Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We're #46!!!!

I lived most of my life in Snellville, as mentioned previously. Snellville is straight east of Atlanta. Now we live a little farther north in our county, in Buford, but that's beside the point. Snellville is very close to another Metro Atlanta city - Stone Mountain. Some of you may recognize that name because of the state park with the "confederate shrine," but we won't go there ;). Stone Mountain has a car dealership whose slogan was for years (still is, for all I know) "We're number two, going to be number one [in car sales]." Needless to say, they were sort of mocked for holding onto that slogan, especially for so many years.

Well, now Georgia has one-upped them :). Our Dear Governor Perdue (who I actually like overall. . . ) is giddy with delight that Georgia is now ranked number 46 in SAT score placement. . . . Last year we were tied for last place ;).

Perdue: We've jumped over [Florida, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and South Carolina], and nobody's going to take that away from us.

I'm not sure that there is a line to snatch #46 from our grasp, but whatever thrills him ;).

I remember studying graphs in statistics in high school, and looking at one that showed the distribution of SAT score averages by state. There were three clusters: the highest set of averages were for states that did not require the SAT, the second set was for states that did require the SAT, and the third cluster (no kidding) was Georgia and South Carolina.

. . . Gotta love Georgia.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What's In a Name?

I'm not ignoring the nice, thoughtful replies I've gotten to my query on the "sinner's prayer" and altar calls. I have some things drafted, but it may be a while longer before I get it/them finished! I'm trying, though :). Real life must take priority over blogging. . .

