Monday, January 31, 2011

A Monday Multitude

My last copy of the BCP to edit....
It's been a crazy-busy few weeks.

I've been scrambling and scrabbling to fit it all in:

editing the prayer book

teaching the online class

teaching and grading for the two co-op writing classes

homeschooling the boys

keeping the household running

facilitating the little writers' workshop

365 photo blogging

writing my own stuff
It's been a juggling act. And I've been quite literally burning the candle at both ends.

But this week I'm between Class Day co-ops, and I'm between online classes, and the prayer book is at the printer. Our writers' workshop doesn't meet until February 9, and I've uploaded two chapters of my current writing project in the last three days.

So this week I hope to...REST.

My dear friend high school friend who now lives in Australia will be staying with us for part of the week, and we have big plans for Wednesday, but, other than that and the fact that I need to finish grading and post semester grades for my co-op classes, I don't have much going on this week. So I do hope to allow body, mind, and soul to REST.

What a lovely, unfamiliar, intoxicating word that is...REST.

So as I anticipate RESTING in Him this week, I can't help but tally up my thanks and post them to The Gratitude Community as I continue my quest for One Thousand Gifts as I approach the half-way mark of this journey.

This week I give thanks to God for...

481. ...the prayer book being sent to the printer!!! Yay!!!!

482. ...the return to a "normal" life with exercise, eating right, and more calm than I've experienced in quite a while

483. ...the arrival of my dear friend this week--we haven't seen each other in several years

484. ...two wonderful co-op classes filled with students who love to learn

485. ...the finish of another wonderful Brave Writer online workshop of "Groovy Grammar"

486. ...the slowly-growing popularity of my current writing project--just passed 5000 "reads" over ten weeks today! Much slower than many, but pleasing enough....

487. ...the return to blogging--I've missed you all! And I missed several days of my 365 photo blog, too.

488. ...cuddling my youngest just now who (almost) still fits in my lap

489. ...sunny January days for the last two weeks

490. ...the patter of rain on our roof last night

So I do hope to REST a little this week as I gear up for next week's Playing with Poetry Workshop on Brave Writer. We're going to explore and write all kind of poetry, including song lyrics, haiku, tanka, shape and concrete poems, traditional verse, free verse, plus cinquain and diamante poems. It'll be so much FUN!!! Please join the class if you'd like--it's a wonderful workshop for the whole family!

With thanks this day,

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quotations on Editing

After completing my largest editing project to date last Thursday, I thought I'd post a few words o' wisdom about editors and editing from

"I suppose some editors are failed writers; but so are most writers."
--T.S. Eliot

"In art economy is always beauty."
--Henry James

"There is but one art, to omit."
--Robert Louis Stevenson
So, as Shakespeare so ironically stated, "Brevity is the soul of wit"; thus, we editors say that the best writing says the best things with the fewest words. It's a skill that I am still learning as a writer and a poet. I love the magic of words, and it's sometimes quite painful to prune relentlessly. But it makes us better writers and poets when we clip and clip until we cannot clip any more.

Getting out my pruning shears once again,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's DONE!!!!!

The original Book of Common Prayer, published by Thomas Cranmer, 1547/1549

It’s been a true labor of love.

And it’s finished. At last!

Last spring Father Keith Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity, a small fellowship of the Reformed Episcopal Church in the hamlet of Alpine, thirty miles east of San Diego, asked if I could help edit a project.

I had no idea of the journey ahead of me.

You see, conservative Anglicans are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the Book of Common Prayer, the basis of Anglican liturgy and worship. If one wants to remain true to Anglican and biblical doctrine, then one must use the antiquated 1928 Book of Common Prayer. A beautiful book, the 1928 BCP uses the Great Bible of 1540 as its Scriptural basis. The Great Bible is beautiful, but it predates the King James by seventy years and thus is not extremely accessible to today’s modern Christian (unless they’re a medieval fan like myself--and the Psalms are extraordinary!!!). But the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, although accessible, contains significant changes in doctrine; basically, it’s far too watered down for most conservative Anglicans.

