Sunday, November 29, 2009

Over the River, Through the Woods, and Up the Mountain, And Back!

We went to the mountains for Thanksgiving, a rather quick trip. We got there Thursday afternoon, and my brother Max and his family got there Friday afternoon, so we had Thanksgiving Dinner on Friday evening. A little flexibility is a good thing!

Here's the teens, being silly. L-H, Sara (a friend), Peter, Ben & Katie & Hannah (cousins)
Mother and Max. It's not often that Max and Anne can both be gone from their farm. It was fun to visit with them.
Remember Max's farm? The one with the blueberry bushes and the big red barn?
Adam did a lot of sitting around, reading, and lookin' cute. I used his Ipod to play crossword puzzles.
I took 4 pies and came back with 1/2 a pumpkin. Not too bad!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pies Galore!

I began baking pies early today, right after lounging on the couch in my nightgown, sipping eggnog and gazing into the fire.... Anyway, three of the pies required simple no-roll crusts, so I began with those:
I had all the ingredients in the pantry, and I began with the pumpkin pies.
They are quick to mix up. Some of the stuff on the counter was left from breakfast -- I made pancakes since Philip is home. (At this point, the mama-heart flutters and feels warmer; it's lovely to have all our kids home again.)
Here are the first three; the one on top is a chocolate chess pie, one of Adam's favorites, and I haven't baked one in years!
Lastly, I made a whopping apple pie. It wasn't until afternoon that I could finally face the prospect of making REAL pastry crust -- NOT one of my primary skills :) Still, I think it turned out fine.

The Manhattan Declaration

At this time of year, our church gets together with various other local churches for a Community Thanksgiving Service. It's a wonderful tradition. This past Sunday evening, 7 different churches from 4 different denominations gathered for worship and food afterward. This year the CMA pastor preached, and he gave us a great sermon on heaven. I felt this message was particularly appropriate for this varied group; heaven is the place where we will all worship again, without any denominational differences. That service was a little picture of heaven.

One pastor, however, did not come. He could not, for reasons of conscience. He is so closely tied to his own denominational thinking that he cannot worship with some other churches, nor participate in any way with them.

The service was so uplifting, God-honoring. The message was entirely Biblical. The gathering of brothers and sisters in Christ was so warm and comforting. I felt real sorrow for this man, this pastor, who missed all this. And yet -- to be there would not have warmed his spirit, but plagued him. How sad!

This matter of conscience in ecumenical gatherings occurs often, and is playing out yet again in the Manhattan Declaration. This document, which can be read and signed online, is a statement by Catholics, Orthodox and Protestant Evangelical Christians, addressing three issues: abortion, marriage, and religious freedom. The document takes a strong stand on these issues, affirming that all who sign the document are pro-life and firmly oppose abortion, that they define and support marriage as a union between one man and one woman and oppose all attempts to define it otherwise, and that they defend the human right of conscience to worship and practice one's religion freely.

I know some Christians who will not sign the document. They agree whole-heartedly with the sentiments in it: they are pro-life, pro-marriage, and for religious freedom. But their difficulty is in putting their signature to a document that will be signed by people of different views.

The document can be found at this website.

The Manhattan Declaration begins with the assumption that its Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical signers are all Christians. This may seem obvious to many of you, but there are Protestant Evangelical Christians who take issue with this assumption -- they see the teachings of the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches as being so far away from true Biblical orthodoxy that these denominations cannot be called "Christian," and thus their members cannot be called so either.

The document clearly states that those who sign it "sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations." Thus, the document in no way claims that all 3 churches are Christian; that is not its goal. It is merely stating that all its signers claim to be Christians. Regardless of their affiliations, they say, "We are Christians."

What do these signers mean by that? Do they understand what a Christian is? On the website's first page, they avow: "We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

It seems clear to me that the document is in NO WAY making any claims about the theological tenets of the 3 churches, but makes claims only for its signers. If you sign the document, you are a follower of Christ, you believe him to be both crucified and risen, you believe he is the only way to salvation.

