Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Home UnManagement or Flying by the Seat of My Pants

I gave a short whirl to a new yahoo list run by a mother of many the other day. It is called Large Family Logistics, and it is likely to be of immense help to young mothers who are newly inducted into the logistical nightmare of doing it all (homeschooling, home making, childbearing, cooking, laundry, etc.) with a large and growing tribe. This is not a discussion list; it is similar to Fly Lady in that you get sent regular notices telling you to do such and so and such and such a time. This gal also has a blog with more personal information about what is going on in her life if you need a more personal touch.

These lists are great if you are the sort of person who likes order and likes being regimented. It does all the thinking for you. Just follow directions and you too can have a clean, organized home, complete with canned veggies from your own organic garden.

Alas. I find such programs to be an exercise in frustration and a means of creating guilt and anger at myself and my family who usually doesn't want to get with the program. This doesn't mean that I am totally unorganized, as the title of this post would suggest. But I have always found that no one has a system that fits my life/lifestyle perfectly, and I have usually ended up frustrating myself and my family by my attempts to fit myself into someone else's idea of how life should be lived. In my own personal (and humble) experience, I have found that the best thing to do with all such systems (Gregg Harris, MOTH, Fly Lady, Large Family Logistics, Don Aslett, etc.) is to learn the principles behind them and then adapt them to your own situation. Then the system that develops is more organic to your family and easier for everyone to keep to. If you don't do this, you can end up with yet another way of needlessly flogging yourself for failing at keeping the "law" of good house management that someone else has devised.

My house is not a clutter-free and antiseptic paradise. But I can usually make it presentable within a relatively short period of time if I need to. And even if my day looks a lot less structured than that of others, things are still getting done. House work is completed, school work is done, people are fed, clothes are cleaned. Phooey if it doesn't match the ideals and standards of someone else! It works for us.
If Longevity is Your Goal...

...then do what I do. Keep on having babies as long as possible.

To the great surprise of a group of Finnish scientists, it has been found that, contrary to their expectations, mothers who have children late in life are demonstrating signs of "physical robustness" and aren't aging as fast biologically as their counterparts who quit at an earlier age.

"This result is unexpected because late age at reproduction is not generally believed to be favoured by natural selection, owing to its adverse effects on both the survival of the mother and the offspring, " they said.

"However, the result fits with earlier studies that showed the later a woman goes through the menopause, the longer she is likely to live. "

Of course, the birth control people want to put this down to women being able to control their fertility and delay it to a time when they are psychologically and financially prepared to raise offspring. However, given the large numbers of women who experience problems with fertility when they delay childbearing, how much credence can be given to this idea? Especially as it flies in the face of the actual study, which looked at a group of people who had no access to modern medical care, birth control, or other modern "advances." The study group experienced "natural mortality" and seemed to show a direct link between the physiology that underlies both general physical health and reproductive abilities. In other words, the more your health declines, the faster an end to your reproductive years. Conversely, if you are physically robust and healthy, you'll be able to produce offspring long after your sickly sisters have quit.

I may look like the human equivalent of a brood mare that has seen a lot of years of service, but hey, I must still be pretty healthy, right?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

The Family is Growing and I am Rambling

Yesterday we had all the kids together for the first time in a year and a half. Today I learned that my eldest daughter has become engaged. Our tribe is increasing.

Next month, Lord willing, I will be a grandmother again with a grandson due at the end of January. Then in June, another aunt or uncle for the new grandchild will make an appearance. I must say it feels strange to be a new grandmother and mother at the same time. Again!

New Ramble

As I get older I see more and more the importance of not trying to control everything, mainly because it is a fruitless and impossible task. I have come to see that trying to take control of everyone and everything is a manifestation of faithlessness and doubt. Besides, who am I kidding? I'm not infinite in knowledge or power and we all know it. It's much better to just rest in the sovereignty of God because His wisdom, knowledge, and power are infinite. Do I believe that all things work for my good and His greater glory? Then I had better act like it and stop fretting and just ask for what I know to be according to the revealed will of God and leave it with Him to act in the ways he deems best.

It never fails to amaze me how the Lord often increases our faith when we begin to act like He is really telling the truth about life. If all things work together for the good of the elect, then believing this despite the circumstances, transforms everything into something that is redeemed and redeemable. In family worship we are reading through the terrible stories of David's adultery and the subsequent incest and murder that takes place between his children. These stories are heartbreaking, but at the same time of great comfort to me personally. David was and is a great man of God, but even a saint can fall far short of God's revealed will and yet still be saved in the end. David's sin gave birth to some tremendously comforting psalms and they show us that no matter how far the fall, God's grace extends even more.

I identify with some of David's weaknesses as a parent because I see them in myself. At the same time, I know that he probably brought his children to the tabernacle of the Lord and showed them over and over a good example of what to do when you fall. Humbling yourself before the Lord, confessing and repenting of your sin, and taking your licks are all good lessons that we pitiful humans need to learn and often relearn. If we fall into sin ourselves, this is a good thing to model for our children as well. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. And those who cover their sins in shame in an effort to present a proud and perfect face to the world do not prosper. Those who confess their sin and turn from them, however, find mercy.

Switch Gears

One of the things that the kids and I have been doing lately is watching a series of videos that a friend sent to us. They are called The Way of the Master, and it is a Biblical evangelism series. I have to say that I highly recommend this series because it is the best and quickest presentation of the Gospel that I have ever seen. Gospel presentations should always start with the Law of God because they show a sinner the fact that they are a sinner and that God's wrath is abiding on them. Then and only then should you show them the grace offered in the sacrifice of Christ. Those who are sick know they need a doctor. Likewise, those who see they are sinners need a Savior. One caveat -- for the five point Calvinist, you should be aware that those who produced the series appear to be four pointers. If you can overlook this, you will learn an effective way of sharing the Gospel in an engaging way in just a few minutes.

Well laundry mountain awaits and there are things to prepare for the Lord's Day. I'll leave you with a few photos of my clan, taken yesterday.

Our newest "baby": Cyrus. He's a Rottweiler/Maremma cross, eight weeks old, and built like a tank!  Posted by Hello
All the kids (except Elodie) with my granddaughter, son-in-law, and soon to be son-in-law. The tribe is growing! Posted by Hello
My husband with 10 of our offspring. Elodie is missing because she was in bed asleep at the time. Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Easy Decadence

I have spent the day cooking, baking, and concocting in the kitchen for tomorrow's family dinner. All my kids will be in town for the first time in a year and a half and we are having a get- together tomorrow. (Note: This is NOT a Christmass celebration!)

Anyhow, one of the things concocted today was a thoroughly decadent kind of candy called Almond Roca. Here's the recipe:

Graham crackers
1 c or more of flaked almonds
1 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c chocolate chips

(Double the last 3 if you are using a large cookie sheet.)

Line a cookie sheet with the graham crackers. Sprinkle liberally with the flaked almonds. Melt the butter in a pot and add the brown sugar. Bring to a boil and boil exactly 3 minutes. Drizzle over the almonds and crackers then bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. When it comes out, sprinkle a liberal amount of chocolate chips over the hot concoction and spread them around when they start to melt. Cut into SMALL pieces (because it is very rich) while it is still warm, and allow to cool in the pan.

This stuff is so good you can easily make yourself sick eating it so be warned.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Women and Modesty

The discussion on my Biblewives List lately has been on the issue of modesty and whether or not this requires women to wear dresses only. A number of links were put forward that make the case that a woman who wears pants is a scandalous and immodest woman.

The automatic assumption of the authors is that pants or trousers are an item of clothing that automatically belong to men as a cultural universal. The Chinese women took to wearing them precisely for reasons of modesty when working in the rice paddies because a dress could float up around them and expose them as they work. Pakistani women wear trousers under their long tunics (which are identical to those the men wear except in detail) as a means of being modest. To demand that they forgo using them would be to offend their conscience and cause a scandal in their culture.

Another thing that stands out to me is that the forbidding of women of wearing that which pertains to a man seens to work only in one direction. When men and women wear clothing that is relatively similar (as the robes and tunics of Biblical times were), then we might as well accuse the men of being feminine in their attire as accuse the women of trying to cross dress if they wear something that is similar to a man's item of clothing. The authors draw their conclusions far beyond what was the actual *uncondemned* practice of men and women wearing similar items of clothing that existed in the times of the OT and the apostles!

