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RSSBack Issue: May, 2007

Plurals and Possessives


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I just have to air a pet peeve. Jennifer’s pet peeve, the pet peeve belonging to Jennifer.

When I receive a card that is signed “The Johnson’s” – - well, the Johnsons may as well have grated their fingernails across a chalkboard. The Johnson’s what, I ask? The card is from the Johnson’s cat? What belonging to the Johnsons is sending me this card? Since plurals lack an apostrophe, can I hope this was just a typo? Wishful thinking. The Smiths and the Browns also send me cards presenting the grating apostrophe (with love, the Smith’s; blessings from the Brown’s). They all saw it on the Johnson’s card (the card belonging to the Johnsons), and think that must be the way it’s done.

Please don’t sleep through grammar, it hurts my ear’s. Ha, that hurt, didn’t it?

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Miracle in Peru


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Today I received a letter from missionary friends Abe and Kelly Long, who have been serving in Peru for the past four years. The first part of the letter was about the birth of their second child, Josiah, in Lima, Peru. Here’s an excerpt:

Josiah’s story actually began last fall. We found out that we were expecting another child when we returned from the States in September. Since we were planning to go to the jungle for several months, we decided to get an ultrasound in Pucallpa, just to make sure everything was OK. The radiologist looked at the ultrasound screen and told us that something was wrong. I asked “is the baby alive?” The doctor told us that the baby was in fact dead. He gave me a piece of paper and told me to go the the OB in Pucallpa to have the dead baby removed from my body, before it caused an infection.

Stunned and heartbroken, we decided to fly to Lima to have the procedure done at a cleaner, nicer facility. I met with my doctor in Lima who did an ultrasound before performing the procedure. He looked at the ultrasound screen and, to my complete surprise, told me that the baby looked just fine! He did some blood work and other tests and confirmed the good news – I was 6 weeks along with a perfectly healthy baby!

On May 10th (2007) we held that little miracle in our arms and thanked the Lord for protecting his life, even before he was born.

Either a) the doctor was grossly negligent and the baby was alive and he called it dead, or b) the baby was in fact dead and God brought him back to life.

Either scenario is possible in my book. Either way, I’m praising God with this amazing couple for their miracle in Peru!

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God Can Do What He Says He Can Do


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A boy was sitting on a park bench with one hand resting on an open Bible. He was loudly exclaiming his praise to God. “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God is great!” he yelled without worrying whether anyone heard him or not.

Shortly after, along came a man who had recently completed some studies at a local university. Feeling himself very enlightened in the ways of truth and very eager to show this enlightenment, he asked the boy about the source of his joy.

“Hey” asked the boy in return with a bright laugh, “Don’t you have any idea what God is able to do? I just read that God opened up the waves of the Red Sea and led the whole nation of Israel right through the middle.”

The enlightened man laughed lightly, sat down next to the boy and began to try to open his eyes to the “realities” of the miracles of the Bible. “That can all be very easily explained. Modern scholarship has shown that the Red Sea in that area was only 10 inches deep at that time. It was no problem for the Israelites to wade across.”

The boy was stumped. His eyes wandered from the man back to the Bible laying open in his lap. The man, content that he had enlightened a poor, naive young person to the finer points of scientific insight, turned to go. Scarcely had he taken two steps when the boy began to rejoice and praise louder than before. The man turned to ask the reason for this resumed jubilation.

“Wow!” exclaimed the boy happily, “God is greater than I thought! Not only did He lead the whole nation of Israel through the Red Sea, He topped it off by drowning the whole Egyptian army in 10 inches of water!”

How has your faith been stretched this week to believe that God can do what He says He can do? Anyone? I borrowed this question from a Beth Moore Bible study I did a few years back.

For myself, I’m simply believing God to to give me the strength I need to be a patient mother, free from anger. It’s tough. OK, take a deep breath and calmly ask the child to release her mouth from her sister’s arm.

Patience…I need the work of the Holy Spirit to bring my whole nature more and more under the influences of that work of regeneration that began in me when I first gave my life to Christ. And I believe that God can change me, because He says so.

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Carnivals


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The 73rd Carnival of Homeschooling is up over at The Lilting House. Thanks, Melissa, for a great job putting that together. Have a blog post to submit for next week’s carnival? Here’s the handy submission form, hosted next by About Homeschooling. Deadlines are Mondays, 6 p.m.

And I missed last week’s homeschooling excursion to Hawaii, so check that out too, at Palm Tree Pundit. The flowers in her backyard are reason enough to go visit.

