We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Homeschool Resolutions for 2008

Generally, it seems to me, homeschoolers tend to make their homeschool resolutions at the beginning of the school year rather than the New Year. I'm no different, but the New Year lends itself to a reassessment of how the school year has gone thus far. It's a good time to review the plans you made in the heady "homeschool convention" days of summer, when everything seemed possible! For the past 3 or 4 months we've plugged away more or less successfully, so where are we now?

Are there areas you've succeeded and want to ensure you continue that succees? Areas where you'd hoped to do better and need to recommit yourself? Things that have been troublesome that need to be addressed? Unexpected triumphs? Unrealized goals? Unrealistic expectations?Sometimes a review helps clarify where you've been particularly successful or not and why.

I'm going to spend this last week of our homeschool holiday break giving our last semester a good look. Then I'll be making the needed adjustments as I begin preparing for our school to resume on January 7th. The following are some of my thoughts on areas you might want to consider as you reassess your family. The areas our family needs to recognize successes or struggles are in ITALICS and our resolutions are in BOLD.

Goals for the entire family: Those goals that have slipped by the wayside or ones I'd like to institute. - In the past Hubby has been able to lead this each morning (or most mornings), but this fall that seemed to fall off a bit. So, we will recommitt ourselves to that. Also, we are going to begin incorporating Morning and/or Evening prayer from our "Anglican Family Prayer" book. We resolve to make daily family prayer and bible reading a priority.

School "flow": How does your day and week routine flow? Are there consistent bumps in the road? Are there techniques that have helped your days and weekls move along smoothly? - We've done a better job this Fall at keeping a regular schedule each week for school. However, our daily routine needs to be readjusted. One major change I'm making is me getting up and dressed first thing each school morning. In the past I've often found myself in my PJs still at mid-morning. I resolve to have myself completely dressed and ready to greet the children each school day.

Goals for each child: Those goals you've set for each child. Have you made good progress up to this point on these goals? Has one or more been supersceded (necessarily or not)? Do you need to rethink this goal or recommit to it? - My goals: Eldest (DS 10)- to become comfortable writing independently. He's coming along nicely with help for both of us through Classical Conversations "Essentials Program". Middle (DS - 8) - to bring reading up to a level of fluency rather than decoding. He's also coming along nicely, but I've slacked a bit in our goal to read a little each day. I need to recommit to this as I see the regular practice (even if it is only a few minutes) helps him immensely. Youngest (DD - 5) - to give her regular practice in "basics" of Kindergarten. Due to her eagerness, this has not been a problem. She requests to do her "school" every day! I resolve to continue the daily writing with DS - 10, daily reading with DS -8, and daily basics with DD - 5.

Concerning Co-op participation: Have you participated at a level appropriate for the needs of your family? Taking seriously your commitment to the program and/or maintaining the primacy of your homeschool needs? - We've been involved in Classical Conversations. I'm pleased with the interaction it has provided us and the structure and accountability. The program relies heavily on the parent to set the pace and our group does an excellent job of encouraging the parent in their teaching role. This has been a great boon to us. I've been able to enjoy the aspects of the program that enhance our homeschool, while not feeling pressured to take on more than we need. We resolve to maintain an appropriate activity level within our Co-op that maintains the primacy of our homeschool.

Outside classes: Have you overcommitted yourself, children or family? Is there one child who needs special attention in this area? Are there classes you'd like to seek out for your children? - My eldest is involved in karate and drama. My youngest is taking ballet. They both love their classes and these have not interfered with our homeschool. My middle also needs some outside art classes. I'm going to recommit to finding a class for him or making time to do the Mona Brooks "Drawing with Children" course I already own. I resolve to seek an art class for my middle DS.

Family activities and outside responsibilities: Where do you feel you need to be more or less involved? Are there activities you'd like to take on as a family or ones you've taken on that need to be assessed? Do these activities contribute positively to your homeschool or do they detract? - We've been particularly busy with our church the past 3-4 years. This year my husband's and my responsibilities have come to a close. We've been very slow to take on new responsibilities. It is a struggle not to take on more, but we are being very deliberate in what we choose to participate in or not. We've definitely noticed a lessening of the stress-level! We resolve to continue to carefully evaluate each activity and how it affects the homeschool and family.

Chores: Where do you see failings or successes? Do some chores need "refresher courses"? Do you see some of your kids slacking off in certain areas? Are you slacking off in your direction of chores or in your own chores? Are there some chores that seem superfluous? Are there some chores that need to be added? Do you need to consider a new "system" or just buckle down with the one you already have? - I've decided to make some chores "required" to recieve a minimum allowance and some chores optional (as a way to earn the rest of their "allowance"). We resolve to re-address the issue of chores and allowance payment and to incorporate a system that ensures a minimum allowance with the chance for extra earning.

Goals for the teacher: Where do you need support and/or encouragement? When or how are you "feeding" yourself? Are you allowing yourself too much "self"? Where do you need to recongize a sacrifice is needed on your part? - As I stated earlier, I need to be up and ready to greet the children each school day. I also need to have a plan for regular daily prayer and bible reading. In addition to these daily needs, I need to improve my "Mother Culture" through book reading, lectures, cultural events, entertainment, fellowship and "personal time". I resolve to develop a list of "Mother Culture" ideas and consult it to plan daily, weekly and monthly "Mother Culture" time.

I'm sure there are other areas you might consider reviewing. If you have areas you'd like to share, I'd love to hear! Leave a comment! If you blog about it, leave a link, too!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas wishes, prayer and scripture

Merry Christmas

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

From the Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Christmas Day

And the word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.... From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.

John 1:14, 16-18 NRSV

Have a blessed and lovely Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A new Glogg recipe (mulled wine)

Svenska Glogg (or Swedish Mulled Wine) is a traditional Swedish drink for the Christmas season and no wonder - boy, will it chase away the chilly weather! It is a very potent spiced wine - served warm.

There are many different recipes for Glogg. Hubby's family's version takes two types of port wine, brandy, and vodka - and of course lots of spices. This one (the one we used last year and decided we liked equally as well) is a bit less alcoholic, but every bit as wonderful! I'm calling it "Erikson's Glogg" - because my kids are Erik's sons...and someday perhaps this will be their family recipe for Glogg.

Erikson's Glogg
1 large bottle red wine
1 reg. bottle port wine
10 cardamom pods, gently cracked
small handful of cloves (10 or so)
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 T whole allspice
1/2 c (or more) of sugar (more or less to taste - depending on your wine)
Handfuls of almonds and raisins.
1 orange cut in half

Place the spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, allspice) in a loosely-tied cheesecloth bundle. Combine the wine and the spice bundle in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir in 1/2 c of the sugar, carefully tasting to determine if it needs more. Continue adding by 1/4 cup fulls until it the wine tannins are smoothed out, but not too sweet. Toss in almonds and raisins (one or two handfuls of each). Float the orange halves in the glogg. Continue simmering the mixture slowly for 15 minutes.

At this point you can cool it off and store it, or go ahead and serve.

Before serving it is traditional to put a splash of Aquavit in the pot (or vodka) (or more - depending on your perferences) and light the glogg. Be VERY CAREFUL doing this...we've never had a problem, but it is fire, people! The floating almonds will sizzle and the flamed glogg mellows. (It also reduces the alcohol content a bit.) We turn down the lights and everyone gathers around when the pot is lit. The kids think it is wonderful!

