Thursday, July 10, 2014

Saulthern Comfort- I Samuel 28

The Bible is just amazing. And the power it has to speak into our lives daily is beyond. Just beyond. I am literally brought to tears today with the story of Saul, the cautionary tale, and the relevance to my world, and my life.

Saul. He was appointed and anointed-by God. But for some time, he has been operating out of the will of God. He has gotten rid of anyone in his life that would bring conviction. However in doing so, he has also eliminated his connection to God and therefore His peace. He is without both, and desperate for answers and comfort.

In this chapter we are reminded that Samuel is dead and buried. Samuel was likely Saul's last connection to what was right and noble and true. When he died, Saul had completely lost his way.

6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

This verse gave me chills. What a terrifying place to be. He had cut himself off from anything godly, and had gotten just what he wanted. Silence.

Now, in total despair and confusion, Saul  was left to his own devices. So what did he do? He went back to the sin he knew.

When he was following God, Saul had established accountability. He had Samuel to keep him in check. And scripture tells us this:

And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.

Back when Saul was following God he had established safe guards in his life. He had actually banished all fortune tellers, mediums and the like because they had no place in a godly kingdom.
But that was then. And this is now. He was anxiety ridden and desperate for answers. So he sought out a fortune teller. But notice the word used in this passage.
Familiar.

We all have things that are "familiar" to us, things that comfort. Comfort food. Comfort tv. Comfort conversation. Southern Comfort. You get the drift. When things get stressful, when our brain is in over drive, where do you turn for comfort?

Saul sought the things of this world to bring him comfort. And the enemy was ready and waiting to take advantage of this exact moment.

Saul goes to a "fortune teller" to ask for advice. But he goes in disguise because no medium would admit to being just that to the king that expelled all mediums from the land. Not knowing with whom she is talking, she agrees to conjure up the Spirit of Samuel so Saul can ask him some questions about what to do now. This medium then conjures up a spirit disguised as Samuel. We know this is not really Samuel. Matthew Henry had this to say. And it just blew my mind.

We have here the conference between Saul and Satan. Saul came in disguise (1 Sam. 28:8), but Satan soon discovered him, 1 Sam. 28:12. Satan comes in disguise, in the disguise of Samuel’s mantle, and Saul cannot discover him. Such is the disadvantage we labour under, in wrestling with the rulers of the darkness of this world, that they know us, while we are ignorant of their wiles and devices. 
 
You might need to read that again. This part:

Such is the disadvantage we labour under, in wrestling with the rulers of the darkness of this world, that they know us, while we are ignorant of their wiles and devices.

The devil's tricks are not new. We should expect them. But we are distracted. And we forget that this fight is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness. And instead of fighting Satan, we fight each other. But I digress.

How do we know it's a "fake" Samuel?
Matthew Henry had some more great insight!

Had it been the true Samuel, when Saul desired to be told what he should do he would have told him to repent and make his peace with God, and recall David from his banishment, and would then have told him that he might hope in this way to find mercy with God; but, instead of that, he represents his case as helpless and hopeless, serving him as he did Judas, to whom he was first a tempter and then a tormentor, persuading him first to sell his master and then to hang himself.

This is Satan's typical technique. His calling card. He lures you into sin, into anxiety, into deception, and then, when you give in, he humiliates you, and tells you that you are hopeless and worthless.

Saul sought comfort from that which was familiar. And in the end, it brought nothing but despair.

But God.

Saul did not have to have this ending. Maybe the reason that he heard nothing from God was because he already knew what he was supposed to do, yet he refused to do it. I once heard a pastor say that when you feel that God has become silent, think back to the last thing He told you to do, and do it. Saul was not the only one who felt the Lord was quiet, however. This is one of my favorite Psalms.



Psalms 13
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.




