Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Glenn Beck, Paul Kerry & the Hobbit

Today's adventure led us to the Glenn Beck Studios for a discussion with Glenn and Dr. Paul Kerry, and associate professor of history at Brigham Young University on J.R.R. Tolkien's writing and Christianity. 

Tolkien, speaking of LOTR & theHobbit,
"a fundamentally religious and Catholic work"
in a 1955 letter to the English Jesuit Robert Murray.

Dr. Paul E. Kerry is the editor of the recently published collection, The Ring and the Cross: Christianity and The Lord of the Rings , which includes essays by Joseph Pearce, Bradley J. Birzer, John Holmes, and several other Tolkien experts. Dr. Kerry is also co-editor, with Sandra Miesel, of the book, Light Beyond All Shadow: Religious Experience in the Work of J. R. R. Tolkien .
"I am a Christian and of course what I write will be from that essential viewpoint."

The conversation centered around Tolkien being a devout Catholic even to the point that he was the individual who converted C.S. Lewis, then an atheist to Christianity.  No small task!  Tolkien deliberately did not write in the allegory form that Lewis used, in fact as contemporaries Tolkien saw that Oxford withheld the Professorship from Lewis because of his overtly Christian writings. 

However, as a devout Catholic and in reading Tolkien's reflections to his children you can see the nature of the man writing the book.  You see that there is providence and not dumb luck in the actions of the hero.  You see there is goodness, and you see that evil is given over to it's own desires. All are Biblical themes. 

It was an interesting discussion and Glenn had on hand many originals of Tolkien's private letters to his children, belonging to a private collector in Dallas. 

Abigail was able to attend today's taping.  The movie comes out tomorrow and will be rated PG-13.  It is a dark movie and especially in the new 3-D, I would not take a younger child to see this movie.  That being said, Abigail will be 12 in two weeks and because she has read this book multiple times and familiar with the dark nature will see the movie with our Classical Book Club.
During the Q&A portion of the show Caleb was able to ask Dr. Kerry about Gollum's dual personality.  His question was addressed by Glenn and Dr. Kerry and aired on tonight's show!   So fun!  

 And we know that in all things God works for the good
of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Casa Manana's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

The best thing about the Casa Manana's children's performance is the twist their writers put on traditional stories.  Today we enjoyed Casa Manana's Twas the Night Before Christmas.  In this tale with her daddy off to war, Molly is having trouble finding her Christmas spirit. Determined to make it a Christmas to remember, Molly's mother takes her on a magical treasure hunt where they encounter dancing elves, a rocking Santa Claus and many other characters throughout the night only to awake to a special Christmas surprise.
The performance included a score of beloved Christmas songs such as "Jingle Bells," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen," "Blue Christmas" and more.  Such a darling tale and as always the acting and singing were amazing! 
Of course, not to be left out, I should include that it was made even more enjoyable because we attended with 60+ friends from PEACH. 

Therefore do not let anyone judge you
by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival,
 a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day
Colossians 2:16

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Afternoons

The VERY best part of my week, almost every week is Sunday after Bible class. It is the time when I get together with about sixteen incredible kids to study the book of Matthew.  I love Bible Bowl! I love teaching these kids, I love pushing them to learn more, I love them teaching me! 
I can't say I ever have a strong feeling for how the kids will do in competition, but I have a very strong feeling about how these kids will do in life.  We have spent so much time together, some of them every Sunday afternoon for 6 months at a time for the past seven years!  They bring out the best in each other and truly do 'spur one another on!'
There are so many things pulling for their attention, and time, but this is where they choose to spend and hour and a half on Sunday afternoons.  And everyone of them will score better than I will on the test, but they still let me teach!  And even though many of them are now taller then me, they still let me hug their necks.  They laugh at my corny Bible Bowl jokes.  And I get to tag team with my favorite teaching partner, Mr. Jon!
When I look at these faces I know one day each of them will stand before another group of 16 to 20 kids and pass this legacy on!  I had awesome Bible Class teachers at Broken Arrow, Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Matthews, Mrs. Lightsey, Mrs. Emerson, Mrs. Dethridge and others who handed the torch to me!