Serve this in mugs - and be sure each glass gets a few of the almonds and raisins. (We serve with a spoon so we can dig these out of the bottom of the glass.) This is perfect to enjoy after the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve...in a darkened room with just the Christmas tree lights on. Very relaxing!

Interested in more holiday recipes? Visit my food blog: To Every Meal There is a Season.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Advent "Link Love" 3

My friend, Jeanne, of At A Hen's Pace has a beautiful Advent poem up. Also, wish her a happy anniversary - it's a big one plus one!

A lovely rendition of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" featuring lovely madonnas from across the Christian world is up at On a Joyful Journey. Her blog is brand new - so go by and welcome her to the blogosphere!

Last Sunday in church, we discussed what it means that God is with us always. This touching story (very short), to me, illustrates beautifully how the Lord is with us even when things are bleak.

Ann at Holy Experience can always be counted on for a thougtful and thought-provoking...wait, and ACTION provoking, post. She doesn't disappoint in "How to Celebrate Christmas".
An Advent recap (a sort of accidental Advent lesson learned) from "Et Tu?"
Happy Catholic just turned me on to a wonderful online magazine "Dappled Things". Their current issus has an article I plan on reading during my Christmas break: "The Truth of His Humanity"

The Archbishop of Canterbury discusses the nativity as folklore and adds a little more fuel to the Anglican fire...here's a log and another. I'm sure there will be more.
One last craft to keep the kids busy during the last couple of days before Christmas.

While they are crafting, perhaps you will enjoy storytime with a "thatmom" podcast of: A Long John Christmas.

And totally cheating here - a straight cut and paste from StandFirm:
Streaming live . . . The BBC's Radio 4 will be broadcasting Lessons and Carols live from the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge this coming Monday, December 24, at 10 a.m. EST. View the full program and order of service.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Advent "Link Love" 2

Two Square Meals gives us a lovelyAdvent update with just a little opining about children's behavior. I'm jealous, though, because the sweet little book she mentions is out of stock at Amazon! Oh well, next year.

Mere Comments has, as usual, a thought-provoking essay. It starts with an Advent theme, but then goes on to eternity and "knowing and being known." One I'll need to read again.

The Apostle to Suburbia shows off her Advent decorations. I love that she doesn't limit her decorations to one room!

And from Half Pint House and excellent look at what she is doing for Advent - with pictures. Don't miss the freebie .pdf from God's World News (with Jesse Tree symbols).

One of my newest reads: Scribbit has a great post with activity ideas. We are going to do the gumdrop decoration idea. Also scroll down to see a lovely etched glass project...with instructions if you'd like to give it a try. This is a Mama activity.

I could just sit and stare at this lovely photo for hours. Down here in the sunny South, this is a sight we rarely see. Shades of White often has wonderful and fun photos from around her home!

Another activity - look at this adorable little button wreath! We have jars of old buttons, we just may have to make some of these. How cute they'd be on gifts or wreaths, or on the tree (or a mini-tree).

Blessed Advent to you!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

2007 Family Review

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

We pray that this past year has been a prosperous one for you in every way, and that the year ahead will be as well!

Instead of sending out a family "letter", we decided to use a blog format. We plan to update it often so that friends and family can keep up with our goings-on. We hope you'll enjoy visiting regularly. For now, we've compiled a brief review of our year - it has been an exciting one. I've also incorporated some external links - have fun and click away!

And don't forget to bookmark us!

New Family Members
We have adopted two new family members! Of course, I mean pets. :) November of 2006, we brought Sophia, a sweet Labradoodle, into our home. She was the puppy of a rescued doodle - and is a delight! Her favorite game is hide-and-seek. She does both - hiding and seeking. No kidding!!!

Our second new family member is a little Labrador-Beagle mix. She belonged to a friend who just not able to give her the home she needed. She's a VERY HIGH ENERGY dog. Luckily, she and Sophia are a perfect fit. They keep each other entertained and are lovely companions.

To Asia with Love
Beijing, Changsha, Guangzhou, Manila, and Capul—these are the some of the places where our family feet stood during the past year! In April, Kerry traveled with our neighbor (Dear Neighbor) to China to bring home the her family's newly adopted daughter, YuanYu (her chinese name). They were in China for two weeks enjoying the hospitality, food, culture and cheap shopping!

While in China, Kerry and Dear Neighbor saw many amazing sights and had lots of wonderful experiences. Some highlights are: The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tianamen Square, an unscheduled “hutong” visit, the 2,000 year-old woman (Mawangdui tombs), shopping for pearls in Guangzhou’s “Pearl Market”, feeling oddly at home in Wal-Mart, drinking coffee at Starbucks cafes in Beijing and Guangzhou and attempting conversations with our few phrases of Mandarin. However, by far the best experience we had was getting to meet YuanYu!

YuanYu was 9 months old when she was adopted and has made the transition quite well. She is now a robust, happy, 17-month old with adoring parents and doting siblings (4 of them!).


July began with Erik and S on a mission trip to the Philippines. They joined long-time missionaries (and family friends) for a mission trip to their home on Capul, one of the many small islands making up the country.

They were part of a group of 8 participants on a short-term mission trip to assist the with bible translation training work. Part of the work they did involved conducting bible study workshops for native language translators.

S had the opportunity to do karate presentations to groups of local school children. As a result, he became quite a celebrity among the kids on the island!

Double Black Belts

After more than 3 years of work, two of the Potter's Shed (Erik and S) men received their black belts on April 21st. In order to earn their belts, they have had to pass regular exams in various techniques involving: kicks and punches, weapon work, pressure points, grappling, sparring, board-breaking, katas (long involved series of memorized moves), and basic physical fitness. The final examination included a timed distance run, timed situps and pushups, kata work, weapon work, back-to-back sparring rounds with other black belts, and finally a minimum of four different board breaks.

Family Escapes
With the international travel this year, our family vacation time (and budget) was very limited. But we managed a bit of time away.

Our first escape was our annual parish retreat to the Kanuga Episcopal Retreat Center in Henderson, NC. We enjoy a weekend of relaxed fellowship and unencumbered hours. Our entire family looks forward to this weekend every year. In fact, we leave Kanuga with the kids asking, "How long until we can go back?!?"

Over Labor Day weekend, we managed to make a last minute trip to the beach at Oak Island, NC.  Erik found us a quaint little cottage just across from the beach (no house in front, so it was like oceanfront!) for the long weekend. The dogs even got to join us - and they LOVED it. One of the highlights of the weekend was waiting anxiously beside a soon-to-hatch turtle nest. Unfortunately, we wore out before the baby loggerheads emerged, but we did return the next morning to see a flurry of turtle tracks leading from the nest to the ocean!

Back to the Books

Our fourth year of homeschooling began in mid-August with all three kids officially "in school". S is now in 6th grade, H is in 3rd grade (actually he's inbetween 2nd and 3rd because of his late birthday), and E is now in Kindergarten!

This year we've joined Classical Conversations and are thoroughly enjoying the once-a-week co-op style classes. The fellowship and interaction has been delightful and encouraging for both kids and mom!

A Leave-taking and a New Thing
The last big event of 2007 involves our church. Our family is very involved in our church, so when big things happen there, we notice! Our church family faced a crisis in the denomination and our own parish that ended with a leave-taking and a new thing. It all ended with a large group of the parish leaving the Episcopal Church to start a new Anglican Church, affiliated with the Province of West Africa. It is an exciting time, but sad, too. Many people in our old church chose to stay and the split was not entirely amicable. However, we are all trying to pick up and get on with doing the work of the church: sharing Jesus!