Many of these articles use the "argument from abuse" to make their point. IOW, because a thing *may* be used to the point of abuse, if we forbid its use altogether, then we eliminate its abuse as well. I also find them to be somewhat confusing. On the one hand women are not to dress in a way that is explicit in terms of being sexually alluring to men, and with this I agree. But some of them seem to take it to the extreme that women are to totally disguise their feminine form so that we do not appear to be women, but do so in such a way that we are maintaining a feminine form of dress so that people don't think we are men. One is almost tempted to take issue with the Maker for making women's bodies in such a way as makes it difficult to disguise!!!!

We are responsible to dress in a way that is modest and not designed to attract men sexually. However, that doesn' t make us guilty of causing every wayward thought that a man has. To the pure all things are pure. The converse is true as well. In my youth I was a member of a Canadian forces Service Battalion and some of the men there could turn anything and everything into something with a sexual twist, including a modestly dressed neck-to-knees clad woman with a kerchief on her head.

Articles like the ones I read help to drive the feminist engine. Nearly all the responsibility for preventing men from sinning appears to rest on the shoulders of Christian women in how they dress. Very little is said about the responsibility Christian men have for making a covenant with their eyes not to look where they shouldn't be looking. After all, the temptations are all around us in the way that ungodly women dress and the magazine covers that abound. Modestly dressed Christian women won't prevent a man from lusting in his heart if he is freely looking at the cover of Cosmopolitan or ogling the babe in the tight skirt on the corner.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Sharks respond to magnetic lines

Marine biologists have confirmed sharks can detect changes in magnetic fields.
This ability has long been suspected by researchers who have observed the fish migrating huge distances in the ocean along straight lines.

A Hawaii University team has trained captive sharks to swim over targets in their tank whenever an artificial magnetic field is activated.
The new study, by Dr Carl Meyer and colleagues, is reported in Interface, a journal of the UK's Royal Society.

"This significant advance in demonstrating the existence of a 'compass' sense should now make it possible to investigate exactly how this sense works and how sensitive sharks are to the Earth's magnetic field," the team tells Interface.

The Hawaii group used six sandbar sharks and one scalloped hammerhead in their research. They kept the animals in a 7m-diameter tank.

The fish were trained to associate the presence of food in a 1.5m by 1.5m target area on the enclosure floor with the switching on of a magnetic field, derived from a copper coil surrounding the tank

Big swim
In a series of trials, the field was then activated at random times and the fish were seen to move on the feeding zone even when there was no food present, proving the existence of their "compass".

"Activating the artificial field produced an immediate response in the conditioned sharks," the team says.

"They changed from swimming steadily around the perimeter of the tank to swimming faster, turning rapidly and converging on the target in anticipation of a food reward."

Tiger sharks, blue sharks and scalloped hammerhead sharks are all known to swim in straight lines for long periods across hundreds of kilometres of open ocean, and then later orient themselves to underwater mountains, or seamounts, where geomagnetic anomalies exist.

Scientists want to understand how sharks are able to detect magnetic fields. Other animals that do it, such as trout and pigeons, possess the iron mineral magnetite in their bodies.
Sharks, however, do not possess magnetite. It is possible electro-receptors in their heads are employed instead.

Story from BBC NEWS: 2004/12/15 01:42:01 GMT© BBC MMIV
Weird Dreams

The weird pregnancy dreams have started already. The other night I dreamt that I had delivered the baby by myself before the midwife arrived, and when she did arrive, she kept dropping it on the floor. This newborn was also able to sit up by itself and it helped itself to some lettuce off its father's plate. I'm not sure if it was a boy or girl, but it looked weird, like something you would find on a horror movie. Dropping it probably did nothing to improve its looks.

Last night I dreamt that Marc and I had bought an eccentric little house in a small rural village from Sora and her husband Matt. I have no idea why these people showed up in my dream, but I recognized certain features of the house from supposed blog postings they had made describing it. (These blog postings are entirely a fiction of my dreaming mind, btw.) I was quite taken with the house, but forsaw a lot of renovation work that would be required to bring it up to snuff. When I looked out one window, it was to see a large construction site for a big box retailer. I don't know what they were doing in a small rural village, but there you go. That's dreams for you.

Pregnancy Rash

The dreaded rash has made its return, though so far, it appears to be confined to my right arm from my underarm to the elbow. The severity of itching and irritation depends on whether or not I eat anything to which I have acquired a new sensitivity, or if I forget to take some of my supplements.

At least I know what I am dealing with: Candida Albicans. I have cut out all sugar, starchy foods, all grains, beef, pork, fruit, coffee, tea, processed foods, and dairy in an effort to starve it out. Alas, progesterone, one of the hormones that sustains pregnancy, is one of Candida's favorite foods! When I discovered that, I felt less guilty because my diet has been pretty good and I couldn't figure out why I get such an overload during pregnancy. Apparently I produce progesterone in goodly amounts which makes the yeast happy.

I am using a three-pronged approach to attack this problem and keep it from overwhelming me like it did the last time:

1. Starve it as much as possible by removing as many things as feeds it
2. Anti-fungal herbs which are safe to use in pregnancy
3. Boosting my immune system through a combination of glyconutrients and colostrum supplements.

Some days are good, others are not so good. It isn't merely the rash and itching that gets me. A lot of the mental depression and mental fog are a result of Candida as well, as well as a general feeling of blah, and a lot of that depends on what I eat. Some days I stand and scratch my head and wonder what I can eat since I sometimes never know what will provoke a reaction, despite trying to be careful. Yeast infections tend to cause other food allergies to appear, and they can be quite arbitrary with some things being okay one day and not okay on others.

[Sigh] I won't complain too much though. Last time I did this I got a healthy nine-pound plus baby out of it and only six pounds of weight gain. And I do have more choices of what I can eat than women in other parts of the world where food is in short supply.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

You have the Goya girl look. A Goya girl had an air
of extreme elegance and sophistication. They
liked richness of every kind. The artists
excelled in painting brocades and tapestry,
cloth of gold and silver, gauzy fabrics and
black lace. You could have modeled for the
great Spanish painters, such as Valasquez and
Goya. Both were painters to the royal court of

'Pretty As A Picture' - Which Artist Would Paint You?
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Sunday, December 12, 2004

My Annual "Bah Humbug" to the Unholy Popish Ho Ho Season

The following article by A. W. Pink comes from Ginny's blog for those who don't read there. We can never be reminded or admonished too much against one of the prevailing sins of our times and nation -- that of worshipping God in ways He has not commanded, or in profaning anything to do with Him.

XMAS (a.k.a Christmass)
by A.W. Pink
"Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen...for the CUSTOMS of the people are vain" (Jer. 10:1-3).

Christmas is coming! Quite so: but what is "Christmas?" Does not the very term itself denote it's source - "Christ-mass." Thus it is of Roman origin, brought over from paganism. But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate the Savior's birth. It is? And WHO authorized such commemoration? Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples "remember" Him in His death, but there is not a word in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, which tells us to celebrate His birth. Moreover, who knows when, in what month, He was born? The Bible is silent thereon. It is without reason that the only "birthday" commemorations mentioned in God's Word are Pharaoh's (Gen. 40:20) and Herod's (Matt. 14:6)? Is this recorded "for our learning?" If so, have we prayerfully taken it to heart?

And WHO is it that celebrates "Christmas?" The whole "civilized world." Millions who make no profession of faith in the blood of the Lamb, who "despise and reject Him," and millions more who while claiming to be His followers yet in works deny Him, join in merrymaking under the pretense of honoring the birth of the Lord Jesus. Putting it on it's lowest ground, we would ask, is it fitting that His friends should unite with His enemies in a worldly round of fleshly gratification? Does any true born again soul really think that He whom the world cast out is either pleased or glorified by such participation in the world's joys? Verily, the customs of the people are VAIN; and it is written, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" (Ex. 23:2).
Some will argue for the "keeping of Christmas" on the ground of "giving the kiddies a good time." But why do this under the cloak of honoring the Savior's birth? Why is it necessary to drag in His holy name in connection with what takes place at that season of carnal jollification? Is this taking the little one with you OUT of Egypt (Ex. 10:9-10) a type of the world, or is it not plainly a mingling with the present day Egyptians in their "pleasures of sin for a season?" (Heb. 11:25) Scripture says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). Scripture does command God's people to bring up their children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4), but where does it stipulate that it is our duty to give the little one a "good time?" Do we ever give the children "a good time" when we engage in anything upon which we cannot fittingly ask THE LORD'S blessing?

