Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Missions Blogs and Social Networks

This is the last day of Urbana09, Inter-Varsity's Missions conference. Check out the #Urbana09 trending topic on Twitter.

While on Twitter, be sure you are following @NationsBeGlad. From the international missions ministry of Desiring God, this Twitter feed will keep you very well connected in the world of missions. Daily tweets with great links and re-tweets from various sources.

Here are three different missions blogs you will want to check out:

Wycliffe Bible Translators blog This blog gives you news and updates from the world of Bible translation. You will see updates about the Wycliffe organization generally, as well as posts about specific missionaries and their ministries. There are plenty of brief video clips as well.

Wycliffe blogroll. A list of blogs by Wycliffe missionaries. Hopefully this list will grow over time.

The Seed Company blog. This rss feed (I subscribe in my blog reader) gives updates about various people groups in need of Bibles in their language. The Seed Company seeks to support Bible translation by connecting prayer partners and donors to translation needs in order to complete translations and put Bibles in the hands of people.

paradoxuganda. This blog, written by a missionary couple who serve in Uganda, is one I stumbled upon through another blog. While I don't know this missionary family personally, I love to read their blog. They describe themselves as follows: WHO WE ARE: DRS MYHRE
paradox: 1. something that combines contradictory features or qualities. Life in Bundibugyo is full of contradictions - the beauty and pain; the abundance and the poverty; the joy and the sorrow. Our lives, too...dying that we might live; strong in our weakness; sinners yet saints. 2. a "pair of docs"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Reading Update

I just finished reading Cancer Ward, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Have you read anything by Solzhenitsyn? This is an author that I have heard about quite often, but never really knew about him. I sought out a Solzhenitsyn novel after reading a blurb on National Review Online's The Corner about some young college graduate who--horrors!--had not read Solzhenitsyn. I cringed knowing that I, too, had never read his books and really didn't even know much about him.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Russian author (1918-2008), is a favorite of conservative lovers of liberty because of his personal story, which became the thread of his fiction fabric, and brave stand for truth. Solzhenitsyn served in the Soviet army in World War II, only to be arrested in 1945 because his letters to a friend caught the eye of a censor. They deemed his letters to be anti-Stalin (and indeed he was unhappy with the dictator, but wrote in code about him in letters). Lacking sufficient evidence to charge him, they sentenced him anyway to eight years in a prison camp. Following that, he was exiled.

Cancer Ward is considered partly autobiographical, as Solzhenitsyn was treated for cancer while in exile. The novel is set in a cancer wing of a Soviet hospital in Uzbekistan. The ward itself represents the communist life of Russia, post-Stalin (set in 1955, in the years after Stalin's death), and the characters themselves represent different sorts of players in Soviet life--Communist Party loyalists, exiled prisoners, ordinary citizens--and their moral responsibilities for the ugly sins of the Stalin era. The tumors can be seen as the disease under which Russia suffered, permanently damaging the body of Russian society.

My understanding of the Cold War is, obviously, from a Western perspective, and my concept of day-to-day life for those behind the Iron Curtain is a vague, colorless, and formless idea of oppression. This novel brought into sharp focus just how oppressive life is in a totalitarian state and what that means to individuals struggling to make lives for themselves that have some significance.

As our own nation contemplates the proper role of government in our society, Solzhenitsyn's writings are more relevant than ever. I'm guessing that most of us born after 1970 are barely aware of what life was like under the totalitarian states of the twentieth century. Cancer Ward helps illustrate, among other things, that working for the greater good of a collective (or a society) inevitably tramples the individual.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Baking

Sydney's butterfly jam biscuits.


Hope sifting flour for cookies.


Mrs. Edwards rolling out the Potica dough. This Slovenian pastry recipe has been handed down in my family from my great-grandmother, who emigrated from Slovenia in the early '20s. It must be rolled as thinly as possible.

Spreading on the honey-walnut filling . . .


. . . and adding raisins.


Rolled up and ready to rise before baking.


Baked to golden brown. Notice that the dough split open in several places--does this mean that it didn't rise enough before baking? I don't know.


Sliced and ready to share.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Reading

In our two-week break from homeschooling, I'm hoping to do some pleasure reading. Pressing on all sides are things to do: Christmas cards, Christmas wrapping, Christmas baking, Christmas programs, reading aloud to the kids, housework, laundry. But I have a stack of library books that are motivating me to stay on task, get my duties done, so I can dive into the half-dozen books I brought home from the library.

As usual, I imagine reading more than reality affords me. (I never dreamed when I was twenty that the day would come when I barely had time to read a book for more than snatches at a time.) For evidence of that, check out my 2009 reading list, which has gone mostly unread. As a side note, a lesson of making ambitious reading lists: it turns out it is hard to stick to a list. New interests appear out of nowhere and old interests wane.

I'm off to read more of Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers after reading aloud from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to the kids.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Teaching Unregenerate Children

Have you already seen this?
John Piper's Taste & See (12/10/09) article, "Why Require
Unregenerate Children To Act Like They're Good?"
It helps parents sort out the dilemma of teaching children who are not yet saved (unregenerate) to "be good," even as we know that without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to "be good."

Here's one pointed paragraph:
"No parents have the luxury of teaching their child nothing while they wait for his regeneration. If we are not requiring obedience, we are confirming defiance. If we are not inculcating manners, we are training in boorishness. If we are not developing the disciplines of prayer and Bible-listening, we are solidifying the sense that prayerlessness and Biblelessness are normal."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Boy or Girl?

"I think about the nursery and I picture curly heads,
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds.
If you're worried and you can't sleep,
Just count your blessings instead of sheep,
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings."
This Irving Berlin song is featured in one of our favorite Christmas movies, "White Christmas," but we also listen to Amy Grant's recording of the song (from her Christmas Collection album). It captures my mood this Christmas season.
"When our bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all..."
We are having a a surprise fifth child that no financial advisor would ever approve of, but then, financial advisors would have nixed the last two as well! At any rate, God has already shown His provisions for our family and we look forward to seeing how He will continue to provide for our needs--and how He will continue to teach us what our needs truly are.

Yesterday I had my sonogram appointment. I'm not sure if this one will have a curly head or not, but we saw a beautiful baby on the giant flat screen monitor hanging on the wall of the sonogram room, and we are counting our blessings. Nice brain, wonderful heart chambers beating steadily, stomach and bladder with fluid which means systems are working, kidneys, arms, legs, three vessel cord, and a beautiful spine. We have a strip of precious screen shots of little arms up by a little face and a pretty little profile.