There were lots of other events this year, but these are the highlights. It's been a good year, all in all. We've been thrown a few curveballs and some that have left us very sad, but God is GOOD. All the time. And all the time, God is GOOD.

Thank you for sharing a bit of our lives! Please leave a note in the comments so we know who has come to visit!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How the Grinch Stole BACK Christmas!

Stumbled upon this delightful bit of fun today - from Touchtone Magazine's blog, a longtime reader, Joe Long, submitted this sequel to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". I debated whether or not to post the whole thing here, but since that isn't really kosher here in bloggyland (without permission) I've included just a snippet and a link.

It will be worth your click, I promise! Here's the snippet:

“Now, don’t kid a kidder,” he tells such a one –
“I stole Christmas once, and I know how it’s done.
“But I stole it with style; I stole it with flare.
“You aren’t that clever, or else wouldn’t dare;
“To my exploits, your Christmas theft can’t hold a candle –
“You’re not even a thief – just a wannabe vandal.”

Without further ado... here's the link!

Saint Lucy's Bread

St. Lucy's Day is coming up on Thursday, Dec. 13th. It is a favorite pre-Christmas festivity in Scandinavia. My husband's mother is Swedish, so we've adopted a few Scandinavian customs. One I love is Saint Lucy (Santa Lucia) Day. A very traditional way to celebrate St. Lucy's Day in Sweden is to enjoy delightful, saffron-scented buns in the shape of an "S".

Swedish Saffron bread (or Saint Lucy's Bread) is one of my favorite Christmas treats. I love the smell of the saffron and the gorgeous golden color! In fact, I've got this year's first batch in the breadmaker right now! So, I thought while I wait, I'd post the recipe I use. The dough is made in the breadmaker and then shaped and risen a second time on cookie sheets.

The following recipe comes from The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook :

Add the ingredients in the order specified in your bread machine's manual. (Mine is wet first, then dry, then yeast)

3/4 c. plus 2 T milk
1 lg. egg

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1/3 c. granulated white sugar
1/4 tsp powdered saffron (if you can only find saffron in "threads", just pulverize these as best you can then measure out 1/4 tsp. A trick I just learned is to use a bit of sugar as you pulverize with your mortar and pestle.)
3 T unsalted butter

2 1/4 fast-rise yeast

Place all in a 2-cup capacity breadmaker and set on "dough". At the end of the rise, punch down the dough and let rest 5 minutes before hand-shaping.

To handshape:
Lightly sprinkle work surface with flour. Divide dough into equal peices: 2 for 2 large breads, 4 for small breads, 6 to 8 for smaller buns. Lightly sprinkle with flour. Dampen hands and roll each piece into a rope. (18 inches for the 2 large pieces, 9 inches for the 4 pieces, etc.)

Lay a rope on a lightly-greased baking sheet. Curl each end, toward the center, into a coil. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush bread with egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water). Bake for approx. 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a rack.

This bread freezes well and is excellent served toasted with orange marmalade. (We serve small buns on St. Lucy's Day and freeze a larger bread for Christmas morning.)

Let me know what you think!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Advent Prayer Beads

In the Carnival of Anglican Advent Traditions, I mentioned that I've been using Anglican prayer beads (or rosary) for a few months. I also mentioned that I'd found an online source for liturgically-themed prayers for Anglican prayer beads. The link is still eluding me, but I'm going to go ahead and share the prayer for Advent. I wish I could give credit to the original website, but when I find it, I will post the link. Until then, here's an Advent prayer series for use with beads:

The Cross:
O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia!

The Invitatory Bead:
Stir up your power, O God, and come among us. Heal our wounds, calm our fears, and give us peace; through Jesus our Redeemer. Amen.

The Cruciform Beads:

Come, O Lord, and visit us in peace;
Let us rejoice before you with a perfect heart.

The Week Beads:
My soul waits for the Lord;
In His Word is my hope.

This isn't exactly how the prayer was laid out on the website. I've switched it around just a bit (the words are the same, just in different places).

Praying with the beads is a great meditative prayer practice. I love to get up early, but often find myself so foggy-headed early in the morning that I bumble around with my prayers. I'm so focused on "saying the right words" that I forget the focus of my prayer should be communication with God. So, in the early morning, I use the prayer beads and a collect from the Prayer Book. Then later in the day, I find some time to journal prayers for various needs - a time of intercessory prayer. At other times of the day, I sometimes pull out the prayer beads again. I'd like to put some order to this, but haven't yet done so. That is New Year's Resolution material!

If you use prayer beads, please leave a comment and tell me how you use them.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Advent "Link Love"

A lovely essay about discovering Christmas called "Finding Narnia".

Do you have the "Spirit of Christmas" or the Spirit of Christ?

A curmudgeon on Christmas cards. (We've been sending religious cards for a few years now, but I'm rethinking the whole Christmas photo thing now. :) )

A quick bible lesson.

And an early Christmas gift...go ahead, open it now!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Anglican Advent Traditions Carnival is OPEN!

is OPEN!
Anglican or not, you'll enjoy the Carnival!
Please ad your Advent traditions or ideas in the comments.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Carnival of Anglican Advent Traditions

Do you desire to make your Christmas preparations and celebrations more Christ-centered?

Curious about how a full observance of Advent can lead to a more joyous Christmas celebration?

Would you like to find out how others approach the season of Advent?

Join us TOMORROW, Wednesday, November 28th when Jeanne from At A Hen's Pace will host a blog carnival focusing on "Anglican Advent Traditions"! We'll be sharing inspiration, information, activity ideas, craft ideas, music and more. Please plan to come for a visit!
We pray you'll be encouraged as you begin your Advent observance, or perhaps as you learn about it for the first time.
Bloggers - if you would like to submit a link(s), please email Jeanne at: hens(underscore)pace(AT) yahoo (dot) com with your link and a brief summary by noon on TODAY, November 27th. Feel free to "steal" the graphic above and use on your own blog.
If you have any trouble with that, email me and I'll send you the graphic file directly: kerry(dot)wmson(AT)gmail(dot)com. And please, spread the word!
Non-bloggers (or late bloggers), if you'd like to contribute, please feel free to do so in the comments section when the Carnival opens on Wednesday!

Keeping Advent in 5 parts

Welcome! Please grab a cup of coffee, tea or apple cider and come see how our family “keeps” Advent. Come on in and let me give you a tour!

I hope you’ll be encouraged and inspired to make your Advent season special in your own home. Please leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Part 1
Foyer - where introductions take place
Study - contemplation, reading and prayer
Dining room – Advent devotions and wreath

Part 2
Family room – family entertainment

Part 3
Kitchen table – crafts and home educating during Advent

Part 4
Family Calendar – important dates during Advent

Part 5
Laundry Room – a Scandinavian tradition
My Writing Desk – Christmas cards
Our Computer Desk – some good links

Part 1 - Keeping Advent

The Foyer
The foyer sets the “tone” for your home. During Advent the tone in our home is “quiet preparation and hopeful anticipation”. Would you like to read more about the season of Advent?

Our tradition, developed over a few years of being totally overwhelmed by homeschooling, is to put out a few special bits of the decorations on certain days (St. Nicholas’ Day, St. Lucia Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day –more later). The rhythm of the season was so nice, we've kept it up on purpose! It is lovely when the season slowly and gently unfolds before us.