So there lies the dilemma. Does one side with doctrine over accessibility? Or vice-versa?

This new 2011 BCP solves this conundrum. Using the English Standard Version Bible (published in 2001 and with their kind permission, of course) as its Scriptural core and retaining the historical, traditional, and biblical basis of the Anglican and the catholic (universal) Church, it’s both doctrinally sound and linguistically accessible.


And Father Acker sent it to the printer on Thursday.

Basically, as the title page reads:

This Book is for trial use by the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America for liturgical review.
So here we are. Father Acker will be setting up a web site with an electronic version, and we’ll be selling copies of the BCP merely to recoup printing costs. We’ll also be sending copies to bishops in the REC and ACNA to see how interested they are. Bishop Richard Boyce has been overseeing this project from the beginning and is very enthusiastic about its possible use here in North America.

Our prayer is that the REC and ACNA will adopt this BCP for use in their churches in the US and Canada.

Father Acker has done an incredible job of pulling together the best of all the prayer books, including prayers from the Early Church, then revising them into modern American English usage while retaining the power and the poetic rhythm and usage of the original documents. He also translated hymns and prayers from Latin, picking up a beautiful rhyme and meter; they read beautifully. And he also restored Compline, one of my favorite prayers, and did a wonderful job on the Family Prayers. I just came along as an editor, pointing out awkward phrasings and unifying punctuation.

Father Acker, his lovely wife Alice, and I have spent many a Wednesday afternoon at our homeschooling table, reading the BCP aloud to catch anything amiss, discussing what was unclear, rewording sentences, and clarifying the grammar. There were some days in which he had to patiently explain the theology and/or doctrine behind a certain prayer or sentence to this ignorant evangelical, and we moved very slowly through the Collects (prayers for each week of the year, prayed “collectively” by God’s people). On other days, we breezed through fifty-some pages in one sitting. Then during the week he e-mailed me changes, and I e-mailed him my suggestions for improvement. Sometimes we went back and forth several times, getting each prayer down, just so.

I feel so blessed to have been part of this project. It’s been hard work–sometimes frustrating work–but I’ve learned so much about Anglican doctrine and worship, tradition and history. It’s been rather like an extended Confirmation Class…with the student giving the priest grammar lessons along the way. :)

And it’s DONE! I’ll post the website here when the electronic version is up.

To close, here is the Collect from Family Prayers: For Grace in Our Daily Life:

O GOD, you know our human weaknesses, our fallen nature, and our daily temptations; Always look on us with your compassion and give us the help of your Holy Spirit; Keep us from sin and prompt us to duty; Imprint our hearts with a sense of your goodness and a desire to remain constant in your righteousness; And, above all, keep in our minds the coming of your kingdom, so that our thoughts, words, and actions may be pleasing in your sight; Through your Son who comes to judge the living and the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Isaiah 54.8; 1Corinthians 10.13; Matthew 6.33)
And thus I wish you all a wonderful day! I’ll be posting here much more often now that this project is finished, although I am sure that I’ll be helping out with editing parts of the website.

Wishing you the blessings of our Lord, now and always,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Scarce This Week

Original 1549 Book of Common Prayer

I may be peeking in briefly from time to time this week, but truly I am buried in final proofings and edits for the Book of Common Prayer project I've been helping to edit for the last nine months.

It's been a crazy ride, but this baby's heading off to the printer this week!!!! It's really an amazing prayer book--doctrinally, historically, and Biblically sound yet in modern, accessible language (English Standard Version BIble passages) with a real poetic flair. Father Acker is a genius, and the Spirit has led us far beyond our "normal" giftings as we devote heart, soul, and aching necks to this project.

So, as we close in on what we hope are the final days of this project, I would greatly appreciate prayer for our catching every typo and inconsistency as well as prayer for wide adoption of this prayer book across the Anglican Communion.

Many thanks for supporting and praying for us as this incredible project draws to a close.

