10/31/2011

Homeschoolers' Reformation Day Get-together

When our homeschooling families came together to celebrate Reformation Day, our kids came prepared for the plays in which they they were performing.


Here is our cast of characters.

Here is a poor German parishioner buying an indulgence from ...

er... hang on! Is this who I think it is? Selling indulgences??

A word with you later, young man, please.

Here were some of the nuns that were able to escape from the convent. 

(This was them trying to look very serious. Frightened even, because the consequences would have been serious indeed had they been caught. So... do they look worried to you guys?)

Many nuns who, when they heard the Gospel, became aware that the vows they had taken were not binding in God's eyes. Martin Luther helped some escape, with the aid of a fish merchant who came with his delivery of fish one night to the convent.

(Isn't the cart fabulous?! Well done, Mary and your troops, for the wonderful props)

Leaving the convent, among the stinking barrels were twelve nuns. One of the twelve was Katharina von Bora, who was later to become Luther's wife.

The third and final time Luther was convicted of the total sufficiency of Christ's finished work came when he was in Rome, climbing the steps of the Scala Sancta. (Read about them here.) As Luther climbed the steps on his knees, the words...


...screamed out to him.

This portion of Scripture, "The just shall live by faith", spoke to Martin Luther on three separate occasions. Although he had been saved, his grave clothes of superstition, of tradition and of works were bound tightly to him. (see yesterday's post) Three times, the Lord spoke to him through this truth, until finally, here on the steps of the Scala Sancta, Luther was able to shout with joy and with all conviction, 

THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH!



Reformation Day

Today is Reformation Day. We had a homeschoolers' get-together the other day, and once, again, a huge thanks to Mary and her kids for the effort and research they put into making our day fun and hugely informative.


I'll post photos of our day in tomorrow's post. But for today, I want to think of Martin Luther, who, under God's hand, was instrumental in bringing the truth of God's word to so many.




Poor Martin Luther.


Like so many others, Martin Luther was trying to earn his way into heaven by his 'good works'.  You may already know that he became a monk following a terrifying experience he had one night as he returned from home to the university in Erfurt, where he was studying Law. As the thunder and lightening raged around him, the terrified Martin prayed to Saint Anne and promised to become a monk, if she would spare his life.


And become a monk he did. That part was easy: what wasn't easy for Martin was finding peace with God. Desperate to earn his way to heaven, and to have peace through the knowledge he was heaven-bound, Martin caused himself great suffering. He would endure freezing cold; he would suffer hunger (almost to the point of killing himself); he would beat himself until the blood ran. He suffered all this, believing sufferings here on earth would both sanctify him, and lessen his sufferings in Purgatory (a place, believed by Roman Catholics, where souls are cleansed by suffering before becoming fit for heaven).


Poor Martin Luther.


All this suffering, and yet no peace.


Martin would speak to the priests constantly. He would confess all the sins he was aware of. 


Still no peace. 


He would just have left the confessional, when he'd remember another sin he hadn't confessed. Back to the priest he'd go. Martin's problem was that all he did was 'coming short of the glory of God', and so all he did was sin. How could he ever reach the end of his confession? 


How could we? The greatest commandment says to 


'love the Lord thy God with all your heart, your 
mind, your soul, your strength'

Who of us can say we have ever, for one moment, loved the Lord with all of our being perfectly. Of course, we cannot, and so there must be some other way of salvation - otherwise we're all condemned to a lost eternity.


Never could Martin's works or sufferings have saved him.


Poor Martin.


As he read his Bible one night, he read these words:

"For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.! (Eph 2: 8, 9)


Through his studying of Scripture, Martin finally had his heart and his eyes opened to see that our 'good works' are as filthy rags, but we have, in Christ, HIS righteousness. This is our only hope.


Mary, our host, had a perfect illustration of what Martin Luther had to go through. Even after he was brought alive by the work of the Holy Spirit, he was, in her words, like Lazarus who, having been brought alive by the Saviour, was still bound tightly in the grave clothes. 


Martin's 'grave clothes' of works, of tradition, and of superstition had to be taken away. Bit by bit, God's words of

"The just shall live by faith" 

echoed in his heart and mind, until finally the last of the binding grave clothes were torn away, and Martin Luther had true peace.


