What They’ll Remember

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“Come and lie down with me, Mom! Just for a minute.” Exhausted, and ready to be on my own, my six-year-old pleads with me to snuggle in bed with him as I tuck him in for the night. His safari bedsheets and fleece dinosaur pajamas create quick, blue sparks with each wiggle. I would never have volunteered this on my own, but once I lay down, I realize the simple blessing my son has given me. It is something I will remember. We are having a moment, together. It quiets me, and I can feel the roughness and chaos of the day slowly ebbing from my fingertips and the top of my head. I let out a sigh.

“Aah, this was a good day.” G smiles under the covers.

And it was.  I had just forgotten. I had chosen stress instead of appreciation and gratitude, so it had seemed rushed. I had felt there were so many things to get done that day, but that moment, cuddled up in whispers, there in my son’s twin-sized bed, I had been given the most productive part of my day.  And that is what I am choosing to remember. I hope he does, too.

In the past couple of weeks, a few different people have encouraged me to ask my children to name their favorite family Christmas tradition. All children love receiving presents, and sometimes it seems our family doesn’t do anything particularly unique to any other American family for Christmas. Sometimes, I wonder what they will really remember about our family traditions once they are grown.  I encourage you to ask your own children. It may surprise you once you do. To be honest, I half expected my own boys to shrug their shoulders, and not know what to say. However, they each had a ready answer.  Their answers made me smile for their simplicity, like taking a moment to lie down on a bed, and for the fact that I recognized our particular family through their responses. We do celebrate in special ways I believe they will remember.

Here is how they answered:

G ‘s favorite is eating chocolate croissants on Christmas morning after emptying the stockings.

A likes picking out his own new Christmas ornament each year at Cracker Barrel or Kohl’s, and he likes the beautiful candle light Christmas Eve service at our church.

S remembers eating Trader Joe’s Panettone every year since he was little. Seriously, he would sit and eat an entire one on his own if I let him.

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Nothing special….except that they are. They are special memories because they have become something we expect.  They began effortlessly and unintentionally, but have become part of our favorite traditions. They are foods and moments and shared experiences. We can’t imagine the holiday, our life, our relationships without them. You may go to Trader Joe’s and enjoy the panettone, but in no other house does it taste as sweet as in ours.

Candles and pastries and ornaments. A quiet moment lying together on the bed.  This is what they’ll remember.

The Unanimous Election

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Yesterday, while G was coloring in the other room, I heard him say to his brother, “We should just really get rid of this college stuff.” A month ago I would have thought he was making a disparaging remark against higher education, but I knew better. You do, too, right? He was coloring a map of the United States, exclusively in red and blue. Don’t worry. This is not a political post; it’s an historical one. I’m not an overtly political person. This is a post about living in good history books, and choosing to concentrate on the positive.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

This year G and I are delightfully making our way through all the D’Aulaire American history books beginning with Leif the LuckyIt just so happens we are now in the middle of George Washington Because all of my guys and I have always loved history and geography, it wasn’t difficult to roam the house and compile a fun collection of supplemental reads and activities.

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G was impressed to learn that George Washington spent time copying out texts as well. Somehow, I had kept this little used copy workbook from several years ago. Handwriting by George by Green Leaf Press may be a fun way to interest your young one in writing practice as it incorporates history and art. On one side your child can print or write the rules and manners of the day, while the other side of the page provides space for an appropriate illustration. G was diligent with his handwriting but got silly with the drawing. A perfect combination.

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It was easy to print off this trivia sheet and George Washington coloring page, thanks to Zack Franzen, illustrator of The Green EmberYou can print one for yourself here. He has interesting tidbits on the type of soap G.W. may have used.

George Washington is the only United States President who was voted in unanimously, and both terms! Of course, he had no competition. But I like to think there was no competition, because American sentiment was unanimous in their approval of him.img_7135

George vs. George is another great read. Rosalyn Schanzer takes us through the strengths and weaknesses of both of these men of power. She does a good job of using humor, human interest and presenting opposing perspectives. I like both of these reads for young readers. Particularly, the D’Aulaires do not shy away from presenting uncomfortable material, but they treat it gently. Their quality writing and illustrations do not lean too heavily on the deconstructionist theories of history that many school textbooks seem to present today. Please check this website for more of the D’Aulaire’s works.

All three of my guys have spent hours reading The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne. G has read several of Jack’s and Annie’s adventures already. Revolutionary War on Wednesday is a good book to include with our study. It even includes quotes from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. 

