Seth reverently gave me one of these a month or so ago. I was enchanted by its unique strawberry shape and guarded it well. I had no idea that these are all over our yard from the two Oak trees. It was such a beautiful day today that we had a picnic on the front lawn. Too tired to post about it now, but wanted to show these “cool beans.”
Seth and Zoe have me all to themselves now that the two older ones are going to public school. We are having fun!
On day one of our third year of homeschooling, we drove out to our friends’ house in (what we call) the country. The Alders expanded their chicken coop and have new baby chicks they are kind enough to share with their friends. We spent a good two hours at their house because it was so easy to stay and visit and laugh. Seth was incredibly excited about getting pooped on by a baby chicken. Boys and poop… I rest my case.
Seth was very excited to come home and write in his journal about his exciting day. He asked if we could go to their house every day or every week. Not sure our friends would go for that. After we had lunch and while Zoe was taking a nap, we got started on our science project–something I saw on Pinterest which was very cute and science worthy. Plus, it makes me cool that we made candy on our first day. (I am willing to admit that in the back of my mind I wanted to counteract any desires for him to go to public school like his siblings. I feel strongly that he should be home with me.) It has been really interesting to see how Zoe and Seth are reacting to having to wait a whole week before they get their chops on these rock candy sticks. Delayed gratification is good for building character, right?
Next, I introduced Seth to Gamma, the next MathUSee book for him. He is so glad to finally learn multiplication. It was good to sit with him and watch the lightbulbs going off. I love this curriculum. I think in the end, Seth will run circles around his older siblings in his grasp of mathematics. (That would be the perfect revenge for all their heckling. “What?! You don’t know how to multiply??” I could smack them both.)
We started Volume 2: The Middle Ages in The Story of the World. When we read the first chapter, it was nice to see that Seth remembered a lot about the Fall of Rome. He didn’t want to stop reading until we had read the whole chapter which was basically a review of the last chapter of Volume 1. Today we are going to review what we read and make a Roman Legion’s Signum. Then we will move on to The Early Days of Britain and the Celts. Should we watch Braveheart? No, you’re right… a little too brutal for his age.
I have a Charlotte Mason book called Simply Grammar that I decided to introduce to Seth. I’ve had it since last year, but could never bring myself to use it with everyone. It’s perfect for one-on-one instruction because it’s very gentle. You’ve seen the sterile grammar books that are cut and dry, but this one has a meandering-through-life-let’s-go-catch-bugs-outside-now feel to it. I feel like cozying up on the couch with him while we write sentences and make up stories about the old style pen and ink drawings in the book. It was funny when he first read the instructions and then looked at the picture of a girl with no shoes on and another girl, fully dressed holding a pair of shoes. He said, “But Mom, I don’t know this story.” I told him that he was supposed to make one up and to look at the clues. Immediately he rattled off a story about how the girl played at the park and then couldn’t find her shoes so she went home without them and that’s why the other girl was just coming in to return them.
Seth began reading The Indian in the Cupboard on his own. When he was done, he came and narrated back to me what he had read. He seems to really like the book and when I ask him questions about it, he has great answers. I started reading this book to them out loud, but I find that Seth retains information better when he sees it. He doesn’t do well with audio books at all.
For Citizenship, we will continue to work on his Cub Scout Bear Book. There’s always a chapter in the Scout books that has to do with Citizenship. He will also get to listen in on Zack’s Merit Badges (Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World). We will continue with learning the states and their Postal Abbreviations, the Declaration of Independence, and creating a notebook with details of each state. There’s also an educational program on the History Channel called, “How Did the States Get Their Shape?” which might be good to watch. I’ve recorded some, but haven’t viewed them yet.
For Spelling, he will continue with Spelling Power. I may go back to having him type his list online at Spelling City. This will give him some typing practice and allow him some game time that is educational. He will also get some computer time practicing typing skills online, as well as emailing letters to family. I’m going to stress the different parts of a letter even in email. We have already made it a rule that if they get on the computer they have to email a letter to someone. So far, Seth and Zack have only written to each other little sentences back and forth. We have to be very specific, it seems.