Poor Martin Luther? Not a bit of it! He had the liberty of the Gospel. He was RICH!


He had the righteousness of Christ; the peace of God, which passes all understanding; he was safe for time and for eternity.


And so, on this Reformation Day, I give thanks for the peace my Saviour has given me. I give thanks that my salvation is by grace alone, that it is the gift of God, and not of works. I give thanks that, because it is God's work, it can never be undone. And I pray for those who are in spiritual bondage, still believing they can do something to earn God's favour.

"It is the gift of God...."

10/29/2011

In Christ Alone

In Christ Alone


In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground, 
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace, 
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease! 
My Comforter, my All in All, 
here in the love of Christ I stand. 


In Christ alone! who took on flesh 
Fulness of God in helpless babe! 
This gift of love and righteousness 
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died, 
The wrath of God was satisfied - 
For every sin on Him was laid; 
Here in the death of Christ I live. 
There in the ground His body lay.


Light of the world by darkness slain: 
Then bursting forth in glorious Day 
Up from the grave he rose again! 
And as He stands in victory 
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me, 
For I am His and He is mine - 
Bought with the precious blood of Christ. 


No guilt in life, no fear in death, 
This is the power of Christ in me; 
From life's first cry to final breath. 
Jesus commands my destiny. 
No power of hell, no scheme of man, 
Can ever pluck me from His hand; 
Till He returns or calls me home, 
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.


In Christ Alone, Stuart Townend, Keith Getty



10/27/2011

An Announcement for All Americans. Y'all Ready for This??

Are all you Americans ready for this announcement from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Are y'all ready for this?



To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years your tendency to elect incompetent Presidents of the USA and therefore not able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas , which she does not fancy). 

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections. 

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect: 

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.'Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary'). (I love that one)


Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.' ' (I love that one too)

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse. 

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public. 

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour. 

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8.You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. New Zealand beer is also acceptable, as New Zealand is pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion. 

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater. 

11. You will cease playing American football. There are only two kinds of proper football; one you call soccer, and rugby (dominated by the New Zealanders). Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). 

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America . Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians (World dominators) first to take the sting out of their deliveries. 

13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad. 

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776). 

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season. 

God Save the Queen!


End of announcement.


And so, my American friends: soon we shall all be one happy family again.


I, for one, can't wait!



10/26/2011

Patrice's Porch Chat



Patrice, I'm loving the Fall colours around your porch. I'm loving being able to sit outside, and not get blown away. Except by the gorgeous colours. And the wonderful company. Your questions for today were suggested by some of last week's ladies, so let's get to them...


1. What is your favourite coffee drink?


Well, as you all know, I'm a tea drinker more than a coffee drinker. Tea, tea, tea. Oh.... and I mean hot tea. Tea with milk.




2. What's the chore you hate the most that you wish Blogger would come do?


Just one?


I think it would be tidying up. If I could have Blogger arrive every day around 4pm to give our house a quick tidy, I would be a happy bunny. We do tend to have a tidy around this time of day, especially in the Family Room, so that when it comes to sitting in the evening, we are sitting in a tidy room. There's nothing worse than sitting in a guddle in the evening. At that stage, we're too tired to tidy, so we have to just put up with it.


Oh... scrub that last comment (ha! 'scrub' ... ). How could I not have thought? Definitely the chore of making the Builder's packed lunch.


Picture the scene. Dinner is made; dinner is eaten; dinner is cleared away. The dishwasher is on. There is light at the end of my tunnel. My seat on the sofa is calling my name. I want to go, but there's just a couple of little itsy-bitsy jobs yet to do... Wipe off the worktop, and then it'll be time to sit. Ahhhhh....


And then... 'Na p├Čosan!!' (Literally 'pieces'... sandwiches)


Groan! You'd think when I've been making them for twenty years that I would never forget them. But I do. Time and time again. It's not that they're the worst job in the world to do: the problem is when I'm making them. Just as my feet were deciding they were just about to be put up, there's one other job. Sandwiches, pasta, butter slices of fruit loaf, butter and cheese on oatcakes, jam on pancakes. Cling film...cling film... more cling film.


