Friday, June 13, 2014

Basil of Caesarea

  On my wish list of things to read this year were books on the early Christians.   I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to write a review on Basil of Caesarea, part of the Early Church Fathers series put out by Christian Focus Publications.  I had not heard of Basil before, and was anxious to learn of his contributions to early Christian thought.
Basil of Caesarea (taken from Wikipedia)

  This book was great for me: short, but long enough to cover the importance of Basil.  So, why is Basil important?  To start us out the author, Marvin Jones takes us back to the Council of Nicea.  The Council was a biggie because the Early Fathers were debating the nature of the Trinity.  Emperor Constantine had called it so the division between the two factions would be stemmed and unity found.  The major problem being a bishop named Arius and his belief that Jesus was not equal with God the Father.  The discussion on the background of the Council was really interesting to me since I saw a story on Facebook last year talking about how Bishop Nicholas (later St. Nicholas) got so angry at Arius and what he was saying that he crossed the room and slapped him.  Even though the Council set up the Nicene Creed which laid out the important aspects of Christian beliefs, it did not squash Arius and his followers and that is where Basil comes in. 
  Basil was born just after the Council of Nicea, but was mentored under Eustathius of Sebaste who was anti-Arian, although the two did part ways on other issues later.  One neat thing that I took away from this book is that through his teaching on the subject of the Trinity which was an answer to Arian belief - the Arians basically denied the divinity of Christ and the second phase of Arians delied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Throughout his time addressing all this, Basil really began to solidify his ideas on why he believed what he did.  He began to formulate the differences between each part of the Trinity, and not only shared divinity, but was each divine in nature. Really the book was not just a book on Basil, but an in depth study on the Holy Spirit and why we believe what we believe.  It also lined out why those Early Fathers fought so hard to define it scripturally.  One great quote was, "Basil also developed the concept that without the Spirit there is no contemplation of the Word. Therefore, the Arians who fight the Spirit cannot know Christ since, in their defective theology, the Holy Spirit is not God."
  While the book's main focus was on Basil's outlining of the divinity of Jesus & the Holy Spirit, it had some other important points that I took note of, several could be applied to the church today.  Imagine, the same problems were happening within the church 1500 years ago! Here are my favorite points:
  " For Basil, to love God meant to love man, whatever man’s physical condition or background … His great concern for the needy, the sick, the suffering, and the forgotten received its inspiration from what John the Evangelist wrote: ‘he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, he cannot love God whom he has not seen.’ For Basil, doctrine and canon, worship and ethics, word and behavior were inextricably woven."

  " The Moral Rules describes the actions of Christians based upon the revelation of the Scriptures.  The worldliness of the church only can be dealt with by taking the Scriptures as authoritative for the practice of godly living. Thus, any rejection of the Scriptures assures the negative consequences of a church that has compromised with the world and must repent of its own worldliness. "  I must say, that after reading the description of The Moral Rules (which were basically descriptions of how Christians should act as a result of the revelation of Scripture)  in this book, I'm going to be on the hunt for a book that has the writings of Basil!  

  The author did a great job of tying Basil into the needs of the 21st century church. "Godliness is the solution to the worldly pettiness that has engulfed the contemporary church.  The church simply cannot live worldly and seek God’s glory at the same time. "  
  Since Mr. Jones was dealing with church history from almost two millennia ago, there were a bunch of terms that might not be known to the reader.  Those terms were highlighted and defined in the midst of the text which was great!
  I would definitely recommend this book for anyone wanting to know more about the Early Fathers.  In fact, I just purchased the one on St. Patrick and am looking forward to diving in!
  Thank you to Christian Focus Publications through Cross Focused Reviews for this chance to write a review on these books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Growing Up God's Way

   Cross Focused Reviews came across with the opportunity to review Growing Up God's Way for Girls & Growing Up God's Way for Boys by Dr. Chris Richards & Dr. Liz Jones and we were excited to have the opportunity to use it with our kiddos.  Bubby is 11 and Mookie is 9 and while we have been answering their questions generally about babies & life changes, we haven't had "the talk" per se.  This was a great motivator to get us going on that!  My hubby read the boys book and I read the girls.  Hubby has also been reading on Time for the Talk by Steve Zollos so he could initiate discussions with Bubby.
  Hubby read over the Growing Up God's Way and then passed it to Bubby who then read it all the way through.  I love how these books are set up.  Easy to understand, not too technical, but not too young in their descriptions.  The chronology of the books is great. They walk you through an intro to puberty and then right into marriage and its importance, and then into the body changes and why those are important.  These books focused on alot of the issues that were important to our family: a foundation of marriage that is between a man and a woman, the Biblical importance of it and its structure, and when physical intimacy should take place.  In other words, our kids were not shocked by what was presented.  This was so refreshing when a person can hear all the horror stories of things that can be taught in sex education classes.  This book helped open up some channels of discussion about the hows and whys.  For our scientifically minded Bubby, he thought it was interesting learning how life is created. 

