Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ted Kennedy and Proverbs 31

Reading Proverbs 31 this morning, I was thinking of Ted Kennedy as I read the first nine verses...

He's not a king, but is a ruler of sorts, in the American fashion, and it occurred to me that he might do well to heed parts of it... Verse 3: "Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings." Also, verse 4: "It is not for drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer..."

I think Sen. Kennedy would claim that he does the latter verses in this section: speaking up for the rights of the poor and those who can't speak for themselves (except the unborn, that is!) It's made me think a little as to what 'rights' were being referred to in Proverbs 31:8.

Postscript: Since Proverbs 31 is primarily known for its description of the impossibly virtuous woman, I imagine the title of this piece could raise eyebrows... ; )

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 31:8

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute

The Choice

O, receive the gentle, humble King of Kings,
and receive all that is good;

Or, reject the terrible, sovereign Lord of Lords,
and by Him be rejected.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Response to something Rush said today

Rush seemed to imply inside knowledge suggesting that the White House strategy is to snatch portions of each of the key Democratic voting blocs... and that this explains, at least partly, the administration's tactics on immigration.

The idea is that they want to make the GOP stronger by doing things which appeal to Democrats, I guess. Three thoughts: 1) Who wants a GOP that appeals to Democrats? 2) It won't work -- they'll lose at least as many voters as they'll gain, and 3) I thought they were supposed to pick their policies for the good of the country, not the party.


Proverb of the Day

Prov. 30:8-9

Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

Give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise I may have too much and disown you
and say, "Who is the Lord?"
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

Ohio weather this year

I have always resisted running either heat or AC in (supposedly) mild weather months like May, and also resisted turning one of them on until after the other had been off for months...

Well, this May, I had to turn the heat back on a few weeks ago when we were getting into the 30s at night, only only the 50s-low 60s during the day. Now it's in the upper 80s and we're sweltering. I haven't given into the temptation to push the AC button yet, but I'm weakening...

This on top of gas prices, we don't need!

Monday, May 29, 2006

DaVinci Code lies

Just one quick note on a blatant falsehood in the book:

The so-called expert smugly informs one of the other characters that Jesus didn't claim to be divine, his followers didn't believe he was divine, and he only gained divine status when the Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicea to discuss it and "by a close vote," as Brown's expert says, the Council agreed to consider him so.

However, anyone with internet access can discover that the vote in Nicea was not WHETHER Jesus was divine, but if he was divine from eternity, or only from his incarnation. And the "close" vote? 300-2, that Jesus was eternally pre-existent with the Father.

More on the rest later....

Proverbs for 2 days

Better a poor man whose walk is blameless,
than a rich man whose ways are perverse.

Whoever flatters his neighbor
is spreading a net for his feet.

Memorial Day Parade

I was impressed at the turnout for our little Memorial Day parade. It drew from 3 very small towns and one larger one that form a school district together. The parade route was lined with people as far as I could see in both directions.

It was very well done; veterans at the front, an excellent representation of the tomb of the unknown soldier, police and firemen, the highschool marching band, boy and girl scouts, and near the end, trucks full of kids representing every group imaginable -- all flinging candy at us. The kids, needless to say, were quite pleased.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Proverb of the Day

Chapter 27, verse 1

Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Yankees, anyone?

I'm somewhat of a sports fan, at least I really enjoy baseball and football. My daughter, on the other hand, isn't. She enjoys going to the local minor league games, but takes the idea of 'winning not being the important thing' a bit farther than I do. She scolds me for expressing disappointment when the Indians or Red Sox lose.

She also takes great joy in applying the scriptural admonition to have "malice toward none" to my feelings about the New York Yankees. This morning I had to follow my husband out of the room and whisper my glee that they lost to the Kansas City Royals (currently the worst team in either league)...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sesame Street isn't good for kids

When people discuss the problem of kids watching too much t.v., there always seems to be an assumption that Sesame Street is fine. I beg to differ....

What does a child see when they watch Sesame Street -- and most other so-called educational programming? The biggest problem is that the picture and topic change so frequently that it's as if they're (unintentionally) programming attention deficit disorder into these kids. The music is frenetic teeny bop rock, and colors and images flash across the screen for a second or two, and then change.

How are we to expect kids to go from that to sitting still, listening to a teacher with no flashing images, exciting music or special effects graphics?