I just want to SIT DOWN!!


Blogger!! Come and make the 'pieces'. Pleeeeease!




3. Why did you decide to start a blog?


Well, I didn't even know about blogs until about a year-and-a-half ago. My friend introduced me to a blog, and I was smitten. I was so clueless that when she said she had begun her own blog, I was gobsmacked that anyone could 'start up a blog'. Now, I know that will all surprise you, me being so computer savvy an' all that.


The thought of being able to blether, to ramble, to 'have a yarn' with a computer screen whenever I wanted sounded fabulous. The Builder was even more delighted: 'You mean, you can ramble, and I don't have to listen?'. And so my blog was born.


I knew nothing about blogging. I had no idea that people would have any interest in what I had to say, or the place in which I live. I have loved blogging. I have loved 'meeting' others who blog. For the past wee while, I've written less frequently than I used to. There have been time issues, but mostly I wonder whether people are interested in hearing about things I've already written about. Because many of our activities are cyclical, it does mean I've written about our regular activities before, and so I hesitate to write about them again.


And so... back to the question! I didn't really decide and plan it. It just kinda happened.




4. Who is your most famous relative?


Erm... I don't think I have any of whom I know.


Except of course, that We are all Related.




5. Have you ever given yourself a home perm?


As many of you know, I was a hairdresser in a previous life. This meant that I gave many perms - home and salon - but I can honestly say I've never given myself a home perm. As a hairdresser, I always had a hairdresser to do my hair. I did, of course, have perms. Oh yes....


Now that I don't have hairdressers on hand, I don't have perms. Well, I don't mean I don't have perms because I don't have hairdressers on hand. I mean..... Oh, you know what I mean. Do you? 


See, this is why the Builder was so pleased at my blogging.


This is what he had to live with.


Er... has to live with.


I'd best be heading home now, Patrice. Things to do, people to see, places to be...


Oh, all you Americans - please make sure you call back tomorrow. Us Brits have a very important announcement for y'all. And we'll have no arguments. Right?


This could change your life. And mine ;)


See ya!

10/25/2011

The Loveliest Sight

You know, I see many beautiful sights.


Regularly my eyes feast on such beauty as...


'Me!'

Er, Jackson... that's not quite the kind of beauty I had in mind.

I meant...
...wakening up to dramatic morning skies like these, 

...or going to bed to dancing skies.

I meant

dramatic seas like these,

...peaceful beaches like this.

(How could I resist?)

Serene sunsets,

...empty beaches by day,

...and quiet beaches by sunset.

But of all the gorgeous scenes my eyes are able to feast on...

... this sight, every night before I head to bed, is simply the most lovely of all.

What is it about the sight of our sleeping children? Every single night, this beautiful sleeping face re-captures my heart. I have to drag myself away from it, because I could never tire of looking at it. Every night, I pray over this precious wee guy, not knowing what this world has in store for him, but committing Him to the One who not only knows, but has ordered all his steps.

I am so often brought to think of the countless number of children, just as beautiful to their own mothers, who do not have the blessings this wee guy has. They may live in war zones, and are unable to sleep peacefully night after night. They may live in fear, with the causes of fear on their streets, or even, perish the thought, in their home. They may live in areas suffering from famine, and though their bodies may be tired, yet peaceful sleep eludes them because of their dire hunger.

How much we have to thank God for. And each night, as I say my final Goodnight... and God bless you... to my youngest child, may I never cease to count my blessings and pray for those who have not, in God's providence, been afforded what we have.



10/22/2011

Velcom to Vittenberg ... and a Mish-mash

Dearie me, life is busy. Where have I been?


I have been to Wittenburg.

Can y'all think why? More to follow...


You remember Jackson?

You remember - the grouse-retriever-for-Royalty?

Well, this is what he has been reduced to.


The guys were lifting potatoes today again. This time, the wind wasn't so strong, but the rain didn't stopped all day.

Mud, mud, mud. It's so much part of my life, I simply cannot imagine any other way of living.


Here's one of Katie's pizzas from the other night. This was it just before cheese was added.