But the question everyone wants to know is--Is it a boy or a girl? Our even-steven family of two daughters and two sons won't stay even. What will this tie-breaker be?

We still don't know. Despite her efforts to jiggle the baby into a different position, the sonographer could not get the baby to position properly for a good screen shot of its gender. She told us, "I'm leaning toward girl. I haven't seen anything that indicates a boy, but I haven't been able to get a good look. If you buy anything, don't cut off the tags!"
~~~
Yesterday my dad posted a poem he wrote when I was just five months old, "Generations: A Father's View." It imagines a day when his little baby girl grows up to be a mother and is looking over her own children--something that came to pass for the fifth time yesterday (albeit via sonography!).

Having trouble remembering the "Count Your Blessings" number from White Christmas? Enjoy this clip from the film on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sounds of Christmas


Is Handel's Messiah part of your Christmas playlist? As the glorious music of Messiah fills our home, we hear through Scripture alone the Biblical story of redemption. All the lyrics are straight from the Authorized Version (King James) of the Bible, from the Old and New Testaments. The collection of verses carefully present God's plan of redemption--evident from the beginning of Scripture--through the Incarnation of His Son, Immanuel, God With Us.

This academic paper, titled "Handel's Messiah: Biblical and Theological Perspectives" by Daniel Block of Southern Baptist Seminary, is one that you will want to print and file with your teaching resources about composers (Handel), the 18th century, and/or Bible lessons. (Hat tip Justin Taylor's Between Two Worlds.)

~~~

Another Christmas collection that focuses on the message of redemption that is the glad tidings of Christmas is "Behold the Lamb of God" by Andrew Peterson. A friend of mine introduced me to Andrew Peterson's music a few years back, but at the time this album was out of production. It is now back in a special anniversary edition. It includes "Matthew's Begets," a song that takes its lyrics from the genealogy of Matthew 1. "Matthew's Begets" is a great track to have handy when teaching children either Advent related devotions or Old Testament studies that look for Christ in the Old Testament.

Image from Wikipedia, Handel's Messiah.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

Don't miss this exhortation by C. J. Mahaney regarding the news story that swirls around an amazing golfer, Tiger Woods. An excerpt:
As expected, the allegations of adultery involving a public figure are attracting a media pile-on. This is a big story with a big audience and it’s a story that will not disappear soon. Tiger Woods is being hunted by the media.

But let us make sure we do not join the hunt. A Christian’s response to this story should be distinctly different. We should not be entertained by the news. We should not have a morbid interest in all the details. We should be saddened and sobered. We should pray for this man and even more for his wife.
Be sure to read the full post to discover what is really hunting Tiger, and it isn't the media.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Excelsior!

In Latin class, Hope and Sydney are working on the first and second declension of Latin adjectives at the moment. The early days of conjugating amo in a happy chant are now a fading memory--replaced by tears. Before Thanksgiving, a quiz for which they were ill-prepared discouraged them greatly. I heard cries of "I hate Latin!" (Is it only for the homeschooling teacher that such a complaint feels like a personal failure?)

Before Thanksgiving break, we picked up The Penderwicks on Gardam Street from the library, along with the audio CDs of the same book. This is the sequel, published just last year (2008), to the original (2005) The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.

These charming books feature a widowed father of four daughters named Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. Mr. Penderwick is an academic who happens to sprinkle Latin throughout his everyday discourse with his daughters. Consider this delightful exchange following a soccer-game brawl in which Skye lost her temper (p. 49-50):

Mr. Penderwick sighed. "How I came to be surrounded by such war-like women is beyond me. Rosalind, give me the Latin for 'war.'"

"I know that," said Rosalind, pleased with the change of subject. "Bellum, belli"

"Correct. And from bellum came bellatrix, which means 'female warrior.'"

"Bellatrix Penderwick!" Jane put up her fists, longing for the chance to show the world a true female warrior. Batty, unwilling to be any less of one, put up her fists in challenge.
As it happens, bellum, belli is a recent vocabulary word for Hope and Sydney. And, perhaps it is a coincidence, but both girls are enjoying Latin class this week, interrupting our recitations with voices eager to tell me about just such passages as this one from The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Outings


Our Thanksgiving morning hike is becoming a beloved tradition. This year Mr. Edwards, our kids and their cousins, aunt and uncle, and grandparents hiked about two and a half miles through a woodsy nature trail park. The highlight of the chilly walk was seeing four deer bounding across the field. Mr. Edwards was able to snap a picture.


We spent the Friday after Thanksgiving taking a day trip to Abilene, Kansas. We toured the Eisenhower Boyhood Home, Presidential Library and Museum. After studying Eisenhower's presidency last year in our survey of 20th century, the kids were able to appreciate most of the exhibits. It was a good time for a refresher since Hope and Sydney are in the middle of working on a Kansas state notebook project. They will write a report about Eisenhower and a couple of other famous Kansans.




Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Reflections

The first time I remember reading the Wall Street Journal's annual Thanksgiving editorials was about eighteen years ago. I was spending my Thanksgiving break from college with relatives and distinctly remember sitting in my aunt's dining room on Thursday morning, the Wall Street Journal spread out before me, and reading this pair of articles. It seems that in every year since then the articles have become more meaningful and rich. It is I who have changed.

The first, "The Desolate Wilderness," begins,
Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits. (Continue reading.)

"And the Fair Land," an editorial written in 1961 by then-editor Vermont Royster:
Any one whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

This is indeed a big country, a rich country, in a way no array of figures can measure and so in a way past belief of those who have not seen it. Even those who journey through its Northeastern complex, into the Southern lands, across the central plains and to its Western slopes can only glimpse a measure of the bounty of America... (Continue reading.)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sidebar Update

I finally updated my sidebars! In case you're interested in our reading and listening and movie viewing...

Fall Football

Mr. Edwards and I have always enjoyed watching football together, but this fall was the first football season that Lane truly joined in the fun. His loyalty to "our" teams deepened as he began to understand the plays and follow the games' action more closely. The highlight of the college season, however, was actually getting to go to the game with Grandpa.

Although K-State ended the season without winning the the North division of Big 12 football, Lane and Grandpa saw them play Colorado and win.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Ancient Greek History


One evening during our two-week study of early Greek history, I read aloud to the family the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. Sprawled out on the rug, everyone listened intently to the story of the brave Theseus who vowed to put a stop to the regular kidnapping of Greek youths by the Minoans. He hitched a ride with the kidnappers, told King Minos he wanted in the famous labyrinth to have a chance to fight the evil Minotaur--half-man and half-bull. Following the secret advice of the king's daughter, Theseus trailed a thread behind him throughout the corridors of the twisting maze, and after bravely killing the Minotaur with his dagger, he found his way out by re-tracing his path of thread. Theseus prevailed and King Minos put an end to the kidnapping.