With red pen in hand,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quotation of the Week: On Education

Timothy studying 10th grade biology in front of the warm wood stove

This year is our thirteenth year of home education, with one student graduated and in college. Home schooling is a lifestyle for us, a way of learning that applies both academic and "real life" study to the educational model for our family. As each child is different, so each one of our young people's education is slightly different as well. Some books and curricula get handed down, and others don't. For instance, we learned our lesson about attempting chemistry at home and plan to enroll the boys in co-op classes so that labs actually get done and might really work.

But we have many more successes than failures, and although I dread doing lesson planning each Sunday night for the following week, I enjoy having our young people close at hand, learning with them and experiencing their day firsthand. It simply works for us.

Jonathan reading To Kill A Mockingbird for 8th grade literature

As I thumbed through my rather scruffy Quotation Journal for a new quotation to post for this week, I came across a thought-provoking selection written by one of my favorite Church Fathers that I discovered via American Catholic's Saint-of-the-Day e-mails.

"What is nobler than to mold the character of the young? I consider that [s]he who knows how to form the youthful mind is truly greater than all painters, sculptors, and all others of that sort."
--Saint John Chrysostom

This quotation applies to all educators, not only those who teach their own young people. I have been in the classroom, earning very little money compared to the many hours I devoted to preparing lectures and grading exams and essays. At one point in my career as an adjunct instructor at the college level in the early 1990's, I figured out that I was earning about $2.50 per hour. Minimum wage at that time was $5.75, I think.

Educators, especially home educators, are obviously not teaching for the money. Most teachers barely make enough to live upon, and home educators don't get paid at all unless they tutor other people's children. Teaching is all about the thrill of imparting information, of teaching life skills that will benefit children throughout their lives, of discussing new (new-to-them, anyway) ideas and thoughts, of impressing the importance of hard work and virtue, of loving them right where they are while teaching them to grow and mature.

So as I post this quotation rather than write out lesson plans, I know that I do actually look forward to gathering most of my chicks together tomorrow morning and teach them more about our world, our history, our art and literature, our faith, and how to express these ideas in lively discussion and clear, concise writing.

On the journey with you,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Whispers of Grace

Photo by Susanne Barrett

They whisper as I pull them apart into sweet sections for my lunch. Yet that simple act, inserting thumb nails between sections and exerting pressure against each to separate the skins, causes pain.

Although today is spring-warm, and I opened all our living room windows and the kitchen sliding glass door to welcome January sunshine, my fingers remain stiff. Curled and bent. Straightening them hurts.

I try not to notice the disfigurement of index fingers--the way they crookedly lean toward the other three fingers, the knuckles large and crinkling. Wistfully I glance toward the skein of plush purple on my desk that I hope to crochet into a scarf for my girl.

But not today.

I stay busy, often too busy, not allowing myself to dwell on negatives, not letting my propensity to shoulder blame burden this day. My phone chimes church bells at 12:30, and I dismiss boys to lunch and myself to prayer.

I turn to Midday Prayers for the Friday Nearest to January 8 in The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime. And among the sections of Scripture I pray, this line of poetry calms throbbings of heart, even while fingers stretch and strain to lift book, to turn page:

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvelous works.
Psalm 9:1
My soul finds peace here in His Word Made Flesh, in Him Who came to dwell among us. He is no stranger to pain; He knew it well. Very well. And He suffered it willingly for me.

And thus I give thanks each week with the Gratitude Community, the same way that Ann started her Journey of Thanks.

The last Collect for Midday Prayer this day resonates, drawing my heart ever closer to His:

Almighty God, who promised to hear the petitions of those who ask in your Son's Name: I beseech you mercifully to incline your ear to me who have made my prayers and supplications to you; and grant that those things which I have faithfully asked according to your will, I may effectually obtain, to the relief of my necessity, and to the setting forth of your glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

He inclines His ear.

He hears.

He grants.

He relieves necessity.

He sets forth His glory.

I find balm here. And pain throbs less, and heart sings more.

And for that, I give thanks.