Here are some of G’s favorite tidbits he has learned so far about our nation’s first President.

  • As a boy he wrote out copywork, too.
  • His fake teeth were made from animal teeth, not wood.
  • He was born in Virginia.
  • We see his picture everyday on our money.
  • He learned many things about hunting and the land from his friend “Halfking,” an Indian chief.

Teaching the Bible story

While I want my children to desire to know God and connect with people on a heart level, I also feel it is crucial for them to have a solid, textually-based knowledge of His Word, the Bible. Even though our morning routine looks slightly different from year to year, it always includes some form of Bible study or learning. In the past, it has been as random as opening the Bible to read a few verses together, to something more systematic like a reading and study of a particular book. One year we covered the Gospel of Luke, another the epistle of James, or enjoyed random readings from Psalms and Proverbs using our Bible verse box. The box is still hanging around on an end table in our basement, but it hasn’t been used in awhile.

This year I have accepted the encouragement from Sonya Shafer from Simply Charlotte Mason to keep key verses written on notecards and file them in an index box. We use no methodology for memorization. I simply read the verse each morning and my kids say it along with me as they become familiar with it. There is no pressure to memorize quickly. Some familiar verses we have learned pat in 2-3 days. Others, less familiar or lengthier passages, have taken us a couple of weeks or so. Sonya Shafer has an easy system of reviewing old verses so nothing is lost over time. Look here for her easy to implement Bible memory verse system. Oh, and if you are tempted to to shorten the length of Scriptures for the younger ones, refrain! The six-year-old, with his agile memory,  is our leader in this. G usually keeps us on track when we forget a phrase or mix up translations. (The King James version was the go-to translation when I was younger.) Regardless of how well we have memorized the text, I feel good that they are hearing beautiful words, words that they can hold on to for life.

I have also been searching for a way to teach my guys the Bible in a ‘big picture” format. I want them to see the overarching story line through history, to see the Bible as a cohesive text as well as a collection of histories, poems, letters written in their own contexts. I want my boys to see how they also fit into God’s story, and I think I have found one way to do that through Bible book summary cards. This group has Bible study curriculum for both a homeschool or home use setting, as well as a classroom setting. The cards are colorful 8.5″ x 11″ sturdy stock cards with graphic and mnemonic devices to help you and your child learn (and remember!) the main focus, doctrinal points, or narratives for each of the 66 books of the Old and New Testament. While they don’t take the place of reading the text itself, it is a wonderful way to give your child a thorough overview. Because there is a brief explanation on the back of each card, even those of us who can’t remember the main point of Haggai, can still learn and teach our kids. Some of the cards look like this.

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Hopefully, the skull and cross bones don’t distract from Bible learning. Come to think of it, I think we talked about Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones that day!

Can you guess which book this card represents?

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We are only a couple of minor prophets away from completing the Old Testament. I am amazed at how they have already connected with the story lines.

On the back of each card are five or six questions to help review. Each day we name the books already completed and I randomly choose a few for them to narrate back to me based on the pictures. We can’t do all of them every day; it would take too long! Then, we read and learn the next one. All in all, it takes us 15 minutes or so to say our memory verse, and learn our Bible book summary cards. In this way, my boys and I are able to start the day with God’s Word.

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To Indiana

Not only will December mark the bicentennial of the Hoosier state, but this year, back in August, we also celebrated”making memories naturally” with the centennial of Indiana State Parks.  Our family did not specifically decide on a fall break destination based on these facts alone, but it serendipitously turned out that way. We gave the kids the choice between Chicago or hiking in Clifty Falls State Park in southeastern Indiana. They chose hiking. I don’t think they knew what they were getting into. We hiked over seven miles, two-thirds of which was on rather rocky, uneven and steep slopes. By the end, we were close to dehydration on a sunny “autumn” day of 80 degrees.

Although I am a transplant to the Midwest, I love the homey beauty of this state. It is good for my soul to be out in it.

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I have nothing to say in this post, except that I enjoy being outdoors. Here, I share with you my family’s hike – minus the whining at the end because we were thirsty and exhausted- and a bit of this 200 year old state. Happy Birthday, Indiana. Here, I share with you the state poem.

Indiana

God crowned her hills with beauty,

Gave her lakes and winding streams,

Then He edged them all with woodlands

As the settings for our dreams.

Lovely are her moonlit rivers,

Shadowed by the sycamores,

Where the fragrant winds of Summer

Play along the willowed shores.

I must roam those wooded hillsides,

I must heed the native call,

For a Pagan voice within me

Seems to answer to it all.

