Monday, April 30, 2007

Of plastic counting bears and cubes

Mr. Person at TextSavvy posted some interesting findings (Hands-On, Brains-Off) debunking a current sacred cow in elementary mathematics teaching: hands-on activities and manipulatives. He includes a quote from Education Week:
"Researchers found that children taught to do two-digit subtraction by the traditional written method performed just as well as children who used a commercially available set of manipulatives made up of individual blocks that could be interlocked to form units of 10.
"Later on, though, the children who used the toys had trouble transferring their knowledge to paper-and-pencil representations. Mr. Uttal and his colleagues also found that the hands-on lessons took three times as long as the traditional teaching methods."
And why would I, the Cuisenaire Rod enthusiast, find anything to agree with in this?

Charlotte Mason wasn't always in favour of commercial manipulatives and models, either. (You can see a set of math manipulatives (by Adolf Sonnenschein) that she described here.) [2012 update: that link has changed, but there is a similar photo here.] She didn't want pre-made models getting in the way of students doing their own thinking. She didn't want them getting too dependent on rods. (She also didn't like "drawing in chequers.")

However, she did make use of both beans and dominoes as teaching aids. (Dominoes were used as a sort of addition flashcard: young students were to learn all the combinations in the set.) Longtime CM user Lynn Hocraffer wrote an interesting article, "Seashell Math," about using a bag of shells to help her son who couldn't "see" what the numbers in arithmetic were about. She says, "We did use all the sections and activities [of the math program] with my son, but I was dense and didn't do the manipulatives until the end. Dumb me! I knew my son was a kinesthetic learner, but because he recited so well I took a while to realize he didn't know what he was saying! He could "Reason", that is he could follow in order, but it had no meaning, no application."

I've talked to a lot of homeschoolers who have gone one direction or another in choosing math materials, sometimes after trying several approaches. I know people who have had enough with the "math toys" and are now back to using the Victorian-era Ray's Arithmetic. I know other homeschoolers who never really felt they "got" math themselves until their kids started using Math-U-See with its colourful blocks. The division might be right there, between those teaching parents who are already comfortable with math and who do better without all the "blocks and whistles," and those who can communicate the same concepts without gimmicks. I believe that there are also children who learn just fine without having to see or handle manipulatives; and there are others who need that visual or kinesthetic boost to make sense of it. But is there a place for those of us who aren't math majors but still feel like we have a pretty good grasp of what needs to be taught and just prefer to teach it with some kind of manipulatives? (And for how long?--are manipulatives to be encouraged in the primary grades but not in the upper years?--or are they to be eschewed all the way along?)

I remember being in the first grade (in a rows-of-desks classroom) and not being able to figure out why 1 - 0 = 1. I was supposed to be one of the smart kids in the class; I went to the second grade room to do reading every morning. But those arithmetic drill sheets with their 0's really threw me. Nobody ever gave me a clear illustration or explanation of why 1 - 0 didn't equal 0.

The rest of my elementary math education (at a push-the-desks-into-groups school) was so forgettable that I've pretty much forgotten what we did do. I remember our spelling series perfectly (waste of time--I already knew how to spell), but I don't even think we used math textbooks. This was during the experimental '70's, in what was supposed to be the most up-to-date local school (the one with all the learning centres and extended classrooms). But we were still being taught by teachers who had learned more traditionally themselves; so what I do remember is a rather schizophrenic mishmash of times-table drills, problems on the blackboard, reams of purple "ditto" pages, and occasional forays into manipulatives. "Here are the attribute blocks. Follow the directions on the Learning Cards." We looked forward to those manipulative occasions not because we were learning anything but because--obviously--they were a chance to play in class.

And this--I think--is where Mr Person and I are getting onto common ground. According to the article he quotes, teachers like manipulatives for various reasons, one of which is that giving kids something to "play with" may keep them out of trouble longer. Educational suppliers like manipulatives that are required to use a particular curriculum--they really like them! Kindergarten suppliers had that one figured out over a hundred years ago. I don't think that homeschoolers are quite as bombarded by silliness as classroom teachers are--most of us couldn't afford all that stuff even if we wanted it. However, we too can be bewitched by all the neat stuff on the conference tables. It's colourful and it's fun. But the big question is, always--does doing or using whatever it is help you learn the subject better? (I go back to that question constantly; and it's expertly expounded in Mary Pride's book Schoolproof.)

In our own homeschool, with our children, using rods the way we use them, the answer is yes: I've posted about that here, here and here. I've written elsewhere about our oldest, who never quite saw the sense in Cuisenaire rods. She was more of a "just show me how to do it" math learner; however, I used them with her during the first years of school anyway, and had her complete the book Spatial Problem Solving with Cuisenaire Rods later on. Our middle one ("Ponytails"), on the other hand, relates to relationships, and the point of Cuisenaire rods is relationships. When I asked Ponytails whether she thought that the rods had actually helped her learn math better, she enthusiastically agreed and started talking about how the "one rod" could be a "ten" and vice versa. Of course she did use a variety of manipulatives and methods throughout the primary years, including a hundred chart and an abacus--so I suppose that was one way we avoided having her depend too much on one particular aid.

Now that she is in the fourth grade and done with Miquon Math, I notice that we hardly use the rods in day-to-day work; obviously they're not helpful in the nitty-gritty work of learning to multiply multi-digit numbers on paper! And although some of this heavier-on-the-pencil math isn't easy for her, I've never noticed my rod-user having any particular problem transferring her knowledge onto paper, either.

Is there a difference, then, between what we're doing and what Mr. Person is debunking, and what Charlotte Mason didn't like? What our teachers were doing when they occasionally hauled out the rods or the attribute blocks, or brought in the new-fangled Betamax to show us a video with a catchy song about finding area? I think there is, because in my homeschool classroom manipulatives aren't just busywork; I have no reason to want to make my lesson take longer than it has to! (The weather's good and the kids want to go outside...) If the rods or other manipulatives can illustrate a point or a relationship clearly (and more conveniently than having to count out multiple piles of beans), then we will use them. And although our preschoolers (Crayons especially) made an art form out of Cuisenaire floor constructions, that's not what we do during math time.

While I can see exactly what Mr. Person is getting at (and why one of his commenters referred to "Happy Meals" and "McMath"), I'm still going to hold on to our rods.

Filling buckets and lighting fires


"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."

I've filled an awful lot of buckets lately. We finished spreading our cubic yard of Black Garden Soil last night...bucket by bucket. And I can tell you all about filling buckets...