The signers state this. Why would I not sign with them?

Further, the signers state, "We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love and who has laid total claim on our lives...."

I know a lot of Protestants who could never state such things. I'm thrilled to find out there are thousands of Catholics and Orthodox who will eagerly do so. The signers put their names to this document "in light of the truth grounded in Holy Scripture," and then proceed to give Scripture texts in each section of the document to support their positions on the 3 issues at hand. I'll note also that the document demonstrates deep humility, in that the signers attest to their own failings and sin in conduct, and in the historic weaknesses of the institutions that claim Christianity. Nevertheless, in spite of these sins and weaknesses, they insist on pursuing righteousness and justice.

In defending freedom of religion, the signers state, "The nature of religious liberty is grounded in the character of God himself, the God who is most fully known in the life and work of Jesus Christ." That is quite a statement! When looking for a defense for themselves, as to why they have a right to proclaim their dissent against not only their culture, but against government regulations, these signers cite Scripture, and the apostles:

"Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, 'Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.'"

Is the Manhattan Declaration's purpose to make an inclusive theological statement that binds together Catholics, Orthodox and Evangelicals? No. It states openly that there are deep, historical ecclesiastical differences among them. Is the Declaration theologically neutral? No, and it does not pretend to be. It lables abortion, same-sex marriage, and restrictions on religious freedom as "immoral." It calls sin, sin. Is it surprising that these 3 groups might have members who can agree on what sin is?


I'm disappointed that I have dear friends who cannot get past their dislike and disapproval of Catholics, and sign this document, or at least support those who do. Do they think there will be no members of the Catholic or Orthodox churches in heaven someday? Surely not! But this is where the rubber meets the road, as they say. The signers of the Manhattan Declaration claim to be Christians, and to be members of these churches. This is an incongruity for some, and they cannot get past it. I, for one, am thankful that my salvation is not determined by my affiliation with a particular sect or denomination; it is dependent only on my faith in Jesus. It seems to me that the signers of this document believe that as well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Acts 9:16

Have you ever had a piece of Scripture that you can't get out of your mind? It hovers and whispers, it lights in the brain repeatedly, like a persistent fly. I find that passages from the Bible do this to me, whereas passages in other books don't. Characters, plots, descriptions and scenes are memorable in other books, but not specific words.

Acts 9:1-25 is the passage that Peter chose to memorize for homeschooling recently. And every day when he would recite, one verse would hit me; I almost came to dread it because I knew it would ring in my heart. Saul has been confronted by Jesus on his way to Damascus. His life is changed forever. God instructs Ananias to go help Saul, but Ananias is hesitant. He reminds God of how dangerous the Persecutor Saul is. So, God tells Ananias this:

"Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."

Suffering. Saul's suffering is only beginning. God has chosen him, and his job assignment will be a daunting one -- to convey the message of God's kingdom to the whole world. And with God's work comes suffering. "For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." The beatings, the loneliness, the narrow escapes and shaves with death. The imprisonments and betrayals, the miles of traveling, homelessness and weariness.

God had planned Saul's life out for him already. God planned the suffering; in fact, he was just about to show Saul what was in store for him.

We should all be about God's work, our little chunk of business for His kingdom. Usually God's work comes with sufferings, to remind us of Jesus's sufferings and that we participate in His sufferings as well as His joys.

Some critics say that God cannot be in control of sufferings, that they happen without his allowance. They claim that if He allows suffering, they He is the author of that evil. What a misunderstanding of suffering! Christ's sufferings were a pattern for our own -- here's the recipe: sufferings are planned and given by God, they perform kingdom work and spread the gospel, they glorify God. If you have a different definition of the sufferings of a Christian, you might want to study the topic in the Scriptures.

"For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."