There are those who DO abstain from some of the grosser carnalities of the "festive season," yet are they nevertheless in cruel bondage to the prevailing custom of "Christmas" namely that of exchanging "gifts." We say "exchanging" for that is what it really amounts to in many cases. A list is kept, either on paper or in memory, of those from whom gifts were received last year, and that for the purpose of returning the compliment this year. Nor is this all: great care has been taken that the "gift" made to the friend is worth as much in dollars and cents as the one they expect to receive from him or her. Thus, with many who can ill afford it, a considerable sum has to be set aside each year with which to purchase things simply to send them out in RETURN for others which are likely to be received. Thus a burden has been bound on them which not a few find hard to bear.

But what are we to do? If we fail to send out "gifts" our friends will think hard of us, probably deem us stingy and miserly. The honest course is to go to the trouble of notifying them - by letter if at a distance - that from now on you do not propose to send out any more "Christmas gifts" as such. Give your reasons. State plainly that you have been brought to see that "Christmas merrymaking" is entirely a thing OF THE WORLD, devoid of any Scriptural warrant; that it is a Romish institution, and now that you see this, you dare no longer have any fellowship with it (Eph. 5:11); that you are the Lord's "free man" (1 Cor. 7:22), and therefore you refuse to be in bondage to a costly custom imposed by the world.

What about sending out "Christmas cards" with a text of Scripture on them? That also is an abomination in the sight of God. Why? Because His Word expressly forbids all unholy mixtures; Deut. 22:10-11 typified this. What do we mean by an "unholy mixture?" This: the linking together of the pure Word of God with the Romish "Christ-MASS." By all means send cards (preferably at some other time of the year) to your ungodly friends, and Christians too, with a verse of Scripture, but NOT with "Christmas" on it. What would you think of a printed program of a vaudeville having Isa. 53:5 at the foot of it? Why, that it was altogether OUT OF PLACE, highly incongruous. But in the sight of God the circus and the theater are far less obnoxious than the "Christmas celebration" of Romish and Protestant "churches." Why? Because the latter are done under the cover of the holy name of Christ; the former are not.

"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto perfect day" (Prov. 4:18). Where there is a heart that really desires to please the Lord, He graciously grants increasing knowledge of His will. If He is pleased to use these lines in opening the eyes of some of His dear people to recognize what is a growing evil, and to show them that they have been dishonoring Christ by linking the name of the Man of Sorrows (and such He WAS, when on earth) with a "MERRY Christmas," then join with the writer in a repentant confessing of this sin to God, seeking His grace for complete deliverance from it, and praise Him for the light which He has granted you concerning it.

Beloved fellow-Christian, "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (Jas. 5:8). Do we really believe this? Believe it not because the Papacy is regaining its lost temporal power, but because GOD says so - "for we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). If so, what effects does such believing have on our walk? This may be your last Christmas on earth. During it the Lord may descend from heaven with a shout to gather His own to Himself. Would you like to be summoned from a "Christmas party" to meet Him in the air? The call for the moment is "Go ye OUT to meet Him" (Matt. 25:6) out from a Godless Christendom, out from the horrible burlesque of "religion" which now masquerades under His name.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).
How solemn and searching! The Lord Jesus declared that "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matt. 12:36). If every "idle word" is going to be taken note of, then most assuredly will be every wasted energy, every wasted dollar, every wasted hour! Should we still be on earth when the closing days of this year arrive, let writer and reader earnestly seek grace to live and act with the judgment seat of Christ before us. HIS "well done" will be ample compensation for the sneers and taunts which we may now receive from Christless souls.

Does any Christian reader imagine for a moment that when he or she shall stand before their holy Lord, that they will regret having lived "too strictly" on earth? Is there the slightest danger of His reproving any of His own because they were "too extreme" in "abstaining from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11)? We may gain the good will and good works of worldly religionists today by our compromising on "little (?) points," but shall we receive His smile and approval on that day? Oh to be more concerned about what HE thinks, and less concerned about what perishing mortals think.

"Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" (Ex. 23:2). Ah, it is an easy thing to float with the tide of popular opinion; but it takes much grace, diligently sought from God, to swim against it. Yet that is what the heir of heaven is called on to do: to "Be not conformed to this world" (Rom. 12:2), to deny self, take up the cross, and follow a rejected Christ. How sorely does both writer and reader need to heed that word of the savior, "Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3:11). Oh that each of us may be able to truthfully say, "I have refrained my feet from EVERY evil way, that I might keep THY WORD" (Psa. 119:101).

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Way Cool

It is nice to receive some validation for something you are doing. The other day I went to see my mentor/trainer, Cal, to get a tune up for health reasons. Some people think that my practice in kinesionics is way "out there" in terms of validity. However, in the course of my exam, Cal mentioned to me that the course I took to certify as a Kinesionics Practitioner will now be a four year university course next year and the only way people will be able to certify is to take the four years at a Seattle university.

I am very grateful that I was able to do the course now since I wouldn't have been able to go for training for four years. I am also pleased to know that I now have something that is equivalent to a university education.
Plain Speech

I have been contemplating the issue of plain speech lately, especially as it relates to the topic of abortion. I was a small participant in one discussion on another blog and had my hand slapped for making what the moderator thought was a personal attack upon one of the posters. In reality, I was just trying to illustrate the fact that he didn't have the philosophical basis, as an atheist, to designate anything as being right or wrong. When God does not exist, there is no objective standard for determining the rightness or wrongness of any given action. All you are left with is the preference of the individual. Wars can't be wrong, they just aren't preferable. Likewise stealing or murder. Ethics are reduced to a pragmatic basis of what works/doesn't work.

Euphemisms abound in the pro-choice camp, and sadly, even in the Pro-life camp but for different reasons. The pro-choice camp uses them to hide their real motives of selfishness and self-centered lawlessness that scoffs at God's Law. For pro-life people the motive is different. Because of the tremendous amount of pain and suffering that women can feel as the result of having had an abortion, people are sometimes afraid to speak plainly about the sinfulness of this sin for fear of heaping more guilt and pain on the woman in question. But plain speaking about the Law of God in relation to murder is the school master that brings these women to Christ.

Abortion is a sin that instinctively calls for the need for atonement. In a perverse way, unsaved women try to atone for the initial shedding of blood by shedding more blood of subsequent children who are conceived, as though this will make it all better. Once the natural order of nurturing offspring is breached in this most unnatural way, it becomes easier to resort to this perverse atonement each time as is seen in those who have multiple abortions. The only remedy and true atonement can come from the blood of Christ. I am both saddened and sickened by those professing believers who ignorantly gloss over the heinousness of this sin and declare that God would never punish for abortion. God has punished and will punish, whether the punishment is meted out to the actual woman and abortion provider or whether it was borne by Christ. Blood will be paid for one way or another.

The glossing of sin denies the only remedy for it. "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)

Friday, December 03, 2004

C.S. Lewis

Yesterday I found a book at the library that I started to dig into last night. Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C.S. Lewis by Will Vaus is a reminder of why Lewis remains one of my favorite Christian authors. Ok, Lewis may be Arminian in some of his leanings (and even the staunchest Calvinist has Arminian errors in his/her own thinking that will be weeded out at death), but when he says something that is right, he says it like no other can

As one who is somewhat familiar with Van Tillian pre-suppositional apologetics, one of the things that I recognized in Lewis was the fact that he never tried to prove the existence of God. "The reasoning process is based as much upon intuition as it is upon logic, and you can't manufacture rational intuition by argument." There are certain things that must be "seen." Furthermore, if Christianity is true there comes a time when "you are no longer faced with an argument which demands your assent, but with a Person who demands your confidence." Arguments fall away in the reality of Christ.

I think one of the things that I loved about Lewis is his way of putting his finger upon obvious things that we miss because we take them for granted, but when looked at from the right direction, they provide an evidence of the fact that we are made in God's image and they provide evidence of God's existence. One example is the way we respond to the passing of time. We exclaim "How time has flown!" in great surprise. Why are we surprised by the passage of time? Because there is something in us that is not temporal. Time binds and frets us now, but it won't always be that way. Immortality, either as the wonderful creation we were intended to be, or as the eternal horror we will have made of ourselves when left to ourselves, is our eternal destiny, and at some level we know this.