I must walk where squirrels scamper

Down a rustic old rail fence,

Where a choir of birds is singing

In the woodland…green and dense.

I must learn more of my homeland

For it’s paradise to me,

There’s no haven quite as peaceful,

There’s no place I’d rather be.

Indiana…is a garden

Where the seeds of peace have grown,

Where each tree, and vine, and flower

Has a beauty…all its own.

Lovely are the fields and meadows,

That reach out to hills that rise

Where the dreamy Wabash River

Wanders on…through paradise.

by Arthur Franklin Mapes

Blending Nature Journals, Science and YouTube

img_6857Sometimes it is difficult to plan out every single academic subject. As long as I have a solid idea where we are with Math and Language Arts, the other subjects can live in a state of flux at times. While I might want S’s curriculum a little more focused and firm in content, this is particularly true for G’s lessons. We might use our Magic School Bus science kit for a couple of weeks, abandon it for a human anatomy book the next week, and finally just not have time for any official science for a few more weeks. I think this is ok when you are six. Science is around us, and our backyard and sun room have provided us with automatic sources for nature studies.

One of the first things we did after moving in to our current home just over a year ago was to set up a few bird feeders outside our sun room windows. I have written about the amount of time we spend watching all our feathered friends. Last month G and I printed out several pictures of our favorite birds we tend to see in our neighborhood. We used them to create a poster for our sunroom. G meticulously keeps track of their appearances at the feeders and the trees by placing tally marks as he sights them.

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Exploring the nature of the Midwest, its flora and fauna, is the most  obvious form of science I can engage in with G. Honestly, it demands little of my time in a season where I feel I need to expend my efforts on other things. A walk through a trees-y trail or wading in a creek and our appetites are enhanced for further study. These have often inspired us in our library  choices.

G and I have time on Tuesdays between dropping S off at co-op before his own class begins. It is inconvenient to drive all the way home so we usually pack a few books, read at a cafe or go to a nearby park. Last Tuesday G drew some birds.

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Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America by Roger Tory Peterson and Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock have become great tools to keep us well informed and asking good questions. G found a great spot under a tree in which to draw his favorite bird, currently the Eastern Bluebird. He is not particularly adept at drawing, so he initially found this task overwhelming in just drawing from a nature book. Then, he remembered YouTube. We found some great little videos taking us step by step in drawing our chosen birds. Here is his Eastern Bluebird. You can find the video we watched here.

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G used a very similar one for his Northern Cardinal. Watch it here.

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Our geography lessons have us in Central America now, so not only did we find a book filled with gorgeous amphibian photography, but G also included the Panamanian Golden Frog in his nature journal. The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs, a Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle describes the predicament of these brightly colored amphibians and a skin disease that began striking their population in the mid 1990s. We actually found a specific drawing lesson for this particular frog. You can try it here.

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YouTube often has a bad reputation for inappropriate content and mindless twaddle, and rightly so, but we try to take advantage of some of the goodness it does offer.

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A Book Discussion (and a Sermon Quote): The Green Ember series by S.D. Smith

“The Green Ember burns; the seed of the New World smolders. Healing is on the horizon, but a fire comes first. Bear the flame.”

-S.D. Smith in The Green Ember, p. 364

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We could easily become discouraged. The world has become obsessed with hatred and bigotry and violence. Our public voice of dissonance has no hint of forbearance. Children’s problems are growing weightier, darker, and their literature is reflecting that in the name of “reality,” “daily life” and “awareness.” It is not any worse than previous generations have experienced, but it is certainly a marked characteristic of our current culture. For this very reason I am pleased my family and I have found S.D. Smith. Somehow, through a share on Facebook, or maybe a pop up on my newsfeed, we discovered The Green Ember series.

Building on the Christian fantasy genre, Smith has created an inspiring world of anthropomorphized animals who are attempting to battle the evil in their own world as it spreads throughout the Great Wood, and beyond, into all Natalia.

Rabbits with swords.

After wolves attack their village, set fire to their home, and take off with their parents and baby brother, Heather and Picket begin a journey. It is a coming of age story in which Smith seemingly draws on his love for C.S. Lewis. Not only are they seeking their family, but are likewise in search of a more peaceful world. After a previously unknown Uncle Wilfred and his adopted son Smalls rescue them from the wolves of Redeye Garlackson, they are sequestered in Cloud Mountain, a hidden community determined to preserve the old peace and order of the Great Wood. The rabbits live in true community as they prepare for eventual battle, and continue developing beautiful skills of creativity, artisanship and industry.