At least, Seth only has to fight with Zoe over computer time. Zoe can get online, install an app for a game, and then start playing it. Her favorite website is NickJr.com and she loves playing Dora Paint, Nehao something or other, and the Backyardigans. She does pretty well on the Plants vs. Zombies game, too. She has her own email address, but the emails she sends out are mostly gibberish with a few Zoe’s thrown in there. So if you have gotten one of these, just know that she told everyone in the household at least twice that she did her name.
Here’s another thing I found on Pinterest… Bugles + strawberry cream cheese = little ice cream cones.
Take a look at our science project… the crystals have formed on the sticks, but also on the bottom of the jars and in a crust at the top of the jar. I am thinking of pouring the rest onto pans to make the liquid evaporate faster. I think the rock candy sticks are enough to make the kids happy.
And that’s a wrap. Thanks for all of your support and prayers. We need it/them. Here’s to a good school year!
Our back-to-school date is always September 1. It’s the magic time when all video game playing ceases and Harry gets back on the Hogwarts Express. Magic, I tell you, because my kids automatically know that it’s time to hit the books. This year will be a little bit different.
We decided during registration that Zack would benefit from going to public school full time. Playing cello in the Varsity Orchestra and participating in UIL competitions would be uncomplicated if he were fully enrolled. He expressed an interest in running track and I was pretty sure that all the sports competitions are UIL. The athletics class begins with football and track comes later, but he decided to try football also. We sent him to a four-day camp at the beginning of August and he got a brutal introduction to the world of sports in the heat of Texas. (He threw up on the first day and one of the coaches told him not to do that on the field, but to go “over there” and do it. He didn’t really want to return, but I had already told him not to judge his experience from the first day. He made it through the camp and ended up liking football.) When I asked the counselor what it would take to enroll Zack full-time, she said, “Let me go and find out.” We were sitting in the lobby for quite a while when she finally returned and said, “OK. He’s fully enrolled.” I was a little taken aback because I had not asked her to enroll him, but decided to just go with it because we were there to sign up for football and I couldn’t sign the forms and get a uniform for Zack unless he was a full-time student. Long story, short, Zack reports that he no longer feels sick and his helmet doesn’t hurt his head as much anymore (this after two weeks of school). His favorite classes are Orchestra, Math and Reading Strategies. I can tell you that we hit the ground running with this kid and we haven’t stopped… just as I suspected, he has not felt the stress of it in the least. He is well suited for this constant changing and running ragged.
The first week of public school, Sarah started her first year of Seminary–at 5:40 am (!!)–and continued with band at the high school as a part-time student. We began to consider whether or not she would benefit from attending full-time. It would be good for her to be able to compete in UIL competitions and get to display the skills she worked so hard for. The seriousness of the high school band, the commitment and dedication needed, first brought to my mind that I should consider a public high school experience for her. Plus, I could not see myself devoting much time for homeschooling the two youngest if I was driving her back and forth from seminary and back and forth from school and back and forth for after school practices. Wayyyy too much driving. Sarah didn’t want to at first, but wanted to wait until next year. I told her that if she had any desire to go to high school, she should start at the beginning of the high school curriculum. I emailed her counselor and the reply confirmed my thoughts. I gave Sarah and us (Josh and me) a week to pray, ponder, and pro/con list the idea of her returning. At the end of the week, we all felt good about it. Sarah was enrolled that Friday afternoon with a phone call from the counselor later that day asking us to come in for her full schedule on Monday morning.
Something I love about her schedule is that she is the only girl in her Architecture class. Her teacher seems really on the ball and his website is the most developed out of any I’ve seen so far. Sarah thoroughly enjoyed her first week doing something she actually shows some passion about. Architecture was a spur-of-the-moment choice while on the phone with her counselor. All the options for Sarah to choose just one more elective didn’t sound interesting to her. I was surprised when Sarah chose it. It’s moments like these that make me feel like we have discovered/uncovered a bit more of who she will become.
