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01 May 2019

Commonplace Book: April 2019

A sample from my commonplace book, and brief instructions for how to keep one.

A commonplace is a traditional self-education tool: as you read, grab a notebook. Write down things that embody Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Write down notable quotes, with or without your own thoughts about them. Write down the questions you have as a result of the text you are reading. You will find the book becomes a record of your own growth, and it becomes a touchstone for memory of things you have studied in the past. This is what Mother Culture is all about: self-directed, conscious self-education.

"I need space --thought space."
-Cheryl Swope, The Classical Teacher, Spring 2019, p48

"I remembered a quote I heard a number of years ago from F.W. Boreham. He was speaking of the events during the Napoleonic wars in the early part of the 19th century:
'. . . men were following, with bated breath, the march of Napoleon, and waiting with feverish impatience for the latest news of the wars. And all the while, in their own homes, babies were being born. But who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking about battles. . . .
. . . in one year. . . between Trafalgar and Waterloo, there stole into the world a host of heroes! . . . in 1809. . . Gladstone was born at Liverpool; Alfred Tennyson was born at the Somersby rectory . . . Oliver Wendell Holmes made his first appearance at Massachusetts . . . and Abraham Lincoln drew his first breath at Old Kentucky. Music was enriched by the advent of Frederic Chopin at Warsaw, and of Felix Mendelssohn at Hamburg. . . Elizabeth Barrett Browning [was born] at Durham. . . . But nobody thought of babies. Everybody was thinking of battles. Yet. . . which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809? . . .We fancy that God can only manage His world by big battalions . . . when all the while He is doing it by beautiful babies. . . . When a wrong wants righting, or a work wants doing, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants opening, God sends a baby into the world to do it. That is why, long, long ago, a babe was born at Bethlehem.' (F. W. Boreham, Mountains in the Mist: Some Australian Reveries [1919], 166-67, 170)
"As was the case with the Napoleonic wars, during the years of World War II the news and the eyes of the world were on the battles and not focused on the babies. Yet in 1940, the year many of the western European countries fell and the air over England rained destruction during the Battle of Britain, babies were being born. Three of the babies born that year, you are familiar with. They are, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Quentin L. Cook, and one who is the commencement speaker today, Jeffrey R. Holland. The eyes of the world were not on these babies in 1940--they were following world events--but the Lord's eyes were on them because He knew they would be called upon to help change the world."
December 17, 2011
Paul V. Johnson
Commissioner, Church Education System


16 April 2019

Death and Rebirth: Easter Ponderings

So, Palm Sunday I didn't feel well. Actually, for several days before that I wasn't feeling very good: stress headaches, migraines, insomnia followed by nightmares... my emotions clearly had the upper hand, and I was quietly freaking right out, which is not my norm; my best friend once laughingly observed that I tend to be "a drama-free zone". And I do try. But last week I had drama enough that it made me ill.

So Palm Sunday. One of the things about a lay clergy is that sometimes everything is beautiful and perfect, and other times we get to exercise charity and patience. Don't get me wrong; the talks were excellent: one even successfully managed to relate fishing for eel in New Zealand rivers to following the prophet and the Lord; outstanding talk, the kind that people will remember and benefit from for a long time. But every speaker overlooked that it was Palm Sunday; it wasn't mentioned until the classes after Sacrament Meeting. And I was so hungry for a deep dive into the Atonement of Christ; I needed His healing: it had been a tough week --and the next day I was going to dig up my basement.

It felt like breaking my sanctuary: if life is like tag, my home is "safe". Only, it didn't feel very "safe" anymore. It felt broken. That's what I would tell people: "We're breaking the basement."

"I hope your week is less interesting than mine," I said to the guy at the rental place where we got the concrete saw and the mini jackhammer they called a "breaker" (that saw was HUGE). And he laughed, which was the intended effect. But I was whistling in the dark: it wasn't really funny to me. I was trying to put the best face on something that pulled me way out of my comfort zone.

We've been chasing this water issue in our basement for quite some time now. Smells. Bugs. Putrid water seeping in. Gross. It's been close to a year. And about two weeks ago we finally figured out enough things to get the right people to look for the problem, and they found it: it's is a pipe under the basement floor. Used to be that people put cast iron(!) pipes under basements, and that's what we've got, but it gave up at some point. It gave up at some point a while ago. Getting it fixed is not cheap, but it is urgent; we can cut the price by half to two thirds by tearing out the floor and digging the trench ourselves, and my brother is a concrete guy, so he's been talking us through it (he lives too far to actually come, or he probably would, cuz he's nice like that).

