“Botanies”

When a child wakes up and immediately packs for a “backyard safari,” the correct answer is, “when are you heading out? And did you remember to pack a water bottle?”

As it turns out, this sweet boy desired an “adventure assistant” and asked Mommy to take the job as he was ready to head out the door. I was glad to drop other things and see the world through the wonder of his eyes. Every inch of creation is magical. This boy knows it in his bones. As he gazed around the field and forest through the binoculars, he gasped at one point: “Mommy! There are so many botanies out there!” and I suppressed my giggle enough to help him revel in the wonder of his epiphany. He was, after all, absolutely right.

He was beyond delighted to unearth an old rusted can of some sort, declaring it to be undeniable treasure. He pulled out almost every tool he had tucked into his backpack in order to dig it up and work at prying the sheets of metal apart in order to discover what the golden sheen hiding inside was made of. The slight tremor in his voice proved to me that he absolutely believed it was either elven magic or earthen gold. Eventually he said we should turn back home, treasure in hand, because he didn’t want anyone to worry about us.

Half a mile distance and half an hour’s time – that’s all it required. But who can think of the smallness of that reality when the wonderment was a thousand times bigger than that?! For five year old Simeon, we were on the other side of the world making discoveries never before touched by human hands.


Memo to self: remember to say yes to adventures with little ones.
For some excellent reading on this subject, I suggest Greta Eskridge‘s 2020 book, Adventuring Together. Such a beautiful testimony to the beautiful childhood we can encourage for the sake of our families just by saying yes to adventures ~ both big and small.

Joyful Giving

When my little girl turned eight last week, I had the joy of giving her something I knew she wanted. There was a particular pleasure of knowing that she would be delighted when she pulled the doll out of the box, because she had been hinting for months that she hoped I would give her one of my vintage American Girl dolls from the nineties. There is a sense of predictability in the giving of something that has been requested or wished-for.

Conversely, three of her brothers pooled their money to buy her a really great yo-yo because it is something THEY wanted her to have. But what was really special about this in my eyes is what the gift signified. It was not the type of gift that means, “I really wanted this, so I got it for you and hope you will let me use it,” or even “I really think you need this in order to find some certain sense of achievement…” Rather, it was a gift that implied an invitation. When her brothers (especially the two older brothers, who have been recently enamored with yo-yo skills and tricks) gave her this yo-yo, it was an invitation to join them in their fun. It was extending their hobby toward her with an open door and a mat that said, “welcome! please join us!” And they had a particular pleasure, knowing that they would be surprising her by giving her something she had not requested… except for the innate and inexhaustible desire to be welcomed and accepted and loved and included.

There are many ways to give. And the most important way is to give with a heart that overflows with joy. Our little joy-girl was given much joy by receiving gifts that were given with much joy. And it got me to thinking: how can we live and give this way not just on a birthday, not just to a family member, but within the larger context of community and daily living.

How can we pursue joyful giving???

Spent Days

Lately, I have fallen into bed at night feeling completely spent. You’ve heard that phrase, right? “I feel spent.” The definition of spent is literally to be used up, consumed, emptied, depleted. We talk about spending time or spending money. But what does it mean to spend our days? I was meditating aloud a little about that here. Today I am contemplating not what it is to spend my days, but to be spent at the end of the day.

As I think about this, I immediately think about N.D. Wilson’s book Death By Living (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite books of all time ~ grab yourself a copy or listen to the audiobook in Nate’s own voice). We were created to be used. In fact, we were created to be completely used up! God wants us to be spent. In 2 Timothy 2:21, I am reminded that it is good to be separated from dishonor so that I can be set apart for holy work, useful to God, and ready for good work.

When I reach the end of my workday feeling as though I have no more energy or wit or words, it is (or ought to be) a sign that I have been busy with the work God set before me. Have I been useful to the Lord? Have I been ready for the good work He gives me? These are questions I have been trying to ask myself at the end of the days, and I seek to answer honestly and prayerfully.

