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Pi Day—An Opportunity for Praise

Pi Day, Tea Time with Annie Kate

God has built many surprises into the universe for us to discover and enjoy. One of them is the number pi which begins with 3.141592… and continues on for at least 13 trillion digits, perhaps forever.

What is so special about this number?  Simply this:  it shows up throughout nature in the most surprising places, even though it is based on the measurement of circles and spheres.

You probably know that when we take the distance around a circle (its circumference) and divide it by the distance across it (its diameter), the answer is always pi or 3.141529….

Thus, in a sense, pi describes or even defines the very nature of circles and spheres.

But it keeps on popping up in other descriptions of the world, too. A scientist or mathematician can be working away on some or other problem and, unexpectedly, pi shows up again!   Whenever there is wave motion, or periodically repeated motion, or a curve, we now expect pi to appear, but there are still surprises, such as Boll’s 1991 discovery of pi in fractals.  Throughout the ages pi has been found in:

  • Geometry and trigonometry
  • Pendulums and other objects that repeat their motion periodically
  • The uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics
  • General relativity
  • Electromagnetism
  • Statistics
  • Fractals
  • And many other topics in mathematics

Why should this be so?  Only God knows.  The number pi, as well as other intriguing numbers and the correspondences between mathematics and the physical world, astound and mystify many scholars.  As atheist Eugene Wigner, Nobel Prize winner in physics, wrote in The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,

“It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them…. The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.”   

Yes, Wigner is right.  This is a miracle, and many of us do not realize it.

In fact, although the number pi was probably not widely used at the time of Job (~1500 BC) and its power is still being discovered in our time, it, like the mysteries of Orion and the dawn and the enormous leviathan, is an example of the Creator’s overpowering greatness (Job 38-41).  For those who learn about pi, its mysteries can join these other answers to Job’s anguished pleas.

For those of us who believe in a God who designed and created both the world and us, nature overflows with clear signs of his might.  We see, in an amazing variety of ways–including pi–God’s eternal power and divine nature (Rom 1:20).

So Pi Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the majesty of the Creator who has given us both the world and the ability to begin to unravel its mysteries.  It is also a reminder to accept, like Job did at the end, the incomprehensible questions of life, relying on the fact that the One in charge obviously does know what he is doing.

How will our family celebrate The Pi Day of the Century this Saturday, 3-14-15?  I’m sure Miss 17 will wear her pi shirt.  We might make and eat pies.  But most importantly, we will thank God for all the wonder and order and mystery and meaning he has built into this beautiful world of ours, and for the opportunity to discover it.

May God bless you this Pi Day as you focus on this fascinating aspect of his creation.

An aside:  Years ago, during our mealtime Bible reading, I realized with great excitement that in the descriptions of Solomon’s temple, pi was not used.  Both the circumference and the diameter of the bronze pool (the sea) were listed (1 Kings 7:23), although if pi were used only one of these would need to be given.  Now, this may be because one of the numbers measured the inside of the rim and the other the outside, but it may also just be because pi was not in common use, although by this time (~1000 BC) it had been known for at least 800 years.

For more about homeschooling, see Finishing Strong, and Trivium Tuesdays.  For other encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays.

Review: The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner

the fringe hours

We homeschooling moms are busy.  Often too busy.  Our families sometimes suffer, and so do we.  Now, when God calls us to be super busy, that is fine;  life has such seasons and, as Tricia Goyer pointed out in her book Balanced, when we realize we can’t manage on our own we are more aware of our dependence on God.

But there are other times in our lives when we deliberately choose to be crazy busy, shortchanging our families and our health.  We have no time to breathe, to rest, to be refreshed, to spend with God and our loved ones, or to develop our unique talents.

Jessica Turner, mom of three little ones, full time marketing professional, and big name blogger is every bit as busy, yet she finds time to scrap book, sew, hang out with friends, and do all sorts of things that she loves.

This book answers two questions:  why she does it, and how she does it.

The first part of the book addresses the ‘why’ question.  Jessica defends the importance of ‘me time’ by saying that we moms deserve it.  On the surface that is, of course, not Biblical.  However, what she calls ‘me time’—time reserved for worship, relationships, health, and developing our unique skills and passions—should certainly be part of every Christian’s life, not because we deserve it but because it is part of the way we serve God.   In this section Jessica raises many valuable and practical points.