Another pleasant surprise is that she chose French. I had no idea she wanted to learn French and it has been fun busting out my limited knowledge from when I took French in high school. She also has English Pre-AP, Symphonic I Band (with the option to move up to Wind Symphonic if she works hard), Biology Pre-AP and World Geography Pre-AP. Her math class on the first day was Algebra I, but Sarah insisted that it was way too easy, so we asked for her to move to Geometry. The counselor asked for some paperwork and went ahead and changed her schedule on the second day, but Sarah had a doctor appointment and missed it that day. She would eventually have to take an exam and pass with a 70% or above in order to get credit for Algebra I, but it takes a while for the test request to be filled. Sarah has been to the Geometry class twice and has been lost both times. The class was taught by a substitute teacher who apparently did not give any instruction at all. The counselor asked us to talk about it over the weekend and then see how we feel on Tuesday. I think it would be best for her to go back to Algebra I even though most of it will be review. She has a lot of other Pre-AP classes and not a lot of time between band practice and bedtime.
With two in and two out, I have already noticed a difference in the household. Family scripture study is a lot easier to hold when everyone is present. Hopefully, the last two years will stick out in my children’s brains as a time of less stress and more abundance of the Spirit in the home. I’m hoping for Zack to rely on his new priesthood responsibilities as an extra layer of protection while out in the world. Things are so busy all the time, perhaps they will appreciate more the last two years. I miss them a lot and marvel at how little time I have with them now, but ultimately, I think this is a good thing for our family at this time.
As of now, I have no intention of returning Seth to public school or letting Zoe go. In the past, I entertained the idea that Kindergarten would be good for her, but I have since learned that my favorite teacher has retired, so I’m reluctant to let her enter the system. I am excited to devote more time to my younger ones at home. Seth is way more excited this year just from the first two days (which I will blog next with pictures). It seems that each new year of homeschool will be nothing like the last.
My days are still full. I have my day job. I have my church calling. I have my two younger ones to educate at home. I have driving to Seminary and football practices in the mornings and picking up from orchestra sectionals and band practices in the afternoon. There’s homework assignments and tests to make up (for Sarah since she technically missed the first week of school). So far, I have bus chaperoned for two Fridays at football games for the band with the promise of middle school games to start this week. I have to remember not to schedule anything on Thursday mornings because the two older ones have a late start on school. My brain cells have had to adjust to the new schooling demands.
I still remember where I was (walking down the hallway of our two-bedroom apartment towards my room) when I first learned about Harry Potter. The first three books came out without my knowing and the craze that surrounded the fourth one caused my in-laws to remark about it. I said, “Who is Harry Potter?” They directed me to an article in a magazine. It was not long before I had caught up–maybe four days later I had read all four, and I was hooked.
My soon-to-be twelve-year-old son, Zack, was barely walking. That year, I used my brown eyeliner to draw round specs and a lightning scar on Zack’s face for Halloween. I cut an old, acrylic, black skirt down the side, sewed a straight stitch to create a hood at the top, and secured the sides under his chin with a brooch. It served as an excellent cloak. It was the best costume ever. Most of the younger set got his costume, but I actually had to explain to some people that he was Harry Potter. That was before you could buy a full Gryffindor costume complete with striped scarlet and gold scarf.
I saw many people tonight (er, this morning) wearing scarves to the final installment of the Harry Potter films. None of them have to be the right color nowadays as long as you’re also carrying a stick. Stick + scarf = wizard. (If you don’t know this then you’ve most likely been hiding in a hole on another planet in another universe.) Even better if you wrap a tie loosely around your collar and wear a vest. I saw many dressed as Hogwarts students and one particularly amazing Umbridge. Very pink and sweet. She posed for a picture with a nasty smirk and I thought she must be a theatre arts student to pull off the contradictory clothing so well. My favorite costume of all was seeing a guy in ripped jeans wearing a shirt that said “Mug-gle” on two lines. It was a simplistic design success in just the right font. It was great to see so much enthusiasm in the crowd.
