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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wednesdays with Words {04.01.15}

This is from an email I get through Bible Gateway. This one was from 03.21.15. It comes from the book Morning and Evening, by Charles Spurgeon, edited by Alistair Begg. This particular edition uses the ESV. I would like to eventually get the KJV edition*. 
*Amazon affiliate link. See Disclosure/Policies.

"Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?"
Job 38:31
If inclined to boast of our abilities, the grandeur of nature may soon show us how puny we are. We cannot move the least of all the twinkling stars, or quench so much as one of the beams of the morning. We speak of power, but the heavens laugh us to scorn. When the Pleiades shine forth in spring with vernal joy we cannot restrain their influences, and when Orion reigns aloft, and the year is bound in winter's fetters, we cannot relax the icy bands. The seasons revolve according to the divine appointment, neither can the whole race of men effect a change therein. Lord, what is man?
In the spiritual, as in the natural world, man's power is limited on all hands. When the Holy Spirit sheds abroad his delights in the soul, none can disturb; all the cunning and malice of men are ineffectual to stay the genial quickening power of the Comforter. When he deigns to visit a church and revive it, the most inveterate enemies cannot resist the good work; they may ridicule it, but they can no more restrain it than they can push back the spring when the Pleiades rule the hour. God wills it, and so it must be. On the other hand, if the Lord in sovereignty, or in justice, bind up a man so that he is in soul bondage, who can give him liberty? He alone can remove the winter of spiritual death from an individual or a people. He looses the bands of Orion, and none but he. What a blessing it is that he can do it. O that he would perform the wonder tonight. Lord, end my winter, and let my spring begin. I cannot with all my longings raise my soul out of her death and dulness, but all things are possible with thee. I need celestial influences, the clear shinings of thy love, the beams of thy grace, the light of thy countenance; these are the Pleiades to me. I suffer much from sin and temptation; these are my wintry signs, my terrible Orion. Lord, work wonders in me, and for me. Amen.
"Lord, what is man?"
"Lord, work wonders in me, and for me."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

From the Reading Pile

I haven't been reading on the net as much as at the first of the year. I don't know if that is good or not. I have been conitnuing to get books from the library. Many that I do not even get more than a couple glimpses at and then have to return. We have a 2 week check out period. I often renew but have been forgetting, resulting in overdue fines. I dislike being so careless but that is how it's been lately.

Anyway, some bits from some books I've recently checked out or what I'm reading.

The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry. I actually got this book because I didn't notice there was a second 'the' in the title. I've wanted to read some of Berry's works for awhile now and also have been trying to be more intentional about commonplacing. This book isn't about that. But it's a good book {so far} nonetheless.

What I am sharing from this book is Berry's thoughts on moving back to his small Kentucky home after being in the big city, New York, I believe. His boss is trying to convince him that he'd made it and by moving back to Kentucky, he'd be doing more harm than good.
Finally, there was the assumption that the life of the metropolis is the experience, the modern experience, and that the life of the rural towns, the farms, the wilderness places is not only irrelevant to our time, but archaic as well because unknown or unconsidered by the people who really matter- that is, the urban intellectuals.
I was to realize during the next few years how false and destructive and silly those ideas are. But evene then I was aware that life outside the literary world was not without honorable precedent: if there was Wolfe, there was also Faulkner; if there was James, there was also Thoreau. But what I had in my mind that made th greatest difference was the knowledge of the few square miles in Kentucky that were mine by inheritance and by birth and by the intimacy the mind makes with the place it awakens in.
Reading so far as made me aware of the places I've lived that have had a place in my heart and mind. Other books I've been reading lately have also started me thinking of my memories. I haven't taken out my memories in a long time. I've been surprised, mostly in good ways, of the memories.

From the Winter 2015 issue of The Classical Teacher, an article written by Martin Cothran, who is telling the influence and importance of stories in childhood, especially ones read aloud:
Each book was a fairy wand, waved over our home...When additional children were added to our merry band, they too were taught the consequences of kissing a frog, and not to talk to strange wolves on the way to grandmother's house. They knew better than to build their houses out of straw and to have a healthy fear of giants, poisoned apples, and old women living in houses made out of candy. And none of them suffered any doubts about whether the dish ran away from the spoon...[Books carried] instruction and admonition in practical wisdom...[Children] were not only learning by listening; they were learning to listen. Listening, like reading and writing and calculating, is a skill.
In the last paragraph it tells how his wife, while cleaning, wonders some if the books should go. After all they do not have kids at home any longer. But then, there will be grandchildren who will love the books anew.
Some of them may need to go. But someday our grandson- of his future siblings and cousins- may walk by those shelves, and some of those books may be moved to his own bookshelves at 1122 Bedroom Lane, Storybookland. And that's why they can never be sold- for silver or gold.
This is why I've started our home library again. We've been aquiring books since 2009 but many have come and gone. It's important to me now to have these for my grandchildren, and maybe even great grandchildren. Somehow I had forgotten the magic of books- and reading aloud (even to older children).