“GLORY IS SACRIFICE, GLORY IS EXHAUSTION, GLORY IS HAVING NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE. ALMOST. IT IS DEATH BY LIVING.”
~N.D. WILSON~

Do I ever feel completely spent by 11am though? Well. Yes. Yes, in fact, I often do. And that is when I take a walk, drink a glass of water, and ask God to refill me for the remainder of my day which requires a lot more spending. It is grace and glory to be exhausted. So where do we get refilled and refueled? At the feet of Jesus. In His Word. Through communing with Him in prayer. I’m most definitely not saying that an extra cup of coffee, a good cry, or a power nap are not sometimes helpful or necessary. Believe me: I run to those refill stations when I need them. But I do not want to get refueled in those ways to the exclusion of getting spiritually refilled. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3) I do need physical sustenance (water, food, exercise, rest), but if I rely too completely on the physical, I can easily begin to rely on my own strength and stamina. I also need spiritual sustenance (Scripture, song, prayer, communion, quiet/rest, hiding the Word in my heart, reading what others uncover in His Word as well), which is one of the best ways for me to remember my reliance upon His strength and provision. We can learn from Psalm 81:10 that when we open wide our mouths, He will fill them, and (in 81:16) that with fine wheat and honey. He will satisfy us when we ask! Honestly: how often do I feel unsatisfied, but don’t even realize that I haven’t bothered to ask my Father for His provision?!

So when I fall into bed at night, it is a small picture of how I want to fall into the arms of Christ at the end of my allotted days on earth. Just like going to sleep at night followed by waking in the morning (or winter’s barrenness followed by the fertility of spring) is a little picture of death and resurrection, so too is my emptiness and exhaustion a foreshadowing of what I want to find when it comes my time to die.

“BE AS EMPTY AS YOU CAN BE WHEN THAT CLOCK WINDS DOWN. SPEND YOUR LIFE. AND IF TIME IS A RIVER, MAY YOU LEAVE A WAKE.”
~N.D. WILSON~

It is a good goal to spend your life. It is a good goal to reach your death having been used up and spent.
So I ought not groan or bemoan my nights of falling into bed without energy to do another single thing before the sunrise. It should rather make me thankful, bring me to praise, cause me to rejoice. I have been given work to do, and I have done everything I can to give it my all. And it is the Lord who has provided the strength to accomplish the tasks He put in my path.

Be spent. Rejoice in being emptied for the sake of the King. When you do this work with joy, gratitude, and humility, He will refill and refuel you for what He sets before you. For the spending.

Spending Days

When it comes to learning and growing in my calling as a mama, I always enjoy gleaning from those a little bit further down the motherhood road than I am. I love to learn from books and blogs and podcasts, but one of the best ways to learn can be by watching people in your actual life, and asking questions of flesh & blood mamas within your own circles. This week, I asked a friend (whose kids are all teens now) how their family spends weekends. Not because I was wondering how to spend our family weekends now, but because I was curious about what life might look like in a few years.

But the thing Betsy said that stood out the most to me was a simple way of stating something inherently obvious:
“If you spend your Saturdays right, you can spend your Sundays right.”

And that sentiment is timeless, applicable to all phases of family life and places of living. It is true whether you are single or married, have children or not, work outside the home or not, live in the country or suburbs or city or Sahara Desert.

It reminded me of the kitschy cliché “how you spend your days is how you spend your life.”

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

How do you spend your days?
How do you want to spend your days?
When you think of “spending” your days, do you recognize that there is only a limited amount in that bank account? (And we don’t know when it will run out.)
Do you think of spending your days simply along lines of how you fill your hours with tasks? Or do you realize that you spend your days smiling or crying, eyes on phone or nose in books, thankful or bitter, circumspect or thrown to the wind?