The Study
Praying with Anglican prayer beads has been a wonderful spiritual practice for me. I find that these “rote” prayers are beautiful meditations and encourage me to remove myself from the focus of prayers and place that focus on the Lord. I find these prayers are particularly helpful when the mind and the will are tired and weak. During Advent, I’ll be using some prayer bead prayers specifically for the season. (I printed this out and am now having trouble finding the link. I'll post it as soon as I find it, so check back!)

For personal devotions and contemplation, beyond my daily office, I’ll be using Advent and Christmas With Thomas Merton. This is a Roman Catholic publication which includes a few Marian devotions. These I could skip, but instead I’ll read them with an Anglican “eye”. (Expressing thankfulness for her rather than prayer to her.)

The Dining Room
On the dining table, you’ll find our Advent Wreath as the centerpiece and this is where we will have our Sunday Family Advent devotions. As much as I’d like to have a nightly devotion, I’ve just not been able to pull it off. So, instead of setting a high bar and failing, we are setting the bar at a level that is reasonable for our family.

Our Advent wreath is a simple pewter one with the traditional purple and pink candles. Last year, I added some rosemary sprigs from my garden for evergreens. I enjoyed this because when they got dried out, I could easily renew them. The pewter wreath with loose evergreens is much easier for me to handle than making a fresh wreath every year and keeping the greens misted.

The Advent wreath will be replaced with a traditional Christmas Pyramid on Christmas Eve. It has the Nativity figures on three different levels. We go from the simple to the madly decorative!

Part 2 - Keeping Advent

The Family Room
Couches are for reading: in lieu of a traditional nightly Advent Wreath devotion, we will return to a book we enjoyed as a family a few years ago: Jotham’s Journey. It is a gentle and serious story set in biblical times. Jotham is a young boy who ends up meeting the Christ Child. One reason I like this, is that we can flop down on the couch after dinner and just enjoy. With young kids, that is a much better option than formal prayers and devotions.

TVs are for watching: I LOVE all the cheesy, clay-mation Christmas specials! I also love most Christmas movies – no matter how dorky. BUT, watching these just gets my kids all “amped” up and impatient. And they certainly distract us from a focused Advent. So, what to do?

This year we are going to record all those beloved shows! I’ve already recorded “White Christmas” and “A Christmas Carol”. Now, we’ll be able to enjoy these during the 12 Days of Christmas! I know not everyone can do this, but if you can, I highly recommend it. One caveat: On those days when we are enjoying a little “foretaste” of Christmas, like St. Nicholas Day, we will probably indulge in one of these movies. Just enough to whet the appetite!

Not sure when your favorite TV specials are scheduled? Here’s a site to help you plan your viewing or recording.

A Nativity to play with: during the Advent season, we put out our “play” nativity scene in addition to our decorative one. The play one is a Playmobil Nativity set we received a couple of years ago. This year I’m going to package the pieces into 24 boxes – one for each day of Advent. Ending, of course with, the infant Jesus on Christmas Day.

Another part of our Nativity, but separate from the PlayMobil scene is a little wooden box we use as a manger. I keep a can of “hay” nearby and the kids fill the manger with hay as they serve and make sacrifices for each other. I like to combine this with the tradition of doing something secretly for someone on behalf of the “Christ Child”. We are going to make little note cards for family members to leave behind when they do a good deed. The cards will say something like, “This good deed was done for you on behalf of the Christ Child.”

Music to listen to: Christmas music - I LOVE it, but hate to start listening to it so early. How do you keep Advent without missing all your favorite music? I’ve found an amazing online “radio” station. This guy broadcasts traditional music according to the church year – and he’s an Anglican! I’ve enjoyed listening to his All Saints’ music, and I can’t wait for the Advent music.

Since I also like the less traditional and more “cultural” stuff, too, we do enjoy some regular Christmas radio on our special celebration days.

Part 3 - Keeping Advent

The Kitchen Table
The kitchen table is a very busy place in our house. This is where we do most of our “lessons”, our craft projects, and our food preparations.

Lessons: During the holidays, we operate on what I call “Holiday School”. It is quite a bit like “unschooling”, but with a holiday theme. All our activities during Advent will focus on “preparation”. We’ll prepare our food, gifts, and decorations. We’ll prepare our minds and hearts through reading poetry, stories and bible passages.

The Notgrass Publshing company has a great homeschool journal. These journals are for your students to fill in, but mine are too young or “allergic to pencils”. What I love is that the Notgrass journal helps you recognize the many areas of education (Spiritual, Service, Relations, Creativity and traditional areas like: Science, Math, Literature, History, Writing) by prompting you to apply your journal entries to these various descriptor boxes. The Notgrass journal will help us recognize how much we are learning through all this “fun stuff” – and most importantly it puts mom and dad at ease.

There will be some slightly more formalized learning, too. Math games and activities from Family Math will be combined with a holiday activity. For example, we have two large jars of buttons which the kids would like to use to make fancy refrigerator magnets. We will use a lesson from Family Math to sort our buttons in a number of ways and then we’ll use our sorted buttons to make our magnets. Other activities will include: measuring with Candy Canes, practicing or just learning the concept of “area” and “perimeter” while wrapping packages, and some simple fun math games.

Each morning, after breakfast and chores, we will gather at the table for to read our bible, a poem and a story. We’ll enjoy a daily segment of a book on tape while we all work on some small project or free drawing. I think we’ll start with Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Other possible books are: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Heidi, and maybe one or two others from this list.

Crafts: I love doing crafts, but they often happen spontaneously at my house (we keep massive amounts of craft supplies on hand). Here are some online resources for crafts: A page from Catholic Mom, Advent Paper Chain, Felt Christmas Tree and ornaments. It is pretty easy to find loads of crafts online.

Food: Another Advent tradition for us is preparing some of our special Christmas treats ahead of time. The kids can be wonderful kitchen helpers, so we’ll work together to turn out: breakfast breads (Orange-Cranberry, Banana, Pumpkin Spice), cookies (St. Nick’s Gingerbread, Sugar, peanut butter “blossoms”, pepparkokar, snickerdoodles, and others), and special treats (chocolate dipped pretzels, butterscotch haystacks, hot chocolate mixes). There is a wonderful combination of merriment and purpose during our family cooking, which adds to our Advent!

Check back in the coming days as I add these recipes.

Part 4 - Keeping Advent

The Family Calendar
The Advent Season is filled with delightful mini-celebrations that ease our anticipation and kindle our devotion. However, to celebrate or observe every one would be a burden for us. So, we have carefully chosen a few that have particular meaning for us.

The Advent Season is preceded almost directly by St. Andrew the Apostle’s Day. Some people fast on this day in preparation for the beginning of Advent. We’ll have a modified “fast” in which we serve a “feral” meal. “Feral” meals, being the opposite of “Feast” meals, are simple and modest. Instead of our usual Friday night pizza, we’ll have a simple soup and salad meal.

Dec. 1st - today we’ll do the minimal Advent decorating: an heirloom Advent banner and the Advent wreath. The banner is a simple cross-stitched on linen with little loops on which to hang candies – one for each day of December.

Dec 2nd – first Sunday of Advent: We will have our first Advent wreath devotion and light the first candle. We will do this before we go to church rather than at dinner time, because our church now meets in the evening and has a potluck dinner afterwards. Each Sunday, we’ll do the same!

Dec 6th – St. Nicholas Day: We’ve done away with the secular “Santa Claus” and restored St. Nicholas! Our shoes are set out beside the fireplace the evening before and St. Nicholas leaves a small present or two and some goodies. We have a big family breakfast – Daddy even takes the morning off! In the past, we’ve spent the day baking and decorating gingerbread men and bishops. But this year, we might make them a few days ahead of time and then spend St. Nicholas day delivering them to friends with notecards telling about St. Nicholas. This just seems more in the spirit of the day and the saint!