  For Mookie, we took a little different approach.  She's about 17 months younger than Bubby, and while we find ourselves treating them alot like twins because of the closeness in age, we didn't have her read the whole book for this one.  She and I had talked a couple of weeks ago about some of the body changes that would occur, so after I read the book we had her read through the intro, marriage, and body changes parts.  There wasn't anything that she hadn't already been told, it just gave her a little more in depth description about how the body works when its preparing for adulthood. 
  The great thing about these books is that they are pretty much mirror images of each other.  They cover the same things, just highlighting the boy issues for the boys, and the girl issues for the girls. 
This is especially great when your kiddos are close in age like ours, they can discuss with each other what they've learned.  One of the notable things that I found lacking was in the "Going Out and Beyond" chapter.  Our family has decided that courting will be the best for our family.  Don't get me wrong, Hubby and I dated, and it all worked out ok for us, but I think society is lacking a sense of commitment because of the "dating" of today.  The book does stress commitment and the benefits thereof and references the Bible, however it has a section that describes the different forms of "going out" and one of them is "committed (at least for a time)". My question is if we are training our children to be committed just for a time, won't they carried that through to married life? 
  One of my favorite quotes from the book is about modesty and respectfully discussing the topics in these books "It is because of this need for modesty, that God has made us tend to feel embarrassed when we think about these things...such feelings may make you uncomfortable, but they are actually helpful in protecting you against wrong thoughts or interests".  What a wonderful way of putting it. I remember our sex ed classes in public school.  Full of lots of nervous giggles and sending us boys to one room and girls to another.  I am sure enjoying using these books with our homeschool curriculum.  It has helped us to generate great discussions in our family and shows very well that sex is not shameful and therefore must be hidden, but is to be treated with respect and modesty and should remain hidden.
  Thank you to Evangelical Press through Cross Focused Reviews for this chance to write a review on these books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Sunday, May 4, 2014

In Our Own Backyard

  Friday was "Field Trip Friday".  Let me tell you, with all the running around we've been doing as of late I was hard pressed to go and do more!  Bubby came to the rescue!  He had spotted a nature trail on the edge of town that was created on the old railroad track land.  We ended up going in pursuit of an adventure in our own town:) 
  While I did not keep track of the length of our portion of the Landon Trail, it was definitely long enough to tire Shorty out.  He was ready to be carried by the time we had reached the end & made the return trip.  The start of the Overbrook portion begins right across from the grain elevator & continues to a county road that cuts across it. 
  The area was heavily wooded, but we were afforded temporary views of the area beyond the woods, including a pond with ducks on it.  We also saw a fox run across the path, as well as a rabbit and heard numerous birds. 
  This is definitely something we are going to work into our schooling.  In addition to our town's wonderful lake, walking down the Landon Trail is going to be a great way to be out in and study nature!
   Another way our family has been getting out into nature is getting our garden up and running!  We've planted most all of our crops & and are almost ready to get the rest into the ground.

  The kids have their own little plot of ground and this year they are doing a fairy garden. 

Mookie's fairy on the left & Bubby's gnome on the right
  The miniatures for a fairy garden are pretty expensive, so I think the kids are going to improvise & create most of their own.  We did get them some starter pieces to get the ball rolling though:)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A "Little" Shopping Trip

  Today we took our bi-monthly trip to Jamesport, MO for our grocery shopping at the Amish bulk foods store.  I thought I'd share a little about what we purchase for our home use.  Here is my shopping list. 
I don't get everything each time, but its great to have a master list of what we use most often.  This time I got: baking cocoa, sugar, citric acid, cumin, black pepper, cornmeal, baking powder, rice, powdered sugar, salt, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, quick oats, instant potatoes, elbow macaroni, honey, paprika, chocolate chips, mini colored chocolate drops,  chai tea (they have some wonderful mixes), salt & sea salt.  Oh and the cheese!  I can get 6-ish pounds of cheese for $3.89 to $4 per pound, so I buy a couple of logs of those.

Here's a picture of my haul minus the cheese:

All of this cost around $190.  I did buy a cookie sheet too.  They have excellent kitchen tools, so I'll pick up one every once in a while.
  When we do our trip we take my mom with us and make it into a fun field trip!  Today we went 15 minutes out of our way to do some family history research - and we even found some tidbits!  While we try to make our trip every other month its been since February since our last trip.  I was getting a little desperate...when the cheese is running out, that's our signal to go.  We ran out of cheese a week ago, my kids were going to riot soon;)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Short & Sweet

  Occasionally, we have the opportunity to travel with my hubby when he's on the job.  Last week we were able to do just that.  Interestingly, he has been working near the town of Wagoner, OK where my ggg-uncle George Morgan Clem once lived.  His nephew, my gg-grandpa, Elias Clem was supposed to have run in the land rush down there, and I have often wondered if that was the area he was in.  He didn't get the land that he wanted, so he ended back up here in NE Kansas.
  We dropped Hubby off at the work area which is right on Lake Fort Gibson and went in search of an adventure to kill some time.  We found Sequoyah State Park close at hand and went into the visitor's center.  Boy, am I glad we did!  They pointed us just up the road to a nature center.  All of the nature centers we have been to so far have been free, hands-on, and great little places of learning for kiddos.  This was what we found with this one as well. 
They had a wide variety of native critters ranging from live fish, snakes, & turtles to stuffed ones as well.  Shorty loved the hands on table...
but when Bubby mentioned the great outdoors, our time inside was done!  The ranger (who had been homeschooled herself) took us to see a coyote and some grey foxes - which Bubby really enjoyed.  She then introduced us to a very old bald eagle who was 34 (they can live in captivity on average for 30 years).  He shared a cage with a barred owl who hooted at us from her box.

