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, August 26, 2010

Build a Better Vocabulary . . .

. . . Read Ivanhoe. 

"The outward appearance of these two men formed scarce a stronger contrast than their look and demeanour. That of the serf, or bondsman, was sad and sullen; his aspect was bent on the ground with an appearance of deep dejection, which might be almost construed into apathy, had not the fire which occasionally sparkled in his red eye manifested that there slumbered, under the appearance of sullen despondency, a sense of oppression, and a disposition to resistance. The looks of Wamba, on the other hand, indicated, as usual with his class, a sort of vacant curiosity, and fidgetty impatience with any posture of repose, together with the utmost self-satisfaction respecting his own situation, and the appearance which he made."
I read aloud Chapter One of Ivanhoe yesterday to Sydney and Hope as we were settled on a blanket under the shade tree in our backyard. Scott's descriptive writing, a style decidedly out of vogue, gave us plenty of vocabulary words to discuss!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pursuit of God

"You have said, 'Seek my face.'
My heart says to you,
'Your face, LORD, do I seek.'
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.
Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path because of my enemies."

Psalm 27:8-11
"David does not envisage his relation with God as something static, but as his lifelong pursuit. Moreover, he understands that his pursuit simultaneously shapes him. If he seeks God's face as he ought (27:8), if he begs for mercy so that God will deal with him in compassion and not in wrath (27:9-10), then he will also earn God's ways and walk in a straight path (27:11). This cannot be said too strongly or too often: to claim that one is pursuing God without concomitant reformation of life and growing conformity to the ways of God is wicked and dangerous nonsense.
D. A. Carson,  For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word, Vol. 2 (Kindle Edition)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Man and Wife for Fifteen Years

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Edwards!

Our wedding verse was Philippians 1:6
"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

I'm so grateful to God for His grace that has abounded in our marriage, bringing us closer to Christ and therefore to each other, just as the minister described in our wedding sermon.

Even in our best hopes we couldn't imagine on that wedding day fifteen years ago what God had in store for us. Isn't that just how God works? There have been joys and sorrows, easy times and hard, but every moment has been full of His grace.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Butcher, Baker, Microwave-Maker

Our dinner conversation the other night drifted toward the origin of English surnames that are trade names. You know, like "Smith," "Miller," "Cooper," or "Wainwright."

We ended up brainstorming as many trade-surnames that we could think of.

Taylor, sawyer, fisher, farmer, potter, and so on. Considering that we didn't stop and consult Google, we did pretty well.

Toby was eager to join in. He leaned over toward me and whispered,

"Mom. What do you call a 'microwave-builder'?"

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Belief Begets Obedience or Obedience Begets Faith?

"The truth is that so long as we hold both sides of the proposition together they contain nothing inconsistent with right belief, but as soon as one is divorced from the other, it is bound to prove a stumbling-block. 'Only those who believe obey' is what we say to that part of a believer's soul which obeys, and 'only those who obey believe" is what we say to that part of the soul of the obedient which believes. If the first half of the proposition stands alone, the believer is exposed to the danger of cheap grace, which is another word for damnation. If the second half stands alone, the believer is exposed to the danger of salvation through works, which is also another word for damnation."
Deitrich Bonhoffer in The Cost of Discipleship

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Edwards Academy is back in session

Come August, every mother in America has one thing running through her mind: "I can't wait until school starts!"
The glorious free-for-all that is summertime, the release from routine that tasted so good in May, has lost its appeal. Although our kids claim they could go on forever living like Tom Sawyer with shoes off, bedtimes forgotten, imaginations running with abandon, and, well, unlike Tom, more afternoon movie times, the fact is that the utility of these things has diminished.

Most mothers are counting down until the school bus comes barreling down their street (why do those leviathans go so fast through quiet neighborhoods?), bringing relief from the cries of "What can I do, Mom?" that assault them throughout the day. Homeschooling moms, however, look for relief in different quarters.

We re-sharpen our pencils, re-work our planners, re-think our curriculum, and re-order our schedule. Then we blog about it.

We started last school year with such enthusiasm and promise, just as we do every August, but since I ended up spending the nine months of school pregnant, the year turned out to be one of survival. Hopefully this year will be all I hope it to be.

Here's the plan:

Tapestry of Grace Year 2: Between Ancient and Modern. This is my sixth year of teaching with Tapestry of Grace and I love it. I'm still sad that it hasn't caught on with a bigger following in my area (although on the other hand, if it did the library books might be harder to come by!). TOG scares people because it seems so overwhelming. Actually, though, once you find your rhythm, it is a very helpful, highly flexible guide into imparting a high-quality classical education.

Although we haven't hit high school yet, TOG has some of the best resources I've seen for helping moms to continue pursuing a classical education for the high schooler and figure out how to translate that into credits and transcripts that make sense to college admissions offices.

Here's my back-to-school post from last year. Great links there for making Tapestry of Grace workbooks and teaching planners.

Truth Treasure Hunters. Our little group languished last year, a victim of my pregnancy, but we are re-starting the group this year. Our three families plan to meet nearly every Monday afternoon with three specific objectives: hold a history/literature discussion for the older students, provide a time to share TOG work with peers, and tackle a hands-on activity.

A great feature of TOG is the teacher-led discussion that is provided in the teacher's notes for each week. No mother has time to read all that their students are reading, but TOG gives you the right Socratic questions to ask--with the right answers to listen for. Although this can be done with one student, it is more rewarding for moms and kids with three families in the mix.

Another benefit of joining with other TOG families is the unit celebration. TOG encourages that at the end of each school quarter a thematic celebration is held. Grandparents are invited, work is displayed, presentations are made, and the accomplishments are celebrated.