Ends > Means

As a mother, sometimes I have to remind myself of rather basic lessons with simple equations. Ends being greater than the means is one of those lessons I pondered anew today. The end in question was fellowship amongst siblings, which is something that is very important in our home. There are lots of ways to encourage camaraderie and build friendship in relationships. Shared stories (we do lots of reading aloud here for this exact purpose), board games & card games, working in tandem, hikes & bike rides, cooking or eating together, imaginative play with blocks or dolls or (let’s be honest) just about anything that fits in a kid’s hand… there are countless ways to have fun together and nurture friendship. I love watching my kids plan and play together, run and riot together, team up and try topping one another. Being the main observer of these friendships is often a gift! Sometimes it is also a trial, because we are all sinners, and squabbles inevitably break out. Toes get stepped on, tempers ignite, a truce can be hard won. But this too is a blessing to watch or assist. We are not naïve. Teaching our children to work through relationship bumps is a hugely important part of training them in the paideia of the Lord! And where else would I rather them get this practice?! So I seek to be thankful for the teaching opportunities when they arise. Lord, give me grace to have gratitude in the moment.

So that is the end. Fellowship and friendship and togetherness. Championing one another. And I listed some means… but that list is simply a small smattering of ideas. Traditions are another means: from larger traditions like birthday or holiday habits to weekly routines of watching a movie as a family on Sunday evening. Those things foster friendship amongst our kids, and create fond communal memories. Today I watched my kids snuggle and bounce and giggle and gasp together on the couch as they played Minecraft together on their tablets. This is a special treat they are normally allowed to do once or twice each weekend. And this is circling me back around to my original thought. As I watched them, it didn’t bother me that their noses were aimed at screens and their eyes were bathed in blue light. (And that’s saying something, because I am honestly not a video game lover myself.) I was overwhelmed with joy at the fellowship they were enjoying and the friendship they were pursuing.

This is how we seek to use technology and screens in our home: to build friendship and bolster fellowship. If we use technology and screens to erect walls and encourage isolation, we are using them negatively. This goes for parents as well as for kids. I am determined not to open the laptop or swipe mindlessly on my phone as a means of folding into myself or hiding away from my family. Lord, give us grace to be honest with our intentions and outworkings.

So this is my reminder to myself (and to you): the ends are greater than the means. The joy of my children and the cumulative actions they take in growing friendship and strengthening fellowship is much more important than whether they are playing a board game or a video game. Lord, give me the grace to have eyes which see this happening in my home. Thank You for giving me children! And for giving my children true friends in one another. Amen.

Psalms 133:1
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!”

(And here is just a little plug for a beautiful resource I love: https://siblingrelationshiplab.com/
If you haven’t found their podcast yet, get it queued up! This is a blessing.)

Taking Steps

A year ago, I bought myself a FitBit watch, and grew accustomed to wearing it within a couple weeks, just like my friend Abby said I would. It had been years since I had kept the habit of wearing a watch! Mostly because I always had my cell phone with me, and it’s not like I really needed to keep track of time minute by minute. I have clocks throughout the house anyway, and the digital one on the car’s clock radio works just fine for me, thank you very much. But I have grown to actually really enjoy having a watch, especially because it means I don’t have to be pulling my phone out of my pocket every time I want to glance at the time… which is also particularly helpful, as I don’t necessarily always have it on me, since I like to practice the “foyer phone” mentality (so described in a recent Simply Convivial email by my friend Mystie) by treating my cell phone as a house phone rather than an additional appendage. Its home is in a pocket of my purse, which has its home on a hook by my desk in the kitchen. The kids all know how to access it and how to use it, and only once has one of the kids accidentally called 9-1-1.

But I digress.

My wrist is now a happy home for the watch. Which happens to count my steps, in addition to keeping me informed on the current time and reminding me to move if I grow too sedentary and showing me when a text message arrives. And while I do not have any firm or lofty goals like “lose ten pounds this year” or “go down one dress size by 2022,” I would like to continue striving toward reaching my daily (6 days a week) step goal. In fact, I would love to do 150% of my goal three times a week. I’m not sure I can do it, but having a little friendly competition does help. I am not the early bird at getting my steps, but I do like to get a quick walk in a couple times a day, and I love walking stairways after putting kids to bed or walking circles in my family room as I read aloud to the kids in the afternoon… or listening to an audiobook while I sweat on the elliptical in the basement every now and then.

