Monday, 25 July 2011

Joshua the Dwarf fights Samuel the Hobbit


Jeff has made the kids daggers, swords, and (very important!) shields so they can pretend to be the characters that they are hearing about each evening after dinner, when he reads The Fellowship of the Ring to them. Abigail has had a sword for a while, but Joshua made a specific request for an axe to be made so he could "be a dwarf". Samuel's dagger is named "Sting" after the dagger that Bilbo hands on to Frodo.

In between his forays into weapons and armour manufacturing, Jeff has been hard at work creating my desk. He has spent hours sandpapering the legs in the past week since he has recovered from Man-Flu., and is just about ready to glue them together.

Joshua the reporter

Joshua has written a report on fantasy and science fiction creatures these holidays. We have found illustrations online for him to include in his report and colour. I did the typing and formatting, but the words are, with very few exceptions, all his. And the colouring is certainly all his work. You can see the impact of Jeff's reading of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring upon Joshua's knowledge of dwarves etc very clearly. (The cover illustration is of a Balrog.)Star Wars has also been of great interest in our household, enjoyed through the animated TV program Star Wars the Clone Wars, and Lego kits.

Anna the Author

Anna has written a fairy tale during her holidays. She has occasionally asked me for help in spelling certain words, but by working steadily, she has written her own story. She tells me the names of her heroine and hero come from her favourite Pokemon names, one of hem modified slightly. Below I have transcribed her story as she has written it; she wrote 3 1/4 notebook pages in a faint grey pencil which doesn't scan well.
The Race
Once upon a time there lived the kindest princess her name was Roselia Roseade. She was so beautiful that every one loved her and asked her if she would mary them, but every time she would answer no. One day a prince came and his name was Alfa he was verey rick [rich] and soon fell in love with Roselia Roseade, but she said no to him like the she said to the others. One day the prince Alfa asked Roselia Roseade to have a race with her the next week. Roselia was surprised that he asked her to race because everyone knew that she was the fast in the world she was the fastest girl she was the faster then any boy so why would anyone want to race her? So Roselia agryed to take on the race so she and the prince practiced and practiced for the race. On the day before the race the prince went to a place and asked someone for something to win the race with. So the person gave the prince three golden apples. On the day of the race when the race stated Roselia zoomed away and left Alfa at the start line but Alfa rolled a golden apple in frunt of Roselia Roseade so that she picked it up so the prince ran on in frunt but the princess soon got up and realised that she had been left behined so she started the race again, but the prince again rolled a golden apple in frunt of Roselia and again she picked it up and the prince ran on ahed but the princess got up and ran but the prince rolled the last golden apple. The princess triped over the golden apple and fell over. Some people came and took care of her but she said she was fine. Roselia was angry at the prince for rolling the apple so she picked up the apple and rolled it in frunt of the prince so he picked up the golden apple and ran but the apple was hevey so he could not run very fast. Roselia won the race and the next second the prince came so the princess said since you were close second I will marry you and they all lived happly every after.

Holiday Highlights and one Lowlight

We spent the first week of school hols schlepping across the city and up the freeway to North Beach Baptist's holiday King's Club program, "Out of this World". The kids loved it, and we were able to take two kids form our church along on three of the days as well. Sam was able to join in for the first time, attending one full session and two half-sessions as he found the overwhelming noise of the all-in kids sessions, which had lots of singing, a bit overwhelming. It was also a good change to grab a free cuppa and some cake while I did my pre-reading for Trinity, worked a little on something I am writing for another blog, and caught up with some mums I know from when NBBC was our church.

We spent the second week mostly at home, with the kids taking turns to use Mathletics or Reading Eggs with my closer-than-usual attention to see how they were going. I have made a deal with Joshua and Anna that they have to earn a certificate (1000 pts) for Mathletics each week before they are allowed to play any computer games, or visit other sites they are interested in. This morning Joshua earned 450 points, so the target is well within their reach. Abigail and Samuel have to work on Reading Eggs before they can play computer games.