Meanwhile, while I run around today like a chicken with its head cut off (much like the poor unfortunate birds that I just deboned. . . ), I'm going to cheat and copy and paste a guest post by Sister Dear :-D. No, sorry, Lydia, it's not poetry. I'm still coaxing her to compose some new pieces. This was a random-thought-process-turned-blog-post from last week. I meant to post it yesterday, but I didn't get around to it. Here 'tis:

~~~

Names are fascinating. I like names that have beauty, meaning, or history. Names are important to me, and I'm not really sure why.

Susan and I had a great time playing a game of Life recently with Paul and Ashley, and I happily got 5 kids throughout the course of the game! (Susan was a bit jealous, as she only got 1.) I love getting kids because I get to give them names! It's like taking the little blue and pink pegs that are meaningless objects and suddenly giving them each character and life.

I remember a fairly vivid dream that I had a couple years ago in which I realized I was pregnant. I remember this overwhelming feeling of utter awe that filled me as I realized that I was carrying a little human inside of me. But what overtook my mind the most was the question of "What am I going to name him?" I felt like the name that I picked would somehow shape the being inside of me for good or for bad, like I was holding his future in the decision of one little word.

When we were younger, Susan and I made up several lists on several different occasions of names that we liked or might want to name our kids one day. When we met Jessie and her family recently for a brief lunch, I overheard some of a conversation that Susan, Jessie, and her sister Katie were having involving names. Apparently Jessie and Katie have both made lists of names that they like and would consider for future kids' names too, but Susan and I were surprised to hear that they could really only think of about half a dozen that they really liked!

When Susan and I used to make lists of all the possible names we would name our kids, we could get some pretty long lists going, adding many names of family, friends, or characters in the Bible. And yes, our family has even gone a little overboard and made up a list of fun math names that Susan could use for her hypothetical kids, even thinking of them in alphabetical order, like in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, only they would be math names, not Bible names. Let's see, I think we had something like Algebra (Al for short), Calculus (Cal), Denominator (Denny), Fraction (Fran), Hypothesis, Integral.... I don't remember all of them, but we had a bit too much fun! :-)

While I'm rambling about names, I have to mention Anne. I love Anne of Green Gables. Who doesn't? :-) Anne also saw more to a name than just what is on the surface. I love the part of the beginning of the book where she's answering questions that Marilla poses to her just after her first arrival. Here's an excerpt of the conversation as she's giving some of her background to Marilla.

"My father's name was Walter Shirley, and he was a teacher in the Bolingbroke High School. My mother's name was Bertha Shirley. Aren't Walter and Bertha lovely names? I'm so glad my parents had nice names. It would be a real disgrace to have a father named--well, say Jedediah, wouldn't it?"

"I guess it doesn't matter what a person's name is as long as he behaves himself," said Marilla, feeling herself called upon to inculcate a good and useful moral.

"Well, I don't know." Anne looked thoughtful. "I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage. I suppose my father could have been a good man even if he had been called Jedediah; but I'm sure it would have been a cross."

For the most part, I think I'll have to respectfully disagree with Anne. ;-) I like the name Anne, although I do, like she does, prefer the 'e' on the end, and then I'm also not particularly fond of Walter or Bertha, although I do like the name Walter pretty well – the name grew on me a lot after reading Rainbow Valley. Isn’t it funny how our likes and dislikes of name can be so influenced (at least for me) by the people we know bearing those names?

But then isn't it interesting thinking about if a rose would smell as sweet if it were named a thistle or a skunk cabbage? Of course, scientifically, yes it would, but really, a rose wouldn't be a rose if it were called a skunk cabbage. I just can't picture a table being beautiful adorned with a vase of skunk cabbages, a lover giving his sweetheart a dozen thistles, or a bride walking down the aisle in all her beauty holding... skunk cabbages. Kind of spoils the picture, just in changing the name.

We know a family who would typically wait a few days or even weeks after the birth of their baby before finally naming their child. In some ways I could see myself doing that if I ever had a child. I'm not always very good at decision making, and since I think names are such important decisions, I might have a really hard time making up my mind! I also might want to wait until the birth to see if a name fits the baby right.

But then on the other hand, I could see the name being one of the first decisions I make, even within the first week after I found out I was pregnant! Especially if it was a boy, I think I would have an easier time since I especially like the names Enoch and Stephen, from the characters in the Bible, and it would be really fun to have a son named Samuel.

And yes, of course, there's that detail that I can just see my mom thinking of as she reads this - if I have a child then it wouldn't be just me deciding the name, and I'd have to let my husband have a say! ;-) I can't imagine what would happen if I actually ever got married and my husband and I disagreed on names! I would have a hard time submitting in that. I guess it's best that I don't plan on getting married just in case my husband actually really liked names like Quinton, Bertha, Nimrod, Fred, etc. (I hope no one gets offended by any preferences I mention in this post!). I wonder if anyone has ever gotten divorced over differences in preferences for the baby's name, or if a poor baby has ever been called two different names his whole life because the parents disagreed....

I can't imagine doing what my mother dear did. She and Daddy Dear agreed that if I was a boy, she would name me, and if I was a girl, he would name me. Well, I was a girl obviously, and Daddy named me Hannah, but my mom actually didn't really like that name! I couldn't stand naming my precious little baby a name I didn't like. Just for the record, my mom quickly grew to like the name. :-)

A very good friend of ours, Erika, has had the somewhat cruel idea of giving her child a very odd spelling for his name - very odd, like, the name would be spelled F-r-e-d, but it would be pronounced just like the name Bob. Hehe, that would be funny, but so confusing!! Poor little kid!

So, after all the thrill I get with names and picking out good, meaningful names, isn’t it sad that I don’t plan on ever getting married and having my own kids to name?!?! I can only hope that Susan will get married and allow me to name one of her kids.

Or maybe I can start a name consultant business! For families that are having a hard time naming their kids, they can just give me a ring and I’ll help them out! You can bet you’d see a lot more Enochs walking around than you’ve ever seen before. ;-) Well, even if I don’t end up being a name consultant, at least I can still name my balls.

Yes, I name my sports balls. It gives them character! There’s Joshua the football, Victor the soccer ball, Gimli the soccer ball, Patrick Stan Butalbladder(sp?) the soccer ball (don’t ask), Faithful the volleyball, and Rocky the Frisbee, and I think that’s it. Sadly all these old friends must sit in storage and not be used due to my injuries. :’-( It makes me so sad to think of them all lonely!

Aack, and this post is getting way too long. If you’ve made it this long, you deserve a congratulations or something! I had a lot more plans for this post, especially having to do with going into names in the Bible and how much significance names used to have. I’ve been going to a Spanish Bible study on Wednesday nights about los nombres de Dios (the names of God) that has been really fascinating! I really liked the name we studied this past Wednesday especially, which was found only once in the Bible, and that was when Hagar was pregnant with Ishmael and running away from Sarai and God appears to her to tell her to go back. Hagar calls God in Hebrew “El Roi”, literally “the One Who sees”.

Well, thank you for taking this visit into Hannah’s mind. And remember – if you’re ever in need of naming advice, I’m only a phone call (or e-mail) away! ;-)

And what do you all think – What’s in a name?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Good Endtimes Fiction

The sermon this morning was on the Mark account of the Olivet Discourse - an interesting passage to analyze, to be sure. Best line of the sermon (paraphrase):

I think just about the best endtimes fiction I've read is the Brothers Grimm tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
I thought he was joking, and just indicating that he didn't put much stock in the endtimes fiction that currently fills our local Christian bookstores. But no, he was serious, and as he explained I saw why. Of course the analogy was imperfect, but it was interesting :).

Snow White lived in a world that was marred and under a curse, and one day her prince came and set things back right again. Similarly we live in a stricken world marred by the fall. Death, disease, and suffering were not part of the original creation, but a consequence of sin. We await a day when our Prince will come and set things back right again. What a beautiful hope!

Some day my Prince will come
Some day we'll meet again
And away to his castle we'll go
To be happy forever I know. . .

Friday, August 25, 2006

On Career Women and Lazy Men

As probably all of you are already aware, Forbes recently ran an article written by a man and titled Don't Marry a Career Women. They pretty quickly posted a counterpoint article written by a woman and titled Don't Marry a Lazy Man. The two articles are now posted side-by-side on the Forbes website.

No surprise - I didn't agree with the rebuttal article by the woman. I didn't like the tone of her writing, which was demeaning to men, nor her apparent disvaluing of the role of women at home. The man's article was interesting and factul and stated what I consider to be the obvious: career women are less likely to have a healthy and happy family life. But do you know what? The more I pondered the man's article, the less I liked it. It was true, it was to the point, and it was information that needs to be heard - not glazed over as it normally is in our society. But I didn't like the way it was presented.

There was no love spoken with the truth. I found no hint that the author valued women. Statistically, non-career women mean a more stable marriage, but there was no heart in his statements, no inkling that women are precious and have a special role. I could just as easily criticize the female author's demeaning attitude towards men (which is a topic for another post entirely!), but I won't, because the conservative blogosphere has already done that in abundance - and correctly so! Instead, I'm left pondering the message the male author is sending. On second reading I came away wondering if the author even liked women, if he was married, and if his own marriage was happy. He's a real candidate for misogyny.

Most issues can either be painted as very glorious or very repulsive, depending on the wielder of the brush. I think the role and place of women is just such an issue. It is too easy to either view women as equal in role to men, thus brushing over the glorious distinctions God has given the two sexes, or conversely to harp on the servitude of women and their need to keep a "proper place" in society. The male writer of the Forbes article did not do either, but there was still no beauty in his painting of a woman's role, no esteem for her position. She was a statistic who shouldn't compete with men. Period.

The Bible paints a different picture, though. Women have a different role than men. Woman is created to be his helpmeet, walking beside him hand in hand through life. Marriage is a union, a binding of two lives that the two might work together more effectively than apart. In that beautiful union, woman does take the role that is often deemed "demeaning." She is a guard of the home, a nurturer of children. She takes the home as her sphere of influence gladly, not because it is statistically better but because she belongs there. She was created for a special purpose. She is not free household staff, but a cherished wife and a mother. And yes, she is an obedient wife.

Here again, with the topic of submission, I am very afraid that it is easily painted in two opposing and equally unbiblical lights. We have the feminists, who recoil at the very word and try to explain away such a clear Biblical teaching. Then we have the quintessential fundamentalist, who preaches submission, submission, submission in a way that comes across as utter servitude. The Bible teaches differently.

Ephesians 5 is the classic passage on headship. I find it a very comforting passage, albeit a challenging one. I find myself wondering if someday I will be able to follow Paul's command to submit to my husband as to the Lord. Submit in everything?, wonders my rebellious heart. I see the beauty of the husband and wife positions though, and I find in them a beautiful picture of Christ in his church. I hope to someday stand before God and man and pledge to love, honor, and obey my husband until death do us part.

But as my pastor preached a few months ago, Ephesians 5 is no good without a necessary perspective. One cannot talk about headship rightly apart from the gospel. Without the gospel, headship is an ugly truth; with the gospel, headship is a glorious picture. To properly understand Ephesians 5, one must first read Ephesians 1-4. After reading Ephesians 1-4 and then reading Ephesians 5, including the verses that charge husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, I cannot feel cheated, torn down, or demeaned by my call to submission. I am to aid my husband as the church aids Christ. What a beautiful mission! My husband, though, is to act as a type of Christ to me and our household! Wow.

What a beautiful role given to the man, but what a heavy responsibility, and a responsibility I would not snatch from any man. That is obligation; that is a set of very big shoes to fill. Unless a man can speak of women's roles in light of the gospel and his own call to serve his wife as Christ, than I must stand with the feminists and find his writings to be demeaning and void of any real esteem for women. The husband and wife roles of Ephesians 5 are beautiful because they are complimentary. Either, without the other, is ugly; together they are a beautiful picture.

Woman is not merely a housewife, but a helpmeet. Without the gospel, the womanly roles that are painted in Ephesians 5 and Titus 2 are not beautiful, but constrained and subservient. But with the gospel, women have a special role and a purpose!

She must have been short on food preparation time ;)

My very educated mother just served us nachos. . .

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Guys, gals rate looks differently


Please continue to give me your thoughts on the sinner's prayer and altar calls, in the post just below this one! Thank you :).