The same was true for the energy in the theatre. Lots of enthusiastic yelling and screaming and clapping when the Harry Potter title came on and again when Mrs. Weasley says her stolen line. A few yells erupted from my own throat almost involuntarily. It doesn’t matter that Sigourney Weaver said it first to an alien mother, the line worked in the movie. And apparently in the book for the younger set. Sarah said her reaction was, “Go, Mrs. Weasley!” Mine was, “Aw, man. I guess J.K. Rowling saw Alien.” In the movie, however, I was very glad they left that in. It was good to yell like a teenager.
I can’t believe twelve years have passed. I thought I would die of anticipation waiting for first, all the books to be written, and then all the movies to be made. Here we are on the other side. J.K. Rowling has changed our world with her genius imagination. Hats off to her and many thanks. The hype may never completely die down. The young actors we fell in love with in the Sorcerer’s Stone can now live their lives and hope to out grow their fame as the characters Harry, Hermione and Ron. When they stood at the edge of Hogwarts with closed eyes, I thought, “This is the end of an era.” It may take more than twice another twelve years before my daughter starts to feel indignant at the new generation that asks, “Who is Harry Potter?” I hope she will tell them about how I read the first few books to her while she followed along and laugh at how I mispronounced so many of the words in the spells. She will remember how I bought special fabric so that I could make her a robe and pointy hat for Halloween so that she could be Hermione. I hope she will feel a kinship with me when she gropes in her memory for the exact wording of the nonsense songs that Peeves spouted which she so eloquently recited tonight on our drive home from the theatre. She will remember how I couldn’t remember all the details that she carries around in her head from her multiple reads of the Harry Potter series.
I’m just waiting for the day I completely forget everything (obliviate!) so that I can reread the series and live at Hogwarts again.
We have been enjoying our summer in our favorite tourist town, Port Aransas, TX. This year, the paper reported that there would be 150,000 people (a whole lot more than the 3300+ that already live here) on the island for the Independence Day fireworks. They shoot them from Roberts Point Park every year and they are really spectacular–forty-five minutes of wow right on top of your head. The kids have experienced them in the past, but this was my first time. I was sufficiently filled with wonder once they started, but I had to work to achieve that piece of nirvana. First, I had to brave traffic, get yelled at from a local woman, park at the library and walk to the point, endure the whines of the little one about needing a drink or playing at the park while the older ones argued about unimportant things. Once the explosions started, however, everything was worth it.
What is it about explosions of different colors that really bring home the awesomeness of America? I felt really glad to be American and to be free. Free to gesture wildly back at that local woman to quit yelling. Free to choose where I celebrate Independence Day. Free to drive from city to city without a passport (in dire need of an oil change). Free to be happy. Free to have four children. Free to raise them and school them according to what I deem to be important. Free to sacrifice. Free to remember the sacrifices of others, past and present. At the sound of the first boom, I felt my heart swell and I thought to the universe, “Happy Birthday, America!”
Only two nights later, the International Space Station passed directly overhead while we were outside fishing, and I felt a kinship with the whole world. We are truly blessed to live here. Maybe it’s the sky that makes me feel these big feelings. Whenever I look up, especially to see the night sky, my spirit lifts. Maybe it’s because I’m on vacation and I’m taking the time to notice these things in the absence of work and everyday stress. That must be it.
Everyone except Daddy has been playing in the surf, building dribble castles, and playing with the wildlife. The beach is awash with coquinas and the kids like trying to catch the little baby minnows swimming in the shallow surf. Zoe has been making leaps and bounds in her ability to navigate the water. She went from a tight-cling-to-the-mommy to floating on her back with her life jacket on, bobbing up and down as the waves dictate. Poor niece Karmen has been stung by jelly fish three times this summer. I’m not sure what attracts them to her, but she is becoming a pro at how to handle the trauma. We are prepared with the meat tenderizer so that no one has to pee on her–much to everyone’s relief.