BUT........Here is the difference. Here is the response we need:



5 But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

I pray that we would seek God, and that even when He seems "silent," I pray that instead of going to what seems "familiar" for comfort, that we would trust in His mercy, That our hearts would rejoice in His Salvation. That we would sing to the Lord. Because He Has Dealt Bountifully With Us! Amen!!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Thirsty? Psalm 63

Psalm 63
 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

This is such a powerful realization. I believe that this awareness is a key reason why David was God's choice for king. Above all, he recognized his thirst for God. We all have this thirst. Eternity is written on our hearts. But we try to quench that thirst with the things of the world. And they sustain. For a moment. But it doesn't last, and not only is the initial thirst magnified, but now we add in the frustration that comes from failing to fill that need. If we go to God first, what refreshment we will feel. Over and over David acknowledges His thirst is for God.We would save so much disappointment if we went to God first to fill our needs. Not to a spouse, a family member, a friend, a social network, and shopping trip, a refrigerator, a drink. God. Early we should seek Him because it is HIM for which our souls thirst.



2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Approach God with expectations of seeing His power and His glory because we have already, so many times.

3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

Do we believe this? His lovingkindness, better than life? The only response will be praise.
Praise.
 Lifting our hands in His name.


5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
The last devo blog was on the power of the name of Jesus. And as is the norm, that devo was mostly for me. But I had no idea how much. I have been so anxious these last few weeks. Anxiety is real. You can tell yourself that your problem does not compare to "real" problems. You can remind yourself that it will be over soon. But in those moments, trying to sleep, trying to function, trying to focus, what helped me? What word kept escaping my lips in a cry for help?
Jesus. One word. Meditating. He was my help, and I will rejoice!

8 My soul followeth hard after thee: 
 
So that's where that song came from!

Thy right hand upholdeth me.

Today I am thankful for God's mighty hand that upholds me. I am thankful that His well of living water does not run dry. I am thankful that while I may be surrounded by noise and distraction, His voice breaks through, and He responds with power when I call out His name. Fill yourself with the Living word of God. Quench your thirst in His presence with a position of prayer. And you will see His glory and His power! Amen!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

You're so vain.....you probably think this book is about you!


I blog, which means I also read blogs. Information is addicting. Thankfully I am a speed reader! In reading so many blogs, I have noticed that blog topics seem to come in waves. And one of the latest that I have seen, is a plethora of bloggers letting me know that those of us that believe God's word can be applied to our lives are narcissistic. To which I brilliantly rebut with a

Psh. No way!

But lucky for you and me, just this weekend, as God would have it, I heard a sermon from a man way more learned than I, with a much better rebuttal than that! He gave proof! My favorite :)

The teacher, Warren Gage, was talking about the account in Acts 8 when Phillip, in the middle of a major revival, is led by an angel of the Lord out to the wilderness, a desert road, to essentially preach the gospel to one man, an Ethiopian eunuch. I have heard this story before. You may have too. But the details that he gave next were so telling and so powerful.
I can’t stop thinking about it.

For starters, the Eunich was saved along a road. But he is not the only one to be saved along a road.
There were two others. Saul on the road to Damascus, and Cornelius at Caesarea. God was making a point to send out His gospel message into the whole world through these three men.
How do these three men connect to the whole human race? Well remember that Noah had three sons: Ham, Shem, and Japheth from whom would descend all of humanity.  Now when you look at these three men a little bit more closely you see that the Ethiopian eunuch was a descendant of
Ham, Saul was a descendant of Shem, and Cornelius was a descendant of Japheth. Sit on that for a minute.  Our sovereign Lord is so deliberate and intentional. This was such a neat discovery for me.

So let's get back to the eunuch. While riding home to Ethiopia in a chariot, he was reading Isaiah 53 from the ancient scrolls. But he didn’t understand it. Enter Phillip. Being sent by an angel to be at this place at the exact right time, Phillip hopped up in the chariot to explain it to him.
This is what he was reading:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter:
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth.
In humiliation his judgment was taken away:
Who will relate his generation?
For his life is removed from the earth."