Lewis, more than any other Christian author, has the ability to make me long for the things that he continually points to. Lewis said that the goal of theology was practical. God doesn't want us talking endlessly about Him. He wants us drawn to Him as a result of theology. Lewis invariably does this for me. I admire and love him, but the admiration and love doesn't stop with him, it leads me beyond him to the One he is trying to direct us to.

Ultimately, our lives, like Lewis', should all be signposts pointing others to God.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

You're a literary minded as the Bard himself!
You are a complete literary geek, from knowing the
classics (even the not-so-well-known classics
and tidbits about them) to knowing devices used
in writing, when someone has a question about
literature, they can bring it to you and rest
assured; you know the answers.

How much of a literary geek are you?
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Homeschooling Grandmothers

I got an email today from Homeschooling Today that contained a testimony by Gail Busby, who is now homeschooling her grandson. As I read it, I got this awful sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach that being a homeschooling grandmother could very well be my fate. Considering the fact that my two youngest children are going to be roughly the same age as my two eldest grandchildren, this is not outside the realm of possibility.

I lost the stars from my eyes a long time ago when it comes to homeschooling. It is just something I do now and get through as thoroughly but as quickly as possible. I have decided to give up apologizing for that fact. I might as well apologize for having brown hair and eyes. I can be competent at teaching children to learn things, just as I am competent at cleaning toilets, but neither of them are jobs that I would describe as finding personally enjoyable and fulfilling. Heresy, I know. But we aren't all cut from the same cloth. I do it solely in obedience to the Lord and try not to be too cranky about it even if I can't find it in me to clap my little hands in glee at the start of every school morning.

Speaking of homeschooling, we had a home visit from the Ebus teacher yesterday. Yes, I actually let her into my house and allowed her to meet my children. That should give all the libertarians reading this fits, but hey, I have come to see that public school teachers usually are people who are gifted in teaching and enjoy their work. I am free to cut and paste what I want from the school curriculum and most of what I use is stuff I have been using for years. The attitude towards grading is a precise match to my own: grades don't matter as long as the children are learning. We got the first report cards, and the kids are all doing well and more than meeting expectations in some areas, which is a relief to me. I think I can start to relax a bit and possibly, just possibly, start to even enjoy some of it.

Weird and Healthy Cravings

I have been blessed, thus far, in that I haven't really had anything in the way of digestive upset with this baby. Elodie's pregancy was similar in this respect, so this is no guarantee that this is a boy. The rash I had with Elodie has made a brief appearance, but I increased the level of glyconutrients and became more consistent in taking them, and it has receded steadily to the point of almost being gone. The only thing I am struggling with is the desire to nod off anytime I sit down anywhere. This presents a problem when I am sitting in the driver's seat, or when I am in a Bible study or church service. It could be from the pregnancy, or it could be a combination of pregnancy and creeping senility. Not sure which.

This time around I found I have lost most of the desire for junk food. Instead I have been feasting on sprouted organic whole wheat wraps with spinach, cucumber, vine-ripened tomatoes, organic chicken, ripe avocado slices, a slap of mayo, and the piece de resistance: sliced raw garlic cloves. The latter puts people off of kissing me, but since I don't like being touched when pregnant, this is actually a bonus.

I am more anti-social than normal this time around as well. I hate it when the phone rings and I have to take the call. I don't want to visit or be visited. Part of this stems from natural hen-like broodiness, and part of it stems from not wanting to deal with the inevitable comments that an almost 44 year old woman, expecting her 12th child invites. Reactions range from pity, to disgust, to amusement, to incredulity over my lack of knowledge of "what causes it." How I wish I lived in the time before birth control became so pervasive and used in the surrounding culture! Of course, this is only a temporary problem as everyone is generally happy that the child exists once he or she is born (unless you happen to belong to my husband's family). I am also thankful for the support of my church which has the happy conviction that all children come from God's Hand and are to be received with thanks and gratitude, no matter how old mom is when having them or what the circumstances are that baby is being born into.

My husband is relieved that there is a baby coming. He told a friend that he didn't know if he could handle the pre-menopausal doldrums and depression, but when he learned that it was actually pregnancy-caused, he laughed. Pregnancy, at least, is familiar territory for him and one he can deal with. At any rate, he is undismayed at the prospect of having another baby around the house. I can't complain about his attitude at any rate.
Dog Gone!

Our elderly Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog, Chilko, has gone missing. He was home early Saturday morning when I took the kids on their paper route, but later in the day he went missing and no one knows what became of him.

We suspect that he has been taken. Which is rather odd because he has a bit of arthritis in one foot, and his snout is visibly white with age. It makes us happier to think that someone made off with him, rather than that he met a tragic and untimely end. The evidence all points to the former anyhow. He was in good health, aside from the limp, he is no where to be found on our property (and he never would leave it without us), and no flocks of crows, ravens, or carrion birds have been seen in the vicinity, feasting on some hapless animal that met its end.

Good-bye, Chilko. You were a great dog, protector, family pet. We will miss you.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

I Feel Gross

My head hurts, I have a slight fever, and my stomach is queasy. I have some sort of viral thing going on, I guess. Despite this, I managed to get the kids to their art and music lessons and pick up my groceries. I think I'll spend tomorrow in bed though, if I don't feel better in the morning.

The last few months I have been feeling blah, which is rather discouraging for someone who is supposed to be an alternative health care practitioner. I put it down to some pre-menopausal hiccups, but apparently I was wrong. Not my fault though. I did two pregnancy tests that were negative. I rolled over in bed about a week ago and found a lump where no lump should be. Two beta HCG tests and an ultrasound later and well....
This is the reason I have been feeling so "blah" lately. ETD: June 6, 2005 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Dont Drink the Water (in Canada)

Traces of prescription drugs found in tap water News Staff
Canadians' tap water may contain tiny traces of prescription drugs, a new federal study has found.

A study of water samples taken from locations near 20 drinking water treatment plants in southern Ontario found evidence of nine different drugs. They ranged from the painkiller ibuprofen, cholesterol-lowering drugs and antidepressants, such as Prozac.
The drugs are making it into the water supply because the human body doesn't always absorb all the medication it ingests. Some is excreted as solid waste, and the particles aren't removed in the treatment process.

"It's an element of modern life that tends to unnerve us," said Duncan Ellison of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association.

The study, conducted by researchers from the National Water Research Institute for the federal government, has yet to be formally published. But it has been submitted to a British journal entitled Water Research and should be published in the new year.

The quantities of drugs involved would be equivalent to a single drop of water in an entire swimming pool.

Those overseeing water quality say tap water is still safe.

Environmentalists counter by saying any quantity of prescription drugs in water is unacceptable, even if the drugs themselves have already been tested for safety.

"They certainly aren't tested in combination," said Angela Rickman of the Sierra Club. "So we're being exposed at any given time to three or four or five or any number of pharmaceuticals and no one knows the effect of that exposure."

There are also questions of the impact on aquatic life, on fetuses and on those who are ill or infirm.

As an example of what can happen, male smallmouth bass in a nicotine-polluted section of the U.S.'s Potomac River have started producing eggs.

Municipal governments, who bear operational responsibility for treating drinking water, say they are working on what is a complicated problem.

"There are research activities going on now to determine what we can do about it," Ellison said.
Experts say another way to solve this problem is to design better drugs that are fully metabolized by the body.

However, CTV's Paula Newton said designing such drugs is likely years away, as are any studies to determine whether prescription drug traces in treated drinking water are a health hazard.
More on Vitamin E

Why am I bothering to belabor this point? Because of the way this sort of misinformation gets propagated and spread to pass into folklore as Truth and Gospel. Witness what happened to the herb Kava Kava. A few years ago it was splashed all over the news that Kava Kava caused liver damage according to studies done in Europe. What the news reports didn't tell you was that those who were found to have liver damage while using the herb were ALSO on drugs known to have a toxic effect on the liver!!! Now "everyone knows" it is a dangerous herb despite being used safely for millenia.

The following comes from a newsletter that I subscribe to from the Health Science Institute. You can get your own subscription if you like.

Vitamin E supplements will not kill you.

Write that down. If it's ever proven to be untrue, bring it back to me and I'll eat the paper it's written on. In fact, I'll also eat my house and my car. Because contrary to widespread reports, vitamin E supplements will NOT kill you.

