Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him."

I read this today and wondered if Michal looked at David like some fundamental Christians look at Charismatics.

I was also challenged by a portion of David's reply to Michal when she mocked him:

"Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!"

I had to admit that I am not sure I am willing to respond to God in worship to the extent that I am humiliated with myself when I look back on the occasion. In fact, I barely have enough courage to raise my hands in worship for fear that I will look foolish to anyone who sees me.

This brings a memory to mind. I was in church and this song was sang near the very beginning of the service. A man, so moved by the Holy Spirit upon hearing the words, "There is a fountain who is a king!" ran to the altar, collapsed there in complete surrender to God and there he stayed and wept and sang and worshiped until the song was over. But, when he got up and saw the rest of the congregation still in their chairs, stiff and visibly offended by the liberties he had taken, he got embarrassed by himself and skulked back to his seat in humility and shame.

It was not uncommon near the end of a church service for people to move to the altar and bow there before God and even cry... a little, but what that man did was totally unanticipated and he made everyone else very uncomfortable. Yet, what he did was also very appropriate in light of what David did in the passage I read today and when I consider the response God deserves from me in worship because of all He is and does.

I'm not sure I can worship God the way He deserves to be worshiped... yet, but I am beginning to want to.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Even her?"

"Yes even you."

"And even him?"

"Yes. Even you, too."

"That's not what I'm asking, Lord.
The cheats, murderers, liars, thieves...
Even they can come to you?"

"The answer and the question remain the same.
If I saw fit to forgive you, I ought to forgive them, too."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Norah and I were doing a quick phonics test in the living room this afternoon. And, as you can see, Avril doesn't make school easy on us these days.
I took the girls to The Jump Zone today, the same place where Norah celebrated her birthday party last year. It's been cold and raining for several days straight so we really needed to get out of the house and get some real exercise. Here are some photos I took with my cell phone while we took a break to drink some juices and waters.

Side note that I am sharing here so I will never forget it:

I called my dad a few moments ago. He and my mom had turned in for the night. He answered quickly (for him) and sounded worried because I was calling so late. (Actually, I just knew he would answer. He may not answer when I call at two in the afternoon and he's napping... but if I call at 1 a.m., I know he'll answer out of concern that something's wrong.) I told him about an old friend who I grew up with and how she may have to say goodbye to her dad tomorrow. I said all the things that were on my heart, all the things he really deserves to hear before it's too late. I also got to talk to my mom and tell her how much I love her, too.

Eventually, the conversation turned to more casual topics, naturally, and I heard my dad mumble, "Pictures..." in the background. (The fact that I don't post enough photos is a standard complaint with him... even if I am posting several dozen photos on the blog every single week. To him, there's never enough photos. But, that is really just what a grandpa ought to think, if you think about it.)

I told my mom to tell him I'd put some up before I went to bed tonight. That's why I wrote this post to begin with... But, when my dad heard that I was going to do this, I heard him say something like, "Oh no! You read your Bible... I don't want the devil on me! ...I don't want no hex on me!" My mom and I laughed so hard at this (mostly because we both realized that even though he was joking, from the tone of his voice, he may also have been half serious.)

I appreciate the fact that my dad doesn't want to get in between me and my vows to the Lord. But, I think God totally understands a father's love and a grandfather's pride and joy.

And to those of you reading this who haven't called your parents in a while:

You should call them, even if it is awkward and painful. And you should keep calling until it's less awkward and painful... You will be glad you did.

My parents would be the first to tell you that they weren't perfect. I have as much reason to be bitter with them as any child that I've ever heard of has to be bitter with their parents. (Very few of us have as much reason to be bitter as the bitterness in us leads us to believe we have.) But, I don't think God looks at a broken heart and a broken family and says, "Wow. I totally understand why you don't like them and why you never want to deal with them again... That's so broken, I can't fix it." I think He says something more along the lines of, "You are hurt. Let me fix that. And then let me restore you and your family to each other as well."