Mr. Roger's Neighborhood is one of the few shows that move slowly enough to avoid contributing to the epidemic of ADD in this country. I'd include Barney, Theodore Tugboat, and Thomas the Tank Engine as some of the few harmless shows, also, from what I remember.

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 26:14

As a door turns on its hinges,
so a sluggard turns on his bed.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Why American students lag behind

According to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today, American students do poorly in science compared to the rest of the developed world:

This is also true for math. What's interesting is that the longer American kids stay in the government schools (aka public schools) the worse they fare compared to students in other countries. Results of these studies can be found here: (I found it under Overheads.)

A couple of reasons: America is one of the few developed countries which allow the education of our children to be controlled by a government/union monopoly; also, we are more interested in how kids 'feel' about school than in whether they are receiving an excellent education. One quick piece of evidence... Eighth grade science classes were videoed in the US and in countries with high achieving students. Games and entertainment occupied a much higher percentage of time in the US classes.

As a homeschooling mom searching for curriculum for my kids, I have to wade through lots of curricula full of fun games to find quality material that just teaches without trying to entertain.

Proverb of the Day

Chapter 25, verse 9-10

If you argue your case with a neighbor,
do not betray another man's confidence,
or he who hears it may shame you,
and you will never lose your bad reputation.

Idol - Living the American Dream?

A confession first: I've never watched the show American Idol, and I'm not actually interested in who wins or loses, BUT, the guy's face is all over the news websites so I kept seeing this quote from him: "I'm living the American dream!"

The American dream? Since when is the American dream being rich and famous? I thought the American dream was freedom and the opportunity to make as much of yourself as possible. Fame and wealth are actually somewhat un-American, since the whole concept of elites in society is what we rejected when we left Europe, with its nobles and aristocracy.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Our Celebrity Culture

People used to value heroes: men and women who make the world a better place as a result of the courage and personal virtue. Now it seems that we value those who make the world a more vulgar place as a result of their immorality and lack of virtue.

Those who worship at the altar of the latest actors and musicians should think hard about the proverbs below.

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 24:1

Do not envy wicked men,
do not desire their company.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 23:3

Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
have the wisdom to show restraint.

School's almost over

One big difference between moms who homeschool and those who don't....

Homeschooling moms are often at least as eager as most kids for school to be over!

Monday, May 22, 2006

I've always wondered...

... if fiction writers plan out their whole plot and then start writing, or if they just figure it out as they go along. For me, at least, it has definitely been a case of figuring it out as I go along. In my vast experience of one book written and one in process, I start with a sense of where I want to end up, and perhaps a few key scenes in mind. After that, it almost feels more like finding the story than creating it. And, to my surprise, it's FUN!

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 22:9

A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hiking boots

So yesterday I bought my first pair of hiking boots. We're taking a trip out west this summer, which will include hiking at the Grand Canyon. Now, to break them in, we're going for a hike in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is wonderfully close by.

Until we moved here, all I knew about the Cuyahoga River was that it had caught fire some time in the 70s. I was quite surprised to see how beautiful it's become.

Proverb of the day

Chapter 21, verse 5

The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty.

Why kids program our VCRs

I think I've figured out at least part of the phenomenon wherein intelligent, competent adults ask their kids to handle certain technological tasks...

A few months ago when we finally got a DVD player, my husband set it up, and my 13 year old son read all the manuals and played with it constantly to learn all about how it works. I, on the other hand, don't have time and couldn't care less about learning how the thing works. Thus, when it came time to watch a DVD, it was, "Here, Tim, turn this on for me, o.k.?"

I guess it's otherwise known as the path of least resistance.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Proverb of the Day

Chapter 19, verse 3

A man's own folly ruins his life,
yet his heart rages against the Lord.

Learning to Like Clouds

For the last three years (almost) I have lived near Cleveland, Ohio, which is the 3rd cloudiest region in the U.S. A few months before moving here, I got a hint of that fact from my mother-in-law. We were living near Boston at the time, and she came to visit us in February. I noticed the frequency and intensity with which she commented how wonderful the sunny days were. I realized then that she hadn't seen the sun in awhile!