The second part shows how women can find such time.  Unfortunately, many women seem unable to do so, and Jessica identifies three main reasons.

  • First of all, we feel pressured to be all things to all people, and to be perfect.  Although many of these pressures come from media and social media, not from any valid source, they can rule and ruin our lives.
  • Secondly, we squander the little bits of time we do have; believe it or not, most of us can find an hour or two a day without cutting out anything important.  Jessica gives practical encouragement to taking back those fringe ours, ‘those little pockets of time you already have in your day’ to make time for self-care and our passions.  What couldn’t you do with an hour a day—that’s 30 hours a month—even if it is broken up into 20 minute segments?
  • Thirdly, we have not figured out ways to overcome the obstacles that face us, like disorganization, interruptions, and self-imposed duties.

Now, as a homeschooling mom who spends a fair bit of time blogging, reviewing, gardening, and reading, I understand Jessica’s methods and have used similar ones for years. They work extremely well.

I especially like the point she makes about multitasking, which I have also discovered over the years:  despite the hype both ways, some kinds of multitasking do work, and others do not; we just have to be savvy and figure out which is which.

Even so, many of Jessica’s ideas are foreign to me.  She encourages moms to hire help to carve out more fringe hours.  She says baby necessities include formula and daycare.  She talks about Sabbath rest but works on Sunday.  These ideas do not detract from her valuable message, though.

If you currently cannot find any time to care for yourself and to develop your unique talents in God’s world, The Fringe Hours will give you new hope and more time.  It contains many stories, lists, and blank spaces for your own discoveries and is eminently practical.

Because managing my God-given time wisely is very important to me, I have written several other reviews on the topic:

Crazy Busy by Kevin De Young (the spiritual issues involved in letting ourselves become too busy)

The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good by Greer and Haggard (for those who find themselves much too busy doing good works)

Balanced by Tricia Goyer (always pointing us back to God, but also intensely practical)

Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews (streamlined, short, and 100% practical)

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (inspiring as well as hands-on)

168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam (enthusiasm about maximizing the 168 hours we are given each week)

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, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays.

DisclosureThis book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and is available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

A Christian Homeschooler on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is a best seller, not only on Amazon and the New York Times, but also internationally.  You’re probably thinking the same thing I was.

An international best seller about tidying up?  How is that possible?   

Not being a naturally tidy person (although it’s amazing how much one can learn!) but loving the serenity that comes with tidiness, I let my curiosity about this book get the better of me.  And, really, tidying is an important topic for every homeschooling mom because, with children, school supplies, and projects always underfoot—to say nothing of food preparation and laundry and books—a disastrous mess is often only a few minutes away.

Of course, we all know the basic advice:  dejunk regularly, have a place for everything, keep only things you love, and so forth.  But, for some reason, it seems we’re always working on it and the process never, ever ends.

Marie Kondo, however, claims that once you’ve tidied up completely her way, a process that will probably take a few months, you will never need to do so again.  Why?  Because once you experience the joy that comes with a completely tidy home you will never want to go back to the old way again.

There’s also another side to this.

Marie Kondo’s advice is based on her firm conviction that putting your house in order will help you find the life goal that speaks to your heart.  Not only will living in a tidy house, surrounded only by things that give joy, increase your energy, but the actual tidying process itself will also change you.  By recognizing, item by item, what gives you joy, you learn decision-making skills that enhance your confidence and energy and give you the experience and self-knowledge you need to make decisions about relationships and career…and, for us homeschooling moms, about the many facets of education our children.

This book gives practical instructions on what to tidy first and exactly how to go about it as one learns these decision-making skills.  It is important to begin with simple decisions and to leave the complicated ones to the end.  Step by step, Marie guides the reader through the process.  She is a kind and wise guide.

However, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up may not be an ideal book for most Christian homeschoolers.  Marie was a Shinto shrine maiden for five years and her religious reverence for possessions and her constant communication with them is foreign to us Christians.   This book is such a shocking immersion into an empty lifestyle that it drives me to prayer.

