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Archive for January, 2010

“The difficulty of coming (to Jesus) just as we are is that we are messy.  And prayer makes it worse.  When we slow down to pray, we are immediately confronted with how unspiritual we are, with how difficult it is to concentrate on God.  We don’t know how bad we are until we try to be good.  Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer…

“(But) this is the gospel, the welcoming heart of God.  God… cheers when we come to Him with our wobbling, unsteady prayers.  Jesus does not say ‘Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.’  No, Jesus opens his arms to His needy children and says ‘Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28.)  The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness.  Come overwhelmed with life.  Come with your wandering mind.  Come messy.” – Paul Miller, A Praying Life

* * * * *

Can I tell you how much joy that simple truth brings to this momma’s often-weary heart?

Speaking of prayer:  As I’m working on some posts relaying the “details” of our adoption plans, we have a prayer request about the agency with which we should work.  If you all think about it, we would love if you prayed along with us for God to clearly lead us to the right agency… which will lead us to the right orphanage… which will lead us to the daughter God knew would be part of our family.  Thanks.

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A few things for this bright and cheery Monday morning…

Just a reminder that right here on February 1, next Monday, we will be starting to read The Well Educated Mind together as part of our weekly “grow your mind” journey (for more on what we’re doing, check out this and this).  There’s still time to buy/borrow a copy before we begin!  I will be doing some general overview that day, and will assign the first reading at that time, so there’s no rush to read ahead this week… or maybe, if you’re like me, you’re reading like gangbusters trying to get through as many books on your “to do” list before then!

Part of my “reading like gangbusters” has been directed at reading through the Bible in a year.  I occasionally participate in the discussion over at my bloggy friend Andrea’s site (her family is waiting for a referral for their Ethiopian child… yippee!), and I have to tell you, the online community and accountability is just amazing!  If you’re interested, you can start right where we are… although I have to warn you, the book of Job is no fun at all.  Only a few more days…  🙂

By the way, the prayers and well wishes you all are sending our way in response to our little announcement… wow, we are feeling them.  Thank you so, so much.  I plan to elaborate quite a bit on the prayer requests in the coming days, so stay tuned if you’re so inclined.  🙂

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Our wee little news!

Okay, so a few of you perhaps remember a few months ago when I asked for a few prayers about a few things we as a family were considering… and a few of you have even left a few messages/wall posts/inquiring IMs about them.  Those interested few may now be interested in knowing that as of now, just a few months later, we have those few things figured out.  The first few steps, anyway.

Few.

I mean, phew.

🙂

For those of you who were guessing, here is the picture I alluded to:

Now take a REALLY good look at Annie’s new shoes…

Have you guessed yet?  A few of you were REALLY close!

So here goes.

We are adding a new member to the Starr family.

NO, I’m not pregnant.

Well, not in the traditional sense of the word, anyway.

We are going to adopt a baby girl.

From Africa.

Ethiopia, to be exact.

(insert hyper-excited screams of joy here)

🙂 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We know, after months and months (years, if we are really being honest here) of prayer and consideration, that this is where, when, and to whom God has called us. And we could not, I repeat, COULD NOT be more excited… and nervous… and anticipatory… and anxious… than we are right now.

Many of you are (hopefully!) jumping for joy right alongside us.  Many of you probably also have questions.  I’ll get to all that in a later post.  Excuse me.  Posts, plural.  For now, we ask for your prayers as we look toward starting what is likely to be at least a 12-18 month process to bring another daughter and baby sister home to our family.

Oh, and YIPPEE!!!  🙂


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A Hint

For those of you (and let me just say, I am so impressed that so many of you remember!) who are still wondering about that “news” about which we asked for prayer some time ago… there’s a hint in one of the pictures from my Christmas post.  You may have to look hard.  Any ideas?

BTW, those of you who already know — and you know who you are!!! — stay mum for just a wee bit longer (in other words, don’t leak the news for us just yet!).  I have to tease this out just a little.  Let me have my fun.   🙂

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Sometimes our 9-month old is all girl, sweet as can be, laughing, giggling, rockin’ the ’80’s legwarmers (I had the theme song from “Fame” running through my head that entire day)…

and sometimes… well, sometimes you can just tell she’s the only girl in the house.

Yes, my friends… that is an axe.  A plastic one, but an axe nonetheless.

Lovely.

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A Starrchaser Christmas

Sorry it took me so long to post pictures from the Christmas festivities around here.  But at this house, we don’t do Christmas for only one day… no, no, no, that just will not do.  With different sets of grandparents arriving for extended visits both before and after the official holiday, the celebration ends up lasting more than a month.  And our decorations are still up.  On January 14th.  Perhaps this weekend…

I digress.

I’ll try to do most of this in pictures, since that’s what you all want to see anyway.  🙂

In early December, we welcomed the first wave of loving grandparents to our home.  Grammy and Grampy Starr had a great time with the kiddos, spoiling them thoroughly and enjoying every moment of it.

Jonah's Lego obsession continues.

The Big Tool Man and the Wee Tool Man in training. Happy boy(s).

Annie's first doll from Grammy... and it smells like vanilla. Yummy.