Dorothy Sayers & Feminism

"I replied- a little irritably, I am afraid- that I was not sure I wanted to 'identify myself,' as the phrase goes, with feminism."

"What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always a member of a class and not as an individual person."

"It is my experience that both men and women are fundamentally human, and that there is very little mystery about either [gender], except the exasperating mysteriousness of human beings in general."

"If you wish to preserve a free democracy, you must base it- not on classes and categories, for this will land you in the totalitarian state, where no one may act or think except as the member of a category. You must base it upon the individual Tom, Dick, and Harry, on the individual Jack and Jill- in fact, upon you and me."

-quoted in "Sing It, Dorothy," by Jay Nordlinger, National Review, April 6, 2015, pp. 27-28

Monday, March 30, 2015

Reading List on the Net {03.30.15}

An Invitation to Purposeful Change, post by Cindy Swicegood at CMI's blog.
Change one thing. Start now. For nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)\
And something different: Two videos. These are required watching for one of my college classes. They feature Jason Lewis and Tami Foster of Logos Academy in York, PA. These are on iTunes and are free.
Leadership in Diverse Schools
Christian Urban Schools

Notes I took while watching Leadership in Diverse Schools-
Five points to consider when thinking about leadership:
  1. Whom has God called you to serve?
  2. What type of leader are you, and those who lead with you? (Educator, Entrepreneur, Executive)
  3. What is the unique role the school plays in the community?
  4. Pedagogy is based on anthropology and culture- it must be adaptable.
  5. Leaders need to be humble; be teachable, able to say sorry, be willing to listen. The leader is responsible for holding to the vision/mission.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reading List on the Net {and not}

A Post on "Award Winning" Books. Just because it is awarded a medal doesn't make it a good book. But we knew that right? This was brought to my attention by Shannon after I'd asked on the AO forum about Caldecott and Newberry Award books. Some of them are on the AO booklists.
"The literary innocence crafted by Laura Ingalls Wilder and fanciful imagery painted by C. S. Lewis are long forgotten in award circles. Shock value and bibliotherapy are more in vogue."

Two books that I picked up and started reading (not on the internet).
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert*
This richly imagined novel, set in Hawaii more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place---and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.
Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. Here her life is supposed to end---but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.
With a vibrant cast of vividly realized characters, Moloka'i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humor, and compassion of this novel that "few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel's story" (
Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott
This is a children's book originally published in 1880. It takes place in a small New England town after the Civil War. The story of two good friends named Jack and Janey, Jack and Jill tells of the aftermath of a serious sledding accident. (wikipedia)
I am really enjoying both of these books. I've had Jack and Jill for years but have never opened it to read. I honestly don't know that I've read any of Alcott's books, but I have seen a few renditions of Little Women. Not the same, I am sure. This book I didn't even know what was about.

*Moloka'i was mentioned on the AO forum by mommychickadee. I just happened to see if it was available for loan from the library, and it came in today. So far I really like the book. It has much feeling in it. I read a review that said it was unrealistic. I doesn't seem so to me. But I am only a few chapters in so far. Edited to add: This book will be going back to the library because there is much in it that I am just not willing to read. I'll link to mommychickadee's review because it'll give a better reason why I'm returning the book. If those portions were removed the story, as I see it, would be just as touching and just as real. Someday I may pick it up again but not right now. 

Book Review: Lincoln in the World {Blogging for Books}

Lincoln in the World: The making of a statesman and the dawn of American power by Kevin Peraino
ISBN: 978-0-307-88721-4
Paperback, 423 pages {of which the last 100 or so pages are notes/references}
Publisher: Random House
Retail: $15.00

About the book: 
A captivating look at how Abraham Lincoln evolved into one of our seminal foreign-policy presidents—and helped point the way to America’s rise to world power.