Hearing His whispers this day,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wearing the Habit

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, Oceanside, CA

Habit of a Mission Padre, Founder's Room of Mission Museum

I've been pondering the concept of habits lately, especially after our field trip to the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia on Friday where we viewed the wool habit above, worn in the California desert heat, and as I help our youngest to write his required Mission Report for his California History class at our co-op.

With the arrival of the new year, many of us weigh the habits of our lives and attempt to rid ourselves of poor and/or unhealthy habits and add new, healthy habits to take their place. Some of our new habits may last a few weeks, perhaps a few months, into the new year; others, we pray, will become lifetime habits, habits that we wear always.

The wise Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience posted an incredibly thought-provoking challenge today. I encourage you to read it and ponder it in your hearts today, if you haven't seen it already: The Habits That Make All Others Possible.

I have joined Ann in memorizing Colossians this year. Scripture memorizing is definitely not a strength of mine. My poor brain, dazed and hazy with the pain medications I take each day in order to function, is incredibly sieve-like: words especially slip through my grasp, and I grope through the recesses of my mind, trying to find a certain word or phrase in the dark, stumbling and stuttering over the wrong ones often. Too often. It's embarrassing.

In my own lacking brain power, I know full well that I cannot possibly memorize this short book of Scripture in a year. So, I trust and I pray, whispering under my breath the promise from Philippians, "I can all things through Christ who strengthens me." He can help to etch His Word into my beleaguered brain, even my poor brain with synapses misfiring, balance awry, and limbs refusing their usual functions.

So this morning as I picked up stray items before starting our home school day, I clutched my little Week One card, printed on thin copy paper (yes, I'm starting a week late and hope to do Weeks One and Two this week) and tried to absorb Word into brain:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To God's holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
And I felt His Word beginning to settle into brain cells as He makes Himself at home my mind. And in my heart. And in my soul....

Perhaps this habit, which Ann refers to as a "one-piece life," will nestle in and inhabit me. I pray it does. (And if you haven't followed this link, do so--I nearly wept with the profundity and truth it reveals....)

I want to be a seer of the Holy in my life, not be a mere picker and eater of blackberries. (If this makes no sense, then you have to read Ann's blog post today to understand.) I desire to worship Christ in the simple, every day occurrences.

And sometimes the best way to see the sacred in the mundane is through the lens of a camera, hence my other habit for this year: a return to The 365 Project, blogging a photo a day with other kindred spirits.

Today I jotted three quotations from Ann's post into my Quotation Journal, filled with nearly a decade of collected gems of thought. But the one that sent chills spilling down my neck and caused breath to catch and holiness to glimmer is this quotation from one of my favorite Christian writers:

"Our sanctification does not depend as much on changing our activities as it does on doing them for God rather than for ourselves."
--Brother Lawrence
In a way, this quote brings me back to the Collect for this week from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, one that I copied onto a 3x5 card and taped to my desk lamp Sunday evening after reading Father Acker's sermon:

"...Grant that we may both perceive and know what things we ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same...."
As Ann so often reminds us, there is no sacred and secular: there is only the sacred, if we perceive and know it as such. Everything calls us to worship: phoning a friend, sending an e-mail, feeding the dog, holding a child, hauling in firewood, calling kids in to dinner, plumping a pillow.

All is holy if we but slow down, ponder, and perceive it as such.

And that's a habit I pray to develop further this coming year as well.

Wearing the habit alongside you,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Random Acts of Poetry

I ran across a poem posted on Seedlings in Stones for Random Acts of Poetry at The High Calling, asking us to post a poem on an area of personal struggle. I immediately thought of my lack of confidence as a writer. Somehow the image of folding came to me and the poem rather wrote itself. It's very rough, but I have too high a stack of essays to grade today to work on it more right now....

On Writing Poetry
This writing thing
edges into my consciousness,
folding in upon itself
in poor origami
barely resembling
the intended

It's muddled,
an amateurish attempt
wrinkled with
multiple tries
and second-guessing.
Shall I crumple it,
aiming for the trash?
Or spread it out
across the table,
take a brave breath,
and apply soul
to paper once again?