So the first day of Holy Week, my day looked like this^^. We didn't do anything special at all, besides that I said to my kids, "Hey! It's Holy Week! It's important!" But we found all the stinky. And we realized that not only do we need to stop using the kitchen and laundry (which we knew and planned for), but also using the bathrooms seems to be a problem... there's so much stinky water.

Please let it stay in the trench!


Notre Dame caught fire. My facebook feed filled up with the burning landmark and mourning from Christians and of all stripes and their friends.

See the source image

I was feeling better, as far as being sick, but exhausted from the basement, and sad about the cathedral. Which makes it the ideal time for lingering on social media....

Of course, Instagram being social media, it was full of beautiful Holy Week things, all laid out picture-perfect. My friend Catholic Mum had a beautiful and meaningful Mass set for her young son to mark the special day and help him grow in the faith. I sighed, thought of my basement, and said I was a bit jealous of her beautiful plans for Holy Week, thinking that all I have is a big trench of stinky mud. (And a bit of a pity party.)

My friend, my Sister in Christ, Catholic Mum, she said the most beautiful thing to me in my frustration:

But the metaphorical meaning in what you are doing! Digging deep into the muck and mire for Holy Week, only to emerge fresh and new by Easter!

Oh, how I needed to hear that.

She totally reframed this week for me.
Instant tears.
She was so right!

Right about the same time, I found this article from the Church. The title of the piece is Hope From the Ashes: Why the Notre Dame Fire is a Symbol of Rebirth During Holy Week. That was so far from what I was feeling about the fire; I wondered why they would say such a thing. Turns out that our current Presiding Bishop is French, is from Paris, and knows exactly what Notre Dame means to them: he's one of them. But the thing in the article that took my breath away was from one Father McCarthy, who serves near Notre Dame at L'église de la Madeleine: 

It was a sad and unfortunate event, said Father McCarthy, adding that if it had to happen, he couldn't imagine it happening at a better time. The fire began on the Monday of Holy Week, a week in which Christians celebrate the life of the Savior, leading up to Easter Sunday and commemoration of His resurrection. "If there is a moment when Christians should be ready to mourn the death of something, but to believe in the resurrection of something, it's Holy Week," Father McCarthy said.
"It is my belief that something is going to rise from these ashes."

How profound.
Someday, I want to be able to come to peace quickly like that.
To see things so clearly, in the moment.

That's it. That's Easter:

Christ's death and resurrection.
He died so that we could die to our sins: we can be reborn, too.
It doesn't matter how much "muck" is in our "basement";
It doesn't matter how damaged our "roof";
He. Still. Wants. Us.

And He has not forgotten me, with my drama and angst, struggling against the mud and stench and foul water in my poor little basement.
He hasn't forgotten you, either.
Not for a second. 

PS. My brother says we're doing a good job; the plumbers will be here Wednesday; the end is in sight! But this will be an Easter "to remember for years; to remember with tears." I feel very blessed.

This post is part of a series.
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02 April 2019

Commonplace Book: February & March 2019

A sample from my commonplace book, and brief instructions for how to keep one.

A commonplace is a traditional self-education tool: as you read, grab a notebook. Write down things that embody Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Write down notable quotes, with or without your own thoughts about them. Write down the questions you have as a result of the text you are reading. You will find the book becomes a record of your own growth, and it becomes a touchstone for memory of things you have studied in the past. This is what Mother Culture is all about: self-directed, conscious self-education. 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt yuo
But make allowance for their doubting, too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk to wise;

If you can dream --and not make dreams your master,
If you can think --and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them, "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings --nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours in the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -which is more- you'll be a Man, my son.
-Rudyard Kipling

Dust if You Must

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed,
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
Music to hear, and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there,
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come round again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and its not kind.
And when you go -and go you must-
You, yourself, will make more dust.
-Rose Milligan

Cease endlessly striving for what you would like to do and learn to love what must be done.

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! --
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us further than today;

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's Broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe're pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act -act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

24 March 2019

More on Conversion

After what I learned about conversion last time, I wanted to know what kinds of words had been translated as "conversion" when the New Testament came to us from the Greek. I'd found that our one word, conversion, had been translated into Japanese into four different words, which each brought their own interesting layers of meaning to the concept, and I wondered what kinds of Greek words had given rise to these translations.