The first time Katie made pizza from scratch, it was nice, but I really could only think of one thing: 

Why would anyone go to all this trouble when I could go to the freezer and stick one in the oven?

The second time she made them, I realised they are much yummier than any shop-bought ones.

And the whole job becomes less time-consuming every time she practices it.

You remember my day in town, the crane, and dinky toys?

This is now the view of my sister's back garden, taken from the bottom of 'the hole'.  

If you look right in the middle of the photo, you are able to see the top of the washing line pole. Just to give you an idea of the height of the rubble pile.


Raspberry Muffins
The photo is from Cooking for Seven's blog, and is only one of countless wonderful photos and recipes on this site.

These muffins are de-lic-ious. The streusel on top is so yummy. It reminded me of Laurie's coffee cake. You know the cake that's got coffee in its name but not in itself. I like to drink coffee, but I don't like coffee in anything, so I was mighty relieved when Laurie's coffee cake was coffee in name only.

Am I making any sense?

As well as the Raspberry Muffins, I made oatcakes and some fruit loaves today.

Then my cousin and her family came to visit.

Then my pal and her family came to visit. 

I'm so glad my house was immaculately tidy when they all came. 

Yeah, well, anyway....

While I was baking today, I listened to the sermon Why Have I Found Grace? I love that title. I love the sentiment behind the question.

I'm so glad we've been able to have a wee yarn just now. I feel like I've not seen y'all for ages. I hope y'all have a wonderful Lord's Day.




10/19/2011

Another Week, Another Chat...







Here are today's porch questions:


1. What kind of camera do you use?


I bought a Nikon D50 second hand. I am desperate to learn how to use it properly, but for the time being I simply point and shoot. Well, maybe not quite, but almost! 


2. What will you have for Thanksgiving dinner? If not in the USA, tell us about a special meal, please.


I'm not in the USA. Did any of you know that?! Of course, my heart spends most of its life there, but I guess that doesn't count.


We have always had a Thanksgiving day towards the end of November, but in our tradition there is no big meal and family get-together involved in the day, just a Thanksgiving service at church. However, we'll probably go for a turkey-and-all-the-trimmings meal on the date of your Thanksgiving Day... just for the fun of it.


3. What's the biggest vehicle you've driven?


A bus. Would you call it a coach? A 43-seater bus. I was ... well, let's just say I was very young at the time. Too young to publicize it!


4. Have you ever been on a train?


Yes. In the UK, it's a nice way to travel between towns and cities. Within city limits, the trains don't tend to be as nice, although there are years since I was on one of them, so maybe things have changed over the past decade or so.


When we were in the USA last year (er, you mean you didn't know we were there? I've never mentioned it? At all? Well, we shall just have to remedy that ;) we went to Six Flags in New Jersey, and I was forced onto a terribly scary train ride. 


Er. It was scary, Katie. It was terrifying.


What do you mean it was the train ride for the under-8s?


I'm sticking by my story: It was scary.


5. What question would you like to ask people visiting on my porch next week?


Ooh, I guess I need to be careful here, because I may have to answer it!


"Tell of something you've done you are so glad you did." (the opposite of a regret.... we tend to have plenty of them).


Thanks, Patrice, for your questions again, and for allowing us onto your porch one more time. How long d'ya reckon until it'll be too cold to sit on your porch? We have a windchill of about 1C today. I've been in and out from the washing line (my tumble drier is broken) and my hands are raw with the cold.


I have to tell you that for the past two days I've been cleaning, tidying and clearing DR's bedroom.


I checked with him before I told the world that his mum still has to clean, tidy and clear out his room.


Me: DR, do you mind if I tell the world your mum still cleans your room?


DR: Er, why would I mind you telling them that?


Me: Well, they may think you ought to do that yourself, now that you're the age you are.


DR: What's age got to do with it? I've got you.


Anyway, the next time I have the ridiculous notion of clearing his room because he's away for two days, would someone do me a favour and remind me that 2 days and a roll of black bin bags is not what I need... It's a week and a Dumper Truck.


Prospective wives? Come see me first. Trust me - you'll thank me for it.

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