Monday, October 31, 2011

The Day I Celebrate

Photo Credit
 The early Celts called it "Samhain". Marking their New Year as beginning on November 1st, the various clans also celebrated the eve of their "end of summer and beginning of fall", much like we do for our New Year's Eve. But as is to be expected in a culture that knows not the true God, the eve was marked with deep superstitions; fear of spirits and magic lay thickly in the air, spurring the the ungodly ones to build great bonfires, wear hideous costumes, and perform mass sacrifices in hopes of securing protection from their gods against the ghosts who were believed to roam the earth that night.

Why would I celebrate that?

Later, the Romans came, and with them, eventually, Christianity. Christianity which was soon defined and dictated to by Catholicism. In an effort to maintain the celebration while dispelling the superstitions, the Catholic church moved the observation of "All Saints Day" - in which all religious people were to pray to the saints and martyrs of old, as well as pray for the souls of those still tormented in purgatory - from May 13th to November 1st. However, as often happened when the church attempted to overcome the pagan with the "good" (though I hardly classify praying to and for dead people as "good"), the superstitions of the old were combined with the rituals of the new. Add in a dose of the Roman "feast of the dead," and you have "All Hallow's Eve". Or, "Halloween".

Why would I celebrate that?

Fast-forward 750 years. The Catholic church is in the midst of a money-hungry, power-grasping craze. Those at the top rule the masses by suppression of the truth - by fear. They bully the nobility and puppet rulers with decrees, threats, and the blind support of their ignorant, Kool Aid followers. Like a lone candle in a moldering basement, one monk stands; not to defy his authorities - though in the end he is forced to -, not to overthrow the church - though his goal of purifying was distorted to appear so -, but to assure and make clear the road of salvation to a people who had hitherto lived in deep fear and darkness. On the 31st of October, 1517, Marin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of his church, protesting the clerical abuses and the Pope-sanctioned preaching that indulgences were equal or superior to genuine repentance. A small sampling:

36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.

52. It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.

53. Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.

54. The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.

55. The pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

94. Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells.

95.And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.
The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

If you've ever read all of the 95 Theses (and I hope you have!) you know that Martin was still very Catholic, and supported certain doctrines which one would be hard-pressed to find in Scripture. Yet, in his valuing of God's opinion above man's, in his willingness and diligence to search out the Scriptures and know truly the assurance of salvation, in his bravery to stand tall and declare truths to those who did not - who could not - know, Martin Luther was used of God to plant a seed which soon sprouted and grew to be called "The Reformation".

And that, my dear friends, is something to celebrate. Happy Reformation Day!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Peep Outside...

I look outside, and what do I see? 

Colorful leaves,


a rustic, broken, rake

ripening sugar pumpkins, 

and grape vines perfect for making wreaths!

I look outside, and I see fall. What beautiful colors our King has made! As Maddy said the other evening, "God is the best painter EVER!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Watch-It Wednesday: Songs My Parents Taught Me (part II)

In contrast to last week's song list, I had the most difficult time narrowing down these wonderful songs that permeate the list of "songs my parents taught me".

Daddy introduced us to Keith Green. When I was little, my favorites were "So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?", "The Sheep and the Goats", and "The Prodigal Son" - the story songs. As I got older, however, I realized just how wonderful his other pieces were - especially the prayers. Amazing lyrics and beautiful piano parts (I love it when the singer really plays an accompaniment to his singing. No such thing as "just chords" for him!). It's so hard for me to choose only two... If you haven't heard Keith Green before, do listen to other songs of his!

Mama introduced me to Michael Card. His lyrics always amaze me - deep, (sometimes) tear-inducing thoughts, contained in simple rhymes. Another singer I really struggled with picking only two songs from!

(try not to get seasick... :)

*sigh* Good songs, no? I love living in a family who loves good music! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Watch-It Wednesday: Songs My Parents Taught Me

In my house, we all live and breathe music. At any given time, you can walk into our home and hear CDs, singing, whistling, practicing, playing - or (more often then not) a combination of some or all of the above. One of the first things we notice about a new movie is the soundtrack (when Fireproof came out, the first thing Maddy said was "Dis music is weally good!"). If a store has obnoxious "noise" playing - regardless of the volume - we find it nigh impossible to remain for more than a couple minutes. Repetition of musical motifs drive me insane (Ugh - Bolero. Ravel was mad), and I find it impossible to think originally if I have listened to the same CD more than twice in a row.