Daddy has been at home, working and playing with the new Google+. I was lucky enough to get an invite to the beta website, too, and tested the “hangout” feature for the first time last night. Hanging out is a great name for the live webcam session with more than one person. It’s like Skype, but better. At one point, we had five people on stopping in to say hello. One provided the awesome jazz guitar background music, one helped me install the scripts he wrote for Google+ to add convenience (he just does this stuff for fun to benefit others and he’s a really great guy), and one was funny (that would be my spousal unit), and we all just hung out. Well, I was mostly listening to them talk geek, but it was fun to be included. It’s always fun to be included in just about any situation. I’ve added friends and family that are in my contacts to my circles, and it will be interesting to see who comes to hang out and if the masses leave the Facebook realm. The people I interact with most (and I have not done much but lurk) now on Google+ are Friendfeeders.
Back to vacation… we haven’t been eating out much because Grandma is a good cook, but today we made up for it by hitting two places… Juan’s for lunch and Moby Dick’s for dinner. I am so stuffed. I hope the Mexican and seafood play nice in my tummy. I even took the kids to the Candy Store again. You know, the one with the huge rattlesnake? Yeah, only in South Texas. Winton’s expanded and renovated their space and it’s a very happy place. I always get the gummy grapefruit slices since I can’t seem to get them anywhere else. I also added some Swedish fish to my little white paper bag (they sell their stuff by the pound and provide little paper sacks to collect sweets in).
Now it’s time for feeding the seagulls and sunset. I’ll have to add pictures later. Hope y’all are enjoying the summer. We wish you were here!
I can now breathe. Our one fundraiser per year is now done. It was a smashing success… thanks to the support that the Young Women receive each year from our ward family. So many people volunteered to cook the food we provided, serve in the kitchen, and provide items for auction. (I really love you all.) It is amazing to me how many people show up to pay for a spaghetti dinner being served by young women ranging in ages from 12-18. This less-than-gourmet meal, served by an untrained staff, ends up being a recipe for one of the most fun nights of the year.
The lost sleep wondering what else could be done to prepare, was worth it for me when receiving so many compliments for pulling off a great night. I cannot take full credit because much of the success is due to my Visiting Teaching sister, Michele. Visiting her one day in February, she mentioned that her husband would be happy to DJ a dance for adults. I did not realize that Carl is a man after my own husband’s heart. He has cables, speakers, adapters, microphones, stands, a mirror ball, lights, inputs and outputs… he’s got everything (sing in voice of the Little Mermaid). It took him two hours to set up equipment that took two vehicles to transport. He brought lights from home to light up the auction table, a floor lamp to add ambience and channel the restaurant feel to the Cultural Hall, and a screen and projector that was set up in a another room for the children to watch the movie Tangled. (It was relayed to me later how my daughter and other little girls her age, held chins in hands while lined up on their tummies side by side with eyes fixed on the princess Rapunzel wielding her frying pan on the screen. Too cute!) He also brought a monitor and Wii so that families could play Just Dance between song selections. It added a multi-interactive party element to the whole night.
Brother Stew’s willingness to do all these things touched my heart. It was an act of service showing the love he has for his art, his wife, and through his wife, me. I could not help but reflect on my island heritage of Guam when dancing the Cha-Cha with my husband to a popular Chamorro song. Carl and Michele danced alongside us and their stamina and grace surpassed ours. I’ve received many compliments on Carl’s excellent voice and I experienced his ability to use humor to grab the attention of a large room full of people.
The room was not big enough to receive all those who came. We had to set up a few more tables on the “dance floor”. Some families were turned away because we were full to bursting. After only an hour of opening, we ran out of spaghetti sauce. At this time, I believe my family was the only one that ate their noodles with just butter. I hope they were, anyway. This is true for most of the young women, as well. I heard that some of them ate dessert, but I don’t think any of them ate dinner. I think this is a sacrifice that they should be willing to make in order to receive the funds they did to help them go to camp. I suppose in the future, they should be told to eat something before they come OR serve themselves a plate when serving their families and then eat it when their tables are all served.