We’ll bring out some of our “St. Nicholas” (or Santa Claus) decorations today. Not too many, just a few. I like to put them all on one table or shelf to make a St. Nicholas display of sorts.

Dec. 9th – Conception of the Virgin Mary (Theotokos): In lieu of the Roman Catholic observance of the Immaculate Conception (on the 8th), I’m choosing to adopt the Eastern Orthodox day. Regardless of what you believe about Mary, this is certainly a good day to spend some time honoring her through prayers of thanksgiving.

Perhaps, we’ll bring out our nativity Mary and Joseph and let them begin a procession around the house until they arrive in “Bethlehem” on Christmas Eve.

Dec. 13th – St. Lucia Day: My MIL’s family is Swedish. She was born there, but her parents immigrated to America when she was quite young. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed learning and adopting some Swedish customs. St. Lucia (or St. Lucy) is a particular favorite of mine because she was an Italian (part of my heritage is Italian). You can read a bit more about how Swedes traditionally celebrate the day and about St. Lucy.

We celebrate the day with special St. Lucia buns, which are rich, saffron bread (like a challah bread). I make small breads for each child and drizzle some icing on top. This year I’ll wake my daughter up and let her help me prepare the special “candlelight” breakfast. We’ll probably serve it in the kitchen, but we might get adventurous and serve breakfast in bed. Later, I make larger St. Lucia breads which are served with orange marmalade rather than icing on Christmas morning.

In the evening, we’ll put up our Christmas tree. The tree is hung with lights and that is IT! No decorating until Christmas Eve. We will also put lights at the windows and other selected locations in the house. (Lucy’s name means “Light” – and we’ll talk about how she reflected God’s light to those around her.)

Dec. 21st – St. Thomas the Apostle Day: This is a new celebration day for us this year, and a particularly Anglican one, too. (Roman Catholics celebrate his day in July.) Besides learning about St. Thomas this day, we will put out the final decorations around our home, including the rest of our “nice” Nativity scene. (Mary and Joseph have been traveling here for sometime, but now they will be getting much nearer!)

Dec. 24th – Christmas Eve: Tonight we begin our Christmas feast with a very full day. We will decorate our tree, remove our Advent wreath (replaced with the Christmas Pyramid), enjoy a festive meal, open a few special gifts, and enjoy the first glass of Svenska Glogg. I know this isn’t really a traditional or Anglican way to spend the day before the Christmas Vigil, but it is an accommodation to my MIL who loves to have a big Christmas Eve feast (Swedish tradition).

In the past our parish has often had a late afternoon family church service. We’ll either go to that or Hubby and I will sneak away (grandparents will stay home with kids) for midnight mass. Maybe both!

Part 5 - Keeping Advent

The Laundry Room
A wonderful Scandinavian tradition is to do a “spring” cleaning before Christmas – An Advent Cleaning. With 3 kids “helping” (and making more messes along the way), this can be a monumental task. But, I love having a clean and organized house before the Christmas mayhem of guests, gifts and gluttony. So, we’ll incorporate the cleaning and decluttering into our Advent preparations all the while remembering that we are doing our part to “prepare the way” for the Christ Child in our home as well as our hearts.

We will start going room by room next week. If we do a little each day, we’ll get through the whole house before the end of Advent. Then before Christmas, we just need to do the basic weekly cleaning chores.

My Writing Desk
To be true to the Advent spirit, one might consider waiting to write cards until AFTER Christmas, but I’d never get to them if I waited! This year, I’m going to get our cards ready during Advent (part of our Christmas preparations) and mail them on the 26th of December. The post office will be delighted, I’m sure.

Our Computer Desk
Here are some of my favorite Advent (and some Christmas) links – they are randomly listed:
Quotations for Advent and Christmas, A big Advent site (also see their Christmas page), Lent & Beyond has a wonderful Advent page - you'll find it listed in the side bar (the link is down right now), and some fun stuff for the kids.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Two newly discovered leftover delights one for the stomach and one for the mind. Stomach first!
Delicious, yummy and perfect: Turkey-Barley soup! I tried a new recipe last night to use up the leftover Turkey we brought home from Mother-in-Law's home. Really delicious! I got most of it from that Simply in Season book I mentioned earlier, but I've adapted it a bit for use with roasted turkey.

Turkey-Barley Soup

4 c water
4 c chicken or turkey broth
1 1/2 c diced carrots
1 c diced celery
1/2 c barley
1/2 c onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each pepper, sage, thyme

Combine in a large soup pot. Cover and simmer for one hour.

1 lb roasted, chopped turkey
2 T ketchup
1 T soy sauce
Add to soup, allow meat to heat and serve.

This can also be done in the slowcooker! Just throw all the ingredients in the cooker and set on low for 6-7 hours.

I served this with warm, crumbly, buttery corn bread. DELISH!

Now for the Mind... From the Wall Street Journal's OpionionJournal an article by Joseph Epstein on Thanksgiving as a truly adult holiday. I've excerpted the best parts below:

"Let us be thankful that Thanksgiving has not yet fallen to the Kindergarchy, as has just about every other holiday on the calendar, with the possible exceptions of Yom Kippur and Ramadan. Thanksgiving is not about children. It remains resolutely an adult holiday about grown-up food and drink and football.

The weather, which provides the backdrop to Thanksgiving, is also much in its favor. In most parts of the country cool, sometimes cold, it doesn't usually blow the holiday away with tornados, hurricanes or great snow storms. Warm jackets, sweaters, corduroy trousers are the order of the day--comfort clothes, the sartorial equivalent of comfort food.

Comfort food is what Thanksgiving provides, and to the highest possible power. Large browned turkeys, rich heavy stuffings, sweet potatoes, cranberries.... Everyone has in mind his or her own memories of splendid Thanksgiving dinners.


Thanksgiving also has inclusiveness going for it. The holiday really is for all Americans, though I suppose a sourpuss leftist might, with boring trenchancy, be able to interject it isn't such a fine day for Native Americans.

While secular in tone, Thanksgiving is also slightly religious in spirit. I am having Thanksgiving this year at the home of my son and daughter-in-law, and because of the slight religious nature of the holiday have asked them not to invite Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens or any of the rest of the atheist gang, all of whom seem likely, if on the premises, to put a dampening spirit onto the proceedings.

I wish the poet W. H. Auden were still alive, so that he might be at the same table where I eat my Thanksgiving dinner. Auden, I think, nicely captured the spirit of Thanksgiving when he wrote that, in prayer, it is best to get the begging part over with quickly and get on to the gratitude part. He also wrote, 'let all your thinks be thanks.' "

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We are "on holiday" for a few days! Quite literally, we are going "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go"!
Have a blessed Thanksgiving - and may you be truly thankful for the blessings God has given!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday recipes!

Looking for recipes for the holidays? Semicolon has a great "Mr. Linky" list going! You'll see my brine recipe listed there and lots of other good ideas.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Re-post: Brine for a delicious roasted turkey

I came across this recipe back in the summer and gave it a try. It really does make for a deliciously moist roasted turkey! I've also halved the brine and used it for a roast chicken with equally good results. This recipe calls for juniper berries - I've no idea where to find these, so I've left them out. Perhaps it is better with them, but my family thinks they are unnecessary. I do have several large rosemary bushes, so I used that when I roasted the turkey to take the place of the juniper.