"The eunuch answered Phillip and said, “Please tell me of whom does this prophet
say this?” .....Then, beginning from this scripture Phillip preached Jesus to him!"

Ok, I could just about go have church now. I just love those words.

"From this scripture Phillip preached Jesus to him"!

So Phillip tells us and the eunuch who it was written about, but the question remains, who do you think it was written to? (I know I just ended two sentences with prepositions. It's going to be ok.)
I think you know what I think, but let's keep going because that is not even the best part!


Upon hearing the gospel, the Ethiopian Eunuch believed with all of his heart, confessed Jesus as
the Son of God, and was baptized. Then, in an instant, Phillip was snatched away. Gone. Just like that. Some kind of star trek number. But Luke, the writer of Acts continues on to tell us that the Eunuch "went on his way rejoicing."


 Dr. Warren Gage encouraged us to think about how Luke knew that information. It would have happened after Phillip was gone, so how did Luke find out that the eunuch went on his way rejoicing? It could be, he suggested, one of three possibilities. One would be that Luke knew that amazing feeling that comes over you after giving your life to Jesus. Luke could have just assumed that the eunuch was bound to be rejoicing. Another possibility would be that the Holy Spirit simply revealed to Luke that the eunuch went
away rejoicing. But the third possibility Gage presented was an idea I had never thought of before. Most likely, once the eunuch was headed home again, he would pick up reading where he left off. Luke knew that portion of scripture well. He knew what the eunuch was about to read and therefore knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was going to be some serious hallelujahs coming from that chariot!


But before we look at that portion of scripture, take a minute to think about the eunuch. As a child he was stripped of his manhood. He felt such shame from his youth. He looked different  never growing any facial hair. He was a slave to the queen. Although he had prominence in his position, to the onlooker, he was broken. He would never have offspring. He was barren. He was not allowed in the temple because of this. But now. Now he was made whole in Christ Jesus. So what did that mean? The rest of Isaiah 53 continues to describe the pain and suffering that Jesus endured, but then comes Isaiah 54. Look at what he read next:

Isaiah 54
54 “Sing, O barren,
You who have not borne!
Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
You who have not labored with child!
For more are the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords,
And strengthen your stakes.
3 For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
And make the desolate cities inhabited.
4 “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,

"Enlarge your tents" means "get ready, you are going to need a big house for all of your descendants!"

Then this:

Isaiah 55
12 “For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”


And finally Isaiah 56

3 Do not let the son of the foreigner
Who has joined himself to the Lord
Speak, saying,
“The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”;
Nor let the EUNUCH say,
“Here I am, a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
5 Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
You better believe that he went away rejoicing! A man not allowed in the temple, with no hope of any descendants, now reads these amazing promises that seem to be written just for him!
And whatever became of this eunuch?
Well historical records indicate that this man, who could bear no earthly children,became the father of the Coptic Christian nation in Africa that is still around today. He is the spiritual father to millions and millions. Wow!

Yet the question remains: to whom was Isaiah written? I think that Luke knew the answer to that question.
And the eunuch knew. And my husband knows too. You see, my husband took that same passage, that was read by a Eunuch 2000 years ago and read it to an unsuspecting Jewish man the other day without
telling him where it was located. After reading the whole chapter that describes prophetically the life of our Savior in such detail,  he asked the man, “Who do you think that passage was talking about?”
The man answered without hesitation,“Jesus, of course.”
Of course.
Needless to say the room got very quiet when Paul then let him know that those words that so clearly describe Jesus, were written as a prophecy in his own Hebrew scriptures.

 Those scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and have unbelievable power. They can tell a historical account, minister to the eunuch of a great African queen, and speak to the heart of a man still today all while pointing to Jesus Christ. They are for you and me, and anyone with ears to hear. I pray that we would believe this so completely that we would share it with everyone that we meet, knowing that the power of the gospel is on every page.  God's Word changes lives, so let us read it, study it, and share it today. Amen!

