As painful as the experience has been for her and as agonizing as it's been for her family to watch her suffer, God has not wasted these weeks. It's been a privilege and a joy to have her back with us for a while, sharing with her the lessons that He is teaching. Many questions are still unanswered...some may never be answered, but not because God is without a plan.
A couple of days ago, a book arrived in the mail....a gift from my cousin, a woman who possesses some of the keenest spiritual eyesight I've ever witnessed. Knowing the ins and outs of our daily struggle, she chose a book that she thought would minister to me during this time and she had it sent to me. It's written by Ken Gire, an author whose books she and I have enjoyed together before. But even she didn't know just how perfect it would be for the current circumstances. The book's metaphor is the climbing of Mt. Everest, and Gire likens our spiritual quest for answers to life's questions to this climb. He uses the book of Psalms as part of his "map" for the climb; his language is at times as thrilling to me as the climb is exhilarating to those fit enough to take it on. But the opening words of the second chapter stopped me dead in my tracks tonight, and I share them with you in case you too are trying to make sense of the mountain ahead, especially in light of God's purposes in the lives of your children.
How blessed I am that CJ is not left without a map...that some of the terrain ahead of her has been traveled before and has been left with markers and roadsigns and directions to shelter. And as we climb with her, together we leave even more accurate maps for those who come behind us--complete with postings of danger as well as notices of rest areas with fresh water and nourishing food.
The earliest renderings of Mount Everest were simple sketches. Later the landscape was mapped by hand, using primitive instruments. Today the methods of mapping are more sophisticated. The most recent measurement of the mountain was done in 1999, using precise calculations made by the millions of data points collected by the Space Shuttle and the Global Positioning System.
With each generation, the map gets more accurate. And this is how it should be, both in the natural realm and the spiritual realm.
It seems to me the responsibility of each generation is to map the terrain of faith with ever-greater accuracy. We are not painting pictures for our children; we are making maps for climbers, which our children will one day become. There are clefts in the rock where they can find shelter, but there are also crevasses into which they can fall to their deaths. To map the clefts and not the crevasses would be unconscionable.
~~from The North Face of God by Ken Gire
May God equip us all for the climb, and may He grant that we leave maps that allow our children to clearly see His faithfulness in every step.
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup honey-dipped papaya
1 cup dates; pitted
1 cup dried pineapple
1 cup dried apricots
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup Sultanas (golden raisins)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup apple juice, cider, or brandy; extra for storing
6 egg whites
whole blanched almonds
Prepare 2 loaf tins, 9x5x3, by lining with buttered parchment paper or brown wrapping paper. Let paper extend above long sides of pan 2 inches.
Combine 1 3/4 cups flour with spices and salt. Cut all fruit except raisins and sultanas into small pieces. Sprinkle and separate all fruit with 1/2 cup flour. Chop nuts coarsely and add to fruit.
Preheat oven to 275.
Cream butter. Beat in honey and molasses. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add flour mixture and apple juice or brandy alternately to butter mixture, beating after each addition. Carefully fold in fruits and nuts. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, and fold them carefully into batter. Turn batter into prepared pans. Lay almonds on top of each loaf in desired design.
Bake at 275 on middle rack for 3 hours. Cool in pan for at least 30 minutes. Remove from pans; separate from paper; cool completely on cake rack.
Wrap in several thicknesses of cheesecloth which have been drenched with brandy. Then wrap in waxed paper AND foil and store in refrigerator or in cool, dry place. Check moisture every week or so and drench cheesecloth with fresh brandy if needed. Age at least 4 weeks.
If any of the dried fruit isn't available, increase amounts of other fruit accordingly. I replace some with dried cranberries. Use what you love!
I'm a big fan of Wilton's food coloring. I love the brilliant colors it gives our frosted sugar cookies the week before Christmas. But alas, just try to find their reds and greens after Thanksgiving! There must be a horde of people hoarding the good stuff, because every year I'm too late and find myself scraping the bottom of LAST year's stash! So this year, ladies, I've joined the hordes and have made myself a new stash in October. And I've threatened everyone in the house that it's not to be used by anyone for any reason--not in ice cubes, in rainbow milk...no green snickerdoodle dough or scrambled eggs, no red cornstarch play-dough. On pain of death! A slow death!