Not surprisingly, I found four different Greek words.

The first word (and the only one that I'm looking at in this post) is used in a number of different passages, which all draw on a passage from Isaiah 6:9:

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

This verse is referenced in various ways; there's the four verses that use the most common Greek root of conversion and also reference Isaiah 6:9:

Matthew 13:15: ...lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Mark 4:12: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

John 12:40: He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

Acts 28:27: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

There's an additional 2 verses that use this same Greek word, but don't reference Isaiah, and interestingly, had 2 different Japanese words when I was looking at that language.

Luke 22:32: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 

 This verse used the word 立ち直る, which my dictionary defines as "to regain one's footing/get back on one's feet/recover", and that generally fits with the idea of returning. The night of Christ's trial and the day of His crucifixion were to be a dark, dark time for Peter, and it's so kind of Christ to allow for time for recovery. How typical of Him!

Acts 3:19: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out...

After looking at the roots of the word "converted", I'm less uncertain about which of the two Japanese words is the most likely candidate than I was a week ago: 本心に立ち返る, meaning "come back/return to a starting point with a true heart". Which fits perfectly with what I'm learning from this study of the Greek roots.

 All six of these verses draw on the same Greek word: epistrepho. This is most frequently translated as "to turn", but has also been rendered as converted, return, turn about, turn again, and come/go again. The commentary in Strong's Concordance is interesting: 

Epistrepho, as a verb, means, "to turn about", or "towards" and is translated "to return": Then he [a deamon] saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept and garnished".  ... It also denotes "to make a turn towards", Luke 1:16, James 5:19-20, intransitively in Mark 5:30, "to turn oneself around", in the passive voice Mark 5:30, in the active voice Matthew 13:15, "be converted", Acts 11:21; 14:15; 15:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:9, "ye turned," INDICATING AN IMMEDIATE AND DECISIVE CHANGE, CONSEQUENT UPON A DELIBERATE CHOICE, CONVERSION IS A VOLUNTARY ACT IN RESPONSE TO THE PRESENTATION OF TRUTH.-Strong's Concordance, G1994, emphasis added.

Conversion, then, is turning to Christ, and away from whatever else it was that kept us from Him.

 The original thing that set me to studying about conversion was the use of the Japanese word
悔い改める, which means "to repent", and is a compound of "regret" and "reformation/change", in a place where the English says "converted". And as I study what conversion is, I think that repentance, the process of regret and correction, is indeed nearly synonymous with conversion. But conversion is an indicator of choice: you're choosing to leave behind the old ways, to turn to the Lord, and allow Him to change you.

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21 March 2019

Repentence and Conversion

When I came home from Japan, I was surprised by a prompting to do the Come Follow Me readings in Japanese, and then even more surprised to realize how much Japanese I learned reading the Book of Mormon for the challenge from President Nelson: the first chapter I read wasn't half as hard as I'd expected: I have to read it from a paper edition, which means no copy and paste into my dictionary, because it's not in the Gospel Library app (I assume there's some copyright issue; that's typically why stuff like this happens).

So, I'm cruising along, reading in Matthew 13: the Parable of the Sower. That explanation in the middle has always seemed odd to me: "lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."

And I noticed two things:

First, the Japanese makes the cause-effect relationship more apparent than the English: the people close their own eyes, they close their own ears, and their own hearts for the purpose that they won't have to repent.

And Second --wait. I didn't remember the word "repent" being in this passage. When I looked at the English, I realized that I don't remember that word being there because... it's not. In English, it says "lest... [they] should be converted, and I should heal them." But the Japanese word here is 悔い改める。I learned to recognize it as "repent" in my Book of Mormon reading, and that's what it says if you look it up in my dictionary. But it's a compound:

悔 -- repent/regret
改 -- reformation/change/modify/renew

I can see how it could have both meanings, and that's a whole new way of looking at conversion for me. I've always thought about repenting as a sort of "I'm sorry" process that we go through with the Lord, followed by change. But this word unifies those two aspects into a single concept, a single verb.