Pity the mainstream media outlets. Every hour they strain to get our attention in an information environment that's become a 24-7-365 buzz of hyped up info-bites. To draw our eye amid all this chaos, they'll promote anything that's sensational, even if it's not actually sensational at all. This is what happened last week when the Annals of Internal Medicine released a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine meta-analysis of vitamin E supplementation. Researchers analyzed the results of 19 studies in which vitamin E supplements played a role. Their conclusion: Doses of vitamin E in excess of 400 IU per day may slightly increase the risk of (drum roll please) death! The media outlets immediately seized on this and sent out the sensational, detail-free message: Vitamin E supplements can kill you. Here are just three of the wildly generalized scare headlines: "Vitamin E's Fatal Flaw" "Vitamin E Can Be Deadly" "Vitamin E Dosages May Be Lethal" Run for your lives! The vitamin E sky is falling!

I knew that HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., would have some choice words for the Johns Hopkins results, and I was right.

Dr. Spreen: "Good Lord... what a joke. I can't believe such a moronic study even got published."

Dr. Spreen cites a major problem with the length of the individual studies. The 19 studies represent a total of 45 years of research. That averages to less than three years per study.

"First of all," writes Dr. Spreen, "three years when you're talking about long-term mortality studies means nothing. Second, the 'conclusions' certainly weren't definitively backed up by the study."This flies in the face of decades of research, using doses up to 2400 IU. The Shute brothers (both M.D.s) used even higher amounts and documented excellent results. (But I guess 'old' research somehow becomes untrue due to age or something.)" Dr. Spreen's take on the Hopkins conclusions run parallel to a response from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). A CRN representative pointed out to that it was inappropriate for the researchers to draw conclusions for the entire population based on studies of subjects who were "already at grave risk with existing diseases including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and kidney failure." Funny... I didn't hear that detail pointed out on the evening news.

In short, the Hopkins conclusion is a stretch. And even the editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine seem to agree. In a note that accompanies the study, the editors state that, "these findings may not be generalizable to healthy adults." And they add this interesting detail (also missing from the evening news): "Some trials evaluated multivitamin combinations." In other words, some of these studies weren't even exclusive to vitamin E! And yet network news anchors had no qualms about delivering the sweeping generalization that vitamin E supplement intake may be fatal.

Which all leads to MY sweeping generalization: Vitamin E supplements will not kill you. But that's not to say that ANY vitamin E supplement will do. Dr. Spreen again: "There are a few caveats to vitamin E, of course. No one should be taking the synthetic form of the nutrient (dl-alpha tocopherol) - it should be d-alpha tocopherol at least. Even better is to take 'mixed' tocopherols (alpha, beta, delta, gamma). Also, vitamin E functions better when it's mixed with selenium (neither mentioned, nor, of course, used in the study)." Once again, we see how the major media outlets can be completely trusted to go to any lengths to grab our attention. But when it comes to accuracy and responsibility they get a failing grade.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wife Swap

No, I am not going to advocate anything immoral. Rather I would like to comment on a reality show that I have enjoyed watching lately: "Wife Swap."

The name is rather sensationalistic and designed to provoke, but really a more accurate title would be "Housewife Swap" or "Mother Swap" because there is no true swapping of wives in the carnal knowledge sense. Rather, they take one woman who lives a particular lifestyle and swap her with another woman who lives a lifestyle the diametric opposite of hers and they live with their new "family" for two weeks. In the first week, they have to live by the rules of the home that they are going to. On the second week, they get to make the new "family" live by their rules. The results are often interesting, sometimes funny, and very revealing.

This past week they took a disciplined vegetarian/health conscious homeschooling mother married to an ex-army husband with well behaved and clean-cut children and switched her with a woman whose family lived on junk food and who had two undisciplined teens who were quite a bit more disrespectful. Other swaps have taken place between a rich woman who spent $3000 a week on clothing, had 3 nannies for her 3 kids, and who spent a good 4 hours a day working out, getting her hair done and going for spa treatments, with a bluecollar wife who drove a school bus, cleaned and cooked for her family, and ran a wood-splitting business. They also like to contrast women who are fanatical about their housecleaning with those who are extremely laid back, those who are strict disciplinarians with those who are easy-going friend-of-the-children types.

I just find the whole thing very fascinating as it provides some insight into how various families live. One of the most interesting aspects is that you get to see that there is no one way of doing it right. Every style of house-keeping/child-raising has both its strengths and weaknesses. After the swap is over, they go back some time later and find out if there were any changes made as a result of the swap. One thing that you usually see is that the children and spouses have a new appreciation for their own wives/mothers. It is really hard on the easy-going spouses to have to deal with the substitute disciplined types and they usually end up with a meltdown. The disciplined households are typically horrified initially about a more relaxed way of doing things, but they tend to loosen up a bit and enjoy themselves more. In almost every case the families do end up making some adjustments whether it is to incorporate a bit more discipline than they had in the past, or to loosen up some standards they were keeping and didn't need to; so everyone benefits in the end.

Some of the more surprising things I have noticed is that the so-called easy going women tend to be the more venomous towards the disciplined types when the couples meet at the end and do an evaluation. The poor disciplinarian wives think they have done a good thing in bringing some structure and discipline and a higher standard of cleanliness to a household only to be screamed at that they are hated by the easy-going one. Interesting dynamics! One has to wonder what is behind that: true indignation? humiliation? embarrassment? I often find myself sympathizing with the anal wives and families, but at the same time really feel for the loosey goosey types who felt smothered by the restrictive lives they were forced to live.

It has been good for me to watch these programs. It helps me to see what works and what doesn't work in other homes. It also helps me to be a lot less judgemental about different styles of doing things that differ from mine (excluding, of course, things of an inherently immoral nature). All the same, I don't think I want to experience these lessons first hand. I'll let others expose themselves on nationwide television and learn my lessons the easy way.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Non Medical Relief for Migraine Sufferers

I always love it when I find information for easy, non-technical, and non-pharmaceutical ways of alleviating suffering. Here's one I found today:

Newswise — The secret to fast-acting headache relief isn’t in a pill, it’s in our eyes, according to a study by Trinity Western University master’s student Kevin Lefebvre. For the estimated 31 million North Americans suffer pain, nausea and other effects due to migraine headaches, the new treatment could be revolutionary. Using the One Eye Integration treatment normally reserved for post-traumatic stress disorder, Lefebvre reveals that by manipulating a patient’s field of vision, headache symptoms can be reduced by up to 70 per cent, or be prevented altogether.

For two weeks, Lefebvre employed a modified form of the One Eye Integration (OEI) therapy on 16 headache sufferers. The treatment controls the amount of light entering parts of the brain through the eyes by alternately covering each eye in a “switching” method. The results saw thirteen participants experience considerably reduced migraine and non-migraine headache pain. Three participants did not experience any headache pain claiming the process created a “heightened awareness to symptoms” which helped prevent the onset of headaches.

“The effects of this treatment are robust,” says Lefebvre, a former migraine sufferer and mental health clinician for the Ministry of Children and Family Development in Prince Rupert. “Often headaches were relieved within one to two minutes.” Response rates of established pharmaceuticals such as Tylenol or Aspirin™ can take between 30 to 60 minutes.

“If we understand migraines as lateralized or one-sided head pain then it’s only logical to shift the sufferer’s attention exclusively to the side that doesn’t hurt,” says Lefebvre who completed the study as part of his thesis for his MA in counselling psychology. “That’s done through the eyes.”

OEI therapy is based on the understanding that each eye stimulates different parts of the brain which elicits different reactions. By focusing on different parts of the brain we can have different responses. With post-traumatic stress disorder, this treatment can be the difference between feeling anxious or calm. For headache sufferers it’s the difference between feeling pain or not feeling pain. “The problem is that we’re having two different experiences simultaneously,” says Lefebvre of the fractured phenomenon. “That’s why turning off the lights when you have a headache generally doesn’t relieve pain—you’re still stimulating both hemispheres equally. This treatment gets the patient to focus on the part of the brain that is not experiencing pain.”
Lefebvre recommends this treatment be conducted under strict supervision. “I’ve seen some strong reactions,” he says. “But it seems the more intense the presentation of symptoms, the more effective this treatment can be.”

Lefebvre’s methodologies are documented in a written manual.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 13 other graduate degrees including counseling psychology, theology and administrative leadership

Friday, November 12, 2004

Acupuncture's Power

Acupuncture is becoming more and more accepted in the west as more studies are being done that prove it has a place in our tools of healing. Consider this: vet's now use it to anesthetize animals they operate on. What is significant about this fact is that you can't have a placebo effect with animals. Something either works or it doesn't.

