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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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cartographer Lane

Lane: "Mom, you want to hear something funny?"
Me, driving: "Mmm..."
Lane: "I just saw Cuba...and Haiti."
Me: "Huh?"
Lane: "In the clouds. Shaped just like them. Isn't that funny??"

Lane's been studying maps of the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean and drawing "pirate" maps, embellished  like old-time maps with artwork of ships and the like.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fairness

Did you see the Dutch speed skater, Sven Kramer, favored for a gold medal in the 10,000 meter race get disqualified for an improper lane change? It was a devastating mistake, made late in the race when the Kramer clearly had a winning pace. His coach, confused, waved him over for the lane change. Visibly conflicted, Kramer made the lane change and with that, lost his nearly-sure gold medal.

Although superstar Kramer reacted in anger at the Oval, he's since been a bit more circumspect about what happened.

This is life. Things happen that are clearly unfair. It has me thinking: am I helping my kids cope with unfairness now? Or do I tend to re-order life for them so that it works out fairly?

God is just, but he is not "fair" in the sense that we think of fairness, that is, equality. He's the potter; we're the clay. Some are beautiful and prized pots; others of us are plain, ordinary workhorses of pottery. May I, in God's grace, be able to show my children that life isn't fair, but God is sovereign. When things go badly, like they did for the skater Kramer, we can rest in His sovereignty and rejoice.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"We...make our own fun."

We are so ingrained in our culture, we can't even recognize how it influences us most of the time.

Here's an excerpt from the Livesay blog that hits on exactly what I mean. The Livesays are missionaries to Haiti, but are now in Texas for a time as they regroup with their seven kids.
Our lives in Haiti are very centered on home and family. Most every night we're home. If we go out of our gate, it would be to eat with John and Beth. At home we eat the same four or five menus all the time. The variety is little but no one feels they are lacking a thing. We go out as a large group only on Sunday for church. There are no swimming lessons or soccer practices to juggle. No Target runs, and no McDonalds. We hang out and make our own fun. Nobody charges us for it. There are not constantly pressures to run from thing to thing. The lack of television means my kids are not begging for toys and all the things advertising convinces us we need. It is beautiful and it is one more thing I love about living in Haiti.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ice Skating

Today Lane, Sydney, and Hope went ice skating for the very first time! I thought they would be clinging to the wall, but they skated all over the rink and had a blast.




Hope and Sydney were very excited that their friend Joanna met us at the rink.




Lane had a good time with his friend Caleb, Joanna's brother.



The Ice Center's public skate was from 3:30 to 5:30. We left a tad early to make it home for supper before Mr. Edwards and Lane left for BSF, and came home to a crock-pot supper of Cowboy Beans. The skating kids all had seconds (or thirds). They were sure hungry after all that skating!

Lane told Mr. Edwards, "I was speed skating!"
"Did you put your arm on your back and swing the other arm?" Mr. Edwards asked.
"Yup!" 
I'm not sure I noticed that, but I can attest that Lane was pretty speedy out there.

Godly Compliments and Bearing Fruit

Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit.  We are a big Bible Study Fellowship family. Sydney, Hope and I go on Monday nights and Mr. Edwards and Lane go on Tuesday nights. This year BSF is studying the book of John. After a week of delving deep into John 15--and being reminded that we cannot bear fruit without being closely connected to Jesus each day--I sat down this morning to read the BSF notes and "pink sheet."

BSF notes are given to class members after completing the personal study, discussion, and lecture on a particular passage. Reading the notes reinforces what we already discovered, but also brings new understanding to the passage. The "pink sheets" are officially called "Home Training Lessons" and offer help to parents in applying the principles of the passage to parenting young (and older) children.

This week's "pink sheet" encouraged parents to compliment our children differently from the world: "In contrast to what the world will recognize in your child, you will want to commend him daily for those godly character qualities you observe in his behavior and attitude."

This reminds me of another "pink sheet" from several years ago that pointed out how easily we fall into worldly patterns of complimenting our own children--and the children of others. When we see a little three-year-old we are apt to say, "What a pretty dress!" Or "Your hair is so cute today." Or, "You're looking sharp!" Unwittingly, we send the message to young kids that the externalities and material things are valued, which is contrary to what Jesus values most.

***

Bearing other fruit. I'm about thirty weeks pregnant now, entering the home stretch of the final ten weeks. The girls took pictures of Mr. Edwards and I on Valentine's Day (I'm not sure which one took this shot).