Copyright 2011 by Susanne Barrett

It's indeed a muddled attempt, but I hope it begins to express some of the trepidation I think many of us beginning poets feel as we try and try again on this journey of word-wrestling.

Folding once again,

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Fresh Start

Our school table, tidy after the holy days

Today we started back into our home schooling schedule after four weeks off. We managed to squeeze in two field trips, one to the Sea Life Aquarium in Carlsbad and another last Friday to the Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside. But we haven't seated ourselves at the school table (pictured above, but never looking this tidy when we're at work) since December 10th.

At one point this morning, I glanced up from my laptop and watched each boy quietly at work: B was sitting next to me, working on a math drill; J was curled up in the armchair next to the picture window, reading from the eighth volume of A History of US; T was spread out on the carpet in front of the roaring wood stove, writing out answers to his ABeka Biology questions in his notebook.

The room was silent except for soft breathing and the muted tap-tap-tap of my keyboard as I replied to a student's e-mail. It was a lovely moment, a fresh start to schooling this new year, and I found myself grateful for this home schooling lifestyle, even though none of us really wanted to start back with the bookwork.

So as B pulls out his Daily Grams, J practices "Amazing Grace" on our secondhand piano, and T reads Homer's Odyssey, I thank God for the many, many blessings He showers upon us daily. So once again I join The Gratitude Community at A Holy Experience, charting the path to One Thousand Gifts as we approach the halfway mark.

This day I thank God for:

471. ...for quiet moments of study, grace-filled and beautiful in an inexpressible way

472. ...for E's first day of classes this new semester at
Point Loma Nazarene University

473. ...for stacks of firewood and a roaring wood burning stove keeping us warm this frosty morning at twenty degrees, an unusually cold morning in our Southern California mountains

474. ...for nearing the end of the 2011
Book of Common Prayer project which has stretched me as an editor, a writer, and a student of Christian doctrine and practice

475. ...for the blessing of seeing simple things in a new light through the lens of my camera for the new 365
Photo-a-Day Project on my 365 and Beyond blog

476. ...for the chill that went up my spine at Keith's deep, strong voice reading from the Acts of the Apostles yesterday at Lake Murray

477. ...for the help and encouragement of friends near and far

478. ...for my newly-repaired Jacuzzi spa which now allows me to sleep much more soundly at night

479. ...for early mornings steeping soul in God's Holy Word and the common prayer of God's people over the centuries

480. ...for a skein of soft, mottled purple that I hope to transform into a winter scarf for E--if my bent fingers can manage the size J crochet hook
So as we pick up routine, slip back into normalcy (or what passes for "normal" in our household), I pray for more quiet days of study, the peace-filled rustle of pages gently turning, the warm sound of pencils scritching across lined paper...all signs of life, light, and learning as we school at home for the fourteenth year of this our little educational adventure....

Grateful for peaceful study this day,

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Quotation for the Week

As I enter the second week of facilitating The Groovy Grammar Workshop online at Brave Writer, I am delighting in the beauty of words.

One of the first assignments in this online family class is to make a list of favorite words, words that attract our attention, make our hearts sing, send a thrill or chill down our spine, etc. The families in the class shared some absolutely stunning and wonderful words on their lists, and I thought I'd explore a few of my favorite words here, too, if you don't mind my gratuitous sharing:

lovely (you all see this one enough on this blog!)

I'll stop listing words before I make this blog entry FAR too long....

And as I thumbed through my Quotation Journal tonight, I unearthed a quotation or two about writing, poetry, and words that I decided to share with you:

"A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language."
--W.H. Auden

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one becomes a master."
--Ernest Hemingway

So with this fun list of my favorite words, plus words of wisdom from two of the best writers of the past century, I leave you to nurture your own love of language this week in your own way. If you blog about your own love of language, please link your post in the comments below.