The youngest member of the group, who is not yet in YW, but will be by the time we go to camp, not only showed up to help, but didn’t stop. I ran out of things to tell her to do. She’s my MVP. I have a gift for her. Michele gave me a bracelet with different colored beads to represent the different values in the YW theme –white for faith, blue for divine nature, red for individual worth, green for knowledge, orange for choice and accountability, yellow for good works, purple for integrity, and gold for virtue. On the day of the fundraiser, I showed her how I had lost the red bead and she took it home to fix. When she returned that evening for dinner, she brought me my fixed bracelet and another one similar. She said I could give it to one of the young women. I think it would be a perfect gift for our youngest, soon-to-be Beehive. Don’t you?
I was proud of all the Young Women and their service. They really tried to carry multiple plates the way I had taught them on the Wednesday before. They took notes on what people wanted using a kind of shorthand that was also taught. I wished that we had trays to serve with, like a real restaurant. I know how hard it is to serve when the establishment lacks proper equipment. If we ever have a surplus of funds, I think it would be beneficial to have these items. Or maybe we could rent them from some party place or hotel? These are things I want to look into for next year.
It was definitely a learning experience for me. I have great ideas to improve the night… like start off with tables to seat as many as possible that can be taken down later for the dance floor. More food would be good, too, so that none are turned away. More water and less powder for the lemonade that was made in the 5 gallon coolers. (Sorry, folks, I didn’t taste it when we made it and it wasn’t until I got home that I realized it was like drinking Lemonheads.) More tables for the auction… or a way to stack items upwards. We probably only need to use half sheets to take up less space. The bidding battles that take place can continue on the back.
I was really glad that Sandra, who serves as First Counselor in our YW organization, had all of the bidding sheets files on her computer already. I was blown away by the graphics used and certificates she printed out. I liked the little cardboard holders her husband and daughters cut out, too. We really needed them and I never once thought of them ahead of time. My other counselor, Tobi, turns out to be a master at pinning white lights to carpet walls in loop de loops. She was a stalwart soldier showing up to decorate earlier in the day and then staying late that night constantly doing what needed to be done. My secretary, Natasha, was overseer of decor and showed up with tablecloths borrowed from the Relief Society and then took them home that night to wash. I’m grateful to work with these women who serve without thinking of what’s in it for them. They serve and come back the next day asking what more they can do to help.
Thanks to my neighbor, John, for setting up his backdrop and lights so that we could have pictures taken. I asked him on the day of the activity when our scheduled photographer experienced a flare up in carpal tunnel syndrome in one of his hands. John was willing to help at the last minute, and I was glad that he was able to shoot pictures of couples to capture the fun they had at La Bella Bistro.
Finally, I know you’re reading this, Arwen… thanks for coming up with a great fundraising night that we can continue in your absence. We missed you and your family at La Bella Bistro this year.
“Sometimes we let our thoughts of tomorrow take up too much of today. Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort but will not take the place of living in the present. This is the day of our opportunity, and we must grasp it.” -Thomas S. Monson
Zoe got invited to her first tea party ever. Being the princess-obsessed, three-year-old that she is, she knew instinctively that a tea party was something she wanted to go to. I didn’t have to explain it to her. She went to the door immediately to put on her shoes. I had to call her back because it wasn’t time to go yet. The thing that’s puzzling to me is that Mormons don’t drink tea, so how does she even know what a tea party is?
I don’t know that I would know how to throw a tea party, so I was looking forward to seeing how they do it in Stewartville–home to three princesses. My own Sarah had no interest in dolls or princesses or tea parties. Maybe I didn’t give her a chance because she was too busy throwing aliens around the house. The only time she wore pink was when she was too young to protest. And then there was Zoe. She loves baby dolls, kittens, and pink. She covets all things with the Disney princesses on it even if she doesn’t know what it is. I don’t know how or why she is like this, but it had nothing to do with me. She came this way. And now I’m experiencing all kinds of new adventures… like tea parties.
