31 July, 2006

Mansfield Park

My time is divided up this week in enjoying some pear picking, pear selling, hand-binding another book of letters (blessing letters this time for a local Father and his son), typical chores of laundry, tidying, and dinner, and finally reading Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. I have the Norton Critical edition, because I like reading all the extra notes, insights, and criticisms. This edition is among the set of Norton Critical edition Austen novels that Hubby read for his Jane Austen graduate class.

I know, I know...school starts soon and I have so many other things I need to be doing...

But this is so enjoyable...SIGH...

28 July, 2006

A Hidden Manna

While planning our next homeschool term and working out Jr. High and High School Spanish 1 lessons for our homeschool co-op this fall, a devotion from Thomas à Kempis showed up in my inbox. As usual, it is God's reminder to me in His perfect timing to keep the importance of knowledge and intelligence in perspective.

à Kempis quotes:

"The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna."

"I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?"

"Every man naturally desires knowledge, but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars."

"Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise."

"Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God."

"The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance."

God bless you all as fall approaches, and you work up the plans for your family and school time!


25 July, 2006

Thought provoking articles

I read a most fascinating article in Christianity Today online magazine last week that gave me plenty to think about. It is titled "We Risk Not Just Suffering, But Annihilation." The author, David Gushee, is responding to another essay written by the dean of admissions at a theological seminary in Lebanon. It is titled "Evangelical Blindness in Lebanon." These articles link to several others worth your time to read. I recommend it. I think they are very important to consider.

My own dear husband has been trying to share similar sentiments with me in the past week plus that Israel and Leb... Correction: Hezbollah have been bombing each other. I just didn't have much wisdom to offer up an opinion on the matters, which are not at all new problems. They are older than my own country, more to the point, the problems are as old as the Ancient World!! So why should I think the matters can be solved quickly? It doesn't mean that I shouldn't care or pray for peace in the Middle East...for ALL of the Middle East. I must be still and know that God is God; that He is in control.

Hubby sent me this in an e-mail today, and it is very timely. I know there are pretty much always wars and rumors...but it's message is simple. Be careful what you pray for...

“The War Prayer” by Mark Twain (1904)

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism…the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.
It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came—next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams—visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!—then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation—“God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!”

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory—

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there, waiting.

With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,”Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside—which the startled minister did—and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said

I come from the Throne-bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import—that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of-except he pause and think.

God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two—one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this—keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

You have heard your servant’s prayer—the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it—that part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory—must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle—be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it—for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause)

Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits.

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said."

21 July, 2006

Friday Happenings

Art camp finished up today, and I had the help of our 13 son and 15 yo daughter. Dd and I went to the mall to try on jeans and earn a free movie ticket, so we could have "girl time" together. I've missed her, since she was gone for two weeks to Minnesota!

We went to see "The Lakehouse," which is light, surprisingly good, and very clean! Just don't analyze any "time" problems too deeply. Just enjoy. There are a couple of wordly issues that provide for good discussion, but it is still an enjoyable movie. Quite a few literary and artistic references and connections are made, and that provides a little depth to the developing characters.

Afterwards, we visited a friend at the mall Starbucks and she made us free drinks!
What a treat! And free, to boot...except for the gasoline it took to get there. We were already in town and had several other errands to run, so we really saved there, as well.

I hope my readers are having a wonderful summer!

Go see "The Lakehouse" with your teen daughters or friends and tell me what you thought about it.

17 July, 2006

Art Camp and 300th post

Wow! The 300th post! And it is about Art Camp. Much of my family and I are teaching and helping in a local art camp this week. Our youngest is the only one who gets to participate as a student.

been given one of the three year old classes, which is quite hectic! Most all of them are just plain cute and calm (but they ARE still three-year-olds!), so it makes it fun. The ratio of boys to girls is nine to three. That's the tough part. I wish there was more of me to go around, when it comes project time, since I can only help one or two little ones at a time. They made such a fun mess while painting today. Dear Hubby, the Pirate Sparsebeard, was my assistant, but he can only help this one day. We were happy to be in the large choir room, which had an auto harp and a recorder. Hubs took it upon himself to play musical silly songs or Bible songs in between activites, and that helped corral the kiddos a lot. I'm off to bed to get some good sleep. Need all the energy and rest that I can get!

12 July, 2006

Project Completed!

This looks smaller than it is (Optical illusion of the angle). It's finished size is 8.75 x 11.25

11 July, 2006

Handmade book of letters

...For my nephew in Iraq. Letters and notes were contributed by all of the family members who were at our

home for Independence Day, including his parents and two sisters. I hand-bound them and made them into a hardback, cloth-covered book. (click to enlarge)

(Endpaper and front flyleaf)
I am adding in a few stamped illustrations, and still need to make a title label for the front of the book, but it's almost finished!

Pictures from the fourth

This is our third born. We call him Audubon, because he has thoughts of being a park ranger, and loves the outdoors. It started out sunny and beautiful on Independence Day...really!

This is my brother, the boat captain. He is fourth in line in my family, three years older than me.

