Wednesday, December 31, 2008

52 Books in 52 Weeks

I've decided to accept a challenge that was generated on a homeschooling message board that I frequent: to read (on average) one book per week in 2009. My reading will include any book that catches my eye for a given week (i.e., it won't necessarily be a great intellectual work :-)). I might also include any book on tape (or CD) that I listen to since I've got a couple lined up for the next month or so.

I'll post each Wednesday the book that I intend to read for the following week.

My first week's reading will be The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. This is a book I'll be discussing with Zachary and Ryan as part of their literature readings in Tapestry of Grace.

Anyone care to join the challenge with me?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Silent Night

by Joseph Mohr

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Silent night, holy night
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Luke 2:1-14 (New King James Version)

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Poetry

by Edgar A. Guest

I wonder on that Christmas night
How many passers-by
Beheld that strange and lustrous light
In Bethlehem’s patch of sky?
We know how the shepherds chanced to be
Unto the stable sent,
But did that star some rich man see
And wonder what it meant?

I wonder is it still the same?
Are we beyond His reach?
Have we, pursuing wealth and fame,
Grown deaf to gentler speech?
Should such a strange thing come to be
And angel choirs appear
Would only watchful shepherds see
And thoughtful shepherds hear?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christ is Born

by John Alexander Chapman

Christus natus est, the Cock
Croweth to the lazy clock.
Christus natus est, he crows;
Christus and the Raven knows,
And the Lambs, as you shall hear.
Loudly croweth Chanticleer,
With an eager, piercing sound,
To the Beasts that lie around;
And they question and reply,
While the Sun mounts up the sky.
Quando? Quando? and again
That's thq Duck who's asking when?
In hac node, the Raven croaks
From the old snow-laden oaks,
Quando? Quando? from beyond
The willows by the frozen pond.
In hac nocte, croaks the Raven
From its bare winter's haven.
Ufa? Ubi? the Bull lows, .
Standing black against the snows;
And the Lambs: In Bethlehem:
It was God who told it them.

Source: Anne Thaxter Eaton, ed., Welcome Christmas! A Garland Of Poems. New York: The Viking Press, 1955.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Eve

by Frances Frost

The woods were still and the snow was deep,

But there was no creature who could sleep.

The fox and the vixen ran together

Silently through the starry weather,

The buck and the doe and the fawn came drifting

Into the clearing. The rabbit, lifting

His ears, shook white from the twigs he brushed;

The chattering squirrel for once was hushed

As he sat with his paws against his breast,

And the bobcat crouched on the mountain crest.

Safe in the fold the silver sheep

Told the young lambs not to leap.

In the shadowy stable the horses stood

Hearing the quietness in the wood,

And the cattle sighed in the fragrant barn,

Waiting the instant of the morn.

The stars stood at midnight, and tame or wild,

All creatures knelt to worship the Child.

Source: Anne Thaxter Eaton, ed., Welcome Christmas! A Garland Of Poems. New York: The Viking Press, 1955.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Christmas Carol

Alternate Title: In the Bleak Midwinter

by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part, -
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Words: Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894), 1872;
appeared posthumously in
The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, Poem #426, 1904.

Shipwreck Casserole

2 pounds hamburger, browned
2 onions, sliced
2 - 3 potatoes, sliced
2/3 cup uncooked rice
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 - 16 oz. can kidney beans, drained
1 can tomato soup
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika to taste

Arrange onion slices in the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Then layer sliced raw potatoes, browned hamburger, rice, celery, and beans. Pour soup on top. Salt, pepper, and add paprika to the layers as you put them in the pan. You may add water if desired.

Cover with foil and cook in 350 degree oven for 2 hours. (Or turn the heat to 275 or 300 and cook for 3 hours.)

The last time we made this recipe, we were out of tomato soup and substituted 2 cups of diced tomatoes and 1 cup water (we ran the tomatoes and water in the blender for a minute or so to chop the tomatoes a little more). That substitution is reflected in the picture.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Barn

by Elizabeth Coatsworth

"I am tired of this barn!'' said the colt.
"And every day it snows.
Outside there's no grass any more
And icicles grow on my nose.
I am tired of hearing the cows
Breathing and talking together.
I am sick of these clucking hens.
I hate stables and winter weather!"

"Hush, little colt," said the mare,
"And a story I will tell
Of a barn like this one of ours
And the wonders that there befell.
It was weather much like this
And the beasts stood as we stand now
In the warm good dark of the barn —
A horse and an ass and a cow."

