Thursday, March 30, 2017

I Corinthians 1-5

This week's readings contain what is one of my favorite illustrations from the epistles, in chapter 3. Paul is talking about the foundation of our faith--and what we build upon it. I'm fascinated by the fact that even though this was the early early church and we're nearly 2,000 years later, we all deal with the same problems.

One of them is division. And once you have division, you have false claims and foolish work and people who no doubt think they're getting along just fine, but they're really building their faith-house with rubble rather than the materials that last. But when the fires come--trials, God's judgment, whatever that might be--anything inferior's going to be found out. Burned up. We'll be saved, but as if through the fire. And all that labor--gone.

What does this look like in life? I think in part it's when we deliberately cheap out in our faith-walk. Who hasn't been a spot at one point or another where we know what we should do, but we're just too busy or tired or [fill in the blank]? And so we do less. We only give a little. We don't get involved in a project or cause even though we feel that tug on our spirits. Or we do spearhead a project or cause, even though God didn't tell us to and had something else He wanted us doing instead.

I think it's also when we cling to a sin. How can that help but put the whole building in danger? The foundation is still steady, but if we use a warped girder, it puts in danger everything around it. This goes along, I think, with chapter 5 as well, where Paul is calling out sexual sin in the church.

How many Christians today ought to be saying ouch to that one? Not with the particular example he gives, but with the heart of the matter: that there's sexual impurity in the church, being practiced by the believers who claim to be of Him, and no one cares.

How many ought to be saying it . . . and how many really are?

We are a society these days that not only tolerates sex out of marriage, we embrace it. We rejoice in it. We expect it--and that all too often is true within the church, not just in the world. I was recently talking to a friend about this, and about how it's caused a cynicism in the millennial generation--too many of us aren't willing to buy the concept of "true love" anymore. Our fairy tales have begun to be more funny and sarcastic and less sweet and romantic. We call it "realistic," but it's largely a reflection of what a generation's view of sex has done to their concept of marriage and love. It's cheapened it. It's substituted sub-standard materials for what ought to be strong ones. And we're left with a shaky faith that doesn't quite know what to do. On the one hand, it does still have that foundation of Christ, and some solid boards have been used in other places. But then there's that rotten part. The millennial Christian might have a hard time reconciling what they know deep in their spirit--what His Spirit has breathed into them--with the actions they see all around them, and so which they mirror.

The people will be saved. But barely.

Is that what we want to see happen to our brothers and sisters? Of course not. But do we call them out? That's Paul's admonition in chapter 5. Don't just accept it! Save them from the judgment--that's our job. Call them out, hold them accountable, and don't let it spread within the church. That's what love does. It doesn't turn a blind eye--love heals.

What parts of I Corinthians 1-5 jump out at you?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Word of the Week - Cursive

As a mom of primary/middle schoolers, cursive writing is a part of our day. But as my kiddos were being their usual snarky selves last week (I've raised them well, what can I say), the question arose of why certain letters look the way they do in cursive. Because yes, my kids question everything. Even things as innocuous as a Z. I choose to view that as a good thing, LOL. ;-)

But Xoe then insisted that I look it up today for my word of the week. So here we go!

The word itself, cursive, comes from the Italian corsivo, which means "running." The entire purpose of it is to allow speed in writing, especially in the days of quill pens, which are fragile and finicky compared to the pens we use today. With that in mind, it's no surprise that cursive writing has been around for thousands of years. The word, however, has only been in English since 1784. Previously it had been called "joining-hand."

Though most languages and alphabets have a form of cursive, I'll focus on the English version. Apparently there was no standardization in the early days, with two predominant styles: what we'd call italic, with no loops for ascenders and descenders, and looped, where things like p and d have a loop to allow for easy flow into the next letter. By the 16th century cursive had come to look more or less like what we recognize today. Styles still varied here and there, and everyone didn't always connect every letter, but standardization was probably helped along by businesses employing trained clerks to write in "fair hand" (easily readable script) for all their correspondence.

In more recent years, a few different techniques have arisen, which vary the method of learning to write the letters, but the letters themselves still end up looking largely the same. And of course, then we all leave school and write however we please anyway. ;-)

Do you have opinions on cursive handwriting? Do you use it in your own handwriting?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

John 16-21

This week's readings in the 40 Days of Jesus devotional were certainly action-packed! As I read these words that I've read so many times before, a few things struck me.

First, that though I've heard many a Christian say something to the effect of, "Don't you wish you'd been there? That you'd gotten to sit at His feet and hear Him speak?" I found it so interesting that Jesus indicates we're the lucky ones--because we have the Spirit to guide us through our faith.