It's messy. That black dirt gets all over the place.


It's tiring. It's hard on your back.


It's over and over. The big bag of dirt never seems to end.


The stuff at the bottom is even harder to dig than the stuff on top, because it's so packed down.


If that is education...


I'd rather light fires.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More from Crayons

"You know what I like to do? I like to bake cookies and then even after I wash my hands my hands smell cookie-ish."

Too many tens

Mama Squirrel: Now it's time for memory work. We're going to say the Ten Commandments.

Crayons: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick...

Bee Creative

Oh boy, how am I ever going to follow this one up?

Sprittibee hosts the Carnival of Homeschooling: Bee Edition.



Of note: Lindsey's series on Homeschooling Frugally at Finding Contentment in the Suburbs. (Lindsey's other blog is Enjoy the Journey.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

On the school menu this week...

Cold lunches and spring term work. We are on a finish-it-off kind of schedule right now; I have certain amounts of reading and so on written on index cards, and when all the cards are done, school's done for the year. Right now we're looking at the middle of June. If we miss a day because the weather's beautiful (like right now), we will just go on to the next card when we get back to schoolwork.

This week's menu (allowing maybe for one day off):

Day 1:
Sing a hymn or O Canada; say Luther's Morning Prayer; practice the second part of the Apostles' Creed (from Luther's Small Catechism--used in our family for memory work even though we no longer attend a Lutheran church)
Bible: finish off 2 Chronicles 25 (King Amaziah, who should wear a t-shirt with 2 Chron. 25:20 on it: 'But Amaziah refused to listen')
Copywork/Handwriting practice
Botany chapter 8--finish off the Stems chapter and do some of the Roots things that were too hard to do when it was cold
The Children's Own Longfellow: start a new poem
On Foot to the Arctic (Samuel Hearne): read 1/3 of chapter 6, "The Ways of an Indian Chief." "Matonabi had no wish to wander along slowly, as Hearne's previous guides had done. The weather was so cold now that sledges moved easily across the frozen snow. At a rate of sixteen or eighteen miles daily, they moved northward...." (Brrr.)
Math: Ponytails do page 191, Crayons work with Mom
Swallows and Amazons, chapter 5

Day 2
Opening: sing a hymn and pray
Say the 10 Commandments or sing the books of the Bible
Armed with Courage: continue reading about Jane Addams
Geography: finish chapter 9, about volcanoes
Ponytails work on either grammar or time-telling workbook
Art/Music: continue reading about Debussy in Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts, and listen to some of his music (we are reading this chapter because Bernstein compares Debussy's music with Monet's paintings)
Math: Ponytails finish the multiplication crossword on page 149; Crayons work with Mom
Swallows and Amazons, chapter 6

Day 3
Opening: pretty much like Day 1
Continue reading in 2 Chronicles
Copywork or handwriting practice
Botany: do 1/3 of the reading in Chapter 9, "Trees" (and go outside for some field work)
French
Continue reading the chapter in On Foot to the Arctic
History: read half of chapter 27 in Hillyer's history, "When Greek Meets Greek," about Athens, Sparta and Socrates
Swallows and Amazons, chapter 7

Day 4
Opening: pretty much like Day 2
Read Psalm 8 together
Read a legend from Canadian Wonder Tales
Math: Ponytails work on page 150, Crayons with Mom
Continue reading Longfellow
Grammar or time-telling workbook
Nature reading: The Wilds of Whip-poor-Will Farm, "Fox Watch" (a spring chapter)
Swallows and Amazons, chapter 8
Cooking lesson

Rummage sale-itis

Ah, the perfume of the violets in the yard, the digging and dumping of dirt that is going on--and the screeching of the tires at corners with yardsale signs and in church parking lots across the city. (Not us, of course--we would never screech our tires.)

Unlike Meredith's warmer clime, yard sale/rummage sale season around here runs full tilt only from spring through fall. (With a few after-Christmas catchup sales as well.) And sometimes you shiver even through a September yardsale.

Yesterday was the semi-annual rummage sale at a church near where we get groceries; it's also the place where one of Mr. Fixit's old work buddies goes to church, so our twice-yearly stop-ins give them a chance to say hi as well. Everybody came away pretty happy. Ponytails and Crayons bought a battery-operated train set (with lots of track) for fifty cents, and that has kept them busy since yesterday building block bridges over the tracks and running the trains. One of the trains needs a small repair, but Mr. Fixit says he can service it.

Crayons got a corduroy skirt and pair of slightly-worn purple print pants that unzip into shorts (for a total of $1.50); she's also been busy zipping those back and forth. Ponytails got a small bottle of hair conditioner, unopened in a gift set; somebody used up the shampoo that it came with and gave the rest away. Mama Squirrel checked over the books, didn't see anything there that we really needed, but settled for a crochet hook and half a pack of file folder stickers. The Apprentice found a pair of earrings. And Mr. Fixit found a CD organizer.

Small blessings!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Vegetating with Scott

"Indoors," he went on, "it was just the same. It's all very well to be told to rest and keep your mind empty, but that was never my way. I brought out a heap of books with me, and was looking forward to getting a lot of quiet reading done. But the mischief was that I couldn't settle to a book. I had intended to read the complete works of Walter Savage Landor--have you ever tried him, Dougal? I aye thought the quotations from him I came across most appetising. But I might as well have been reading a newspaper upside down, for I couldn't keep my mind on him. I suppose that my thoughts having been so much concerned lately with my perishing body had got out of tune for higher things. So I fell back on Sir Walter--I'm not much of a hand at novels, as you know, but I can always read Scott--but I wasn't half through Guy Mannering when it made me so homesick for the Canonry that I had to give it up. After that I became a mere vegetable, a bored vegetable."--John Buchan, The House of the Four Winds

Flap. Flap.

We have suddenly landed at Flappy Bird status in the TruthLaidBear blog ecosystem. It may be temporary, but it's kind of fun to be flapping up that high. I don't think we've ever wriggled up the chain past Reptile before, and our usual state of existence is Crawly Amphibian. Just a little more and I could be at my real goal of being an Adorable Rodent...but I'm not sure I could handle the responsibility of being up that high in the food chain.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Yay for Cuisenaire Rods

I sent a version of this to the Miquon e-mail list this morning, and I thought it could go on the blog as well.