~~~~~

Guys, gals rate looks differently

That's the title of a short piece in the newpaper this past week, and my first thought when I read that title is "of course."

One of the homework questions I assigned for my statistics students last week required them to cite a survey of their choice from a newspaper. One of my students chose one from the AJC and included the clipping with her homework:

Several years ago I asked our teen readers, "When selecting a date, what single characteristic do you consider most important, including intelligence, race, religion, looks, personality, sense of humor, has use of a car, and is tobacco-, alcohol- and drug-free."

This survey question was answered by 4,642 teens (3,102 girls, 1,540 boys.). For the girls the most important characteristic was that a date not smoke, drink or take drugs. By a huge majority (49 percent) this was No. 1. Next came good sense of humor (14 percent), personality (13 percent), intelligence (10 percent), same religion (7 percent), looks (3 percent), same race (2 percent) and, finally, has a car (1 percent).

The boys had a different set of values. They chose looks (33 percent), personality (20 percent) and good sense of humor (13 percent) as the top three characteristics, followed by intelligence (11 percent), same religion (10 percent), same race (6 percent), not smoking, drinking or taking drugs (5 percent) and has a car (1 percent).

Interesting. Apparently girls like straight-laced guys (here, here!), and guys like pretty girls. And I guess most guys nowadays don't pay much attention to the old Baptist chant: we don't smoke, and we don't chew, and we don't go with girls who do. Hehe. Only 5 percent of guys rated that a major issue.

For those who missed my earlier (and admittedly superfluous) musings on guy-girl attractions, you can read them here, here, and here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Question - What is the Sinner's Prayer?

EDIT: It would also be helpful for you to include in your response your definition and view of an "altar call." Is an altar call a Biblical mandate, merely a good idea, a bad idea, a detriment? Why or why not?