This is the story of one of the most breathtaking feats in the annals of American foreign policy—performed by one of the most unlikely figures. Abraham Lincoln is not often remembered as a great foreign-policy president. He had never traveled overseas and spoke no foreign languages. And yet, during the Civil War, Lincoln and his team skillfully managed to stare down the Continent’s great powers—deftly avoiding European intervention on the side of the Confederacy. In the process, the United States emerged as a world power in its own right.
Engaging, insightful, and highly original, Lincoln in the World is a tale set at the intersection of personal character and national power. The narrative focuses tightly on five distinct, intensely human conflicts that helped define Lincoln’s approach to foreign affairs—from his debate, as a young congressman, with his law partner over the conduct of the Mexican War, to his deadlock with Napoleon III over the French occupation of Mexico. Bursting with colorful characters like Lincoln’s bowie-knife-wielding minister to Russia, Cassius Marcellus Clay; the cunning French empress, EugĂ©nie; and the hapless Mexican monarch Maximilian—Lincoln in the World draws a finely wrought portrait of a president and his team at the dawn of American power.

In the Age of Lincoln, we see shadows of our own world. The international arena in the 1860s could be a merciless moral vacuum. Lincoln’s times demanded the cold, realistic pursuit of national interest, and, in important ways, resembled our own increasingly multipolar world. And yet, like ours, Lincoln’s era was also an information age, a period of rapid globalization. Steamships, telegraph wires, and proliferating new media were transforming the world. Global influence required the use of “soft power” as well as hard.

Anchored by meticulous research into overlooked archives, Lincoln in the World reveals the sixteenth president to be one of America’s indispensable diplomats—and a key architect of America’s emergence as a global superpower. Much has been written about how Lincoln saved the Union, but Lincoln in the World highlights the lesser-known—yet equally vital—role he played on the world stage during those tumultuous years of war and division.

About the author: Kevin Peraino is a veteran foreign correspondent who has reported from throughout the world. He spent a decade at Newsweek, most recently as a senior writer and bureau chief in the Middle East. He was a finalist for the Livingston Award for his foreign-affairs reporting, and was part of the team that won a National Magazine Award for its coverage of the 2004 presidential campaign. A graduate of Northwestern University and a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, he lives in Connecticut with his wife and children. Follow him on Twitter @KevinPeraino.

My thoughts: What was I thinking when I chose this book to review? I wanted a good book on Abraham Lincoln. This book is that but it's much more. On the front cover, Foreign Affairs says this is "an important step toward a richer and more useful understanding of the American past." I believe this is true, if you can get through the book.

I am not finished with this book and honestly I do not know when I will finish it; but finish it I will. It is well written, utilizing many primary sources. Each chapter, although with titles like "Lincoln vs. Seward" and "Lincoln vs. Napoleon," is not necessarily a pitting of Lincoln and the other individual. And each chapter includes much more than just the two names on the titles. As it says in the "About this book," there are characters from all over in this book. They are characters that Lincoln came into contact with, knew about, dealt with, or had to be knowledgable to some degree. Many he did 'spar' with due to differences of opinions, and authority.

I think this book does quite well in painting a picture of what was really going on in the world, but primarily the United States, during Lincoln's time. It helps readers see how Lincoln influenced the future of the United States, with and without the help of others. It is heavy on politics, which I am not well-versed; because of this, I find it in some places to be above my head. However, the use of Lincoln's and others own words is extremely helpful. I wish all history books were written this way!

It does have some rough language and incidences portrayed that may be distasteful for some, just a warning.

***Disclaimer: I received this book free from the Blogging for Books review program for the purpose of this review. All opinions stated are my own. See Disclosure/Policies.***

Wednesdays with Worlds {03.25.15}

Here are two posts about narration I've been reading:
Narration Helps at AO's blog, Archipelago
Narration for the Newbie by Carroll Smith
From decades of working with educators in schools, homes and colleges, I unreservedly say that narration is both an essential key to learning and a most satisfying and worthy life possession. ~Carroll Smith
From the beginning, narration is an essential part of a Charlotte Mason curriculum. It is not enough to read the excellent books- the children need the mind work necessary that goes into narrations. They need to think about what they have read, to go over it in their minds and think about what it is they are going to say about it. ~Wendi Capehart
We can only get at what Miss Mason intended with regard to narration if we go back to the reason for which she suggested the use of it. In her books, she lays the stress upon attention, and the habit of attention, and all considerations with regard to narration must centre round the question how far any way of using narration - and there are scores of ways - gives each child, either in a home schoolroom or a class, full opportunity to use his power of attention. We may not consider the attention of two or more children, either in a home schoolroom or in a class. The attention given by each individual child must be considered. ~Elsie Kitching (from one of the linked PR articles in Wendi's post)
It is interesting when I read about narration that it is not what the teacher 'wants to hear' or even what the 'teacher has taught' necessarily but rather what the student has taken for themselves. It is a necessary step that no matter how the information is presented, the student must make it their own