Monday, June 23, 2014

His name saves- all day long! Psalms 54





54 Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your strength.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For strangers have risen up against me,
And oppressors have sought after my life;
They have not set God before them. Selah
4 Behold, God is my helper;
The Lord is with those who uphold my life.
5 He will repay my enemies for their evil.
Cut them off in Your truth.
6 I will freely sacrifice to You;
I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7 For He has delivered me out of all trouble;
And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.

The power in a name.

There is power in my name. "Mommy said!"

There is even more power in my husband's name. "Daddy said!"

Power.
In the spirit of full disclosure,however, in most circles, my name does not hold any power. Zero. But in my house, in my family, in my own little world, my name holds a lot of power.

But there is One whose name does hold the ultimate power.
 This is His world. His creation. His name.

Save me O God, by Your name.

He saves my soul. He saves my sanity. He saves my heart, my mind. All of it. I need to be saved. All day long. From myself. From my flesh. From temptation. And that is ok. Because His Name.
It saves! But why?

Because:

It is good.

An earthly name has power, but it is not always good, and a bad name holds destructive power. Yes there are certain names that you do not want to be associated with. Names can even  go from good to bad 

in.an.instant.

 Names can even hinder you, not help you.

But not God's name.

Jesus' name. It is good. Always. His name is sweet. Say it out loud.
His name is the quickest prayer. The quickest call for help. And the most powerful.

Jesus.

But:
His name also divides.
You can say God. Just don't say Jesus.
Here is a strange truth.  People will say all day long. "Why can't Christians be more like Jesus? Jesus was kind. Loving. Forgiving. Accepting."

Ok, Can I pray in Jesus name?
Um no. Definitely not.

Can I mention Jesus name?
Um no. Please don't.

His name divides.

Is he ok with this? Well, He seemed to expect it.

"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division." Luke 12:51.

Peace on earth? Not yet.

Peace in your heart? Absolutely. Peace that passes all understanding.
By His name.

Save me by Your name!

And what is the proper response?

I will freely sacrifice to You.
I will praise Your Name, for it is Good!

Call on His name today. All day. Every day. Praise His name. Praise it to all that you meet. Tell of His Good Name! And because we are saved, we will sacrifice, freely.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Don't Settle for Substitutes! Psalm 35

Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
3 Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.”

Say to my soul. "I am your salvation" 
I AM. 
He is. Whatever you need. He is.

"I am your salvation"

This is definitely my new "Print it out in about size 80 font and stick it on the wall verse."
 I need to see this all.day.long!
When I fail - He is my salvation.
When I am weak- He is my salvation.
When I feel strong- He is my salvation. 
It is just Him.

Can we talk nutrition for a second? Ever hear that when you are craving sweets, it's because your body is naturally craving fruits? But the thing is, we have perverted the body's natural desires by feeding it a super sweet substitute....refined sugar. We have conditioned our mind to interpret that natural craving into...maybe...donuts....or a chai latte! Hello.

Did you know that our spirits crave communion with the Father? Did you know that there is no way to the Father, but throught Jesus? (His words, not mine.) 
So my spirit is craving fellowship with the Creator, through His Son, my Savior, and yet when that craving hits, I have too often filled that need with convenient counterfeits. I have conditioned my mind to think...I need fellowship with......my friends! With....my facebook. With......my phone. Instead of with my God. Yes, we do need friends. Yes, facebook is fun. (I know, that's up for debate) But (confession time) if my first inclination when that pang of loneliness hits (extrovert stay at home moms, I know you hear me) is to reach for my phone, I might have a craving that has become distorted.