When God designs the suffering, He controls and limits it -- what a comfort! Saul (Paul, later) considered his sufferings to be a blessing; in fact, he became thankful for them and gloried in them. Because with the increased sufferings came a greater work for God, and that work he was eager for. The suffering kept him humble, a necessity for a human who KNEW that he was chosen of God.

How much are you willing to give up for the sake of His kingdom, His name? Is the suffering a joy?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A little of this, a little of that...

A little pizza? How 'bout a LOT of pizza! Tonight the kids asked Adam to make his deep dish, Sicilian style pizza. It's AMAZING.
However, supper wasn't until about 6:30. I got snackin' hungry about 4:30, so Julia and Adam made us a little snackin' plate, with pepperoni, cheese, summer sausage, and crackers. It hit the spot. Julia loves to make little notes.
Here is the FINALLY-FINISHED PUZZLE. It took us months. Anna and I worked on it the most. It was only a cheap WalMart puzzle, but the picture was very nice.
Lacey, who sleeps most of the time.
Julia has been enjoying the Christmas houses now that they are lit. She rearranges the accessories and holds Sandy there to show her all the loveliness. Today I did remove the background foliage, ahem, IVY.

Christmas Books

Last year I started a great Christmas tradition: I bought myself books. Remember?

I've decided to do it again this year! Today I spent a little time on Amazon, so I could find good prices, and get their free shipping. Here are my choices:

A Thousand Days in Venice, by Marlena de Blasi

Housekeeping, A Novel, by Marilynne Robinson

Dakota, a Spiritual Geography, by Kathleen Norris

I'm careful to buy books that I believe I'll love long-term, enjoy seeing on my shelves, recommend and lend to friends, and read again myself. I know I love de Blasi's books; I bought one last year, I've read her A Thousand Days in Tuscany, and she's a drifting romantic. I also got a Robinson book last year, Gilead. I truly enjoyed that book. (warning: Adam did not.) Whereas de Blasi tells a warm, casual tale and is strong on emotion, Robinson's writing is pure, fine craftsmanship. The Norris book was recommended to me recently by a friend; when I read about it, it sounded intriguing. When I read a few sample pages on Amazon, I felt I'd enjoy her style.

I found last year that giving myself books I'd carefully chosen was a great idea. It was a Christmas gift that I enjoyed for the next 6-9 months, as I slowly wended my way through those writer's worlds. I expect the same this year.

If you have a great favorite, please leave a comment. I'd like to know!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Full of Thoughts

I realize I haven't written in several days, and it's not because I'm not thinking -- my mind is full of thoughts. My thoughts are scattered and my feelings fluctuate. I read about political events and ruminate on them. Is Obama ruining the nation? Is Palin a lunatic? Will the spending ever be checked? Do I think we need healthcare reform? I contemplate Adam's job prospects and wonder if we'll be moving to South Dakota in a couple of months, or if we'll still be here. Can I be happy to move? Will it perhaps be a lovely place to live? Can I bear to leave my home and friends here? I homeschool the children -- their arguments and bitter answers to each other cause me pain. But their bright intelligence and quick learning please me.

Life is full of opposites, and sometimes full of contradictions.

In the middle of all this swinging, I find I do best if I can be still. Study the politics for what is RIGHT. Leave the moving to God and trust in Him. Be consistent in my teaching and press on.

I love autumn above the other seasons, and I love the Christmas season best of all the year. Yet often it happens that trials and disruptions occur at this time of the year, to upset the joy. I want to keep the joy, abide in the stillness, hold fast to the eternal verities of beauty and peace found in the celebration of God Made Man.

I'm slowly memorizing Isaiah 40. I've done the first 9 verses, in no real hurry. I doubt I'll do the whole chapter; it's very long. But memorizing, and doing so deliberately, causes me to dwell on the words and their meanings. What should we be doing? Comforting God's people -- our message is for his people. What words of comfort can we give them? God is coming! His glory will be shown when he comes! You -- you people, are as fleeting as the dried grass of autumn, blown away by winter winds. Again, we're told -- we the New Jerusalem -- to get on a high hill and proclaim to God's people that He is here!