I do like to take steps.
I enjoy the feeling of stretching, growing, progressing, hitting goals.

And another way I am trying to take steps this year is in my continued reading habits in pursuit of personal education & study. I have shared before about my Scholé Sisters reading challenge, and my decision to dive in over my head by adding a Literary Life reading challenge as well. A friend of mine at Redeemed Reader gleefully told me that I may as well try to fit all of those things into a 100-book reading challenge. We will see if I can squish and squash my books into that. Could be fun! I used to have my kids participate in the Read Aloud Revival read aloud challenge every January… but this year we finally outgrew it, as it felt completely obsolete: my kids all read aloud constantly! To each other, to themselves, to me, even to their great grandma. They ARE still doing the Ticket to Read reading challenge that earns them free admission to a nearby amusement park (it only requires ten hours of recreational reading, which my kids accomplish lickity-split on the regular anyway), and they will certainly want to sign up for reading challenges at Barnes & Noble and Pizza Hut again… as always… because they are avid readers, so they may as well enjoy some perks along the way.

As a busy mama of five super active (including some officially hyperactive, and gifted, or 2E) kids to educate and shape and discipline and disciple… not to mention supporting my husband with his company (and in four weeks he will officially be working from home fulltime), running our home, showing hospitality, and my part time ministry doing Paideia Northwest conferences every year… I actually need to practice good planning and lots of self-discipline if I want to keep up with my own education through the pursuit of reading and study.

How in the world do I accomplish this?! By taking the appropriate steps. By walking the journey alongside friends. Sharing reading lists and thoughts on the newest books we have finished. By writing down what I want to read, keeping a TBR (to be read) stack on my bedside table as well as a virtual list of audiobooks in a queue. And by giving myself other little reasons for taking each step (each book), one by one.

One of my most recently accomplished incentives was knowing that three friends of mine would be reading Salt Fat Acid Heat together. And since I have been wanting to read that for a while, it was a great reason to simply take the step of reading it. What a wonderful book! I really loved it. And now if I hear these three friends talk about it in the future, I will have a great idea of their conversational context, and just might be able to insert an occasional intelligent comment of my own. (No promises though.)

And my newest incentive was being asked to speak at a women’s retreat this spring. A knee-jerk reaction of mine was that I could toss together the two sessions without studying or planning or prepping much… but that is not what I want to do. I want to be stretched and grown and studied. I want to revisit books I have read before, and read a couple others that seem pertinent. And not only do I want to read these things as steps toward being well-prepared for public speaking in two months, but I also would love to blog my way through some of the thought processes.

So these are some steps I am taking in 2021. Physical steps to care for this physical body God has given me. Educational steps to grow the mind and spirit God has given me. Please walk with me as I take these steps, one by one, regularly and consistently. And please share with me what steps God is putting into your path! I love to see how He is at work.

Industrious Insects

AESOP’S FABLE:

One fine day in winter some ants were busy drying their store of corn, which had got rather damp during a long spell of rain. Presently up came a grasshopper and begged them to spare her a few grains. “For,” she said, “I’m simply starving.” The ants stopped work for a moment, though this was against their principles. “May we ask,” said they, “what you were doing with yourself all last summer? Why didn’t you collect a store of food for the winter?” “The fact is,” replied the grasshopper, “I was so busy singing that I hadn’t the time.” “Well, if you spent the summer singing,” replied the ants, “you can’t do better than to spend the winter dancing.” And they chuckled, and went on with their work.

Proverbs 6:6-8
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.

Proverbs 30:24-25
Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer…

What is a sluggard?

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Sluggishness is slow, slothful laziness..
It is opposite of diligence and hard work.

