A Window, A Tree, The Sky and Me

Lessons learned in the crises of life.

I can sum up my three months of bed rest with four nouns: window, sky, tree, me. That’s it. (Well, technically Sarah was there, but she was still growing.) 

Seriously, that’s all there was, and it was only the very top of a deciduous tree; a little bit of green surrounded by amazing shades of blue. Sometimes I would get lucky and a beautiful, cuddly cloud would float gently by. 

I didn’t realize the impact that scene had on me until years later. I was in crises mode. My body kept going into labor, and Sarah was too little to survive. No matter how calm, how terrifying or just plain boring the day would be, the sky was still there; always and without fail.

The sky gave me the big picture. No matter what went on each day, I could watch my scene and remember God doesn’t change. The beauty of nature is there, always. I need to remember that even in terrifying situations, I need to take time to look at the beauty God has made. A nugget of joy in the midst of sorrow.

I don’t have my window anymore, and Sarah just turned nineteen. But the sky is still the same. So I look at the sky and marvel at the beauty and remember my lesson: God is big and constant, just like the sky.

Okay, God, Your Point?

Why does the Bible spend so much time on what is to come?

I love the prophetic which means I read the prophetic books in the Bible over and over again. So today I finished Daniel and went into Joel. Daniel was talking end times and Joel was talking about things to come. Then it hit me: a big part of the Bible is God telling us what is going to happen before it happens. God is smarter than I am, so nothing is by happenstance, which means that everything has a reason. So I started thinking through where God was going with all this prophetic stuff.

So my mind started whirring and then the really super-duper deep reason hit me: a big part of a Bible is an arrow shooting across the time/space continuum towards our ultimate life end and eternity beginning. The human race has been told over and over and over again that the end is coming and that we need to make sure we are on the right side of the line that has been drawn.

I think God’s point is to be in a constant state of readiness for the end of the world, but even more personal is the end of our own life. Are we right where we need to be with God? Are we waiting until we know our life is almost over to accomplish certain things? Are we putting off truly following God for some crazy reason?

Every time you see an arrow, think about where your life is going. Following God will help you hit the mark every time. I think that is the point.

But I Want What Enoch Had…

Comparing our relationship with God against others.

I’m not complaining or anything, but I want to have the relationship with God that Enoch had. We know that he “walked with God”, which I want. We could talk about my blog, the sky, teens…)He also had so many encounters with angels that he knew them by name (there is a book of Enoch that isn’t in the Bible, but is traditionally accepted as truly being about him; fun read). So I must admit I am a tad bit jealous.

This morning I was reading Daniel. God had given him a vision that greatly troubled him. So much so that he ate only boring food and did a lot of praying. He wanted God to explain the vision to him. This is where my mind rebels to say that if God wanted Daniel to understand it, He would have. So 21 days later an angel comes, apologizes for being late (apparently he was jailed by a demon), and explains what Daniel had been wanting to know. I find his relationship with God a tad bit demanding, so I don’t want the relationship he had.

David was a man after God’s own heart, so lots of people want the relationship he had with God. I find David a bit bit-polar, so he’s out.

So I am sticking with Enoch. I told that to  God, but He said no. Everyone has a different relationship with God and that’s the way God set relationships up. He doesn’t want us looking at other Christians and being jealous.

We need to take our relationship with God where God has it. Don’t compare. Identify where your relationship is, and find ways to get closer to God. The more time we spend with people, the closer the relationship gets. The same goes with God. 

I am still a tad bit jealous about Enoch, but I am working on that. I am excited where my relationship with God can go. I hope you can, too. 

God’s Homeschooling Glue

The perfect homeschooling study of “The Screwtape Letters”.

Yep, you read it correctly: God has glue. I can personally attest to the fact that God brings my lesson plans together in ways I hadn’t even considered. (It even works in non-teaching areas in life.)

My Laura is in 9th grade and is crazy fun to homeschool. This may have something to do with the fact that I graduated out my oldest three kids so I can just focus on Laura, but that is a whole different post altogether.

C.S. Lewis wrote “The Screwtape Letters”, an amazing book of a demon writing letters to his nephew to strategize how to keep a human from getting right with God. This book was a life changer for me in college, so I wanted to share it with Laura.

We are also studying logic fallacies. This is where we get some glue: logic fallacies started with the devil twisting God’s truth.

Another drop of glue is the course we studied last year that involved reading classic literature and then attempting to write in the style of the author. (I am very sad that Laura did not delve into my love for Dickens, sigh.)

So here is the beauty of what God does:

We start with one letter each morning, and have a great discussion about God, demons, Christianity, culture… We then start recognizing and naming the fallacies (“that’s a red herring right there!”). One day we looked for our culture’s fallacies on sexuality; a sadly numerous amount. Another day we identified logic fallacies in religious piety. Again, the list goes on and on.

One day the writing assignment hit me: write the angelic version of the letters in Lewis’s writing style. It was genius enough that I never would have thought of it on my own. Thank you, God!

I wanted to include Laura’s writing assignment so you can see how seamlessly this all came together. This is how God provides the glue to hold everything together as we homeschool. Enjoy!