“Everywhere they looked, energetic work was underway.” p. 200

Smith utilizes a great deal of Christian imagery throughout the book.

“Of course!” Emma said. “Now, they do other work like everyone else: gardening, cleaning, teaching – whatever’s needed. But all the crafts are honored here. We’re heralds of the Mended Wood.”

The Green Ember, p. 155

We see similar ideas within the early Church.

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…”

Acts 2:44-46

Endearing characters are introduced, such as the slightly bumbling, clay-flinging Eefaw Potter, or the sweet, grandmotherly sage, Old Mrs. Weaver. They slowly begin to help heal and strengthen  the aching hearts of Heather and Picket as they grow into the vision of Cloud Mountain. I won’t reveal what events transpire, but they are distressing to the rabbit siblings, and demonstrate how betrayal and true evil exist even in their fantasy world.

My boys and I completed the first in the series, and are midway through the newly published sequel Ember Falls. I love that even though there are many battle scenes and deaths, this is not too scary a read aloud for my six year old, and yet it has maintained the interest of my twelve year old. I love that family members within the book unabashedly profess their love and affection for one another, that there is not bullying among the allies, but a focused purpose in defeating the evil. To borrow an expression from Andrew Pudewa from the Institute of Excellence in Writing, this is not so much a “twisted” or “broken” story, but a “healing” story. It is a glorious tale of fighting evil in unison. Heather and Picket are fully aware they are still in the middle of their story. They are painfully unaware how it will all end, but the unity of Cloud Mountain has taught them of a greater hope. The Great Wood may have been razed by the destructive fire, but as they repeat triumphantly,

“It shall not be so in the Mended Wood!”

Yes, Old Testament concepts of the remnant  (Jeremiah 42:2, Ezra 9:8) resonate here as the rabbits huddle in their warrens awaiting eagerly for the heir of King Jupiter to appear. We can see the imagery of a broken or a cursed world becoming new and healed and mended.

He glanced at Smalls, then said in a strong , defiant voice, “It will not be so in the Mended Wood!”

Then the group, all but Picket and Heather, each struck the air with a fist and called out in an echoing reply, “The Mended Wood!”

p. 132

“Cursed is the ground because of you…”

Genesis 3:17

“…the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

Romans 8:21

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:5

This past Sunday our minister chose the oddest text, three brief seemingly insignificant verses at the close of the epistle to the Philippians. You can listen to the sermon here if you like. He discussed several observations based on the fact that there were Christians in Caesar’s household. At this particular time, this would have meant the infamous Nero. Among the fact that these people had witnessed blatant evil, but saw themselves ultimately, defiantly as citizens in the kingdom of heaven, they all understood they were a proleptic community.

Proleptic. Living into our future reality as if we are already there. It is living in anticipation of the future promised or hoped for.

“Here we anticipate the Mended Wood, the Great Wood healed. Those painters are seeing what is not yet but we hope will be. They are really seeing, but it’s a different kind of sight. They anticipate the Mended Wood. So do all in this community, in our various ways….This is a place out of time. A window into the past and the future world. We are heralds, you see, my dear, saying what will surely come. And we prepare with all our might, to be ready when once again we are free.”

p. 220

This is the inspiring image The Green Ember series provides us. Through Heather and Picket, Mrs. Weaver, Emma, the gentle doctor-in-training, Uncle Wilfred, Smalls and others, we see a group of rabbits wholly living out the vision of the Mended Wood, even in desperate times. S.D. Smith draws on the beauty of Christ’s church, working together, as if they have already fully entered the Kingdom of Heaven.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Revelation 21:4

Bear the flame.”

The Theology of Pooh

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In 1982 Benjamin Hoff published The Tao of Pooh, followed a decade later by The Te of Piglet. Both books were intended to familiarize Westerners with the Eastern philosophy of Taoism using the lovable “Bear of Very little Brain.” My intentions are nearly the inverse. That is, I hope to explain my delight at reading aloud through The House at Pooh Corner with my six-year-old G, and being charmed by the following passage.

The passage takes place on the heels of  a friendly game of Poohsticks at the bridge, the game in which the players drop  their sticks and race to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick is swept to the other side first. Eeyore, who wins more times than the others, claims you must throw it in a “twitchy sort of way.”The game is surprisingly interrupted by Eeyore floating down the stream on his back, feet all protruding up in the air. Eeyore insists he was bounced into the stream. The others very quickly begin to blame Tigger and attribute the most unflattering motives to him.

