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31 July 2016

Psalm 11: Flee Unto My Mountain

This psalm starts out so beautifully, whether you are looking at the King James or the Joseph Smith Translation.

From the KJV: 

"In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?"
-Psalm 11:1

This idea of being protected and sheltered by the Lord is even more clear in the JST

"In that day thou shalt come, O Lord; and I will put my trust in thee. Thou shalt say unto thy people, for mine ear hath heard thy voice; thou shalt say unto every soul, Flee unto my mountain; and the righteous shall flee like a bird that is let go from the snare of the fowler."
-JST Psalm 11:1

I'd never heard of a fowler, and it's not in the Bible Dictionary, so I googled to see what I could come up with, and found that it really adds to the impact of the JST version of this verse:

Fowler: A professional birdcatcher. In the days previous to firearms, birds were captured with nets spread on the ground, in traps and snares. ... The fowlers supplied the demand for doves and other birds used for caged pets, and furnished the market with wild pigeons and doves for sacrifice and such small birds as were used for food. ... Sometimes the snare held fast, sometimes it broke; then the joy in the heart of a freed man was like the wild exultation in the heart of the escaping bird.
-Bible Encyclopedia: Fowler

Photo courtesy the LDS Media Library

It's no small threat, either: the threats we flee from in this Psalm are life-and-death matters, particularly if we're still working within the idea of the righteous as small birds. 

"For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart."
-Psalm 11:2

 So what do we do? How do we run to the Lord for safety? Where should we turn our steps when we flee from the wicked?

To the temple.

The Lord is in his holy temple...
-Psalm 11:4

We flee from the wickedness, from the evil snares, by taking refuge in the temple. The scriptures draw a connection between both mountains and temples, and also temples and safety. Consider these verses (they make a nice scripture chain):

JST Psalm 11:1 -- The righteous flee to the Lord.
Psalm 11:4 -- The Lord is in His temple.
Micah 4:2 -- Let us go to the mountain of the Lord, the house of God.
Isaiah 2:2 -- All nations flow to the mountain of the Lord's house.
Alma 26:5 -- Sheaves (converts) are gathered to garners (temples).
D&C 109:24-28 -- Protection from the temple.
D&C 101:65 - His people gathered as wheat to garners.

Brother Bednar has had a lot to say, in various talks, about this connection between the temple and safety. Here are some of the things that he's taught:

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that in all ages the divine purpose of gathering the people of God is to build temples so His children can receive the highest ordinances and thereby gain eternal life. This essential relationship between the principle of gathering and the building of temples is highlighted in the Book of Mormon:

“Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted” (Alma 26:5).

The sheaves in this analogy represent newly baptized members of the Church. The garners are the holy temples. Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained: “Clearly, when we baptize, our eyes should gaze beyond the baptismal font to the holy temple. The great garner into which the sheaves should be gathered is the holy temple”. This instruction clarifies and emphasizes the importance of sacred temple ordinances and covenants—that the sheaves may not be wasted.
-Honorably Hold a Name and Standing, April 2009

 And, he said this, speaking to the whole church, but most particularly to the youth:

Many of you may think family history work is to be performed primarily by older people. But I know of no age limit described in the scriptures or guidelines announced by Church leaders restricting this important service to mature adults. You are sons and daughters of God, children of the covenant, and builders of the kingdom. You need not wait until you reach an arbitrary age to fulfill your responsibility to assist in the work of salvation for the human family. ...

As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.
-The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn, October 2011 Conference, emphasis added

Took a Walk

The kids got invited to a birthday party, and I got to take a nature walk all by myself.  That hasn't happened in a loooong old time.

It's really different, doing nature all by myself. I liked it. And I missed the kids.  Before I had kids, I never used to have that problem. I went places and did things by myself, and it was fine. Now, even when I'm enjoying it, I'm thinking, "Oh, Hero would like that. It would be fun to show this to Peanut. That's where Dragon would be jumping." Funny how things change.

I never used to even see the little wildflowers. 

They're all over the place. Little gifts from Heaven.

The trail I was on is a little bit different habitat from where I'm usually birding. 

It's only a little different, but it sure made a difference in the birds I was hearing. 

But quite a few of the ones I know were there. I like that. It's a good feeling, knowing the critters that are around. My bird-friends were singing all over the place. And there was a bunch of little bitty frogs that I kept startling. They were too quick to hop into the underbrush, though, for me to get a picture of them. I ought to learn more about the frogs. They're cool.