7. For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit,
Which they have dug without cause for my life.

The enemy is digging pits. And he knows exactly what bait to use. His goal? To substitute. To get you to fill your God given craving with a second best substitute. How? Ok, for you it may not that need for communion. For you maybe it is love. We all have that need to feel loved. It was implanted by God so that we would draw close to Him. But when we feel that need for love, where do you turn?
 Or what about approval? Validation? Defense? 
When someone wrongs you, do you take it to Jesus? Do you cry out like David, "Stop those who pursue me. Fight those that fight against me." Or do you pick up that phone as fast as you can so that someone can know how wronged you have been?


9. And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord;
It shall rejoice in His salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“Lord, who is like You,
Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him,
Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”

Where do our souls find joy? In the Lord. In the Lord. In the Lord! JoyFULL. Then we are full. We are free to pour out that joy, that love, on others.

I have not felt that full lately. But I have substituted. I know better. But how good is Our God to remind us? And I will ask Him, with David, "Say to my soul, "I am your salvation." And I will sit. And listen. I will stop and give him the opportunity to say things to my soul. I will quiet my distractions. I will be full of Joy, and my bones will say "Lord! Who is like you!! Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him!" Because nothing is too difficult for thee. Nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.  He is greater. He will deliver. But I must choose!

And truth be told, that is sometimes the hardest part. Because the couch is comfortable. Friends are familiar. Distractions distract from pain...for a season. But we are missing out. Sweets are nice when they complement the meal, but when they become the main thing, we grow so weak.

Yet this we know: His grace is sufficient. And when we call, He answers. I pray that we would call on Him first, in our every moments. Whether you are about to lose it from the traffic, from the kids, from work, from family issues; or whether you are overflowing with blessings. Let us go to Him first and continually. 

Communion with God. It is everything. 
Let us pray without ceasing. All day. Talking and communing with the one that draws us to Himself.

Luke 24-
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him;

After the resurrection, Jesus was with them. He was in their midst, and yet they didn't know it. But when they broke bread, when they stopped and had communion, then their eyes were opened and they knew Him. I want to know Him. I want my eyes to be opened to see.

I have been so busy, like Martha, I have been worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and now I will chose that good part, which will not be taken away from me.


27 Let them shout for joy and be glad,
Who favor my righteous cause;
And let them say continually,
“Let the Lord be magnified,
Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
28 And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness
And of Your praise all the day long.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Top Ten Reasons Why Our Family Loves Classical Conversations

  I have been wanting to write this for a long time. The problem has been that there is just too much to say! But after back to back Practicums and Tutor Trainings, I had CC on the brain! Our community meets once a week, for 24 weeks, and we split up into groups according to age. The rest of the week the studies are done at home. So here you go :)  (Warning: there are an excessive amount of exclamation points in this blog post. But I am just excited, what can I say?)

1. Classical Conversations is God centered and Bible focused.

 Unlike having "Bible" as a subject, with Classical conversations, Bible is infused in all of the subjects. Memorizing the days of creation is a part of science. The Ten Commandments are memorized for History.The timeline of 161 events includes the historical accounts from the Bible. And to memorize a whole chapter of the Bible is par for the course. And that is just for the Foundations program. (ages 4-11)

2. CC provides much needed community and accountability.

As I have discussed before here, we all need accountability, but I really need it! And CC really provides it! My kids want to know their memory work so that when they play review games at CC, they can do well. They want to prepare their presentations because they like to share with their peers. And this holds me accountable to help them accomplish their learning goals. CC is  about working together, building relationships, and caring for each other.The truth is that I have never been part of a more eclectic group of moms and dads, each one with different strengths from which I can learn, if I choose. And whether it is hard times or blessed times, I have seen these families surround each other in a way that "They will know we are Christians by our love for one another." I am eternally thankful for all I have learned from each of these specials families.