And last weekend Aubrey and I got in the kitchen during the ill-fated Notre Dame/USC football game and made a huge batch of Holiday Fruit Poundcakes. This is the only kind of "fruitcake" I've ever been able to eat and enjoy. I assure you it has nothing to do with the fact that these cakes age for eight weeks in peach brandy....nothing. Anyway, those are wrapped and soaking in the back of one of the refrigerators, just waiting for the first holiday gathering.
(I don't expect a stampede here, but if you'd like the recipe for a holiday cake full of great dried fruits, whole wheat flour, real butter, molasses and honey, and the aforementioned "spirits," let me know and I'll email you a copy :-) Make it early!)
And yet still he's had digestive problems. After a whole lot of tests (the really unpleasant kind!), one of the conclusions is that he is severely lactose intolerant. So this means that in addition to the meat restrictions, he can't have any milk products or any prepared foods containing whey. This is harder than it sounds--it's surprising how many cereals, crackers, desserts, condiments, etc. have small amounts of dairy products. Life now gets even more complicated for Aubrey and Dirk as they try to structure their family diet to accommodate the new restrictions.
Isaac is a trooper. He understands enough to know that some foods make him sick and are dangerous for him, so for the most part he deals with it pretty well. But Granny feels so sorry for him when he's here and can't eat what the hordes are eating for meals or snacks or desserts. So today while at the grocery store I started what will be a little stockpile of special things just for Isaac to eat when he's here and can't have what the rest of us are having. It will go in a bag with his name on it so that the goodies don't disappear from the pantry without my knowing...which does, from time to time, happen around Granny's House!
Social Work Today Magazine
Hat Tip: Dina Wong
Here is a beautifully written, disturbing yet poignant article by Patricia E. Bauer. . .a question we need to consider individually and as a society. Please don't miss this.
The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have
The cultural left has a new tool for enforcing political conformity in schools of education. It is called dispositions theory, and it was set forth five years ago by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE): Future teachers should be judged by their "knowledge, skills, and dispositions."
What are "dispositions"? NCATE's prose made clear that they are the beliefs and attitudes that guide a teacher toward a moral stance. That sounds harmless enough, but it opened a door to reject teaching candidates on the basis of thoughts and beliefs. In 2002, NCATE said that an education school may require a commitment to social justice. William Damon, a professor of education at Stanford, wrote last month that education schools "have been given unbounded power over what candidates may think and do, what they may believe and value."
Read the whole article here.
The life of homeschooling is really more about home than about schooling. It's all about creating and maintaining a safe, loving, stimulating, nurturing, memory-filled haven for all those that God plants around our tables. Education is certainly part of that, but it's my desire to see homeschooling families put the "home" back in homeschooling and cherish each day as one of the building blocks of the next generation, a generation who will leave our homes with steadfast hearts and a testimony of God's faithfulness.
My grandchildren gather around the table with my youngest children to explore the wonders of creation, to hear the fascinating stories of history, to cut and paste and color and laugh and eat. I hope to share with you some of the flavors of Granny's House in this place. . . .our ways of doing things, the lessons I've learned in more than two decades of the homeschooling life, the best curriculum and other resources, a picture now and then of our activities, maybe a recipe or two along the way, and other ideas that might help you and your family to weave learning with all of life.
Please, feel free to click on "comments" and leave me a question or observation or an idea of your own. You'll have to register with blogspot to join in, but I hope you'll take a few minutes to do that so that this can be a community of moms (and grandmoms!) sharing to a greater extent than ever before possible what God is teaching us. You can share the site with any who might be interested in our conversations here regardless of where they live or where they are in regards to the homeschool journey.
Welcome to my House!
He established a testimony in Jacob