Ever a lover of language,

Friday, January 7, 2011

Films for 2010

From The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

I track the movies I watch each year in the sidebar of my blog, and I watched a fair many in 2010, but not very many once E started college in the fall. I'm watching one now with her, but it'll have to be listed on the 2011 list. :)

44. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
43. Nanny McPhee (2005)
42. The Swing Kids (1993)
41. High Society (1956)
40. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010) (twice in theatre)
39. Crossing Jordan Season 1 (2001)
38. Becoming Jane (2007)
37. The Holiday (2006)
36. The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008)
35. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
34. Dead Poets Society (1989)
33. Remember Me (2010)
32. The Secret Garden (1949)
31. Take the Lead (2006)
30. Shall We Dance (2004)
29. Dear John (2010)
28. Star Trek (2009)
27. Valentine's Day (2010)
26. Twilight (2008)
25. Twilight in Forks (2009)
24. Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) (in theatre, 4 times)
23. U2 Vertigo Tour
22. Return to Me (2000)
21. Hamlet (uncut Branagh) (1996)
20. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
19. Alice in Wonderland (2010) (twice)
18. Up in the Air (2010)
17. An Affair to Remember (1957)
16. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
15. Remember Me (2010) (in theater)
14. Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942)
13. The Major and the Minor (1942)
12. Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone (2001)
11. Twister (1996)
10. Little Women (1994)
9. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
8. An American in Paris (1951)
7. To Have or Have Not (1944)
6. Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) (6 times)
5. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)
4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (four times)
3. Singing in the Rain (1952)
2. Sherlock Holmes (2009) (in theater)
1. Lost in Austen (2008)

Starting a new list for 2011,

Books I Read in 2010

Each year I track the books I read, just for the sake of keeping up on what I've actually read plus for...yes, the bragging rights. I realized as I compiled this list tonight that I've neglected to list a couple of books that I read online in the last month or so. They're fanfiction--but so well done that they seem as if Stephenie Meyer has cloned herself and started filling in the gaps of all the Twilight books. They're number 38 and 39 on my list; the first can be found at, the second at

39. Dark Side of the Moon -- DeJarnett (2008)
38. Still Dawn -- McClean (2010)
37. Ashworth Hall -- Perry (1997)
36. Pentecost Alley -- Perry (1996)
35. Traitor's Gate -- Perry (1995)
34. Hyde Park Headsman -- Perry (1994)
33. Farrier's Lane -- Perry (1993)
32. Belgrave Square -- Perry (1992)
31. Highgate Rise -- Perry (1991)
30. Bethlehem Road -- Perry (1990)
29. Silence in Hanover Close -- Perry (1988)
28. Cardington Crescent -- Perry (1987)
27. Death in the Devil's Acre -- Perry (1986)
26. Bluegate Fields -- Perry (1984)
25. Rutland Place -- Perry (1983)
24. Resurrection Row -- Perry (1981)
23. Callander Square -- Perry (1980)
22. Me & Mr. Darcy -- Potter (2007)
21. Weighed in the Balance -- Perry (1996)
20. The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion -- Kimberly (2009)
19. Murder on Washington Square -- Thompson (2002)
18. The Great Divorce -- Lewis (1946)
17. The Shadow of Your Smile -- Clark (2010)
16. Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Meyer (2010)
15. Hamlet - Shakespeare (1602)
14. Breaking Dawn - Meyer (2008)
13. Eclipse - Meyer (2007)
12. New Moon - Meyer (2006)
11. Twilight - Meyer (2005)
10. Midnight Sun (unfinished manuscript) - Meyer (2008)
9. To Kill a Mockingbird - Lee (1960)
8. Murder on Gramercy Park - Thompson (2001)
7. Faith Hunt - Keesee (2003, 2009)
6. Murder on St. Mark's Place - Thompson (2000)
5. History of US, Volume 4 - Hakim (2003, HS)
4. Murder on Astor Place - Thompson (1999)
3. The Cater Street Hangman - Perry (1979)
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling (2007)
1. History of the US, Volume 3 - Hakim (2003, HS)

Starting a new list for 2011,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Epiphany of Our Lord

Today, January 6, marks the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord. This morning I found a wonderful devotion/meditation on the Epiphany written by Mark D. Roberts at The High Calling, one of my favorite web sites. You may read today's Daily Reflection here or I have posted his devotion in its entirety below. I encourage you to subscribe to his wonderful Daily Reflections; I have found them enlightening and encouraging.

