Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

This week I have a picture for each category of Like Mother, Like Daughter's Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real feature.


We visited Girl Out of the House and That Boy for a few days last week. They took us to a beautiful park smack in the middle of their big-ish city. They are pretty too, don't you think? :-)


Man of the House performed his first baptism on Easter Sunday. What better way to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord than with a baptism? After all, "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4, KJV). Did you know that Easter is a traditional time for converts to receive baptism? The young man desires to follow Christ and hadn't been baptized before. What a joy it was to hear him affirm his faith in Jesus as his Savior and to renounce the devil and all his works!


We saw the oddest ducks at the park! They certainly qualify as funny. They were quite tame and followed us around. It probably helped that we fed them bread crumbs.


I like geraniums on windowsills, but they don't always look picture-perfect. Notice the unusual shape of this one, how its long stem has doubled back on itself to reach the sunlight. The blossom is on such a long stem that it's having trouble supporting it. I will probably cut it back after the flower wilts.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Russian Easter Overture by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

On this glorious Resurrection Day of the Lord Jesus Christ, I'd like to introduce you to a stunning piece by the Russian Nationalist composer, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture. The beauty and mystery of this composition is breathtaking.

Though a non-believer himself, Rimsky-Korsakov was interested in liturgical themes and employed chant from the Russian Orthodox liturgy in his Russian Easter Overture, specifically "Christ Is Risen" and "The Angel Cried." I have Russian Orthodox friends who have confirmed that they sing these very chants during their Vigil and Pascha liturgies. The solo violin cadenzas represent the light eminating from Jesus's empty tomb. Psalm 68:1 ("Let God arise and His enemies be scattered; let them also that hate Him flee before Him") and Mark 16 in which the angel announces to the women at the empty tomb that Jesus has risen from the dead also play prominent roles.

Rimsky-Korsakov said in his autobiography that he was also portraying "the legendary and heathen aspect of the holiday, and the transition from the solemnity and mystery of the evening of Passion Saturday to the unbridled pagan-religious celebrations of Easter Sunday morning." I confess that I don't know where in the world he attempted to do this; it is lost on me. Maybe he made a note in the score (which I have not seen)? I don't know, but I do know that this is one of my very favorite compositions. Believer or not, Rimsky-Korsakov gave us in his Russian Easter Overture an awe-inspiring musical work pointing to the risen Christ.

2011 Reading Challenge~Why I Failed This Week and Why It's All Right

Yep, you read that correctly: I didn't get my book read this week. It was less than 100 pages and I didn't get a third of the way through. Here's why:

1) After church Sunday, we immediately headed south to visit Girl Out of the House and That Boy. I did manage to read a few pages in the car, but mostly I read Three Men in a Boat aloud or we listened to Connie Willis's Doomsday Book. We had a great time and stayed until Wednesday morning. Once there, I hardly cracked my book. I'll share more details and some pictures soon. . . I hope!

2) This being Holy Week and all, there was a lot more church-going, which for us means four extra hours in the car per service, and half of that is in the dark, which makes it harder to read. (Man of the House is interim pastor for two churches two hours away.) So with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services in the evenings, the days were short, especially since I was trying to catch up from being gone (which I haven't yet).

3) Girl of the House is under the weather, and someone has to do her chores. That would be me. ;-)

Now you know why I didn't finish On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. I picked it largely because it was short*, but apparently even that was too much for me this week. Oh, well. I'll get to it another week, and besides, I'm still a book ahead of schedule, so I can afford this minor lapse.

So are family relationships, ministry, and focusing on the Passion of our Lord good enough reasons not to have met my goal this week? I think so.

*I also chose it to fit my plan to read theological and/or devotional books during Lent. On the Incarnation is good stuff, and I definitely want to get back to it. Now that Lent is over, however, I am ready for something lighter, though I will sprinkle my reading with theological/devotional books throughout the remainder of the year.