When the Proverbs say to “go to the ant,” he is telling a lazy man to look at their opposite. Proverbs says that it is wise to observe the ways of the tiny ant. An insect, of all things! Usually when Scripture talks about insects, it is in a less favorable light. Gnats, flies, locusts, bees, hornets, grasshoppers, insects in general—they are usually demonstrating acts of war, judgment, pain, sorrow. Even when spiders are mentioned (as being in kings’ palaces, or as someone’s trust being as flimsy as a spider web), they are not mentioned particularly favorably… even though I think culturally we consider spiders to be creative, clever, resourceful, and good. Maybe I don’t want them in my house, but I definitely want them in my garden… so there’s that to consider!

But what is interesting about ants in Scripture is that they are only mentioned favorably. They are known as being planners, hard workers, strong, wise, not needing to be bossed around but rather seamlessly working together for the good of their community.

Sometimes when I have a child not wanting to do the work that has been put before them, I can cheerfully remind them (with a wink and a grin) to “go to the ant, you sluggard! Be wise!” and they will remember to attack their jobs with a pleasant countenance and strong muscles. I sometimes remind myself of this same thing. Like when I don’t feel like changing the bed sheets, or cooking dinner, or prepping lesson plans. I too need to go to the ant! I need to seek wisdom! I need to turn away from the ways of a sluggard.

POEM:

Nimble little ants
Incredible ants
You flock in groups
You flock as troops

You search everywhere in quest for dine
Without a shiver running down spine
You pick from soil, you pick from roots
You climb tall trees to catch the fruits
You haul bigger things here and there
Even my sugar you do not spare
You work so hard while the sky is dry
To kick hunger out when ugly clouds cry.

Keen little ants
Hardworking ants
You work together to attain a goal
And carry out tasks with body and soul
Believing in each other, you stick and cling
And without a penny, your riches are of the king
You have a colony guarded by soldiers
And a queen you save from dangers
You capture slaves to reinforce workers
In a world of cutters farming to feed others
You farm for soldiers
You farm for workers
Queen needs food
Pupae need food
So many to feed, no time to rest
You work day and night to give your best.

Valiant little ants
Soldier ants
You dig, you crawl
You climb, you haul
You rove underground
You journey on land
While on a quest
You match abreast
With flawless braveness
And premium eagerness
With just a sting
You shoo the jungle’s king
and without a sword
You get enemies floored.

Incredible ants!
Amazing ants!
Learn from ants, so He says,
For they are incredible in a million ways.

–Sesan Falade

So as we go through another day of education together, and another week at home with our families, let us remember to consider the ways of the wee little ant: who works surprisingly hard, who does not give up easily, who doesn’t rely on bossiness but rests in their diligent frame. Turn away from the folly of the grasshopper, and pursue the wisdom of the ant!

Confidence & Joy

There are so many big things echoing around the world right now, but none of it ultimately changes what I do on a day to day basis. Absolutely nothing about my life or routine has to alter because of politics or viruses or broader cultural unrest. I praise the Lord for my “quiet, peaceable life.” I praise Him for the work He has put into my hands, for the calling and position and pursuits He has ordained for me.

As I continue to pursue knowledge, wisdom, grace, and love by the mercy of God and His continual provision and guidance, my endeavors remain unshaken: to raise my five children for the Lord and His kingdom, to educate them in His paideia and according to His law, to love my husband and grow in helpmeeting skills, to be a keeper at home who cultivates things that are healthy and helpful and lovely. My job is all about consistency and faithfulness in truth, goodness, and beauty. We pursue most of that in the daily routines of home and education and faith: worship, fellowship, books, music, food, forgiveness, celebrating, encouraging, praying.

We struggle through sibling squabbles, parental pride, miscommunication, unmet desires, selfishness and self-deprecation. We continue step by step down the path of sanctification, and thanks be to God we are not called that way in isolation. We are called in community to be His people. We fight the good fight of faith, equipped with His armor and wielding His weaponry, not as lone soldiers but alongside one another and surrounded by His cloud of witnesses. Let me repeat: We are not alone!

To confidently stride onward, knowing that He does all things well… to know that His justice shall prevail… to know that not a single cell of creation is out of His control… this is my comfort, my consolation, my confidence. This is my Christ.

