Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas by George Herbert

All after pleasures as I rode one day,
My horse and I both tired, body and mind,
With full cry of affections quite astray,
I took up in the next inn I could find.

There, when I come, whom found I but my dear--
My dearest Lord; expecting till the grief
Of pleasures brought me to Him, ready there
To be all passengers' most sweet relief?

O Thou, whose glorious yet contracted light
Wrapt in night's mantle, stole into a manger;
Since my dark soul and brutish is Thy right,
To man, of all beasts be not Thou a stranger;

Furnish and deck my soul, that Thou mayst have
A better lodging than a rack or grave.
The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts and words and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word, the streams Thy grace,
Enriching every place.

Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Outsing the daylight hours.
Then we will chide the sun for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore He should
Himself the candle hold.

I will go searching till I find a sun
Shall stay till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly
As frost-nipt suns look sadly.
Then we will sing and shine all our own day,
And one another pay.

His beams shall cheer my heart, and both so twine,
Till e'en his beams sing and my music shine.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thinking Out Loud in a Quiet Space of Time

I realized a few days ago, when I sat down to read *all* my friend's FB posts for the first time in weeks, that my life has been moving at a very high speed for the past few months. I haven't read a blog since summer, I guess. I am thankful for this break at Christmas.

I have some projects to work on-- the Madam How and Lady Why lesson notes, and helping the kids with their science fair projects, and figuring out how to meld and adapt to the kids' needs, and I want to design my own set of developmental piano scales and arpeggios on Finale Songwriter.

I wish I had more time to practice myself. I need more time to practice each day, and more time to help my own kids with math and science, and I need time to simmer and continue to develop my own art of homemaking, and I need to sit with my 10yo and hear her thoughts, and walk alongside my 13yo as she makes her way through the middle-school years, and help my biggest girl with requirements for higher education... and listen to her sing... and there is so much driving...

So much. I love this life, and I want to do it ALL. There are limits to time. But God has made me able to do everything required of me. I need to figure out what is REQUIRED and what is an unnecessary add-on.

And all of this busy-ness can mask the wonder:

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
Why Jesus the Savior did come for to die
For poor ornery people like you and like I
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

What a God we have, and He it is that walks with me as I try to figure things out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What I Am Reading

I haven't done a book post in awhile, so here are the books I have read since summer:

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, Gifts of the Jews, and Desire of the Everlasting Hills (three books) from the "Hinges of History" series by Thomas Cahill. Cahill is a controversial author because he inserts his opinion and interpretation of history more often than a serious scholar of history (as opposed to a popular writer of history) might. His books tend to get a little too sensational and graphic for me at times, as well. But I try not to view any history book as the definitive work on a subject, because we just do not know for sure what happened, so his interpretations do not bother me much. And he makes me think, which I like. (I will say that I don't just hand these books to my daughters to read, because of the graphic and sensational nature of some sections.)

This fall, I re-read Till We Have Faces by Lewis, feeling like I might have better understanding of the pagan/Greek references after reading Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea. The Lewis book has so many layers to it.

The girls and I just finished Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, with commentary from Miniatures and Morals by Peter Leithart. We are reading through Genesis some mornings, and only have a couple of chapters left. In the New Testament, we have read Galatians, James and the Gospel of John. We have been using Matthew Henry's commentary for our scripture readings this term, except that we followed our church ministers' email comments and questions for the reading of John. We have Romans next on our list, but I am thinking about reading Colossians first. Our pastor has been preaching from Colossians quite a bit.

I am trying to keep up with Aravis in her school reading, and am currently in the midst of Arguing About Slavery, Paul Johnson's History of the American People, and Churchill's Great Democracies. (I am not keeping up at all in the Churchill book.) I also read excerpts from A Short History of Western Civilization by Sullivan, et al., to further inform our history discussions.

Together, Aravis and I just finished The Law by Frederic Bastiat and are slowly reading through How to Read Slowly by James Sire. (Aravis wrote an essay on Bastiat that I also enjoyed reading, and I may post it to the blog at some point.)

I have also been studying up on chemistry, since Aravis is going through an at-home course on it, and has needed some help. I have read the first several chapters of Dr. Jay Wil's chemistry textbook and a chemistry course blog as well as watching The Teaching Company's high school chemistry lectures (which aren't reading, but make one think just as much). Whew, that is one tough subject, the way it combines natural history and math.

Mariel and I read Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott this past term with her literature co-op class, and, in a move that possibly declares my insanity, I allowed her to convince me to read Rob Roy concurrently. (It was fun, but not easy.) We have also begun reading Ourselves, How to Read a Book and Mere Christianity together. We are reading Churchill's Birth of Britain separately and coming together for discussion. I got her through the section on Roman Britain and the Dark Ages, and now she is in the part of the Middle Ages that she is familiar with and is handling the book quite nicely. I am helping her draw out Churchill's points on government. We are also reading The Once and Future King, which she loves. AO/HEO Year 7 is such an amazing year.

Mariel, Cornflower and I are also reading It Couldn't Just Happen and Madam How and Lady Why together during the time that Aravis attends outside classes. Our 'class-time' with these two books has blossomed into discussions on the Earth, the Universe, and our place in it. Love it! (I plan to finish my blognotes on MHLW over Christmas for those of you who are using them. I've discovered additional links for the first four chapters and hope to add those, too.)

As for Cornflower, she and I together are reading Age of Fable and Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution, and I am giving her a boost with the geography aspects of Minn. She does well with the story part, but needs help noticing the references to the river and the states and the way cool diagrams in the book. I didn't teach my older girls to pull out references (out of a fear of 'becoming the textbook'), and, as a result, I had to do some remedial teaching on that in middle school. Probably it would be okay either way, but it seems to me a waste to not get as much as possible out of book. I explain to Cornflower that there are many things we can get out of each book, and she is focusing on some things, while I focus on others that are also important and that she can gradually notice on her own, and I try not to get tedious, so I hope I am keeping it CM while also satisfying my own teacher's conscience. It is a balancing act I am sure all CM teachers are familiar with. ;o)

Cornflower and I just finished Robinson Crusoe, too, and have started Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I have set aside almost all of my educational philosophy reading, feeling like it is time to hyperfocus on application for awhile. I am still reading through CM's Volume 6, Toward a Philosophy of Education, with our book club, but that is only once a month.

This list may not be complete, so if I think of other things I have been reading, I will add to it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Guest Blogger: The Comfort of Warm Tea During Winter

The following post was written by ten-year-old Cornflower. She has dedicated it to Javamom and Sister Lynn. ;o)

Hearing the whistle of the kettle on the stove on a snowy morning tells you to get your blanket and your tea and snuggle up on the couch in your nightclothes. In a Christmas mug you quietly slurp your tea. You feel the cool chill in your body. You watch the snow come down to the ground. You decide to go outside with your tea. You want to do more with your tea, but to your surprise, your tea is gone. You get more tea and do everything over.