Grammy and Grampy with their adoring -- and throughly spoiled -- grandkids 🙂

Next came the actual Christmas Day, where we got to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and celebrate — after our traditional breakfast with our dear friends and neighbors — with just the five of us and the few presents we scrapped together… plus several additional boxes worth of presents from friends and relatives that kept landing on our doorstep in the days leading up to December 25th.  There was much Playmobil and Legos to be had by all.  Good times, I tell you.  Good times.  🙂

Annie opens a "life sized" Strawberry Shortcake from Auntie Rhonda... I'm pretty sure this was her favorite present (other than wrapping paper). She wouldn't let go of that doll for two days straight, and insists on having it in her crib. 🙂

Everyone gathers around at our neighbor's house for some yummy fellowship!

Ah, mimosas. How I love thee... especially on a brisk Christmas morning. 🙂

A table full of boys at Christmas breakfast. Just boys. A scary proposition.

The kiddos in all their post-present-opening delirium... with Bode holding Annie's new shoes and Annie still grasping the coveted wrapping paper.

Just a week’s rest, then Grandma Nonna and Bill arrived after New Year’s Day to much joy and adulation from the wee crowd (and the parents, too!).  My goodness, those kids love their grandparents… all of them.  I am just so grateful to know that they are so loved.

The boys, their Nonna, and their much-desired gifts (are you sensing a pattern here?). A very good day all around.

Bode helping Nonna frost her homemade banana bread. Again, yummy!

So I point the camera at my then 8-month old child and tell her to smile... and her face immediately does THIS. I just about fell on the floor, I was laughing so hard. 🙂

So, to summarize for our children:  Jesus’ birthday rocks, grandparent visits come in a close second, and Legos and Playmobil come in third by a nose.  Mommy and Daddy… now, who are they again?  🙂

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UPDATE: We’ve got several more folks joining in!  Ya hoo!  First assignment is coming up on the first Monday in February.  🙂

I was tempted to call this post “SISSIES… ALL OF YOU!” but then I remembered that at least a few folks are up for stretching their brains with me so far.  Thanks, Carissa and Steve… and Eliza… and maybe Andrea and Dee-Anna… and maybe Ben.  I sure am hoping that The Well-Educated Mind is a worthy endeavor, and I would love if some more of you want to dive in as well.  Come on, people.  I promise we won’t go crazy here… and I won’t expect everyone to get through thousands of pages each week.  You can do this… really, you can.  It might even be fun!  As an added bonus, I promise not even to start all this until the first week of February.  How’s that for compassion?  🙂

So… anyone else out there interested in training your mind by reading the classics?

Related:  Some folks have asked me to share some handy resources for those of you who are interested in knowing more about classical Christian education (CCE for short) in general.  Let me start with a couple of disclaimers:

1.  There are several views of what CCE is and of what it should consist; a variety of methods and curriculum also exist.  I will suggest resources coinciding with those with which I am most familiar, and what we as a family are following in our homeschooling.

2.  In case you’re wondering why I know anything at all about CCE… I used to work in marketing and development for a classical Christian school — an amazing one, I might add — back when we lived in Oregon (and actually continued to do so until last month, when I finally gave into the fact that I have three children and therefore little if any time to spend in outside endeavors, however worthy and wonderful they may be), and part of my job was to know all I could about CCE so as to appropriately communicate about it with folks unfamiliar with it.  When the lovely folks there first hired me, they did what all good classical educators do:  they gave me books to read.  Lots and lots of books.  And can I say, I knew I was in the perfect situation when PART OF MY JOB was to thoroughly ingest these powerful books on education, faith, and the appropriate mix of the two.

3.  I am pretty new at the actual DOING of classical education, having only started in earnest just over a year ago; however, due to my affiliation with the school in Oregon (as well as with some dear friends who have walked this path both at home and in a more formal school setting), I can at least give you something to start with… and then direct you to folks better experienced in this educational journey if the need/desire arises.

So here’s what CCE is all about, at a (very quick) glance:

Much of Western Civilization—our culture, laws, history, and language—has been built on the heritage of the ancient Hebrews, Greeks and Romans; for an education to have depth, certain aspects of this heritage should be studied, understood and appreciated. Accordingly, early Christians developed the classical teaching method, which revolved around what were called the “Seven Liberal Arts”. This method was utilized through the Middle Ages and into the early 1900’s, proving to be remarkably successful.

By adopting an updated version of the “Trivium,” the name given to the first three of these Seven Liberal Arts, classical Christian educators are better able to pass on the invaluable “tools of learning” that built the foundation of education throughout this amazing period of history.  The three parts of the Trivium are:  Grammar (memorizing the basic facts of a subject); Logic (understanding the relationship of those facts to each other); and Rhetoric (knowing how to effectively communicate this knowledge to others).  Students in classical schools progress through the Trivium according to their developmental stage, a process that aims to maximize the educational benefit at each point in their physical, intellectual, and spiritual development.

I would love to “chat” with anyone interested in learning more… and in the meantime, here is a brief list of some great “reads” that will give you a fairly thorough introduction to CCE (and will explain, much better than I did I’m sure, what all of the above terms and ideas mean):

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers

Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson

The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson

Repairing the Ruins, Douglas Wilson, ed.

Wisdom and Eloquence by Littlejohn and Evans

The Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell

and, of course, The Well Trained Mind by Wise and Bauer

I know there are many, many more resources out there than those I have listed (Beechick and Charlotte Mason just to name a couple); these, however, were recommended and have been immensely helpful to me in my dual roles of marketing/development professional and home educator.  I hope they help you as you investigate educational options for your own children.

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