And so as we prepare to plod into another week by faith, my days will look very similar to last week… and last month… and last year. I will cook good food, read good books, teach my kids good things, take them good places, encourage them in good works. Why?! Because our Christ is on the Throne. And what we are called to do is nothing more nor less than doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with Him.

Please praise Him with me, in thanks for the snippets of joy He strews along the way!
Crackling fires in the woodstove
Homemade pizza that seemed to multiply: it lasted for three huge meals
Fresh lemonade to make the Sabbath sweet
A new-to-us vehicle that is big enough for my whole family AND a load of groceries
Stories that make my children beg for “just one more chapter!”
Little voices that recite catechism and poetry with skill and adorableness
Friends with whom I engage in mutual prayer
Voxer messages that encourage and exhort me
Fitbit challenges that remind me to keep moving
Neighbors stopping by on a Sunday afternoon
Finishing audiobooks while getting my steps
Board games with big kids
Crafts with little kids
Reading challenges x3
Silicone earplugs
Teaching kids to blow gum bubbles
Husband combing his fingers through my hair at night

Current books:
The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase by Wendy Mass
Radiant by Richard Hannula
Pages of History, Vol 1 by Etter and Detweiler
The Door at the End of the World by Caroline Carlson
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

Recently read:
Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
Home Front by Kristin Hannah
The Winter King by Christine Cohen
Alice’s Farm by Maryrose Wood
Alexander the Great by Jacob Abbott

Upcoming books:
The Clockwork Crow by Catherine Fisher
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl
Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes du Mez

Introduction to Christian Work

Last week for a Tuesday meditation on the idea of work, we simply read a fable, a poem, and a Scripture. This week, we are jumping into a slightly larger perspective on the place of work in Scripture. The kids I am sharing this with at our co op are ages 5-13, and I try to lean into the Socratic method of asking questions to find forward motion and uncover wisdom through didactic conversation. I don’t speak to this group as a pastor, but as a facilitator. I am a fellow-learning, and we are pursuing spiritual health and wisdom and intellect together in community.

That said, what are some things we can find out about work, in the context of Scripture??

GOD WAS THE FIRST WORKER
Genesis 2:3
“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that He had done.”

GOD PUT HUMANS TO WORK BEFORE THE FALL
Genesis 2:15
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

HARD WORK BRINGS PROFIT
Proverbs 14:23
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

WE ARE TO WORK FOR THE LORD
Colossians 3:23
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

WE WORK IN ORDER TO SHARE
Ephesians 4:28
“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”

GOD IS THE ONE WHO MAKES OUR WORK A BLESSING
Psalm 90:17
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.”

So obviously, this shows us that work is mentioned in the Bible right from the very beginning! In fact, the very very VERY beginning! The first verse in Scripture says that “God MADE” something. Making something requires work, doesn’t it? Soon after that we learn that God made HUMANS, specifically made in His image, which means that He made us to be workers. Like Him. For Him. Blessed by Him.

What does it mean to work?

William Bennett’s “Book of Virtues” says that “work is applied effort: it is whatever we put ourselves into, whatever we expend our energy on for the sake of accomplishing something or achieving something.

When I say the word “work,” what do you think of? What images come to mind? What kind of work/jobs/activities come to mind?

Who works? Just grownups?

Do YOU work?

What kind of work do you do?

How do you know if it is good work?

Do you know if work is virtuous?

How can we know that work is good?

A lot of people probably ask you, “what are you going to be when you grow up?” What do they mean by that? They usually mean, “What job are you going to do in order to earn a paycheck?” But what we really ought to be asking is, “what is your work in the world going to be?” “What will be your works?” “What work will you spend your body and soul pursuing until you reach heaven?”

Perhaps you can see by now that work in its fundamental sense is not what we do FOR a living, but what we do WITH our living. And as Christian workers, WHO we are working for, and spending our life on is really the most important nuance.
Work for its own sake might be good. But it is actually a virtue?