Ever pause to think about that? That we're blessed because we haven't seen Him face to face, yet we believe. And despite never seeing Him with our eyes, we have from the start the indwelling of the Spirit to guide us, to make His teachings clear and understandable--how many times in the Gospels do the disciples not understand a lesson that's perfectly plain to us, right? That's why. Which is pretty cool when you think about it.

Then Jesus goes on to pray for us. Us. The believers who come after. The night before His death, when He knows very well what's coming in the next few hours, the Son of God takes the time to pray for you and me.

But not just some abstract prayer. What He prays for is UNITY in the church.

Ouch, right?

Because how unified are we today? We bicker and we snap at each other and we disagree on everything under the sun. And while differences in style and interpretation are in a way unavoidable--even those early apostles had them!--when it interferes with the message of Jesus going out into the world...when it hinders our witness to that world...then we're doing it wrong.

There are countless other things to talk about in these rich chapters. If you've been reading along--or just love the book of John and want to share your favorite insight or thought before the study moves into I Corinthians next week, do share!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Guest Post Up Today on Writing

Because I only have the capacity for one blog post a day (ahem), since I'm a guest today on Go Teen Writers, I figured I'd just link you over there.

So any of you writers out there, hop on over to read my take on the Intuitive--versus the mathematical--mind. In fact, even if you're not a writer, this could apply. I delve into the two types of minds that Pascal lays out, and how they affect our approach to pretty much anything.

See you back here tomorrow!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Word of the Week - Kidnap

This might seem like an odd word of the week until you consider I'm a writer, LOL. One who, as it happens, is indeed brainstorming a plot that involves a kidnapping.

And yet, I actually read about this word from pure happenstance. ;-) Go figure!

Anyway. It's kinda of interesting, so let's take a look.

First of all, though sometimes moderns think kid, as applied to a child, is terrible slang that was never used in historical days, that's simply not true. The word for "a young goat" since 1200, it was extended to children in the 1500s--first written record is the 1590s, but no doubt it was used it speech before that. It was slang at first, yes, but had lost that "slang" stigma by the 1840s (though it was still considered an informal word).

So then kidnap comes to us by the 1680s--part of thieves' language. It was originally used for when they stole children to ship them to the American colonies as servants or laborers! Who knew? The kid part is therefore obvious. Nap is a variant of nab. But interesting is that kidnapper was in use at least a decade before kidnap, leading experts to believe the verb is a back-formation of the noun.

Now off I go plot out a story in which my hero kidnaps my heroine and gets way more than he bargained for, LOL.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Remember When . . . We Went back to 1776? (Our Trip to Colonial Williamsburg)

Finally, two weeks late, here it is. A bit about my trip to Colonial Williamsburg!

So, Roseanna is an eager beaver when it comes to history. And given that it was Homeschool Days at CW, I figured the place would swarming with other eager families. So me and mine were there when the gates opened (metaphorically), a few minutes after 8 a.m. Got our passes, headed out . . . and quickly saw that while the Group Sales office opened at 8, the rest of the place--er, not so much, LOL. So we wandered around for a good long while until other shops and buildings began to catch up with our day. ;-) Still, that provided a good chance to walk the length of the town and decide what we wanted to fit in.

I decided in short order that I felt very out of place in modern dress and that next time, I wanted to be wearing period garb. And got the distinct impression that next time, I may be coming alone if I insisted on that, LOL. (Well, I could probably convince Xoe to dress up with me. The boys,, no.)

First we toured the gaol (very interesting!) and the capitol. By which point the kids were hungry, so while we waited to the restaurants to open, we also stopped in to see the wigmaker, which was great. The lady working in there knows how to bring the process alive, asking us who would like their head shaved first and trying to sell us on the purchase of one of the more expensive wigs--which cost as much as a team of oxen, FYI.

Our next stop was the milliner and mantua maker (read: dress shop). This was another fun one, where we go to handle fabric and watch as they make hats and dresses and talk about shoes--wondering whether the company that once made shoes for both the king of England and George Washington is still in business (hey, you never know!). Getting in the spirit of things, we inquired about apprenticing our daughter there once she's twelve.

Insert said eleven-year-old scowling at us like we are not--funny.

We visited the apothecary and had a rousing discussion on the evolution (and not) of the medical field, the uses of certain items back then, and how people today tend to turn their noses up at the old treatments that did little or had terrible side effects (mercury, anyone?), in all actuality, people today still gladly take remedies with terrifying lists of side effects.