How much time do we spend with other missions and other messages? Do I look for opportunities to tell to my fellow-believers HOW God is clearly present in my life, today? Isn't this what a testimony is? We stand before other Christians and remind them, "God is present, working in my life. Let me tell you how." And we do.

So, I'm telling you -- God is here. He is at work. I can feel his delving, sometimes hurting, fingers, digging deeply into my life. I've felt it before, and I recognize his hands. I see the impression of his fingerprints in these doings. The trials of life often become his most precious gifts to us, later. The timeless One comes into time and does his work. That's what Baby Jesus did, and God is still about this work, this coming.

He is here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And it begins!

Today I decided to bake a loaf of cinnamon bread, and to get out my handful of buildings that constitute the Christmas Village. It lives on our front window sill:
Julia enjoys rearranging all the buildings, trees and people, and it's at a perfect level for her to sit on the floor. Please note the nice ivy forest we're growing on the window pane.... Well, we will be cutting that ivy back AGAIN, very soon. Here in the South, the ivy will take over if you turn your back on it for a few minutes.

The season is beginning! If I wait until after Thanksgiving, there just WON'T be enough time to enjoy it all!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Making a Mountain

I have never found a blue so stunning as the Carolina sky in the autumn. These pictures were taken yesterday, when Adam finished raking the front yard. We had quite a leaf farm going!
The October sky is perhaps bluer, but yesterday was glorious outside. Peter helped Adam a little during our lunch break.
Anna snuggles with Sandy.
The Leaf Mountain by the street is the largest on the block. We have a yard of trees, and the oaks aren't finished yet! I called once for Julia, and she came popping up out of the leaf mountain. She said Adam had dumped a huge load of leaves on her -- she loved it, of course.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Evaluating a Presidency

These days, I never watch TV. We don't get television reception, and so I spent a lot of time on my laptop, and I get my news online. I like this; I have a feed reader with Google Reader, and it gives me an assortment of articles from various news agencies -- everything from Fox to CBS, to Reuters to the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. There are articles from various news outlets across the country. This is much more well-rounded than watching just ABC news every evening at 6:00.

And since Obama's presidency has been hailed as a new and different type of governance, I've watched carefully, and with some angst, as he's plunged forward into his first year. Now I basically disagree with Obama on most points of ideology. However I'm more concerned lately by the decisions he's, err, NOT making --

What are we going to do in Afghanistan? It seemed to me that it was the War in Iraq that was questionable, uncertain, undefined, but that Obama, in his campaign, knew exactly what he wanted to do in Afghanistan. Didn't he? He sounded so confident. Now, well, we heard that he'd decided to send in 40,000 troops. Then, that he hadn't decided that at all - did he change his mind? Doesn't he know? We're told that he wants to make the right decision, and must think through all considerations. But hasn't he had time to do that in the past TWO YEARS of his campaign and presidency? If he doesn't know now what we should do there, when will he know? The warnings of 18 months ago, that this man was not prepared for the responsibilities of the office, are sounding in my ears again.

And what about Copenhagen? Is he going, or isn't he? Now I don't agree with the liberals about all this MAN-MADE global warming stuff, (oh, excuse me, they've now adopted the name "climate change," since the latest statistics show that the warming trend isn't really, um, trending!) but you would think that the president would have ALREADY MADE UP HIS MIND about whether he's going. Or, if he really is undecided, please don't tell us!! We don't want to KNOW if our president can't decide about such things! It only worries us!


We did get one decision though. Did you hear that the master-mind behind the 9/11 terrorist attack on NYC is going to be tried in a civilian court, in NYC? Obama has decided this. Mr. Mohammad won't be tried by a military tribunal, but in the more lax and convoluted court of the state. In NYC. Can you immediately hear the defense screaming for a change of venue? As Mr. Giuliani noted, this will give the defense all the various opportunities to evade justice that a civilian court does. If this man is somehow acquitted, how will that reflect on Obama?