We still needed to kill a little time, so we headed down to the water's edge.  I am amazed no one dipped a toe in, or got soaked;) 
Hubby's work was over a short time later, so we began the second leg of our trip down to see my family in Texas.  My grandma's sister lives just north of Dallas.  She thought the world of her two sisters.  There is only one living and when we get the chance we try to go visit.  The kids were super excited about going too! 
  We ended up being able to go and watch a cousin's baseball game and get some visiting in in the evening. We stayed at a bed & breakfast which we had all to ourselves.  It was called Durning House (Van Alstyne, Tx) and Mookie dubbed it her dream house.  Mookie has always loved all things small, cute, and fancy and this fit the bill.  The kids had the upstairs bedroom to themselves & they were so thrilled!  Shorty thoroughly enjoyed climbing up and down the steep stairs to "his room".
Durning House

In the morning, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast time and then some more time with my family before we headed out on our way home.  A short trip, but packed full of memories!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Short Sidetrip

  Last year was the 150th anniversary of Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence.  The Watkins Historical Museum created a special exhibit featuring it.  I've been dying to go, but hadn't taken the opportunity.  Yesterday we used an orthodontist appointment & our flat travelers as an excuse to finally make it to the museum. 
  The price is right only a suggested donation of $2 per child & $3 per adult.  There are 2 main floors of exhibits.  The first floor used to be a bank and still has the teller windows in place. 
They had some great exhibits on basketball, Langston Hughes, the Old Sacramento cannon and of course Quantrill.  I was most impressed with the Quantrill exhibit.  It was interactive.  Bubby loved using the touch screen to interact with the route of the raiders. It also had some artifacts left over in the aftermath. 
Bubby and Shorty with "Old Sacramento"
I learned something new with the Old Sacramento cannon.  It was used in the Mexican-American War, was moved around during the free-state battles, and ultimately fired in Lawrence in celebration of Kansas being admitted into the Union as a free state. 
  Upstairs of the Watkins used to be the land offices.  They had some local history items and a large Victorian play house that the kids were able to enter and play in.  They were thrilled!
Definitely worth the trip.  We'll be visiting again, Mookie had opted to stay at home, but was bummed when she heard our stories.  I didn't get to see all of it myself, so I welcome the opportunity to go back:)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Flat Traveler Adventures: Atchison & Leavenworth

  Daddy was gone this past week.  Usually when he has a big trip & we aren't able to come along, we plan some nice distractions for ourselves.  We decided to spend a couple of days with Ducky and Grandma & take them with us on our field trip.  We've been pretty busy with our trips this month.  We're hosting 2 flat travelers, one from England & one from Idaho.  I love doing the flats because it really makes you an ambassador for your area.  You need to get out and show what makes your area special.  The kids have been dying to do some specific things in Atchison, and since a it's the birthplace of a notable Kansas figure - Amelia Earhart, we went for it:)
  We started out our tour of Atchison at the statue of Deafy Boular.  He's a very distant cousin of ours (I wrote a blog on him here if you're interested in him further). Aside from all he overcame, he's amazing for the fact that was featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not for laying 46,000 bricks in less than 8 hours. He laid most of the brick in the streets of Atchison.
Mookie, Shorty & Deafy (and Longneck the giraffe)
 Our next stop was the historical museum where there is a display of Deafy's boots and other Atchison memorabilia. 
Bubby checking out Deafy's boots
The kids enjoyed the museum, but they LOVED the train exhibit outside even more! Especially Shorty, they're his favorite:)
You can't beat getting to climb on and explore trains.  Just the engine was open, but getting to crawl up on the stairs and peek in the windows was a thrill in itself.
  Our next stop was Doniphan Cemetery.  We were trying to track down some ancestors (no luck), and document stones for Find A Grave (huge success).  Some of us were not quite as dedicated to the cause though...
Bubby "King of the World"
That's ok, we'll just call that part of the day PE;)
  Heading back into town, we got out and stretched our legs at the riverfront park.  Its a lovely area with some interesting historical markers.
Ducky and Mookie at the Lewis & Clark display
  Our last stop was in Leavenworth where we picked up supper and headed to the riverside railroad park.  This is a favorite stop on our way to Jamesport.
Shorty loves it because the possibility of train spotting.  We almost didn't see one, then came the distant whistle of a train.  Bubby & Mookie got into a position on a ledge where they could get a good picture of their travelers when the train passed.  It was going to be great, right by the bridge with them in a perfect spot to be safely close.  The train got closer until we could see that it only had 3 cars on it - and it was really traveling!  I snapped the shot...

and the photo op turned into one that we laughed about the rest of the way home:)