People often want to know how to use Cuisenaire rods, and the main thing they think of is putting them together to add. If their kids don't want or need to use them that way, the rods get discarded. But there are many other reasons and ways to use them! Today's math lesson with Crayons illustrated that for me.

First of all, I didn't think I'd actually be using the Orange book (the first Miquon workbook) with her this year; I had planned on waiting until first grade. However, she's an eager beaver and somehow or other I got bamboozled into letting her do a lot of the Orange pages.

A couple of days ago I decided to try--just out of interest--seeing if she could grasp the "2 3's" multiplication idea that is introduced in the Orange book. I showed her that we can write a "thing that looks like a letter X" in between the numbers and so "2 x 3" is read as "2 3's."

(Now, those of you who don't have Miquon workbooks handy, be patient--I'll try and describe as clearly as I can what went on here.)

Yesterday I had her do just the left-hand column of page F-4--several examples of repeated addition. 8 + 8, 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3, and so on. She used a pile of white rods (one cm long each, so they usually represent 1) and made groups of threes (or whatever), then counted them up to find the answer. (On this page, it's not required that you actually find these sums; I just had her do it for some adding/counting practice.)

Today I had her do the right-hand column, which is to match multiplication expressions (2 x 8, 5 x 3) with the addition expressions from yesterday. I just had her say the left-hand column out loud (how many 8's do you see? 2 8's) and then find the matching expression on the right.

THEN--for the next page, F-5, which is very similar, a column of multiplication to be matched up with repeated addition expressions--we had a bit more fun. First I took the right sets of rods for each expression (4 5's (4 yellow 5cm rods), 3 2's (3 red 2cm rods) etc.) and put all the sets on the floor underneath the book. She had to read 4 x 5 ("Four fives") and then point to the right group (she thought that was really easy).

And then this was the neat part, because Crayons kind of made it her own. (If I had said, "Gee, I have a funny idea--let's clap for the rods," it would have seemed strange.) I started having her read the right-hand column (on this page it's the reverse of the other one--the right-hand column has the repeated addition). She said, "2 + 2 + 2. 3 2's." Then she moved the set of three red rods up ahead of the rest, as if they were getting a prize at the front of the class. We both had to clap for the 3 2's. (And she drew the lines to connect them on the page.) Then the 4 5's came up to the front and we clapped. There was a bit of confusion when the 6's weren't sure whether it was the 2 6's turn to go up or the 6 6's, but they eventually straightened themselves out. The 6 6's also turned out to be terrible show-offs (they came up humming "We are the Champions"), and they boasted that they had "more wood" than any of the other sets. So at the very end (not really part of the page), we had every "team" line themselves up against each other to see which came out the longest--and sure enough, the 6 6's did come out way ahead of the others. It was also noted that the 3 7's lined up together were just a bit longer than the 4 5's.

And there was more applause for all the "teams," and the math lesson was over.

Only with a five-year-old...

Monday, April 16, 2007

A grandmother's quilt and a family's memories

Sherri has a lovely post about her Yellow Blanket.

50 or so things about Mama Squirrel

A friend requested a "list of fifty," so I obliged. Last updated December 2014, to get rid of the dead You-tube links.

Early Life

1. I have not stayed in a hospital since 1969 (tonsillectomy).
2. I have not been in an airplane since 1969 (Bahamas).2010 update: I have now slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
3. I got my first Barbie in 1969.
4. She was a 1968 Talking Barbie who said, "I love being a fashion model."
5. I also had a talking Stacey who said, "I think miniskirts are smashing."
6. I watched the first season of Sesame Street in 1969.
7. I watched Maria and Luis's first date on Sesame Street in 1988. (Think I must have been babysitting. Yep, that was it.)
8. I watched Mr. Rogers, Mr. Dressup, The Friendly Giant, and Chez Hélène.
9. I watched way too much TV.
10. I still liked reading better.

Musical Talents

11. At one time or another I played piano, guitar, viola, clarinet, and recorder.
12. I never took guitar lessons but I strummed at a lot of campfires.
13. I went through more clarinet reeds than anyone else in ninth grade music (braces chew up reeds).
14. I took piano lessons for eight years.
15. I played keyboard in the school jazz band. We all wore black football jerseys (it was a choice of that or tomato-coloured cardigans).
16. I also played keyboard and sang in a trio with two other friends (we sang at church).
17. I also played the piano for Sunday evening hymn sings. I used to hyperventilate at anything with more than three flats.
18. I don't own a piano now. 2011 update: we now have an electronic piano, so that's good.

Positions Held

21. I used to do temporary office work.
22. I was fired from my first assignment because I couldn't keep the employers' names straight (most of them had the same last name. Was that Irv, or Herb, or...)
23. I would do just about anything as long as it was legal.
24. I once got paid nine dollars an hour to sharpen pencils.
25. Once I retyped a whole newsletter because the guy who hired me ran out of real work for me, and he needed me to look busy when they brought clients through.
26. I typed hours of transcripts about mental institutions and manic depression. By the time I finished I could discuss Lithium with the best of them.
27. I also typed transcripts for close-captioned TV. Fraggle Rock and The Beachcombers, Just Like Mom and The Edison Twins. (Finally got paid to watch TV.)

Computers

28. My first computer was a used KayProII. It had two floppy drives, and had no graphics at all. (Even its games were made out of x's and o's.) It came with a lot of CP/M software like WordStar. I bought a dot-matrix printer to grind out my essays...slowly.)

29. We sold it to a little kid down the street the year we got married.
30. Then we had a small laptop for awhile--good enough to type minutes of meetings. (In WordPerfect--without Windows.) And we could dial up the library with it and put books on hold.
31. Then came the Internet and also Mr. Fixit's expanding ability to cobble computers together. We're now running a setup that can switch from XP back to Milennium if we ask it to, plus we have a "virtual PC" so the kids can run their Windows 95 software. And I finally learned how to use Word...

From Toronto to Here

32. I lived in Toronto during most of my university years.
33. The Kaypro and I lived everywhere from a university residence to an elegant Forest Hill mansion (that lasted two weeks: the landlady turned out to be senile), to a cockroach-infested highrise (one summer), and half of a dark, depressing basement (one year), two doors down from Bea Lillie's birthplace.
34. I loved the subway, BookCity, cheap movies, Toronto Island, and being able to go to the museum any old time.
35. I didn't love the high rents, the cockroaches, and when the sewer backed up all over the basement.
36. I moved out of Toronto and found an upstairs apartment with a window and no vermin. It also had no bedroom and no bathtub, but I figured it was a small price to pay.
37. Besides, that's where I met Mr. Fixit. (No, not in my apartment, but after I moved.)
38. We met in July, were engaged in September, and got married the next June.
39. Our first real date was playing mini golf. We also went to a Three Stooges film festival, an antique show, out for Chinese food, and just sat by the river and talked.
40. Some things never change.
41. We moved into our first house and found out for sure that we were going to have an Apprentice the same week that I graduated. I was a bit too busy to go to commencement.