The clouds rolled in from all sides, so that it was hard to tell where the storms were coming from. We, and dozens of other boats, headed across the lake where the sky was the clearest, for safe harbor until some of the storm passed.

To the left is one of our kiddos - Androcles is hanging on to the front of the boat with his cousin, the boat captain's son. You can see that they are "best buds". Then there's one niece's boyfriend, and behind him is another niece with her friend.

The ominous skies. It was raining too much after we turned around and left our safe harbor to head back home. It poured on us the last 30 minutes or so, so that the camera had to be put safely away under the seat storage area, where we were all wrapped in towels to stay warm. There were 14 of us on the boat, you just can't tell from these photos!

07 July, 2006

family traveling & other happenings

Our dear daughter, aged 15, flew up to Minnesota to visit a good friend for almost exactly two weeks. She also has an opportunity to go on this year's Photo Safari with hubby's school's photography teacher to New Mexico. She will be surprised by that offer. I hope she takes it!

17 yo AnselAdams is on a photography shoot today with a local Christian Company, photographing some of their new evangelical products.

Soon, AA will also be helping with the videography (as an intern) for the Winston Solar Car Challenge again this summer.

I've been finishing up my nephew in Iraq's book of notes from family, and saw some friends who stopped by on various errands both yesterday and today.

My new Stampin' Up stamps came in yesterday, and I've cut and mounted them all. I love using them!!

The summer is going too quickly. I have some Spanish class planning that I really need to work on...and soon! I feel ready for the junior high class, but need to totally revamp the Freshman level course to fit the curriculum into two ten week sessions.

What are my readers up to this summer? Have any big projects or trips planned?


04 July, 2006

Blessed Independence Day!

Happy July Fourth, to all of my stateside friends. I have plenty that I could post about our day with family today, but it will have to wait. Our fourth was a day of adventure getting caught in the rain on a huge lake in our brother's boat. Then, we had an evening of silly fun with my three brothers and some of their kids (two out of three or four of their grown kids each, plus one of their grandkids :-) here at our cottage.

In the meantime, I am filled with thoughts and prayers for my nephew (who could not be with us, as he is in Iraq) and all our troups overseas. We will be sending him candy and other goodies, handmade cards and greetings that we all wrote up for him tonight. I made a short family video which includes all of us singing silly songs, complete with a family sing-along of a song written by my Hubster years ago; one that he sang to each niece and nephew when they were little. Now they are teaching it to their own children! The video also includes a snippet from one of his little sisters' birthday...she turned 17 this week, so we had a cake for her, complete with candles, and sang the Birthday song (in four-part harmony--grin).

Goodnight, friends, and thank the Lord for our many blessings. Pray for the troops and their families.


02 July, 2006

Ambleside Tuesday chats!

I miss the chats we used to be able to have on Yahoo on Tuesday nights. The only thing better than that is meeting with some of these likeminded moms in real life and have a Charlotte Mason or Ambleside Online Book Club! I'm blessed to have that locally. The group has been going on for at least three, maybe four years, now. There is turnover just about every year, as ladies get comfortable with using Charlotte Mason principles in their homeschools. This year's group, however, is more specialized and into the Ambleside Online curriculum. We are now digging deeper, and for that, I am grateful and excited! It shows growth and depth in those hs moms who want to read Charlotte's thoughts and recommendations for themselves...to dig for the treasure on their own, not just read someone else's [often light or incomplete] interpretations of CM's methodologies.
There is something to digging for the information on one's own, and taking it to heart. Charlotte would approve, and called it "The Science of Relations." We can better allow our children to learn this way if we seek to learn this way ourselves.

My group meets once a month to read the Charlotte's own writing, and are currently in Volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education.

This past Saturday, we had an extra meeting. We usually meet at Starbuck's. This time, most all the book club ladies came over to my cottage, so we could talk some more about chapter 10 "The Curriculum," and look at CM books and Ambleside Online recommended books. I should have taken a few pictures, but we were all too busy chatting, drinking homemade cappuccino, sharing, perusing the beautiful and quality literature, and talking some of scheduling multiple levels of children. One last friend stayed so we could look up books together online.

We must do this again, and soon. We spent up to six hours together, and could have continued through the night. Some wanted to have a retreat! Sounds profitable :-). I may give it a try!
We'll need plenty of coffee, printer paper, notebooks to write our ideas down, and a copy machine.

I suspect more poetry reading is in order next time. One mom read aloud an example of a composition for a test, written as a poem, by a 13 yo girl. it is found on page 167-68 of volume 6.
Yes, we needed more time, and perhaps a better schedule for keeping rabbit trails to a minimum. It's just refreshing to fellowship sometimes, though we may lose track and not use our time as wisely as we could.

Next time will be broken down into "subject" increments a little better, and questions will need to wait till the end :-). I'll type up an outline for myself, to keep myself (and the group) focused. I don't want it to be too rigid, but not too relaxed and "anything goes" either.

Alright, off to bed, it's going to be a fun week of celebration and extended family in town!

~Cleaning the Spine~

Hubster stained my finishing press, and I was able to get started on my latest restoration project this evening, while all four kiddos were at youth worship service.