“Hush!” said Rabbit, holding up  his paw. “What does Christopher Robin think about it all? That’s the point.”

I think we all ought to play Poosticks.”

So they did. And Eeyore, who had never played it before, won more times that anybody else; and Roo fell in twice, the first time by accident and the second time on purpose, because he suddenly saw Kanga coming from the Forest, and he knew he’d have to go to bed anyhow. So then Rabbit said he’d go with them; and Tigger and Eeyore went off together… Christopher Robin and Pooh and Piglet were left on the bridge by themselves.

For a long time they looked at the river beneath them, saying nothing and the river said nothing too, for it felt very quiet and peaceful on this summer afternoon.

“Tigger is all right really,” said Piglet lazily.

“Of course he is,” said Christopher Robin.

“Everybody is really,” said Pooh. “That’s what I think, said Pooh. “But I don’t suppose I’m right,” he said.

“Of course you are,” said Christopher Robin.

 

And there was no more discussion or disagreement about whether or not Tigger had, in fact, bounced Eeyore into the stream. They had forgotten their arguments and differences.

I have titled this post “The Theology of Pooh,” but really that is a misnomer, for this really has much more to do with our good friend and spiritual leader, Christopher Robin. It was C.R. who so cleverly and surreptitiously diverted the animals’ attentions away from their disagreements and differences, and instead, encouraged them to play together. In the cheerful prospect of a game of Poohsticks, Rabbit and Eeyore laid down their need to ascertain Tigger’s motives, and simply joined in the fun. Couldn’t we learn from this? Would it be possible, as Christians, not to be troubled any longer by petty actions or motives or differences in others if we played together more often? Served others together? What if we gulped like Piglet might, held Pooh’s someone’s hand, and did something differently? This post should really celebrate the wisdom of C.R. in this instance. “The Theology of Christopher Robin” might be better. Wouldn’t our unity be stronger, our testimony more powerful as a flexible, focused, playful,serving Church? So, really this post should instead be titled “The Ecclesiology of Christopher Robin.”

Is there anyway for us to see that it doesn’t always matter if Eeyore was bounced into the stream intentionally or not, if we help him out of it in the end?

And as Christopher Robin himself would say, “Silly old Bear.”

“…this feeling in being in one’s own place”

Willa Cather’s 1931 novel on Quebec and the last days of Governor General Louis de Buade de Frontenac (1697-1698) is not one of my my favorites, but there is this passage that pulls  at me.

She put the sled-rope under her arms, gave her weight to it, and began to climb.  A feeling came over her that there would never be anything better in the world for her than this; to be pulling Jacques on her sled, with the tender, burning sky before her, and on each side, in the dusk, the kindly lights from neighbour’s houses. If the Count should go back with the ships next summer, and her father with him, how could she bear it, she wondered. On a foreign shore, in a foreign city (yes, for her a foreign shore), would not her heart break for just this?  For this rock and winter, this feeling of being in ones’ own place, for the soft content of pulling Jacques up Holy Family Hill into paler and paler levels of blue air, like a diver coming up from the deep sea.

from Shadows on the Rock, Book 2, VII by Willa Cather

Day after day Cecile had walked about those streets trying to capture that lost content and take it home again. She felt almost as if she no longer had a home; often wished she could follow the squirrels into their holes and hide away with them for the winter.

from Shadows on the Rock, Book 5, IV by Willa Cather

It is not only Cather at her most eloquent and poignant, but it also bruises my soul with its beauty and love for a home never fully realized. Just as Cather endured homesickness for Virginia as a child when she was uprooted to the vast plains of Nebraska at age nine, so often did her characters feel the tug of nostalgia and the yearning for ties to land. In fact, land and location were primary characters in many of her novels. It did more than provide back drops to stories, but rather shaped the characters, sometimes even overshadowing them.  Antonia Shimerda from My Antonia, though born in Bohemia, was inextricably tied to Nebraska’s wheat and wind. Here, in the above excerpt, little Cecile born in faraway France, pulls the tiny, illegitimate Jacques through the snow on her sled, and knows she belongs to this “rock.” Quebec has claimed her.

There is a longing we all have to belong that will never be fully satisfied. We may feel awkward and foreign no matter where we go. Whether we fear leaving our hometown or whether we have an insatiable wanderlust, it all comes from the same place – a deep yearning for what is truly home. Last year I wrote about this here more at length using other favorite examples from literature.