This and That

42. Mr. Fixit and I both like old movies: anything from the '30's through the '60's, occasionally the '70's. Orson Welles, Peter Lorre, Veronica Lake. (But no musicals. One song per movie is about Mr. Fixit's limit.)
43. We also like '70's cop shows with lots of big cars and groovy clothes.
44. We don't have cable TV or satellite, but we have an antenna in the attic that gets the Canadian stations. 2014 update: we went on to free satellite channels for awhile, but now we are back to the basic few.
45. I am no good with machines. I don't even like noisy vacuum cleaners, and I never have figured out all the TV/VCR/DVD controls. That's why it's a good thing Mr. Fixit is around.
46. I hate cold weather.
47. Malls give me headaches.
48. At one time or another I took French, German, Latin, Italian and sign language. (Can you tell I'm running a bit low here...)
49. I am probably the only person who's had both Krakovianka and Coffeemamma over for a visit. But not both at the same time.
50. And...when I was eight years old I collected hockey cards. I knew the names of all the NHL teams. I saved up hockey card wrappers and sent away for a Hockey Card Locker to keep the cards in. I also had a 1975 Bobby Orr doll. (I still have the clothes, but the doll broke. We let Ken wear the clothes because they were cooler than his '70's fancy pants.)
51. But...I never watched hockey. (Sorry, Coffeemamma!)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Grandpa

This is my Grandpa, sitting in his Grandpa Chair sometime in the mid-80's.

Those wires running down his shirt are not some kind of medical device. They're his Sony Walkman. I think he was listening to his learn-French tapes.

Grandpa would have been in his late 70's then. And tomorrow would have been his 100th birthday. He has been gone for fifteen years, since just before The Apprentice was born.

This is Grandpa with Grandma, I think a few years earlier--probably in the late 1970's.
When I think of Grandpa, I think of how hard he worked. I think about his metal lunchbox that he took to work at the Forge. He always seemed to be building, measuring, fixing, carpentering out in the unfinished end of the house that was his workshop. Summers at the trailer park, he did odd jobs for the owners--like fixing picnic tables.
And I think of how much fun he was. I think of him tapdancing. I think of him sneaking crackers to the overweight poodle. I think about his limburger cheese and Braunschweiger sausage, his row of alarm clocks at the head of the bed, his Western shirts and his Blue Jays baseball stuff and his elephant collection and his steam train obsession. At one time he used to run a steam tractor in the Steam Show parade.
I think about his stories of riding the rails during the Depression, before he was married. He went all the way to Quebec, looking for work. Years later, he was still determinedly trying to get beyond "Comment vous portez-vous aujourd'hui?"
I think of the way he used to fuss over the grandchildren. He was always worried that we were going to fall out of bed or choke to death on a gulp of Kool-Aid or something.
I think of the ways he used to drive Grandma crazy, any way he could. When his arthritis got bad, he had a long gripper on a stick to pick things up with. Of course he tried to pinch Grandma with it. He thought it was funny, even if she didn't.
I think of them doing crosswords together.
I think of the way he would tell me--for the millionth time--"I used to push you under the trees." (That's not as violent as it sounds--he meant in the baby carriage.) Even when he didn't remember much else, he remembered that.
I think of the smell of pipe tobacco.
I miss him.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Sunday Devotional Reading

This is the last of our "Narnia devotions." Sunday's readings went beyond The Last Battle, though, and included a prayer from the Mennonite Hymnal and quotes from Pinocchio (we'd been watching "The Adventures of Pinocchio" (the Martin Landau version)) and I took some lines from the book as well. Also, I found the most wonderful sermon online from Capitol Hill United Methodist Church, and I borrowed parts from that as well--snipping where I had to to keep the whole thing to a reasonable length. The long version of the sermon includes a lot that I had to leave out.

We took turns reading this (I had written our names in before each part).

-------------------------------------------------------------

Easter Sunday Devotions 2007: What is Beyond?

From The Last Battle:
“So,” said Peter, “night falls on Narnia. What, Lucy! You’re not crying? With Aslan ahead, and all of us here?”
“Don’t try to stop me, Peter,” said Lucy, “I am sure Aslan would not. I am sure it is not wrong to mourn for Narnia.”
Tirian said, “What world but Narnia have I ever known? It were no virtue, but great discourtesy, if we did not mourn.”

Opening Hymn: “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross”

What happens in the last chapters of The Last Battle?
When Narnia goes dark for the last time, many creatures run up to the door. Some disappear into the shadows outside the door. “But the others looked in the face of Aslan and loved him, though some of them were very frightened at the same time. And all these came in at the Door, in on Aslan’s right….Among the happy creatures who now came crowding round Tirian and his friends were all those whom they had thought dead--Roonwit the Centaur, and Jewel the Unicorn, and Poggin the Dwarf.”

And they go exploring, and discover that this is Aslan’s true country; and it is Narnia, and it is England too, and there is always more to discover. At the end, Aslan explains to them that this was “only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story. The Term was over and the holidays had begun.”

But think back to the Dwarfs, sitting in the darkness and refusing to see the truth.

“We human beings often turn our backs on what is good for us. I'm reminded of sitting around the supper table as a child, turning my nose up at fresh, sliced tomatoes and Daddy's saying, "you don't know what's good for you." One of the most vexing puzzles in all of human existence is how even when we know what it good for us, we can't or won't do it. We won't go there. And we especially won't go to that place within ourselves where something so deep it's unnamable is rumbling and unsettled, groaning inside of us for that which is good for us. And Jesus cries out, "how often have I desired to gather [you] together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" We know what's good for us, yet we won't go there. We aren't willing. Why? What do we expect?” (adapted from the sermon, see notes above)

Scripture: 1 John 4:7-10 (God's love for us)

“We reject what is good for us often because we don't want to change. Even though the change might be a good one--even and especially when we know it would be a good change for us--we put it off, we turn away, we aren't willing.” (sermon)

"Or maybe we think we're close enough to Jesus, but that if we go any closer we will lose our identity. Maybe we fear that if we [go closer] to Jesus, that we won't have any more fun in life."

