Training in Righteousness
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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.


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."



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 . . .

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.



I liked this

I have long been of the opinion that philosophy is everybody's business - but not in order to get more information about the world, our society, and ourselves. For that purpose, it would be better to turn to the natural and the social sciences and to history. It is in another way that philosophy is useful - to help us to understand things we already know, understand them better than we now understand them. That is why I think everyone should learn how to think philosophically. ~ Mortimer Adler.

I've never felt that I was good at thinking philosopically.  I have thought about things and wondered, but I don't know as if my thought could be considered "philosophical."  I started reading a book by Adler called Aristotle for Everyone.  I guess it could be considered the Aristotle for Dummies.

I like the subtitle to this book: "Difficult Thought Made Easy."  As I have plodded through John Frame's book The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, I have seen that as I wrestle through difficult concepts, I often fail to think through things in the most efficient way.  Never too late to learn better how to think.



THE best Christmas cookie ever!

I am not a true, die-hard sweet eater.  Take for example the dessert I had for our family Christmas last Sunday:  pumpkin torte.  I love pumpkin.  But this has cream cheese and whipped cream, and it was sweet.  I only ate one small piece.  My boys ate it for breakfast the next morning.  When there are parties for ladies at church, the tables are generally filled with all kinds of sweet goodies.  I want to know where the french fries and potato chips are.

Because of my lack of sweet toothiness, I don't really go in much for Christmas baking myself.  I bake, but I don't eat as much of it as my family.  I do, however, love cinnamon, and this recipe is perfect for someone like me who doesn't really crave chocolate, gooey, rich treats.  This is the one family tradition that my kids will never let me skip on.


Blend with a pastry blender:

1 cup margarine

2 cups flour

Add to the mixture, one egg yolk and 3/4 cup sour cream.  Mix together well and shape into three balls.  Refrigerate for about an hour or more.


3/4 c white sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 c chopped walnuts (optional)

After dough has chilled, roll out on a floured surface, making the circle approximately 7-8 inches in diameter.  Spread 1/4 cup of the sugar/cinnamon mixture over the surface.  With a knife, cut the dough into 16 equal wedges.  Do this by cutting across the diameter to divide in half, then in four, then eight, and so on.  Roll each wedge into a little crescent-looking roll, beginning at outer edge of the circle.  Bake on a cookie sheet for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

They are wonderful.  They just melt in your mouth.  I already have some in the freezer, and today, I must make more.  Also on the baking agenda, Chocolate Nut Fingers.