Even though I did not vote for him, and I do not approve of his presidency, I must say that the way Obama is conducting himself is a point of concern and disappointment to me. If I have to have a president whom I don't like, I'd at least prefer for him to conduct himself decisively, nobly, and consistently. Obama, I find, is none of these.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Far from the Home I Love

That song from "Fiddler on the Roof," when Tevye and his daughter part ways at the cold train station, is always the most heart-breaking moment for me. It's a beautiful song: a simple, lyrical melody with simple, clear words.
I took this photo last night as the setting sun was just letting go of the tree tops in our back yard. They are golden. I love living in the North Carolina woods.

Some of you may be wondering what's happening with our job situation. Adam is still working at our church, but the presbytery committee did not decide yet about whether they will allow him to candidate for the position permanently. We don't know when they will decide. What he is making at the church is just barely enough for our basic expenses, and we are dipping into our savings for things like dental work and field trips. Adam knows that, much as he would be willing to wait for many months to find out whether the committee will vote in his favor, our time is running out. And after our resources are depleted, the committee might decide against him, and we would really be in a bind, with no work at all.

All that to say, Adam has been contacted again by a small church in South Dakota, about being their pastor.

South Dakota.

Now, for those of you who live out west, or far away, this might not sound strange, but to this southern girl, South Dakota is far, far away. Far away from the home I love. Far away from my dear parents who only live about 2 1/2 hours from me now. Far away from the wooded Appalachians, from the blueberry farm, from dear friends, and from my boy at college. It makes my heart hurt to think of going so far away.

We have moved a lot. I've lived in Iowa and Massachusetts. I've roamed around in the Southeast from Mississippi to North Carolina and in between. We long to settle somewhere, but honestly -- one hopes to settle in a place that feels like home. Home has hills and forests and pine trees and balmy fall days and wishes of snow.

But I do believe that God has an opinion, a preference, in where we are. He has work that he has chosen for us to do, and no one else. That's why he's moved us around as he has, and it must be why he is (possibly) moving us again. It's not a Done Deal yet; Adam will need to be examined, and to go there and preach, and the church would need to accept him. But it dizzies my head to think how soon I might find myself setting up house in a flat, frozen landscape. Or as one friend described this area: Cold and Desolate.

I used to leap into adventures; I longed to travel -- anywhere, everywhere -- just to GO. But I'm not that way anymore. Now I long to stay. So, if you pray for me, please pray that God will soften my heart and make me willing, even eager, to move where and when he says "Move!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Making Pudding

Today, I decided to make pudding from scratch.

My kids asked for tapioca, and I really love butterscotch, so I made both.

Actually, both are tapioca custard recipes, straight from 'Joy of Cooking.' Here's how you do it:

Use a double-boiler. Put 3 Tbls of quick-cooking tapioca, 1/4 tsp of salt, 2 beaten eggs, and 2 cups of milk, into the double-boiler. Stir well.

If you just want straight tapioca pudding, also put 1/2 cup of sugar in there.

Allow the mixture to cook in the double-boiler for 7 minutes, without stirring it again. Then stir it well, and allow to cook again for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in 1 tsp of vanilla. Pour into bowls, and eat when warm, or cool if you prefer.

If you want butterscotch, use this same recipe, except DON'T put the white sugar into the mixture. Instead, melt 2 Tbls butter in a small pan, and add 1/3 cup of brown sugar, and allow it to melt and bubble. Add this butter/sugar to the mixture after it is cooked, and stir. Put into bowls.

Now READERS, allow me to wax eloquent on a favorite topic: REAL FOOD. The pudding you have eaten from the store that comes ready-made in little plastic tubs? That's NOT pudding. And the pudding you've made from Jell-O, with the powder mixture? That's not pudding either.