It was such a perfect day for an outdoor déjeuner with other princess-obsessed girly girls. Zoe rang the bell and then ran to stand back, holding her purse and doll, a few paces out from the door. I guess she thought that’s what princesses do. I felt like she was following some higher law of good manners while waiting to be received. If there is any proof that your clothes dictate your behavior, this was it… dress like a princess and your manners become refined. And then she entered the house, took off her shoes, and ran to the back yard in her bare feet. (Elegance could not be upheld with her Hawaiian-style upbringing of removing shoes upon entering a house.) Princess B and Princess Sweet P were seated at the princess table in their finery and graciously received her. Zoe then began sharing the contents of her purse with them. (That’s what princesses do.) Then they colored Princess place mats, picked out princess bracelets, and played with play dough while waiting for Princess Emily to arrive. She gave everyone magnetic dolls. Zoe was in princess heaven.
The feast was brought out and everything was beautifully decorated. Cheese and crackers, orange wedges, pink candy corn, fudge, and water in little tea cups–the simplest of foods– was made gourmet in its presentation. Princess B, being the oldest, was the most elegant. I loved watching these little girls enter a world of imagination come to life with a few props. And then they got down on the grass and played princess soccer (kicking little colored balls around with reckless abandon). Such fun! A great way to spend an hour with friends.
Cracking, shifting plates
Swooshing, sucking water
In, over Earth’s wounds
Enourmous, indestructable force
Pure power pushing, claiming land
Barely a warning
All shores fear
Save those who quake and tremble with terror
No room, no time
For sick fascination
This moment, nothing’s sweeter than life
Of the way
The sea. Pulling, calling waters thick and black
With dirt and dark sorrow
Back to the depths, to calmer waters
Taking all which ripped from the ground
Loved ones washing away.
I know, five more days until March… Happy New Year anyway. I hope it is going well for you so far. As for me…
My cyber footprint has diminished somewhat. Sometimes I just have to step away and deal with real life for a while. Either that or read a book. I confess, I never really give up my addictions… I just swap them out for a different one. I don’t think I do it on purpose, it’s just a kind of a mental mechanism against stress.
So here’s a sum up since November… Josh started a new job that has to commute to, we visited his parents and grandparents for Christmas, we both got new callings at church (he’s in Primary and working with the 11-year-old scouts and I’m in YW), the kids decided to quit the YMCA, Zoe turned three, I started coaching a friend’s daughter in volleyball in exchange for hair cuts (we are currently looking for a place to continue since we’re not allowed to do it at the church building), my mom came for a visit earlier this month which was a nice surprise, I got a new printer with ink cartridges that sell for only $5 black (prints 500 pages) and $9 color, it almost snowed and the public schools issued a snow day (Josh was able to work from home during that same week), we went on our only scheduled field trip for the year at a restaurant called A Taste of Texas (it was awesome!), Zoe is now successfully potty trained (no accidents in the last few days–woo hoo!) and enjoys wearing princess panties while Mommy enjoys the final death of the diaper era, and… that’s about it.
You may see another post soon featuring some of the above items mentioned, but I won’t promise anything. You never know when a book will jump up and consume all my attention and will power. For now, just know that even if I don’t wish you Happy Birthday on Facebook, it’s not because I don’t love you. I still hope 2011 is a great year for all.
The power of Facebook… when you have a big family like mine, and you grow up and live far away from the main clan and then convert to a different religion… Facebook can bring you into contact with your extended family. Maybe get you more intimate contact than you have a right to depending on how active the members of your family are and the nature of their use of social media. Most of the younger set use it to keep in contact with their friends, so having me, your long lost cousin, comment can be an intrusion. This is me commenting without cramping anyone’s style.
My dad’s youngest brother has a son in high school that I haven’t seen since he was small. He was real shy, but so cute when he was little and even though I know he’s practically grown now (and still cute!), I picture him as that little boy. Through FB, I know that he likes soccer, has a positive outlook on life, is well loved, and that he loves God. He posted a status about a chapter he read from a book that moved him called Crazy Love. I Googled it and was sent on an inspiring journey learning about Francis Chan, his message, and what he has done with his life.
