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31 December 2014

Psalm 2: Fighting the Lord is Futile

Psalm 2: The Impotence of Those that Fight Against the Lord

Ever since I started studying the Psalms, everything I read seems to be reinforcing the idea that the scriptures bring hope. It's a great feeling, hope. I read the news, and I see the suffering in the world, and sometimes I feel so small. There is so much pain. And I can only do so much, so very little, to ease the pain in my own small circle. But the scriptures bring hope. Hope for healing, for rest, for relief.  Hold fast to His Word, and He will give you hope. It's a beautiful thing.

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? ...  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
-Psalm 2:1,9-11

That phrase in the middle, "but we have no promise of grace to sustain us in borrowed trouble," it kind of threw me for a loop. "Don't borrow trouble," is a thing that my mom used to tell me when I was a kid, and I would get bogged down in what-if and worrying over things that hadn't happened yet and that I had no control over. She also sometimes told me, "Don't borrow a wrench," which was about the same thing. As  I pondered, I realized that when I have been locked into my own fears and "borrowed trouble", to the extent that I focus on that fear, I loose the ability to feel the whisperings of the Spirit - I cut myself off from the comfort that would otherwise give me the hope to break out of that cycle. But, every time, as soon as I start focusing on the Lord, the fear takes a backseat or even falls away completely. In essence, when I take my eyes off the Lord to focus on the fear and hurt, I don't let the grace He offers into my heart to heal the hurts. (Grace is about much more than healing sin.)

It was interesting, as I browsed through the Scripture Citation Index, how many of the early Brethren used this chapter to comfort and calm the Saints during the difficult times surrounding Johnston's Army's arrival in Utah. That, like now, was a difficult time, filled with troubles and worries. They said a lot of things like this:

The Lord will never fail us, either!

I have saved a number of graphics about Psalms on my Pinterest board for scripture study. Turns out, several of them come from just one article which one of the girls in the Bible Study group found, and there's some interesting stuff on there. The thing that really caught my eye was one just over halfway down, that counts the times that the various Psalms are quoted in the New Testament, and it turns out that the Psalm 2 is one of the most popular, being quoted seven different times in the Bible. So, off I went to find out where it is quoted. Happily, there are lists of what Psalms are referenced, and where. 

The first one listed is Acts 4:25-26 (bolded portions are the part from the 2nd Psalm).

And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 

For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,  By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

Men of God then and now use this chapter in some very similar ways: they use it to underline the impotence of those who are trying to fight against the Lord and His plans. A mosquito has a better chance of stopping a stampeding elephant. Even when things look dark, we have every reason to hope in Christ!

Let the wicked world pass on and the inhabitants of the earth rail, and let the wicked imagine a vain thing...

All that, and it's just the first place that the Psalm was quoted. I am really looking forward to digging into the other ways that this Psalm has been used in the Bible.

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11 December 2014

Singing Praises Again

When my daughter was in the hospital, The Lord taught me some beautiful things about getting through hard times. And, as happens in this life, hard times have a way of coming for more than one visit. This time, as I was talking to my sister, Heidelbeere, we were getting a bit bogged down, and I suddenly remembered. It went like this:

"Remember the Jaredites, sloshing around in the bottom of those ships? With the poo and the bees?"

"What a pleasant picture you're painting." She had no idea where I was going with it. I was smiling more already.

"I know, right? Do you remember what they were doing?"


"Singing praises. The whole time. We need to find something to praise."

So we did. We counted blessings. And I have been continuing to do it off and on all morning. This pretty much sums it up. I love this music anyway, but it's especially moving today.

Gloria. Gloria in excelsis Deo. 

Glory to God in the highest!

 Christ already fixed it. He already fixed it, before our hurt ever happened. And we can benefit from it as soon as we will let Him give us His gift.

I spent some time thinking about forgiveness today. It's hard to forgive others; it's hard to forgive ourselves. But what a gift! He makes it possible. That's why we sing. That's why we shouted for joy!

Here are some of the things I was reminded of today, wandering Pinterest, and thinking about forgiveness.

It's true. Hurting people hurt others - often without really even meaning to do it. Christ's love is the cure. "Mary, did you know?" Her sweet Baby Boy is the reason that forgiveness is meaningful.What a beautiful, healing gift He has given us!