For some time now I've had a few posts drafted (namely on assurance of salvation and my personal testimony). I keep starting to compose them mentally, but it is impossible for me to write on either topic without addressing another topic - the sinner's prayer. Then I put the posts aside, because I'd rather not broach that topic. Without fail, though, I will come across more material related to my drafts, and I will feel a tug again that the posts need to be written. When I actually get those posts (perhaps merged into only one post) written, it will be obvious why the topic of the sinner's prayer is pertinent to the other topics. For now, though, I would be grateful if any or all of my blog readers would answer a simple question for me:

What is the sinner's prayer?

Please just respond with anywhere from a sentence or two, to a paragraph or two. Please cite any scripture that backs your answer, or indicate if you are giving your personal opinion, or if you are basing your answer on the practices of your church. I want to know how you have formed your view of the sinner's prayer. My intent is not to generate discussion within this post's comments; this is a survey, so please do not respond correcting anyone else's answer. If you have questions or objections, please wait until I follow up with another post.

My own testimony is closely linked to this question, so I do have personal reasons for asking this question. Thank you!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I played Polly Pocket this morning (and other events of varied interest)

Over the last several weeks I've had a number of requests for me to share a bit more of what I do with my time as a single young woman (as Becky put it) or what a typical day looks like for me (as Mrs. B said). There were a few other requests along similar lines, but my memory fails me as to exact wording. These requests were given during the summer, you must understand, when I didn't have a typical day; in fact, I didn't have a typical week this summer. I bounced back and forth between conferences, visitors, volunteer opportunities, and out-of-town trips, as well as a few miscellaneous responsibilities. There was nothing "typical" about any portion of my summer.

I started teaching again last Wednesday, so I'm beginning to work into some sort of a schedule for the coming year, though my schedule will continue to develop as the school year progresses. Once again, though, I don't have a typical day, due to my non-traditional approach to life-after-college :). I don't have a full-time job; instead I have a few part-time jobs and other responsibilities. I teach Algebra I, Geometry, and Statistics one day a week at Heritage Classical Study Center. I tutor students from the local high school. I help run the nursery at my church. I babysit. None of these take up 40 hours a week of themselves, but together they manage to keep me adequately occupied :). Like I said, I don't have a typical day, but I could attempt to sketch a typical week?

Sunday: Church in the morning for worship and then either Adult Sunday School or nursery. On a tangent (I love tangents. . . ), my church recently has begun to include Kindergarteners and older in worship. Yay! Before it was 6th grade and up. . . but I digress. Then back home for lunch. I normally spend most of the afternoon napping, reading sermons and other religious pieces of literature, and reading the Bible and praying. Sunday evening varies, but we often try to sing some hymns, as we also do a few other times a week.

Monday: Mother Dear and I try to start most weekdays with a walk through the neighborhood. Starting this week, I'm babysitting a darling little girl from my church for a few hours Monday and Friday mornings, so her mom can focus on home schooling her older daughter. Hence the title of my post :). When I get home at around 11:00 I spend a few hours planning for math classes. I then have a homework help session for my math classes on Monday afternoons.

Tuesday: Mother Dear and I walk first thing in the morning. Starting in a few weeks, I will have a women's Bible study to go to on Tuesday mornings (Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon - should be interesting!), followed by a little more planning for math. I currently have three tutoring slots on Tuesday afternoons.

Wednesday: No walk on Wednesday. I teach my math classes and leave the house early with Mother Dear, who also teaches math to homeschoolers during the same time. I get 90 minutes for Algebra 1, and 2 hours each for Geometry and Statistics. I try to get all the week's lecture material into that time, as well as any quizzes (tests are outside of class). Some weeks it's a real challenge with time! I get home in the afternoon and e-mail assignments to my students. Every other Wednesday evening I have a Children's Ministry meeting at the church.

Thursday: Mother Dear and I walk first thing. I devote Thursday morning to grading student tests, quizzes, and homework, and sometimes to planning for the next week.

Friday: Walk again. I will be babysitting Friday mornings (as previously mentioned) and probably planning some as well. I normally do miscellaneous tasks and errands on Fridays also.

Saturday: Um. It depends :).

My tutoring schedule is very empty right now, since the semester has only just started. Last year I had 11 slots a week, though I really do not plan on filling that many slots this year, since I have added other responsibilities since May. I would like to (eventually) have 3-4 slots on both Tuesdays and Thursdays, though, and maybe 1 on Monday and/or Wednesday. We shall see.

The above schedule was admittedly sketchy. I didn't include important items like meals, but I was trying to focus on non-obvious necessary tasks that I complete regularly on certain days at certain times. I daresay it was boring for many of you, but I had requests, so I humor people :).

I didn't detail the types of chores I do and when because that varies so much. Mother Dear and I do most of the cooking together, but that varies vastly from week to week, especially depending on my tutoring schedule. I do most of the dishes (since I love to wash dishes!), but Mother Dear usually rinses. I help with the laundry, but Mother Dear spearheads that. We share cleaning responsibilities. And Sister Dear helps as her school schedule allows. How's that for non-specifics? ;)

I spend "in-between" time throughout the day usually reading or blogging or completing miscellaneous household tasks. I've been trying to cut back on blogging, and over the past few weeks I've gotten more reading done :) - I keep my reading progress updated on my sidebar, for those who haven't noticed. I've been meaning to focus more on practicing the piano, as my playing has fallen by the wayside the past few months :(. Ashley let me borrow the deluxe edition of Anne's Theme when she was here this weekend, so hopefully that will serve as a boost :).