Classical Conversations. I'm not sure if we are crazy to try this in addition to Tapestry of Grace, but this year we are participating in our local Classical Conversations community. CC has a very structured program for grammar students which centers on memorizing the "grammar" of key subjects: history, geography, math, science, English, and Latin. In addition to the memory work, students do a science experiment and a fine arts activity each week.

CC's content isn't rocket science, but appeals because it is organized for you and the structure keeps you on track. Yes, you can do it all on your own, but would you?

Other Subjects. We're sticking with the usual (see my homeroom resources in the side bar) for our other subjects. The only real change here is switching Hope and Sydney (5th grade) to Saxon Math. After trial and error over the years, I've decided that for our family Horizons is the right choice for the lower elementary years and Saxon is best for the upper elementary years. I owe Math U See, however, for its wonderful method of teaching place value.

Bible Study Fellowship. This year our whole family will be attending BSF! I'm switching to a day class in order to take Toby and Lydia to the preschool program. Our school aged kids will go with Mr. Edwards in the evening. BSF is an important part of our daily routine, as the kids complete their BSF Bible study each morning.

AWANA. We still love AWANA.

Preschool. Toby, who is four, is starting preschool three days a week at Grandma's house. Poor Toby has endured a tough year in which his mother has been hopelessly distracted by pregnancy, homeschooling older siblings, and caring for a new baby. He needs structure and routine and accountability and will finally be getting it! Thank you, Grandma!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Can "the Y" make good on its mission to change lives for the better after dumping the "C"? Check out the "Houses of Worship" piece in the WSJ this weekend.
. . . The Y's new key areas of focus—youth development, healthy living and social responsibility—are no different from the ones YMCA founder Sir George Williams set out to address when he founded the first chapter in London in 1844. What is missing today is the original mission's answer to these needs: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. . .

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tackling Tough Theology--on Vacation

While at family camp, Mr. Edwards and I enjoyed a theological group discussion about the doctrine of election and man's will. The following resource list is adapted from an email I wrote to the discussion participants following up with some helpful resources on this topic.

The Sovereignty of God by Arthur W. Pink (1930). This slim book tackles the big issues related to God's sovereignty in election and in (gulp!) reprobation. (Reprobation is the flip side of the election coin, that is, that God has ordained some to be lost, as he did Judas.) Pink doesn't shy away from any of the hard verses, handles the issue of evangelism (the Gospel must be proclaimed), and even addresses the two most Arminian verses: John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2 (both of which were mentioned in our conversation at camp).

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer (1961). Another slim book packed with good stuff. Packer explains why it is an error to conclude that God's sovereignty in salvation makes evangelism meaningless. My understanding is that Billy Graham had this book and made all sort of notes in the margins. (According to Josh Harris.) 

Spurgeon's Sermons on Jesus and the Holy Spirit  by Charles H. Spurgeon (1865). The sermon "The Holy Spirit compared to the Wind" on John 3:8 ("The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.") is not available to read online, but is included in this collection. It is sermon # 630 if you have access to another Spurgeon collection. 

John Piper also preached on John 3:8, "The Free Will of the Wind," and my link will take you to a transcript and to the audio.

John Piper has also preached on John 3:16 "God So Loved the World, Part 1" and "God So Loved the World, Part 2" . You can read the sermons or listen. It is the second sermon, Part 2, that includes the classic quote from D. L. Moody (John Piper speaking in the quote below):

My father, who was a great evangelist who led more people to Christ than I ever will, used to quote D. L. Moody like this: Written on the outside of the gate of heaven are the words, “Whosoever will may come.” And on the other side of that gate, which you can read from the inside, is written: “Chosen before the foundation of the world.”

Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology podcast. If you'd rather listen than read, this podcast of Grudem teaching a Sunday School class systematic theology is excellent. There are dozens of lectures here, but the three most related to this issue are "Doctrine of Election and Reprobation Part 1 & 2" and "The Gospel Call and Effectual Call" and "Doctrine of Regeneration." Grudem would probably be described as "reformed" but he does a good job of presenting all the views, I think.

I think it is also helpful to keep in mind that the "Calvinists" or "Reformed" people that you meet are not all the same. Some are paedobaptists (infant baptizers who follow a covenant theology that influences their views of the spiritual formation of children--this would be R.C.Sproul, for instance, but not John Piper) and some are postmillenialists (as was John Calvin; today Douglas Wilson is a vocal proponent, but again, not Piper who is pre-mill). 

If you are interested in a more philosophic treatment of the free will-predestination tension, Jonathan Edwards is probably the best resource. Edwards's essay "The Freedom of the Will" (1754) is a difficult read, but makes the argument through philosophy as well as Scripture that God is sovereign over our will. Another fantastic and somewhat easier read from Edwards is "The End For Which God Created the World" which is included in its entirety in John Piper's book "God's Passion for His Glory", a book that you can download for free online. This book is not about TULIP, per se, but shows that God's creation exists for His glory. (TULIP would be the short-hand for the "five points" of Calvinism, explained by John Piper in this article.)

For my blog readers, I've mentioned some of these resources before and you may remember these posts quoting Spurgeonthese posts mentioning Jonathan Edwards's writing, and this post recommending Grudem's podcasts.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Buried With Him in Baptism...

...Raised to live a new life!

This week, at our annual trip to family camp, Hope and Sydney were baptized.  It is thrilling to see the work of God's grace in their lives, as they testify to their faith in Jesus Christ in baptism. Pastor Frank led the ceremony as Mr. Edwards had the great privilege of baptizing each of our daughters.

Four other believers were also baptized that afternoon! God is good.
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