I wrestled with this on and off all day. I've been feeling hurt - and I know that what I'm feeling can't hold a candle to what some of my very favorite people are feeling, and that hurts too. But I kept pinning, kept thinking about forgiveness.

Eventually, I came to this one, and for whatever reason, I clicked through and read the story. I never do that with these inspirational quotes. But I'm glad I did with this one. It's worth reading. I'll wait.

I've done some pretty thoughtless things. Some, not too unlike the thing that's hurting today. The Lord, in His mercy, has been working with me to let go of the blame and guilt I still feel over it... 20 years later... and He took the opportunity to teach me some more today.

 I needed to hear that. I was praying about it, a little later on, and apologizing. Again. "I'm sorry for being dumb-- " The Spirit stopped me. I wasn't supposed to say that. He gave me another word. "I'm sorry for being young." For not knowing what I didn't know before I learned it. And all the sudden, it was clear that I'd been holding myself to an absolutely impossible standard. And it made it easier to extend grace to myself -- and to others. My mistakes are not excusable. But they are human. I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I have a new appreciation for the hurt I dealt anyway. But the Lord fixed it. He fixed me, and He fixed the hearts I hurt. He can do it again - He'd like to.

By the end of the day, I was feeling much better. And I'd been able help to do and say things that started to bring healing to the situation that made us look for reasons to sing praises in the first place.

It's not just couples. It's relationships. And it doesn't have to be a hurt that grows out of a fight. But what happens after, that's what defines the future. It's the application of Grace that makes you grow stronger together. And there is absolutely no hurt too big for Christ. His Grace is sufficient. Sufficient for all hurts.

And that is something worth singing praises about!

This one is one of my favorites. Had us dancing all over the kitchen, and singing praises at the top of our lungs. 

Gloria in excelsis Deo. 

26 November 2014

Learning Football

I'm so clueless about football. And I've been pretty happy that way all my life. I've been to a few football games. ("What happened? Is that good?") I went to a Super Bowl Party once. Watching the fans at the party was waaaay more entertaining than watching the game itself. And the food was tasty.

But Hero is a Cub Scout now. And he wants beltloops. All of them. Including football. So we're learning some stuff about football.

After that, we found a game, and he watched part of it. Said he really enjoyed it. Gotta say, the sound of football is just an odd one to have in the house.

25 November 2014

Primary Sources

Hero is getting a bit older, and I've started feeling like it's time for him to start to have more exposure to primary sources. There is so much value in working with primary sources, and forming  your opinions based on what the participants, themselves, have to say about it. We're working our way through the events that lead to the American Revolution, and there's so much material that we could look at. This afternoon, Story of the World took us on a whirlwind tour of the various Acts that lead up to the rebellion, and ended with a couple lines from Patrick Henry's famous, "Give me liberty or give me death" speech. I thought that seemed like a likely candidate for a closer look, so we went and found a recording. I suppose that it's still not, strictly speaking, a primary source, since it's an excerpt from a play, but it's pretty good, and I thought that this would be easier to start him off on that a big block of text.

If I'm feeling ambitious, maybe we'll do it again, more slowly, with the block of text tomorrow, and see how much we can get through.

The Season's First...


He's a little guy, only a couple inches. Hero took a break from shoveling while he was helping the Daddy with the sidewalks this morning, and built this cute little guy. 

He's on our front porch, right where he can make me smile when I look out the living room window. 

I love it. 

17 November 2014

Psalm 1: Delight in the Law of the Lord

Mormon Bible Study: The First Psalm

Psalms 1 is so short, I thought at first that it would be a quick one to study. Silly me. There's some good stuff in there!

The first thing that jumped out at me was the tree imagery in verse 3:

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

I love this imagery of the follower of Christ as a fruitful tree. It's a beautiful image, but it's interesting too, because as you follow this idea of a tree through the scriptures it can be difficult to pick apart the parts that are talking about the followers of Christ as a tree, and the spots where this tree imagery is dealing with the Tree of Life, and that offers some very interesting Food For Thought. I added this scripture chain, of the verses that I found these ideas in this time around:

Psalms 1:2-3
Alma 32:41-43
Jeremiah 17:7-8
Isaiah 5:7
Romans 15:4
Jacob 5:12

Brother Brigham referenced Psalms 5:1 when he said this (JoD 2:258):

Psalm 1: The ungodly and the sinners.

