Monthly Archives: October 2014

DR. BONES (and other things nominally related to the Halloween season)

About five or six years ago Dr. Bones, an approximately two-foot tall, plastic decorative skeleton, entered our family.  Well, back then he was just Mr. Bones.  Apparently he has since completed his doctoral thesis, because the boys have conferred upon  him the title of higher learning.   Here he is two years ago relaxing with A watching a bit of television.

Watching a game with Dr. BonesHe graces our door at this time of year, the bones from his femur to his metatarsals swaying and clattering eerily against the front door at the slightest provocation, like a gentle breeze.  We hesitated to bring him out of his garage hibernation when G was a baby, thinking perhaps it would scare him.  Instead, early exposure must prevent fear, or in other words, it might be that someone cannot be afraid of something unless they are told they should be.  Either way, Dr. Bones has always been a great friend to G.  He takes him off the door periodically and they play board games or just sit in the pop-up tent together.  Dr. Bones is someone who entertains us for the month of October.

Last year he became quite useful when we  studied human anatomy and physiology.  We used Apologia, if you wish to view the curriculum here.  He allowed us to label him with sticky notes.  Patiently, he sported signs which read, “Cranium,” “patella,” and “ulna, radius.”  Although this year A and S are concentrating on astronomy, G still likes to get out a few of our books for kids on anatomy.  This layered Scholastic find is one of his favorites.

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The other day Dr. Bones aided us in our research of the skeletal system.  On our metal-topped kitchen table we laid out the magnetic pieces from our Greggo Magnetic skeleton kit.  You can take a look at it more closely here.  They also make a wonderful kit for the human organs.  photo 1 (1)

Dr. Bones acted as the model for G to connect the bones in the correct order, orienting them in the right direction.  Once completed, we named and pointed to several of the bones I knew he recognized.  Then, they left to go play in the family room.

photo 2 (1)

An Unfortunate Epilogue:

Even in the midst of typing these words, G has brought to me the severed head of Dr. Bones.  An investigation still ensues.  I am attempting to re-attach it, experimenting with a couple of kinds of glue.  The prognosis does not look good.  I fear we may need a gruesome sign: R.I.P., Dr. Bones.  But how do you lay to rest an entity who was even originally a lifeless skeleton?  He served us well.

Happy Halloween.

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Changing

The sky shone a brilliant blue, showcasing the scarlet leaves of a few red maples in our neighborhood.  The persistent breeze blew huskily in bursts chasing the great wisps of clouds across the sky.  Four-year-old G was riding his scooter as fast as his left leg could propel him down the street.  He would periodically zigzag across the sidewalk, never decreasing his speed, fueled by a genuine enthusiasm for the autumn gusts and the piles of crunchy, dried leaves collecting in random patches.  Another rush of wind would shake the branches, tear leaves from their stems, fling my hair upward and cause dozens of individual leaves to dance across the street toward us.   They crossed our path in an ecstatic state, frantically attempting to reach a spot to rest in safety.  And G was off again with a laugh.  He would only stop as a particular leaf caught his attention.  Leaving his scooter for mere seconds, he would remove the leaf from the swirling masses.  “For my nature journal,” and off again he zipped way ahead of me.  Knowing his conscientious nature, I was assured he would soon pause and wait for me to catch up with him.

This time his leaf discovery elicited a larger reaction.  “Mama, this leaf is two different colors!”

“Yes, it is.  It must have been blown off the tree in the process of changing.”

“It’s BEAUTIFUL!” he breathed and returned to his autumn dash.

We are in the process of changing our colors, too.  Grace is what holds us together, even after we are tossed through the air by gusty winds.  Once we have made that decision to follow Jesus, we are being transformed.  Even now we “are being transformed into the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.  The trees in autumn reflect God’s glorious planning.  They do not change their hues instantaneously, but the leaves closest to Him begin their gradual transformation.  From the tips of the trees to the center, and finally the lower branches reveal their inner, earthy glow.  They beam yellow, gold, orange, red, scarlet, even flicker in browns.

God has even created the trees to be transformed in a graduated fashion, in their proper time.  His grace extends even to us.  Our acceptance into the love of God is immediate, change commences instantaneously, but is a slow, painful, even tedious process.  We glow half in greens and browns, yellows and oranges, some of us struggling to find our reds, desperate we may never fully transform.  Grace is in the autumn.  I just pray that we may find the aching process as beautiful as G does.

