to glorify Him despite circumstances.  What circumstances are you facing? Can you trust Him? Do you know him - in his transcendance - well through utilizing the means of grace? Do you rely on the Spirit he has sent to help you or your own intuition? 

Owning your life means giving it up to God for His own glory.  It is only through losing our life that we can save it. (Matt 10:39)

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Wednesdays with Words: Wonder-tastic

For the past several years one of the words I've heard at the homeschool convention is wonder. Cultivating a sense of wonder. Wondering about something. Woner as awe. Teaching children to wonder about their world. Seeing and hearing things that are wonder-ful.

But, I don't think I really picked up on the idea until I read The Liberal Arts Tradition by Clark and Jain. In that book, they give a paradigm for learning of four Ws:

Wonder, Work, Wisdom, Worship.  

We wonder at, about, in something. Work to learn. Gain wisdom. Then Worship God.  Isn't that beautiful?

I've seen that concept of Wonder being the first step toward knowing in several places since, and may write more about it tomorrow in my posts catching up in my reading with Heather of Own Your Life.

In their Old Testament Wisdom Literature, Bartholomew and O'Dowd tell us that part of the reason we struggle with the Wisdom Literature of the Bible is:
In sum, we have lost the capacity to wonder at the power and order of the creation. (pg 14)
Large swaths of our generation of Christianity have never thought to embrace a theology of wisdom with its comprehensive focus on creation. The eclipse of creation and the marginalization of the biblical Wisdom literature have left us bereft of sheer wonder at God's ways with his world. (pg 14-15)
This week I finally started reading through the Spring 2015 edition of The Classical Teacher, Memoria Press' Magalog (it's free and always good, sign up!).  The spring edition might be the best one I've read with articles about reading Latin for the sake of reading Latin, the classical view of Arts (this was incredibly helpful, I'm going to give it to Jason to read), the book-culture of the Cothran home, and (I haven't gotten there yet, but I'm excited about this article about Milton's view of Classical Education).  I was stopped in my tracks by the start of this article about fairy tales which begins thusly :

We saw this waterfall on a recent drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was small, but surprisingly loud and strikingly beautiful.  We all were awed by God's creation, the beauty of the falls and rocks and fallen trees, the peacefulness of the woods.  We celebrated the beauty in a deep, satisfying way.

To *revel* must certainly start with a sense of wonder.  When we find deep joy and satisfaction in something we wonder. Can we *revel* without a sense of wondering at the good, the true, the beautiful? I think that's an idea I'd like to consider more deeply.  I like the idea that to *revel* is to go beyond the prosaic and see mountain streams of wonder and truth.

In our homes and families, fairy tales can jar us and shake us out of our prosaic, daily lives.  How can a witch turn a prince into a frog? Why use something nutritious to impart poison? How does a kiss awaken? If we use these gifts from our heritage well, our children can grow with this attitude of wonder at the world around them and learn to revel in it, or as Bartholomew and O'Dowd suggest:
Allow yourself to experience the intricacy and wonder of God's creation.