Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Home Filled With Treasure

We're moving and I have found myself grieving as I pack.

This was the first home we ever bought. We've lived here for over ten years.

Our oldest daughter was a toddler when we moved in and the house was so empty back then. We'd moved here from a one bedroom apartment before that, so we didn't have much.  I can remember how her footsteps echoed through the empty spaces.

We've had our two other daughters since then, and so we've really built our family in this place.  And now, we certainly have a lot more stuff!

I was packing up our classroom today, where I spent a lot of my time, and I was tucking all my favorite things into a box, feeling joy over each thing, and remembering how I came by them, and these verses went through my mind:

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. -Proverbs 24:3-4 

I closed my eyes and agreed with the Spirit of God and gave thanks for all the things that fill our home now and what or who they represent to us.

We have a lot of books now, so many books. Many were given to us by friends, but most we purchased, because they were recommended by people we love and respect during some rich conversation we had with them over the last ten years.

We have a tea set I wrapped up in newspaper. It was given to us by a friend who came over every week to have hot tea.

We have a house full of furniture given to us by Dwayne's grandmother who is now deceased. She cherished her Cushman maple and so do we.

We have seashells and rocks collected at the beach or on hikes with friends or family.

We have crafts, so many crafts, from Sunday school or VBS or homeschool co-ops.

Snow sleds and weights and board games...

All of these things represent someone or some little, but significant event when we were with people learning, singing, laughing, relishing life.

My house is really full, but I am not certain the world would see anything valuable here. Nothing would fetch much in the market place, not even at a yard sale. And my home doesn't look like a catalog.  

But, God confirms His word to me and I see the truth. My home, like my life, is filled with treasure. The treasures are the precious artifacts of all the people, relationships, and moments of wonder and fellowship He has given us over the years.  With spiritual eyes, I can recognize the worth of these things over and above any simply material possessions that the world may prize higher.

God has established my family in this place, so I think this house may always be sacred to me.  I pack and grieve for what is ending, but I also remember to give thanks now for all that has happened here.

And I know I can look forward to more joy, more relationships, more fellowship, more moments of wonder, and even look forward to new treasures in my new home, because the same God who dwelt so lovingly with me here calls me on and I follow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Twelve Psalms to Memorize

I have chosen twelve specific Psalms to memorize in the next few months.

I have treasured each of these Psalms for one reason or another since I was a youth, so I know portions of them already.

However, my goal now is to know every one of them so well that I won't need any prompt at all to be able to say them to myself when I am without my Bible, like when I go hiking, or so that I won't need a Bible to be able to share them with others.

I feel compelled to plant the word of deeper than ever before.  

Teaching my kids classically is showing me the value and usefulness of memorizing precious information.  And it is showing me that "knowing" something and really knowing something are two very different things.

I want to really know Scripture.

When I consider the more distant future, when I imagine who I want to be and what I want to be capable of when I am old, I always imagine a wrinkled, but lively old woman who can tell her grandchildren Bible stories in vibrant detail without her Bible in hand.

So, now, in the same way that I educate my children, strategically, I begin with the end the that I desire for myself in mind, and I plot my course.

I want to start equipping that old woman, myself, for the noble future that she desires to give herself and her children's children.

Perhaps she will not live that long, but perhaps she will! 

And so, here is the list of Psalms I chose:

Psalm 1
Psalm 19
Psalm 23
Psalm 42
Psalm 51
Psalm 63
Psalm 91
Psalm 92
Psalm 100
Psalm 103
Psalm 119:1-32 (This one is so long, but it's a favorite, so I chose it, but I decided to focus on the first portion.)
Psalm 139

To remember and recognize the ones I am memorizing, I used a colored pencil to "highlight" the numbers, as you can see in the photo at the top.

I think once I know these well enough, I will record myself reciting them one at a time and share them here for fun and for accountability.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Citations Like Breadcrumbs

Take heed. Do not neglect to read those lowly in-text citations. They often appear useless and boring, but they can and do lead from good things to greater things, from mundane things to divine encounters with the living God.   