Our favorite stops came after lunch. We went to the cabinetmaker's shop, where the wood worker makes furniture of all kinds. The two boys in the family were highly enthralled--even the nine-year-old who also didn't want us apprenticing him out yet (sheesh, unambitious children, I'm telling you...). But what he did want was to be able to try this sort of work, so Mama's now putting out feelers on how to get a kid started in wood working...
A harpsichord from the museum, which they did NOT let me play. ;-)

While the guys were chatting awls and lathes, I went into the outer shop to play the harpsichord with the cabinetmaker's permission. I'd never actually played one, so that was a real treat! (My husband is now checking out how much these things cost, LOL. Answer: quite a bit. It's like they're rare or something these days...) Naturally, I earned the applause of those who came in after us, ahem. ;-) And the kids found the hidden compartments in the desk beside where I played. A marvelous time was had by all.

From there we went to the brickyard, where no one was making bricks because, alas, it's a summer-only thing. Still, my hubby, from a family of stone masons, had tons of questions for him, and we learned a lot about what brickmaking was back then, and what it is today. They do indeed make all the bricks they use in CW, which is pretty darn cool. And so, as we walked to the Governor's Palace for our last tour of the day, we were spotting the glazed bricks placed artistically within it and reminding ourselves that those were the sides facing the heat directly when the bricks were fired.

Now, I have a cousin who's a docent at CW, so she's the one who gave me a plan of attack for the town, and she offered to meet us for a few minutes when we were done the tour of the palace (thanks, Sierra!). She gave us the tip of the day: go and see the maze.

I'm a history buff. I love wandering around a place like Colonial Williamsburg and learning with every step. My children, however, like just wandering--preferably through something green. So once we found the shrubbery maze (it's not on the maps!), they really started having fun. Laughter was ringing through the afternoon, and my tired kiddos suddenly had energy. So glad we got that tip!

I got to meet with a writer friend of mine for dinner at a local restaurant (yay for Carrie Fancett Pagels!), and then we all soaked our aching feet in the pool at the hotel.

On day 2, we didn't head over quite so early--lesson learned--but were still among the first there. We talked for probably half an hour to a groundsman about the state of the modern country (where my kids proved true to form yet again and had a great time doodling in the dirt with a stick...). We walked to the print shop, learned a lot about how that's done which could be a post in itself (note to self...) and then headed for the museum. We had to get back to WV, preferably before dark, so then called it quits and packed up.

All in all, we had a lovely time, came home with sore feet and legs, learned a lot, and realized that the kids still enjoy the wild exploration above the planned--a note I shall incorporate into future field trips, since they're supposed to be for them and not for me. ;-)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

John 5-9

In this week's readings, I've been doing a lot of pondering about the things Jesus said. Not so much the philosophical parts, but the nitty gritty, let's call it.

The fact that in chapter 6 he spent a lot of time demanding cannibalism, though the Christian church has interpreted it metaphorically. Why did he insist to this crowd that, yes, they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood, if he really meant bread and wine?

The fact that, in chapter 7, he told his brothers he wouldn't go to the feast, that it wasn't his time, but then he went. I find it hard to believe he changed his mind . . . but is the alternative that he lied to his brothers and told them he wasn't going when he knew all along he would?

And several times (chapter 8 is one example) when he heals or forgives he tells the recipient to "go and sin no more." But isn't that impossible?

If I'm operating on the assumption first and foremost that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life--and therefore not deliberately deceiving people--then that leaves me with one thing to do with these passages: assume I'm missing something, LOL. That my "easy" understanding is, apparently, wrong.

The eat his flesh and drink his blood part, for example. Saying he's talking here about his later institution of communion is easy. But over and again in chapter 6, he quite deliberately makes this hard. So hard that most of the people following him leave, because it's too difficult for them to accept.

And let's face it. If some teacher we'd been following started insisting that we had to literally eat him . . . hmm. Would you stick around, or would you declare him a wacko? I can kinda see where the crowds were coming from when they shook their heads and wandered off.

But even if we do assume a metaphorical meaning--it's honestly even harder then, isn't it? Because that would (and I believe does) mean that we're to consume him and his teachings. He's to be our life, our sustenance, our craving. Everything that we take into ourselves should be him. Not just when we take communion (and let's not get into transubstantiation right now), but always. He stresses the eternal quality of this Bread and Blood.

This, too, makes people wander away. Because while most of us like a little bit of faith, that all-consuming, every-moment, nothing-but-Him kind, where we spend all day every day at his feet, learning . . . that's difficult.

Kind of like being perfect and sinning no more. But if we're again operating on the assumption that Jesus means what he says, how can we dismiss this command as impossible?

I think this ties in with Paul's teachings in the epistles, that once we have put our faith in Him, and as long as we're walking in it, the law and sin no longer have dominion over us. We can and should and are called to live in perfection.