Okay, I've prattled on for long enough. I hope that satisfies the curiosity of a few of my readers.

. . . and that was Susan's life, in a nutshell ;).

Ham and Bean Soup

Yum! This soup is definitely going to become a favorite, especially during the winter. After planning on experimenting with ham broth for years, I finally did last week! I looked at several ideas on the internet, pulled several recipes together, and this is the result. Soups are fun because they don't require an exact recipe, so I can throw in a bit of this and a bit of that :). It was Sister Dear's idea to add the green beans.

~~~

Ham and Bean Soup

1 ham bone (use one that was not picked completely clean)
1 lb dried Great Northern Beans (or 1 lb dried beans of your choice)
1 c chopped carrots
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
dash of pepper
1 cup green beans, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 c chopped, cooked ham (optional)

Cover ham bone with water in a stock pot. Turn burner to high, and let it all come to a boil. Simmer for a few hours. Remove ham bone and discard. Strain broth and refrigerate overnight.

Soak beans in water overnight. This will allow them to start to sprout, adding extra nutrition.

The next morning, skim off fat from broth, return to burner and turn to high, adding beans. Reserve the bean soaking water to add later. Allow broth and beans to come to a boil and allow to gently boil for a while, adding carrots, onion, garlic, and pepper. I allow the broth to boil down, and gradually added the bean water in place of the evaporated water. This way I get all the nutrition from the bean water, without making the soup too liquidy. Simmer for desired length of time. Shortly before serving, add the green beans and the ham.

Good served with biscuits or corn bread.

~~~

Note: I glaze hams before cooking, which may make a difference in the taste of the broth. To glaze one ham, I mix one cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, and 2 hefty squirts of prepared mustard into a paste and spread over a ham which I have previously scored.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Boasting about Tomorrow

Boasting about Tomorrow is the (admittedly uninspired) title in my Bible for James 4:13-17.

13Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- 14yet you do not now what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.


This passage always reminds me of the maid who counted her chickens before they were hatched. She had plans to sell the chicks (if my memory serves me) and buy a milk cow(?) to make profit from the cream, which would allow her to buy more things, etc. She had elaborate plans, worked out several steps in advance. . . and then she dropped the eggs.

Hmmm. That's a lot like life, is it not?

I used to have my life planned out pretty clearly. College at 17, marriage just after graduation at 21, kids immediately following. Six years later I would start home schooling, while my kids were perfectly spaced naturally about 2 years apart. Since I would have exactly 12 children, I would have my last child at about 44. Well, the college part did proceed as planned, but the marriage part obviously did not :). Now my whole life plan has to be shifted at least a few years! Ah, the amusingly exact plans we have. . .

What actually inspired these musings was a simple question on a questionnaire. I was updating my homeschool alumni profile, since I had decided that parts of it were attracting hyper-conservative guys. It worries me when I get an e-mail that says You probably never thought you would meet someone as conservative as you, but life is full of surprises. . . so the old profile definitely had to go.

But back to the matter at hand. I had already filled out my general personal information before, but since that time, they had added a few additional personal questions. One new questions was Do you (or will you) homeschool your children? A year ago I would have checked "yes" without hesitation. In fact, Father Dear and I have had many discussions over the years regarding my stalwartness in this area. Earlier this year I finally realized that he had been right, and I had been overly exclusive in my support of homeschooling. Isn't he nice not to have told me, "I told you so"?

I still want to home school, but I realize that may not be my calling in life, and I especially realize that it is ultimately up to my husband to direct the education of my children. Whether or not I home school is no longer a matter of conscience (public education is an entirely different matter. . . ). So here I was filling out a simple questionnaire and over-analyzing a question. I have a tendency to over-analyze things. So I checked "unsure." I want to homeschool my children, but I couldn't emphatically state that I will. The passage in James resounded through my mind too loudly :). And I've learned in the past few years just how laughable are my "plans" for the future.

Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Foundation of Marriage

In the excitement of last month, as my friend Ashley prepared to marry, I had several reminders that this beautiful and holy institution which God has created is so abused and broken in our fallen world. One woman I met recently had been married for 34 years before her marriage ended in divorce a few years ago. I also found out last month that one of my kindergarten Sunday School pupils from a few years ago will soon no longer have married parents, as they are going through a divorce. All I can do is pray that even now, God will heal that broken relationship, and I ache when I think of this girl and her two younger brothers growing up in a broken home. Such stories are not isolated, and they deeply sadden me.

By the grace of God both of my sets of grandparents have been married for over 50 years, and my parents for over 25. Most people don't have that blessing in our society, though, where marriage is entered (and exited) so lightly. In an age where marriage often follows several years of "testing each other out" by living together, it is no wonder that marriage is not seen as a binding commitment. When two people have cohabitated for years before "tying the knot," on the eve of their wedding I cannot help but mentally ask the first question Jewish children ask their parents during Passover: What makes this night different from all others? It also makes me all the more thankful to be able to witness a ceremony like Paul & Ashley's, where marriage is approached with real weightiness and commitment. Just before the ceremony began, the pastor asked that there be no photography during the ceremony. Not an unusual request, but his reason stuck with me: because of the sacredness of the ceremony.