Jan 6, 2011
Epiphany: The Appearing of God in Jesus Christ and Through Us
by Mark D. Roberts

One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy."
Luke 3:21-22

I want to spend one more day reflecting on the baptism of Jesus because millions of Christians focus on this historical event today. January 6 is the Christian holiday of Epiphany. The word "Epiphany" comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means "appearing" or "manifestation." In Western Christian tradition (Roman Catholic and Protestant), Epiphany is a day to remember the visit of the Magi to Jesus (Matt. 2:1-12). Among Eastern Orthodox Christians, the sixth of January is a day to recall the baptism of Jesus. Both Western and Eastern celebrations of Epiphany focus on the "appearing" of God in Jesus Christ.

The visit of the Wise Men symbolizes the appearing of the Savior to the Gentiles in particular. The baptism of Jesus was his public manifestation as the Son of God. The title "Son of God" in Jewish was a royal one, reserved for the king of Israel (see Psalm 2, for example). Yet Jesus was the Son of God, not only because of his unique Messianic calling, but also because of his unique relationship with God the Father.

On the holiday of Epiphany, it is appropriate for us to consider how God makes himself known in the world today. To be sure, the heavens declare God's glory and the Scripture encapsulates his truth. But God has chosen to manifest himself today largely through his people, through you and me, and through all of those who are his followers. It's hard to imagine a higher calling than this one: to make the truth and love of God known in the world today.

How can we do this? Most of us will not be called to the particular ministry of evangelism. We won't be preaching revivals or filling stadiums. Yet we can communicate the good news by the things we say and the way we live each day. Since the core of the gospel is a story of God's grace, we can illustrate this story by treating others graciously, whether at work or at home. And since the good news centers in the love of God, our love for others will help them to understand and receive this love.

Today, as we celebrate Jesus who came as the light of the world, may we also remember his words in the Sermon on the Mount: "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you picture the baptism of Jesus, what thoughts or feelings come to mind? How has God made himself known to you? How might you be a reflection of God's light in the places you live and work?

PRAYER: All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because you are the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of Israel and, indeed, the whole world.

All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because you are the unique Son of God, beloved by the Father, the one in whom he delights.

All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because you are the light of the Lord, the one who radiates with divine truth and love.

All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because you have called me to be light in this world, to shine your light through my works and words.

All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, whom I worship today as God in the flesh, and whom I serve with my whole life. Amen.

Wishing you a joyful celebration of Epiphany,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Memorizing Colossians in One Year

holy experience

I have long read and discussed Ann Voskamp's wonderful blog A Holy Experience here. Ann challenges me, inspires me, and causes me to slow, to think deep, to grow wise. She feels like an "in-real-life" friend rather than someone who lives thousands of miles away in another country.

I think I feel so close to Ann because a) She homeschools a bundle of kids; b) She writes beautifully and her posts always resound with my poetry-lovin' heart; c) We are sisters in Christ, part of the boundless family of God, truly sisters-of-the-heart, and d) Although she's younger than I am in years, I look up to her as a "big sister" in wisdom; she teaches, provokes, listens, ponders, and rips away the folds under which I vainly attempt to hide my true self.

If she's brave enough to confess her shortcomings, brave enough to show us how she fails at times, brave enough to pick up the broken pieces and give them over to the One Who Heals Us, then I can be brave, too. Her blog beckons me, calls to me each day--helping me to become a more devoted follower of Christ, a more loving wife and mother, a more transparent woman who can lower her defenses and let others into her inner sanctum on occasion.