Have a read of this news article for more information about the increasing role acupuncture is playing in healing.

Vitamin E - Safe or Not?

If you read the health file in the newspapers, you have probably seen the articles talking about new studies on the safety of Vitamin E and how taking it can increase your risk of premature death.

Something they fail to mention is that this new information comes as the result of a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is a statistical technique where they combine the results of numerous studies to reach a conclusion. If done correctly, it can be a useful tool. However, its usefulness in this case is highly doubtful. Why? Because they combined the data of trials with natural forms of Vitamin E with synthetic forms of vitamin E.

Some synthetic forms of vitamins are comparable to their natural counterparts. This is not true of Vitamin E. In nature, Vitamin E occurs as eight compounds known as tocopherals (alpha, beta, delta, gamma) and the tocotrieonols (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma). Synthetic E has only the alpha tocopherol. Many studies show a benefit when giving the natural and complete form of Vitamin E, but studies that utilize the synthetic form show a health detriment, and many large clinical trials use synthetic forms, for reasons that are beyond me.

Now, do you see how combining studies where natural forms of the vitamin are used with studies that use synthetic forms can skew the results? A good scientist tries to remove all biases from the study in order to give an accurate result. One has to ask why there was a failure to separate out studies that used natural as opposed to synthetic forms.

Whenever natural food products and supplements come under fire, I tend to be suspicious and want to start digging. If you want to know why, read here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I Wish I was Bored

Sometimes life just gets a bit too exciting for me. Consider the following:

1. Garnet came close to burning himself to death a week or so ago. He doesn't like going to sleep at night unless someone else is in the room with him. Well this particular night we sent him to bed alone. He's allowed to keep the light on when this happens, only this time he chose to use the table lamp in addition to the overhead and he brought it right up into the bed with him.I happened to go to bed early that night and missed the action, but whenTrahern went in later to go to sleep, he found flames several inches high shooting from the mattress and bedding which were on fire, and Garnet completely unaware even though his leg was being burned. I think the fumes from the mattress and bedding must have gotten to him or something. Trahern beat the flames out with a pillow, roused Garnet and took him downstairs to administer first aide, ice cream and a bit of tv watching. I knew nothing about it til the next morning when I found the charred blankets and the hole in the mattress.Trahern just shrugged the whole thing off as no big deal and Garnet now has a nice scab about an inch and a half across where he was burned. Thank God for Emprizone. I don't think he will have a lasting scar.

2. Both Ben andTrahern have gotten temporary jobs working at the tree nursery near by and Trista, my seven months pregnant daughter, decided to work there as well. On the third day she was supposed to show up for work, I got a call early in the morning from her. The roadswere icy and she ended up flipped upside down in a ditch. Thankfully, neither she nor Keiannah, my grand-daughter, suffered any hurt, but the car was totalled. The upside is that insurance gave them more for the car than they paid for it and they were able to buy a new car and pay down some debts with what was left over.

This accident has left her extremely stressed about driving though. Y esterday she and Nathanael drove up to Chetwynd, which is about 3 hours north of Prince, to pick up Adam, her husband, from the oil rig he was working on. I had suggested that he should take the bus home instead of making her drive up, but he didn't want to do that. They are paying the price now because Trista ended up in hospital last night with contractions and extreme pain. They are doing an ultrasound on her now and plan to keep her overnight. She has been ordered to stay on bedrest. All likely stressed induced and she and babe will be fine, but still!

3. Elodie dislocated her wrist and the emergency doctor couldn't figure it out, x-rayed only the shoulder and elbow and then said it was likely just a pulled muscle. In the meantime, her hand was useless and twice the size of the other hand. I decided at that point that since he couldn't figure out the bleeding obvious, I wasn't going to let him touch her. I took her out to see Cal Wheaton, my teacher/mentor, the next day, and he fixed it with just a few little adjustments. Her hand went back down to normal and she was able to use it again. Cal also saw me and the stress of the last few months has me heading in the same direction I was going a few years ago with Elodie with that rash. So I am back on a no sugar, no bread, no starch diet (which will likely help me lose weight again) as well as things to get my digestion and thyroid working properly again. I am starting to feel a bit better now and don't have nearly as many "dark days"as I was having before. I've cut back the work load and try not to stress about things as well.

4. On top of all this other stuff, all the kids havecome down with hand/foot/mouth disease. It's a cox-sackie virus that causes a fever and then little bumps on the hands and feet and canker sores in the mouth. Once you have it you are immune for life. I remember having something similar when I was young, so I guess I won't be coming down with it any time soon.

I could stand a bit of boredom right now.

Monday, November 08, 2004

I believe you belong in Pride and Prejudice; a
world of satire and true love. A world where
everything is crystal clear to the reader, and
yet where new things seem to be happening all
the time. You belong in a world where your
free-thought puts you above the silly masses,
and where bright eyes and intelligence are
enough to attract the arrogant
millionaire/prejudiced young woman of your

Which Classic Novel do You Belong In?

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Where my interior landscape was once a lush river valley full of forests and well watered orchards, it now more closely resembles a barren wasteland. I need a break in order to restore it. You can only draw something out of yourself if there is something in there to draw from and lately I have been feeling like a dry well with little to give. Samantha gave a succinct definition for what I intend to do in the next little while:

Cybernation: n. a withdrawl from the internet for a period of time; most often signaled by a lack of blogging or commenting on message boards, also lack of email correspondence; length of cybernation varies, depending on the cause of cybernating, ranging from days to months (seldom years); is generally cyclical and temporary in nature v. to cybernate, cybernating

I intend to spend the next little while concentrating on the homeschool, reading theology, literature, and interesting biographies, exploring art, and just kicking back. I need some downtime with as little pressure as possible and this is just one area that is going to be cut. In this way I hope to rejuvenate my inner person. Some good hormone supplements would also help. :oP

Ciao for now, people.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Getting It

One of the pleasures of getting older is the fact that I "get it" more and more. There just isn't enough life experience in youth to be able to understand art, poetry, or even history very well unless someone spells it out for them, or they are the ones creating the art or poetry.

My kids can listen to a particular piece of music or hear a poem read and have no clue as to what is being said. However, when I listen to or read it I am able to fill in the necessary information needed to make sense of it. Poetry is a rich mine of meaning, compacting and distilling life's experiences into few words, artfully arranged.

Likewise, I find that I am better able to understand why things happened the way they did in history once I know something of the personalities involved. A better acquaintance with human nature and its vagaries helps one to understand the vacillating nature of Queen Elizabeth I's foreign policy and her dealings with Mary, Queen of Scots. I also have a better understanding of Henry VIII's attitudes and methods and how they changed the face of England.

Getting older is better than I imagined it would be.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


The title of tonight's blog post comes from an art exhibit I saw today by artist Perry Rath. I never thought of myself as a person who responded well to modern conceptual art, but after viewing some of his exhibits and reading some of the descriptions that he put with them, I found myself overcome with what he was saying, and also the thoughts that they caused to rise within me.

One of his pieces which struck me particularly hard was called, "You Learn to Love the Place Somebody Leaves Behind for You." It reminded me of a poem I once read and learned when I was about 17. I can't recall the name of the poem, but I do recall it was written by poet, Stephen Spender, and it lamented the death of one who had passed on and who now lingered as only a memory caught in the dresses that hung in the closet.

So many ghosts accompany me. I look at a picture of myself as a youngster and realize that the person I was then is no longer the person that exists today. I am who I am now in this time, and the girl I was no longer exists except as a memory. What I shall become has not yet materialized and yet tantalizing glimpses of the future me alternately taunt and beckon me at times.

I have discovered the disconnect that can happen when children grow up and leave home. I have moved from the extreme intimacy of carrying another person inside of me, to gradual stages of separation until I find myself thinking of them only as they contact me or as something reminds me of them, or I happen to see them, or speak to them on the phone. I never knew this could happen until it did. When will I wipe the last remaining fingerprint from a childish hand from a window or wall?

I wonder... Am I a ghost to my parents when I am not there?

Our lives are so ephemeral. We are as the grass which is here today and gone tomorrow, and the place it existed doesn't know it any more. And yet, there is a tensile strength to these ghosts of memory that has the power to rock our composure.