The book is interactive as far as printed paper can be–you can read the first chapter online. At one point for emphasis, Chan wants you to stop and watch a video “The Awe Factor of God” and so I did. I watched it while I continued to read the book. Then as you read along, again, he wants you to watch another video, so I clicked the link to “Just Stop and Think” and watched that too, followed by reading the Q&A interview he gave. All of it online. Chan has a great message in both videos. As I read the first chapter of the book I liked his way of getting your attention by naming the first chapter “Stop Praying,” but there is still a lot missing. I ignored what I believe is true for that moment and let his words wash over me. I understand what he means.
I like the message, but it is just a morsel to get you through the door. With so many people in the world today avoiding/not seeing/boarding up the door, I can appreciate the message and his ministry. I like that he only wants to get you to stop and look inside yourself and feel what’s there. He’s not out to bash your head in with the Bible, but he is truly in awe of God and wants you to only acknowledge it in quiet reflection to yourself. Forget what your head knows and ask your spirit, is how I see it. Your spirit was with Him before you came to Earth, so he/she would know truth when presented with it.
Perhaps if I read the rest of the book, I would find the meat of Chan’s message, but I can already appreciate what he has to say–both with his words and with his actions. He is the pastor of a “giving church” that gives away “55% of everything that comes in”. I like when people practice what they preach and I admire anyone setting out on a journey for truth in their lives. He says that it only makes sense to give when the Bible says we are to lay up treasures in heaven. He turns around the questions many have asked of God to question ourselves, “Why are so many people dying of starvation?”.
I like the turning of the question, but I do not agree that things are the way they are “because He is God”. I think we are simply children who cannot fathom the reasons our Heavenly Father would allow justice and free agency to unfold in the same way my two-year-old daughter cannot comprehend me allowing her brothers and sister to reap the consequences of breaking rules or being lazy. If they get spanked, it’s not because I don’t love them. Still, I understand his reasons because people so love to ask of God what’s wrong with the world when simple investigation would yield that without righteousness there can be no peace. The Hawaiians knew that the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono. It’s not God’s fault.
I flat out disagree with Chan’s statement “because none of us are good” under the the bolded paragraph leader “God is fair and just.” I mean, I get that he thinks God is this really big, bright entity with power and glory. I thought that about my dad when I was little, too. We are just children. I know that none of us could be sacrificed for sin in the way that Jesus Christ atoned because of his sinlessness, but we are inherently good.
I agree with Chan when he talks about the awesomeness of everything God has made and is and how it takes quiet contemplation to really grasp it and even then, we’d fail to comprehend it all. I think of Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God,” and that’s really the basis of Chan’s message.
I disagree that “God hates and must punish sin”. I believe that the foundation for the world was set and certain principles cannot be broken, so yeah, you’re going to get yours, but not because he’s compelled in any way by hatred. Saying you hate sin is not the same as saying you will punish sin because you hate it. Right?
As for the rest of the chapter under the heading “Before the Throne”, I will not launch into what’s what since I read the King James’ Translation of the Bible and believe that there was a lot of symbolism and imagery used. I understand that Chan wants us to feel the weight of the differences between God, who is “mighty” and “fearsome”, and man who is “puny” in comparison, though, so we’ll leave it at that. Still, I thought his interpretation was beautiful.
I am grateful for a high school student who shared his reaction to this book because it allowed me to see the kind of person I have for a cousin and to feel connected to my family. (Yay, technology!) It also let me take inventory of myself and have a reaction of my own.
I do so want to follow the Savior Jesus Christ and live as he would want me to. I hope that I will apply the inspiration I receive from those with the gift to inspire reverence and love for gospel truths, not just be fed for an hour and then walk away forgetting. I want the fruits of my lifestyle to be consistent with my beliefs. Mostly, I want my faith in Jesus Christ to grow and strengthen into not just a belief in him, but to believe him when he says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)