On the other hand, as Augustine pointed out so long ago, truth is truth where ever it is found, and this book has a lot advice that is very different from most Western thoughts on the topic.  There is definitely more than a kernel of truth in what Marie Kondo says about tidying.  What’s more, we can also learn to be a whole lot more thankful than we are for all the material goods that God has given us.  Yes, we can learn from Marie about actively thanking God for the things he gives us and also about thanking him for the opportunity to give away the things we no longer use.   Perhaps we should even be asking forgiveness for wrong choices and offering praise for the ability to let things go.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a book about personal transformation due to learning the simple discipline of tidying up one’s possessions. This is certainly not a Christian book, but its basic principles of gratitude should be part of every Christian life.  What’s more, it gives a deep, authentic look into the thoughts of someone from a Shinto background, helping us understand yet again how much the world needs to learn about Jesus.

If you struggle with tidying up, this book may be for you.  Marie’s results as a single woman—never needing to tidy up again— may not be valid for moms and homeschoolers, but they are still at least partly valid.  We just have more to deal with.  In any case, I can vouch that her decision-making approach, where I’ve used it, is valid and empowering, although I have not gone through my whole house or even major parts of it.

But The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is about so much more than tidying up, as I’ve tried to show.  I found it a beautiful and poignant book, inspiring in many different ways.

Alexandra of Life on a Canadian Island presents an illustrated discussion of how she is using Marie’s principles on her clothesbooks, and other things.

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, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays.

Disclosure: I received this ebook from the Blogging for Books review program and have expressed my own honest opinions.

Canadian Winter: Seven Day Forecast

(A quick reminder for you in the US:  0 Celcius is 32 Fahrenheit.)

Our forecast, for what it’s worth, predicts warmer weather.  We might reach 0 degrees this week, according to Environment Canada.  Hah!

Review: Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those who Suffer from Depression


Spurgeons Sorrows

When he was only twenty-two years old, Charles Spurgeon’s preaching was interrupted by a prankster shouting, “Fire!”  Thousands of listeners panicked, killing seven people and seriously injuring twenty-eight.

This trauma plunged Spurgeon into a deep depression that recurred throughout his life and ministry.   Instead of hiding his struggles, Spurgeon often mentioned his anguish, both to help fellow sufferers and to give insight to their caregivers. By God’s grace he was able to insist to his generation and ours that the sorrowing have a Savior.   He wrote:

Broken hearted one, Jesus Christ knows all your troubles, for similar troubles were his portion.

In Spurgeon’s Sorrows Zack Eswine, himself a pastor who suffers from depression, shares  Realistic  Hope for Those who Suffer from Depression using insights gleaned from Spurgeon’s preaching and writing.

Eswine has grouped these insights into three sections:

  1. Trying to Understand Depression,
  2. Learning How to Help Those Who Suffer From Depression,
  3. Learning Helps to Daily Cope with Depression

He discusses each topic as a fellow sufferer, showing the misery and emptiness, the hopelessness, weight, and darkness that is depression.  He also shares the comfort that can be found in the Bible—although not every suffering Christian will always be able to accept it as being personally relevant.  He also offers practical help for sufferers and their caregivers.

This book is full of compassion and understanding.  It brings comfort rather than the accusations that Christian depressed people sometimes are forced to bear on top of all their other burdens.  It reminds sufferers that their salvation does not depend on how they feel but on Jesus Christ’s suffering and death.

Spurgeon also addressed caregivers.  How can those of us who support depressed people be helpful and compassionate instead of hurting our loved ones even more?  This book also discusses a difficult question that has been haunting me, “How can one use the Bible and God’s promises in a way that is helpful to a depressed one, not hurtful?”

In God’s providence, I read the chapter on suicide during the many hours it took to have a loved one admitted to hospital.  It explained to my heart the devastating truth that I knew with my mind, that for some people, at some times, life seems blacker and bleaker than death.  The Bible talks about some of these people:  Job, Elijah, David and others—just read through the Psalms!

I recommend this book to all those who support depressed people.  I do not know if it would help depressed people or not.  There is much comfort and hope here, but perhaps the knowledge that Spurgeon suffered his whole life long would be too discouraging for those who still hope, someday, to be free of depression.

If you are depressed, or if you are supporting a depressed person, I want to remind you that

We plead not ourselves, but the promises of Jesus; not our strengths but His…. Our hope is not the absence of our regret, or misery or doubt or lament, but the presence of Jesus. “Doubting Castle may be very strong, but he who comes to fight with Giant Despair is stronger still!”

May God bless you all, whatever your circumstances may be.

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, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays.

Disclosure: I received a review e-copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews and have shared my own honest opinions.

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