I thought this was intriguing, so I started looking through the Topical Guide, at things relating to ungodliness, and found the following:

Psalms 1:5
1 Peter 4:18
Mosiah 5:2
Alma 5:26
Ether 12:27
1 Timothy 1:9-10, 14

The 1st Psalm gives us the key to the difference between the righteous and the ungodly: their attitude toward the scriptures. It is the response to the words of the prophets that separates them. The righteous delight in the law of the Lord. It brings them satisfaction. Pleasure. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness..."

Psalms 1: denying ourselves ungodly behavior

And finally, while perusing this post from Bite-size Bible Study, I found this insightful comment:

"A word about the promise "whatever they do prospers." Remember that everything Joseph did prospered because God was with him, but that didn't mean he was always rich or comfortable. God doesn't promise His children an easy road, but He does promise to prosper His purposes in our lives.

Lots to think about in only 6 verses!

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14 November 2014

Visiting the Barn

I was looking through my drafts, and realized that I missed our post about the visit to the barn we took at the end of last year. The boys had such a good time, and want to be sure to go again some time. 

12 November 2014

When I Am Big

Dragon(4): When I am big, there aren't going to be any time outs.

Mom: Ok. When you are big, and the Daddy, I'll remind you of that.

My guess is, he'll figure out the advantages time outs offer quickly enough, when he is big!

08 November 2014

Psalms: The Importance of Music

Mormon Bible Study: come study with us

So, why Psalms? Well, for one thing, it's not so much that it's too intimidating. It's just one book. And it's music. I love music. There's some really lovely hymns that are psalms set to music.

Most of  us are familiar with The Lord is My Shepherd, a setting of the 23rd Psalm, but when I looked at the back of the hymnal, there are more than 75 hymns that reference the Psalms. I had no idea the Psalms were so influential in our music! Just looking through those songs and their Psalms could be a fruitful study all on its own. Music is, after all, very good for us, even something that we are instructed to participate in: 

...but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
-Ephesians 5:18-19

However, "psalm" isn't a word that you typically see, outside of the scriptures. I found myself wondering, "What is a psalm, as distinct from a hymn or song?" At the suggestion of a friend of mine, I turned to the 1828 Webster's Dictionary. She told me that she likes to use that one because, it being so old, that language is closer to the language used in the King James, and it gives her an extra window into the older style of writing in the Bible. Webster said this:

PSALM, n. s`am. [L. psalmus; Gr. to touch or beat, to sing.]

A sacred song or hymn; a song composed on a divine subject and in praise of God. The most remarkable psalms are those composed by David and other Jewish saints, a collection of one hundred and fifty of which constitutes a canonical book of the Old Testament, called Psalms, or the book of Psalms. The word is also applied to sacred songs composed by modern poets, being versifications of the scriptural psalms, or of these with other parts of Scripture, composed for the use of churches; as the Psalms of Tate and Brady, of Watts, &c.

A song about the divine, particularly in praise of God. In fact, the Psalms are called Tehillim or "Praises" in Hebrew*. That, as distinct from a hymn, which seems to refer more to the music itself:

HYMN, n. hym. [L. hymnus; Eng. hum.]

A song or ode in honor of God, and among pagans, in honor of some deity. A hymn among christians is a short poem,composed for religious service, or a song of joy and praise to God. The word primarily expresses the tune,but it is used for the ode or poem.

And when the had sung a hymn, they went out to the mount of Olives. Matt.26.

In any case, the Lord's approval of music is clear, and the scriptures admonish us to use music in a variety of ways, including as a teaching tool:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
-Colossians 3:16

And as a way of expressing our happiness:

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
-James 5:13

Modern prophets and apostles have commented on the importance of music as well. From the First Presidency Preface to the LDS Hymnal:

Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end. We hope to see an increase of hymn singing in our congregations. We encourage all members, whether musically inclined or not, to join with us in singing the hymns. ... Music has boundless powers for moving families toward greater spirituality and devotion tot he gospel. Latter-day Saints should fill their homes with the sound of worthy music. ... Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time. Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together. Sing hymns as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones. ...Brothers and Sisters, let us use hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our congregations, our homes, and our personal lives. Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment. Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven, "and it shall be answered with a blessing upon [your] heads."