I wondered if there was anywhere else that the words repent and conversion were used interchangeably in Japanese. Surprisingly, there's not a lot of places in the New Testament where you find the word "conversion": only 8. In addition to looking at the Japanese, it would be really interesting to use Strong's Concordance to look at the Greek roots of these words, but I'm so slow at the Japanese that there's no way that I can do that tonight.

  • John 12:40. This is basically the same as the verse in Matthew 12, and it has the same word, 悔い改める, for "conversion." 
  • Mark 4:12 is another version of the Parable of the Sower, with the same reference to Isaiah as the other verses, and the same rendering of "converted" as 悔い改める. 
  • Matthew 18:3 uses a different word for "converted": 入れ代える. This one is a compound of enter/insert, and substitute/change/convert/replace. 
  • Acts 28:27 is another reference to the same verse from Isaiah, and it's back to repent/convert being interchangeable with that same word.
  • Luke 22:32 uses another different word, 立ち直る, which my dictionary tells me means "to regain one's footing/get back on one's feet/recover". This is when Christ tells Peter, just before the Crucifixion, that when he [Peter] is converted -when he's recovered- strengthen his brethren. What a merciful picture that paints, as Christ is about to be arrested and Peter just hours away from denying him! Because I don't have an electronic edition of the Japanese Bible, I don't really have a way to search for other instances of this word, but I wish that I did. 
  • Acts 3:19 actually uses both the word "repent" and the word "converted" in the English, and I'm not sure which one corresponds to 悔い改める. The other phrase that's used is 本心に立ち返る, which means "come back/return to a starting point with a true heart".
  • James 5:19 is another different one: 引き戻す, which means "pull/draws to return": "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one [pulls/draws him to return]; Let him know, that he which [pulls] the sinner [to return] from the error of his way shall save a soul from death." That's a super cool rendition of the verse. 

So far, all the verses like the one that first caught my eye and use "repent" for "converted" are drawing on the same passage from Isaiah, when Isaiah was called as a prophet, and basically told up front that nearly nobody is going to listen to him. This passage has long been a favorite: what intestinal fortitude Isaiah must have had to accept an assignment like that!

I don't know that I really discovered a lot about the use of 悔い改める to mean conversion, but it's made me want to look at the Book of Mormon entries for conversion. There's a ton more of them: 29 instances. But even just here in these few verses, there's a whole lot of food for thought on what the interplay is between repentance and conversion.

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11 March 2019

I've Gone to Japan

So, I haven't been posting much, and won't be for a little while yet, but I have a good excuse: I'm in Japan right now. For those who are on Instagram, there's pictures there. Especially trains, because my nephews love trains. I'm just photographing ordinary stuff: I'm here taking some classes. So I haven't done much at all of the typical touristy stuff. I'd hoped to, but things are so busy; some unexpected opportunities are eating up the time I'd planned to spend on going and looking at beautiful things. So I've got pictures of bikes and trains and food and regular life kinds of things that I'm photographing this trip, and very little of the shrines and parks and temples this time.

So, when my trip is done, and I've had a chance to reconnect with my people and recover from the jetlag (it's 14 hours difference), then I'll start thinking about homeschool stuff again. But right now, I'm having an adventure!

24 February 2019

A Day in the Life

7:30: I hear the kids moving around, pulling out their sketch books and digging for something to eat, and I wake up too. The Daddy has long since gone to work. The littlest comes and climbs in bed with me, and brings a story: Three Samauri Cats. The other two jump (literally) onto my bed, and I read the story from the bottom of a pile of people.

8:00: I remind the kids that they've got about an hour to get ready for school, and go get my yoga mat. There are two Librivox stories going in two different rooms. I can hear them both, but I try to tune them out, and check in on a friend that just had a baby. I sit on my yoga mat and organize a couple of things the new mom needs. And answer some questions. And peek at social media.

8:40: I'm still sitting on my mat, but I haven't actually done any yoga, yet. I glance at the clock, realize how close we are to school time, and get to work on the yoga.

8:50: I mention to the child sitting next to me, chatting and drawing, that school starts in 10 minutes, and they decide to get a shower. "Hurry please." I send another one to get dressed. And attempt chaturanga, but and up doing it with floor support. Next time, maybe.

9:00: Our official start time. The shower is still running and all three notebooks are missing. I don't have any likely leftovers for my breakfast, so I build a quick salad, and ask Peanut to look for the notebooks. She isn't a great searcher, yet, so after a minute I ask Hero to help her, and call up the stairs for Dragon. He brings a remote control quad-copter to the table and flies it over my head; I take it away, and remind him that it's school time.