So today's post presents us with a challenge to memorize the Book of Colossians over the year of 2011. I love it! My kids aren't so sure that they can do it, but I think we will try as part of our family devotions at the opening of our home schooling day. Paul's Epistle to the Colossians is one of my favorite books in the Bible, and although memorizing isn't a strong point of mine, I am willing to give it a try.

And you can, too. Here's the link to Ann's materials: A Holy Experience: Memorizing Colossians in One Year. And here's a link to some details and updates for the project: A Holy Experience: Details and Updates for Memorizing Colossians.

I hope that some of you will join me and the many others who want to memorize this beautiful and wondrous Book of Scripture this year. I may not memorize the whole thing, but I will at least become all the more familiar with Colossians through this weak and flailing attempt.

Learning with you each day,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Trudging Onward in Gratitude

Image Attribution
It's been a rough few weeks for me, but today I return to this wee corner o' the blogosphere to trudge onward in gratitude. Lately it seems like an uphill battle, but that's mostly because of the clouds of pain that have become a part of my days again since my Jacuzzi broke last month and I can't "poach" in it each night before bed. The repair dude didn't call back all last week; Keith finally talked to him today, but he won't have the parts until the end of the week at the earliest. I didn't sleep until five this morning and I am certainly feeling it now....

But I am forcing myself to choose gratitude right now. It's the right way, the best way. It's God's way. How many times does He tell us to "give thanks" in His Word? Many, many, MANY times.

So this day I try to forget the pain, try to smile and be cheerful and thankful. If you wouldn't mind, I'd love for you to pray for me, for us. Right now the hill seems too steep for me to climb...but that's what we're all here for: to pray for one another, to give each other "boosts" up the hill, and to take the Hand of the One Who First Loved Us and allow Him to lead us up the pathway, getting much farther than we could ever achieve on our own.

And He spreads a beautiful view before us, small and big encouragements along the way, like wildflowers sprinkled on either side of the steep mountain path. The beauty is golden, tinged by His loving grace.

So how can I not be thankful?

So here I go, taking faltering steps, holding onto the Hand that leads and your hands, too, as you encourage me to keep climbing, no matter what. 'Cause that's what we do for each other, in His Love.

So once again I hook up with The Gratitude Community at A Holy Experience, on a journey to One Thousand Gifts. And look! I'm nearly halfway! And the view is already gorgeous....

So this day I thank God for:

461. Having my beautiful girl home with us for three weeks, her first extended time home under our roof since mid-August...

462. For gracious friends and family who gave so generously to us during this Christmas season, and for God's Hand in all of it...

463. For the start of another Brave Writer class to teach, this time The Groovy Grammar Workshop (Today is the first day, so you may still join! I have a couple of spaces left!! It's gonna be sooooo much fun!!!!)...

464. For abundant rains throughout December and for a sunshiny day today...

465. For the 11th Day of Christmas today...

466. For excellent progress today on the Book of Common Prayer I am helping to edit...

467. For sweet boys who love to cuddle with me...

468. For my dear one whose kisses make me forget the pain...

469. For the gift of a new Kindle that is light and easy in my arthritic-curled fingers...

470. For the gift of this blog and all of you who read and pray and comment and encourage...
Thanks indeed be to God who daily (yes, DAILY!) loads us with blessings!

Trudging onward in gratitude,

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Starting My 365 Photo Blog Again....

Taken by Timothy at Sea Life Aquarium
Taken by Timothy at Sea Life Aquarium

I've started posting to my 365 Photo Blog again after some of my old 365 friends started a Facebook group. So I'll try to post a photo a day throughout 2011...we'll see how it goes. I'll also occasionally post photos by family members. Keith, after all, was a high school photography teacher who attended Brooks Institute of Photography, and both E and T are very much into photography as well. So I've posted two photos above that T took yesterday at the Sea Life Aquarium at Legoland in Carlsbad. He took a lot of photos, but these two are really nicely done, I think.

And here's my first post to Susanne 365 and Beyond: Starting 365 Again...

So here's to a new project for 2011!


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