Sorry to tell you that. How do I know? Because when I made the "powder" kind yesterday, I could SO taste the chemicals. I've been removing chemicals/additives/preservatives from my diet enough, and I can now really taste them when they're there! BLECK!

So, how about homemade, from-scratch pudding? Ah, the lovely deliciousness of NO chemicals! Just milk, butter, sugar ... just natural ingredients, and boy does it make a difference. This stuff is creamy and fabulous.

And it's not THAT hard.

Your family will LOVE you if you make them this warm, delectable treat :)

Teaching in the Block

I've taught on various schedules. In Iowa, when I was first a classroom teacher, we had daily 45-minute classes. I'm assuming (although I don't recall) that we had a 180-day school year. So, I spent 8100 minutes with my students, or 135 hours of instruction, just in English.

At the school where I most recently taught, we slowly switched to a Block Schedule, the kind of schedule used in colleges now for a long time. Teaching in the block is now standard for high schools. The assumption is that high schoolers have a longer attention span, and that they benefit from longer classes. Block classes are usually 1 hour and 20 minutes, sometimes a bit longer or shorter.

However, the classes only last one semester. So, in the block, I would teach a student for 90 days, and his class would be complete. I would have him in the classroom for a total of 120 hours of instruction. So, in the semester block, each student in my classroom just lost 15 hours of instruction, even though he is still in school for 180 days during the year.

At this same school, we first used a modified block schedule, in which students still took the full year to take the course, but only had a particular class (like American Literature) every other day. So, they'd still only get 120 hours. However, they do get the benefit of having more time between classes, i.e., they would have American Lit on Monday, but not have it again until Wednesday, and they'd have 2 nights to get the work done. Of course, the teacher must assign 2 days of work, in order to cover the material.

In the block schedule, I usually found myself covering less material. It was just too hard to cram it in one semester, and high school students just CAN'T do 2 nights worth of work, in one night, in the semester block. We always lagged behind.

This year? Thankfully I set my own schedule. I teach literature to Anna and Peter for one hour each day. I'm planning on a 160-day school year. (Do you realize, that means we get an EXTRA MONTH OFF? Yippee!) So, I'll get 160 hours of instruction with them. 20 days less of school, but 20 hours more of instruction. Amazing.

And the teacher/student ratio is 1:2.

Here's all I'm saying, folks. If you really care about the quality of instruction your child receives in school, do it yourself and do it well. If you can't do it well yourself, then send them to a school that you KNOW WILL do it well. Don't assume. Check into your child's school. All the trendy "modern education" choices that your administration is doing might not actually be good for your child. Even extending the school year by 20 days (!!!) doesn't necessarily add to the volume or quality of the education, if you look into the actual class hours.

How much of your child's school time is just FLUFF?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Cold Rain and a Chilling Wind

This morning, I honestly wanted to have a "slower" homeschool day. Again. We did that yesterday, and Adam and I could barely drag ourselves to Teacher Position again today. But we did. As I noted, it's cold and wet. The weather seemed to beckon us all to stay in our jammies, drink something hot, and take it EASY. Julia is studying her Children's Homer.
Anna has recently made amazing progress on this puzzle that's been occupying prime space in the dining room. We like puzzles.
This is candle weather. A pool of warmth, light, scent and beauty, in a bleak world. This is Julia's Bible for her memorization work.
I've brought plants inside for the cold months. They sit by our sliding glass doors to get as much sunlight as possible.
Adam sits at this spot on the back patio -- it's his home "office." He loves the cool outdoors. I love looking at them, from a warm indoors.
I was teaching Thoreau to the teenagers, about how he complains that we humans fritter our lives away with details. Then it suddenly struck me that I had forgotten to get the roast out of the freezer for supper tonight. I nuked it a little to begin the thawing, plopped it into the crockpot with some water and wine, and added an onion soup packet. It's doing nicely now, with potatoes and carrots added.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ballet on the pavement

Well, this picture wasn't supposed to load first, but, hey, that's the story of my life right now! Still, I lurched into this road to take this shot -- I spotted this house several days ago, when the 2 trees in its front yard were in their perfect state of fall color. The tree on the right was brilliant yellow, and the one on the left, as you can still see, was the most flaming red of all the trees in town. The lovely door framed in between was too hard to resist; I only wish I'd had my camera with me the FIRST time!