In a place with so many clouds, I'm coming to love the complexity of their layered patterns. Clouds of differing shades of gray, white, even hints of blue, purple and green, and with widely varying textures pile up in front of and around each other to make beautiful mosaics.

So, I'm learning to like clouds...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Proverb of the Day

Two since they're related....

Proverbs 18:2

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding,
but delights in airing his own opinions.

18: 13

He who answers before listening--
this is his folly and his shame.

Trying to create a website

I'm not sure which is more difficult; the building of the website or trying to figure out what to put in it. I've been trying to learn HTML, just for fun really, but I think I'll probably end up using the tools that do it for you. I guess I'm just lazy!

I'll make a link when I get it going.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Miss Marple

I wonder if I could write a murder mystery? Thus far, I've confined myself to the historical fiction genre. I wish I could, however, because I think the world needs another delightful old lady detective. I have the character fairly well formed in my head. Unlike Miss Marple, mine wouldn't be a spinster, but a widowed grandmother, with some bright kids who help her solve mysteries...

One concern is my ability to come up with the requisite plot twists and turns, and the other whether writing about murder is consistent with Philippians 4:8, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things."

Of course, I read them, so perhaps its straining a gnat and swallowing a camel to say that perhaps I shouldn't write them.

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 17:1

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

C.S. Lewis

At the moment, Lewis is more popularly known for his Narnia works, but of his fiction, I like the Space Trilogy better. I'm amazed at his foresight in predicting today's liberals, even writing in the early 1940s.

My comment today has to do with one scene from the final book, That Hideous Strength. In it, Merlin (returned from Druidic times) sees Jane, a young, recently married woman, and refers to her as the "falsest lady of any at this time alive." His reason is that by practicing birth control, she has prevented conception of "a child by whom the enemies should have been put out of Logres for a thousand years." (He meant a child who'd have been a great asset in the fight of good against evil.) He said further that, "For a hundred generations in two lines the begetting of this child was prepared..."

Lewis was Anglican, not Catholic (I'm assuming this because he was British, and they got rid of most of their Catholics by one means or another!) The Anglicans have not taken a stand on birth control (or much of anything else, especially lately!) but it seems as if he were against it.

I have to say, it certainly seems the more 'Christian' way -- to put your trust completely in God's sovereignty and will for such a matter, but it's beyond me to do so. I suppose Merlin would wish to have my 'head cut from my shoulders,' also.

Proverb of the Day

Prov. 16:4

The Lord works out everything for his own ends,
even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Parenting without 'harsh words'

The quotes around 'harsh words' in the title are because it was the topic of today's Proverb -- see posting below this one.

It got me thinking. What is it that makes it so difficult to parent without raising your voice or speaking in anger? (There's a book I want to read but haven't yet, called "Homeschooling with a Gentle and Quiet Spirit" by Terri Maxwell. (I may have somewhat butchered title and/or author.)

But without reading the book, I think the cause of much 'angry parenting' comes down to a few things. First, and probably primarily, a lack of understanding of true discipline. Discipline is NOT: When my kids make me mad enough, I'll punish them. It is also NOT: I'll tell them again and again, ignoring their disobedience, until I finally lose my temper and yell.

Discipline IS: 1) Making sure the expected standards are understood by gentle, persistent instruction; 2) Immediately giving age-appropriate and situation-appropriate consequences for EVERY violation of standards**. (Caveat: yes, I know the goal of disciplining EVERY time is pathetically unattainable, but you'll come closer if you have the goal than if you don't!) Part of the discipline should be requiring any necessary apologies; and 3) following up the discipline with expressing your love and forgiveness for the wrong they've done.

How does this keep a parent from being an angry parent? The anger that results from allowing a child to disobey and disobey and disobey until you finally lose your temper is eliminated if the disobedience is dealt with gently and firmly the first time.

The other issues which can bring up parental anger are a lack of patience and understanding with the fact that sometimes, the way children behave isn't bad, but it is irritating to adults. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and deal with it, as long as they're not being ill-mannered. (It's okay to explain after the umpteenth "Look at me!" that it's not good manners to demand constant attention and you're done looking for now. It also helps them begin to grasp that they're not the center of attention.)

I may follow up with more later. See the note below on what I meant by age/situation appropriateness.