I love you, Dad and Mom. You did well with me. So, you can put your hearts to rest and stop worrying about what you didn't do... Take pride in me and your grand kids, too. I take pride in you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It can sometimes sound like we hate teachers, or hate the public school, or hate the system, etc.  But its not true.  We do not hate any of those.  We do think the system is broken, and public schools in general do not do a good job of teaching kids, and that most teachers want a better system, and want kids to do well, and think they are doing the best job possible and training the kids in our society, and frankly, many are.

Teaching is a tough and important career.  It is a career that has its challenges, but is also rather rewarding.  You do get the opportunity to influence children for the better, and for that it should be praised.

So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a lady sitting at the mall tonight in the food court with this sign propped up by a paperback novel.

(Sign says, I am a teacher.  This is how I spend my evenings. Please ask me what I am doing.)
I had to ask.  "What are you doing?
"I'm reading this book, in the evening." was her reply.
"See some people do not realize what we have to do to keep up."
"Uh-huh," a little lost for words. Fortunately, she was not.
"I'm reading this book because, well, actually I'm in Naugatuck, so I am already done, but I will likely teach this book next year, so I am reading it now to prepare."
"So, you're just raising awareness...?" was all I could come up with.
"Yea! Raising awareness."
"...that its a tough job, teaching."

At this point I walked away, got about 15 feet, and did an about face.  I asked if I could take a picture of her sign and that I would write a blog post.  She seemed to not know what that was, but said something about helping get the word out.  Here is my getting the word out.

Teaching is hard.  So is painting, or hanging drywall, or selling used cars, or being a real estate agent, or just about any other job one can possibly have.  Some jobs are harder than others.  Mostly those revolve around jobs you have to think.  Like, say, teaching.  How stupidly arrogant of someone to sit in the mall asking people to have pity on her because her job asks her to do prep work at night, while at the same time, openly admitting that she is already on break, and preping for next years courses.

Are you kidding me?  You want me to feel sorry for you because you have a salaried position that pays well in CT, gives you government benefits, has extended time off during breaks, a ridiculously pro-teacher union with negotiated salary increases every year, and a 20 year and your done retirement plan, but expects you to read in the evening?  Really?

I so badly wanted to go home, make my own sign.  it should read:
"I am a father, an engineer full time, and a freelance software developer.  This is how I spend my evenings.  Please ask me what I am doing." I'll sit there with my laptop open, and I'll reply with, not spending time with my kids because I have to hold multiple jobs to pay the bills because our horrific economy has made it so most private industry has not been able to do salary increases in 3 years even though gas and milk are both over $4/gallon.

Or, perhaps I could get the 45 year old "retired" teacher to sit at the mall in the middle of the afternoon with his own sign.  "I am a retired teacher.  This is how I spend all day.  Please ask me what I am doing."  When asked, he can respond with, "living high off the taxpayers money for the next 40-50 years."

The worst part is we have raised a bunch of pansies who would feel bad for this woman simply because she is a teacher.  Noone else feels sympathy for any other person in any other career.  Perhaps the military, which is actually tough being away from your family and shoved in a hell hole of another country, or worse, a Navy vessel. Perhaps even a policeman who deserves a bit of sympathy for the crap they put up with.  But I have never seen a soldier or a cop sitting in the mall asking people to feel sorry for them.  Teachers have a tough job.  So do I.  So do a lot of Americans, and quite frankly, teachers have it better than most of us.

If you do not like the career you are in, go change it, or suck it up and be grateful for the job you have.  Either way, do not be so self-absorbed as to think it is okay to go to the mall with a sign and throw yourself a pity party.

I need to go back to writing code now.  Feel sorry for me.
Dwayne said the store called and my camera is in. Ha! Figures! I found some measure of comfort in knowing that it wouldn't ready till I was ready for it. But, now it's not so easy. I have decided I will not go get it until I am caught up with my Bible reading. I will not. I will not. I will not. The Bible says, "Make no provision for the flesh." And, I think that applies to this situation. I am not going to make it harder on myself by having my new camera within reach. Are you crazy??!! Even I know my limits! So, my camera can wait at the store. Do you think I can finish 25 days worth of reading in one night? I guess we will see.