Anna and Julia have been taking ballet this semester, and they had a performance at a local festival on Saturday. My camera was only barely willing to gasp out this one shot before its batteries sighed and died. Don't they look lovely?

I'm so proud of their ballet teacher. The trend in dance, as in most of culture, is toward the secular, the worldly, and the tacky. But this young woman has opened a new dance studio that is overtly Christian. She stood and read a passage of Scripture to the crowd before the girls danced. All the songs they dance to are Christian ones ("Amazing Grace" and songs like that). I hugged her and told her what a wonderful testimony for Christ her business is.

I haven't blogged much recently -- honestly, our lives are rather stressful right now, with the whole job situation. Adam redid his resume, sent it out to various businesses in this area. He feels that, if God does not provide a church for him to pastor, he needs to find work to provide for his family. His heart is not in it, but he is trying. And tomorrow night will be a very important church meeting that may well determine whether he will be able to become the full time pastor at our church. Please pray for this meeting, that God's will will prevail, and that His Spirit will guide the men present.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Never heard of it?

Here's the wikipedia article on this interesting human trait.

Here's a website link to a lady's page who has synesthesia.

I don't know much about it (yet), but apparently synesthesia occurs when a person's sensory input becomes a bit crossed, or intertwined. For many people, the synesthesia affects how they see numbers or letters in the alphabet -- the numbers and letters have color to them. So, the number 5 might seem "blue" to them, or the letter B might seem "red" to them. Synesthetes don't actually SEE red or blue colors on the page; they see the black and white like the rest of us (uninteresting) people. But the receptors in their brains give them very different input. They "think" the colors.

Many synesthetes don't talk about this much. They found out in elementary school that people think you're weird when you say that P is orange. Hm.

So, why am I writing about this?

Because I'm married to a synesthete. Yes, Adam is a very interesting person, and this is just another one of his interesting traits. He told us about it a number of years ago. Now, Adam is a really serious Math Person, if you know what I mean. He loves math. Numbers have great significance to him. Tell him something in a number form, and he won't forget it. Tell it to him in words, and it goes straight out of his head!

Anyway, Adam's synesthesia is very interesting too. He actually ALMOST got into a study being done a few years ago, but he had the wrong type of synesthesia; the doctors were studying people who associate colors with different sounds. That's not what Adam has. They told him the particular name of what he does have, but he's forgotten what it was called. Typical. They should have given it a number.

Anyway, to Adam, numbers have more than color; they also have shape. The shapes they have are nothing like the numbers' usual shapes. Here's a description of Adam's numbers:

0 = the ugliest number by far. It is a horrible emptiness. It has no actual shape, but is just a void. Adam finds zeros really offensive - he hates looking at them.
1 = the second ugliest number to him. It is a soft yellow and is shaped like a capital "s." It oscillates and vibrates. The zero and the one are the most opaque, least transparent numbers also, and this makes them unattractive.
2 = a green blob, a 3D shape with rounded edges, rather like a science-fiction "blob."
3 = dark blue, although still very translucent. The shape of this number is indistinct and hard to describe or visualize.
4 = a light bluish color. The number four is boxy on the bottom, with spikes on top, rather like the shape of a crown.
5 = a soft, light purple color. This shape is also indistinct.
6 = is variations on the shape of a wide column, with rounded corners. Its color is predominantly red, with green and gray in there also.
7 = This is Adam's favorite number to look at. It's a star/snowflake shape, and is a faint, sky blue.
8 = is orange. It has 3, stacked horizontal lines that seem to shimmer and move/vibrate slightly.
9 - is red. It has round knobs that come out from a center, and it has a rotational movement.