As soon as I finished reading, Toby asked to hear it again. "The one about the dagger."

Watching our students, first and fourth graders, take in early Greek history (the Minoans at Crete, the Mycenaeans, and the legends of Homer) reminds me why studying history can be so thrilling for kids. Except that for most kids it isn't. It is a rare child in traditional school that cites social studies as a favorite subject.

Why the difference?

I can recall studying Greek city-states as a third-grader in Miss Newkirk's class. It was social studies, after all, so the focus was on the political and community organizing methods of the ancients, rather than the palace art at Knossos, the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, Jason and the Argonauts, or the Trojan War. In fact, I lacked a foundational understanding of this history and mythology, so when I encountered Homer's Odyssey as a high schooler, I was flummoxed.

But my own experience is irrelevant; what are the state standards today? A quick look at the social studies standards for my state confirms my memory. Social studies is not a synonym for history, after all, but is a study of the development of society. In the younger grades, my state expects kids to learn about citizenship, their own communities (the fire station, city hall, etc.), and finally their own state government. It isn't until fourth grade that the student studies his own state's history, then in fifth his nation's history, and finally in sixth grade the world's history. Five years of school pass before teachers give kids an understanding of ancient history.

Even worse, so many things are presented out of context to the social studies student. Understanding the progression of time is a difficult concept, but without learning things in order it is even more confusing. Second graders are taught about transportation and inventions--but completely isolated from the context in which those inventions were made. The Wright brothers invented the airplane. The ancient Chinese developed irrigation. The Incas connected their communities with highways. What second grader can sort this information out and even care about it?

The social studies methods of traditional schools are so deeply entrenched that one doubts the study of history for America's children will ever improve. Meanwhile, our Edwards Academy approach is entirely different, inspired by classical methods and committed to studying history chronologically.

Each week we put our studies in the proper chronology with cut-and-paste timeline images (thanks to Homeschool in the Woods) then delve into whatever history resources we have available on the topic. We combine this with related picture books and literature selections, along with a look at the art of the period. We color maps of the places we are studying and look up history-related vocabulary words. For our two weeks in early Greek history, we drew heavily upon various children's versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey, as well as wonderful picture books about the Greek gods and goddesses.

Imaginations are sparked. Curiosity is aroused. Playtime is enriched.

Image from Wikipedia. Minotaur locked in battle with Theseus. Bronze by Antoine-Louis Barye (Louvre)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eleven-Eleven

Before it was Veteran's Day, it was Armistice Day. On November 11, 1918 the Great War came to an end with the signing of the Armistice. At the time, my great-uncle Hayes was serving in France. He had fought in the Argonne-Meuse offensive that September and was pulled back from the line and billeted in Vignot, across the Meuse River from Commercy.

The good news of the Armistice was completely overshadowed by some bad news from home, news that Hayes received by letter just three days after the Armistice but nearly a month after it actually happened. As Hayes was fighting in the Argonne, his father back in the States unexpectedly and suddenly died. Hayes heard the news first from a sympathy letter he received from a friend. On November 25, he wrote to his sister,
"When the terrible news first came I was coming in from drill, feeling so happy and light hearted because the Armistice had been signed, then a letter was handed me from Ruth L. [a friend]; when I felt it was so thin I was afraid to open the envelope. I felt sure it was bad news of some kind but I had no idea it would be such terrible news. Hazel, if it had happened a year ago I don't think I could have stood it, but I have seen so much, so awfully much suffering since I have been here I think it made it easier for me....
It is so hard to realize that Papa is really gone, and I had so many things I wanted to tell him...
I came over here several months ago to do a "little job." Now that job is finished but I have a bigger one ahead of me and I want to be the one to do it. It wont be long until I will be back, and how I long to see you all and be with all of you..."
Hayes remained in Europe until the spring and was finally demobilized in May, 1919, upon which he returned home to help provide for his mother and sisters.

***

This Veteran's Day our brother-in-law is serving in Afghanistan. We pray for him daily and are thankful for his service to our nation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Off-Label Imaginations, Part III

Lane came walking into the living room, grinning.

His pants were flapping and I realized that in addition to the pants he was wearing, he had looped through with his belt another pair of chinos. The second pair of pants hung from his waist like an apron. But I knew he was aiming for a different look.

"Are those your chaps?" I asked.

"Yup!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More About Testing

Here's an interesting article from ABC News about the drop in Down Syndrome births coupled with the rise in Down Syndrome terminations. Titled, "Down Syndrome Births Are Down in U.S." and subtitled, "More than 90 Percent of Women Carrying a Child With Down Syndrome Choose to End Their Pregnancies, but Parents Raising These Kids Say They're a 'Gift'', it is worth reading.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do you feel safer?

What is the world coming to? Now we read that in at least two British playgrounds, parents are not allowed. Parents cannot be inside the play area because they have not had background checks.
Children as young as five will instead be supervised by council 'play rangers' who have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.
Councillors insist they are merely following Government regulations and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds 'unchecked'.
Read more at the dailymail.co.uk.

I thought this reader comment was particularly on the mark: "Once free societies will retreat incrementally, one trivial step after another, into a totalitarian hell." (Comment attributed to William, Pittsburgh, PA 28/10/2009)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Introducing...

I'm very excited to introduce you to my father's new poetry blog, JC Feedman's Poetry. Dad began writing poems as a young man. For years we've treasured these poems, framed them, and created booklets for family and friends, but this is the first time Dad's published them online in a blog format for all to read.

Although his blog is just now debuting, there are several decades of poems in his full collection. I'm eager to read them as he publishes them.

Dad is gifted by God to be able to write poetry in rhyming verse that expresses whatever he is thinking or feeling. Usually he doesn't need to fish around for a rhyme--it just rolls off his pen as he expresses his thoughts. (I'm in awe of this because whenever I attempt a poem that follows a meter and rhyming pattern it is a very forced and labored experience.)

I hope you'll click over and read a few poems, then bookmark his site and watch for new posts.

You may remember I've previously posted one of Dad's poems about a trip to one of Nairobi's slums. Also, you can read a Father's Day tribute to my dad here (2008) and here (2009).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Herge's Tintin


Yesterday I was at the library, alone, picking up books we needed for school. As I walked down the aisle I spotted the Tintin books. I realized Lane was ready. I thought Tintin might really grab him. It did. He's come a long way since last year at about this time.