A friend of mine once pointed out that Jesus's forgiveness exists outside of the constraints of time. If that one action of his could forgive every person who came after him, then it also applies to every sin in that person's life, even the ones that come after the initial acceptance of his forgiveness. So if I'm walking in my faith, though I may stumble, it's already forgiven. Now, it becomes different when people CHOOSE to disobey him. There's plenty of talk in the epistles about how bad that is for the person too. But if our hearts remain his, our sins are all forgiven.

I've long felt it's dangerous to give ourselves an excuse right out of the gate--to claim that we can't cease to sin. Isn't that just the easy way? I choose to believe here that Jesus means what he says. That he's telling us not to sin in the same breath that he declares us healed and forgiven. And Jesus doesn't tell us to do what he doesn't want us to do.

It's difficult. But you know . . . I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Word of the Week - Upper Case

Another lesson learned at Colonial Williamsburg. =) Well, I'm pretty sure I'd learned this before, but not with a nice visual handy...

So since the mid 1800s, people have referred to capital letters as upper case and small letters as lower case. This is a direct borrow from printers' type cases, where they keep the metal letters with which they build their work. Since small letters are used far more often than capitals, these were stored more handily in the lower case. Capitals, which are used rather sparingly in comparison, were kept in the harder-to-reach upper case.

The simple names (upper and lower) for the type case have been used since the 1500s. I'm a bit surprised it took 300 years for the names to be transferred to the letters kept in the cases!

Interestingly, setting type was the job of the lowest (and generally shortest, ha ha) apprentice, so younger boys learning to be a printer might have a hard time reaching those capitals at all. (Now what's the excuse of my 9-year-old for hating to use them when writing with a pencil? That's another question altogether...)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thoughtful About . . . John 1-4

As I've begun this year's 40 Days of Jesus reading for Lent, it's been fun to begin with some of the most famous passages in the New Testament. The Gospel of John begins with that well known "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God..." and moved right forward to the first verse many of us memorized: "For God so loved the word that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Sometimes it's a challenge to see new things in a book you've read so many times. But especially surrounding that well-known verse in chapter 3, I love sitting back and reminding myself of what it really means in context.

A few years ago we read John in church and went back and read the account of Moses and the Israelites that chapter 3 is referring to. The story is from when God had sent poisonous snakes into the camp as punishment, and the people were dying. They cried out to Moses for deliverance, and he put a bronze snake on a staff. "God will save you," he told the people, "if you just look upon this staff and believe it."
From Michelangelo's work on the Sistine Chapel, we see a scene with the brazen serpent or Nehushtan

As many as looked, were saved.

But not all looked. Many would rather die in their bitterness and anger toward God, or calling out to false idols, than to trust Him. To humble themselves before Him.

This is what Jesus said He was. Salvation to all who look and believe. So simple--so difficult for stubborn humanity to accept.

But we're already bitten by that snake of sin. We're already dying. It isn't that He's condemning us if we don't accept Him--it's that nature will simply take it's course. The ball's in our court. He already came and died and rose again for us. All we need to do is believe . . . but if we don't, then that poison of sin will overtake us. We'll die.

This is the simplicity and the complexity of the salvation story. Striking, every time we read it.

If you've been reading along, has anything from the first four chapters of John jumped out at you?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Day Is It? And for the love of BOOKS!

Okay, getting home from a 2-day field trip to Colonial Williamsburg on a Monday evening has totally thrown off my week's schedule. (It's only Tuesday right? What? Wednesday?? No, that can't be right...) I'm doing my best to get back into the correct swing, but it's taking me a few days, LOL. Next Wednesday, I'll share some of the fun stuff I learned at Williamsburg, and the photos I took. For today, I can't put off edits that need done any longer. Sorry. ;-)

But as it's Wednesday (?!?), I figured I'll instead invite you to join me tomorrow night for an evening of BOOKS! Ah, one of my favorite things. ;-) A friend of mine has recently begun to sell Usborne books, and we're having a Facebook party!

If you're not familiar with Usborne, they're a huge publisher of children's books, with titles appropriate for babies up through teens. We've used some of their science and history books in our homeschool curriculum each and every year, and they've always been among our favorites. I didn't realize, though, that they had so many books just for fun--activity books, novels, art books, you name it!

If you've got kids or grandkids or children otherwise in your life and are always on the lookout for a good book for them, I'd love for you to swing by the Facebook party tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. EST. If you check in right at the start, you'll be entered to win door prizes and giveaways! (Who doesn't love free books, right?) And they'll be showing us all about the new additions to the catalog and what Usborne has to offer.

If you're interested in attending, you can try to view the event directly here--some folks have reported issues with that though, so the best bet might be to leave me a message either here or on Facebook, and I'll send you an invitation.

Looking forward to hanging out and chatting BOOKS!