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Turtle Trauma, Waterpark, Charlotte Mason on Reading Multiple Books

Miss 12 prepared this tray for me when I felt ill.

Miss 12 prepared this tray for me when I felt ill.

Even before the door slammed shut I knew something was very wrong. Miss 12 had taken the dogs for a walk to our small river, and while they were playing in the water, she used stepping stones to get to a small island. Except one of the ‘stones’ she stepped on was really an enormous snapping turtle. Understandably it was upset at being stepped on and chased her through the river. “They go really fast, mom!” she sobbed. I am so thankful that she went even faster!

A few hours later, still not entirely over the shock, Miss 12 noticed a cloud or swirling insects. Bees were swarming! Because they did not belong to either of our bee-keepers, they will be Miss 12’s if they do enter the new hive set out for them.

The girls and I visited Calypso waterpark with our half-price tickets. Because of the weather, lineups were not very long so we had an exciting time trying out different slides (all three girls tried the vertical drop!), the wavepool (very powerful, almost aggressive waves), and the Kongo Expedition (three times in a row).  What a wonderful and tiring day!

Other activities this week: soccer, a sleep over, Bible study, a track meet (throwing shot put and watching Pan Am games athletes train), friends for supper, driving practice, gardening, haircuts, writing resumes, applying for jobs and volunteer positions, swimming, and sewing (sweatbands, bathmits). My husband took down a diseased tree and trimmed the posts of our new fence, and my son is cheerfully working two almost full-time jobs, spending any spare moments sleeping.

This week I’m reading Redeeming Philosophy (fun stuff about the metaphysics of an apple and of walking) and Scrum (a business and computing book that just may have the answers to my homeschooling dilemmas; it’s used in education in the Netherlands).

Books to be finished and/or reviewed: Disciplines of a Godly Woman, 101 Top Picks (but not until I’ve finished thinking through the educational implications of Scrum); Sex Matters; Minds More Awake (to read after Scrum). Taking God at His Word; God Did Say; and Cheri Field’s new free ebook for middle schoolers, Mysteries of Time and Creation.

Charlotte Mason promotes reading books slowly, several at a time, to build relationships between them and to have time to think about them. Scrum and other efficiency books point out the inefficiencies of multitasking. I suppose if the task is to learn a topic, then simultaneously reading many books about it is not multitasking but just doing the one task even though many books are involved. On the other hand, if the task is to master one book or idea and then apply it to other thoughts, reading many books is an overwhelming exercise in multitasking.  I’m feeling very overwhelmed with my current reading, something that rarely happens, and I think it’s because I’m trying to hold too many ideas in my head.

Summer goals: I did not have much time to continue organizing my desk; in fact, it has at least 10 new items on it. Sigh. On the other hand, other summer goals are being reached: the garden, various sewing projects, having a memorable stay-at-home summer, and completing articles I’ve been writing for months. Encouraged by Psalm 66:16 “Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me,” I finally published a very personal article this week. I hope it will bless many.

How is your summer going?  Please comment here since my blog comment form is still not working.

This post is linked to Kris’s Weekly Wrap Up , Week in Review, and Finishing Strong.

What God Has Done for Me

dead bird

“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.”  Psalm 66: 16

Why did this nuthatch die?  Why do people suffer endlessly so that death seems a welcome relief?  Why is there illness, abuse, tragedy, natural disaster, heartache, unbelief?  Why?

There are many answers, but none of them is satisfying.  None of them really addresses the question.

Sometimes we can find no answers, no solutions.  There aren’t even questions anymore, and there is certainly no comfort.

In the days when circumstances were so devastating that I was fighting tears several times an hour, my husband sent me to our pastor.

He had no easy answers either.

Really, there was only the answer God gave suffering Job, to look at the world he had made and experience his greatness. (Job 38-41)   Or, in everyday terms, to look out the window.

So when I came home I stood close to the window and looked out, searching for God’s answer to Job.  Suddenly a nuthatch thudded, hard, into the window and fell down among the greenery.  It twitched a little. A few sparrows came to investigate but kept a respectful distance.  It spread its wings and lay still.  Its mate flew down, hopped around it, prodded it gently with her long beak.  No response.  She poked the quiet head hard, waited a moment, tried again, and then flew away.

The end.

That is what I saw when I looked out the window for God’s answer.  The very fate I feared for loved ones.

How could God answer my questions in this way?  What did he mean?  Or, chilling and barely-admitted thought, was there no meaning at all?