The anniversary of my maternal grandmother's passing will be here in a month. For so many years Grammy existed on the fringes of my mind as someone who was just there. Distance and circumstances intervened to keep us apart. But any time I went home, I could see her and talk to her. She isn't there any more and tonight as I stood in the art gallery, I was hit afresh with that knowledge. A portion of my living history is now gone beyond recall and yet she lives on in my mother, in me, and in my children through the genetic history that was part of her legacy. So ephemeral and yet so strong.

I didn't know I could miss her so much.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

You are Inspiration Soup!! You live to Inspire
those around you with your green beany, white
chunky, red soupy goodness. Many have come and
lit candles in your honor. You've inspired
them to become better people. Thank you,
Inspiration Soup... thank you.

What Weight Watchers recipe card from 1974 are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, September 24, 2004

And this Guy Runs the World's Most Powerful Nation???

Below are some quotes from George W. Bush that made me guffaw my face off.

"The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the—the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice."—Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2003

"I think the American people—I hope the American–I don't think, let me—I hope the American people trust me."—Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2002

"Our country puts $1 billion a year up to help feed the hungry. And we're by far the most generous nation in the world when it comes to that, and I'm proud to report that. This isn't a contest of who's the most generous. I'm just telling you as an aside. We're generous. We shouldn't be bragging about it. But we are. We're very generous."—Washington, D.C., July 16, 2003

"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein."—Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004

"One of the most meaningful things that's happened to me since I've been the governor—the president—governor—president. Oops. Ex-governor. I went to Bethesda Naval Hospital to give a fellow a Purple Heart, and at the same moment I watched him—get a Purple Heart for action in Iraq—and at that same—right after I gave him the Purple Heart, he was sworn in as a citizen of the United States—a Mexican citizen, now a United States citizen."—Washington, D.C., Jan. 9, 2004

"There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."—Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

"We must all hear the universal call to like your neighbor just like you like to be liked yourself."—ibid.

and my personal favorite:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Problems with Public Schools

John Taylor Gatto has recently published an article called Against School: How Public Education Cripples our Kids and Why. It is an article well worth reading. Having said that, I would like to offer a bit of hope for the public school system.

It doesn't have to be that way.

It is not necessary for schools to be rigid boring places. And not all of them are. Technically, I am not homeschooling. The program that I am in calls what I am doing "distance education." On a practical level though it works out that I am homeschooling, but doing so with the assistance of trained and experienced professional educators. It is early days yet, and I am experiencing frustration, but the frustration is NOT coming from the system. It is coming from my struggles to get organized and figure out what I am doing. There is light at the end of this tunnel, and I am close enough to the end to see that it isn't merely a headlight but the end of the tunnel. Things are coming together for us.

One of the things I have noticed about the teachers I am working with is their enthusiasm. They don't sound bored and they sound genuinely happy to be working in this system. Not only that, they are more than willing to help adapt a program to the children, rather than force the children into a lock-step program. They also encourage innovative learning and life experience counts. Going to the gym, walking the paper route, flying a kite, etc., are all counted as physical education. It isn't just going to a class to learn the rules governing soccer. Fine arts means taking piano lessons or art lessons from the local gallery. My son Ben, who is in Grade 10, instead of just doing a textbook on history/social studies, has taken on the project of writing his own book complete with illustrations and maps, based on his research into a particular period of time in Canada. This book will be hardbound when he is finished and will become a keepsake of his year in Canadian history.

It is possible to find a creative way of delivering education in an efficient manner than most schools are doing.

Another thought I had while reading Mr. Gatto's article is that he tends to make public school as it is presently constituted sound as though the system is completely responsible for the way that children turn out and that it is completely wrong. Below I quote some of his article followed by my own comments.

1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.

Is it wrong to inculcate fixed habits of reaction? One of the things that we Christians talk about are "habitual sins." As Christians, one of the things that we need to develop as part of our sanctification is the "habitual righteousness" that the Puritans often mentioned in their sermons and writings. This does not preclude critical judgement. We don't want knee-jerk obedience to tyrranical governance, but a reasoned and steady judgement. At the same time, we also don't want the natural rebellion to authority that arises when children are left untrained and to themselves. Reflexive obedience is good as long as it is not a slavish obedience to wrong. We need to train our minds to discernment and train our wills to obeying that which is right on a habitual basis.

2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.

Schools are behind the times if they are still trying to train people for a stable labor force. Jobs where you have financial stability because of long term employment are now few and far between, mostly because of disruptive technologies. We need to develop students who can adapt to rapid change and who have an ongoing ability to learn.

3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records. As in "your permanent record." Yes, you do have one.

What I am about to say will likely be viewed as heresy by those with egalitarian notions, but I don't believe all men and women are created equal. In the natural realm, some men are bigger risk takers than others and more likely to become entrepreneurs. Other men are risk averse and are more likely to settle into jobs that provide stability, like the military or civil service bureacracy. In ancient Israel, if you liked job security and didn't want to be responsible for yourself, you could become a lifetime slave by having your ear pierced with an awl, thus signifying your status. People find their status by what they do. People are also somewhat "plastic." Your status in society is not set in stone if you want to change it. Neither is it inevitable that if you were tagged as a drop out no-mind in school that you are fated to remain that way the rest of your life.

4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further. So much for making kids their personal best.

I would like to know how it is possible to escape doing this? Social roles of children are usually formed by their family anyhow. Families have their own culture which includes social standing, and it is difficult for children to escape it. That doesn't mean that one can't improve upon it. Our goal is not only for greater sanctification, but for greater improvement. The reason for doing this will differ from that of the school system. We ought to improve our standing in order to have more resources and tools available for fulfilling our calling to the best of our ability, which is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The more resources we have available, the more good we are able to do provided we are governed internally by the desire to do all to the glory of God.

5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races." In short, the idea is to help things along by consciously attempting to improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit - with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments - clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes. That's what all those little humiliations from first grade onward were intended to do: wash the dirt down the drain.

This seems to be extremely cynical to me. If this is explicitly taught to hopeful teacher trainees, then I would be extremely surprised. What I have observed from my own years in school was that many of my teachers liked seeing their pupils succeed and that remedial placement was not a punishment but an attempt to help students who were struggling. The fact that their peers used this as an opportunity for ostracizing them is a testimony to the corruption of human nature rather than the natural function of remedial classes. In addition, if we surveyed those who ended up in remedial classes, I would also be highly surprised to find that they were unsuccessful in obtaining mates and reproducing.

Now lest you think I am becoming an apologist for the public system as it is presently constituted let me reassure you. I am not. There is much that needs reform in the system. The problem that I see with articles like this one is that it has a tendency to induce hopelessness in those who read it. The task of reformation appears to be too large and too unwieldy. It also has the tendency to cause people to condemn the idea of educational institutions altogether. I have been around homeschooling circles long enough to have seen this phenomena. The truth is that a large proportion of children do end up in some form of mass public education at some point if they go beyond high school and want specialized career training. So it isn't public education or formal schools that we are against. It is the religious bias (and never doubt that "secularism" isn't rooted in a propositional faith) that we object to. However, history has demonstrated that when the Spirit of God begins to move, reformation can happen quickly and in all segments of society simultaneously. How else does one account for the widespread reformation that crossed national boundaries almost simultaneously in the 17th centure without the benefit of the internet and modern communication technology?