Through the miracle of sacred music, the Spirit of the Lord descended upon us...
October 1994 Conference

Make wholesome music of all kinds a part of your life. Then learn what sacred music has to do with revelation.
October 1994 Conference


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06 November 2014

Mormon Bible Study: Psalms

I've been feeling the need to be more intentional about my Bible study. I'm pretty good with the Book of Mormon, and while I'm not horrible with the Bible, I don't feel like my knowledge of the Good Book is where it should be, either. So I've been thinking about what to do, and it seemed like the Spirit was saying, "Start a Bible study group." So that's what I did. And people have been joining. We're all going to have to learn together, because I really don't know what I'm doing. I also don't know of any LDS-specific Bible study guides. You can find tons of them online, produced by our Protestant brothers and sisters, but I haven't found any that are geared toward the Mormon understanding of scripture. So, for now at least, we're trying out a promising looking study guide that deals with the Book of Psalms. I don't know how well it's going to work, given the doctrinal differences, but I've always wanted to know more about the Psalms. So many of them are so lovely.

Mormon Bible Study: The Book of Psalms

So anyway. Kids are in bed, the house is all quiet. It's a lovely time to grab my scriptures for a bit before I sneak in some Minecraft and then head to bed. Not really expecting much, just planning to read some of the KJV versions of the verses there at the top, since I've found that it's pretty common for other translations to have some pretty significant meaning differences, and they're using the NIV. I started with the first one.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
-Romans 15:4

Oi. It's Paul. Paul is always one that I struggle with. His style seems to just bounce right off me, rather than sink in. Off to visit scriptures.byu.edu. That site always helps me.

Hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and charity. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Ok. Hope. That's not what I was expecting to read about. Let's see who else has used this verse.

Hope feasts on the words of Christ, “through patience and comfort of the scriptures,” “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4), and bolstered by “having all these witnesses” (Jacob 4:6; see also 2 Ne. 31:20).
-Neal A. Maxwell, April 2001 Conference

Hope. This verse is about hope. The scriptures bring hope.

Yes, I guess they do. That's very comforting.

In fact, the whole talk from President Uchtdorf is fantastic. It's the one where he tells the story of his refugee mother loosing the train with her four children on it while she was out looking for food on a dark night during World War II.  I can't even imagine. But he turns that story into a story of hope. It's beautiful.

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5 Types of Music

Hero(8) is working on his music beltloop for Cub Scouts. I'm loving today's project: listen to 5 different types of music. It's made a fantastic soundtrack of our day, so far. Here's what we've been listening to:

First, we listened to a couple hours of this playlist of traditional music from India. It was perfect: we've been looking at pictures that a friend of mine that just moved to India has been posting over the past few days, and then we were listening this morning while I was doing my yoga. I see more of this type of music in our future.

At lunch time, I asked Hero what he wanted to listen to next. We'd talked about possibly listening to some violin music, but he surprised me, and asked for Latin, so I found him some hymns. Once again, it's very pleasant to have this running in our background, though Dragon(4) did complain a bit about these.

Next, he asked for Harry Potter. Sound tracks are a type of music, and he's halfway through book 4, and very interested in all thing Potter right now, so on to Hogwarts!

We lingered over the various playlists enough that the listening went into a second day. Which is OK. For our fourth selection, I just picked. And I had a hankering for gamelon music. It wasn't as big of a hit as the others, but we still listened to probably at least an hour. Looked at the map to see where Java is. Watched the guys play on the videos a bit. It was nice. I like this beltloop assignment.

For the final selection, he asked for Lindsey Sterling. So that's what we did. Not to shabby on the variety, I'm thinking. We're going to have to listen to more music again another time, even if the assignment is over; this was pleasant.

27 October 2014

Finding Patterns

One of the things I love about Miquon is the way it emphasizes patterns. It used to be, when I'd look at our Kindergarten materials, I would see the emphasis on patterns, and I couldn't understand why. Something related to counting? I had no idea. At the time, I viewed math as being pretty arbitrary: a whole lot of formulas, largely unrelated to each other, which must be memorized and recalled exactly perfectly, or the problem will be wrong. I was completely mystified by the strange people who gave every evidence of actually enjoying that sort of thing. 