See, I was reading Millstones and Stumbling Blocks by Bradley E. Heath, a scathing critique of modern education that I do not recommend, but that I will probably end up quoting extensively in every day life. (Even I found Heath's "preaching" too hard and I am a member of his proverbial choir. If you think John Taylor Gatto is controversial and/or offensive, well, "You ain't seen nothing yet!")

Anyway, in Millstones and Stumbling Blocks, Heath quoted a guy I had never heard of named James V. Schall, saying that Schall said, "Why read?  Because we are given more than we are."  If I am not mistaken, that's the only Schall quote in that entire book, but that one quote so intrigued me and captured my imagination that I looked it up in the bibliography and found that it came from a book called, Another Sort of Learning.   

So I looked up that book and the subtitle sounded like just the sort of thing I would like, so I bought it on Amazon Kindle "with one click" and now I'm reading it. I am a little more than halfway done, but I am already certain I will end up quoting this book in everyday life, too. (All my conversation may end up being quotes!)

Anyway, then I Googled and read more about the author "James V. Schall" and found watched this video of a lecture he gave at Villanova.

Certainly, Schall isn't easy to watch like Jimmy Fallon is easy to watch, but, nevertheless, Schall's words fell like rain in the dessert to my thirsty soul. I knew right away that I had found a mentor in him.

Lao Tzu said, "When the pupil is ready, the tutor will appear" and this seems to be true. Apparently, I was just ready to find Schall. His rich conversation is answering so many questions I have started to ask recently, particularly those questions I have been asking God during times of meditation and prayer. That's what makes discovering Schall so significant to me.

I am certain God lead me to him. Now I affectionately call Schall "my dark oculator,"  since his glasses and suit make him look exactly like a villain in Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, a book series we are reading with our kids. Also, the geek in me adores the fact that Schall ends this lecture and every single chapter of his book, A Different Sort of Learning, with a list of more books and/or essays to read on a given topic. So now I've got my work cut out for me, but that's also just the sort of thing that I like.

And of all places, I discovered Schall in an in-text citation! "One good book leads to another," it is said. Like a trail of breadcrumbs, I am following this trail of ideas and it is exciting! I give God the glory. He is so faithful to answer the deepest questions in my soul. After all, it is His deeper and ongoing conversation behind Schall's words that I delight in, truly.

God counsels me in the simplest of ways, using a quote from a Godly scholar, that leads me to a book filled with wisdom, that leads me on to a another essay... But it is His voice I hear and His voice I follow on. "Deep calls to deep."  Psalm 42:7 I will delight in this trail of ideas He, the bread of life, lays down for me.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

First Things

God gives all earthly things significance,
But commands us to order our lives aright.
First things first. So then to His Immanence,
We submit our mundane purposes.

As if in judgement and with pitchfork thrown,
Up, up! goes this corporal husk and
Much is chaff, because so much is strewn!
It falls... and all is sorted as it blows.

What remains is faith, marriage, family,
Home, friends, church, and then, only then, to work.
Doing all unto God for His glory,
Delight in the gifts He has given thee.

We collect what's left after threshing to find
It all joy! More than enough to satisfy!

 -Veronica Boulden

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Season of Change

We are preparing to move, so I have had to quit all my current fitness jobs. The gyms where I work now will just be too far away from our new home. 

I teach at a few different locations, a few different days a week, a few different types of classes, so the good-bye process took a while to complete.  

In the photo above, you can see me "passing the torch" to my friend Tina who will be taking over one of my Bodypump classes.  (I made her a torch from a toilet paper roll, duct tape, and wrapping tissue.)

In the photo below, Christina, one of my faithful Bodypump participants at another location, presented me with yellow roses on my last day there.

And I took the photo below after my last class at the Waterbury YMCA, where I have been teaching various group fitness classes on and off for over ten years! I usually don't walk out of that place alone, but my last class happened to be an early morning one, so I was able to say a quiet, tearful prayer of thanks as I walked back to my van.

I have been meditating on the words of the song "Every Season" by Nicole Norman. The song is about God's faithfulness through change.  A part of the song goes, "I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come..."  

I give God thanks for my jobs and for the relationships I have made through them. Relationships are the thing about my job that I value most, though I value so many things about what I do.  But I am hopeful that I'll get another job teaching group fitness at another gym in my new place and start new friendships there, too.