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Beginnings of My {AO} Home Library

It struck me as strange that there were books on our many shelves that we didn't care to read again. Some we really didn't even remember why they were there. What was also strange was that the books we loved {okay, I loved}, such as The Velveteen Rabbit*, Goodnight, Moon*, and Where the Wild Things Are*, or other younger books like Eric Carle books* or Little Bear*, were not on our shelves. We don't own those books {edited- we do actually have a few of these but they are all on the kids' bookshelves in their rooms so I missed seeing them. But anyway.}. I won't even get started on all the Little Golden books that at least my daughter used to look at again and again.

It's as if as they got older we had to put away all these books and grow up. Pah!

Very recently we've been decluttering and that means going through the many bookshelves we have. I've taken a lot of boxes of books to be donated or sold. Now there are spaces on the shelves that I will be filling with books that we will want to keep this time.

Books we should have kept the first time.

To be honest I really couldn't tell you what books were our all-time favorites from when the kids were growing up. They have always loved books; any book. I certainly wouldn't look at my own childhood for favorite books {although I went to the library often, I was unguided and found many an unsavory mix of books that today I shudder at having read. Once it's read, it can't be unread. In my case, much can be forgotten though *wink*}.

I am looking to Ambleside Online to help me with my selection of worthy books. There are so many books on the list that I've either never heard of or simply never read. There are also many that I have read and really liked but don't own. Now I'm going to change that.

I'm starting at the beginning, with Y0. The first book(s) I am adding are:

I did find recently at Loganberry Books the set of Lloyd Alexander's The Prydain Chronicles*, a Y8 Free Read suggestion, and picked those up as well. {And wouldn't you know- I could have had them for less at Amazon! Ah, well, I like to support local businesses anyway.}

Now I need to figure out a system to organize these books.

Oh, yes, and in an email I was directed to a list of 40 Books to Read in a Lifetime. What do you think of that list?

*Amazon affiliate link. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to See Disclosure/Policies.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesdays with Words {03.18.15}

From The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith*, orignally written in 1875. I am reading from the reprinted 2012 Spire edition. *Amazon affiliate link. See Disclosure/Policies.

"And your hearts have sunk within you, as, day after day, and year after year, your early visions of triumph have seemed to grow more and more dim, and you have been forced to settle down to the conviction, that the best you can expect from your religion is a life of alternate failure and victory, one hour sinning, and the next repenting, and then beginning again, only to fail again, and again to repent.

But is this all? Had the Lord Jesus only this in his mind when He laid down His precious life to deliver you from your sore and cruel bondage to sin? Did He propose to Himself only this partial deliverance? Did He intend to leave you thus struggling under a weary consciousness of defeat and discouragement? Did He fear that a continuous victory would dishonor Him, and bring reproach on His name? [She continues with many a question that I am certain many Christians have considered.]

In the very outset, then, settle down on this one thing, that Jesus came to save you now, in this life, from the power and dominion of sin, and to make you more than conquerors through his power. If you doubt this, search your Bible, and collect together every announcement or declaration concerning the purposes and object of His death on the cross. You will be astonished to find how full they are. Everywhere and always, His work is said to be to deliver us from our sins, from our bondage, from our defilement; and not a hint is given, anywhere, that this deliverance was to be only the limited and partial one with which Christians so continually try to be satisfied." p. 13-14

Are we still sinners? Indeed. Paul says that we are carnal and therefore we have times where we do carnal things. But the reassurance that we are accepted by God by grace, not by ourselves doing something or not, is found throughout the Bible {to my mind it is most clear in the New Testament}. To dwell on our sins is to reject the forgiveness we have. Do we still sin? Unfortunately, yes. But God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us when we seek Him- when we confess and repent {1 John 1:9}. No need to dwell on the fact that we might sin at some point. There is no need to dwell on the fact that we have sinned. What we dwell on is that we are made a new creature and given new life. That is what we should dwell on.

God's salvation to us is complete.