**By age-appropriate, I mean something that will prove effective without being overly harsh. For example, don't tell a two-year old who just hit a sibling, "You can't have dessert tonight." That's age-inappropriate because a 2 yr. old can't think that far in advance to care about dessert tonight, and situation-inappropriate because dessert has nothing to do with hitting a brother.

Proverb of the Day

Chapter 15, verse 1

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

What to do on Election Day?

O.K., I know November is quite a ways away, but I'm still so frustrated with the primary process that I'm thinking about it now. This is probably a quandry with which left and right can both identify!

Here's the question: Since it's all but impossible to defeat an incumbent Senator or Representative in the primary, do you hold your nose and vote for them in the fall, or do you try to unseat them and hope for a better candidate to win the next primary?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Family is a good thing

After living in Massachusetts for 13 years, and having to drive 9-10 hours to the nearest family members -- that was my parents in the DC area, and it took driving through NYC to get there, blech! -- we have been happily ensconced in Northeast Ohio for the last 3 years.

My husband's mom and three of his brothers' families are within 30 minutes. Of course, this is only a good thing because I am blessed to have such terrific in-laws.

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Too Much Stuff!

Why do we Americans keep gathering more and more and more stuff??? We don't need it. Often, half or more of it gets put away and forgotten or, at best, rarely used. We fill up garages and storage units, and someday, our children and grandchildren have to go through it all, throwing huge amounts of it away, and trying to figure out who wants or can use the rest.

Surely there is a better use of our remarkable prosperity than this?

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 13:4

The sluggard craves and gets nothing,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Why Proverbs?

Chapter One of Proverbs says that the purpose of the book is for 'attaining wisdom and discipline.' I've read Proverbs off and on since my teens... after all it's supposed to have been written by the wisest man who ever lived.

In a sense, as I read them in my younger years, I was standing alongside, reading and somewhat smugly agreeing, "Oh yes, this is wise. I agree." About ten years ago, I finally realized that I was lacking in wisdom and discipline, and began taking a different approach to reading Proverbs. Instead of standing alongside and reading with a critic's interest, I asked God to use it to change me, and began reading with an eye more critical to myself than the text.

What a difference it made! Very soon, I realized that many of the passages about 'the fool' (and there are a lot) were actually describing me. The first one to open my eyes was today's proverb below. These weren't pleasant revelations, but it was the beginning of a real change for the better in my life and primarily in me.

So, I'm going to continue sharing some of the wisdom in Proverbs each day.

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 12:15

The way of a fool seems right to him,
but a wise man listens to advice.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Proverb of the Day

From the 11th chapter of Proverbs, verse 2:
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom."

Kids' Birthday Cards

My niece is turning 5 this week, so I went to Walmart to buy her a birthday card last night. Have you ever tried to find a birthday card that doesn't send one of the following messages?

You're special! (Well, no. Actually, we're all pretty much in the same boat.)

You deserve to be spoiled rotten just because it's your birthday! (Again, no.)

There is no higher goal in life than to have fun and get more stuff! (This, alas, seems to be all that's left of the once-noble American Dream.)

Party! Party! Party! (No comment needed, I hope.)

What about a card that expresses love for the child, and encourages them to grow in goodness as they grow in age? Or a card that wishes a joyful day for the child and his family? Why must birthday cards encourage the innate self-centeredness of children instead of urging them toward a better path?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Gospel of Judas

It's interesting to note what was said about the 'gospel of Judas' by one who was considered a disciple of the apostles themselves. Irenaeus, one of the most prominent Christian writers of the second century, detailed some of the teachings of Gnostics of his day, and had this to say about the proponents: "They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The RNC called yesterday

RNC stands for Republican National Committee, if you don't know. Presumably, the purpose of the call was to ask for money, but the woman's first question was, "On a scale of 1 - 5 with five being highest, how would you rate the importance of Republicans maintaining control of Congress this year?"

My answer was 2, at which point she thanked me politely and hung up. I wish she'd have asked why, or that someone at the RNC would call previously loyal GOPers who just don't care anymore and ask why. I'm convinced that a lot of people would tell them to cut spending, control the borders and stop trying to out-democrat the Democrats.

Of course, if they were smart enough to do that, they wouldn't be so worried about losing control in November...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Shouldn't ACTS be ATCS?

For those who pray according to the Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication model, I have a question.

