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Saturday
Jan022010

Great Resource

The Gospel Coalition has a blog by D.A. Carson.  It's the daily readings from Carson's volumes, For the Love of God.  These volumes take the reader through the bible in a year using the M'Cheyne bible reading plan, and Carson provides commentary on one of the four readings for that day.  There are two volumes, so there is a lot of commentary.  On January 2, volume 1, the commentary is with regard to Genesis 2.  On January 2, in volume 2, the commentary deals with Ezra 2.  From what I saw at the Gospel Coalition, today's excerpt is from volume 1.  I have both volumes of these devotionals, and I can tell you that they are excellent. 

If you don't have them, and don't mind reading them online, it looks as if you can read them at the Gospel Coalition.  If you're like me, and need to have the paper in your hands, I believe there is a link to purchase the volumes. 

Friday
Jan012010

A home is more than a building

I recently read an article by Carolyn Mahaney.  Someone had it linked; forgive me for not remembering who it was.  I downloaded the pdf file and forget who pointed it out to me.  I found the original source at the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

The article is called "Homemaking Internship."  Mrs. Mahaney very wisely points out that while many women train for years in order to participate in various careers and vocations, often their training in being a homemaker is lacking.  Homemaking is indeed about more than cleaning house.  She says this:


Homemaking requires an extremely diverse array of skills—everything from management abilities, to knowledge of health and nutrition, to interior decorating capabilities, to childhood development expertise. If you are to become an effective homemaker, then you must study these subjects and many more.

I wholeheartedly concur with this.  Of course, some of us will have varying skill levels.  I don't have a lot of interior decorating capabilities, and it doesn't bother me a great deal, because while I like a clean and pleasant home, a lot of decorating can be quite expensive.  I like to have my rooms painted nicely, and have comfortable furniture, but for me, decorating consists of having things around me that mean something to me.  I like things to look attractive, but I just don't think I need to spend inordinate amounts of time pondering over the tasks.  Sure, re-decorate, and then get back to regular life.  I know some women who live to decorate; that is not me.  We live on one income, and find we work better to having a simple, modest home.  Extra funds are better spent for us on other things.

I also want to suggest that a home is more than a structural building, and I think homemaking involves more than the aesthetic or the domestic.  Part of homemaking is also building a home of faith, and that is an important task for a mother.  Mahaney does indeed point that out in the article.  A mother should be able to teach her children the basics of the faith in the home.  That requires knowing the basics herself.

I also think that part of creating a warm and inviting home environment is providing a place that feeds the mind.  A woman may give birth to children who are intellectual just as easily as she may give birth to a child who is creative.  Food is important, and so are clean clothes and a tidy home, but if you have children with hungry minds, (as mine have), then I think part of the "homemaking" is providing a place for feeding that hungry mind.  Not everyone is bookish and academic, and how much of that is undertaken will vary from family to family, just as how decorating will vary from family to family.  I don't think we should assume that every woman is Martha Stewart, and I don't think we need to expect every woman to be an academic.  I don't think, though, that we should assume that academic pursuits do not form part of the home.  The home may look attractive due its decor, but I think it can be just as inviting by being a place where stimulating conversation occurs.  It's a place also where a mother can help widen her daughter's world through literature and history and deep thinking.  Education, properly undertaken, should encourage humility, as we see how small we humans really are.  Part of homemaking "internship," I think, ought to involve this element of the mind.

I think we are mistaken if we think this kind of academic/intellectual training will take place solely in the classroom.   And I don't think academic pursuits should be divorced from the home.  We should be careful, especially since public education (and some private educateion) does not teach a Christian worldview.  We may want to help our daughters embrace this worldview in the home.

A woman needs to learn and teach hospitality; I think this hospitality can extend beyond providing a comfy room and tasty food.  Part of it is providing an environment for interaction with other people, whether that be playing a fun game, or perhaps talking about a book.  Christians must be thinkers, and I think this can be one way of teaching that.

 As I said, I wholeheartedly agree with Mahaney's article.  I think girls should learn domestic pursuits just as much as other pursuits, but let's not forget the mind, too.

Friday
Jan012010

To start the new year off right...

.... I went to bed before midnight.

While the young 'uns were out making merry with friends, hubby and I stayed in and ate Chinese food and generally were couch potatoes.  I worked on my knitting, and hubby number crunched.  Perfect.

I headed to bed to curl up with my kitty and finally had a restful sleep when the kids were all safely installed in their beds by 1:00.  I am definitely a Mother Bear, because I don't sleep soundly until they're all home.  They were only around the corner at our pastor's house, where his daughter was hosting a party.  But I was still happy when I knew we were all here.