"And sheep?" asked the colt. "Yes, sheep
And a pig and a goat and a hen.
All of the beasts of the barnyard,
The usual servants of men.
And into their midst came a lady
And she was as cold as death,
But the animals leaned above her
And made her warm with their breath.

"There was her baby born
And laid to sleep in the hay,
While music flooded the rafters
And the barn was as light as day.
And angels and kings and shepherds
Came to worship the Babe from afar,
But we looked at Him first of all creatures
By the bright strange light of a star!"

Source: Anne Thaxter Eaton, ed., Welcome Christmas! A Garland Of Poems. New York: The Viking Press, 1955.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Three quotations from Thomas Alva Edison:

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work."

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Victorian Literature

As I mentioned here, we have been studying Victorian England the past couple of weeks in Tapestry of Grace.

Ryan presented a report on Victorian literature to his online co-op class.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Keeping Christmas

Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) was born in Pennsylvania, the son of a respected Presbyterian clergyman. He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and pastored a church in New York City. He also launched a career as a writer, and was first published in the 1880's.

His short Christmas sermon, Keeping Christmas, was published in 1905.



ROMANS, xiv, 6: He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord.

It is a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere marking of times and seasons, when men agree to stop work and make merry together, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the common life over the individual life. It reminds a man to set his own little watch, now and then, by the great clock of humanity which runs on sun time.

But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness—are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open—are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death—and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas.

And if you keep it for a day, why not always?

But you can never keep it alone.

You may see more of Van Dyke's work, as well as the work of many other authors, at Project Gutenberg, a producer of free electronic books.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Writer of the Week

The Good Samaritan

retold by Catherine (age 11)

Jesus then spoke saying, “Once a man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On his way he was attacked by robbers who tore his clothes, stole his money, hurt him, and left him to die. After some time, a priest came down the road and saw the man half dead, but continued on. Soon a Levite was passing by; he, too, saw the man, cared nothing for him, and went on. Then a Samaritan, who was despised by others, came by. He saw the man on the ground dying, but did not pass on. He bandaged the man’s cuts and took him to an inn. The next morning, he gave the inn keeper two pence and told him, ‘Please take care of him and when I return I will repay you for anything you may have needed to buy.’ Who was the neighbor of the man who was attacked by the robbers?”

Jesus continued, “The Samaritan, because he showed kindness and love. Go and do as I have told you.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig

Joe and I teach a worldview class to a small group of 8th - 10th graders using Summit Ministry's Lightbearers materials. Since we knew we would be offering the class to more students than just Zachary and Ryan, we purchased the Christian school edition of the materials because it includes DVDs that can be played on a TV screen. (The homeschool edition's discs can be played only on a computer.) The material is written for a full 36-week school year. Since our class is extra-curricular for all the participants, we meet every other week for a couple of hours and cover one week's worth of material during that time. Since we're moving at half-pace, it will take longer than a regular school year to complete the course.

Lightbearers materials include the following:

  • Susan Schaeffer Macauley's book, How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig
  • Teaching DVDs
  • A student workbook that contains more reading material, questions for all the readings/DVDs, and assignments
  • A well laid out teacher's manual, which includes a day-by-day schedule

Each of the 12 units takes 3 weeks to cover. The units are:

  • Introduction
  • Theology
  • Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Law
  • Politics
  • Economics
  • History
  • Conclusion

Here's a description of the course from the Lightbearers website:

Lightbearers is a . . . video-based curriculum . . . designed to help students clearly understand the tenets of the Christian worldview, and how they compare to the tenets of the leading humanistic worldviews of our day. Students will learn how to apply their Christian faith to every area of life . . . some of the issues covered include: abortion, apologetics, cults, evolution, feminism, homosexuality, naturalism, moral relativism, pluralism, relationships, and socialism.

As you can see, we delve into some pretty heavy-duty topics. Joe and I are both greatly enjoying teaching this class, and we highly recommend the materials.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Changes in Science in the Victorian Era

We've been studying Victorian England the past couple of weeks in Tapestry of Grace. Zachary and Ryan participate in a weekly dialectic-level online history co-op where we moms take turns leading the discussion. This week Zachary presented a report on science during the Victorian Era.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Rainbow (Wordless Wednesday - almost!)

This was one of the most spectacular rainbows I have ever seen. The photos don't do it justice. The sky behind it was very dark, and the colors of the rainbow were very vivid.

These were made while we were visiting my parents' home, and the rainbow reminded me that God always follows through on His promises. Always.

Genesis 9:12-16
12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."