I was used to finding comfort in the gospel.  Now there was no solace at all.  Driving among the barren spring fields two mornings later, pondering many sad things, asking wordless questions, I finally said to God, “Well, if there’s no comfort in believing, what’s the use?”

And that’s when he gave me this realization:  It’s not about comfort; it’s about truth.  If God is the almighty Creator, he in control of all that happens.  That’s about truth, not about comfort.

In a supernatural flash I was given this certainty more deeply than ever before.  And this deeper acceptance of the truth that God is in charge and guides even the most horrific circumstances—as Job also knew—instantly flooded my heart with consolation.  For the great Creator who loves me had planned all this in advance.  Somehow, in a way that a puny human mind cannot understand, it is all good.

Somehow.  Because my good God guides all things.

And once he gave me faith again, I could see that truth again.

“Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” Psalm 66: 20

Even before the nuthatch died, someone asked me what the lesson in all the anguish was.  One lesson is that when we hit rock bottom, God is there.  Another is that when we acknowledge what is true, God is with us and comforts us.  The fundamental lesson, however, is that when we have doubts and face terrible situations, we need to run to God, not away from him, for he will listen and he has the power to take care of us.

Yes, this is the most fundamental lesson of all:  run to him with our doubts and questions, never away from him.

Why did this nuthatch die?  Perhaps to teach me these things.  Perhaps to remind you, my dear reader, of them.  We do not know, but God does.  And because he is our truth, he is our comfort.   So when hard times and difficult questions come into your life, dear reader, run to him.

May God bless us all!

If you wish to respond to this post, please comment here or send me an email at anniekate at anniekateshomeschoolreviews dot com.  (My blog comment form is still not working.)

This is part of a series of occasional meditations about daily life, Bible readings, and our pastor’s sermons, and is based on various Bible passages:  Job 38-41, Psalms 23, 34, 42, 43, 66, 143, Mark 8:11-21, and many more.

For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, R&R Wednesdays.

Review: God in the Lab by Ruth Bancewicz

Is science compatible with religion?  Most of the major scientists of the past would say it is, and Ruth Bancewicz agrees.  In her book God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith she explores the question of what modern science means for Christians and how Christianity affects day to day scientific work.  Her conclusion, that a study of nature enhances faith, is confirmed by many scientists.

Bancewicz gleans knowledge about day to day science in the life of a Christian from her own career as well as from other believing scientists.  She explores the ideas of creativity and imagination which she says are foundational to both science and faith.  Then she also discusses beauty, wonder, and awe, pointing out that they are driving forces that keep scientists motivated.  What’s more, believing scientists are led to worship when their research leads to these overwhelming emotions, and unbelievers often get the feeling that there is something mysterious at work.

God in the Lab is full of insight:

—Although nature gives us knowledge of God, we cannot understand him perfectly from nature, because creation is not God, we are not perfect, and creation, also, is broken.  Therefore we must test every new insight from creation with the Bible and remember that it is Jesus who really shows us who God is.

—Bringing order out of chaos is deeply satisfying, whether it is a hands-on process in everyday life or a scientific process of organizing and attempting to understand facts about the world.

—When the emotion of wonder is based on ignorance, error, or illusion, it will fade in the light of understanding, but understanding will lead to more enduring wonder.   Wonder informed by spiritual wisdom can lead to spiritual exploration and in this sense, too, science points us to God.

—Wonder is an almost integral part of science.  Wonder and awe at who God is and what he has done is also an integral part of the Christian faith, and part of Bancewicz’s thesis is that the wonder inherent to science enhances our awe of God.

—One scientist confessed,

“I’m just a creature—like the man Job in the Bible I’m someone who needs to be put in his place all the time by the creation around me—and yet I’m a child of God who can speak directly to the Father….If everything broke at the fall, then Jesus’ death on the cross is not just for us—it is for all of creation.  It’s about God, and not primarily about me. 

Now I can hardly talk about science without theology, and about theology without science.  The more I look into science, the more I’m awed by God.”

All these ideas I know to be true from my own time as a scientist, and Bancewicz has given words to many concepts that I felt but had not yet verbalized.

Do note that God in the Lab assumes theistic evolution (i.e. the idea that God created using evolution instead of simply by speaking), an assumption that it neither examines carefully nor promotes vigorously.  I do not understand why, when Bancewicz is so eager to promote God’s greatness as creator, she feels constrained to accept a theory with so many questionable points, but this could be due to at least two factors:

  1. The author was trained as a biologist, and nowadays biology is learned through the lens of evolution.
  2. She is surrounded by brilliant scientists who are committed Christians and who think that God created through evolution.  Some of them are very insistent on distancing themselves from the idea of a young earth, although I have not yet found in their writings any serious grappling with the scientific evidence in favor of young earth creation.  Obviously peer pressure is a powerful force in science as well as elsewhere.