Marriage is so easily broken in our society because most people do not really stop and think that they are making their vows to God, not just another human being. There are two sets of vows in the typical wedding ceremony: one set of vows is exchanged between the man and woman, but the other set of vows is made to God, who binds a marriage together. Unless a marriage is built on the foundation of Christ, it is built on sand.

In Stepping Heavenward, Katy's sister-in-law Helen asks Katy the "secret" to her long, steadfast marriage with Ernest. Here is a portion of Katy's reply:

. . . I was struck with Ernest's asking in the very first prayer he offered in my presence, after our marriage, that God would help us love each other; I felt that love was the very foundation on which it was built and that there was no danger that I should ever fall short in giving to my husband all he wanted in full measure. But as he went on day after day repeating this prayer, and I naturally made it with him, I came to see that this most precious of earthly blessings had been and must be God's gift and that while we both looked at it in that light and felt our dependence on Him for it, we might safely encounter together all the assaults made up on us by the world, the flesh, and the devil. I believe we owe it to this constant prayer that we have loved each other so uniformly and with such growing comfort in each other; so that our little discords always have ended in fresh accord, and our love has felt conscious of resting on a rock - and that rock was the will of God.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I think they're making fun of Presbyterians ;)

I giggled long and hard over this article. Lark News has some really hilarious articles, if you've never checked it out. I could link to any number of hilarious articles on the site, but instead I'll just suggest you take a few moments in your free time to read a few.

A Passion for Books


We use books like mirrors, gazing into them only to discover ourselves
. - Joseph Epstein

When I get a little money, I buy books; and if there is any left I buy food and clothes. - Desiderius Erasmus

I found a fun book at Goodwill a few days ago: A Passion for Books, by Terry Glaspey. It's a collection of quotes on books, and musings by the author on the love of books. It isn't very long, and I promptly devoured it in one reading :). It was a delightfully light read, and only other bibliophiles can understand reading a book about books, probably. Some of my friends would give me a confused look if I explained the contents of the book. There's no plot? It's just about books? But I figured some of my blogging, bibliophile friends could relate :).

I have to take issue with Goodwill, though. I remember a time in the recent past when all their paperbacks were 50 cents, and Mother Dear recalls when they were only a quarter in my lifetime. Now their paperbacks are $1.50 and their hardbacks are $2.50! It makes me all the more careful when choosing books to buy, though Father Dear would say not careful enough ;). He doesn't quite understand my desire to constantly add to my library. Hehe.

If a book is worth reading, it is worth buying. - John Ruskin

Yesterday Hannah had to drive down to UGA (an hour SE of us) to buy books for the coming semester, and I tagged along. Now, I would like to truthfully say that the only reason was to keep her company, but while that was part of the reason, I did have a few ulterior motives.

There is a thrift store halfway to Athens that has paperbacks for 25 cents and hardbacks for 75 cents :-D. I always seem to be able to find some theological books there, as well. Unfortunately Presbyterians (or other reformed folk) don't seem to be frequent donors at the store ;), but I love to learn from my Baptist brothers as well. Yesterday I found a set of 1950's Baptist hardbacks that were designed for Sunday School teacher trainining. Some of them were topical, while others covered books of the Bible. I also found a copy of Rabbi Kushner's infamous book Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, which should prove an interesting read. I found a hardback Miss Read book also. I've found one other one before, and I know someone has recommended them, but I can't remember who. Anyone care to review Miss Read for me?

The other reason I tagged along with Hannah was because a few months ago she and a few friends found a used bookstore in Athens that she knew I would love. It was filled mainly with older hardbacks, of every subject known to man. I would have drooled had it not been unladylike. The books at the store were higher priced than Goodwill, which I expected, so I came mainly to browse and just spend time with the books, rather than actually make purchases.

I did end up buying one book, though: a 1902 copy of The First Christmas, by Lew Wallace. The First Christmas is the first section in Wallace's more famous work, Ben-Hur, which believe it or not, I have not read yet. *ashamed look* Lew Wallace originally wrote just the story of the Wiseman, stopping the tale in Bethlehem, but later extended the story - and aren't we glad he did! I'm already a good bit of the way through the book and quite enjoying it; I'm sure I will have to continue and read Ben-Hur next! The copy of The First Christmas I bought is beautiful. The binding is a pretty shade of purple, and the lettering is embossed in gold, as is a beautiful six-petaled floral design on the front. Inside there are also four plates of paintings, each covered delicately by a tissue for protection. On each page are border sketches that embellish the words on the page. I thought $10 was actually a decent price for such a treasure :). Of course, Blogger is once again not allowing me to upload pictures, but notice that it did work long enough for the apron picture and for a profile picture change ;).

School starts tomorrow, which means less time to read and less time to browse bookstores. The latter is probably best; the former rather sad :(. I have been better the last few weeks about reading more swiftly, though. Sometimes I can take forever to read a book! And though my reading time may be limited, I'll still be reading because it is part of my livelihood.

Thoughtful minds make little use of this expression: the happy and the unhappy. In this world, clearly the vestibule of another, no one is happy.

The true division of humanity is this: the luminous and the dark.

To diminish the number of the dark, to increase the number of the luminous, there is the aim. That is why we cry: education, knowledge! To learn to read is to kindle a fire; every syllable spelled sparkles.