The Adventures of Tintin are a series of comic strips by the Belgian Herge. Written in French over five decades (1929-1976), the journalist Tintin gets into all sorts of dashing adventures that involve world intrigue, Interpol, kidnappings, rescues, artifacts, and geographic locales that span the globe. The comic strip's art work keeps young boys (and girls) engaged and motivated to work out the big words and even foreign words that are sprinkled into the dialogues.

Eastern History

We are in the midst of three weeks studying ancient India, China, and the Americas.

Any study of ancient history will provide plenty of opportunity to learn about false religions, but with the exception of Hinduism and Buddhism, most false ancient religions no longer influence modern societies. I appreciate that Tapestry of Grace returns to Eastern history at least once every year and puts the development of these cultures into the context of world history (although Eastern history didn't intersect with Western history for many centuries). We last discussed Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam in week 19 of Year 4 (last year) as we studied about the history of India and Pakistan. (Islam dates to 600 A.D., so we will not study it until next year.)

Sydney and Hope read Buddha Stories and were able to see that the stories were very similar to Aesop's Fables. Buddhism strives to obtain a level of goodness that requires self-denial and self-discipline. What's wrong with that? Tapestry of Grace teacher's notes assisted me in discussing this issue with the kids. (The teacher's notes in TOG are very valuable. I'm always peeking at the Rhetoric level discussion notes to prepare me even as I teach grammar students.) Would superior morality solve the world's problems? No. The sin problem is deeper than outward behavior and self-discipline cannot overcome our sin nature. We need redemption.

Here are the kids playing Parcheesi on the board we made during our week of studying ancient India. Parcheesi is not an ancient game, but a modern, Americanized version of the ancient Indian game Pachesi. Because of the complexity of Pachesi, we opted to make the simpler modern version.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

People Economics

From Twitter:
@JimPethokoukis Then again, I would permanently cut payroll taxes for workers with large families since they are producing more workers.
That's Jim Pethokoukis of CNBC.

While some resent us for adding to the CO2 levels by having five kids (how dare we breathe?), others thank us for adding to the future workforce (and tax base). Are people costs or resources?

I'd say our value transcends both ideas. We are image bearers of the Creator, but in need of redemption. We abound in the resources of creativity, intelligence, and beauty that come from His Image, but we can only be reconciled to Him at a great, great cost to His Son. At that price, we are precious.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baby Update

There is nothing like the sound of the thump-thump-thump of your baby's heartbeat to cheer you up after weeks and weeks of unrelenting nausea. Now eleven weeks pregnant, I'm hoping to feel better very soon! This first trimester has been very difficult, so much so that we wondered a bit if we were having twins again. It didn't seem likely from my size, however, but just to be sure my doctor did a quick scan to check.

What a joy it was to see our tiny little baby floating around in (her) sac, waving (her) arms and kicking (her) legs, (her) umbilical cord floating like a thread tethering (her) to the side of (her) little world. Just one precious baby, not twins. (If you don't know me in life, that might seem crazy, but for my family helping me through this trimester and remembering how sick I was with our twins--and how much less sick I felt with our singleton boys--it was worth checking.)

By the way, all of this, plus a 160 beats per minute heartbeat, has me convinced that we have a girl. Girl or boy, the pronoun "it" just doesn't seem right. Time will tell. We'll know for sure, hopefully, in a couple of months.

At Least They're Reading?

Here is a very good New Yorker article, "The Defiant Ones" about the sad state of recent children's picture books. How discerning are you about the message of the picture books you're reading to your kids? In short, new picture books portray the diminished authority of parents over their children. (It also helps explain why Olivia books rub me wrong.)

And here is Albert Mohler's response to the New Yorker piece, which helps put it in Biblical perspective.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Edwards Academy Magazine IV

Editor's Note: We use this space from time to time to publish the writings of our students. Please remember that these essays belong to their authors, Hope Edwards and Sydney Edwards, and should not be copied or used in any way without permission.

Rosh Hashanah
By Hope Edwards
October 9, 2009

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. In the Torah God told the Jews to celebrate “a day of blowing” on the first day of the seventh month, Tishri, of the Jewish calendar. On the morning of Rosh Hashanah at the synagogue, Ba’al Tekiyah, the man who blows the shofar, trumpets the ram’s horn as the Rabbi calls out the notes. That day no one does any work, but the Jews present an offering to God. There are ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper, which are known as the Days of Awe.

Jews still celebrate Rosh Hashanah today. Families go to the synagogue where the shofar is blown. The blowing of the shofar is a wake-up call for the Jews to repent. The Rabbi reads from the Torah the story of Abraham and Isaac. After they leave the synagogue, Jewish families go to a river or stream and throw into the water what is in their pockets, symbolically throwing away their sin. This ceremony is called Taslich. Afterward they return home and eat a honey cake to celebrate that they have been forgiven.

Rosh Hashanah, like all Jewish holidays points to Jesus. Through the story of Abraham and Isaac, Jesus’ coming is foreshadowed. God provided Jesus to take our place, just like when God sent the ram to save Isaac. The ram was a substitute sacrifice so that Isaac could be spared. God did not spare his son but sacrificed him so we could be saved. The blowing of the shofar also points to the return of Jesus, which will happen at the trumpet call of God (I Thessalonians 4:16). Rosh Hashanah is an important Jewish holiday celebrating the spiritual new year and reminding Christians that Christ will return again for His people.

Sukkoth
By Sydney Edwards
October 9, 2009

Sukkoth, also known as the Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles, is a feast that God told the Israelites to celebrate at harvest time. He commanded them that on the fifteenth day of the seventh month they should set aside eight days for remembrance and worship. God said that on the eighth day they were to hold a sacred assembly and present fire offerings to the Lord. He told them to build a tabernacle on the roof of their houses to remind them of when he tabernacled with them in the desert.