3. Your family can actually study together.

We ran into a neighbor who asked my kids that question. You know the one.
"What are you guys learning about?"
 "Oh, never mind" he continued, "I know you are all learning different things."
To which I was able to say "No, actually, we are all studying the same information....Charlie (5 year old) tell Mr. Neighbor what are the 7 biomes of the earth.... Great! Lizzie, (11 year old) tell him about World World 2........." To which they answer, and are able to help each other if one forgets. We study in the car together, quiz each other, play CC Trivial Pursuit, or Jeopardy, and the 5 year old gets real genuine confidence because of all that he is learning right along side his 11 year old sister! Hooray! No need for trophies or yearly graduation ceremonies. They are truly accomplishing a great task and becoming intrinsically motivated because......

4.They can do it! 

 They don't memorize the info for a test. They are working to remember it for the whole year, or better yet, for life! Yes, when they study that "In World War 2 Great Britain, France and Russia, were allies, and fought Austria, Hungary, and Germany which were called the Central Powers" during week 12, they are expected to know it still at the end of the year. All these facts here:
 
The questions:
 The answers:



 But how???

5. CC makes it fun! 

That's how :) I had a friend check out Classical Conversations before I did, and she said it was boring. They just memorized facts, she said. But now I know better. They don't just memorize facts. They do "Mathercise" while they skip count perfect squares. (1,4,9,16,25....224) They do hand motions and sing while they recount the facts of the Cold War. They listen and chant along while a puppet lists the conjugations of Latin verbs. And it works beautifully. To prove my point I will ask you one question.

When did Columbus sail the ocean blue?

Everybody?

1492!
We all know this one memory fact because it rhymed! So why, oh why, did the powers that be stop there? Why didn't we institute this mnemonic device over and over again? Who knows! I just know that CC does. We have songs for just about every fact we study. In fact, just yesterday, my 11 year old was singing about what happened to George Washington in 1789 in NY, a fact she memorized 3 years ago. Dates in history people! Who in the world can remember dates? We can! That's who :)

6. The learning stages work with our developmental stages.

Ok, here is brief overview. Stay with me.

Three stages of learning:
Grammar Stage (ages 4-11), Dialectic Stage (12-13), Rhetoric Stage (14+)

The Grammar Stage (4-11) This is where we learn the basics. Parents marvel at the fact that their small children can remember the craziest things. Spoiler alert: your child's recall ability is not unique! (Sorry, it's true) God designed our brains to absorb crazy amounts of information when we are young. (Side note: this is also why it is so valuable for them to be around you most of the time when they are small) So what better time to memorize, memorize, memorize!! At CC we drill hundreds of memory facts in Science, Latin, History, English, Geography,Math and Timeline with the 4-11 year old children, and they have the capacity to remember them! All!! But we don't just memorize facts. We have weekly presentations where the children get up in front of their peers. From show and tell to biographies on presidents, these presentations prepare them to spread the gospel! No more fear of public speaking. You should see these kids after weeks and even years of practice. It would blow you away! We also have science projects and fine arts instruction. And yes, we do a lot of memory work. We are hammering those pegs in the brain, so we can reference them later and have intelligent discussions.

 Let me give you an example.
Since I love math, let's stick with that.
In the grammar stage the students memorize all kinds of geometric formulas, like the area of a circle, square, rectangle, triangle, etc. They memorize all the perfect squares, skip count the 2's up to the 15's!! And even memorize math properties like the distributive, associative, commutative, and identity properties. Why? Because you need that when you go into the..........