Another notable carnival is up, The Gonzo Education Carnival, the theme being Education, What’s the Point? That’s over at Principled Discovery, one of my favorite reads. Dana is also seeking submissions for the Carnival of Principled Government, and you can submit here.

And the Christian Carnival ii will be up tomorrow at Pseudo-Polymath.

There are so many carnivals out there….so much to read (so little time). But it’s a good way to find a group of articles you’re interested in that otherwise wouldn’t cross your screen.

I Own a Monet


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Our art time lately has been focused on Impressionism. My kids just seemed to like the feel of a fleeting moment on canvas, so we’re going with it. Impressionists were known for leaving their studios to get outside and paint in the open air, and were intensely interested in every aspect of light. Hey, that fits our family, it’s no wonder the kids like this style.

I’m not artistic and have taken just one art class ever. But I’m here to encourage you that it doesn’t matter if you know Monet from Manet, if you even care about shadows and shading, or if you’re artistically clumsy like me. You can successfully teach art to your kids, and the method that’s working for me is Classical Immersion. I don’t know if that’s really a term, I just made it up.

Bridge at Argenteuil kid styleSo, I do own a Monet. To be exact, it’s The Bridge at Argenteuil, 1874. Nevermind that my copy is on lined paper and painted in watercolor by my five year old, it’s quite valuable to me.

The Classical Immersion method that produced this darling reproduction was simple. Lots of time spent with originals.
And here is the original, by the way, that my daughter was copying. The boat was obviously more important to her than the bridge.

Bridge at Argenteuil

I think it’s great for kids to have plenty of creative self-expression time, and we have lots of that over here. The usual bag of art supplies is always handy – construction paper, glue, markers, paints, play dough, doodads. But by Classical, I mean being somewhat ordered, using original sources. Ruth Beechick writes, “Our society is so obsessed with creativity that people want children to be creative before they have any knowledge or skill to be creative with.” I think she’s referring to teaching language, but the idea can be applied across the spectrum. Those people who are trained to spot the counterfeit bills – guess what they spend all their time doing? Studying the original. Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise put it this way in their book, The Well Trained Mind: “Squeeze a dry sponge, and nothing comes out. First the sponge has to be filled.”

Essential ImpressionistsThe immersion part of my method is really simple, too. I guess this would fit the Unit Method approach to teaching. Everything Impressionist we could get our hands on, we did. My basic “text” was a book that happened to be on my bookshelf, called Essential Impressionists. It’s a big book full of big pictures by famous artists. There’s a little blurb about the history of Impressionism, and each work of art presented has information about the artist and the background of the painting. Did you know that most of these artists were rejected by the Art Establishment of their time?

For studying Monet, we got some videos from the library about his life. Linnea in Monet’s Garden was really fun. Little Linnea gets to visit Giverny and walk among the gardens where Claude Monet painted his “blobs and smears,” as she notes. Monet from the series Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists was also a hit. If we had an art museum nearby, we’d go. But we don’t. So the books and videos are our museums, and we’ve had quite a few strolls down the their halls.

Bank of the River Oise kid style
You, too, can own a Monet. Or a Pissarro. My 7 year old son was more impressed by this Impressionist artist, and here is his rendition of Bank of the River Oise, 1878. He liked the bending, leafless trees, and the muted colors remind you more of a wintery scene. This French Impressionist painter endured great financial hardship and severe eye trouble to remain devoted to his painting. My son always has a thing for the underdog.

Here is the original Camille Pissarro, which now hangs in the Musee du Louvre in Paris.

Bank of the River Oise

After spending weeks on Impressionism, my son declared that he wanted to be an artist. That just means that he enjoyed our art time. After digging into a fun science project, he wants to be a scientist. That’s a good measuring rod for me, and his reactions tell me whether I’m teaching in such a way that reaches him and allows him to fully respond to the subject.

Christian Carnival CLXXII


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The Christian Carnival CLXXII is up over at Crossroads: where faith and inquiry meet.

I enjoyed the Sung’s Razor post by Tantalizing If True – had this amazing Chinese Christian attended a better Bible College, seen better Christian videos, or had a better pastor?

Sure to move you is Erich’s post Almost Persuaded, at the blog CounterCulture. It’s a call to pray for people around the world in those cultures where belief in Jesus will mean death, disowning, or difficulties we couldn’t understand in our country.

Unity in Diversity is also a good read, over at We Are in Jesus. Apropos to my current church situation. Thanks, Tina, that was good for me to read.

Lots of other good stuff there, head on over….

Hunting!