Jews even today celebrate Sukkoth. Jewish families build a Sukkoh, a kind of hut or shelter in their backyards. Jews also hang fruit from the ceiling. On the first evening they have dinner in the Sukkoh, but before they eat they ceremonially invite Abraham and Sarah to eat dinner with them. After eight days they celebrate Simhat Torah. Simhat is the day when the Rabbi opens the “ark of the covenant” and takes out the Torah scrolls. Then they march around the synagogue seven times holding the scrolls. Simhat Torah celebrates God’s word, the Torah.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths. One way that Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Booths is explained in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink.” On the Feast of Booths in Jesus’ day Jews prayed for rain and for a good harvest in the coming year. Jesus said that He is the living water that provides for all our needs forever. Sadly, most Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. The feast also points to the day that Christ will once again tabernacle with those who believe in Him, in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Adams on Human Nature and Government

John Adams wrote in his journal in the early 1770s,
"Government is nothing more than the combined force of society, or the united power of the multitude, for the peace, order, safety, good and happiness of the people...There is no king or queen bee distinguished from all the others, by size or figure or beauty and variety of colors, in the human hive. No man has yet produced any revelation from heaven in his favor, any divine communication to govern his fellow men. Nature throws us all into the world equal and alike...

The preservation of liberty depends upon the intellectual and moral character of the people. As long as knowledge and virtue are diffused generally among the body of a nation, it is impossible they should be enslaved...

Ambition is one of the more ungovernable passions of the human heart. The love of power is insatiable and uncontrollable...

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."

His wife Abigail wrote to him in 1775,
"I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature, and that power whether vested in many or few is ever grasping. The great fish swallow up the small and he who is most strenuous for the rights of the people, when vested with power, is as eager after the prerogatives of government. You tell me of degrees of perfection to which human nature is capable of arriving, and I believe it, but at the same time lament that our admiration should arise from the scarcity of the instances."
(As quoted in John Adams by David McCullough, 2001, p. 69-70 and p. 101.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hope and the Rats of NIMH

Everyone was gathered at the dinner table, except Hope.
"Hope!" I called.

"Mom," Sydney said, "She's at a sad part in the book and is in our room crying."

"Oh."

It was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Just the other day I handed the book over to a restless Hope and said, "Here, read this. I think you'll like it."

She has been reading it whenever she could, but finished it this evening after reading it all afternoon (after school).

Hope came to the table, composed, but when I asked, "Was it sad?" she burst into fresh tears.

I know how she feels. Isn't reading powerful? What else could compel us to mourn for a couple of rats?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Testing

In my first prenatal doctor's visit, I heard about the newest prenatal testing. There are some new protocols since even my last pregnancy. I explained to my doctor that my husband and I do not wish to have an amniocentesis test done, and since all the other testing is actually just "screening," that leads to an amnio, there really wasn't any reason to do the screens. (The screening is available in the first trimester now, which is very convenient if you intend to abort your imperfect baby.)

"We're going to name it, claim it, and love it." I told my doctor (borrowing a phrase I heard in a Mark Driscoll sermon). She nodded and said that was good.

I've had a scare pregnancy and listened to statistics and been forced to decide before about an amnio. We chose not to do it, for the amnio procedure is itself risky. And our son is healthy as a horse.

What an interesting increase in health care costs this all is!

All of this just to give you the link to the latest from Albert Mohler, about the 92% termination rate in Down Syndrome babies.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Purpose of the LORD

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

I had a lot of plans for this fall semester--plans for myself and for our homeschool and our family.

They are almost all scrapped.

Instead, we found out we're expecting another Edwards baby!

And about a week after we realized that, I became extremely sick with nausea. This has been my toughest first trimester ever. After over a week of losing weight and either being too nauseated to eat or else vomiting, I now have a prescription to treat the nausea. I didn't know there was a safe medicine for this, but there is and it is helpful. Since I started the medicine, I've been able to eat three good meals (so far). Hopefully as the days go by, and I'm able to eat better, I will begin to regain some strength. (I was literally exhausted by walking from one room to the next in our house! I think I've been very weakened by not being able to eat enough, all at a time in which my body is demanding more calories from me as it is furiously building a life support system for our new baby!)

I'm so grateful for my family rallying around me to help as I've been nearly bedridden and unable to prepare meals. My dear sister and parents have brought my family meals and come over to help with life!

God is teaching me a new level of dependance upon Him. It is a lesson in humility to be so completely needy, but the fact is that it is a more accurate understanding of my true state-
May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, "God is great!"
But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!

Thank you for joining us in prayer for the health and safety of the baby and for my strength.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Creation through Noah


For Tapestry of Grace Year 1 Week 4, we read from Genesis, made Creation books, studied maps, read about plate tectonics and Pangea, and analyzed the differences in detail between the Scriptural account of Noah and two children's books. For this photograph, our dog Jesse would not be persuaded to move away, and Hope couldn't keep her eyes open because the bright light above.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Egyptian Polytheism

In our Tapestry of Grace week 3 studies, we read from the Bible about the plagues and the Exodus. The kids studied how each plague was a judgment on various Egyptian gods. Here are pictures of Lane's drawings of the plagues. Several of the pictures also depict the Egyptian god or goddess that God--YHWH--was showing power over.




Thursday, September 3, 2009

Moralism

Albert Mohler writes:
"The moralist impulse in the church reduces the Bible to a codebook for human behavior and substitutes moral instruction for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Far too many evangelical pulpits are given over to moralistic messages rather than the preaching of the Gospel.

...Hell will be highly populated with those who were "raised right." The citizens of heaven will be those who, by the sheer grace and mercy of God, are there solely because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ."

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No Ears

I was cooking dinner, enjoying the unseasonably cool breeze that blew through the kitchen. Toby was perched on a bar stool in the middle of the kitchen, stuck there until he demonstrated some repentance. It didn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. He was screaming, high and loud.

"Toby," I told him, "Stop screaming. The whole neighborhood can hear you."

"Mom!" he cried, "It doesn't have ears!"

"What?"

"Neighborhoods don't have ears!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tears of the Saints

“I would rather die now than to live a life of oblivious ease in so sick a world.”– Nate Saint



Found through @NationsBeGlad.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blab School?

The d'Aulaire's put it this way:
There they [Abe and his schoolmates] sat together, big and small, reading and writing and reckoning aloud, all at one time together. There was such a chatter that it could be heard a long way off. But when Abe was six years old he had learned both to read and write.
And the biographer Carl Sandburg said it this way:
In a log schoolhouse with a dirt floor and one door, seated on puncheon benches with no backs, they learned the alphabet A to Z and numbers one to ten. It was called a "blab school": the pupils before reciting read their lessons out loud to themselves to show they were busy studying.
This does not describe our method, but it seems to describe our outcome. I'm walking Lane through a literature worksheet, Sydney's reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear to Toby aloud, and Hope is mumbling about the grammar sentences she's working on. Whenever this happens, I always remember these lines from the two best Lincoln biographies I know of: Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire and Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years by Carl Sandburg, the first a picture book for children and the second a single-volume version of Sandburg's original multi-volume biography.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pharaohs and Pyramids

Tapestry of Grace, Year 1, Week 2:


Our second week of school focused on the Pharaohs and Pyramids of Egypt. We looked pretty closely at the Egyptian religious beliefs, particularly those associated with death and burial customs. We also read the first five chapters of Exodus (notice the flannel figures in the picture--the kids love playing with them). We also started our Homeschool in the Woods timeline images this week. There were so many for the Egyptian dynasties that we couldn't fit them all on the page of our TOG workbooks. To solve the problem, we glued the images onto sentence strips. We were careful to get the chronology correct but didn't worry about the timeline scale. You can also see that we painted our Egypt salt-dough maps this week.