Last Friday Hope and Sydney and I had a girls night out. Ballet Emmanuel  performed at our church and we saw their performance and enjoyed dessert with good friends. Mr. Edwards took our picture before we left for our girls night.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Getting Going

I hear stories of homeschooled kids who rise in the morning and, eager to complete their studies and have a free afternoon, buckle down and diligently work several hours until they are finished.

This doesn't happen here.

One of the biggest struggles we face in Edwards Academy is being motivated. My kids would rather be reading for fun (Hope and Sydney are pictured, last August, absorbed in fun books) or drawing elaborate pictures or building complex Lego ships than doing their school work. This is especially true about the difficult subjects (for our household) of math and Latin as well as the dull but necessary work of spelling and writing.


I'm not sure there is a complete cure for a problem rooted so deeply in personality, ability, and human nature, but I found this article, "Inspiring Unmotivated Kids: What to Do and What Not to Do," from Jeff Myers very helpful, nevertheless. (Thanks for the tip, Natalie.)

(I should add that I'm very aware that I suffer the exact same motivation problems when it comes to my own list of domestic drudgeries!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bringing to Remembrance

I have heard many fanatical persons say the Holy Spirit revealed this and that to them. Now that is very generally revealed [eventually, to be] nonsense. The Holy Ghost does not reveal anything fresh now. He brings old things to our remembrance. "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have told you."* 
The canon of revelation is closed; there is no more to be added. God does not give a fresh revelation, but he rivets the old one. When it has been forgotten, and laid in the dusty chamber of our memory, he fetches it out and cleans the picture, but does not pain a new one. There are no new doctrines, but the old ones are often revived. 
It is not, I say, by any new revelation that the Spirit comforts. He does so by telling us old things over again; he brings a fresh lamp to manifest the treasure hidden  in Scripture; he unlocks the strong chests in which the truth had long lain, and he points to secret chambers filled with untold riches; but he coins no more, for enough is done. Believer! there is enough in the Bible for thee to live upon forever.
*John 14:26
-Charles Spurgeon, From "The Holy Spirit: The Comforter," Delivered on Sabbath evening, January 21, 1855, at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark. No. 5. As quoted from Spurgeon's Sermons on Jesus and the Holy Spirit, 2006, Henderson: Peabody, Mass.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What to do with the jackets?

Do you...

  1. keep dust jackets on your hardcover books?
  2. remove them and throw them away?
  3. remove them and save them somewhere?

My habit is option 3, but I'm looking at a growing stash of beautiful dust jackets and wondering where this will end. I'm not talking about the dust jacket of the latest fiction bestseller. I'm speaking of dust jackets from hardcover children's picture books that are a real treasure to have.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Overheard at the Edwards'

Last night after our family bedtime prayer, our boys ran off to their room. A few minutes later Mr. Edwards heard them talking too much, so he went to investigate. Pretty soon I heard him say--

"No calling and no texting! Put your cell phones away!"

He returned to the living room and we both collapsed on the sofa in laughter.

"Toby told me he was texting [the neighbor boy] Matthew!"

"Matthew?" I asked. Mr. Edwards nodded.
"At least we don't have to pay for the phone contract!"
"No doubt!"

All four of our kids have outfitted themselves with paper cell phones, complete with a phone company logo, a keyboard drawn on, and a screen.  They were carrying them around all day yesterday, or tucking them carefully in their pockets. Toby especially seemed to be receiving calls and carrying on phone conversations with his paper phone held to his ear throughout the day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Spring (Homeschool) Cleaning

Do you have a systematic method for keeping and purging your kids' school work?

Do you toss out math workbooks/worksheets each year without a second thought? What about history projects? Writing assignments? Art work?

I'm cleaning out my school closet and realizing that through inertia I've saved a lot of stuff. It is easy to toss out old Explode the Code or math workbooks, but much harder for me to pitch the history notebooks with art, colored maps, and written work. Why? Because I see the personality of my kids in their work and love looking back at the progression in their abilities and their learning.

But it is ludicrous to hang on to stacks of projects (soon-to-be five kids times 12 years of school!).

I hope you'll fill up my comments section with how you cope with this. Even for moms of kids in "away" school, you have to deal with the avalanche of homework and projects coming home.  What do you do?

Super Weekend Update


Sydney and Hope competed on Saturday at the AWANA Games competition. They were placed on different teams, which meant that they were competing at the same time at opposite ends of the gym! It was hard to watch them both at the same time. Each of their teams took second place in their circle! We're very proud of their hard work and display of teamwork.


Lane and Toby, cheering on their sisters.