But whoever says light does not necessarily say joy. There is suffering in the light; an excess burns. Flame is hostile to the wing. To burn and yet to fly, this is the miracle of genius.


When you know and when you love you will still suffer. The day dawns in tears. The luminous weep, be it only over the dark ones.

- Les Miserables. Saint-Denis. Book Seven. Chapter One.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What Fun!

As Jessie implied in a comment last week, we got to meet yesterday!

Jessie first found my blog last fall while searching for other bloggers that had listed common interests. Like her, I had listed "Psalms" under favorite music, so she clicked on my blog and left a comment :). After a few comments back and forth on each other's blogs I decided it would be more efficient to just e-mail her, only to check new comments to my blog and discover that she was thinking the same thing! We have since been e-mailing back and forth quite a bit, as well as visiting each other's blogs. I have found such a kindred spirit in Jessie, and she has been such an encouragement to me this past year. We have swapped prayer requests often and encouraged one another.

I was so excited a few weeks ago when Jessie told me that her family was going to be in my area for a wedding. I had a rather goofy grin on my face when I asked my mom if we were doing anything on Saturday, August 12th :). We didn't have long together because Jessie and her family weren't in town long, but we met for an early supper at Ruby Tuesday's.

I had never met an "online friend" in person before, so it was a new experience for me. Sherrin recently noted how odd it is that you can get to know someone so well online - her interests and pursuits, her friends and family, her likes and dislikes - but not know how to pronounce her name or recognize the sound of her voice. It was nice to finally put a voice with Jessie, and she actually sounded like I imagined :). Her parents and siblings were sweet, and her sister Hannah recited to me my now-close-to-world-famous Yellow Poem :-D. It's wise to encourage an appreciation of poetry from a young age ;). I also got to meet one of my favorite literary characters. . . or at least a close substitute.

The one downside was that we only had about an hour :(, but I was thankful for that! Hopefully next time (because I hope there will be a next time!) we'll have longer. It is a shame we don't live closer. . .

Before we parted Jessie gave me a beautiful apron she sewed out of some fun fabric with gingerbread men and rolling pins.


Despite my good intentions to do so, I forgot to bring a camera yesterday, so you'll have to rely on Jessie for pictorial evidence of our meeting :).

And if any of my other blog friends are ever in Metro Atlanta, let me know!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Only One?

Asking me to list one book for any category is just plain mean. Picking my favorite book is like picking my favorite star in the sky. I'll try, though. John tagged me for this meme, and Jessica also did it on her blog. I'm restricting my answers to exclude the Bible, for the sake of variety.

1. One book that changed your life: Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss.

2. One book that you've read more than once: Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

4. One book that made you laugh: The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

5. One book that made you cry: The Suitcases by Ann Hall Whitt

6. One book that you wish had been written: The Memoirs of Mary, Mother of Jesus

7. One book that you wish had never been written: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin

8. One book you're currently reading: Statistics: Picturing the World by Ron Larson and Betsy Farber. . . okay, okay, is it obvious I'm planning for my classes that start next week? ;-)

9. One book you've been meaning to read: Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin

10. Now tag four people: Jessie, Lydia, Ashley, and Becky. . . and anyone else who would like to post on their blog or share in the comments section and hasn't already been tagged. I didn't choose anyone who doesn't have a blog, but I'd like to hear from some of my non-blogging blog friends or my lurkers :).

A Few Days of Fresh Air

As Sister Dear and I reentered the perimeter of Atlanta yesterday, we could literally smell and taste the pollution. It was nice to breathe in the fresh, clean air of Kentucky for a few days, but we're back in Atlanta. . . and during the summer, it's hotter, more humid, and more polluted than normal. Atlanta is not perfect, but it's still home, so here I stay.

We had a marvelous time in Kentucky! We drove up Sunday after church, arriving in time for supper at the Trues.

Monday we spent at a nearby lake with some of the Trues' good friends, whom we have met before. I dutifully slathered myself in sunscreen and wore a gigantic straw hat, but still managed to get a little burnt on my shoulders and face. *sigh* 'Twasn't very bad, though. Mrs. True said she had never seen anyone take a bath in sunscreen before ;). I just burn so easily!! Miriam found a very appropriate keychain for me on a jaunt to Wal-Mart :) - a small bottle of sunscreen.

At the beginning of our lake time, a quick docking-the-boat trip across the lake turned into an hour-and-a-half adventure with a stalled boat and a lightning storm. We managed to maneuver the boat into a small cove to wait out the storm, which brought to mind memories of reading mystery books with hidden coves and such :). Did anyone else enjoy reading Snow Treasure growing up (the cove brought to mind the fjord where they hid the ship with the gold) or Molly Saves the Day (remember the cove with poison ivy?)?

It was so cold after it started raining (so much for a 110 degree heat index!), so we jumped into the water in the cove and sheltered ourselves behind a smaller boat we had. We decided to sing in the rain :) to pass the time. I never did care much for that musical. . . but it was still fun to sing in the rain! We taught the Trues the silly round we learned in Indiana, and we sang a few other songs. Miriam knew the tenor part to I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb, and Hannah and I know knew the alto, so with Grace taking the soprano part, it sounded very pretty!