Chickadees have been kind of scarce in my yard lately, but there were tons of them in the woods. I enjoyed watching them. They were behaving differently than they do in my yard, too. That's always interesting, watching old friends do new things in new places. Nature always has plenty to teach.

I heard some of the Clay-colored Sparrows that I recently figured out. They're cool; they sound a bit like bugs. Now that I know them, I smile whenever I hear them. They're shy, though; I've only seen them a handful of the times that I've heard them.

The flowers are still blooming, but this one shrub was already yellow, and the cicada song has switched from their early song to the late song. I'm seeing signs of Fall all over, and I'm having a hard time deciding how I feel about that. I feel much the same kind of ambivalence about my kids growing up. They're getting big enough to leave places, without a parent. Even Peanut. I'm slowly getting more "me time". Peanut has a long way to go, still; she's only 3. But Dragon is starting to prepare for his baptism in another 2 years. It'll be done and over so fast, he'll be baptized and preparing for the priesthood, like Hero is now, and I won't hardly know what hit me. Hero is already more than halfway to adulthood - he'll be 10 in September, and when he's doubled his age, he'll probably be nearly finished with his mission. Maybe have a sweet young thing on his mind.

It's a long way off, yet, but I'm realizing that this season of my life, like summer, isn't going to last forever. I suppose that's a good thing. To everything there is a season.

But I'm glad that it's summer now.

30 July 2016

August Watercolor Challenge

The watercolor painting featured in the logo this month is Fritz Fabian's  "Courtyard Scene", which was painted in 1944, and you can read a little more about it here.

I missed posting a challenge in July, but in August I'm more on the ball, and moving on into Chapter 8: The Greens. Soan says that most of her greens are mixed, so I'm thinking that I'll spend some time playing around, seeing how many greens I can mix up. There's some discussion of opaque and transparent colors, and how they mix into greens, on page 106. Especially interesting is her commentary about the role of red in mixing up greens - it would have taken me a very long time to think of trying adding red to get a good green! After that, the chapter goes on to discuss the various types of green you run into. There's a lot of information, and I think that time spent just "fooling around", painting rectangles of various greens, trying to get the hang of making just the one you want, would be time well-spent. Something like this:

And then I always enjoy a time-lapse. Watching how experienced artists build their paintings has been extremely helpful to me. Here are a few that I enjoyed this month:

And birds. I love birds, and want to do another one, soon.

And now, for some "Pinspiration" to give us some ideas of what might be fun to do with all this green we've been playing around with:

And that's it! Happy painting! Don't forget to stop by and show us your work!

17 July 2016

My Garden was a Jungle

I'm forever thinking, "Oh, bummer! I should have taken a Before picture!"

I didn't do that. 

But my garden was a jungle. Five or six years ago, Hero put in about four little strawberry plants in a little section of the garden that we declared to be his. They didn't make much of themselves that first year, but they have been getting happy ever since. The thistles and other weeds have been getting altogether too happy, too: the past couple years they've been chest-high. This year, I've done better: they've only been knee-high. And the path was long-since overgrown. And the other day my best friend pointed out the obvious: 

My garden was a pitiful mess. 

My first reaction was justification: those weeds are only knee high! And that represents tons more work put in than last year! And the front gardens are (more or less) presentable!

She just nailed me with The Look (she's got a great one). And went back to taking pictures of the kids blowing mega-bubbles. This is one she sent me:

Well, maybe it's some more work than previous years. 

Ok. So I did let an embarrassingly large portion of my strawberry harvest rot on the plants because trying to break into the garden to pick them was completely overwhelming and life's not so easy right now ... So I didn't do it. 

Yeah. Maybe my garden is pitiful. 

It was just the kick in the pants I needed. I'd been threatening to go get mulch and Do Something for quite some time. This week, I did it. 

But I forgot to take a "Before" picture. So I can't show you my garden in its full weedy glory. It was bad. 

First, I scrounged some cardboard and picked up as much mulch as I could fit in the car -- the city has it for free. No excuses there! And I put the cardboard right over the plants growing where the path ought to be, weeds, strawberries, and all. Squish. And I put a ton of mulch on top of the cardboard. BAM! Now getting into the garden didn't feel so impossible. Plus, with the garden getting Real Attention, I started to have kids interested in what is going on. That's good, too. I love how Dragon was quick to protect his hands, but didn't feel any need to do the same for his feet. I did suggest it. 

