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Considering Dubai

A cardboard box, some packing tape, and a long green line of yarn. A stub of a carrot and an orange crayon. This is all that is needed, apparently, for a six and seven year old to catch a rabbit. A light hand on a shoulder, leaning in for a whisper, the two look as if they have known each other for a couple of years. Not two days.

Our new neighbors have a smiling toddler with a constant grin and a full head of thick, jet black hair. This family is originally from Pakistan, and I marvel how this robust, stocky young man could belong to the slight young woman. Her brother and his family are visiting from Dubai. For the last two days, G and their six year old son, who enthusiastically sings the lyrics to “Eye of the Tiger,” have quickly become acquainted. They have plotted to trap rabbits darting about the yard at early dusk, created itemized lists of supplies for various projects, caught grasshoppers,engaged in squirt gun battles, and examined fireflies in the dark. Their visit is coming to an end later this week, and we may or may not see them again, but I believe this has been a happy event in G’s summer.

He has enjoyed having a conveniently located playmate. He understands how happy his new friend is to discover a temporary friend right next door to fill in for more permanent ones back in Dubai. G is proud to be a part of this little boy’s first United States experience.

After their first playtime together, G and I searched a map of the Middle East so he could discover Dubai nestled on the coast of the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia.

And, friends, this is how a child might best learn geography, cultures, compassion, openness, and an eagerness for the greater world. Even right next door. The world is probably closer than you think.

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Looking at the map, G said, “Well, I never really thought about going to Dubai before.” He shrugged. “But I guess we could go.”

For our records: First grade

In ten years I suspect I will look back on G’s first grade year, and primarily remember us reading together. I might remember him lugging his math manipulatives up and down the stairs, or driving him to his art co-op class, but what I will likely remember most is all the books we read when he was six…together, cuddled up on my bed in the middle of the day, or out on the patio swing in the back yard.

Our daily read alouds were such an integral part of our day. They provided tremendous opportunities for discussion. I believe if we had ever skipped reading on any one day,  I would not have felt we had “done school”, even if we had successfully covered math, writing and art.

In order to collect ideas and grow our book list,  I enjoy seeing what other people are reading with their kids. For our records, and in case you are interested, here is what G and I read for first grade.

G’s READING LIST 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEARIMG_7565

  Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

 The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

  Leif the Lucky,

Columbus,

Pocahontas,

George Washington,

Benjamin Franklin,

Abraham Lincoln,  and

Buffalo Bill by Ingrid and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

Ember Falls by S.D. Smith

In theYear of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty Bao Lord

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne

George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer

Half-Magic by Edward Eager

The Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager

Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager

The Time Garden by Edward Eager

Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

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G looks at his reading list.

Me: What was your favorite book this year?

G: Probably Winnie the Pooh and the Half-Magic books. Oh, and The Green Ember.

Me: Why those?

G: They were just so magical and fun.

Lilies in Solidarity

With a heavy heart I approach the Easter season. Death is inextricably intertwined with this holiday of faith. In order for there to be rejoicing on Sunday, there must be the death on Friday afternoon. And yet although He died “once for all,” (Romans 6:10) there are still countless lives lost every year because of hatred.  As a Christian, I know these are not pointless deaths. They are horrible and unthinkable. Yet in Christ’s powerful narrative over death He has brought victory.


Here I am talking about the bombings at Coptic churches in Tanto and Alexandria, Egypt this past Palm Sunday. This brief post is a prayer for the families and for the perpetrators that Christ’s love and sacrifice will prevail in all of our hearts. I pray for peace. I pray not only for the kind of peace which erases war and terrorism, but the true peace which obliterates any kind of animosity, jealousy, greed, avarice, envy and prejudices. I pray against even the threat of violence. I pray for the peace that passes our understanding.