"Pinocchio!" Lamp-Wick called out. "Listen to me. Come with us and we'll always be happy."
"No, no, no!"
"Come with us and we'll always be happy," cried four other voices from the wagon.


Jesus’s lament is not only about the actual city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem exists for us as a symbol of the dwelling place of God, the place, of all places, where love is whole and hearts are safe and where the Holy One is loved in return. And that, for us might mean this very place, the house of God, the church. Jerusalem is like our hearts, wherein we may hope that God will dwell. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...how often have I desired to love you and protect you and you were not willing!" Why on earth would we reject such an offer? What do we expect? I suspect that we reject Jesus for many of the same reasons we reject other human beings. Ignorance, forgetfulness, fear. The irony of all this is that our expectations--maybe that we'll lose independence, freedom, identity, laughter--are exactly the opposite of what is true. But how do we know? (sermon)

"How unhappy I have been," Pinocchio said to himself. "And yet I deserve everything, for I am certainly very stubborn and stupid! I will always have my own way. I won't listen to those who love me and who have more brains than I. But from now on, I'll be different and I'll try to become a most obedient boy. I wonder if Father is waiting for me. It is so long, poor man, since I have seen him, and I do so want his love and his kisses. Can there be a worse or more heartless boy than I am anywhere?"

Jesus wants nothing but freedom and life and peace and love for us. As long as we wander through life without placing every part of our heart and soul in the shadow of God's wings--being bound in the shadow of light and salvation, Jesus cries for us. Jesus grieves for us. Jesus's own heart breaks for us. (sermon)

“After a while Geppetto returned. In his hands he had the A-B-C book for his son, but the old coat was gone. The poor fellow was in his shirt sleeves and the day was cold.

"Where's your coat, Father?"

"I have sold it."

"Why did you sell your coat?"

"It was too warm."

Pinocchio understood the answer in a twinkling, and, unable to restrain his tears, he jumped on his father's neck and kissed him over and over.


Because we are not safe, not free, not whole, not at peace until we accept Jesus's love, until we trust our heart and all of our life to God's care.

“Oh Papa—I love you too.”

What did we expect? That is the story, after all. I don't think that we really expect Jesus to cry for us, for his heart to break on our account. I think we don't really expect to have joy and for life to be better or for our hearts and souls to feel safer or any of the rest of it. I think at some level, we don't expect Jesus to give life so that we can have ours. I don't think that we believe or expect that we are worth so much. And so that becomes our excuse, maybe. I'm not going there because I don't believe it or I don't deserve it. And Jesus grieves. And we miss the point that it is precisely because we don't believe it and don't deserve it that we need go there. (sermon) So take heart, have courage and expect more of yourself and of God--remember who you are and run for your life into the wings of Christ. (sermon)

Further up and further in!

Closing Prayer: Hymn book #744

Closing Hymn: #596 O Praise Ye the Lord

Art books for Squirrelings

Ponytails and Crayons have been interested in Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin ever since they read Katie and the Sunflowers and Katie Meets the Impressionists. Grandpa Squirrel, not knowing this, gave them each a small photo album along with some Easter chocolates, and even Mama Squirrel was a little startled to hear Crayons say (on looking at the cover of her album), "ooh, Monet!" Ponytails' album had a Van Gogh painting on the cover.

This week Mama Squirrel was looking for Linnea in Monet's Garden at the library, so that we could do a bit more with our Monet picture studies. I notice that Linnea hasn't gotten entirely great reviews on Amazon, but we've always liked Christina Bjork's books (especially The Other Alice, one of The Apprentice's specially treasured books), so I thought it would be worthwhile reading. Anyway, right near it was Susan Goldman Rubin's The Yellow House, a picture book about Van Gogh and Gauguin's short-lived experiment as housemates.

It's a really wonderful story of how two very different artists with different outlooks and different styles looked at the world. Sometimes when we study individual artists, we don't realize that many of them did know each other and did draw on each others' work for inspiration. This idea comes across simply enough that even young children can understand: Van Gogh prefers yellow, Gauguin favours red; Van Gogh is messy, Gauguin is neat; Van Gogh likes to paint from what he sees, while Gauguin works more from his imagination. Van Gogh's attempt at a Gauguin-style painting is particularly interesting, and so are his two chair paintings that are supposed to reflect their two personalities: they remind me of Papa Bear's chair and Mama Bear's chair! (Except for the second-last page and an optional biographical page at the back, this book goes easy on the Van Gogh ear-cutting incident and other messy details.)

The text on the last page is disappointing: "Working side by side, the artists inspired and challenged each other. Today the paintings still glow with their emotion and energy." I don't think that was exactly the point of the book--I think it's a study in contrasts and a good look at the point where two lives briefly intersected. Definitely worth looking for.

Good Friday Kiffle, 2007











Some photos from last week's Kiffle baking session. We made extras this year to take to an Easter morning "paska party" at church. Since we have never made paska, we volunteered to bring something from our own family tradition instead.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Devotions for Saturday

Saturday Devotional Readings: In the Stable

Opening (from The Last Battle, adapted)
Tirian had thought—or he would have thought if he had time to think at all—that they were inside a little thatched stable, about twelve feet long and six feet wide. But they stood on grass, and the deep blue sky was overhead. But a terrible figure was coming towards them. It had a vulture’s head and four arms.
“Thou has called me into Narnia, Rishda Tarkaan. Here I am. What has thou to say?”
But the Tarkaan neither lifted his face from the ground nor said a word. He was shaking like a man with a bad hiccup.

Opening Hymn: Arise, My Soul, Arise

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly speak for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.


A voice behind Tirian commands Tash to take the Tarkaan and return to his own place, and the two of them disappear. The voice turns out to be Peter, one of the High Kings of Narnia. Peter, Digory, Jill and all the rest from the earlier books (except Susan) are there, clean and wearing fresh clothes, and Jill introduces Tirian to everyone else. He is still having a hard time figuring out what is going on.

Tirian looked and saw the queerest and most ridiculous thing you can imagine. Only a few yards away, clear to be seen in the sunlight, there stood up a rough wooden door and, round it, the framework of the doorway: nothing else, no walls, no roof. He walked round to the other side of the door. But it looked just the same from the other side: he was still in the open air, on a summer morning. The door was simply standing up by itself as if it had grown there like a tree.
“It seems, then,” said Tirian,” that the stable seen from within and the stable seen from without are two different places.”