Keep in mind, you need to brine a fully-defrosted Turkey for a whole day, so plan ahead accordingly!

Here's the recipe:
I found the following recipe for brine that can be used for chicken, turkey, or a pork roast on recipezaar.com. It is originally from Chez Panisse. It makes a LOT of brine, so you'll need a big pot in which to submerge the roast. Also, you'll have to plan ahead for soaking time - a day for poultry, 3 days for pork.

Chez Panisse Brine
2 1/2 gal. of cold water
2 c kosher salt (table salt works well, too)
1 c sugar
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch fresh thyme, or 4 T dried thyme
1 whole head of garlic, peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, crushed

Prepare the brine and soak: place the water in a large pot that can easily hold the liquid and the meat you intend to brine. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or so until the sugar and salt to dissolve. Refrigerate poultry in brine for 24 hours; pork for 3 days. If the meat floats to the top, use a plate or other weight to keep it completely submerged in the brine.

To roast: Poultry - stuff cavity with desired herbs (chicken: onions, lemon wedges, herbs such as thyme, parsley, rosemary/ turkey: lemons, herbs, onions of desired). Rub the skin with oil to help browning; sprinkle with fresh pepper - salt is not needed due to the salt in the brine. Cook uncovered in a 400-degree oven until done (about 1 hr 15 min for a 3-4 lb chicken or 12-15 minutes per pound for a turkey). Boneless pork roast: Sprinkle the roast with pepper and herbs such as sage, thyme or tarragon,if desired. Roast uncovered in a 400-degree oven for about 12-15 minutes per pound.

I only did a large turkey breast, so there was no cavity. Instead, I just shoved lemon quarters in various places around the breast. Same with the rosemary. The turkey is so incredibly tender and juicy! The "chef" who shared the bring on recipezaar.com said that it should really help keep the "leftovers" wonderfully fresh and moist.

Beauty of Adoption

I have the distinct honor of being an "Auntie" to a friend's adopted daughter. I traveled with my friend to China this spring to bring her new daughter home. Seeing "YuYu" meet her mom for the first time and watching her "unfold" during our two weeks in China was an amazing experience. Having the opportunity to experience her bonding with her family has shown me the beauty of adoption.

YuYu is a delightful addition to their family - and truly their family would not be complete without her!

We may not all be called to adopt, but, as Christians, we are all called to defend and care for the fatherless, the orphan. That defense and care can take many forms - time spent volunteering in an orphanage or with foster children, donations of money or gifts to organizations that aid orphans, prayer on behalf of orphans, etc. However the Lord calls you to act, do not neglect the orphan!

This month is National Adoption Month. There are many organizations highlighting this topic, but here are a few I've come across recently:

From Family Life Today- an audio series on adoption and our Christian duty to the orphan:
Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5

From MotherReader a review of a book reflecting the diversity of adoption today.

An excellent prayer calendar, updated monthly, for praying over orphans.

Heveanly Father, Defender of the orphan, rise up and secure justice for the oppressed. Move in your people to embrace Your justice and pursue it for Your children. (from Shaohanna's Hope prayer calendar)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Carnival of Anglican Advent Traditions

Do you desire to make your Christmas preparations and celebrations more Christ-centered?

Curious about how a full observance of Advent can lead to a more joyous Christmas celebration?

Would you like to find out how others approach the season of Advent?

Join us on Wednesday, November 28th when Jeanne from At A Hen's Pace will be hosting a blog carnival focusing on "Anglican Advent Traditions"! We'll be sharing inspiration, information, activity ideas, craft ideas, music and more. Please plan to come for a visit we pray you'll be encouraged as you begin your Advent observance, or perhaps as you learn about it for the first time.

Bloggers - if you would like to submit a link(s), please email Jeanne at: hens_pace@yahoo.com with your link and a brief summary by noon on Tuesday, November 27th. Feel free to "steal" the graphic above and use on your own blog. If you have any trouble with that, email me and I'll send you the graphic file directly: kerry.wmson@gmail.com. And please, spread the word!

Non-bloggers, if you'd like to contribute, please feel free to do so in the comments section when the Carnival opens on Wednesday!

Friday, November 16, 2007

In honor of St. Margaret's

Today is the feast day of St. Margaret of Scotland whose name and spirit graced my previous parish. So, I'm posting this link in honor and thanksgiving for the church body that was St. Margaret's (the church building still stands, but the body of Christ that was St. Margaret's has been irrevocably changed) and with a prayer for the church body that remains there still. I miss so many of them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

*AHEM* The REAL first Thanksgiving

Please forgive my moment of snobbery, but Virginians are not a truly humble lot when it comes to our history. This is the time of year we get our hackles up..all these black-shod Pilgrims! I say...BAH HUMBUG! Allow me to do my part to dispel these sad rumors that have placed the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.

"What?" you say...you didn't know? Well, allow me to introduce you to the history we Virginians hold dear.

The first colonial Thanksgiving was held at Berkeley Plantation in Virginia - not Plymouth, Massachusetts. This location is not far from the Jamestown settlement (1607). Here is what the "Virginia is for Lovers" tourism website says about the day:

On this day, Dec. 4, 1619, these 38 men from Berkeley Parish in England were given the instructions: "Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God."

Here is a great history lesson from another website (which happens to be local to the Jamestown area - Chesapeake, VA, actually). You'll see why my Anglicanism runs deep...one of my family's ancestors is mentioned, a Reverend Robert Hunt. Oddly, I'd never realized that he was among the original Jamestown colonists. Mom neglected to tell me that part!

And from the First Among Virginians: I'm sure he had Berkeley and not Plymouth in mind. :)

Annoying homeschool questions

Ok, now this is just laugh out loud funny, but possibly only if you are homeschooling. If you are not a homeschooler and you read it (please do, you'll learn something about us), please do not get all offended. We don't mind the questions...they just get old after the 474th time. You'll understand if we need to laugh at them a bit, right?

HT: At a Hen's Pace
(Yes, I'm shamelessly re-hat-tipping. I've no finesse about it at all.)

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Portrait of Anglican Reformation

In my last post I alluded to a new Reformation in the Anglican church. (Actually, since the Anglican church didn't come directly out of the Protestant Reformation, it might be called the Anglican Reformation.) So, what would that new reformation look like?

Well, here's a good start from The Reverend Johnathan Millard:

1. There is confusion concerning who God is:

Over the past 40 years there has been a drift away from orthodox ways of speaking about God. In some places in TEC instead of God being referred to as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, He is addressed only by function as creator, redeemer and sustainer, and not in personal ways. The problem with this approach is that it makes God more remote and the fact is God has revealed himself to us through the Scriptures not just by function, but in personal terms as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Another example is when the name LORD is replaced with "God." So instead of the Liturgical greeting:"The Lord be with you" you may encounter in some parts of TEC "God be with you" or even "God is in you" with the response: "and also in you." The word LORD apparently is perceived as too male, and too authoritarian.

The earliest creedal statement was simply "Jesus is Lord." And yes, it was meant to be authoritarian. I was very sad when I attended the Interfaith service at Calvary last week, to see precisely such a change had been made to the liturgy. When it came to share the Peace, the wording was not: "The peace of the Lord", but rather "The Peace of God."

2. There is a lack of clear teaching about the divinity of Christ:
In answer to a question referencing the divinity of Jesus, in an article published earlier this year, the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Shori, said this: "If you begin to explore the literary context of the first century and the couple of hundred years on either side, the way that someone told a story about a great figure was to say 'this one was born of the gods.' That is what we're saying. This carpenter from Nazareth or Bethlehem - and there are different stories about where he came from - shows us what a godly human being looks like, shows us God coming among us." At best that is ambiguous or confusing, and at worst it is false teaching.