We also watched a few movies: Rango, which made me ask myself "Is this a Christian parable or a Christian parody?" and Ramona and Beezus, which taught the kids to use the word "bilious". Played loooots of Lego, particularly Star Wars. Closely averted Jeff spending just under a thou on 2nd hand Lego on ebay (phew!) and played with mooooore Lego. Went to several birthday parties. I enjoyed sitting in the church service through the entire thing two Sundays in a row as our Missions Committee ran a holiday program for the kids on David Livingstone and I wasn't part of it. It was lovely to partake of holy communion again! The cousins and Auntie Carla came for a visit. The kids also had a playdate with some kids from church while their mum babysat our kids so Jeff and I could attend a Work in Progress seminar at Trinity comparing John's gospel with the Synoptics, which was very interesting.

We caught a train into the city to buy a birthday present for Uncle Michael and stayed for a short visit to the Art Gallery. We love spending time there looking at the exhibits and talking about them. In the main foyer this time was an exhibition of four metal sculptures and a painting of the sculptures. It was only when we looked closely at the painting that we realised it was of the sculpture figures, and then we began to find out which sculpture was which figure in the painting. The kids thought that was a great puzzle.

All in all, a lovely holiday. But what was our one lowlight? The trip to the emergency dept yesterday afternoon to get Abigail's head stuck back together. Part of a disassembled bed frame fell on her at a friend's house and we made the dash to PMH where she was seen and sent home before Jeff had time to take the other three kids home for a quick bath each.(The silvery gleam is the glue.) Abi's fine now, just a little bit sookier than usual, and upset because Anna got to play at Kidzland today rather than her, since she isn't allowed to bounce for a few days. So instead, I'm off to cook a pineapple upside down cake with Abigail to cheer her up.

They'll be back at school and child care tomorrow. :-(

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

My New Adventure, Part II

I was reading back over some old posts and I noticed this one, called "Shameless Brag". It mentions my last Trinity@Night lecturer commenting on my paper for his class, "Have you thought of doing something more challenging at TTC? Say Grad Dip units? Look into it!"

Well, as of last night I have begun my adventure, studying the Grad Dip unit Intro to Biblical Theology. So if anyone else out there is interested in studying at a Bible or Theological College, but thinks embarking on a Graduate Diploma or Bachelor is beyond them, why don't you see if they have a Certificate Level course that you could try to get your toes wet? You might find that an easy way of getting into deeper study. Also, I am already finding that for me, having done the Cert III in Christian Studies, the lecture content at Grad Dip level is not beyond my comprehension. Mind, that was just the first lecture! My BSF studies and the background reading I have done preparing to coach Sunday School teachers each week has helped hugely as well.

I finished reading God's Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts on Tuesday morning, with my first lecture that evening. Each of the chapters of this book had Bible study questions at the end, which were quite effective at driving home the message of the chapter from the basis of a passage from the section discussed in that chapter. I really appreciated, perhaps for the first time, just how completely the New Creation of the New Jerusalem will bring us back to the same state of sinless glory as Adam and Eve enjoyed for such a short time in Eden before the Fall. At last, all the effects of sin upon the world and upon us will be undone and we will be able to enjoy and glorify our Creator as He created us to do from the very beginning. That marvellous future is why one of my kids has Hope for their middle name.

Next step for class reading is According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy. I bought it this morning. I need to write a reading report on this in six week's time, just before I head off to Sydney for Oxygen 11. At which point I might note that I was very pleased to find out that my lecturer has moved our lecture-free week back a week, which makes it coincide with our trip for Oxygen. So I won't be missing any of my lectures for it after all!

So, from this week's lecture, how can I describe the Bible?

1. The Bible tells the story:

  • from the beginning, Creation to a renewed beginning, the New Creation;

  • of God at work, saving His people, establishing His kingdom, and making and keeping coventant (contractual promises);

  • that is all about Jesus Christ. In reading the Old Testament we are prepared for Jesus, and in reading the New Testament we are presented with Jesus.
2. The Bible can be split up into several sections. Let me show you this in the way my lecturer showed us:
  • Pick up your Bible and grab the two testaments in your left (Old Testament) and right (New Testament) hands. Leave out the editorial matter at either end. You will notice that the OT makes up about 75-80% and the NT about 20-25%. There has to be a reason such a big slab of the Bible is there, doesn't there? Given the relative sizes, it seems obvious that the NT will be difficult to understand without the OT.

  • Now put the NT down and take the OT and divide it in half (roughly) according to the number of pages. You will find that your left hand holds the books Genesis to Esther, and your right hand holds the books Job to Malachi. The first half of the OT reports the story of God at work, in chronological order with a few overlapping parts. The second half of the OT responds to the story of God at work that the first half told.