Monday, April 18, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~Book #16

Hey, everybody! I'm gone for a few days visiting Girl Out of the House and That Boy; hence the late post on last week's read. My review is short and sweet. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis: Five stars. Get it. Read it. Inwardly digest it. Lewis is his usual brilliant and insightful self.

See you in a few days!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


"And I think the violets are little snips of the sky that fell down when the angels cut out holes for the stars to shine through."~A Pupil to Anne in Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Violets grow abundantly in my neighborhood in spring. The coming of the violets is a sure way to know that winter has been replaced by spring. They are such sweet, old-fashioned flowers! I don't actually have very many growing in my own small yard, but some yards are full of them, so full that I don't think their owners miss the few handfuls that I "borrow" to take home. I forbid the boy who mows our lawn to mow down the violets; he must go around them even if it means having odd patches of long grass here and there. I can't bear the thought of my violets being murdered! They are allowed to go to seed, and each year we have a few more. I will never understand people who wipe out their entire violet populations with herbicides or lawnmowers. When I see a lawn that has been massacred of its violets, I mutter imprecations on the owners. A pox upon the houses of all violet murderers!

These are on my windowsill in a 50-cent garage sale vase I bought when Girl Out of the House was a baby. It has been used in all its chipped glory for over twenty years to hold bouquets of dandelions and clover, violets and pansies, wild phlox and shepherd's purse. How I miss bouquets picked by chubby fingers accompanied by little voices exclaiming, "Here, Mommy! These are for you!"

(Please visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for other entries in their "Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real" link-up. Today is the premiere of this new weekly feature. Should be fun!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

From My Commonplace Book

"Knowledge of words comes first in time; knowledge of things is first in importance. But some hasten unwashed to the feast, as they say, who neglect proper care for language in their overeagerness to acquire knowledge of things. For, since we can understand nothing except through words, whoever is unskilled in language, will be blind in judgment, wandering in mind, and crazed when he deals with a knowledge of things."~~Erasmus

"Trouble is often the means whereby God delivers us. God knows that our backsliding will soon end in our destruction, and he in mercy sends the rod. We say, 'Lord, why is this?' not knowing that our trouble has been the means of delivering us from far greater evil. Many have thus been saved from ruin by their sorrows and crosses."~~Charles Spurgeon

"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones."~~Proverbs 12:4

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."~~Thomas Edison

"The end of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him."~~John Milton

"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty--except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all."~~C.S.Lewis

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~Book #15

At the end of Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World, N.D. Wilson calls his book "abnormal." Abnormal may be a bit too strong, but Notes is certainly an odd book. And that's why I liked it. Wilson covers everything from insects to death to Nietzsche to the Resurrection to death to sand castles to Plato to the Incarnation to kittens to death to heaven and hell. There were places I found myself nodding in agreement and thinking, "Ah, so someone else does see it the way I do!" and there were places that are still big question marks, sections in which I didn't quite get what he was driving at.

Wilson uses the earth's rotation around the sun as it also spins on its axis (hence the titular tilt-a-whirl) to frame his musings on life and death, heaven and hell, salvation and damnation. Part philosophy, part theology, part apolgetics, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl reveals Wilson as a well-educated, thoughtful man who has eyes and heart opened to God's revelation of Himself in the world He has made. He helps us to have the same.

N.D. Wilson is the son of the well-known and oft controversial leaders of the modern classical Christian education movement and revitalized Reformed wing of Christianity, Douglas and Nancy Wilson. His writing style and presumably his thinking have obviously been influenced by his parents, or at least the same authors that influenced them, which is not at all a bad thing. :-) Wilson's writing is witty and insightful. I enjoyed this book a great deal.

You may recognize Wilson's name from his children's books, all of which Girl of the House has read (and loved, I might add) and none of which I have read: Leepike Ridge, 100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire, and The Chestnut King. They sound like perfect summer reading and will probably make it on my list for this summer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Family Culture III

Here are some more quotations from books and/or movies that we liberally sprinkle our conversation with. Can you guess where they come from?