The Dialectic Stage: (12-13) This is the "how and why" stage. This is where we start applying, using and talking about the grammar "pegs" that we hammered in because our brain is finally ready! When I taught High School Math, I was often frustrated that the majority of the students I dealt with did not have those "pegs" in their brains that could enable them to be successful.
You have to know the area of a circle if you are going to find the volume of a cylinder. You have to know the perfect squares if you are going to simplify a radical. You have to know the math properties if you are going to work through proofs. And that was always the problem I had while teaching. The children thought they didn't understand math, but the truth was they just didn't have those fundamental pegs, those tools that they needed to make their dialectic years go more smoothly.
The other problem I noticed while teaching in the public school, was that when I taught that one, tiny section on logic in geometry, the highschoolers would regularly moan and complain during these 3 days or so to which I would throw my hands up and exclaim, "Seriously?? Teenagers don't need one tiny section on logic...They need a whole class on logic!!" And guess what the CC students study during this stage? You guessed it! Logic! A whole class on it! I only wish that this was the case everywhere. Sadly we are living in a day where we are reaping the result of millions of people that never studied logic. They have no idea how to take a statement out to its logical conclusion. But that is the topic for another post!

The Rhetoric Stage: (14+) This is where they focus on expressing and explaining beautifully all that they have learned and debated. They are taught how to express themselves. It is an art. Teenagers are longing to express themselves, but so many just have not been taught how.

7. You are learning right along with your children.

I really just love this part! You see, I don't even remember geography class! But now, I am memorizing the globe right along with my children, even more so now that I am a tutor and have become so much more involved in the material.  All home school moms will attest to the fact that teaching your children enriches your own education in such a meaningful way. But the difference with CC is that the rigorous memory work for the early stages, if you engage and work with your children, sticks with you too! I am singing about the Continental Congress, or Margaret Thatcher. I can rap out the definition of an infinitive or dance to Newton's Third law. I am not even kidding people. It is amazing. Go ahead, ask me where Timbuktu is. I am for real. And I just love it!

8. This program is so important for such a time as this!


The world we are living in is totally against this Classical Christian method. They are destroying classical education at every stage.

Destroying the Grammar Stage- instead learning the definitions that have been in place since the beginning of time, they are RE-defining our terms. Or even UN-defining them. Choice. Tolerance. Christian. These are just a few words that do not mean what they used to mean.

Destroying the Dialectic Stage- These days there is very little logic involved in decision making. There is no conversation. Believe what we say or you are an intolerant, flat earther. The end. There is no room for civil debate.

Destroying the Rhetoric Stage- There is no room for researching and expressing well your views or discussing topics. You will be fired. You will lose your business. You will receive death threats if you do not agree.

9. CC enables us to have a vision of lifelong learning for our family.

Our children are learning how to memorize. They are learning how to discover. They are learning how to learn! This is not about passing a test. This is about living life to the fullest. This is about studying together, and learning together and staying together so that we can............

10. KNOW GOD AND MAKE HIM KNOWN!!!


This is the actual mission statement for Classical Conversations, and also for our lives. It is beautiful and it is everything.

No program is perfect or without flaws. With community comes the chance for conflict. With a lot of memory work comes the need to work hard and sometimes sacrifice. But without a doubt, we are so thankful for the last four years in this program and all that God has done in our family through it, and we look forward to the years to come.

Psalms 27:4
4One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

What are your favorite things about CC? Let us know in the comments :)


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mary Poppins, Mary Magdalene, and My Mary



This morning I had a “moment.”
If you have seen “Mom's Night Out” or if you are a mom, or a woman, or a human, then likely, you know what I mean. A “moment” is when you just cannot take “it” anymore, whatever “it” is. The truth is that my life is filled with a myriad of blessings: the cutest kids on the planet, and a wonderful husband, countless memories, innumerable opportunities to speak truth into their little hearts and minds, etc. etc....
But...
All the stuff in between said mountain top experiences can be...um...really hard. Hamster wheel comes to mind whenever I think of cleaning or cooking or any of my other chores.
 I.just.don't.stop.doing them.
 But there is very little to show for it. And sometimes, sometimes, when I look at my child step on or over their belongings for the bazillionth time I just want to shout.....PICK IT UP!! PICK IT UP!!!! Because somebody has to pick it up. And I am over it. OVER IT.