I was missing a HUGE piece of the puzzle: patterns. 

Miquon is great for patterns. Today, for instance, we had a couple sets of problems like this: 

5 + 5 + 5
3 x 5
4 + 5 + 6

Hero declared them easy, and had them done in no time. But then came the search for patterns: he had to make up a set of his own, following the same pattern as the sets he'd been given. Maybe this wasn't so easy after all. So I helped him, and set up the rods for one of the problems. 

3 + 3 + 3 
3 x 3
2 + 3 + 4

Hey! Look at that! Now the relationship is much easier to locate: he moved one white rod from the four to the two, and suddenly had a problem just like the first two. 

Rods are so cool. I didn't learn using them (I have no idea what we did to learn this stuff: I can't remember.), and it's fascinating to see what they are teaching me. 

And those strange people that like math? I'm one of them, now.

21 October 2014

Nature Study: We Found a Pond!

I was so inspired by the pond study these guys did! The idea of going every week, always to the same place, is one that has appealed to me since she talked about her rationale for going to the same place. I think it was Angelic Scalliwags, anyway, but I can't find it on the blog this morning. But the idea was that, in going to the same place repeatedly, you get to know it in a much more intimate way. You get to know the regular critters, the usual plants, and you can see how they change over the course of a year. Things that you just can't learn in a single visit. I love that idea. So we tried a while back, but the weeds grew up around our first pond and we couldn't get to the water, so that plan fizzled after just a few weeks.

But we found a new pond. And friends to go with us. It's very exciting. 

Nature Study: Pond Study at Baby Steps Blog

It's only a few miles away, and it's plenty wild, so there's lots to see. It's got 2 docks, plus a small shore area, and the rest is wooded right up to the water's edge. In addition to the pond itself, there's a good size nature preserve, and a little nature center with people who Know Stuff.

Nature Study: Black Eyed Susans near "our" pond.

Tons of wildflowers, though most have gone to seed and died back for the winter already. I was quite surprised to see these Black-eyed Susans so late in the season. They're definitely past their peak, but still so cheerful. 

Nature Study: Field in Autumn

It's mostly wooded, but in a few places, it opens up to some great views. 

Nature Study: We found a tree frog by our pond!

This week, we found a frog. Again, a bit surprising for so late in the season. We've been getting frosts already. I would have guessed the frogs would have gone into hibernation or whatever it is they do; we still need to look that up. 

The green stuff on those fingers is duck weed. We asked about that last week at the nature center, and checked it out this week. They told us that it's such a desirable species that people with ponds will often plant it. Interestingly, it isn't slimy at all. Feels a lot like couscous when you touch it; it's all dry and grainy. I was pretty surprised by that. 

Nature Study: Checking out the Gray Tree Frog we found.

The kids had a good time looking the frog over. We talked about how his feet looked like tree frog feet, but we didn't have any way to identify him right there. I was amazed at how tightly he clung to our fingers! He had to be pulled off when it was time to put him back where we found him. We looked him up later and decided that he's probably a gray tree frog. 

Nature Study: Buckthorn gives us an opportunity to learn about invasive species.

Saw lots of these shrubby trees with berries on them. We had a conversation about how they are similar to blueberries, but not quite the same. The guy at the nature center said they're actually buckthorn, which is terribly invasive, so much so that there's a group that periodically comes to help them kill a bunch of it. So we need to do some learning about invasive species. 

Nature Study: Love that autumn maple color!

This one is a maple. The maples are just amazing right now. 

Nature Study: The thistles are almost spent.

The thistle are pretty well spent. But still so pretty. I was pretty surprised to see a bumblebee out so late it the season. She was definitely sluggish, like they get in the fall. 

Nature Study: A sluggish bumblebee, getting the last bits of necter.

I'm not sure what these are, but the seed pods are just so striking against those lovely yellow leaves. Autumn is so beautiful. 

And one more maple. There are do many of these around town; the whole city is just on fire with autumn maple colors. 

Over at Angelic Scalliwags, they had something of a plan as they started out. We haven't gotten so formal as that, at least not yet. But we do look things up as we're there (Hurray for little computers in the pocket!), and this week we're headed to the library to learn about tree frogs and invasive species. But for the most part, we enjoy the pond and keep an eye peeled for interesting things. Can't wait to see what our pond does next.


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