On Friday we got together with another family to work on tomb paintings. Lane (first grade) painted the Egyptian god of embalming Anubis weighing the heart on a scale (right) and Caleb (sixth grade) painted Anubis leading the dead man by the hand (left).



Sydney, Hope, and their friend Addy painted this tomb painting. (They are all fourth graders.)



Toby and his friend Kaity painted this one (Toby is 3 and 1/2 and Kaity, 5, is in kindergarten.)



For more pictures of the kids painting, check out the German family's blog here, here, and here.

Lane's Seven!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lines of Literature: Good-Bye, Mr. Chips

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Good-Bye, Mr. Chips, a novella by James Hilton, this week. It is a touching tale of an aging schoolteacher, Mr. Chipping, in fin-de-siecle England.
. . . And once Chips had got into trouble because of some joke he had made about a boy's name. The boy wrote home about it, and his father sent an angry letter to Ralston. Touchy, no sense of humor, no sense of proportion--that was the matter with them, these new fellows. . . . No sense of proportion. And it was a sense of proportion, above all things, that Brookfield ought to teach--not so much Latin or Greek or Chemistry or Mechanics. And you couldn't expect to test that sense of proportion by setting papers and granting certificates. . . ."

"His room was furnished simply and with school masterly taste: a few bookshelves and sporting trophies; . . The books were chiefly classical, the classic having been his subject; there was, however, a seasoning of history and belles-lettres. There was also a bottom shelf piled up with cheap editions of detective novels. Chips enjoyed these. Sometimes he took down Vergil or Xenophon and read for a few moments, but he was soon back again with Doctor Thorndyke or Inspector French. he was no, despite his long years of assiduous teaching, a very profound classical scholar; indeed, he thought of Latin and Greek far more as dead languages from which English gentlemen ought to know a few quotations than as living tongues that had ever been spoken by living people. He liked those short leading articles in the Times that introduced a few tags that he recognized. To be among the dwindling number of people who understood such things was to him a kind of secret and valued freemasonry; it represented, he felt, one of the chief benefits to be derived from a classical education."
Good-Bye, Mr. Chips was a fun read, easily conquered in one evening. I'm guessing, however, that it will soon be a totally forgotten book. Chockablock with allusions to British history, sport, and culture that were probably common knowledge in 1934, it's an easy read but most readers of my generation will not recognize the allusions, or have the patience for them. I jotted down things that puzzled me and, thanks to Google, had a good time tracking them all down. Now, to see the movie.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Need Thee Every Hour

Thanks to the offhand remark of a friend,* we've chosen the hymn I Need Thee Every Hour for our hymn of the month. We begin our school days singing it together. I especially like verse two:
I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
My morning devotions today seemed to be shouting this truth into my soul: I desperately want to bring glory and honor to God in my life and breath, but I'm incapable of doing so unless Jesus enables me.
As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Psalm 48:10
May your Name be praised with my life and breath. I need you , Lord Jesus, for without Your Holy Spirit at work in me I am no glory or praise to your Name. I cannot bring praise in my own power...give Your Spirit generously to me today that I might be able to bring back praise to You. Forgive me for thinking, believing, behaving as if I am capable of bringing you anything!
Praise be Your Name!
It reaches to the heights but bends low to pour grace over me!

Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire,
and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand:
you shall lie down in torment.
Isaiah 50:10-11 (Click here to read this passage in several versions.)
How often I have kindled my own fire, lit my own torches, and compassed my way according to my own equipment of light! How do I expect to make any progress, let alone bring praise and glory and honor to You, when I am following my own fire, blazing my own trail?
You know the destination reached by all of us who walk among our own firebrands, who see by the flicker of our own flames.
It is only torment.
It is prostration.
But You bring illumination in the voice of your Servant:
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
Let me fear the LORD!
Let me obey His Servant!
May I trust in the LORD's Name for my path--
for you, O LORD, will not lead me to torment,
but to righteousness!

*Thanks, Heather!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Curtain Rises on Egypt

Here's a glance at our Tapestry of Grace Year 1, Week 1:



Toby's puzzle has nothing to do with Tapestry studies, but his puzzles were a lifesaver for me this week! We read part or all of each of these books; the artwork shown includes both tracing and freehand pieces; each of the school kids did all three maps, and some of the other written work, as well as salt-dough maps aren't shown.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lines of Literature: Persuasion Part II

So much for reading only during recess! I finished reading Persuasion last night, after reading it most of the afternoon as well. By ten o'clock last night I was all wrapped up in the world of Anne Elliot, waiting for her Captain to finally confess his constant love for her, even after eight years have passed. It was inconceivable to put it down with only a few chapters left...

I finished before eleven. It was worth it. I may update later with some more quotes.

A New Start

With the start of our 2009-2010 school year, Mr. Edwards and I are making some changes to our routine. We're only four days in, but we're hoping to get our habits in place before we add more to our schedule, such as BSF and AWANA (three nights a week).

Physical Training
Physical training is of some value, Paul says, but the fact is that I live my life not valuing it at all. For a while now I've wished I was exercising, but couldn't figure out how to get it done in my routine. Like anything that we finally commit to doing, I've been thinking about it for a long time. I've also been inspired by others such as Susie, Tina, Amy R., Michelle L., Diana, and even Hillary, my neighbor who I see running on a regular basis. I've never been much of an athlete, but what encouraged me most of all was hearing Tina's and Michelle's stories and realizing that it isn't about having intrinsic athletic skills (although they might, I don't know). It is about training.

I found this training program for beginning runners and have started following it.

Mr. Edwards is also back to walking and running, but he chooses the treadmill in the evening.

Spiritual Training
A big reason I have never exercised regularly is boredom. The treadmill is unbearable to me for this reason (Mr. Edwards watches a movie, but that doesn't always distract me enough!). However, I'm listening to podcasts as I walk and run through our neighborhood and the thirty minutes seem to fly by. A Sunday sermon by John Piper or Mark Driscoll is about 50 minutes; hopefully I'll work my way up to running for a full sermon.