Then there comes the guilt and shame because really, whose fault is it that they don't know how to pick up their belongings, clear their place, do their schoolwork, be nice, show respect, or anything else that I am responsible to teach them. Of course it is my fault. I am reaping what I have or have not sown. Right? Yes, so it is my fault. They are a mess because of me, and then I yell at them for it? Lord have mercy.

So I message a few friends, confess my moment, and pray. I resolve to ask the children for forgiveness because yelling is not nice. And move on. Moving on, in this case, literally meant moving on to the library. Oh it's so clean at the library. I am pretty sure we need to come here daily, just to be in a quiet and clean environment. Mostly quiet. 

So with all children either looking for books, or looking at them, I snuggle up on the chair with my Dianna and settle in to read Mary Poppins aloud for a bit to her. It is such a wonderful treat to read to the children. I love it more than ice cream. It feels so indulgent. Sitting. Not multitasking. Not folding laundry. Not listening to her read while I do dishes. Just her head on my shoulder, our eyes on the page, my voice in her ears. I need to do this more. And the story. It's so good! Way better than Disneys! So clever, and imaginative! I love it. Babies talking to birds, and the things they said!

And then I came to this page:

All day long Mary Poppins had been in a hurry, and when she was in a hurry she was always cross.  Everything Jane did was bad, everything Michael did was worse.  She even snapped at the Twins.  
Jane and Michael kept out of her way as much as possible, for they knew that there were times when it was better not to be seen or heard by Mary Poppins.
  "I wish we were invisible," said Michael, when Mary Poppins had told him that the very sight of him was more than any self-respecting person could be expected to stand. 
 "We shall be, " said Jane, "if we go behind the sofa.  We can count the money in our money-boxes, and she may be better after she's had her supper."

And somehow, I felt better. Even Mary Poppins, who we all know is practically perfect in every way, had her moments! Even as I am typing this, I had to stop, and close my eyes, and just feel God's love for me. 
He did that for me. Somehow, that page was there, in this moment I needed it. 
It was all so “Truman Show.” 
And I am undone. Which is actually perfect.

So I kneel at his feet, and like Mary Magdalene, I break my alabaster box. I pour out all of my aspirations, all of my plans for the future, everything I think holds any worth, and I pour it on His feet. His feet. Because that is all my “good plans” are worth. Cleaning His feet. And once I realize that my good works don't define me, I also realize that my sins do not define me or for that matter, my children.

Yesterday we had to take a trip to the doctor. My littlest has trouble breathing occasionally, and this was one of those occasions. After some medical intervention, he was feeling much better, almost his normal self by the end of the day. And I was relieved. But his sister, my Mary, had a heavy heart.
 “I gave him that cough mommy,” she confessed sadly.
“You did???” I asked surprised. “Did you put it in your hands and give it to him? Like a gift?”
“No,” she laughed.
“Mary,” I explained. “You didn't give it to him on purpose. You are sick, and sometimes those around us get sick, but you didn't mean for it to happen. It's not your fault.”

And it all starts coming together. I am not perfect. Not by a long shot. And yet God still chose me to be the mom of these kids, wife to this man, and daughter, and sister, and friend. His grace. It is sufficient. He tells me that. I want to believe Him. I will not ever be perfect. He knew this. But He chose. Me. And it brings me to my knees. Like Mary Magdalene, she knew. She got it. Her sins were so many, but she knew she was loved. And His kindness leads us to repentance. I fall at his feet. And I know, that although I have this sin condition, and it is contagious, I am walking with Christ to be sanctified. And He is enough. He is enough for my children, with or without me. He is the author and finisher of their faith. He is. Not me. So I take my children to the Great Physician. I read to them the prescriptions for life's healing, His Holy Word.  I live a life of confessing and repenting. And He heals them. He heals us. He heals them of the germs that I have given them, and some they have picked up from others. I relinquish control and know now that my job was never to make them or me perfect. My job is to lead them to the Perfect One. And that I know I can do.



 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 
2 Corinthians 12:9

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.
James 5:16