The Coptics date their Christian faith and practice back to Mark’s missionary journey to Egypt around 50AD, approximately the time Paul wrote his epistle to the Galatians. They broke off from what was then mainstream Christianity in 451 AD at the Council Of Chalcedon over their Christology (their view of Christ’s divinity and humanity). As I am technically a Protestant- although I dislike this term as I am not protesting anything- there are a few doctrinal and practical differences in our faith. This, however, is immaterial at such a time as this. I can only bow my head in prayer for such a people, who for centuries have been persecuted, and yet still seem to endure, who in recent years are only further persecuted, threatened and even murdered for wearing the name of Christ. May He keep His promises and strengthen His church.


We live less than half a mile from this Coptic church under construction. It is a daily reminder of the universality of the Christian faith. Even in the suburban Midwest, I feel a connection to those far away. What could I possibly do besides pray for these people? Indeed, what is the greatest thing we could do, if not to pray?! 

And so I pray. Yes, I pray for peace. I pray for their safety. I pray for the terrorism to cease. But as the early church also prayed, I pray we also have the boldness to live lives of faith.

I want them to know we are praying as well. It may seem trivial, but my husband has been talking about giving them flowers in our support. Ever since the January bombings of last year. And so, today, S and G and I brought them Easter lilies. Lilies in solidarity. I do not know if these Christians have any personal connections to Egypt, or any family members living there. Perhaps they have all been here for generations. But, we take this time at Easter to rejoice together that there is Life even in the middle of death. And I am encouraged that there are others around me who are struggling to live out their faith as well.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of the cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself…

Colossians 1:18-20 KJV

Please pray with me for them.

Walls

We have been hearing a lot of talk about walls. Some people want to build them, and some are concerned about who is going to pay for them. There have been walls throughout history. Some were constructed to keep others out. Automatically, the Great Wall of China comes to mind. It was built in 221-206 BCE by millions of slave laborers in order to obstruct the Mongolian armies from invading.

The Jewish Old Testament writer Nehemiah, after leaving his position in exile as cup-bearer to the Persian king, also built a wall. Nehemiah led the the returning exiles in rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. Unfortunately, this was also the topic of the inaugural day sermon with erroneous modern political applications. Both of these walls are examples of division in order to keep invaders out.

Likewise, there have been, and are, walls to sequester or keep people inside its borders. The Berlin Wall, which was suddenly and clandestinely erected in 1961, divided West and East. It separated families and friends for nearly thirty years. Prison walls, with their high fences, armed guards and barbed wires, do the same for punitive purposes.

Yet, two-thousand years ago a greater wall was razed.

“…at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace.” Ephesians 2:12-15, emphasis mine.

Now, there is a vast difference between political attitudes and spiritual truths. We must be careful not to confuse patriotism with our spiritual identity in Christ. The first is temporal, the last is eternal. The former is confined, the latter is universal. One necessarily focuses on divisions and pits “us” versus “them.” The other focuses on  our similarities and recognizes our shared humanity and dependence on our Creator.

Regardless of what any nation chooses to do to “secure their borders,” or  “protect their people,” as followers of Jesus Christ, we must see ourselves as a people of God not to be protected, but to protect.

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

also

“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10: 19

Here I am not speaking to American agendas. Honestly, I don’t understand enough about the formation of foreign policy. Here, instead, I speak to the heart of a Christian, whether that Christian resides in the United States,or Egypt, Hungary, the United Kingdom or Burma. Our heart must be against walls of animosity and criticism. While American policies may fluctuate between good and evil, as Christians we live to a higher standard, that of God’s justice and righteousness. The walls have already been brought down. So when I meet someone from Mexico whose child is having a difficult time adjusting at school, I will not question whether or not they are here legally. So, I will no longer question whether or not my recent financial contribution was used in a way that I deem responsible. So, when I hear in someone’s voice anger and hurt at past wrongs, I will not discredit their pain. I will not put up defenses. Instead, I will strive to discover commonalities, and see them through the eyes of Christ’s compassion. Our task is simply to step across the previously existing lines, and be grateful.

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.”