Mulching a path was a good start. And it made it easier to see what still needed doing. So I kept going. I started by the gate and killed weeds, dramatically reduced the strawberry population, and added more mulch to all the areas I cleared. I tried (again) to pull the grass out of my oregano plant, and clipped off the flowers to try to get it to pay more attention to growing leaves. I might even try watering it. Crazy talk, I know! 

I was feeling pretty happy with myself - even sent my friend a picture. I spent the better part of an afternoon on it, and made Real Progress. I even cleared a spot and planted a little bit of peas and lettuce: the online calendars say now is when you plant the mysterious Cool Weather Crops. Right as we're going into what will likely be the summer's best heatwave. But whatever. I don't loose much by trying: the seeds were already in the drawer, from when I meant to do this 2 months ago. 

So at the end of the first day, there was lots of progress, but it's clearly not done yet, and even after dumping mulch everywhere I'd worked, there were still some jungle-y parts. There were still plenty of weeds and tons of overgrown, overcrowded strawberries. And the back of my van was still full of more stinky mulch than I could lift, so it stayed there till the next afternoon. 

I excavated my chives -- look, they're still happy and I can keep using them! -- and killed grass invading at the fence line, then mulched the remains. I found both my tomato plants -- one already has tomatoes on it! -- and got some supports on them. Both the boys turned up, wanting to work on their sections -- see the little fences? Those are dividing their parts from the other parts -- so there's progress there, too. I planted another section of peas and decided to try for a cabbage. Ought to be interesting: I've never tried cabbage before. 

At the end of the second afternoon, I'm still not done. And we're having an ugly heat wave, with heat indexes supposed to be in the triple digits, which is Really Hot this far north, plus, we'll be drinking our air, with the humidity we usually have when it gets hot. 

But we get up "early" now - we're gradually leaving second shift behind and it's not uncommon now for the household to be stirring by 7:30 or so. And I'm hoping that if I roll out of bed and sneak outside I can get some more done in spite of the heat this week. 

It's nice to have some order in the garden. It's teaching me things. 

Like, the good things are still there, but weeds and things can make them hard to see. 

Like, planting the seed is just the first step, and if you stop there, you will miss the full potential of the thing. 

And how I've waited and resisted killing those strawberries -they're super yummy! - and they took over the place and nothing got harvested and enjoyed, not even the strawberries. But now that I made the path again, good things are happening. Keeping things tidy (even in a kinda-sorta-almost tidy kind of way), makes a big difference. 

And there's this phrase: "in the process of time". I've been pondering that this summer, and I want to give it its own post, soon. (Here it is!) But it's really remarkable how many things grow slowly, over time. 

I'm really enjoying the way my garden is starting to grow. 

01 July 2016

Commonplace Sampler: June

I have since often observed how incongruous and irrational the common temper of mankind is, especially of youth, to that reason which ought to guide them in such cases, viz., that they are not ashamed to sin, and yet are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action for which they ought justly to be esteemed fools but are ashamed of the returning, which only can make them be esteemed wise men.
-Robinson Crusoe, p21-22

A modern Darwinian education cultivates nothing less than practical atheism, if not actual atheism.

Thus, to understand the action of a hormone on its target, we must know the local concentration of the hormone, which is affected by the rate of its synthesis and secretion, its half-life, and transport through plasma or extracellular fluid to its target cell; the proportion of hormone available to receptors, which in the case of steroid hormones is influenced by the plasma concentration of binding proteins; and the number of unbound receptors.
-Human Reproductive Biology, p8

The girl who kisses the chamber door of her class mistress will forget this lady by and by; but the parasitic habit has been formed and she must always have some person or some cause on which to hang her body and soul. I speak of  'she' and 'her' perhaps unfairly...
-Charlotte Mason, vol 6 p49

There is a common notion that it is our right not only to say what we please but to think what we please, that is, we believe that while the body is subject to physical laws, while the affections, love and justice, are subject to moral laws, the mind is a chartered libertine. Probably this notion has much to do with our neglect of intellect.
-Charlotte Mason vol6 p49

As for literature -- to introduce children to literature is to install them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served.
-Charlotte Mason, vol 6 p51


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