We will continue to explore the virtue of work over the next two weeks, but for today let us close with a poem:

TRUE NOBILITY (by Edgar Guest)

Who does his task from day to day
And meets whatever comes his way,
Believing God has willed it so,
Has found real greatness here below.

Who guards his post, no matter where,
Believing God must need him there,
Although but lowly toil it be,
Has risen to nobility.

For great and low there’s but one test:
‘Tis that each man shall do his best.
Who works with all the strength he can
Shall never die in debt to man.

Monday Morning Time, 1.11.21

Copywork:
Habakkuk 3:17-19
Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls– yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.
To the Chief Musician with my stringed instruments.

……

Scripture Readings:
Psalm 128
A Song of Ascents.
Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be life a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!

Proverbs 18:1-24
(the following verses are some that my children specifically wanted to comment and meditate on)
(1) A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.
(2) A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
(7) A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
(9) He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.
(10) The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
(14) The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?
(15) The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
(19) A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.
(24) A man who has friends but himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
2 Samuel 6:1-23
The kids thought it was interesting to revisit the Ark of the Covenant, and to observe the behavior of King David. We discussed behaviors of political rulers, and the overlapping of political & religious realms. We talked about the use of music and feasting in both political & religious events.
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Hymn of the Month (January)
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All The Way My Savior Leads Me

Psalm of the Month (January)
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Psalm 2

Singing:
Psalm 148 (Book of Psalms for Singing)
Psalm 100 (Old Hundredth)
Psalm 8 (Erb)
Fruits of the Spirit (Erb)
Books of the Bible (Soles)
Kings of Israel (Soles)

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Poetry:
All the kids:
The Odyssey, lines 1-20, by Homer
Speak, Memory–
Of the cunning hero,
The wanderer, blown off course time and again
After he plundered Troy’s sacred heights.
Speak of all the cities he saw, the minds he grasped,
The suffering deep in his heart at sea
As he struggled to survive and bring his men home
But could not save them, hard as he tried–
The fools– destroyed by their own recklessness
When they ate the oxen of Hyperion the Sun,
And that god snuffed out their day of return.
Of these things,
Speak, Immortal One,
And tell the tale once more in our time.
By now, all the others who had fought at Troy–
At least those who had survived the war and the sea–
Were safely back home. Only Odysseus
Still longed to return to his home and his wife.
The nymph Calypso, a powerful goddess–
And beautiful– was clinging to him
In her caverns and yearned to possess him.

All the kids:
Eternity, by William Blake
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunshine

Gabriel:
Winter Morning by Ogden Nash
Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue.
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing,
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.

Asher:
Spellbound by Emily Brontë
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow,
And the storm is fast descending
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

Evangeline:
Winter Time by Robert Louis Stevenson
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.
Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.
Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.
When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap,
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.
Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house and hill and lake
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

Simeon:
White Fields by James Stephens
In winter-time we go
Walking in the fields of snow;
Where there is no grass at all;
Where the top of every wall,
Every fence, and every tree
Is as white as white can be.
Pointing out the way we came–
Every one of them the same–
All across the fields there be
Prints in silver filigree;
And our mothers always know,
By the footprints in the snow,
Where it is the children go.

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Catechism:
Three kids working on New City Catechism:
Question 11. What does God require in the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments?
A.
Sixth, that we do not hurt, or hate, or be hostile to our neighbor, but be patient and peaceful, pursuing even our enemies with love. Seventh, that we abstain from sexual immorality and live purely and faithfully, whether in marriage or in single life, avoiding all impure actions, looks, words, thoughts, or desires, and whatever might lead to them. Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit.
Question 48. What is the church?
A.
God chooses and preserves for Himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another.
One child in the Westminster Shorter Catechism for Children:
Question 66. How is Christ a prophet?
A. Because He teaches us the will of God.
One child in the Small Children’s Catechism:
Question 1. Who made you?
A. God.

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Read-Aloud Selections:
The Door at the End of the World by Caroline Carlson
Pages of History, Volume 1 by Etter and Detweiler
Radiant by Richard Hannula