9:20: We finally start Morning Basket. Prayer, scripture boxes, then poems. While we do that, the kids copy Latin into their notebooks, which have now been located. Everybody is scattered and what usually takes about twenty minutes takes nearly 45 minutes. We practice our Japanese phrases we've been learning, bring out the Series work we'd been doing before Christmas. There are protests that I can't possibly expect them to remember... but with a little help, they do remember, and do pretty well. We use a kiwi, and practicing saying that you shouldn't eat it. (The kids don't like this sentence.) Then I have them tell me to put it on the cutting board, to pick up the knife, and to cut the kiwi. And finally... I tell them they should eat the kiwi. Which they are happy about! It's always amazing to me how much more effective these lessons are with real food and real knives, rather than play food. However, it's now well past 10, which is the target for finishing up, we skip our Latin drill. I think that this is the first time we've done that since we started doing Morning Basket like this at the first of the year, but the Japanese was going really well, and needed the time. We sing our hymn, There is Sunshine in my Soul Today, and Morning Basket is successfully finished at --

10:30: The oldest grabs his math, saying that he plans to do it first, because leaving it to the end of the day has caused him problems in the past. I laugh and say that's a good idea; the younger kids follow his example. Sneak off for a couple minutes with my blog and start this post, then look at the Nature Study post I put up on By Study and Faith the other day, and realize someone has left a kind comment; that's so nice when people say that a post is helpful! I just love that.

11:10: One child is practicing piano. One is reading Magic Treehouse (I need to tell him to save it for after school, but haven't, yet.) and one is just finishing up math. I want a shower, but it's several minutes before I can get it: I get Peanut started on her bed and hair, and set Dragon up with his Mango Japanese lesson. Hero is practicing piano, and I stop to attempt a duet with him, and then coach him on what needs to happen so that it goes better. After that, he dives into Across Five Aprils, my husband calls and we chat a couple minutes while he drives between one job site and the next, and then I escape into the shower, finally.

12:00: The younger kids are helping themselves to crasins, and it's making a mess. I give instructions on how to fix it, and what kind of quantities are reasonable... and walk away before my head explodes. This shouldn't be quite this frustrating.

12:10: I glance at the menu: chili and cornbread. Yum. Only, I should have started it earlier, and I forgot to get any hamburger for it on grocery day. Oops. I wonder if I can find a recipe for quick meatless chili? The first one has weird stuff... carrots, celery, and mushrooms... eww... But the second recipe is more likely.  I send Hero to look for red beans... this could be a problem, too. I hate it when I mess up grocery shopping. But we've got the stuff for white chicken chili, so that will work. I get to work cleaning the kitchen: I worked on it last night, but, as usual, it's still messy. Cornbread first, then the dishes, then the chili. That should get things done about at the same time. The kids are making trail mix. Crasins and butterscotch chips and sunflower seeds.... interesting. I pass when they offer to share.

12:35: The cornbread is in the oven; there's piano practice going on, and a Latin review sheet in progress. I send a couple of texts, and notice that there's one from my husband, which is a treat. I start working on the chili, and even (mostly) follow the recipe. While it's cooking, I have Hero print out the essay that he's been writing, now that he's done reading Oliver Twist. It's the first time he's done this, and it's been a bit more of a process than I expected, but he's finished the first draft. I grab my red pen, and explain to him that it's about to bleed all over his paper, and I'm going to mark all the places that need refinement: now that he's got his ideas on the page, we need to work on getting them into a more refined state. This is called editing. He should neither be surprised, nor feel bad, as I scribble all over his work. This takes close to half hour: I explain about homophones, run-on sentences, and commas in a series, and remind him that he needs to pay attention to what his spell checker is telling him. ("But I did!" "Do it more!" -- and then some laughter.) He tells me that homophones are evil; I remember feeling the same way, and tell him so. I show him a paragraph that needs to be moved, and how his conclusion can be strengthened. It's fascinating to watch how writing the paper, which is contrasting Mr. Bumble's Christian service with Miss Rose's Christian service -- and I'm seeing him identify what it is that makes the one genuine and the other fake. I love watching his thoughts come into focus, and his understanding deepen. We finish up just as the cornbread's timer goes off: perfect.