Now, before you think my husband is a nut, synethesia is actually pretty common. I read on one website that about 1 in 26 people has some form of it. But many people just don't talk about it. True synesthesia is genetic and people know they have it from childhood. They usualy experience it first in elementary school. I love Adam's story from being in about 2nd grade, and learning his numbers in the classroom. He raised his hand and asked the teacher, "Why does the 1 change color when you put a line on the top and make it into a 7?" When everyone looked at him like he was crazy, he decided quickly NEVER to mention it AGAIN.

But I think it's rather cool. It makes numbers and math very interesting to him, and it's occasionally useful. He can scroll down a huge list of numbers (like, say, while playing a game online that involves prices or other number lists) and instantly see patterns in a list of HUNDREDS of numbers, that other people would never see. He says it's just fun to scroll the page down really fast, to see the shapes and colors whizzing by like a carnival :) If he ever needs to find patterns in lists of numbers, he's insanely fast at it.

And this makes me wonder if any of you out there associate number, letters, days of the week, particular sounds, smells, or other things, with color. If you do, leave a comment! And look into synesthesia online -- in the past 20 years, researchers have taken a new interest in this part of the human brain, and they want to know why synesthetes brains seem to have additional processing capabilities that others lack. It's pretty cool!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Not much to say,

But I heard a rumor that November is National Blogging Month (?), so I'd better start rambling - haha!

What's happened lately?
Our church had a soup and sandwich luncheon yesterday for Adam, as the culmination of our Pastor Appreciation Month. We had such a big turnout! 2 new families have started visiting our church in the past few weeks, and we had additional visitors yesterday, so there was a great crowd. Many friends at church have given us cash too, which is a big help right now. It was a blessing.

And we had handbell choir last night. I'm directing it, which is very close to being downright humorous. However, after only 3 rehearsals, they played all the way through "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and did rather well. We'll be playing that for Advent.

My ear hurt last night, so I decided to put some rubbing alcohol in it. Somehow -- how? -- I bumped the bottle of alcohol and it fell to the floor, splattering alcohol into the corner of my eye. So I quickly put my head in the sink and began flushing my eye with water. (It hurt quite a bit!) Meanwhile, from the floor I hear "glug, glug, glug" of rubbing alcohol on the floor. Now my bathroom smells like a nursing home, as Adam says.

Today we dove back into school again, with 3 weeks to go until Thanksgiving Break. The only subject that's been a bit of a disappointment is Adam's science class with the high schoolers. For some reason they are not fond of grinding the lens of a telescope for many hours; however, this is necessary if you want the final result! So, now they are slogging through the textbook only (its own form of a 'grind'), and Adam is sorry that perhaps his telescope project, which he's longed for since childhood, may still not materialize.

Today at WalMart I found whole turkeys on sale for 40 cents/ pound, so I got one. They were playing Christmas music, and I was imagining the aroma of turkey flowing through the house all afternoon, some time this week. But when I got home, I soon found that I have absolutely, positively NO ROOM in my frig or freezer for a turkey!

So I suppose turkey is on the menu tomorrow evening, after it thaws, and that aroma will be here faster than I thought!

No other news. Philip seems happy at college. Peter's soccer tournament is this weekend, and he's "pumped," as they say. He's enjoying our church's youth group and all the young people there. The girls are content at being home like they are, and they adore our new puppy, Sandy.
And Adam, who has realized that he really must look around for other work in case the church position does not pan out, has a job interview in Charlotte next Monday. He redid his resume, and it seems to have produced results! He's encouraged, and although it is sad that he's now applying for secular jobs, he's glad to be moving forward. We still pray that, if God wants him to be a pastor, He will honor Adam's efforts in that direction, and open the door.