Some worthless scoundrels gathered around him
and opposed Rehoboam son of Solomon
when he was young and indecisive
and not strong enough to resist them.
II Chronicles 13:7

Friday, December 7, 2012

English Country Dancing

One of the last dances 

Tonight we tried our hand or should I say our feet at English Country Dancing. Wikipedia defines English Country Dance as a form of social folk dance which originated in Renaissance England, and was popular until the early 19th century in parts of Europe and the American colonies.
There is a great group of homeschoolers in our area who meet together on the first Friday of the month. When Caleb and I attended the Mother / Son luncheon, English Country Dancing was one of the activities and it was delightful!
The dance is elegant and scripted. Each dance is introduced and the steps are taught before the music is added. With each new dance you select a new partner, and throughout each dance you and your partner work in and out with other couples. The dances are a work out and some can rival any aerobics class!
For December everyone dressed for the time period. Everyone brought cookies and homemade goodies served with punch cups of Ginger Ale!
I realize we live in a time of electronic gizmos and delivery pizza sufficing as a teen social event. But this was positively delightful! I know it's crazy, but the kids spoke (not texted) and visited with each other. They introduced themselves to other youth and parents. They also shared in stories of homemade sugar cookies.
It was a sheer blessing to see the youth interacting with each other and adults with complete manners and social graces appropriate to the time period. Caleb and Abigail danced every dance of the evening. Jon and I dance several, until we couldn't keep up! I think Frankie made it one or two songs before she decided it was far more fun to take photos of everyone than to dance.
Each dance began with the young men escorting their partner by the arm on the dance floor and concluded with both partners bowing to honor to their partner, thanking them for the dance. Even at the end of the night, the young men shook hands and bowed to the ladies, thanking them for a lovely evening.
Mom's fake out of breath smile!
This is something we will do again! Two years ago we square danced, this was much more elegant and minus the caller. My sweet, sweet friend, Ms. Donna loves the Pride and Prejudice style bonnet movies. That isn't my cup of tea; I prefer a good mystery any day! With that said, this uncoordinated 'church of Christ' (aka. we don't dance) girl had a great time. Outside of our square dancing adventure, I don't think I've danced since 'choreographing' in Spring Sing at Oklahoma Christian!

Then young women will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
Jeremiah 31:13

Jr. High Christmas Party

I really think I should start this post with:  Abigail is in Jr. High!!!  When did that happen?!  OK, whew, tonight was the church Jr. High Christmas Party at Ms. Belinda's home.  Ms. Belinda's family have a lovely home, plenty of land with horses, goats, chickens etc.  They are the family that host the Cowboy Camp
Tonight the kids did all the traditional Christmas party celebrations, you know, gift exchange, caroling, flash light tag, silly string fights, etc. I think Abigail had to wash her hair four times to get the silly string out of her long hair! 
Ms. Belinda baked frosted sugar cookies that were yummy!  Ms. Belinda and Abigail are very much kindred spirits, both are brilliant, tough as nails but know how to rock a little bling!!!
Treat older women as mothers,
and younger women as sisters,
with absolute purity.
I Timothy 5:2