”Yes,” said the Lord Digory. “Its inside is bigger than its outside.”

“Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”


Hymn: O Bless the Lord, O My Soul (from Psalm 103)

O bless the Lord, my soul!
Let all within me join,
And aid my tongue to bless His Name
Whose favors are divine.

‘Tis He forgives thy sins,
‘Tis He relieves thy pain,
‘Tis He that heals thy sicknesses
And makes thee young again.

He crowns thy life with love,
When ransomed from the grave;
He that redeemed my soul from hell
Hath sovereign power to save.

He fills the poor with good,
He gives the suff’rers rest;
The Lord hath judgments for the proud,
And justice for th’oppressed.

His wondrous works and ways
He made by Moses known
But sent the world His truth and grace
By His belovèd Son.

“I hope Tash ate the Dwarfs too,” said Eustace. “Little swine.”
“No, he didn’t,” said Lucy. “They’re still here. I’ve tried to make friends with them, but it’s no use.”
“Friends with them!” cried Eustace. “If you knew how those Dwarfs have been behaving!”
“Oh stop it, Eustace,” said Lucy. “Do come and see them.”

The Dwarfs were sitting very close together in a little circle facing one another.
“Look out!” said one of them in a surly voice. “Mind where you’re going. Don’t walk into our faces!”
“All right!” said Eustace indignantly. “We’re not blind. We’ve got eyes in our head.”
“They must be darn good ones if you can see in here,” said the same Dwarf whose name was Diggle.
“In where?” asked Edmund.
“Why you bone-head, in here of course,” said Diggle. “In this pitch-black, smelly little hole of a stable.”

The Dwarfs believe they are still sitting in the dark. Even when Aslan appears and gives them food, they believe they are eating straw and scraps.

Aslan explains that he cannot help the Dwarfs if they will not let him help them, and that he has other work to do.

He then goes to the door between “the stable” and the Narnian world outside and roars, “It is TIME.”


Closing Hymn: Lord Jesus, Think On Me (verses 1, 3, 5)

Lord Jesus, think on me
And purge away my sin;
From earthborn passions set me free
And make me pure within.

Lord Jesus, think on me
Nor let me go astray;
Through darkness and perplexity
Point Thou the heavenly way.

Lord Jesus, think on me
That, when the flood is past,
I may th’eternal brightness see
And share Thy joy at last.

Pray together.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday Devotion: Through the Stable Door

[Scriptures from the English Standard Version]

From The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis (adapted)
“Sire,” Jewel said, “nothing now remains for us seven but to go back to Stable Hill, proclaim the truth, and take the adventure that Aslan sends us. And if, by a great marvel, we defeat those thirty Calormenes who are with the Ape, then [we must] turn again and die in battle with the far greater host of them that will soon march from Cair Paravel.”

Light a candle.

Green book #4: Sing Praise to God, verses 1 & 2

Then came the worst part, the waiting. Luckily for the children they slept for a couple of hours, but of course they woke up when the night grew cold, and what was worse, woke up very thirsty and with no chance of getting a drink. But Tirian, with his head against Jewel’s flank, slept as soundly as if he were in his royal bed at Cair Paravel, till the sound of a gong beating awoke him, and he sat up and saw that there was firelight on the far side of the stable and knew that the hour had come.

John 17:1, 5
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you….And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

From The Last Battle:
“Listen,” he whispered in a matter-of fact voice, “we must attack now, before yonder miscreants are strengthened by their friends.”
“Bethink you, Sire,” said Poggin, “that here we have the good wooden wall of the stable at our backs. If we advance, shall we not be encircled and get sword-points between our shoulders?”
“I would say as you do, Dwarf,” said Tirian. “Were it not their very plan to force us into the stable? The further we are from its deadly door, the better.”

Tirian could hear [the dwarfs] using dreadful language, and every now and then the Tarkaan calling, “Take all you can alive! Take them alive!”
Whatever that fight may have been like, it did not last long.
“Throw them into the shrine of Tash,” said Rishda Tarkaan.
And when the eleven Dwarfs, one after the other, had been flung or kicked into that dark doorway and the door had been shut again, he bowed low to the stable and said:
“These also are for thy burnt offering, Lord Tash.”

“I feel in my bones,” said Poggin, “that we shall all, one by one pass through that dark door before morning.”
”It is indeed a grim door,” said Tirian. “It is more like a mouth.”

“Oh, can’t we do anything to stop it?” said Jill in a shaken voice.
“Nay, fair friend,” said Jewel, nosing her gently. “It may be for us the door to Aslan’s country, and we shall sup at his table tonight.”

Hymn: Green Book #4: Sing Praise to God, verses 3 & 4

From The Last Battle:
And now the leveled spears were closing in on Tirian and his friends. Next minute they were all fighting for their lives….The worst of it was that Tirian couldn’t keep to the position in which he had started….he soon found that he was getting further and further to the right, nearer to the stable. He had a vague idea in his mind that there was some good reason for keeping away from it. But he couldn’t now remember what the reason was. And anyway, he couldn’t help it.

Read John 18:28-30, John 19:15-18, Luke 23:39-43

From The Last Battle:
All at once everything came quite clear. He found that he was fighting the Tarkaan himself. The bonfire, what was left of it, was straight in front. He was in fact fighting in the very doorway of the stable, for it had been opened and two Calormenes were holding the door, ready to slam it shut the moment he was inside. He remembered everything now, and he realized that the enemy had been edging him to the stable on purpose ever since the fight began.

And while he was thinking this he was still fighting the Tarkaan as hard as he could.

A new idea came into Tirian’s head. He dropped his sword, darted forward, seized his enemy by the belt with both hands, and jumped back into the stable, shouting:
“Come in and meet Tash yourself!”

There was a deafening noise. As when the Ape had been flung in, the earth shook and there was a blinding light.

Matthew 27:50-51
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Green book #18: And Can It Be That I Should Gain

Blow out the candle.

The sheep are scattered

One year when The Apprentice was very, very small--probably almost three--I put a piece of green paper on the kitchen wall, about ten days before Easter. I cut out small paper sheep from a Sunday-School pattern, and also a shepherd. Every day we added more sheep to the picture. We may have drawn flowers and things on our "field" too--I don't remember. By the Thursday before Easter we had quite a few sheep. We talked about how the shepherd takes care of the sheep and makes sure they are all where they belong.