I'm brewing the coffee now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I have 25 days worth of Bible reading left to catch up on. I have 5 days till I am supposed to get my new camera. If I average 5 days worth of Bible reading everyday for the next 5 days, I will finish just in time to start blogging again with the help of my new camera. I have read just about as much as I could read everyday since I made the decision to use my blog time to try and catch up on my Bible reading. So, I am not the least bit surprised that my camera will end up coming right when I am finished fulfilling this promise to the Lord.

God smiles at me through these kinds of coincidences constantly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I have 32 days of reading left before I catch up. I really slowed down my pace this week. But, I am trying to press on.

I haven't gotten my new camera yet, so I can't really take nice pictures anyway. It has been ordered, paid for and is supposed to be at the store on the 22nd. So, I am hoping I will be caught up with my reading and free to blog again by the time I have a nice, new camera to use again.

(I love you, Dad. I've been calling you, but you don't answer. I think you should give me a call tomorrow evening.)

Here's a picture of Norah that Dwayne took with his cell phone when he went to pick her up from Sunday School last week.

The Presence
of our Lord
will heal you
or crush you,
comfort you
or terrify you.
You will draw near
or flee.
Our Lord remains the same
and yet all this is true.
The only difference then
is you.

-Veronica Boulden
Your promise I cling to:
that if you teach me
(and I let you)
then I'll be like you.

-Veronica Boulden

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Make that 44 days worth of reading left.
As of right now, I have 49 days worth of reading left before I catch up on my Bible reading for this year and then I will be back on track to read the Bible in a year. (If you are just tuning in, I had fallen more than three months behind schedule and I decided not to blog everyday like I had always done until I caught up.)

Every day, I start with my reading for that morning (so that I don't fall even farther behind) and then I try to read at least a day or two more of reading before I start the day and then I try to read a few more days throughout the day and in the evening.

This is one of the hardest things I've ever done since I love to blog and know I have to neglect a promise of a picture a day to my dad to get it done.

But, I won't give up till I catch up.

You may think I'm nuts, but I was sure God asked me to do this. I wasn't sure why, but I was also sure I couldn't tell God, "No."

Perhaps you feel like there's some little thing the Lord is asking of you...

Whatever it is, my advice is to do it. When it comes to what the Lord asks of us, there really are no such things as "little things" anyway.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I have 68 days worth of Bible reading left to do before I can blog again. This is down from 80 days worth of reading two days ago, down from more than 100 days of reading two days before that. So, I am making progress. If I keep up the pace, I should be done in about a week.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dwayne's parents just emailed some pictures they took of the girls while they watched them so he and I could go on our 10th anniversary cruise. Here are a few of my favorites.

I know it's less than twenty four hours after I said I wouldn't blog again till I caught up with my Bible reading. Don't judge me! I'm thinking only of my poor father here. ;)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I've decided I'm not going to blog again until I've caught up on my Bible reading for this year.

You may remember that I am trying to read the Bible through in one year. You may also remember that I am three months behind at this point.

Hopefully, this won't mean that I'll never blog again. (If it meant that, I really don't think I'd even make this commitment because I really enjoy blogging.) But I am feeling driven to dedicate the free time I usually spend blogging for the next week or two to reading in my Bible in hopes that I can catch up. If I never blog again, well... you'll know why and you can laugh at me... or shake your head at my shame.

But, here's hoping this commitment lights a Bible-reading fire under my butt.

Note: I am not forgetting how often some of you read my blog and how my dad enjoys seeing pictures of his grand kids, etc. In fact, that is utmost in my mind and I believe it will help me stay motivated to read as much as I can everyday so that I can get back to my blog soon.

For my dad's sake, I think I may post a photo or two in the meantime. But, that leads me to another point. My good camera is broken again... and it's in the shop again.

I'm really hard on cameras. What can I say? Thank God for the warranties we buy. We only had the camera back for a few weeks before I did it in this time.