Even so, this is a very worthwhile book.  Despite highlighting many profound concepts it is written in an accessible and interesting way, and the author’s enthusiasm shines through almost every page.  I highly recommend God in the Lab to all scientists, teens considering a career in science, and others interested in God’s amazing world.

Note:  If you wish to respond to this post, please comment here.  Currently my blog comment form is not working.

This is yet another book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook.

For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, R&R Wednesdays.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of this review.  All my opinions are my own, and I am not compensated for sharing them.

Gardening, Shakespeare, Books, and Summer Goal


Well, we’re gardening after all.  At first it seemed we had neither the time nor the energy, but when I was reminded of the enormous value of gardening (health, exercise, mood, food, outside time, together time), we literally dug in.  Isn’t that the way things always go?  Until we see great value in an activity, we cannot make it happen.

On Saturday we watched A Comedy of Errors, part of Ottawa’s Company of Fools Torchlight Shakespeare productions.  I usually enjoy watching Shakespeare, especially performed by this high energy group, but there are always a few issues.

Miss 12 played soccer with other homeschoolers, Miss 15 and Miss 12 participated in an official track meet (javelin and 300 meter race), we swam in our pool, we practiced soccer at home with our three new balls, and, after a long break, we are continuing our Rideau Trail hikes.  (We walked about 5 km into Merrickville and saw some of the Rideau Canal locks in action. )

What else?  Driver’s Ed practice.  A bit of shopping.  A bit of music making.  A lot of music listening, with all of us hanging out, just focusing on different genres.   Time with our bunny.  Job applications.  Popsicles.  Friends.  Lots of smells—basswood flowers, manure on nearby fields, and skunk at night.

As for school-type learning, well, we did very little.  I started thinking about next year, set up a Math Score assessment for Miss 12, and have begun to read Minds More Awake: The Vision of Charlotte Mason, an upcoming book by Anne White of Ambleside Online.

I’m reading a wide variety of books that are all providentially linked together:  Disciplines of a Godly Woman (full of wisdom so far, highly recommended); Mind over Medicine (some very helpful and valid scientific information mixed in with a lot of New Age dross; I’m still pondering what is helpful and what is unhelpful); 101 Top Picks (rereading this again and re-doing the questionnaires to help me revamp our homeschool for only two children next year); Redeeming Philosophy (fascinating and mind-blowing); Sex Matters (the teen companion to More than Just the Talk); Minds More Awake (about Charlotte Mason’s vision of education); and Taking God at His Word (currently a free download).

My most important personal summer goal is to clear my desk after several overly busy winters and summers.  Each piece of paper represents a project that either needs to be done or to be consciously discarded, and each one is cluttering up my mind as much as my desk.   There are other goals too, of course, but this is the big one just for me.

How is your summer going?  Please comment here since my blog comment form is still not working.

Review: The Great Carp Escape by Maddock and Ouano

the great carp escape

Although I rarely review children’s picture books anymore, The Great Carp Escape by Maddock and Ouano is worth an exception.

Beth and her little brother Paul lived on a large lake and spent their summers on the beach, but they avoided the swampy, muddy area near the weeping willow.  Once they had found a dead carp near there, a spiny, scary-looking blue fish, and they didn’t want any ugly carp nibbling at their toes.

After a spring flood, when the water was slowly draining from the willow pond, Beth and Paul noticed many carp in the pond.  What would happen to these ugly animals, God’s creatures just like them, when the pond dried up even more?

This beautifully written story carries deeper meanings, subtly reminding the reader that worth depends on being God’s creature, not on beauty or popularity.  On that basis it points out that humans are to care for the world and the creatures in it.  This allegory also quietly presents the gospel, in both words and pictures, to those able to see it.

Unfortunately the location of the weeping willow pond is not illustrated clearly and some of the pictures contradict each other and the story.   This may bother observant children but could also begin a good discussion.

I recommend The Great Carp Escape for preschool and early elementary children.  This cheerful picture book has all the elements of a good story: water, nature, fear, a problem, a solution, community, overcoming fear, and many layers of meaning.  I hope Irish Beth Maddock will continue to write for children.

Read the story behind this award winning book.

This review is linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook.

For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, R&R Wednesdays.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Graf-Martin Communications and Word Alive Press for the purpose of this review.  All my opinions are my own, and I am not compensated for sharing them.

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