When The Apprentice woke up on Good Friday, the shepherd was missing from the picture. Some of the sheep were gone as well. The others were all topsy-turvy or stuck somewhere else on the wall. I told her that this is Good Friday and people were sad today because Jesus the shepherd was gone.

I've wondered since then if that was kind of a mean thing to do to a little kid. Some children (Ponytails) probably would not have taken the missing sheep too well. But The Apprentice caught the idea all right. When we went to church and things were sad and serious, she "understood" why.

The scene remained a mess until Sunday morning: and then the shepherd was back in the picture, with sheep jumping all over him. We celebrated! We hurrahed! Jesus came back! The sheep were back!

And it was--I think--later that day that an older relative asked The Apprentice if an Easter Bunny had visited her. The Apprentice looked at her blankly. The relative then said kindly, "She's just too young to understand Easter."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wednesday Devotion: What happens when things get really bad?

(A note on our devotions: we will be going to a Maundy Thursday service tomorrow night, so I won't be posting one for tomorrow. Tonight's devotion will also be short because we have family members who have to go out.)

Wednesday: What happens when things get really bad?

Opening Hymn: How Firm a Foundation

The Last Battle p. 79-80 (adapted)
It was roughly the shape of a man but it had the head of a bird; some bird of prey with a cruel, curved beak. It had four arms which it held high above its head, stretching them out Northward as if it wanted to snatch all Narnia in its grip.
”It seems then,” said the Unicorn, “that there is a real Tash, after all.”
“Yes,” said the Dwarf. “And this fool of an Ape, who didn’t believe in Tash, will get more than he bargained for! He called for Tash: Tash has come.”

What should they do then? In the end they all agreed that the best thing was to go and try to meet the help which Roonwit the Centaur was bringing up from Cair Paravel. Then they could all fight the Ape and the Calormenes together.

But as they went along, an eagle arrived with worse news.

The Last Battle p. 87-88
“Two sights have I seen,” said Farsight. “One was Cair Paravel filled with dead Narnians and living Calormenes.”
No one could speak.
“And the other sight, five leagues nearer than Cair Paravel, was Roonwit the Centaur lying dead with a Calormene arrow in his side.”
“So,” said the King, after a long silence, “Narnia is no more.”

Scripture reading: Matthew 26: 42-46

"Sons of labor, pray to Jesus;
Oh, how Jesus prayed for you!
In the moonlight, on the mountain,
Where the shimmering olives grew…"

Matthew 26:47-56

"Sons of labor, go to Jesus,
In your sorrow, shame and loss;
He is nearest, you are dearest,
When you bravely bear His cross.
Go to Him, Who died to save you,
And is still the sinner’s Friend;
And the great love, which forgave you,
Will forgive you to the end."
(From “Sons of Labor, Dear to Jesus,” by Samuel R. Hole)

Closing prayer.

Tuesday Devotions: When people just won't listen

Opening: King Tirian is so desperate for help that he calls out to Aslan, and in answer, Jill and Eustace, the children from The Silver Chair, arrive in Narnia to help him. After the three of them sort out who’s who and what’s up, they disguise themselves as Calormenes and rescue the stupid donkey who was being forced to play Aslan. They meet a group of dwarfs and try to show them that Puzzle, the donkey, really isn't Aslan at all.

Hymn: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

Read The Last Battle pages 70-71 (adapted):
“Don’t they understand?” said Jill impatiently. “What’s wrong with all you Dwarfs? Don’t you hear what the King says? It’s all over. The Ape isn’t going to rule Narnia any longer. Everyone can go back to ordinary life. You can have fun again. Aren’t you glad?”
After a pause of nearly a minute a not-very-nice-looking Dwarf with hair and beard as black as soot said: “And who might you be, Missie?”
“I’m Jill,” she said. “The same Jill who rescued King Rilian from the enchantment—and this is Eustace who did it too—and we’ve come back from another world after hundreds of years. Aslan sent us.”
“Well,” said the Black Dwarf, “I’ve heard as much about Aslan as I want to for the rest of my life. We’ve been fooled once and we’re not going to be fooled again. We’re going to look after ourselves from now on and touch our caps to nobody. See?”

How can you make somebody listen when they don’t want to believe?

Loud rock music blasts from the headphones, and George wakes up and nearly panics when he sees Marty.
“Who--who are you?” he gasps.
“My name is Darth Vader [insert heavy breathing] I‘m from the Planet Vulcan,” Marty announces, holding his hand up in a Vulcan salute.
In the next scene, George’s clothes and hair are disheveled, and he’s gasping. Marty asks him where he was. “You weren’t at school today.”
“Last night, Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan came down and said he’d melt my brains if I didn’t ask Lorraine to the dance,” George tells him.
“Okay, but let’s keep all of this brain-melting stuff to ourselves, okay?” Marty asks." [From this Michael J. Fox website]

Short discussion--can you convince someone of something when they've decided they don't want to believe you?

Read The Last Battle pp. 73-74 (adapted)
(They finally give up trying to get the dwarfs to believe.)
Tirian had felt quite sure that the Dwarfs would rally to his side the moment he showed them how they had been deceived. And then next night he would have led them to Stable Hill and shown Puzzle to all the creatures, and everyone would have turned against the Ape….But now, it seemed, he could count on nothing. How many other Narnians might turn the same way as the Dwarfs?
“Somebody’s coming after us, I think,” said Puzzle suddenly.
They stopped and listened. Sure enough, there was a thump-thump of small feet behind them.
“Who goes there!” shouted the King.
“Only me, Sire,” came a voice. [Crayons read Poggin's part for us.] “Me, Poggin the Dwarf. I’ve only just managed to get away from the others. I’m on your side, Sire; and on Aslan’s. If you can put a Dwarfish sword in my fist, I’d gladly strike a blow on the right side before all’s done.”

A quote found on InterVarsity.org: “Jesus tells the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. And he concludes each story with a statement about the intensity of God's feelings for those who have been lost: "Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. " "... there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:7,10,32). What arouses joy in the heart of God is every person who returns to God's family. Searching for the lost, and lavishing his love and grace on the repentant, is at the core of God's character.”

Closing Hymn: Come, Let Us Sing of a Wonderful Love

Come, let us sing of a wonderful love,
Tender and true, tender and true,
Out of the heart of the Father above,
Streaming to me and to you:
Wonderful love, wonderful love,
Dwells in the heart of the Father above.

