"Mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them." ~Charlotte Mason

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Eve Eve service

One of our pastors spoke today about the meaning of Christmas (okay this was no surprise since it's Christmas Eve-Eve). Instead of the traditional Birth of Christ passage from Luke 2, Dr. David McKinley taught from Hebrews 12:1-2. (This was the 2nd in a 3 part series):

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NIV)

I have read this passage many times, yet today I gleaned new truths from it. Have you ever been caught in tangly weeds? We get them down by the lake in the summer, long vines with thorns on them. If you accidentally walk through them, you're stuck! Escaping requires precision and patience, or you end up quite scratched and frustrated!

Do I really throw off the things that hinder, and/or the sin that so easily entangles? Sometimes, honestly, it is easier to just remain entangled. Even when I do escape it, I don't know that I really throw it off. Sometimes it's more like I sneak away when I think it's not looking. Actually throwing something off, especially if it's tangled and thorny, implies a violent action. And sometimes I just don't want to put in the effort. But I need to be leaning on Christ, and allowing his Holy Spirit inside of me to do the work. I guess I just...lose focus.

Also, I was reminded that the only race I have to worry about is the one that is marked out for me. And I am to run it with perserverance. Endurance. Excellence. I think I am really missing the mark here... I have always been like Aesop's hare of Tortoise infamy, I run quickly ahead, then lie on the side of the road and take a nap. That's not how a race is run. Every runner knows you are supposed to establish a steady rhythm, a pace, and stick to it. I am praying for a steady pace.

Dr. McKinley taught at length about what it means that Jesus is the author (originator, founder) and perfecter (finisher) of our faith. Our faith comes from Christ - it originates with him. But also it is he who completes our faith. Without Christ, our faith is imperfect, unfinished. Through Christ we are complete. The Greek word used in the text for "perfecter" is totelestai meaning paid in full. This was a common term used in the marketplace when a transaction of goods occurred. Through Christ, our sins are paid in full, because "for the joy set before him [he] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." In fact, the same word, totelestai, is what Christ said when he died. It is often translated, "It is finished" but it could also be translated, "Paid in full."

I pray you realize, this Christmas, that Christ has stamped "Paid in full" on your life, washing away your sins and opening up the gates of heaven for you. All you need do is accept this free gift of salvation, turn from your sins and follow Him. Your life will never be the same.

Because Christ has paid it all,
1. I have nothing to complain about this Christmas. (Nothing - I really messed up here!)
2. I need not compare myself with those around me.
3. I cannot improve upon what Christ has done for me.

Dr. McKinley closed with this "Christmas song," which isn't a Christmas carol at all, but a familiar hymn, "Jesus Paid It All":

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Clay Christmas Ornaments

I recently received the below recipe for Clay Christmas Ornaments from a friend in our homeschool group, and decided we would make them today. Here is the conversation that followed:
ME: Guess what, girls! We are going to use the oven to make some special Christmas decorations today!

LIL YODA: Ooh! Mommy! We should make the Decoration of Independence!

...We haven't actually reached that point in history, we have only gotten as far as Captain John Smith, so I let it slide. She must have learned the term from watching National Treasure the other night. ;)

We had a lot of fun making these ornaments. This recipe made about 10 ornaments. I must warn you that this is a very long, all day sort of project. After prepping the "batter" we spent about 1 1/2 hours shaping the ornaments, then baked them, cooled them, and spent another hour, at least, painting them. Then they had to dry. Then the varnish and more drying time. Then we flipped them, varnished the back, and waited again. We started about 10 this morning and finished about 6 this evening. (OK we played a lot in between but you get the picture! The point is that this project took over my kitchen for the whole day - just thought I'd warn you.) The results were definitely worth it though!

Here's the recipe, from http://www.teachartathome.com/ :

Christmas Clay Ornaments


2 cups flour
1 cup salt
tempera paints, various colors
clear nail polish, polyurethane or liquid floorwax for glazing
yarn or ribbon

1. Mix together the flour, salt and enough water to make a smooth, soft dough that is not sticky. (If it is sticky, add a little bit more flour).

2. You can either add tempera paints to the clay to create various colors or wait until after the ornaments are hard to paint them. (Creating colored clay is better for younger children who can't paint well).

3. Be sure to create a hole as your last step using a small paintbrush handle.

4. Bake ornaments on a baking sheet that has been dusted with flour for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, or until hard but not heavily browned.

5. If you used white dough only, paint with tempera paints when cooled.

6. When the paint is dry, brush with one of the following glazing mediums to make it shiny: clear nail polish, polyurethane varnish or liquid floor wax. (This step works well wiht the colored dough, but it may cause paints to run if painted after baked. That is only the case, however, if the glazing medium is put on too heavily or brushed a lot). Allow to dry thoroughly. Turn over and glaze the back too. Allow to dry.

7. String with a loop of yarn or ribbon for hanging.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quote Party

Our Charlotte Mason book club hosted a party tonight, and we were each to bring a bookmark or ornament displaying a Charlotte Mason quote. This was a fun, new and inexpensive way to do a Christmas party, and we all enjoyed our monthly Starbucks and CM discussion.

I have included some of the quotes below. You'll notice the blatant disregard for proper bibliographical formatting, and complete lack of specific book & page number references. Tough. If you need the reference, Google it.

The quote I brought, on a little pink bookmark:
"All beautiful and noble possibilities are present in everyone."

The quote I received, inside a cookie-cutter Christmas ornament:
"Nourish a child daily with loving, right, and noble ideas...which may bear fruit in his life."

Several chose the "CM Motto":
"I am . . . a child of God, a gift to my parents and my country. I'm a person of great value because God made me.
I can . . . do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God has made me able to do everything required of me.
I ought . . . to do my duty to obey God, to submit to my parents and everyone in authority over me, to be of service to others, and to keep myself healthy with proper food and rest so my body is ready to serve.
I will . . . resolve to keep a watch over my thoughts and choose what's right even if it's not what I want."

A few of my favorite CM quotes, way too long for a bookmark:
"The idea that vivifies teaching. . . is that 'Education is a Science of Relations;' by which phrase we mean that children come into the world with a natural [appetite] for, and affinity with, all the material of knowledge; for interest in the heroic past and in the age of myths; for a desire to know about everything that moves and lives; about strange places and strange peoples; for a wish to handle material and to make; a desire to run and ride and row and do whatever the law of gravitation permits. Therefore. . . we endeavor that he shall have relations of pleasure and intimacy established with as many possible of the interests proper to him; not learning a slight or incomplete smattering about this or that subject, but plunging into vital knowledge, with a great field before him which in all his life he will not be able to explore. In this conception we get that 'touch of emotion' which vivifies knowledge, for it is probably that we feel only as we are brought into our proper vital relations."

"The child's mind is not a blank slate, or a bucket to be filled. It is a living thing and needs knowledge to grow. As the stomach was designed to digest food, the mind is designed to digest knowledge and needs no special training or exercises to make it ready to learn."

"'Thou hast set my feet in a large room' should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking -- the strain would be too great -- but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest... The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?"

Update: I forgot my favorite one, but found it in Javamom's review of our evening:
"Mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them."