Monday, August 15, 2016

Weightier and Weightier Questions

I study the Bible to find answers.  I have done so for many years now.

As time has gone by and I have grown in my faith, I find that I often leave my Bible study time without answers, per say, but with weightier and weightier questions that I did not even know to ask until I pondered the text.

This feels deliberate on God's part.

It is as if He leads me in a fascinating conversation over His word and then, when He decides our time is up, He folds His hands and says something like,

"That's all for now. Go. And ponder that further."

Of course, I want to protest, but then He smirks at me and I am comforted.

I know He will not leave me simple-minded.

He will not relent until I understand, truly, and until I can love Him with my whole mind.


The unfolding of your word gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130

Friday, June 24, 2016

Persuasive Prayer

I am working through a persuasive writing curriculum that I will use with my daughter and her classmates next year.  It's a lot of work. And it isn't always fun. But I am doing it because I believe the Lord has called me to do it. I have been trusting that He has a purpose for this material in my life and in my students' lives.

The program is forcing me to think in great depth through various issues. It is also teaching me to organize my arguments and to use logos, ethos, and pathos to move my audience to agree with me and then act.

So, interestingly, now that I am thinking differently about issues and organizing my thoughts, I have come to find I am also praying about issues differently, too.

This morning, I went to God on behalf of some friends who are struggling. I often do pray for people. But this morning, I found myself listing ways that I thought God should work in my friends' lives and then giving reasons to support each of my ideas. My prayer was a lot more organized than before, something the writing program is teaching me to do with my arguments.

My prayers to God were once filled with pathos, meaning I appealed with emotion to God's emotions.  Now, I find that my prayers have more ethos and logos, too.  I find myself appealing to more than God's pity: I also appeal to His character, His authority, His ability, even His own precedent that He has set throughout history and through my own life experiences.

It was only when I got a quick vision of God sitting almost laughing at me that I noticed all this difference in my prayers today.  There He was as the affectionate schoolmaster, proud and delighted that I had taken His lessons to heart.  And there I was as the diligent student, sincere as I have always been, but now more confident, more comfortable, and much more capable of having a conversation my Great Teacher.

And now I begin to see why He has me learning this material in the first place. It is so that I can relate to Him better. Everything He does in my life and in your life is so that you and I will be able to know Him better and better.

I also felt a great sense of certainty that God would answer my prayer for my friends this morning, but I understood that it is not because I am better at persuading Him than I was before, though I think I am getting better at persuasion in general.  He would answer my prayer for the same reason that He has always answered my prayers, and that is because He has the same perfect pathos, ethos, and logos towards me, my friends, and all of mankind that He has always had.  I need only appeal to Him.  His great love, power, and wisdom work out all the rest of the matter in perfect detail.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Adele's Forth Birthday

Adele turned four on Saturday.

Her dad and I knew that we wanted to take her to Build-a-Bear. (We did that for her sister Avril on her forth or fifth birthday and, at that age, it's just the right thing to do for a little girl.)  Build-a-Bear is not the sort of thing we just go and do when we are at the mall and we hardly ever even go to the mall to begin with. So we knew that for Adele, it would be the greatest thing ever.

We also decided to go out to lunch to The Cheesecake Factory, since it is right there at that mall. We asked Adele and she said she wanted cheesecake instead of cupcakes for her birthday dessert. There's no way we'd do both, not now that we look at food so differently.  If she had wanted cupcakes, we would have had to leave The Cheesecake Factory without actually eating cheesecake, and I am just glad we didn't have to face that reality.

We hardly ever go out to a restaurant like The Cheesecake Factory with the kids, the kind where you sit, order from a waiter, and then have to wait for him to bring drinks and different courses and all that. So it was a very novel experience for our kids. They hadn't had much practice, so they got bored and anxious while waiting, but they weren't too disruptive.