  • Now put the "reportage" pages down and divide the "response" pages not quite in half but more like 40% to your left hand (that's Job to Songs) and 60% to your right (that's Isaiah to Malachi). The books in your left hand, also called the Wisdom books, interact with the story of God at work; they examine different parts of individual human life (suffering, love, joy, etc) within the context of the story. The books in your right hand, also called the Prophets, interpret the story of God at work, giving commentary on the larger events that affect people on a communal scale.

  • Now put the "interacting" pages down and divide the "interpreting" pages into, at left, Isaiah to Daniel, and at right, Hosea to Malachi. Your left hand holds what is known as the works of the Major Prophets, and your right holds the works of the Minor Prophets. The key to these is to remember the Major Prophets are not more important or significant than the Minor Prophets, they just wrote more words.

We also did a lovely schematic of the Old Testament, but since I wrote in tiny writing, there isn't much point in reproducing it here. I was sooo thankful of my BSF and Sunday School studies during this half of the lecture because without them, much of this would be, if not new, at least unfamiliar. As it was, I felt like I was being shown a snapshot of a place that was already quite familiar to me. None of the names were unfamiliar (not even Jereboam and Rehoboam, thanks to the Lord's Learners' studies on the Kings of Israel and Judah last term) and although I might not have known the dates by heart already, they weren't a surprise.

I did appreciate my lecturer's comment on the two commonly held dates for the time of Moses: "the difference is in how you interpret the archaeology; neither date is heretical". He didn't go into the differences, just mentioned this in passing. Thanks to my study of the Life of Moses with BSF, and the extra research I did to satisfy my questions over that very issue, I know what he was talking about. *smile*

Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Monday, 18 July 2011

5 books that changed who I am

Meredith tagged me with Ally's meme to list 5 books that have changed who I am. It's almost a month since Meredith tagged me, and I have been thinking about my list ever since. You might think since I am an avid reader, I would have lots of books vying for my top 5. But the truth is, I don't. I must not be reading as many Quality books as I thought... or is it just that I read so many books that whatever I grasp from one is soon lost to the new insights of the next book? I'm not sure. But after much deep thought, I have created a list. You'll have to forgive me, even still, because it isn't exactly a Book List. It includes two books that I actually experienced as courses that were presented to me, rather than reading the books the courses were based upon (although I have since read the books as well). In order, not of influence, but of the time I read them, starting from the earliest significant book:

1. 2001: The Alpha Course: Questions of Life by Nicky Gumbel
This book is a transcription of the lectures that Nicky Gumbel gives in the Alpha Course. I went to Alpha with Jeff back in 2001, after we'd been married for a few months. It changed my life, as I learnt that being a Christian is not something you do, because everything necessary has already been done for you. It changed Jeff's life, as he realised that being a Christian requires you to do something about it. That might seem like a conundrum, but both are true. We are Christians because Jesus Christ has done all that is necessary to save us - but we live our lives Christianly (more and more like Christ) in response to that free gift of salvation. Alpha changed our marriage, because all of a sudden we weren't a neo-pagan married to a nominal Christian, but two Christians united in marriage by God seeking to bring glory to God.

2. 2002: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Without this book I'm pretty sure I would not have spoken to my mother-in-law for much of the last decade. It opened my eyes to the fact that Betty shows love in completely different ways to the ways I do. It helped me to understand that the things she was doing, she was doing to show love for me, not criticism. My reading this book and discussing it with Jeff made a huge difference in our relationship because all of a sudden I could choose to react to Betty according to her intentions, not my interpretations of her actions. And I could make an effort to show love to her in ways she would accept as well. Now most of our disagreements are usually precipitated by my suffering PMT-related insanity.
This book also made a difference in how I dealt with Jeffrey, as we learnt to appreciate each other's ways of expressing love. I learnt to spend time with him while he did stuff - even if it was just wandering around with him while he watered the chilli trees in the garden after work, and he learnt that he needed to talk to me and not just be with me.