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We’re off to hunt for “cool stuff.” It’s outdoor school today. Remember the owl hunt? We’re going to our property, where my amazing husband is busy working on building our house.
stem wallsWe spend time there nearly every day, and still the kids never tire of either helping dad, hunting for deer, jackrabbits, bones and tracks, or just playing in the dirt.

We had some friends out recently, and all of our children had a great romp around the place, and their kids even came away with some treasures to take home. Their daughter scored a deer shed,

deer shed

the son rooted out a hornet’s nest for his collection,

hornet's nest

and our little girls were entranced by a dead baby deer. Eeewwww…..

dead baby deer

What delightful finds await us? I’ll post here in a few days what we stumble across in our hunt today.

What To Do With Grass Clippings


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First, build.

building grass pile.JPG

Then, jump.

jumping in grass pile

The aftermath.

spittin' grass

He Winked at Me


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eta_carinaThe Heavens declare the glory of God, and He just winked at me. A moment ago, I returned from taking the puppy out one last time before retiring for the night, and I looked up. I was stunned at what I saw. The night sky out here in Oregon country is magnificent, and for some reason, tonight it was staggering. Clear black sky, brilliant stars, twinkling, winking.

I have this theory that everyone has something special and singular in nature that really speaks to him or her of the Creator. For me, it’s always been the night sky, and next the mountains. For my husband, it’s always been the ocean. My early childhood was spent in a desert mountain region of Arizona with spectacular night skies; my husband’s early childhood was spent just yards from the Pacific Ocean. So it makes sense to me in that way. Creation declares God’s greatness, and He will use your particular circumstances and surroundings to speak to you, and you will (can you not help it?) respond with worship. Psalm 95 declares “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation … . O come, let us worship and bow down: Let us kneel before the Lord our maker.” And the Psalm goes on to describe some of the amazing universe God created.

So, tonight, I wondered what was so remarkable about the sky on this certain night. Earlier in the afternoon, God blessed me with an awareness of His presence, and I was praising Him in my heart, just thinking, “God is SO good!” I think that simply entering the canvas of the heavens with this posture somehow allowed for a tangible, authentic God experience.

I had flashbacks to other supernatural night sky encounters with God. I thought about how, as a little girl, like most little girls or boys, I wished upon the first star I saw – except I knew even then that it was the God of the Universe I was speaking to. I remembered gazing out my window on that Arizona sky as I lay in bed each night, watching the familiar patterns of stars go slowly by (there’s Orion’s belt), with a strange yearning and longing for something more. I had a vivid recollection of the summer I spent after my second (or was it third?) year in college as a camp counselor at Spring Hill Camp in Michigan (Enoch Olson was awesome) – I hauled out sleeping bags for my entire cabin of 10 year olds to lie down outside because there was supposed to be a meteor shower that particular night, and we were not at all disappointed. The following year camping up in Canada with college buddies, I had my first experience with the Northern Lights – breathtaking, awe-inspiring, BEHOLD YOUR GOD!!!!

What in the world speaks to you of the Creator? I hope you recognize God’s winking.

Thank you, Lord, for your Creation that moves me to worship you.

Photo credits: Starry Night Photography

Carnival of Homeschooling # 71


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icedteaCarnival time again, Carnival of Homeschooling #71 is up over at The HSB Company Porch – a Southern Hospitality theme! There are some wonderful articles posted there, and the host site is full of some other fabulous finds.
Personally, I was intrigued by the article Geography Left Behind posted by Textbook Evaluator. I happen to think Geography education has been replaced by Environmentalism, an idea not mentioned in this article, but perhaps could fit into the author’s argument.

Also be sure to follow the continuing saga of homeschooling in Germany with Dana of Principled Discovery as she addresses Military Homeschoolers in Germany. Interesting how Americans in Germany could possibly be affected by Germany’s ban on homeschooling. As soon as I can find the original source, I’ll post there about an American homeschooling mom in Germany who told me, on a message board a few months ago, that she does hide the fact that she homeschools, keeping her children inside until the other children are out of school for the day. Many military families appear to be doing just fine, but there are certainly some locations where homeschooling families stationed in Germany do not feel safe.

Happy reading, just imagine the rocker on the front porch as you sip that iced tea!

Preparing for Elise


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Eiffel TowerWe have the great pleasure of hosting a student from France this summer. I’m a serious Francophile, so this is awesome for me! I’ve been thinking about what I can do to prepare for her visit, to make it as memorable as possible for her. For those of you out there who have hosted an international student, or been hosted, feel free to pass on your words of wisdom.