But there are some songs that, like it or not, are just a part of you: the songs your parents sang when you were little. The songs they knew are not necessarily ones we listen to every day, or would latch on to if introduced to them now. And yet...well, maybe, if you'll permit, I'll just share a couple:

Dad's -
 Africa: no, it doesn't make sense, but there's something beautifully catchy (haunting?) in the music! :p

Warning: ... I don't know how to prepare you ... :)

1. Dad I Gotta Go

2. Cow Patty
please excuse the two words in this...

3. Match-Maker, Match-Maker

Except for...the words changed somewhere between the movie and the mother. As I remember, the words were...
Mess-maker, Mess-maker make me a mess
Spill me some milk
I need some stress...
Yep, there are apparently many different versions out there! :)

Of course, they also sang us lovely, beautiful, serious songs...but I'll save those for next week.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Watch-It Wednesday: Swing It!

With little siblings, who needs movies? They're the stuff any good shows are made of, anyway: learning, maturing characters who are sweet, adorable, and hilarious. Yesterday, the Twinkles were invited to a 50s birthday party. They were so giggly-excited when mama bought them saddle shoes on Saturday, and when Friend Andi's mama gave them their poodle skirts two days ago...let's just say it took us a while to peel them off the ceiling! :)

 After getting all do-dadded up for the event, what remained to be done but some swing dancing? So put on the music and enjoy the show! About the third repeat of their dance, I just start laughing. I think we need to teach them a new move! :)
 Don't forget to turn the volume's kind of quiet.

Have a swingin' Wednesday, Lollipop!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Don't Laugh

I've always been told I have a terrible poker face. In fact, my face resembles more a large-print book, lying open for anyone to read, than the controlled, calculated expressions of...say, Lady Deadlock. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad. But apparently, the Littles have banded together to give me some practice in keeping a straight face.

From prayers….

 (Madeline): Dear Lord, thank you for the food, and have a nice day. And please help the flowers to grow and us to grow and…AMEN!

To supper topics…

"In ten years,” Zachary gasped, “I'll be seventeen!"
"In ten years” James countered, “I'll twenty!"
"In a billion years," Meggy chimed in matter-of-factly, "I'll be a-billion-and-six!"

To clean-up conversations…

"Zeke, we need to get the table cleaned off! Is any of this stuff yours?" Zach screetched to a halt mid-gallop as he whizzed through the room, passing piles of school books on the kitchen table. Spinning around, he continued to shuffle from one foot to the other as he looked at me, and registered the question. "Uh...Sarah, can we... um... No! Actually, uh..."
He was still dancing.
"Can I go to the bathroom first? I really can't talk right now!!"

To school discussions…

Photo Credit :)

"Chickens," I began, as the Littles and I settled down for math class (Note: I really am not sure why or when I began calling Team K5 "chickens". It is not, in any way, related to their looks, supply of bravery, or the noise they make when they're happy. It's just...what I call them). "Chickens, why do we study math?"
Many were the reasons listed by my wee students, but by far the favorite was Madeline's matter-of-fact  reply:
"Well, it's just 'cause, in case we need to know math. Like, 'what's nine plus nine?' I know that. It's..." she paused for a minute, pursing her lips "... it's seventeen!"

My poker face has a long way to go. How's yours?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Of The Face of the Earth - Part 2

It's a typical fall day here in the Northwest. Light grey puffs, draped across the sky, hide the blue above; "Wait," they say, "the blue and gold are better if you don't see them every day." A light rain - for it's too late in the morning to call it a heavy dew - gently creeps about, slowly and steadily embracing the earth with its damp comfort. Drooping leaves awake, and reach upward once again, full of hope. Plants dancing, small creatures scurry for dryer shelter, sending droplets everywhere. Tickling through every nook and cranny, the soft autumnal breezes stir the world awake. It's fall, and I'm content. But this final, definitive shift in weather reminds me that it's time to finish up the things of summer, which include our Family Camp adventures... 


Sunday morning dawned as all the others - bright, sunny, and surprisingly warm for all of us rolling out of our sleeping bags and grabbing sweatshirts. At camp, we had two illustrious speakers: Alistair Begg spoke to us Saturday, and Monday mornings, as well as Sunday and Friday evenings, and R.C. Sproul was our preacher for Sunday morning. It was so amazing to have these great men at camp with us, and to learn from them. They (of course) loved our church family and had a great time...

Ok, so actually, we watched videos of these men. Set up a nice telly in the outdoor chapel area, and settled back on camp chairs. Still, it was a great time of learning!