And, I don't know if you've noticed how foggy and dark my recent pictures have been on the last few posts... But, I'm using my old point and shoot that we keep in the junk drawer. It keeps malfunctioning, too, because it's so old, so for that reason, I am not taking very many pictures of the kids right now anyway, making it an ideal time for me to do this.

Maybe God is allowing my cameras to break/ malfunction so that I will more easily obey his Holy Spirit and do less blogging and more reading. He is jealous for us.

Maybe I will be done with all the Bible reading by the time my good camera is fixed and returned to me.

And maybe you all could pray for me.

This could be a painfully long separation.

But, I don't want it to be, so pray for me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I found this list of "attainments" (goals or achievements) that a student should reach by the time she is six. (There's also a list for a twelve year old.) These lists were written by Charlotte Mason way back in the day. I got some ideas from them. For example, I have been considering starting foreign language with Norah, but I am not sure how serious a study we can attempt at this point. I'm not sure what's reasonable to expect from a six year old. But, I believe Norah can memorize some Spanish vocabulary, a song or two and some phrases by the time she's seven. At the very least, it would be a good place to begin.

I try and use our globe as often as possible. I do this because I am way too ignorant about geography and because I do not want to remain that way and because I do not want Norah to grow up as ignorant as I was.

So, anytime a location comes up in conversation or in news or in our study of history, I try and find it on the globe. I do this no matter how inconvenient it is at the time. This means I feel like I am always stopping what I am doing and pulling the globe off the shelf. And it means that the globe I paid $60 for is getting used (abused), but at least it isn't just collecting dust on the shelf, right?

A few days ago, for example, we read about the first Sumerian dictator and the Akkadian empire he created by conquering all the city-states. We even colored a map of that area in history. We made it a point find that area on the globe and saw that Akkadia is now the current day countries of Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Till then, I had never realized the Tigris and Euphrates were connected to the Persian Gulf.

When we read stories from the Arabian nights the next day, the book said that the Arabian empire once stretched "...across northern Africa, the Middle East and all the way into India..." We found all of those places on the map and I realized that Saudi Arabia is about as far from India as our east coast is from our west. I hadn't realized they were so close together.

Sometimes I hear home schoolers complain, worry, express the fact that they need a separate geography curriculum, but this need may be resolved by simply using the globe as often as a new location comes up in all your other subjects.

Monday, May 2, 2011

From South Carolina, we went to Florida. We stayed the night with Dwayne's mom and dad, but we left the very next morning to meet the boat for our 10th anniversary cruise. The girls stayed with Dwayne's parents while we were gone.

This was a view of our ship, the Monarch of the Seas, from the little boat that shuttled us to and from the island. Our first stop was Coco Kay.

The deep water in the Caribbean is the brightest turquoise.

The shallow water we swam in (and by "shallow" I mean as deep as 45 feet) is perfectly clear.

This is the view as I relaxed my head back on my lounge chair. We spent the whole morning at Coco Kay snorkeling, then we pigged out on BBQ ribs, chicken, fresh vegetable and fruit salads, then we relaxed in the dappled shade with our paperbacks for a few minutes until we snorkeled again in the afternoon. At the end of the day, we were totally exhausted and content (and sunburned).

I didn't get any underwater photos, since I don't have an underwater camera and I didn't want to spend money on one. I don't think I can even describe how wonderful it all was. We'd be in three feet of warm water trying not kick too hard, else our knees might brush against the colorful (and sometimes poisonous) coral and then almost all at once the ocean bottom would drop out from below us and we could see all the way as deep as 45 feet and the water there would be shockingly cool. The bottom was covered in bright corals, at times, or white sands or even in long, waving, green grass, as far the eye could see. And, tropical fish were everywhere!!! sometimes swimming alone, sometimes in a group of a thousand or more of the same kind together. They'd come close enough to touch you, but they would never let you touch them.

I hope I never forget how magical it was. And I hope I get the chance to do it again.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

On the way home from Cypress Gardens, I pulled over and bought some boiled peanuts from a road side vendor. (Don't judge me. Like hot dogs in the north, boiled peanuts in the south are only really ever sold by street vendors.) Norah and Avril had never tried them. But, they both loved them.