Friday, November 30, 2012

American Bible Challenge

The Game Show Network has a wholesome family show titled the Great American Bible Challenge, hosted by the well-known Bible scholar, Jeff Foxworthy.  When the show came out last year, we received emails from quite a few friends saying we needed to tryout for the show.  At that time the kids were at Camp Blue Haven.  Today was the casting call in Dallas for Season Two.  
Caleb, Jon and I went to tryout.  It was just the best experience, so pleasant.  Really a nice group of people.  Some in costume to compete as the 'Bible Buckaneers' or 'Higher Hair'.  There were lots of matching t-shirts, catchy team cheers.  Of course, silly me, I thought you go, you take the test and if you score high you make the show.  That is not exactly how it works.
The test was probably four or five pages of questions, ranging from the simplicity of  write the books of the Bible in order to 'who is the Christian on the Simpson's TV show?'  Following the test there was an interview process and a film screen test.  We were one of the last teams into the interview, they told us we had the highest scores they had seen all day, and that Caleb had the highest score. 
It was a really, really, enjoyable experience!  We met other home school families, teams from other churches of Christ.  My advice to anyone who actually wanted to be on the TV show would be to take your own prerecorded audition tape, telling who you are, info about your charity etc.  Make it snazzy and make sure you have a memorable hook.  When you go to tryout, remember it is a TV show, it is for entertainment, come prepared to entertain.  The test is the easiest part.  You can visit the American Bible Challenge Facebook for sample tests and get an idea of what it is like. 

You study the Scriptures diligently
because you think that in them you have eternal life.
These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,
John 5:39

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Teen Classical Book Club

If your children are home schooled, or have grown up embracing the value of great books then you are probably familiar with Lew Wallace's Ben Hur.  This was the selection for PEACH's Teen Classical Book Club.  For those of you only familiar with the 1959 movie, starring Charlton Heston, suffice it to say, the book is even longer! 

For back ground sake, Caleb has loved this movie since he was about four years old.  At some point he became fascinated with Roman history and he has an operating data bank of all things Roman.  He has a book entitled The Roman Handbook that we purchased at the Dallas Museum of Art's Vesuvius exhibit  that he could probably recite at this point.  In fact in his room a Lego Roman Coliseum still sits.   If you were to need clarification on Roman vs. Greek gods, names, powers, legends etc., please feel free to start up a conversation with my child!
For book club we read all 577 pages.  Yes, we read, not listened to the audio version, not just watched the DVD, we read!  Keep in mind that is 577 pages written in the 'King James Version' vocabulary!   Caleb did make sure when we finished reading that we watched the 6 hour 1959 movie and the following day watched the 90 minute cartoon version.  Please do not tell him their was also a silent film version of the book.   I think what he truly enjoys is Charlton Heston's voice.  He loves the 10 Commandments too and anything else that Mr. Heston has done.  Caleb does a pretty good impersonation of Charlton Heston's Moses, and probably an even better impersonation of Yul Brenner's Pharaoh!  

At book club the children discuss the book and make comparisons to current popular literature, etc.  But if the truth were told, what really brings these kids together is the pizza and games afterwards.  For club this month Abigail and I made a spice cake with dates and figs in the shape of the Coliseum.  Ms. Kathy had several great races for the kids including placing penne noodles in a bowl, using a spaghetti noodle held in their lips.  They also raced to get vanilla wafers in their mouth, that were positioned on their forehead using only their facial muscles! 
The kids had great fun with the games, as a parent I saw lessons that were so applicable to the book.  There were teens who  followed the rules with every game and those who did not, rather choosing to 'bend' the rules to ensure victory.  2000 years later from the setting of the book there is still nothing new under the sun. Human nature strives for recognition and the praise of men, but true reward only comes when we humble ourselves and submit to authority. 

The chariot race is the big attention grabber scene in the movie, but the book really focuses on a man living during the time of the Messiah and the change that takes place in his life because of the  interactions with the Messiah.  It is a great read, and Lew Wallace was a former Union General and brought great insight to the civil unrest of the Jews and the Romans. 

I know, my God,
that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.
All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent.
I Chronicles 29:17

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PEACH Recital

Each year our home school group, PEACH, holds our annual Recital, it is a great venue for kids to display their various talents and an even better time to hang out with friends!  The evening includes a youth dessert bake off.  This year we had 17 entries in the dessert competition.  Since my kiddos did not participate in the baking portion I was invited to assist with the judging portion.  That is code for sample all 17 desserts!   Yum, there we no losers, that's for sure!
There was also an art competition, separated by age groups.  So many talented children!  I really enjoy seeing the kids creativity.  Abigail did enter the art competition, I'm not sure how many pieces of art were entered, but their were a lot of great pieces!
Entertainment for the evening included the recital portion, there was everything from musical selections, poetry recitations, solos, interps, and I'm sure I am forgetting some.  We had more contestants this year than any previous year, and I'm happy to say, the quality of the performances was also improved!
Caleb chose to perform a piece he did for his speakers club and Abigail performed one of her newest piano pieces. 

