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.
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