Sunday afternoon is more relaxed than Saturday. It's the time you play out the tournament matches, as well as other random games, like Speed Scrabble:

It's the day nails get painted (Alex is so sweet about doing the little girls' nails each year!)...


...the day you have a free afternoon to just play with the Littles...

...and the day (this is the super-wonderful part) when we all troop down to the river to witness (at least one) baptism! This year, as mentioned before, our friends came all the way from St. Louis so Emily and Abigail could be baptised at camp with us - it was very special!

Mom giving her exhortation to her girls... 

Mom, Dad, and girls


After the baptisms, we all stay and play in the river for a while...this year it was especially wonderful, because it was actually warm enough to keep us from freezing! :)

Sunday night is teen pizza night (all the teens...and *ahem* older young people - that is to say, the gang let me join in still at the ripe ol' age of 20 - make TONS of pizza), followed by the finishing of tournaments and extra-late volleyball-playing!

Monday sees the horseshoe finals, and general clean up. Mom and Dad were (of course) in the finals, but they lost marginally to the other team, due to the following reasons:


Do you see these guys? Well, at first, they appeared to be unbiased cheer-ers. That is to say, they lowered and elevated their vocal pitches equally for both teams. But at half time...


They started massaging Eric's poor, sore muscles, and giving him a pep talk, "No pain, no gain, Eric!" They shouted at him, "Keep it focused, man!"


They brought him water. Yep. I mean, talk about unfair advantages!!


But moving on - after this amazing, to-the-death game, we spent our last few precious moments--er, minutes--er, hours cleaning camp...

Trianna found a butterfly! Maybe it was attracted to her shirt? :)

Last hugs, a couple snacks, and few snapshots later, we were off, declaring, once again, that it was "The Best Family Camp EVER!"

On the way home, Benj'in and I got stuck behind a puttering little truck going only 35. It was going to be a long drive home...

But we had sunshine, soda,

...and music... we just sat back, and enjoyed the ride!

Monday, October 3, 2011

No One Sleeps

When I took a music history class at our community college a while back, the first day began with the professor walking in and announcing, "By the end of this class, you will love opera." Many were the groanings, the eye-rollings, and the whispered "No I won't"s. I confess that I, too, who love classical music, had my doubts as to the true enjoyment available from such a genre. In fact, I rather viewed it as something to be suffered through in the name of "class" and "sophistication" - who really likes all those overly-vibratoed voices, anyway? And yet, against all odds, somehow, he was right. When the term finished ten weeks later, only one student held firm to his claim that "Opera stinks", and I have my private doubts - not to put too fine a point upon it - as to whether or not he truly believed this, or simply wanted attention by the statement. ;)

Nonetheless, my exposure to opera has remained limited - due both to the sad fact that I do not appreciate many of the operatic story lines, and that I have small opportunity to see them (I have watched one on video...). This aria, however, I find simply breath-taking. It is from the opera Turandot, the viewing of which would definitely be on my bucket list, if I kept one!


Turandot - the cold-hearted, feels-no-emotion princess of the land - has declared that whoever desires to win her hand must first answer three riddles. He who answers correctly will be her husband, but he who cannot solve the riddles looks forward only to execution. (Told you she was cold-hearted.) Enter the Prince of Tartary, who is living incognito since his kingdom was overthrown and he and his father were exiled. When first he sees the Princess Turandot - at the execution of the latest prince who sought her hand - he falls instantly in love with her (talk about seeing past some serious flaws), and determines to attempt an answer to her riddles, since life without her is as death anyway (yes, opera is dramatic - what of it?). Being a true hero, however, he answers the riddles correctly, only to have Turandot greatly dismayed at the prospect of actually having to marry him. So, he makes her a little deal. If she can discover his true name, he will willingly allow her to execute him as though he had not answered the riddles. She jumps on the offer, being, as I said before, cold-hearted and unable to feel any emotion beyond pride. Declaring that no one shall sleep until she discoverers the mysterious man's name (and actually, if my memory serves, threatening to kill everyone if they don't discover it), she begins - unbeknownst to the Prince - to torture a little servant girl who knows the Prince's true name and (to muddle things up a bit) is in love with him. Meanwhile, the Prince declares, in this aria, "Nessun Dorma" ("no one sleeps"), that as the sun begins to rise the next morning, he will whisper his name - "Love" - for Turandot's ears alone... Enjoy!