1:15: Soup's on! I didn't get the dishes done earlier; after the kids made the trailmix, there's not quite enough bowls left: I have my soup in a mason jar. Which works, mostly. There's a certain amount of obligatory comments about how little one of the kids likes soup... but they go back for seconds, I notice. While we eat, we listen to about 20 minutes of Shakespeare's Henry VIII; Cardinal Wolsey is going down! We stop several times to explain things, and a couple of times to look things up (at their request: they want to know what the fate of the Cardinal was, without having to wait for the end of the story), and it goes really well. I love doing Shakespeare with Librivox! After that, they chant: "Narnia! Narnia! Narnia!" We're  in chapter 2 of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

2:00: "Put on your snow things on guys, and get outside!" We have fresh snow; something like 12 inches from yesterday. The kids get to work building a slide in the backyard; I go shovel out front. The snow is deeper than I'd anticipated, but not terrible: we shoveled twice while it was still snowing.

3:10: Turns out that the snowplow has been working hard: it's been flinging the heavy, wet snow up over the snowbank, and onto the sidewalk. Considering that the bank ranges from waist-high to shoulder-high, I wonder how fast the plow has been flying down my residential road! I put the packages I found on the porch inside, and then head back out to finish the job.

3:30: I tell the kids to finish up and come inside: an hour and a half of play in the cold is enough. They have packed down the snow we dumped off the back porch and are rolling down it, and not too anxious to come inside --until I ask them who has wet gloves. Oh. Everybody. And funny that, now that they notice, their hands are cold! I go in first, and they follow just a few minutes later. Given that shoveling took an hour and a half, rather than 20 minutes, I decide that the rest of the book work I'd planned will wait for tomorrow. I want to take a selfie with the snow bank as tall as my shoulder, but my phone's battery has had it, and quits.

3:45: The kids are back inside, and want their sketch books again: I bought an art class a couple of weeks ago, and there is a ton of sketching going on right now.

4:00: The daddy gets home. Lots of hugs and excitement. Chatting and pleasant family things. The younger kids want to stay home from church tonight, and promise to read upstairs after Daddy goes to bed until I get home to finish tucking them in. After a while he goes out to finish unburying the second car from the snow. I flip through a homeschool catalog, reading all the nice essays but deciding that I don't really need their curriculum, and then look at some responses to a question I'd posted on a UK genealogy forum.

5:30: Dragon is having a second go at the piano (violins managed to get skipped today), and wants me to come play a duet with him. He's not really ready, but after a little coaching makes it through one of the two songs he'd wanted to try. The Peanut has decided that she wants to learn to draw human faces, starting with eyebrows. I don't know if I can find an eyebrow tutorial for her, but I do find a video on how to draw a simple eye that I pull up on my phone, and she goes away happy, and comes back a few minutes later with a pretty credible eye. The big guy is drawing, too, still. I glance at the clock and realize that I'd better get busy and make dinner if we're going to be on time to church. This time after Daddy gets home goes by way too quickly!

6:30: Dinner's almost ready. Dragon is helping me, and he's experienced enough that he's actually helpful. Actually, today, I think that having his help made the critical difference to being on time. We scramble around, getting school off the table and dinner on. It's a group effort, and we just make it.

6:40: We're ready for prayer. And a little conversation. That's the best part about dinner, I think: time with my people.

6:53: Hero and I leave for church. Dragon and Peanut have persuaded their Dad to let them stay home, promising that when he heads to bed (his shift is crazy early), they'll stay upstairs and read. This is pretty routine for Dragon, but Peanut typically comes with me. Today she's persuaded her dad that she's big and responsible, and so she gets to stay home.

6:55: Hero and I are back at home grabbing some papers that got forgotten.

7:01: We make it! And we don't fall down on the ice in the parking lot. Yay for living close to the building! Hero heads off to do whatever the Young Men are doing tonight, and I open up the Family History Center. It's super quiet; nobody comes to play with me, so I actually spend just over an hour working on my own research, which is kind of cool. I and working through my Hope Chest names, and it seems like everybody is a mess of duplicates. I want to get the upgrade sometime soon so that I can have it pull out the people who have potential duplicates and get their data straightened out.