I was up at my usual time, between 5:45 and 6:00.  I visited with my kitty who then went out for his morning hunt (he arrived at my back door last Tuesday with a bird in his mouth, and a look that clearly said, "Look, Mommy, see what I have!"  I shooed him away from the door.  I don't want to see the evidence of  his nature, than you very much), and I made my coffee.  I read something really good in the book Heart Aflame, which is a year-long daily devotional using Calvin's commentaries on the Psalms.  I plan on including the Sunday excerpts every week this year.  For much of last year, I posted things from The Valley of Vision, but I thought this book looked promising.  This morning, Calvin comments on Psalm 1:1-2:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law  of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He says this with regard to the principle of "delighting" in the law of the Lord:

It is not left to every man to frame a system of religion according to his own judgment, but the standard of godliness is to be taken from the Word of God.

Simple, but profound.

After reading and prayer and coffee, I put on my wooly socks and other warm apparel and went out for a walk.  It was not quite light yet, and there were some soft flakes of snow fluttering around; enough that I felt them land on my nose and cheeks, and saw them make droplets on my glasses.  But it was not really cold.  As I walked along down the streets, I was conscious that the neighbourhood was asleep.  An odd car passed me every now and then.  When I came to the hill where I like to walk, one that has a beautiful canopy of leaves in the summer, but is now rather empty, the light was beginning to dawn more fully, and I could see that the sky was white.  We're in for some snow.  It was so very still.  I was listening to music, and it was helping me to keep my pace of walking. 

As I walked, I thought about how much I love the change of seasons.  As I walked up that hill, I remembered a morning back in the summer when I had made that same walk and had confronted glorious golden beams of morning sun coming down and lighting up the damp grass.  Now, it was white and cold.  In the fall, I had made a similar trek up that hill as the leaves blew around my feet.  I feel so blessed to live in a climate where the season change so visibly.  I certainly don't like the ice storms we get here, and frankly, March and April in southern Ontario are probably my least favourite months, but overall, I like the variety.

It was just a great moment of the day.  It was nice to begin this day and this year so aware of God's handiwork, first in His Word and then in His creation, and then coming home to a sleeping house, where His gift of my family rests.  Oh, and the cat had arrived home from his trek out into the neighbourhood, too, waiting to be fed.  He didn't have a bird this time, thankfully.

If I had to offer one encouragement to anyone today it wold be this:  may this be a year where you see God in the the ordinary, daily, simple pleasures of life.

Wednesday
Dec302009

All of Scripture...

In The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, I am reading about the uses of Scripture.  In this discussion, Frame begins by talking about the varieties of biblical language; what makes Scripture authoritative?  Is it the propositions which provide the authority?  He points out that Scripture contains many forms of language other than propositions, such as command, question, exclamation, promise, vow, threat, and curse.  He says this:

All of  Scripture is propositional in that it seeks to convey to us the truth of God.  But all Scripture is also command; it aims to change our behavior in every aspect of life.  And all of Scripture is question, promise, and exclamation (shout of joy).

I really like how Frame exposes the many nuances of Scripture.  I like that: "All Scripture is question, promise, and exclamation."

 

Tuesday
Dec292009

Sometimes, the UN really is annoying

I read a story, courtesy of Cranach, regarding a couple from Sweden, whose child was taken from their custody.  The reason?  Because he is homeschooled, and the powers that be determined that homeschooling is an inappropriate way to raise a child.

A Christian home schooling family could permanently lose custody of their only child simply because they home-school, reports LifeSiteNews.com. . . .

Swedish authorities forcibly removed Dominic Johansson from his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, in June of last year from a plane they had boarded to move to Annie’s home country of India. The officials did not have a warrant nor have they charged the Johanssons with any crime. The officials seized the child because they believe home schooling is an inappropriate way to raise a child and insist the government should raise Dominic instead.

“It’s one of the most disgraceful abuses of power we have ever witnessed,” said HSLDA [Homeschool Legal Defense Association] attorney Mike Donnelly. “The Swedish government says it is exercising its authority under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in their unnecessary break up of this family. In addition, the Swedish Parliament is considering an essential ban on home schooling. We have heard that other home-schooling families in Sweden are having more difficulty with local officials. We fear that all home-schooling families in that country are at risk.”

Swedish social services initially limited visitation to the child to two hours per week but now have curtailed that to one hour every fifth week and no visit at all for Christmas because the social workers will be on vacation.

On Dec. 17, a Swedish court ruled in Johansson v. Gotland Social Services that the government was within its rights to seize the child. They cited the fact that Dominic had not been vaccinated as a reason to remove him permanently from his parents and also claimed that home-schoolers do not perform well academically and are not well socialized.

I can't get my mind around the fact that the rights of the child are invoked in a case where the child is taken out of the loving nurture of the family.  It boggles my thinking that anyone believes that "the state" ought to raise our children.  I can't imagine what the child is going through, being away from his parents.  Children definitely have the right to protection, but it seems to me that this is less about the rights of the child than it is about the rights of the state to spread its dogma.  The same people who would think they are protecting this child would probably be the same people who would deny a fetus its right to be born and live.