Laura’s essay on the angelic version of C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” written in Lewis’ voice:

My dear Gabriel,

It is so, to my knowledge, that your child has been falling from Our Father Who Art in Heaven. I have heard that he has been wishing to become ‘of the world,’ much like his friends whom he was sent to minister unto. But, as tragic as this is, Our Father would not wish for this to go unused.

Do not misunderstand what I am saying to you; for man has come to see ‘using’ something as a term of ludicrous intention. Our term of ‘using’ is much more amicable than many perceive. For our version of this term is a means of spinning a tragic sin in the way of Our Father.

Now, with that disclaimer upon this parchment, let us commence our conversing of what is. Your child, being that he has been a member of The Kingdom practically since his infancy, has refrained from consuming spirits. As admirable as it is, he has recently succumbed to the peer pressures of the world, and consumed a staggering amount. Though he only proceeded to become what man calls ‘tipsy,’ it is still more than is allowed. I understand that he has felt remorse for this, but he has not repented, nor is he plainly sorry. A tragic picture indeed. He has not regretted it for it was wrong, but for the scorn of his saved loved ones.

How might this come to Our Father’s favor you might ask? He has not known scorn from his family, for he has been extremely habitual in his obedient nature. He has never spoken out against his parents, lest it was for their sake, nor has he been what man calls a ‘trouble child.’ Altogether, he has been good, and a good servant to Our Father. He has never known his family’s scorn, nor has he known how much he cared for them before this time. Though this may seem like only a small lesson, it will come to effect his relationship with his family in the near future for the better.

But your child is not the only one who will learn from this mistake. No, for the family has never known scorn towards others. They have become cold and fearful for their son’s and brother’s soul. Now the story it is well to remind them of, would be “The Prodigal’s Son.” You needn’t hear the story again, for you know it well. They will be reminded to let their son and brother find his own way, and not long after, return to them a better, and humbler man than before.

But I am afraid it will not be easy to help your child come to the epiphany of remorse as we may wish. Our enemy has enticed him with the fruit of his nefarious tree. And once a child has been tempted, and given enough into that temptation, our enemy has a chance to cloud his mind.

We have dealt with cases like this before, but the child was unsaved to begin with. It took long and strenuous effort, but he is now a part of The Kingdom. You know the enemy’s methods, so it is best to set reminders of your child’s Christ-filled life before his eyes. Though his memories are peaceful, joyful, and frivolous, our enemy finds ways to spin them, placing them under his pernicious umbrage. So, go deep into his past, and recover a memory so full of mirth, so vigorous, so pious, so laudable, and so long forgotten in the constant flood of memories, that nostalgia will overcome him, that he will be impelled to return, not due to force, but pure remembrance.

This should be no perilous task; for all that is needed, is a year-old child, lighting his or her first menorah or spinning a dreidel, and his old memories of his favorite time of year will all come flooding back, overwhelming him, giving him a childlike countenance. Our Father is pleased to see such reminiscence in His children’s heart, for he loves their joy. It is wise to learn from His love.

Now, it is simple enough to remind him of the merriment of childhood, but it is what comes after that is the true challenge. The enemy will find ways for your child to maintain the idea that joy such as that is no longer attainable by the simple things, but through sin. Do not let this wretched wool be pulled over his eyes. This trick has been used too many times for to work. Instead of giving the enemy a moment to execute his plan, give the year old child a spurt of joyous laughter, making the parents notice your child, causing them to converse with one another. But I fear this will not be all he needs to find his way back under Our Father’s wings.

The enemy will rush into his head, causing him to find fault with the parents of the year old child. Perhaps the father is wearing, what man calls ‘an ugly sweater,’ or the mother has a piece of lettuce stuck in her teeth. The enemy will then compel him to make judgements which he has no right making. This is also an overused trick; which means we know how to catch it. Make him remember the ugly sweaters his favorite grandmother used to give him, and how amused he was with them. Then make him see a picture of the woman he is fond of, sitting across from him at a wedding, when he goodheartedly pointed out she had a piece of meat stuck in between her teeth, and she got it out, laughing. This will make him warmer towards these parents.

Now once all of this has played out, the problem is keeping him at this reminiscent state of mind. If he so happens to see one of his ‘worldly’ friends inside of a pub, this could mean the beginning of his downfall. No, this mustn’t happen. Reroute his daily walking routine into the park that he so loved to play at as a child, and suggest to him that he might sit down. He has never turned down the thought to take a rest in a beautiful place. Let the wind blow the leaves ever so slightly, and perhaps let a red cardinal find its way atop a snow covered pine tree, or let a squirrel run across the white ground to find its nut. This will bring about the thought of how nature was made. Yes, he knows, but the thought will help him to see how he has been going against Our Father Who Art in Heaven.

Do these things, and your child will be back in his family’s arms in no time at all. Be sure that you remember this for future reference, for many have gone down this path, and have not come back as your child will. If there is any more trouble with him going astray, write to me again; it is not wise to try and accomplish reinstatement into The Kingdom by one’s self.

Your Loving Brother,

Michael