Elise is fifteen years old, and lives in a small village outside Paris. She speaks German, some English, some Danish, and of course, French. I tell you, those Europeans and their languages – we Americans have a few things to learn. The letter she sent to introduce herself was adorable. (Voici le courrier d’Elise destiné à ce présenter…) I wondered what she must think of America and Americans…”I like pets, but I’m little anxious when they are big and wild.” “I eat everything, but I don’t like dry fruits.” “I’m not a good climber, so if we go to hill walking, I’m not very stirring.”

I stumbled across this fun opportunity through my dear friend, Catherine. Catherine is from France, and is hosting her nephew this summer. The nephew is only ten years old, and understandably his mother wanted a travel partner for him. Elise is a family friend, and given her love of travel and foreign languages, she was the perfect fit. Catherine just couldn’t stuff another person in her home, and when she asked me, I jumped at the chance. Catherine doesn’t live far from me, so we’ll all get to spend a lot of time together.

So, I’m preparing. The language, of course, was the first thing on my mind. Although French was one of my college majors, my skills are pitiful, in my opinion. I completed my undergraduate work fifteen years ago (is that possible?), and in the years since, have done little language work. I did start teaching my kids French about a year and a half ago, and that has actually been quite helpful – the teacher must know the subject ahead of the kids and I was forced to get myself back in shape. We’ve also been meeting with Catherine and her kids once a week for French conversation and games – this is invaluable! Better than any of the French children’s curriculum or books or videos – we’ve used Le Francais Facile, Muzzy, The Learnables and love them all- but if you’re trying to learn a foreign language or get a refresher, there’s nothing better than a native (except moving to the country in question)! Also very helpful for adult learners is the free website learner.org by Annenberg Media. Their French in Action video instructional series is something I used in college, and have been revisiting lately as well (I feel like Mireille and Robert are my friends).

I have to insert here the funny story of how I met Catherine. I was standing in the checkout line of Fred Meyer, our local grocery/merchandise store, and I heard from the customer ahead of me an accent! I could be mistaken, I thought, but that English sounds very French. I, who am constantly embarrassing my husband by talking to strangers, immediately pounced on her. Are you French? She was. I begged her to call me, and gave her my phone number. She must be the only French person in this entire little Central Oregon town, and I’m not about to let her get away. Much to my surprise and delight, she didn’t think I was a raving lunatic, and she called me several weeks later, and the rest is history…I now count her among my dearest friends.

French countryBack to preparations. She must have a room. The room I’m sitting in right now, typing away, will transform from my office and storage room to Elise’s room. This means several trips to Goodwill to get rid of stuff that I store and haul from house to house…why do we do these things? Get rid of it. I have a lovely picture of the French countryside (posted there to the right) that I’m moving from my living room to this room, to keep her company. Oh, and I still need a bed.

I have some recreation and travel plans for our family while she’s here, including trips to the Oregon coast, the zoo, OMSI, a local museum, Smith Rock (but nothing too “stirring”), and just hanging out. I don’t want to overwhelm her, but I want to bless her socks off with a good time! What do you think? What is a French girl’s expectation of spending a month in Oregon, USA?

photo credits for Eiffel Tower: http://www.offrench.net/photos/gallery-5.php

Saying You’re Sorry


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I had to write a difficult letter this morning. It started like this:

I am deeply sorry for my words that have brought hurt or division to you and …… It pains me and shames me to think that I’ve been so careless with my remarks that should have remained private or been discussed with you personally. Please forgive me.

Just re-reading that puts a knot in my heart. I just got done writing about maintaining confidentiality and an atmosphere of trust within your marriage, and then I go and bungle it in another area of my life. Doesn’t it seem to work like that sometimes?!

There will always be issues that need working through, whether in your marriage, with your children, extended family, friends, or church family. Proceed with caution! Oh, the power of words…oh, the grace of God.

This place I’m in now is so precious, though, even amidst the pain. I have valid concerns in this present situation, but wasn’t always wise in the search for a resolution. But how else do I learn, sometimes, than through the muddle and trouble?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

I memorized the entire first chapter of James many years ago, when I was barely a young adult and didn’t seem to have a trial on the horizon. But, my, how it’s served me since. Trials take so many forms, some are self-inflicted and others are just the cruelty of the world. Whatever the form of your trial, make wisdom one of your goals, and remember the promise of James: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

Back to having to say you’re sorry. This is so often the result of saying things we shouldn’t say in the first place, and James again has a reply: “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26) Ouch. I’m working toward maturity…