Meanwhile, Mr. Edwards is also listening to the Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology podcasts I mentioned in an earlier post. He listens in the car to and from work and now our dinner conversation is dominated by doctrinal discussions, with a little bit of the day's politics thrown in.

Daddy-Daughter Nights
We booked up our iCal calendar for the school year with most of our recurring commitments--BSF and AWANA, for example--and at the same time booked up Thursdays for "Daddy-Daughter Night." Mr. Edwards is spending each Thursday with one of our daughters, switching off each week. Last week he baked cookies with Sydney. Tonight he'll be baking a cake with Hope. It might be that they go out for dessert, or maybe just a board game at the dining room table, but it will be one-on-one daddy-daughter time.

I'm praying that we can follow through on these changes to our routine and stick with them, even as our school year gets busier. What shifts are you making this fall?

(Edited 8/15/09)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lines of Literature: Persuasion


After watching the BBC movie Persuasion last weekend (thanks, April!), I'm reading Jane Austen's novel on which it is based. This is a novel that I've had around for years and picked up repeatedly, especially after a re-reading of Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, when I craved more Austen. It no doubt reflects poorly on me that I could never stick with Persuasion. However, after watching the movie adaptation (the YouTube clip above was made by a fan and nicely summarizes the film) I took on the book once again.

I'm just starting (reading during recess time doesn't get you very far) but already have some fun quotes to share:

About Anne's upcoming visit to another town:
"...she believed she must now submit to feel that another lesson, in the art of knowing our own nothingness beyond our own circle, was become necessary for her;"

About Anne's brother-in-law, Charles Musgrove, a man married to Anne's younger sister Mary:
"Charles Musgrove was civil and agreeable; in sense and temper he was undoubtedly superior to his wife; but not of powers, or conversation, or grace, to make the past, as they were connected together, at all a dangerous contemplation; though, at the same time, Anne could believe, with Lady Russell, that a more equal match might have greatly improved him; and that a woman of real understanding might have given more consequence to his character, and more usefulness, rationality, and elegance to his habits and pursuits."
This made me wonder: am I the sort of wife that is "a woman of real understanding," the sort of woman that brings more consequence to my husband's character? I pray so.

Anne tried to encourage Mary to stay home with her son, rather than go out, after his collar-bone injury, but Mary selfishly dismissed the idea:
[Anne said,] "Nursing does not belong to a man, it is not his province. A sick child is always the mother's property, her own feelings generally make it so."
"I hope I am as fond of my child as any mother--but I do not know what I am of any more use in the sick-room than Charles..."
"But, could you be comfortable yourself, to be spending the whole evening away from the poor boy?"
"Yes; you see his papa can, and why should not I?"
Mary seems pathetic, but how many times have I been glad for Mr. Edwards to stay home with a sick one? Too many to count, I'm afraid!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back to School

After a full summer break, it is time to start school again. We had a marvelous summer, although I didn't get everything on my summer to-do list completed, I made a dent in it and we did many other things I didn't anticipate.

This Monday we begin the 2009-2010 school year. The day inspires eager anticipation in some and dread in others, but either way it is coming! I've been preparing for it off and on all summer long.

We are going back to the beginning with Tapestry of Grace. After teaching all four years of Tapestry of Grace's Classic version of curriculum, we are going back to the ancients with Tapestry of Grace Redesigned Digital edition. I still have my beloved Classic edition in notebooks, so I choose the digital redesign instead of the print edition. I have mixed feelings about digital, but in the end think it is a good option if you have a way to cheaply print off pages and pages of valuable curriculum. Plenty of blogs and websites have commented on the differences between TOG print and digital, classic and redesigned, so I won't do that here.

Edwards Academy students are in grade four, grade one and preschool this year, which means I'm still teaching TOG upper and lower grammar levels. For the most part, I'm in a very good groove using TOG curriculum and don't plan on major changes to how we implement this in our family. I did, however, change the way I record my lesson plans and made some minor changes to the kids' notebooks.
I've used handwritten lesson plan books before, but last year I made my lesson plans in Word document assignment sheets that I then printed out for the kids. It worked well for me, but took a lot of time. Although I tried to do it nine weeks at a time, tweaking was always in order and sometimes Monday mornings rolled around and my lesson plans/assignment sheets weren't ready. This year I have gone back to handwritten planning, using lesson plan templates from DonnaYoung.org. Using the ProClick binders (that we use for TOG student notebooks as well) I decided to make my own lesson plan book. I used the two-page per week lesson plan grid and inserted between the pages of a week the TOG reading assignment pages, the TOG weekly overview pages, and the TOG writing assignment page for our two writing levels (1 and 4). I trimmed the margins of the TOG pages so that it is easy for me to flip around within the two lesson plan pages of any given week.


Also, I trimmed the writing assignment page even further, keeping the most essential column, but trimming off the other side so that the other pages are more visible and accessible.

As you see below, the three TOG pages are sandwiched between the two-page per week lesson plan sheets. This is exceedingly handy for me. We'll be using the TOG vocab list this year for handwriting copy work and so much of the info on these three pages are essential to refer back to throughout the week that I wanted them very handy, without having to re-type or re-write lists and details.


Last year we began making student notebooks for each unit of Tapestry of Grace (one notebook per quarter) using the ProClick binders. ProClick bindings can be re-opened so it is very easy to add pages in later. You've probably seen student workbooks like this before, if you are a TOG user, since it has become a very popular way of using TOG and Charlotte Mason-style notebooking.

Our student notebooks are separated into week-plan sections using colored card stock. The week's section begins with a blank cover sheet from Notebookingpages.com. These free pages, made specifically for Tapestry of Grace, give space for jotting down vocab words, pasting in our Homeschooling in the Woods time line images, or even pasting in lapbooking-style flaps and pockets. On the back side of this cover sheet, I printed blank assignment sheet forms.


This form (shown above, click to enlarge) is a revised version of the assignment sheets that I made last year, completed in advance for Academy students. Tapestry of Grace actually recommends that students keep their own assignment sheets and this is a typical expectation of traditional school students, to be sure. A friend of mine suggested creating a boiler-plate assignment template that would make the process of the "Monday morning meeting" a bit easier and quicker. I loved her idea. With this form, we should be able to quickly go through the week's assignments as the kids fill in page numbers where possible and write longer items when necessary.