for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD
Exodus 12:14

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Head on a Platter

This week in Bible Bowl we reviewed chapters 1-8.  With us being on the heels of Halloween, I kept with the John the Baptist, head on a platter theme.  Our snack was donuts with teeth inserted, fruit roll ups for tounges and 'X' eyes mad out of icing. 

I challeneged the kids to memorize the chapter headings for chapters 1-4.  As a reward as they  came up and said their headings, I gave them goodie bags with Mattew 6:9-12 on the tags.  The bags were filled with gold and silver coins (bubble gum) and gold bar nuggets (chocolate)! 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mother/Son Luncheon at Bass Pro


Awesome Day!

What a fun day!  Today was our annual Mother/Son Luncheon at Bass Pro with friends from PEACH, our home schooling group.  We joined about 40 others for a great time of worship, fellowship and encouragement.  This years theme was taken from Joshua 1:9, myself and another mom spoke to encourage the Moms to be courageous in our parenting.  Like last year, Caleb and another young man spoke to the young men.  It really was a booster shot in the arm to step up and be the parents of a Godly generation of young men. 

Public speaking is something that comes a little easier for Caleb, but with speech and debate and Leadership Training for Christ he has definitely had more practice.  As for me, I've had a LOT of practice speaking in front of young people but grown ups can be a intimidating.    But knowing you are in a room filled with people walking the same road makes it much easier.

Our day also included English Country Dancing lessons, way too fun!  The boys were good sports, Caleb called it 'bonnet movie dancing.'  

Lunch for Caleb consisted of Islamorada Portofino, which was blackened tilapia topped with grilled shrimp in a rich, creamy lobster sauce.  I opted for the catfish, both were wonderful.  The best part of the luncheon portion was the amazing turtle cheese cake!  I didn't finish all of my fish, but every bit of the cheese cake was eaten!
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Archery Class

My Katniss
My Hawkeye

Our class


Homeschooling affords our family to experience a lot of different things that we couldn't normally do in a traditional 8am 3pm school setting.  Today one of those things was archery lessons.  Both kids loved archery at Camp Blue Haven and today they spent some time with other friends at Texas Archery Academy.  They offer archery 101, 201, & 301 class, plus competitive shooting.  Of course mom likes that they do all these things with like minded, Christian, home schooled children, and I spent the afternoon with like minded, Christian, home schooling moms!  
The kids shot from various distances and even played games where everyone had a balloon on their target and were to shoot the balloons off of others targets, the winner was the last person who still had a balloon in tact. 
The kids have every intention of going back for more!  I think you get a year family membership for $125 and shoot any time, and use their bows and arrows.  It's a great deal for families!
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.
Isaiah 49:2

Sunday, October 28, 2012

John the Baptist Cake

Caleb adding Eyelashes

In preparation for the Texas Bible Bowl next spring, I am currently teaching the book of Matthew every Sunday.  This Sunday we spent some time on John the Baptist.  Sundays can be a long day, worship servies are a 8am with Bible class following at 9:30 and then these kids volunteer to sit through an hour and half of intense study in the book of Matthew.  I usually bring a snack of some kind each week. This week I had a little fun and prepared a carrot cake in the shape of John the Baptist head on a platter, of course. 
Anything that makes these lessons memorable really helps it stick in the kids brains.  The cake was two sepate bundt cakes put together, and then I filled the tube hole with cupcakes.  I used flat pretzels to build out the ears and the nose and then covered it with icing. 

My Kids!  Love these guys!
I covered his hair with chocolate icing and then black licorice for fun.  I found some wax lips and dusted them with powdered sugar.  The beard and eye lashe were made out of chocolate sprinkles!  The kids loved it and had a great time!

 Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
Matthew 14:8