What am I trying to accomplish with this piece? I want us homeschooling Christians to stop thinking of the concept of formal schooling with classes as an invention of the devil and the Prussian school system. Instead I want us to think of it in terms of reformation. Division of labor is GOOD. Not all parents are naturally talented teachers capable of producing child prodigies. The future I envision is one where homeschools and covenant community schools flourish side by side rather than in opposition to one another. We want not only high quality doctors, lawyers, and businessmen, but ditch diggers, dish washers, homemakers, and mechanics who glorify God and enjoy Him in their callings.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Force Field
(G. Camp)

Today's escape will consist of a mask
I found it in a bargain bin
Why do you ask?
Rosy cheeks and a smile
There's no shame in my game of denial
Don't you touch, move along
Keep your hands inside
Ask enough from afar
Enjoy the ride
It don't get much better than this
There's the riff, here's the hook, Where's the myth ?
Manning my stations
Taking control of the situation
Say hello to my force field
Beaten down on all fours
And they'll stare as they pass
Please don't feed or provoke
Or tap on the glass
Bet you never felt quite like that
You could say, don't complain where I'm at
Manning my stations
Taking control of the situation
Say hello to my force field
You won't see me cry (you won't you won't)
You won't see me die
The escapade still exists of the task
Of pullin' off a miracle out of my [edited for crass language]
It don't get much better than that
A savvy fox, a loyal dog, a sunny cat
Manning my stations
Taking control of the situation
Say hello to my force field ...
I was listening to this song by Smashmouth on my CD player tonight as I was getting my clicks in going round the track at the city's stadium. As I was listening to it, I thought ,"Boy, this song sort of describes how I feel about my life right now.
Today was a better day than earlier days this week. Probably because I didn't homeschool due to having to drive kids to doctor's appointments. Dr. Bell made my day early on. He walked into the examining room where he had Trahern stripped to the ankles in order to deal with a recalcitrant ingrown toenail, and when he saw me he gave a huge smile and evidenced delight. Then he said, "I don't know how you do it! You look younger every time I see you!" I think I love that man.
Got home, did a few things, rounded up the kids again and drove in for yet another doctor's appointment. Then did the groceries and some retail therapy. I now have some more cool earrings that were being cleared out at dirt cheap prices and an ear cuff. Tomorrow, I am scheduled for minor surgery on my ears in which two new holes will be drilled to make way for more ornaments above the initial ornament orifice.
I drove back into town after bringing all the kids and groceries back and went to log some clicks on my pedometer. I did almost 10 000 steps today. Not bad. My goal is over 9 000 clicks so I got a few extra in. Don't know how much longer I can keep that up though. I have this burning pain in the bottom of my foot that I suspect is a Morton's neuroma after talking to the podiatrist today. [sighs] It is like there is some kind of conspiracy to keep me from exercising. If the sole inserts I bought today don't help, then it looks like I might have to have the minor surgery done to take care of it. [sighs again]
Thus endeth my day...

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Volume 16, Issue 3: Childer
Parents or Social Engineers?

Douglas Wilson

Americans love fads, and when it comes to ideological fads we are no different. Of course, fads involve changing—first this way, and then that. While it does not follow from this that all change is the necessary result of faddishness, we should remember that fads do introduce change, often in the form of the sudden, impulsive lurch.

If a man wanted to plant a vegetable garden using the latest fad fertilizer, he is risking nothing more than next year's supply of cabbages. But if he wants to try the latest thing in ecology-friendly house-building, and forgoes the concrete in building his foundation, then his house will fall down in the storm, and great will be the fall of it (Matt. 7: 27). Moving upward, an even greater risk with fad-dabbling occurs when a man's children are involved. And yet many parents will try any new thing with their children, as though they were just so many cabbages.
But children are not at all like cabbages. If something does not work out, it is not possible to try something else next spring, starting the whole thing over. Of course it is possible to change whatever it is you are doing with them, but what you did is forever part of that child's story.
The first five years of a child's life are foundational. And if a child doesn't learn to read properly at the appropriate age, he will likely struggle with that problem for the rest of his life. The elementary years of a child's education are crucial—a host of prerequisites are established, without which a child will spend a good deal of the rest of his education in a state of bewilderment.

This is often granted in principle. "Yes, of course, prerequisites are necessary. Yes, of course, the early years are important." And so on. But then the means selected by many parents to impart what everyone acknowledges as necessary are often nothing more than some bright ideas cooked up by some fad-monger the day before yesterday. Lord Falklands once articulated the heart of conservatism when he said that when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change. This principle is a wise one when it comes to bringing up children. If we are resolved to do something "different" with our kids, then we should have well-grounded reasons for doing so. And that ground is the ground of Scripture.

When Christian parents en masse began pulling their children out of the secular, government schools, they were certainly doing something "different." That was not how they had been brought up. Many times the difference was so stark that other members of the family thought they had lost their minds. The public schools were the American way, and so on. But given what Scripture teaches about the necessity of Christian education, this was a necessary change. It was often the same with home schooling as a choice. There were no godly schools available, or there were other pressing reasons that made home schooling a necessary choice.

But fads intrude wherever we go. Home schooling is not a necessary choice because schools as an institution are somehow "a Prussian invention from the nineteenth century designed to lead children into atheism." Rather, institutional schools have been used as an instrument of nurture by covenant parents since Ezra came back with the rest of the Jews from Babylon, and they have been used this way down to the present. That is approximately two thousand five hundred years of covenant history, and leave it to American Christians to not know anything about it. We drink grape juice in communion services too. Schools are no fad; they are not some recent innovation. It is in the highest degree likely that Jesus, and all His apostles, went to such covenant schools.

Nevertheless, in periods of decline and deformation in a culture, schools necessarily participate in this decline. And it is in such situations that godly parents will educate their children at home rather than turn them over to someone else (who wants the corruption to be accomplished with greater ease at some central location). But the problem in this scenario is the corruption, not the fact that the corruption was being adminstered by a hired teacher at a school. [Emphasis added. CG] If we found out that the au pair was poisoning the children's breakfast porridge, we should remonstrate with her over the poison, not over the fact that she had been hired to help with the kids.

Home schooling is often a godly choice, and in our day it is frequently the only godly choice. But homeschooling when pursued as an ideological fad is nevertheless extremely dangerous. Whenever there is a commitment to any ideological fad, the scriptural, historical, and educational facts do not matter anymore. The modern experiment on the children must continue, and all in the name of what seemed like a good idea at the time.

The tragedy is that the results of what happens whenever unteachable people set themselves up as teachers is entirely predictable, and can plainly be seen twenty years later as their former pupils struggle with the simplest of tasks. And few things are more offensive than to see the old and proud rob the young and helpless.

Cheryl adds:

Homeschooling has been on my mind a lot of late, mostly because I am still trying to organize and sort through what I am doing this year. Yesterday was a horrible day full of stress and high drama as I coped with laundry from the weekend, 7 kids coming at me from all directions with various problems, a 2 year old who insists on being in the middle of the table and coloring on everything the moment your back is turned, and trying to prepare for a business meeting in the evening. I also had to nip into town to bring a hawk with a broken wing to an animal shelter, pick up a Beta called Alpha for Hannah, buy a rabbit for Ben for his 4-H project, and take two kids to the chiropracter. I no sooner got home then I had to get ready for the evening and then left, not to return until around 11:00. I am tired and it is only Tuesday.

But I digress...

I was cheered to find the above article on homeschooling in the recent on-line version of Credenda Agenda. Why? Because it recognizes that schools are not bad per se [ per se -- Etymology: Latin, by, of, or in itself1 : inherently, strictly, or by operation of statute, constitutional provision or doctrine, or case law].

What this means is that when the millenium hits and reformation abounds, the public schools will likely be places that we can send our children without fear of moral indoctrination of anti-scriptural notions. This means that multitudes of mothers who have no aptitude for teaching academics will no longer spend the better part of their children's lives in guilt and fear that they are not doing a good enough job at teaching them.

As it is now, if a family tosses in the towel on homeschooling after giving it a go for a few years and sends her children to any school (even a private Christian school), it is generally considered to be a moral failing on the part of the mother. Dad's are generally excused from the blame because they work. Mothers, on the other hand, are expected to not only cope with the bodily weaknesses of pregnancy, childbearing, nursing and dealing with infants and toddlers, but do this while teaching several olders grades, preparing homecooked meals frugally from scratch, and keeping the house in order and the laundry caught up. In effect, she ends up doing two full time jobs at the same time and is expected to do a good job of both of them simultaneously. While responsibility for education rightly belongs to both parents, in practical terms this usually means that the weight of it falls on the mother's shoulders. If men won't do 50% of the housework, is it any surprise that they don't do much or any of the schooling?

Many women do an admirable job of dealing with having a large family, running a home, homeschooling and even having a business on the side. Such women are worthy of emulation. But not all women are so gifted and we need to remember that and bear with one another's weaknesses. If a family ends up sending their kids back to school, it is usually a cry for help or the result of cries for help going unheeded by any but the statists.

Independance in the homeschool can be a bad thing. It is a heavy and weighty responsibility to determine the educational direction of a home and see that it is carried out. One of the things that is usually lacking is feedback. Kids who don't get feedback on their schoolwork tend to become unmotivated because no one seems to care if the work is right or wrong. Likewise, mothers who have no feedback can become unmotivated. Accountability is a good thing. And if Dad isn't able to provide it, maybe the Church ought to look at doing so.