Now, we grow imperceptibly.  One day, however, it will be all at once, and we will not know of any other beauty.  We will be complete, all aglow with the brilliance of Christ.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of any eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

I Corinthians 15:51-52

G's leaf collection
G’s leaf collection

A Trustworthy Saying

Spring is about renewal, resurrection, the hope of youth, emerging offspring, green vibrancy, rebirth.  It is about rain replenishing nature, warming skin, hearts and minds.  So, what is autumn?  Is it the harbinger of death, and gloom?  Is it chilly days threatening frozen temperatures, the death of leaves and trees?  Is it a symbol of the year’s finality, even the end of our days?

Autumn also represents a kind of hope, a burgeoning glimpse at the reincarnation of nature.

You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.”  The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.

John 3:7-8

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

John 12:24

So, nature applauds rotting plants and biodegrading leaves, and we applaud the sacrament of baptism, a submersible decision to die to self.  Thus, it explains our joy even when we witness the break down of chlorophyll and the slow, steady disappearance of vibrant greens, even when the rusty leaves glow from their branches.  Their branches, bare, protrude awkwardly, reaching out to nothing in particular, haphazardly underlining a gaggle of migrating geese in the October sky.  Even so, we thrill with its beauty.

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And so, it explains a child’s joy, an irrepressible giggle bursting forth as he tumbles and spills across the dead, dried leaves. They serve not so much as evidence of death, but as a reminder of an ever-renewing promise.

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Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,

we will also live with him;

II Timothy 2:11

Ancient Words

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?  If you do, chances are it may begin something like, “For God so loved the world…” or  ” I can do all things through him…”  Beautiful verses.  From the time I was relatively young, however, one of my favorite verses peculiarly has been Daniel 1:4.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz…to bring…young men….showing aptitude…and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.  He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.

Could there be anything more thrilling than studying to mastery the language and philosophy of an old and exotic people?  It sounded so romantic…in the literary sense.  I had always aspired to be involved in something equally exciting one day.  Except, I already was.  I may not have ever deciphered Hiitite code or Babylonian writings (although that reminds me another trip to the Oriental Institute may be in order), but as a Christian and daily Bible reader, I pore over ancient Hebrew and Greek texts regularly.  Perhaps not in the original language, but I am certainly familiar with their texts, and have even memorized pivotal lines from their pages.  I know many of you are more studious than I in your Bible reading and spend substantial amounts of time absorbed in its message.  I do not take access to this knowledge for granted.

Our minister launched a theology reading group a few months back.  We have been reading a relatively academic book on our own and meet monthly to discuss it.  To paraphrase him, if our study of theology does not result in doxology, it is in vain.  In other words, our looking into scripture should not be strictly cerebral.  Application is imperative.  It should inform the way we live out our lives.  If you are interested, here is the book we are currently wrapping up.

In opening the Bible, somehow we are able to live in harmony with ancient texts.  We, in the post-modern world, are inextricably tied together with these ancient and holy words through threads of oral tradition and the rites of ancient mythologies.  Something from my ten-year-old self thrills with this privilege.

The forms of kingly annals, wisdom literature, psalms of ascent, biblical poetry and the like are not foreign to my contemporary sensibilities because at an early age I heard them repeated.  They were recited and memorized, not with cold, analytical study, but so that they would retain their original fervor from the time they were initially pronounced.  Here is my challenge as a parent – to create a biblically literate culture for my own children to grow up in.  Living out our faith somehow breathes life back into “obsolete” documents of the distant past, and imbues them with significance.  Because of this, the Hebrew (and Greek) scriptures, their poetry and ancient civilizations have never been completely foreign or irrelevant to me.

Holy words long preserved

For our walk in this world

They resound with God’s own heart

Oh, let the ancient words impart.

 

Words of life, words of Hope

Give us strength, help us cope

In this world, where e’er we roam

Ancient words will guide us home.

 

Ancient words ever true

Changing me, changing you

We have come with open hearts

Oh, let the ancient words impart.

 

Holy words of our Faith

Handed down to this age

Came to us through sacrifice

Oh, heed the faithful words of Christ

 

Holy words long preserved

For our walk in this world

They resound with God’s own heart

Oh, let the ancient words impart.

 

Ancient words ever true

Changing me, changing you

We have come with open hearts

Oh, let the ancient words impart.

– Michael W. Smith