Jesus the Saviour this gospel to tell
Joyfully came, joyfully came,
Came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,
Sharing their sorrow and shame:
Seeking the lost, seeking the lost,
Saving, redeeming at measureless cost.

Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet;
Why do they roam? why do they roam?
Love only waits to forgive and forget;
Home, weary wanderers, home!
Wonderful love, wonderful love,
Dwells in the heart of the Father above.

Come to my heart, O thou wonderful Love!
Come and abide, come and abide,
Lifting my life till it rises above
Envy and falsehood and pride:
Seeking to be, seeking to be,
Lowly and humble, a learner of thee.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Good Friday (reposted from last year)

After an emergency or a crisis, there is always the time when you come back and look around at the place that you left in such a hurry.

About ten years ago, my grandmother got very sick and was rushed to the hospital. I went to my parents’ house and found a crockpot full of chili sitting on the counter that had been there since suppertime the night before. You don’t always stop to clean things up when you’re in a hurry.

I was wondering who cleaned up after the last supper. Were some of the disciples intending to come back after their after-dinner walk with Jesus? Then everything was interrupted. Was it hours later, even the next day, that anyone came back into that upstairs room where Jesus had washed their feet and talked about the bread and the cup?

What did they see? Was there maybe the bowl and a still-damp towel, sitting on the floor? Maybe there was a cup that someone had knocked over, with the wine spilling out. Maybe some of the bread was left on the plate, leftovers broken in pieces. Maybe there were candles burned down to stubs, or empty oil lamps that they had used to light the room during their last meal with Jesus. Had they expected to come back to a room that felt so empty and yet that held so many things that reminded them of their Lord?

What did they do with the things? Did someone get busy then and wash the dishes? Did they pack everything away as it was, not wanting to have to deal with such things at such a time? Did they call some women in and ask them to wipe everything up?

Or did someone else come in and clear everything away, not knowing anything about what had happened there that night? Did the disciples come back to a room that was empty, cleaned out? Maybe the whole thing seemed like a dream that had never happened.

What do you think?

Monday, April 02, 2007

From our Holy Week devotions

We are using some themes from C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle as part of our Holy Week devotions--mostly about God and truth, how you know what the truth is, and how you know what God is. Tonight we followed a "script" I wrote ahead of time, with readings from The Last Battle, Carolyn Nystrom's book Who Is God?, and Scriptures. I've left our names out of this version.

Scriptures are from the English Standard Version, and most of them were suggested in Who is God?

--------------------------------------------------------------

Opening reading:
"And then," said the King, "the Horse said it was by Aslan's orders. The Rat said the same. They all say Aslan is here. How if it were true?"
"But, Sire, how could Aslan be commanding such dreadful things?"
"He is not a tame lion," said Tirian. "How should we know what he would do?....Would it not be better to be dead than to have this horrible fear that Aslan has come and is not like the Aslan we have believed in and longed for?"
The Last Battle, pages 27-29

Hymn: When I Survey, verses 1 & 2

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

"How do you know what God is like? How do you know that what Jesus said about God is true? How do you know that what anybody says about God is true?"

"Who is God?"

Read Who Is God?, pages 2-5 (Excerpt: "But how can I know God? I have never seen Him or touched Him, and I never heard Him speak. God is so wise and wonderful that we cannot know everything about Him....He chose certain people to write a book about Him.")

What does Paul say? Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33-36)

Read Who Is God?, pages 6-9 (Excerpt: "What does God look like? The Bible says that no one has seen God because He is a spirit....But Jesus is God, and He prayed to His Father to give the Holy Spirit.")

What does John say? And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14: 16, 26)

Read Who Is God?, pages 10, 11 (Excerpt: "I will live for a while, then I will die. Everyone does. Does God? No. God is the only person who never began and never will end.")

What does Malachi say? For I the Lord do not change.... (Malachi 3:6)

Read Who Is God?, pages 26, 27 (Excerpt: "I know lots of nice people. But none of them is good all the time. Even my best friend lied....Is God like that? No, God is good all the way through.")

What do the Psalms say? For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

Read Who Is God, pages 28-30 (Excerpt: "When I think of all these truths about God, I can almost feel my head stretching. But the Bible says something else about God. It says God loves His people. He calls them 'friends.'")

Read The Last Battle, pages 36-37
Up till now the King and Jewel had said nothing....[but now] he could bear it no longer.
"Ape," he cried with a great voice, "you lie damnably. You lie like a Calormene. You lie like an ape...." But before he could say another word two Calormenes struck him in the mouth with all their force....the Ape squealed in rage and terror.
"Take him away. Take him away. Take him where he cannot hear us, nor we hear him. There tie him to a tree. I will--I mean, Aslan will--do justice on him later."

John 11:47-48, 53
47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.".... 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

Hymn—When I Survey (remaining verses)

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Closing Prayer.

Back to earth

OK, I think I'm back from having my head in the conference clouds.

Highlights of Saturday: Mostly talking to so many people! Handing out Ambleside Online brochures with Coffeemamma and some other volunteers; and getting together with a whole lot of old and new friends who probably don't want their names used here. I was going to go to Heather Penner's astronomy workshop but it was full (fire rules won't let us cram people in!), and my second choice was full, and they all seemed to be full...so I sat down in the hall with a coffee and a couple of Timbits, and along came someone I knew from IVCF in Toronto a LOT of years ago and hadn't seen since then! I'm thankful for fire rules!

And I was looking forward to meeting up again with Ann of Holy Experience (and her very nice husband); seeing an old friend's brand-new baby; tracking down people from the Canadian Homeschoolers' Board (I just looked for yellow happy-face labels); and did I mention just a little bit of shopping? Not much this year--I already have most of what we'll need for the fall, but there were a few things I wanted for gifts.

The workshop went so fast (and I was really trying to watch the time, but it still got away from me!) that the thrift-shop part had to get squeezed in at the end. I had a few samples of what I found with me, but I would have loved to have done it a bit differently--just taken the entire box of stuff in and said, "Here's what I got, let's see what we have!" Show, don't tell? But I still had that part of my brain that thought I had better do some explaining first...it's hard to balance those things out. I hope it still made sense.

And it was the end of the day, everybody's baby had had enough (there were a lot of babies there!), and people were itching to go get in that last bit of shopping and head home--no way we could go overtime. So I was glad that I had already posted a lot of what I didn't get to say; if you're visiting and looking for "the rest of it," welcome.