I find myself slipping from adoration to thanksgiving quite easily -- Worshipping God leads to thankfulness. I also find myself slipping from confession to supplication. Confessing my sins leads to asking for more grace in combatting them.

I think I'm going to try Adoration, Thanksgiving, Confession, Supplication. It may not be as memorable as ACTS, but it flows better.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Final take on National Geographic and Prince Charles

One last observation... I thought it was conservatives who are supposed to want things to remain the same, and be afraid of change, while the liberals are rushing forward to embrace the brave new world. Setting aside issues of morality -- liberals are all for abandoning morals -- it seems to me to be the opposite.

Take the Walmart phenomenon, for example. Here you have a tremendously successful corporation which brings affordable goods to people all over the country. What is the liberals' take? "Oh, it hurts the Main Street mom & pop businesses and changes the dynamics of downtown." (This isn't about Walmart, or I'd take the time to share all the statistics which show that while some competing businesses go under, complimentary businesses thrive near the big stores.)

In the article on Prince Charles, he is lauded for trying to preserve traditional lifestyles, and keep certain breeds of animals and plants pure. Why? Because they have some necessity or value? No, just because it's the way things used to be. And in fact, seeing these poor farmers in the Duchy of Cornwall work long and hard to scratch a living from poor soil, while paying rents so Charles can live a lifestyle of wealth and luxury is the kind of 'traditional' lifestyle that should be abandoned.

Speaking of National Geographic, every issue of the magazine weeps and wails over some lost lifestyle or environment. I bet the current editors would have printed long, heartrending articles on the plight of buggy makers, the drastic changes the horseless carriage would bring, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Maybe they should sue Boston and the Netherlands and force them to 'unreclaim' the land which used to be water!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Prince Charles, again

One quick observation... One page of the National Geographic had a picture of the village he's created with the intent of bringing back more 'traditional' lifestyles (side note: it seems the liberals have become conservative - more on that later.) So that everything is within walking distance and the peasants, oops, I mean locals, don't need to have nasty things like cars, it's all fairly tightly packed. The homes are close together, and the yards (do British still call them gardens?) are quite small.

Of course, on a nearby page in the same article, are the acres and acres of meticulously kept grounds of his house, but I guess what's good for the people isn't always good enough for the prince!

......more coming on this topic.........

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Prince Charles the liberal

I've been reading an interesting article in the current National Geographic, which I find to be wonderfully confirming about my understanding of liberals and liberalism. The backbone of the liberal movement are rich people, and their liberalism tends to manifest itself in three delightfully self-serving ethics.

First, they deny traditional/religious morals, thus neutralizing what used to be a primary deterrent to wasting one's life and fortunue on degeneracy: that is, societal disapproval.

Second, they tend to favor massive government intervention in the lives of unfortunate or disadvantaged people. This, of course, excuses them from taking responsibility in more than a token manner for using their wealth responsibly rather than spending it on luxuries, while at the same time it mollifies their conscience.

Third, and here is where their utter hypocrisy is most on display, liberals tend to be environmentalists. Not, mind you, environmentalists of the stripe who drive smaller cars, take shorter showers, etc. etc. to minimize their personal impact on the environment. No, no, no, no! They merely advocate draconian measures that would ultimately force the masses, those not fortunate enough to be in their elite circles, to make less of an impact on the environment by having a lower standard of living. Again, it lessens the guilt for the fact that they probably consume more of earth's resources in a month than the average person does in a year.

Okay, sorry, but I'll have to come back later to explain how Prince Charles exemplifies this brand of liberalism so well.... Homeschool mom has to take over from Blogger mom. We always start our school day with devotions and we're already 15 minutes late!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Learning Algebra at 42!

Even though my son is only in 7th grade, the math curriculum we're using has him doing Algebra already! Now, I didn't like Algebra when I took it in high school, and I'm not enjoying it much now either... I thought I'd be able to handle homeschooling math until at least 9th grade.

But really, that's why I chose to use Singapore Math -- it's definitely a more rigorous program than most. I may need to find some other teacher or tutor, or somehow acquire a whole new set of brain cells.

Primary Day

I did something new today -- I stood outside my polling place and offered cards on behalf of a candidate. Since he's running against an incumbent Senator of the same party, I don't have a lot of optimism, but it was a good experience. Most of the people were quite friendly and willing to take a card.