When it was time for dessert, they brought Adele her cheesecake with a candle in it and we all sang her "Happy Birthday."  She chose an original with strawberries on top from the case.  We all had a different cheesecake and shared bites. They slices are so big that we brought a ton of cheesecake home and the girls ate on the massive slices for the next two days after lunches and dinners. I think my slice might still be in the fridge. If it is, I'll surprise the girls with it after lunch.

Later that day, we took Adele to Build-a-Bear. She isn't really familiar with any mall or the stores in them, so it was a total surprise to her. We walked her almost to the entrance of the store, then asked her to close her eyes, and then we lead her to the entrance and had her open her eyes right in front of the store.

Her sisters are older and they had figured it all out at that point, but they managed to keep it a secret, thankfully. So it was a really magical moment for Adele. Somehow, she knew just what to do. She ran right in with her sisters and right to the wall of stuffed animals and chose a Toothless dragon from the movie How to Train Your Dragon.  We love those movies, especially the first one.

The stuffed animal was to be her birthday gift and she knew this without our explaining it and she was thrilled.  Again, we don't do this sort of thing as often as we go to the mall, and that is hardly ever, so this was a huge treat and she really appreciated it. Sadly, while filling the stuffed animal with stuffing, the lady asked Adele, "So are you doing anything special on your birthday?"  Adele just stood there confused for a moment, then said, "I don't know." and giggled. (Her dad and I were a little offended by this, but most of all, we are disturbed. How rich and entitled are we as a society that this sort of thing is so commonplace that it's considered too mundane for a birthday??! But off my soapbox...) We also got Toothless a cute leather saddle. And, of course, Toothless came with a birth certificate and a box that Adele has been coloring with markers since we got a home.

Avril still has and cherishes the Rainbow Dash that she got for her birthday a few years ago. The girls found Rainbow Dash's cape and put it on Toothless and now it's his, I guess. He sits with his saddle and cape atop the pile of stuffed animals in their room by day, and at night, he rests under Adele's sweet, little arm.

We are blessed indeed.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Healthier Meal Ideas

Grass fed beef burger on sprouted toast

 Chicken salad on homemade flax buns

Ground turkey with red peppers and squash

Grass fed beef taco salad with "chips" made from sprouted tortillas

Applewood turkey and veggie wraps

Grass fed gyros
 Protein pancakes

Spicy stir fry over brown rice

Grass fed steak and veggies

Eggs and veggies

Egg whites and veggies

Fish and "lazy guacamole" (avocado, onion, garlic, etc.)

More veggies and eggs and sprouted toast

More veggies and eggs

And more

Spicy lentils and eggs

Grass fed meatloaf

Chicken stir fry over cabbage

Chopped fresh veggie wraps with hummus

Salad with hummus instead of dressing

Chicken curry made with coconut and served over quinoa

Chicken chilli

Another veggie and egg dish

Spinach, eggs and one slice of provolone

Tomato, eggs and pesto over toast

Yep. More eggs and vegetables.

Grass fed beef and vegetable stir fry.

Healthy Snacks

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Pattern of God's Truth by Frank E. Gaebelein

I finished this book in only a few hours.

It is full of truth and inspiration on many interesting topics.

And there are at least two portions I plan to share with friends, because I thought of them as I read and I know they will be encouraged or enlightened by the words.

I will include just a few of my favorite quotes below:

"Christianity is a revealed religion, not a human invention."

"The Bible knows no such thing as truth that is merely theoretical; in the Bible the truth is linked to the deed."

"As we under God educate the children, we must be allowing Him to re-educate us."

A good teacher is a "hinge upon which discussion may turn."

Note: This quote is relevant and inspirational to me as I am going to be a Challenge A tutor next year, learning to lead Socratic discussions, etc.

About Jesus, the author says, "The reason those three brief years spent in teaching men, ministering to their needs, and finally dying for them outweigh in influence all the writings of all the philosophers is that in Him men saw once and for all the truth."

"Christian conscience does not always lead to identical decisions."

"Work well done, even as a hobby or recreation, effort expended unselfishly that contributes to a life of effective service of God and fellow man- these belong to God's truth as much as the most carefully planned course in philosophy or Bible."