You're a likely looking girl and have a right smart way of steppin'. I don't want no lazy woman.

No blame can be attached to him.

Capital, capital!

I don’t wanna, and I’m not gonna!

Oh, help! Oh, bother! Oh, help and bother!

It burns, precious, it burns!

Enough pills to make me rattle.

You're a fine, steady hand.

I'm a child, a child.

Keep your knees opened and closed!

That's no S-M-F-O.

It's a particular morning thing. It has to be done in the morning.

Cabbage has a cabbage smell.

That has nothing to do with me.

Sit down. That's what chairs are for.

They can’t possibly need all these trains!

Who's going to make the sums come out at the end of the month?

My poor nerves!


It's levi-OH-sa, not levio-SAH!

You'll shoot your eye out!

We think it never happen for you!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~Book #14

The weather is too glorious for a long book review today, but I'll at least give you a brief sketch of this week's book. On Christian Liberty by Martin Luther (also known as The Freedom of the Christian) is an early work, dating from 1520. Luther composed it between challenging John Tetzel with his Ninety-five Theses in 1517 and his refusal to recant his teachings at the Diet of Worms in 1521. Luther makes the case for justification by faith alone, the doctrine that set off the Reformation and put him and his followers on a collision course with Rome. I was intrigued reading Luther's own words (well, a translation anyway) explaining this doctrine that I could recite in my sleep I've known it so long. It was hard for me to remember while reading this book how revolutionary his ideas were as they have been part of my very core for decades now.

Luther also lays out (for the first time, I think?~if anyone knows for sure, please comment!) the famous Lutheran doctrine of Law and Gospel, which says in summary that the Law reveals to us what sinners we are as we are unable to keep even the smallest part of it. It crushes us under a weight of guilt and despair. But then the glorious Gospel of Christ~justification by grace through faith~lifts us up, washes away our sin, guilt and shame, and redeems us through Jesus's death on the cross on our behalf. Without the Law first condemning us, we wouldn't know our need for a Savior, who in contrast appears all the more glorious! And that's where our liberty comes in~we are freed from sin, death, and condemnation as well as laboring for our own salvation. Christ is our Sabbath.

Luther then goes on to write about the role of good works in the Christian's life and how he is now through Christ at liberty to serve others, and here he brings in his doctrine of vocation. I wish I knew if this is the first place he wrote about it; I did a little digging but was unable to find out. According to Luther, good works flow out of the Christian's vocation(s)to serve his neighbor, who needs his good works just as the Christian needs the good works of his neighbor. But never is the Christian to think that he is justified before God by his works. That would mean he is no longer justified by faith alone.

Luther writes with great pastoral concern and care. I suspect he had no idea that in just a few months he would be called before an ecclesiastical court to denounce his teachings and submit to the errors of the Roman Catholic Church at the time. It is fascinating to read the actual words of people who made history. It's quite different than reading about them. C.S. Lewis knew what he was talking about when he said we should read old books!

And speaking of old books, I also read an even older "book" this week: The Didache: The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations. But since it's less than three 8.5x11 pages on both sides I'm not going to count it as a book in my tally. The Didache is a treatise dating from the end of the first century or the beginning of the second and is a record of the Apostles' teachings regarding sin, church organization, and rituals and practices within the Church. Reading about how the earliest Christians conducted themselves and their churches was engrossing and convicting. I was sometimes surprised how different modern Christianity looks from that practiced by the first Christians. As with Luther's On Christian Liberty, I was fascinated getting the story straight from the horse's mouth (in translation, of course). This is a quick read (under an hour) that gives modern Christians a look into the earliest Christianity. Well worth the time and easily available online.

Hmmm . . . this wasn't so short after all!

Catching Up

Lake Michigan--gorgeous! It really has been two months since I last made a blog post!  This summer has been full of traveling, gardening...

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