8:00: I start wandering around the building, looking for people to remind that the Center is open, and they can come play if they are bored. In the process, I catch one of the Young Women with a calendar in her hand, and remind her that if they'll invite me to their planning meetings, I'll set them up with appointments to learn more about research and finding names and everything. There's a leader standing there, and this conversation ends with more girls on the schedule for classes: yay!

8:45: Somehow, we're always nearly the last ones out of the building. Tonight is no exception; there's only 3 cars left. Weirdly, I'm in the mood to go to the grocery store, but I can't think of anything we'd need, so we just go home. The Daddy works early, so he's sleeping, and Peanut and Dragon are, as promised, upstairs reading. She looks like she's 3/4 asleep on the floor under her blanket, so I take her to read scriptures and tuck her in first. Then I go read scriptures to the boys and tell them goodnight, too.

10:15: I spend a few minutes looking at the assignments for the art class, and a few minutes looking at Facebook, then head downstairs to clean up the kitchen. While I do that, I listen to a Conference talk, For Him by Joy D Jones, while I work. I really like this talk, and start it over as soon as it's done, but I finish the dishes before she's done the second time. I'd like to sleep, so I turn her off and move on to shutting down things for bed.

11:15: After I finish writing down all the stuff we did all evening, I shut off my computer, do my martial arts drills and personal scripture study, and head to bed.

12:00: Sleepy time! I'd really like to learn to do this earlier...

15 January 2019

Come Follow Me: The Nativity

 Ok, it feels... weird to be studying the Nativity in January. I'm all set to be working towards Easter, and here's Christmas again.

But we had this thought in our conversation about Zacharias and John the Baptist (our family's discussion sort of glossed over Elizabeth; not where the kids' attention was, this time around), and I'm still kind of mulling it over:

John the Baptist and Baby Jesus are just about the only baby stories we have in the scriptures. We don't know about Isaiah or Daniel or Nephi or Samuel the Lamanite as infants. Even modern prophets, even Joseph Smith where stories from his childhood are pretty common, they're not baby stories. Hannah's son Samuel, that story talks about the desire for a child, but then pretty quick it's right on to Samuel as a precocious child-prophet in the temple.

My kids love baby stories. They ask for their own all the time

So why are these stories in the Bible when nowhere else in scripture do we see the first moments of a prophet's life?

I think it's because these babies are impossible:

Elizabeth was too old.
"Well stricken in years."
Virgins can't bear children.
It doesn't work like that.

So babies. This week is about babies again. And wise men.

I have questions about those wisemen: like, why did they come?

Yes, I know. They saw the star in the east, so they came to see Him. And they brought the gifts that funded the excursion to Egypt. But what if they hadn't come, would Herod have still killed all the children? Or would they not have noticed? I mean, something around two years had gone by and the baby had escaped his notice. So what was it that they were really there for? What did Christ do while his family was in Egypt? Or, what did the wisemen do when they went back home? Maybe the reason why their trip was important enough was something that happened back home, after they returned.

The stories we have are a treasure, no doubt about it. But I can think of a couple of places where I would love to have some more details. This is one of them.

I think that this week I also want to spend some time looking at some of the supporting characters: Anna the prophetess and Simon. How cool would it be to head to the temple one day... and there is the Lord!

And, Anna is a prophetess. That's not something that we talk about, much. But she's not the only one: Deborah, who was also a judge. Huldah the prophetess, that young King Josiah sent his messengers to. Isaiah's wife. Miriam, Moses's sister: also a prophetess. The Guide to the Scriptures article includes Mary in this group, which makes perfect sense. Given that the testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy, it makes perfect sense that believers of either gender could warrant the title prophet or prophetess.

And then, again, there's that thing that it says about Mary: she kept all these things in her heart. It would be interesting to see how that phrase is rendered in Japanese and Spanish.

In the manual there's also a section on what the Joseph Smith Translation is. This will be a likely time to remind my older kids of what it is: a series of corrections given to Joseph Smith during his period of instruction, by inspiration, as he studied the Bible;  and what it is not: a return to the original text. That's what my institute teacher told me, and everything I've seen since then has borne that out. The kids have run into it before --the corrections to the Exodus story, for instance, clarifying that it was Pharaoh's own foolishness and pride and not the Lord hardening his heart; that would be inconsistent with the nature of God, who never, at any point, would cause or condone sin.

Anyway, that's most likely as much or more than what we can cover this week. I'd love to hear what you are doing with the new curriculum. Drop me a note in the comments!

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