Jesus was much more than someone who "shows us what a godly human being looks like." And the Church does not say that he was "born of the gods." The biblical witness and the faith of the church is that Jesus is the Son of God: fully God and fully man. The Word became flesh (John 1). We proclaim this truth weekly in the Nicene Creed.

3. There is a lack of clear teaching about Salvation and Sin:
Questioned about selfishness and falleness, the Presiding Bishop said this:·"The human journey is about encouraging our own selves to move up into higher consciousness, into being able to be present in a violent situation without responding with violence ... " and in the same interview she went on to say: "The question is always how can we get beyond our own narrow self-interest and see that our salvation lies in attending to the needs of other people."

This is not the Gospel story of sin and redemption. The Scriptures teach that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23). The Scriptures teach that salvation is not through our works, or our efforts to move up to a higher consciousness, or even through attending to the needs of others. Our salvation lies in Jesus, "who while we were still sinners, died for us." (Rom. 5:8); and all who believe in the LORD and call upon his name will be saved. (Rom. 10:13)

4. There is a drift towards universalism:
The Presiding Bishop says of Jesus: "we who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box" (Time Magazine: July 17,2006). Jesus said: I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6).

When, some years ago, I first heard Bishop Duncan speak of us living in a time of Reformation of the Church throughout the world, I confess I wondered if that was a little grandiose. I now believe, without a doubt, that he was right. This was illustrated for me, once again, just last week. I was deeply saddened to hear Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu deny the particularity of the Christian Faith, mocking the idea that Jesus could possibly be the only way to God, and declaring that all religions are worshipping the same God, just by different names.

The archbishop is a great man who has done wonderful work for reconciliation and peace. I salute him for all the good he has done, but I am sad and troubled that he would be so dismissive of the supreme work of love and salvation that our Lord Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.

5. There is a loss of confidence in the Gospel as Good News for all:
The official teaching of the Anglican Church on the issue of human sexuality is that which has been set out by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 (Resolution 1:10). But here's the key point concerning the Gospel that I want to make:[The Conference] "recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships." [emphasis added]. It is that confidence in the transforming power of God that the actions of TEC now challenge.

So instead of welcoming and loving all into the church so that they might experience transformation, TEC simply welcomes and affirms people just as they are - denying them the healing and hope and transforming power of God.

6. There is erroneous teaching and practice regarding human sexuality
Over the past couple of decades there has been a serious rejection of the clear teaching of the Bible and the Church on human sexuality and marriage. The clear teaching of Scripture and tradition and of the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church is that sex is for marriage. The only sexually intimate relationships that are good and holy according to Scripture and tradition are those between a man and a woman, within an intended life long, faithful covenant of marriage. That means that pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, gay sex, any sex outside of marriage is all contrary to God's will. This is the clear teaching of the Bible and of Jesus.

7. There is a seemingly 'social justice only' view of the mission of the church
I have struggled to find any clear statements from the Presiding Bishop about the basics of the faith. From her inaugural sermon through to all kinds of talks and sermons and interviews that I've seen or heard extracts from she seems to be concerned primarily with a political and social gospel. She seems to be concerned principally about the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. There is much to be commended about these goals and much to challenge us - but they are by no means the same thing as the message of salvation for those who are perishing. (John 3: 16). If the Millennium Goals are our gospel message it falls seriously short of the message of proclaiming "Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

8. There is contempt for the Authority of the BibleBishop Bennison has said:
"The church wrote the Bible, and the church can rewrite the Bible." No, that is a serious error.

9. There is failure by Bishops to defend the faith
The role of a bishop in the words of the 1662 ordinal is: ''to banish and drive away from the church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to the Word of God." - Here in the States, the very opposite is true. Rather than drive away false teaching many of the bishops of TEC embrace it, celebrate it and declare to be good and holy that which God declares to wrong. To ordain an openly gay, non-celibate man - when the rest of the world urged TEC not to do this - is not only contrary to Scripture but is also an arrogant display of American intransigence.

10. There is a lack of respect for truth or unity
There seems to be a cavalier spirit among many in TEC that disregards the mandate for unity with the one holy, catholic and apostolic church. Claims are made by 'progressives' that they are putting truth ahead of unity. However the 'truth' they claim is that it's a matter of social justice and Christian virtue to bless same sex unions and permit practicing gay and lesbian people to hold any office within the church. This is, of course, is contrary to the truth as revealed in Holy Scripture. And the only unity they secure is among a tiny minority of the church worldwide.

I'm on board THAT Reformation train!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rethinking the mundane

I'm in a bit of a cooking funk right now. This just happens to me sometimes - most especially when life is particularly busy, which it is. This also means grocery shopping holds very little appeal for me. Not that it has ever been the highlight of my week, but I can usually find some joy in an hour of quiet contemplation of "Nutritional Labeling", or methods of can stacking, or the delightful variety of apples. (Of course that is when I am able to go alone!)

Well, tonight is the night I HAVE to go to the store. No milk, no bread, ... the cupboard is bare.

Of course it isn't REALLY bare, just my perception of bare. This post today at "Et tu?' blog made me stop about my perceptions...and it made me rethink the mundane.

Hat Tip: PalmTree Pundit

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Aldous Huxley on holiday

***Because my son and some of his young friends occassionally read this blog, I'm putting this disclaimer here: the content of this post may be unsuitable for children. Please, if you are under 18, have your parents read this (and the links) first. Thank you!***

The new travel slogan for Norway has been announced:

"Norway, it's a Brave New World"

Didn't hear that?

Well, that is because I made it up...but it certainly would fit. Here is an excerpt from Huxley's book, Brave New World:

"That's a charming little group," he said, pointing.

In a little grassy bay between tall clumps of Mediterranean heather, two children, a little boy of about seven and a little girl who might have been a year older, were playing, very gravely and with all the focussed attention of scientists intent on a labour of discovery, a rudimentary s**ual game.

"Charming, charming!" the D.H.C. repeated sentimentally.


From a neighboring shrubbery emerged a nurse, leading by the hand a small boy, who howled as he went. An anxious-looking little girl trotted at her heels.

"What's the matter?" asked the Director.

The nurse shrugged her shoulders. "Nothing much," she answered. "It's just that this little boy seems rather reluctant to join in the ordinary e**tic play...And so I'm taking him in to see the Assistant Superintendent of Psychology. Just to see if anything's at all abnormal."


For a very long period before Our Ford, and even for some generations afterwards, erotic play between children had been regarded as abnormal (there was a roar of laughter); and not only abnormal, actually immoral (no!): and had therefore been rigorously suppressed.

A look of astonished incredulity appeared on the faces of his listeners. Poor little kids not allowed to amuse themselves? They could not believe it.

Like I said, it would fit.

hat tip: Stand Firm

Friday, September 21, 2007

So if we aren't big "C" catholic, what do we mean?

By big "C" catholic, I mean Roman Catholic. A capital letter doesn't necessarily make "catholic" mean Roman Catholic, but that is how I often clarify it for myself.

The Confessing Reader (also under Bishop Curry) has posted on Bishop Curry's comments to the Archbishop of Canterbury while at the House of Bishops meeting. It is being reported (but, to my knowledge, still unsubstantiated) that Curry disagreed with ABC about the meaning of catholicity. The Confessing Reader has followed this up with a commentary on what is meant when we say "catholic".