3. 2003 onwards: The Bible, studied with BSF. For the last seven years I have read my Bible with the help of Bible Study Fellowship, aka BSF. I've read and studied Acts, Ruth, Genesis, Matthew, Exodus through Deuteronomy, Romans, John, and now I'm half way through Isaiah. I began reading my Bible shortly after the Alpha course with the help of Nicky Gumbel's Challenging Lifestyle and A Life Worth Living. I joined a Bible Study small group, and read the Bible with them. But it was BSF that helped me put the two together, providing questions to help me study the Bible on my own and getting me together with other women to discuss what we'd learnt, then listening to a lecture on the passage to bring home the Bible truths. BSF has kept me reading my Bible through thick and thin for the past seven years... and BSF has made me apply what I have learnt from all that reading to my life.

4. 2004: The Bible Overview Course by Matthew Brain, Matthew A. Malcolm, Matthew R. Malcolm and Greg Clarke
Matt Malcolm and his wife Bec presented this course to the incoming students at the beginning of Jeff's first year studying for his MDiv at Trinity. It was revolutionary for me because it changed the way I have read and understood the Bible ever since. This course provides a simple 15 stage summary of the significant events in the story of the whole Bible from Creation (Genesis 1-2) to New Creation (Revelation 21-22). Before attending this course (three sessions over two days) I knew that the Bible hung together as one story, but I couldn't really have told you what it was. And I definitely couldn't have said anything about what the story of the Bible as a whole meant for how we should understand each part of it. This course was indeed revolutionary for the way I now read the Bible - each verse, each chapter, each book in its context within the mega-story of the Bible.

5. 2009: The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer, and Spotlight by John Granger
This might seem like cheating, to list a saga of four books and then to go and add another book that provides a literary analysis of the series, but these books together have indeed changed who I am. Before reading these books, I read a lot of books. But it wasn't until I read Twilight and Breaking Dawn (and the other two books that fit in between them) that I realised that what I learnt about reading and understanding books in Year 12 English actually applied to anything other than the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and Robert Frost. Somehow, despite my A grade, and my voracious reading before, during and after Year 12, I managed to miss that nugget. (A bit like I managed to miss the nugget of the gospel message in years of Sunday School and Youth Group, I imagine.) Yes: Good Books have more than one meaning, and that meaning is often hidden under the surface. Lightbulb! Reading Spotlight - and posts on Granger's Forks High School Professor website - showed me that there was even more to understanding the meaning of literature than the smattering of such tropes as allegory and irony as I had absorbed from Mr Collins, my English teacher. I never would have read John's book if it wasn't for Stephenie's. Now, thanks to John, I can use "alchemical scaffolding", "ring composition" and "anagogical analysis" in sentences and know what I am talking about, even if you don't!

These two just missed the cut:

2002: The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise-Bauer
This book is the reason why I homeschooled Joshua, Anna, and (intermittently) Abigail for their kindergarten and pre-primary years. And through me recommending this book, it's the reason quite a few of my friends now homeschool as well. While I am not homeschooling this year, and I don't plan to go back to homeschooling long term, this book has made an impact on the way I teach kids in Children's Church and in the books Jeff and I choose to read aloud to our kids (the very term "read aloud" is only in my vocabulary because of TWTM).

2008: Redemption: Accomplished and Applied by John Murray
I read this book for one of the Trinity@Night courses I did. It helped me to understand my salvation on a much deeper level than I ever had before. It took a lot of effort to get through, but the effort has paid off in my having a very good understanding of what it means that I am saved, how I was saved, and how I am sure I am saved.

I'm supposed to tag 3-5 others to keep the meme going, but everyone I would tag (Meredith, Amy, Kellie) has already been tagged. Actually, I would be curious about John Granger's top five. Bet Harry Potter is there...

So I'll just leave you with Jeff's list, in order from most recent to earliest:
1. Total Church by Tim Chester
2. Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
3. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A New Adventure

Next Thursday evening, I am going to be attending Trinity's orientation for new students. Why? Because I am becoming a student once again. I am embarking upon a Graduate Diploma of Divinity, starting with Biblical and Systematic Theology in second semester.

I am very excited! I bought my pre-reading for the first part of the subject, God's Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts, yesterday, and am studying through it one chapter a day to have it read in time for my first lecture on the 19th. I'm only in the second chapter so far and already I have had several questions to discuss with Jeff and one rather heated conversation with him as I struggled to get my head around something. Mind you, I did promise the principal in my prospective student interview that I wouldn't be as argumentative as Jeff was when he studied his MDiv at Trinity. It will help that I can Discuss (it really does need that capital) my questions and Issues (yeah, that needs the capital as well) with Jeffrey at home, rather than only with the lecturers in the lectures. I hope!