These (Hope and her friend Addy, above, Sydney and her friend Evangelyn, below) pictures came out a bit dark, but the girls are at the line ready for the three-legged race.




Hope, Evangelyn, and Sydney had fun dressing up during the Super Bowl party.


We received a beautiful snowfall overnight Sunday and early Monday morning Sydney and Hope graciously shoveled for me. 





Toby loves to cut things out!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Abiding in Christ

The crown which glitters in your eye at the end of the race is worthy of all your running. You could not have a nobler motive power than the constraining love of Christ. To live for Christ is the highest style of living: continue in it more and more. If the Lord changes your circumstances, still live for Christ. If you go up, take Christ up with you: if you go down, Christ will go down with you. If you are in health, live for Christ earnestly; if you are bound to a sick bed, live for Christ patiently. Go about your business, and sing for Jesus; or if he bids you stay at home, and cough away your life, then sicken for Jesus; but let everything be for him. For you, "Excelsior" means higher consecration, more heavenly living.

-Charles Spurgeon, From "Preparation for the Coming of the Lord," Delivered on Lord's Day morning, September 22, 1889, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. No. 2105. As quoted from Spurgeon's Sermons on Jesus and the Holy Spirit, 2006, Henderson: Peabody, Mass.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thou Hearest the Sound

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit. --John 3:8
"But then the wind does something more than make a sound; and so does the Holy spirit. It works and produces manifest results. . .
And, oh! the Spirit of God is a great wrecker of false hopes and carnal confidences. I have seen the Spirit of God come to a sinner like a storm to a ship at sea. He had to take down the top-gallants of his pride, and then every thread of carnal confidence had to be reefed, and then his hope itself had to be cut away; and on, on the vessel went, until she struck a rock, and down she went. The man from that time never dared trust in his merits, for he had seen his merits wrecked and broken in pieces by the wind.
. . . Now, do not let this make you fear the Holy Spirit. it is a blessed thing to be rocked so as to have our hopes tested, and it is a precious thing to have our carnal confidences shaken. And how blessedly the wind purifies the atmosphere!'"
-Charles Spurgeon, From "The Holy Spirit Compared to the Wind," Preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. Published 1865. No. 630. As quoted from Spurgeon's Sermons on Jesus and the Holy Spirit, 2006, Henderson: Peabody, Mass.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Super Bowl Party Tips

We're hosting a small gathering for the Super Bowl, so I found these tips very helpful, especially as a hostess and mother:

1. Assign the remote
2. Watch proactively
3. Foster fellowship
4. Draw attention to the eternal

Be sure to read the full post, with explanations about each tip and some game predictions, from C. J. Mahaney here.

Infinite Time to Receive Infinite Good

At the conclusion of The End for Which God Created the World, Jonathan Edwards concludes that  it will take an infinite time (eternity) to experience the infinite glory of God, His fullness, goodness, and justice.

This was a new idea to me. I imagined death to bring an instant lifting of the veil in which suddenly all is understood--all the mysterious circumstances of my life, all the difficult doctrines, and all the unknowns of creation that are beyond my grasp today. Instead, Edwards suggests that God's glory is so immense and infinite that it will take an infinite amount of time to receive it in full. Inversely, it will take an infinite time for him to grant justice to sinners (the other truth of eternity that is more unpleasant to contemplate).

It will take an eternity of increasing joy to experience all the fullness of God

It is no solid objection against God aiming at an infinitely perfect union of the creature with himself, that the particular time will never come when it can be said, the union is now infinitely perfect. God aims at satisfying justice in the eternal damnation of sinners; which will be satisfied by their damnation, considered no otherwise than with regard to its eternal duration. But yet there never will come that particular moment, when it can be said, that now justice is satisfied. But if this does not satisfy our modern free thinkers who do not like the talk about satisfying justice with an infinite punishment; I suppose it will not be denied by any, that God, in glorifying the saints in heaven with eternal felicity, aims to satisfy his infinity grace or benevolence, by the bestowment of a good infinitely valuable because eternal: and yet there never will come the moment, when it can be said, that now this infinitely valuable good has been actually bestowed.

J. Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World, as reprinted in God's Passion for His Glory, p. 251

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Spirit Bloweth Where It Listeth

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit. --John 3:8
"...the wind not only differs in force, but it differs in direction. . . . Now, the Spirit of God comes from different directions. You know very well, dear friends, that sometimes the Spirit of God will blow with mighty force from one denomination of Christians; then on a sudden they seem to be left, and another body of Christians God will raise up, fill with himself, and qualify for usefulness. In the days of [Charles] Wesley and [George] Whitefield, there was very little of the divine Spirit anywhere, except among the Methodists. I am sure they have not a monopoly of him now, the divine Spirit blows also from other quarters. Sometimes he uses one man, sometimes another. . . . It comes just as God wills, for direction: and you know, too, dear friends, it comes through different instrumentalities in the same church. Sometimes the wind blows from this pulpit: God blesses me to your conversion. Another time it is from my good sister, Mrs. Bartlett's class; on a third occasion it is the Sunday-school; again, it may be another class, or the preaching of the young men, or from the individual exertion of private believers. God causes that wind to blow just which way he wills."
-Charles Spurgeon, From "The Holy Spirit Compared to the Wind," Preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. Published 1865. No. 630. As quoted from Spurgeon's Sermons on Jesus and the Holy Spirit, 2006, Henderson: Peabody, Mass.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Snow, School, and Reading

Snow Days
Last Friday we received a thick blanket of snow, which sparkled in Saturday's sunshine and called to the kids to come out and play. It was warm enough in the sun for the kids to be able to spend three busy hours playing and building in the snow.

Toby, coming in for a drink.

Sydney (in the middle) and Hope (on the right) build a fort with their friend Evangelyn. They found empty ice cream tubs to use as forms for their snow blocks.

The fort as it is today (Tuesday).

Mr. Edwards makes some repairs to one of our classic sleds.

I don't seem to have a picture of Lane in the snow, which is probably because he spent most of his time across the street building forts with the neighbor boys.

* * *

School Days
Toby is now four and I'm beginning to see signs of him settling down during school hours. There was a time when I never dreamed he would sit for a project like this (see the picture below), but last week he decided to do it without any prompting!


* * *
Reading Days
I've made a real effort since Christmas break to read more fiction, with mixed results. I've read some classics (such as Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward) as well as several mysteries from Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. I've read some modern popular fiction, The Kite Runner and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I found surprisingly good. I tend to like old books better than newer ones, but in my effort to branch out, I intentionally sought out some recent best sellers. In this vein, I checked out The Elegance of the Hedgehog from the library. I read a few pages, but just don't care to bother with the rest, so I'm returning it unread.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What is the Glory of God?

The Glory of God is a concept that seems pretty obvious--until you try to teach it to children or explain it to someone else. What do we mean, anyway, when we speak about the Glory of God? It is such an abstraction; do we really know what we are talking about?

Jonathan Edwards gave the concept careful consideration. It was important to him to get this right, because he believed that God's end in creating the world was for His glory. One cannot understand God's purpose in creating the Universe without first grasping what is meant by the glory of God.

The Hebrew word translated "glory"(kabod) in our Old Testaments comes from a root Hebrew word (kavod) that means "heavy," "gravity," or "weight." Glory, then, is a quality of something--it's fullness or weight of itself. Edwards says that Hebrew idiom describes something good or excellent or valuable as having weight; something worthless as being light. (a)

First, we must understand that the glory of God describes what is internally true and excellent about God. His glory is innate to His character and it also includes that which is possessed by God.

Second, we see that the glory of God is the exhibition or communication of His internal greatness and glory. His glory emanates from Him as light shines from the sun. This is described in Scripture as brightness, as light, as a shining brilliance. Likewise, God's goodness is an emanation of His glory. "So when Moses says, 'I beseech thee show me thy glory;' God granting his request, makes answer, 'I will make all my goodness to pass before thee.' Exodus 33:18, 19." (b)

The salvation of men through the work of Christ on the cross is a supreme example of God's glory as a communication of His internal greatness. Jesus says in John 12:23-24, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

Third, God is given glory when His creation sees or knows His excellency and honors Him for it. Edwards explains, "The manifestation of glory . . . has relation to the eye. Light or brightness is a quality that has relation to the sense of seeing; we see the luminary by its light. And knowledge is often expressed in Scripture by light. The world glory very often in Scripture signifies, or implies, honor, as any one may soon see by casting his eye on a concordance." (c) For example, see Ezekiel 39: 21-23.

Fourth, God's glory in the praise He receives from His creatures. Glory and praise are often used in Scripture interchangeably. Isaiah 42:8, "I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols."

I summarized the major definitions of the glory of God that Edwards identified in The End for Which God Created the World. Hopefully you will take the time to read Edwards's full treatment of the topic and meditate on the Scriptures that Edwards cites.

(a) J. Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World, as reprinted in God's Passion for His Glory, p. 230
(b) Ibid., p. 235
(c) Ibid., p. 237
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