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bishop Akinola - Historical overview and current actions

The following is from the Archbishop Peter Akinola in Nigeria. This article was printed in BabyBlue Online and StandFirm. It was so good I had to give you the opening paragraphs. You can read the rest at the link below. BabyBlue Online's intro has some great links that I hate for you to miss if you are interested in the situation in the Anglican Church. They are included below:

BabyBlue NOTE: We were with Archbishop Akinola late yesterday afternoon with others from Virginia and it was an extraordinary time to hear from the Archbishop himself, as well as ask him questions and spend time in conversation with him. He is an extraordinary man, one who has an incredible sense of humor as well as a sharp mind and a big heart. That is the man I know. These words are his. When you meet him it is clear that he is passionately committed not only to our Lord Jesus Christ, but to the Church and the Anglican Communion. Last night he reminded us, among other things, that he is not leaving the Anglican Communion (and plese take note of that). The journey he recounts here begins in Kuala Lumpur, a meeting I remember hearing so much about ten years ago, as well as the historic document that came from that gathering and how it came before General Convention in Philadelphia in 1997. It had been in response to this presented by Bishop Spong of Newark that outlined where The Episcopal Church was indeed headed (I remember both documents laid out side by side in the House of Bishops in 1997, and that was ten years ago). Denver 2000 was a shock to the progressives that what they wanted didn't happen on their timetable and so cooked up the ingenious plan (make no mistake about it - remember who Gene Robinson's predecessor was) to elect Gene Robinson and time it so that confirmations would have to be conducted at General Convention 2003, thereby assuring that this statement would become the policy of The Episcopal Church, something all ready in place in practice, but with the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire became officially sanctioned of The Episcopal Church - and without one change to either the liturgy or the canons - and of course, ignoring the teachings of Scripture, the pleas from all the instruments of the unity in the Communion, and the House of Bishop's own theological committee itself.

Here Archbishop Akinola reminds us where we've been and how we got to where we are today, now forty days before the Dar es Salaam deadline.

A Most Agonizing Journey towards Lambeth 2008

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1,3)

We have been on this journey for ten long years. It has been costly and debilitating for all concerned as most recently demonstrated by the tepid response to the invitations to the proposed Lambeth Conference 2008. At a time when we should be able to gather together and celebrate remarkable stories of growth and the many wonderful ways in which our God has been at work in our beloved Communion as lives are transformed new churches built and new dioceses established there is little enthusiasm to even meet.

There are continual cries for patience, listening and understanding. And yet the record shows that those who hold to the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints” have shown remarkable forbearance while their pleas have been ignored, their leaders have been demonized, and their advocates marginalized. We made a deliberate, prayerful decision in 1998 with regard to matters of Human Sexuality. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of the bishops of the Communion. It reflected traditional teaching interpreted with pastoral sensitivity. And yet it has been ignored and those who uphold it derided for their stubbornness. However, we have continued to meet and pray and struggle to find ways to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The journey started in February 1997 in Kuala Lumpur. It was here, during the 2nd Encounter of the Global South Anglican Communion that a statement was issued in which concern was expressed about the apparent setting aside of biblical teaching by some provinces and dioceses. The statement pleaded for dialogue in ‘a spirit of true unity’ before any part of the Communion embarks on radical changes to Church discipline and moral teaching. [ ]

Sadly, this plea, and several similar warnings, have been ignored and ten years later, in February 2007, the Primates of the Anglican Communion met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and experienced an agonizing time trying to repair the Communion that has been so badly broken. Their earlier prediction at the Primates Meeting at Lambeth Palace in 2003, that rejection of the faith committed to us would tear “the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level,” has proven to be accurate. In Dar es Salaam the Primates proposed, as one last attempt to restore unity, a period of seven months for those who have brought our Communion to the brink of destruction to reconsider their actions and put a stop to the harmful actions that have so polarized our beloved church. [ ]

With about seven weeks to go, hope for a unified Communion is not any brighter than it was seven months or ten years ago. Rather, the intransigence of those who reject Biblical authority continues to obstruct our mission and it now seems that the Communion is being forced to choose between following their innovations or continuing on the path that the church has followed since the time of the Apostles.

We have made enormous efforts since 1997 in seeking to avoid this crisis, but without success. Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The leadership of The Episcopal Church USA (TECUSA) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) seem to have concluded that the Bible is no longer authoritative in many areas of human experience especially in salvation and sexuality. They claim to have ‘progressed’ beyond the clear teaching of the Scriptures and they have not hidden their intention to lead others to these same conclusions. They have even boasted that they are years ahead of others in fully understanding the truth of the Holy Scriptures and the nature of God’s love.

Both TECUSA and ACoC have been given several opportunities to consult, discuss and prayerfully respond through their recognized structures. While they produced carefully nuanced, deliberately ambiguous statements, their actions have betrayed them. Their intention is clear; they have chosen to walk away from the Biblically based path we once all walked together. The unrelenting persecution of the remaining faithful among them shows how they have used these past few years to isolate and destroy any and all opposition.

We now confront the seriousness of their actions as the year for the Lambeth Conference draws near. Sadly, this Conference is no longer designed as an opportunity for serious theological engagement and heartfelt reconciliation but we are told will be a time of prayer, fellowship and communion. These are commendable activities, but this very Communion, however, has been broken by the actions of the American and Canadian churches. The consequence is most serious because, even if only one province chooses not to attend, the Lambeth Conference effectively ceases to be an Instrument of Unity. The convener’s status as an instrument or focus of unity becomes seriously challenged. Repentance and reversal by these provinces may yet save our Communion. Failure to recognize the gravity of this moment will have a devastating impact.

Read the rest at BabyBlue Online. Scroll down to "Scorned Opportunities"...

Friday, August 10, 2007

What is all the fuss about?

So, maybe you are somewhat new (or not and just confused - it's ok, we are, too , sometimes) to the "fuss" currently occurring in the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion (of which the Episcopal Church is a branch). There are some at my own church, where education about this very issue has been a core issue, who remain somehow "in the dark" about the history of these issues and the depth of these issues...and the implications of these issues.

I'd like to share some of the articles I've read lately that I feel are low on anglican jargon, which frankly confuses me, and help explain the issues at hand. I'll be sharing them as they pass across my "desk" in the coming weeks. The time is getting very near that major decisions will be made and chips will fall where they may.

You may think, "So what? I'm not Anglican or Episcopalian." That may be true, these troubles aren't yours....yet. However, let me just remind you that the Anglican church decided to approve birth control for married couples in 1933...there are very few (especially mainline) denominations that have not fallen into lock-step with that decision. (That may be a biased example, but it is what it is.) I pray that the decisions currently made by our mother church (ECUSA now known as TEC) will never affect your churches...and maybe they won't.

But in the meantime, perhaps you'll pray for those of us standing for biblical authority. We are facing losing our beloved churches (only buildings, yes - but some of these have been attended by families for generations), being personally sued by our denomination, and our congregations being splintered as we search for new church homes. Have no doubt, we know all this can be born for Christ! But it is painful....

Perhaps you'll take a moment or two to read the first article I'd like to share - a revealing personal history of a fellow Episcopalian and her activity in the denomination. You'll know better how to pray for your fellow Christians. Thank you for going to the throne room for us!

If you are praying for us, I'd love for you to leave a comment. Sometimes we feel like our struggle goes unnoticed, so it would be encouraging beyond words to know that you care enough to pray and comment. Thank you.