"What God could do through an Augustine trained in the pagan schools of fourth-century Rome, he can do again in our age."

He also quotes other authors extensively, so now I have two more books, at least, that I want to find and read: Pascal's The Mind of a Geometrician and Poetry as a Means of Grace by Professor Charles Grosvenor Osgood.

But there are other books and authors I am curious about now, too.

As I say, one book always leads to another.

But in this case, one book is leading to more than that!  


Monday, April 4, 2016

Learning Choreography

I have three certifications that require me to learn choreography- Bodypump, Bodycombat, and Group Power.

I've grown wise in my old age and I have learned that any large task like learning choreography is better done in small chunks.

So I usually work on a least one track everyday.

I'll watch the video, read the notes, script it, and/or practice it.

This is actually really fun to me and it's one of my favorite ways to spend my free time.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Group Power Launch

Group Power was launched at the Greater Waterbury YMCA yesterday.

There were three full Group Power classes with over seventy participants and over ten instructors working!

Each class had at least three instructors teaching a few tracks, so it was like a big exercise party- a very intense, but fun day!

I have been given the opportunity to teach Group Power twice a week already, every Monday at 5:30am before the kids are even out of bed, and every Saturday at 9am. These are two times that work great for me as a home educator.

Note: Group Power is very similar to Bodypump which I also teach when I can. They are both sixty minutes, high-rep muscle training, pre choreographed, ten tracks, every muscle group totally fatigued, etc. so I know I love the format already.

Friday, April 1, 2016

If Love Is Like Light - A Poem For My Husband

If love is like light,
And I think it is,
Then you are my sun,
Providing warmth and energy.

If love is like water,
And I think it is,
Then you are the rain:
Consistent, gentle, sometimes fierce, 
Ever satisfying.

If love is like earth,
And I think it is,
You are soil 
Nourishing my growth.

So fortunately situated, I am, 
Roots deep in the heart of a virtuous man.

The strength in my frame,
The life in my limbs,
The fruit that I bear and have to give,
All testify to your great love for me.

Dear you are to me. 
And dear you are to God, too, 
I believe. 
For He tells husbands to love wives
As their own flesh.
And so you do.

Therefore, God and I both, 
Adore and honor you.   

-Veronica Boulden

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Math and Eternity

I have been working through a math textbook.

I am actually beginning to enjoy it.

I will even choose to do some math when I have free time!

Something about doing math is (almost) calming now.

It was a source of grief and anxiety when I was young, the fodder for nightmares even after finishing college.

There I was back in Mrs. White's class and I hadn't done my homework or I wasn't ready for the test...

I used to think I wasn't good at math.

Now I begin to see that it was less about me.

I didn't have the space and time I needed to pursue it.

The television was always on.

The kitchen table was always cluttered.

I didn't have the reason to.

I was only doing it to pass, to get on to the next class so I could pass it, too.

A lot of things were like that.

There was a lot of doing, but always missing the point.

There was learning without understanding.

I never considered doing math for its own sake.

Now I really just want to know.

I still make mistakes and I still come across things I don't understand, but these situations aren't frightening like they were where in school.

I think this is because now I know that I have all the time in the world, even into eternity, to understand what I don't understand yet.

So I am just enjoying the pursuit of understanding.

That's the thing about honestly believing that you are going to live forever.

The promise works on you in ways you never imagined it would.

For God so loved the world... 

It changes the way you think, the way you live, the way you use your time.

that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes...

That belief in eternity makes you brave enough to start things you may never finish in this life.

So why not begin to learn math?

Why not begin to learn anything?

You have forever to figure it out.

And nothing you gain will be lost to the grave.

will not perish...

I am not afraid now to begin searching for the hidden joys in difficult and mundane tasks.

I'm not afraid to forego fleeting pleasures.

I have infinite time to feel joy, infinite time to pursue worthwhile things.

...but have everlasting life. 

So here I go, slowly, slowly...

learning math and doing every other good thing into infinity.