The rest of the student notebook has the TOG student activity pages for their level (including literature worksheets), the TOG maps for the week, the TOG writing helps needed that week (such as clustering diagrams, etc.), blank writing pages for writing assignments and dictation, as well as dictation grading forms, and any other supplemental material. For instance, I often pull extra things from sites like Homeschoolshare.com that go along with the literature selection. In the picture above you can see that I place the blank TOG MapAids map for their level opposite the Map Aids teacher map. I've found that the kids are best able to color and label their maps using the teacher map. It is the process of copying and coloring that helps them remember the places.

Below you see blank lined pages for writing assignments as well as a report grid form (from Writing Aids).


As Mr. Edwards might say, we're locked and loaded, ready to fire! It is easy to get wrapped up in the details, the methods, the curricula, but may we never lose sight of the target:

Note: I'm updating the sidebar with our current year curriculum choices, if you are interested in comparing notes. I love reading what others are using and thought I would return the favor.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Doctrine on Audio

Do you have Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology? This is a great, albeit a bit intimidating to some, book. I use it as a reference and enjoy reading chapters on various subjects, but what I'd really like to do is study it with my husband. Mr. Edwards is interested in the subject, but not keen on reading, studying, and answering discussion questions on the 1,291 pages!

I was very excited, then, to stumble across this Podcast of Wayne Grudem teaching his own book! There are about 110 episodes of lectures. We can listen to them on iPods or burn them to CDs for easier listening in the car. I listened to the first lecture about the Old Testament canon yesterday as I did some housework and Mr. Edwards plans to listen today in the car on his way home from work.

Is "systematic theology" a new term for you? It is simply a method of studying everything the Bible teaches on a subject. Systematic theology, then, looks at topics such as sin, man, Christ, angels, Scripture, the new heaven and new earth, etc., and examines everything that the Bible says about the subject and then develops a doctrine from Scripture's teaching on the subject.

Apologetics315.com - Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology - Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Case for Early Marriage

This article, by Albert Mohler, is well worth your time. For parents of sons and daughters, but perhaps particularly for parents of sons, it is a good food for thought.

Does it make any sense to teach abstinence to Christian teens but then tacitly discourage them from marrying young? According to the article the median age for first marriage is 26 for women and 28 for men, up five years from 1970. Mohler quotes sociologist and author Mark Regnerus, "That's five additional, long years of peak sexual interest and fertility."

The problem is that serious Christian women tend to outnumber serious Christian men (about three women for every two men). The article doesn't discuss how this might impact one's parenting, but it reminds me that I want my sons to know that marriage is wonderful and fulfilling.

It's Getting Really Difficult, Part II

(This post is a follow-up to this one; you may want to read it first.)

I still think it is getting really difficult to wisely guide my twin daughters, but you might be interested in knowing that when Mr. Edwards and I talked it over, he thought I was over-reacting. My "the next ten years are going to be really hard" comment prompted him to say, "No it won't. Once they're driving they'll just do their own thing, go where they want and have their own friends."

I looked at him, amazed.

As for my explanation that they are beginning to be increasingly jealous of one another and of relationships ("For the first time they are each beginning to want their friends to love only them and not their sister as much."), Mr. Edwards looked at me, mystified. "This isn't a twin thing," he told me, "this is a friendship problem."

"But," I protested, "I had enough trouble as a girl getting along with my sister, at least she wasn't taking my friends!"

Mr. Edwards just smiled at me.

"Okay," I told him, "I'll trust you that I'm over-reacting about this but you need to trust me that it really is a hard thing for them." He smiled.

"One thing is sure!" I finished up because he was on the way out the door to work, "You've never been a little girl!"

The corners of his mouth curled up. "You've got that right! I've always been kinda proud of that!"

And he was off.

There is something just so perfect about the combined parenting of man and wife, father and mother, isn't there?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's Getting Really Difficult

The waters of motherhood are getting much deeper, and my oldest two are just nine years old.

First of all, isn't this brilliant? Look at these sisters having such a wonderful time with their rich imaginations.



Being a twin is something most girls dream of, but the reality isn't always a picnic. Of course, most of the time it is a huge gift of constant, loving friendship. Sydney and Hope have great times together and their love for each other is deep. But sometimes being a twin is just a really raw deal. And being the mother of twins is hard, too, because I feel inadequate in helping them meet the challenges.

Jealousy between them seems to be growing. Suddenly it hurts them inside that all their friends are "our friend" rather than "my friend." I think I should advise them to let go of some friends and let friendship grow more with one or the other, but I see the pain in their eyes when they think that they might not be the sister that their friend prefers.

They are older now, and wiser, and beginning to see their own strengths--and weaknesses--relative to their sister. It doesn't cheer them that they have different strengths from each other, because human nature makes us shrug off our advantages as meaningless and focus on our disadvantages.

I tell them to leave behind the jealousy, that God doesn't compare them to each other, that it is okay to have different friends, that Daddy and I love them both no matter what, that being born two minutes ahead (or behind) means nothing, that it is a gift to have this struggle because God will use it to refine them and purify them.

I want to put it in perspective and remind them that life is hard, people suffer much greater things, this is petty, just get over it. But I remember being nine. I remember being the friend that was left behind for another. I know that the wisdom of perspective cannot be attained like factual knowledge. "Okay mom, you're right, it's petty. How silly of me to be jealous..." is just not something they are going to say or realize because I tell them it's true.

I think I'm in for a tough ten years. The tears are pricking behind my eyes as I think about it. This is a job that is too hard for me, Jesus. I'm not good at it. I can't do it. I hugged my girls earlier and advised them that, "It's hard to be a twin, but it is a blessing to be faced with hard things. If you weren't it would be much harder for you to see your need for Jesus to heal you." I told them each about the verse that I read yesterday about our great God:
And the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the LORD and perform them. And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them. Isaiah 19:21-22 (ESV)
This prophecy is about Egypt, but it teaches me something important about God. He wants me to cry for mercy and healing. He is willing to strike so that He might heal! So that I might worship! I tried to help Hope and Sydney see that if hard things like hurt feelings and besetting sins give us an opportunity to see God's healing hand in our lives, then we can rest in Him and depend upon Him in prayer.

I pray that they will begin to see that this is true and experience that it is true as they go through these deep waters. I'm right there next to them in prayer, rejoicing that God is sanctifying me through the difficulties of motherhood, pleading for his help because apart from Him I am totally at a loss to give my precious twin daughters any wisdom. Help me, Jesus!
Here I am in the easy years, so thrilled to be a mother of twins.
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