Cather may not have recognized this as a spiritual quest, but we see her characters’ repeated struggles with belonging and place. One day, we will be there, never more looking around us, never more torn between belonging and being the “other,” never straddling coming and going. We will simply be in our own place. That place which has long been prepared for us. To which our hearts long. Home.

It was promised

“I am going there to prepare a place for you…I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the place where I am going.”

John 14:2b-4

 

 

Storms and mercy

Indiana experienced severe thunderstorms, flash floods and even some tornadoes this past week. While my family has remained safe, and our home unscathed, we have known others in power outages, and have seen videos from neighboring towns with storms knocking down coffee shops and flipping homes. They have experienced the harshness of what nature can bring.

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The sky has displayed both the frightening power and the soothing gentleness of its Creator. The LORD is both mighty and tender. He is angry storm clouds, moaning winds. He is a barely detectable sweep of a butterfly’s wing, a placating touch lightly lain on a shoulder. He is all of our talents manifest at the peak of their practice. He is the mercy when we fail in our constant fragility. He is love, and all in between.

This past weekend I went with some girlfriends to watch the Meryl Strep biopic Florence Foster Jenkins, the peculiarly popular opera singing with the infamously off key voice. As she lay in her bed dying tears welling from her eyes, tears of disappointment, she finds a moment of triumph with a somewhat self-deprecating smile. She tells her husband,

Some may say that I couldn’t sing, but no one can say that I didn’t sing.

At the end of the day, as I lay my head on my pillow with eyes either welling with tears, or feeling a sense of triumph, I can say equally well,

Some may say I didn’t parent well, but no one can say I didn’t parent.

And the mighty hand of the Creator will bring power and gentleness to rest in their appropriate places. There will be storms of mercy that fall, filling in the spots where I was off key.

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Ode to the Sunday School Teacher

Unashamedly, I am still basking in the glow of my Prince Edward Island adventure. Upon returning home, I have read The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery for the first time, which incidentally, I purchased from the Site of the Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Cavendish Home. The paperback proudly bears the stamp.

And I have been re-reading The Story Girlsupposedly the author’s favorite of her novels.

Combine these readings with the fact that our church has been talking about our responsibility of reading for the sake of the community, and throw in the fact that I just completed Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish by C. Christopher Smith, have been planning Bible home school curriculum for this next year for my boys, and the fact that I have substituted teaching in children’s Bible classes a few times at church this summer, and it is not difficult to see why a couple of these passages spoke sweetly to me.

Montgomery, who married the Presbyterian minister Ewen MacDonald, was a theological thinker in her own right. With a knack for describing hypocrisies and frivolous loyalties to tradition and prejudices, Montgomery often snuck in satirical statements through her most upright and judgmental of characters. Remember the proudly outspoken Mrs. Rachel Lynde? In a letter to Anne in college, she writes,

“I don’t believe any but fools enter the ministry nowadays….Such candidates as they have sent us, and such stuff as they preach! Half of it ain’t true, and what’s worse, it ain’t sound doctrine. The one we have now is the worst of the lot. He mostly takes a text and preaches about something else. And he says he doesn’t believe all the heathen will be eternally lost. The idea! If they won’t all the money we’ve been giving to Foreign Missions will be clean wasted, that’s what!”

~from Anne of the Island, chapter 5 “Letters from Home”

Now contrast Anne’s enthusiasm for the young and lovely minister’s wife, Mrs. Allan.

“I never knew before that religion was such a cheerful thing. I always thought it was kind of melancholy, but Mrs. Allan isn’t, and I’d like to be a Christian if I could be one like her.”

~Anne confiding to Marilla in Anne of Green Gables, p. 172

Wouldn’t we all want this to be said of us?

So, for those of you who are teaching a Sunday school class, who open the Bible in front of young minds and share words of truth and life, you are filling more than an hour’s void.

“The social life of juvenile Carlisle centered in the day and Sunday schools. We were especially interested in our Sunday School, for we were fortunate enough to be assigned to a teacher who made our lesson so interesting that we no longer regarded Sunday School attendance as a disagreeable weekly duty, but instead looked forward to it with pleasure, and tried to carry out our teacher’s gentle precepts- at least on Mondays and Tuesdays. I am afraid the remembrance grew a little dim on the rest of the week.”

~ from The Story Girl, p. 26

You are providing a vision of what it means to be part of a kingdom of grace and love. It is a great service in which the subjects are only coincidentally small. If nothing else, you are narrating a picture of God’s appealing beauty. May your story be consistently bewitching and inviting.