After the storm passed we actually were able to get out on the lake - and the sun came back out :(. Hannah tried wake-boarding for the first time and did quite well for a beginner! I decided not to try. I knew I didn't have the arm strength, the coordination, or a proper outfit for it (my shorts were too skirty), but I did try tubing a little later. All in all, 'twas a fun day, even with all the sun exposure :).

Tuesday we drove down to TN to spend the afternoon and evening with Lydia, who got married back in March. We all had fun talking, covering a variety of subjects, from courtship to dispensationalism and from the current place of the moral law to the lake visit the day before. We also watched a chick flick (always a necessity!), made supper, and I barely survived a trip on the 4-wheeler down through the path in the woods. I was glad to make it back on firm ground again! Because of the timing of our trip to TN, we missed the slaughtering of 11 chickens during our absence, which was all well and good with me :). Mr. and Mrs. True and Anna did just fine (or better?) without me and the others there, though it would have made for an interesting blog post, I imagine!

Wednesday morning we shucked approximately 4000 (okay, that was a gross exaggeration. . . ) ears of corn, blanched them, and cut off the kernels. I evidently found friends among the corn, because I found all sorts of crawly things on me afterwards - ew! The afternoon included the obligatory trip to the thrift store in town, where I found few nice shirts and a few more books.

Thursday morning found Hannah and me loading up the car and driving back home. We made good time, even with a bit of Atlanta traffic. I would load a few pictures from our trip, but it seems Blogger still won't let me upload pictures! Which means my current profile picture must remain for a bit longer :).

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Whooooosh!

That's the sound of the last few weeks going by. . . What happened to those drafts that I was going to finish this week???

Our dear friends from TN just left, after spending a day with us, and tomorrow Hannah and I are heading up to KY to spend a few days with our friends there. We'll be back Thursday. We are really looking forward to seeing the Trues for a few days and catching up with them!

A few random notes:

I've been meaning to change my blogger profile picture, since Brother Dear has dubbed me Gappy McDeadEye. Isn't he sweet? He has pointed out that the picture is not very flattering when it is condensed (as it appears on my sidebar and in comments). I look like I have gaps in my teeth and cataracts in my eyes. Oh well. It will have to remain for a while longer (at least until next week), especially since blogger is not really being very cooperative with posting pictures.

Crystal linked to a really good article on parenting and the over-sheltering tendency of many Christian parents (especially home schoolers). It discusses all sorts of things like judgmentalism, focusing on outside performance instead of the heart, etc: Are we more concerned with protecting our kids from that which is bad or with putting into them that which is good? It's a really good read, and I highly suggest you take the time to read it. I will admit that I only read half of it, but I have ironing and packing to do!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Seasoning Mixes

One thing I've been trying to slowly do over the past few years is find replacements for those expensive seasoning packets that are mostly filler ingredients (not just spices). Here are recipes for fajitas and tacos. They are really good! I don't know where I originally got these recipes (I print up recipes in Microsoft Word and often don't try them right away), but they were probably from the internet.

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Fajita Seasoning

6 parts chili powder
3 parts ground cumin
1 part oregano
1 part garlic powder

Stir well and store in air tight container. Use 3-4 T in place of a packet of seasoning.

We usually take one package (3 pieces) of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and chop and cook the chicken. Then we add 1-2 chopped onions, 1-2 chopped green peppers, and add 4 T of seasoning that has been mixed with water to make a paste. Then we cook it all until the vegetables are soft.

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Taco Seasoning (I just tried this today for the first time, and it was good!)

6 tsp chili powder
5 tsp paprika
4 1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp onion powder (I added some fresh chopped onion to the meat instead)
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne (red) pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Stir together (doubling, tripling, etc.) and store in an airtight container. Use 2-3 tablespoons in place of store mix.

To 1 lb ground beef, I would add 2 T of the mix, more if you like spicy. Adding fresh, frozen, or canned chopped tomatoes is a nice addition. Four romas per 1 lb meat is a good amount. You can also cook 1/4 cup of dry rice in advance and add it to the meat to stretch the recipe.

Now That is a No-Nonsense Mother

We found great amusement in our family by reading this news story. That woman is smart!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Why Chicks Need Theology Too

I detest slang, but isn't the above a hilarious title for a women's Bible study? My pastor's wife has a friend who is currently leading a book study with that name, using the book When Life and Beliefs Collide, by Carolyn Custis James. Knowing such a book would interest me, she offered to let me borrow the book, which has proved very good so far! Women do need theology, as well as men. Theology has fallen by the wayside in general in our society, but especially for women, the pursuit of theology is viewed with suspicion. Carolyn Custis James addresses many of these suspicions in her book. Here is an excerpt:

Far from diminishing her appeal, a woman's interest in theology ought to be the first thing to catch a man's eye. A wife's theology should be what a husband prizes most about her. He may always enjoy her cooking and cherish her gentle ways, but in the intensity of battle, when adversity flattens him or he faces an insurmountable challenge, she is the soldier nearest him, and it is her theology that he will hear. A woman's theology suddenly matters when a man is facing a crisis and she is the only one around to offer encouragement.

Lane Keister's Message to Women was eerily timely, given my current read. He also followed up his Message to Women with an added list of resources for beginning a study of theology, for men or women. I encourage you to peruse both posts, both of which are short in length.