Reading List on the Net {up to 03.18.15}

Juts a little fun video {with an important message} first: Toby Mac's "Me Without You"

I have just a few minutes this morning before the kids are awake and we have to start our day. This week is Lee's Spring Break from the college but last week was Fox's 'break' week {uh, it was actually exam week}. Her break means more working on her senior high school work and less on the college work. It's business as usual for Fox. He unfortunately won't get any more breaks before the school year's end if he's going to finish on time. And he will finish on time.

Desiring God: Don't Follow Your Heart {Amen!}
My heart tells me that all of reality ought to serve my desires. My heart likes to think the best of me and worst of others — unless those others happen to think well of me, then they are wonderful people. But if they don’t think well of me, or even if they just disagree with me, well then, something is wrong with them. And while my heart is pondering my virtues and others’ errors, it can suddenly find some immoral or horribly angry thought very attractive...The truth is, no one lies to us more than our own hearts. No one. If our hearts are compasses, they are Jack Sparrow compasses. They don’t tell us the truth, they just tell us what we want...No, our hearts will not save us. We need to be saved from our hearts.
^That was from last week. That's all the farther I got. Since then, I've bookmarked some blog posts but really haven't been able to read much on the net. Not really sure why.

Homeschooling in America. Interestingly, the infograph I see now when I click over there is not the one I saw when I bookmarked the post. I'd originally looked at it on my phone but I don't know why that'd change anything. In the original one there was a comparison of homeschooled and public schooled students percentile scores- the public schooled kids were all at 50% (which is not realistic). I think the one that is there now is more accurate.  Anyway- homeschooling has its benefits and it is on the rise.

Keeping a Reading Notebook. I have one that is just a simply composition notebook. In it I put my narrations, thoughts, or references to another book. I haven't been doing it lately. Not reading a lot lately.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. This post caught my eye because I had recently seen a very nice old copy of this book but I had no idea what it was about. Carol's post cleared that up and I don't think I'll read the book. I had been tempted {only slightly} to purchase the book because it was beautiful...and old. I don't always make impulsive purchases *wink*.

Renewed. This post by Silvia gives some insight into her Bible reading plan. I will admit that it sounds a little complicated to me but it could be that I didn't read it well. But it sounds like it's reading 10 chapters a day, from anywhere in the Bible. Maybe I'm just not really looking for a new way to read my Bible. I've been using the YouVersion Bible app on my phone and really am liking it. For some reason it is much easier to read with the app than my physical Bible. Perhaps because it only has the specific passage you are reading, in a single column. There are no distractions, whether that is the other column or cross reference in the middle of the page, or in my case, the commentary notes at the bottom of the page.

What's Dad Got to Do With It? by Scott Cottrill. This is a guest post at CMI's blog about dad's participation in homeschooling. It would be specifically talking about a CM education but the underlying message is that dad's are important in the lives of their families. Not just to bring home the bacon {or milk and eggs}.
Then two years ago I was encouraged by another homeschool dad, Art Middlekauff, through his plenary and subsequent discussions. As I participated in those conversations a common theme began to emerge. Several women expressed their desire to have husbands attend the conference and asked whether more topics could be added to give men an opportunity for learning. Their overall concern was that their husbands become involved or at least increase their understanding of what their wives were trying to practice in the all-important task of educating their children. Several of the men met for breakfast with Art to discuss whether there was a need for specific father-oriented teaching. The conclusion was that our goal should not be separate training just for fathers. Mason herself addressed both parents as a united entity. Rather, men should be encouraged to buy into the task of educating their children, whether that means teaching them personally or becoming more supportive of the teaching their wives conduct...I believe that we, as men, are called to lead our families and we are greatly benefited by the opportunity of learning with and from other men. May I encourage you to consider organizing a men’s CM study group in your community? Not only will you learn how to support your wife, you will glean wisdom that will make you a better husband, father, and man.
I think that is all the bookmarks I have for now. Guess we'll see how much reading on the net I get in this week. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Commonplace Entries

...three hidden rules in poverty are the following: The noise level is high (the TV is almost always on, and everyone may talk at once), the most important information is nonverbal, and one of the main values of an individual to the group is an ability to entertain.
~Ruby Payne, A Framework for Understanding Poverty: A Cognitive Approach, p. 10

If you don't love the work you're doing, you'll get sick- physically, mentally, or spiritually. Eventually, you'll make others sick, too.
~Lorraine Monroe, Nothing's Impossible: Leadership Lessons from Inside and Outside the Classroom, p. 34

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