I survived...

And I was extremely encouraged and challenged by this series of articles by David Powlison at Boundless (where else?) this week. Here's a short excerpt to whet your appetite:

[...T]he Bible teaches that God actually arranges the stage on which you live. He is the Lord of history, including your local time and place, and your personal history. Your particular matrix of influences provides the context in which your faith (or your self-will) plays out, in which He meets you (or you shirk Him).

This awareness frees you. You can seek to understand any contributory influence as just that, as a factor and not the cause. You won't grant them too much credit, morphing them into root causes and excuses for your sins. But you also won't dismiss them as irrelevant, ignoring the actual situations and difficulties in which you need practical wisdom and practical mercies.

Check it out.


Yes, But the Real Question is, Can She Survive The First Day?

7:30 - Doors open
8:00 - Recitation
8:20 - Planning time
9:00 - Bible
9:30 - History
10:00 - Recess
10:15 - Literature (third grade)
11:00 - Literature (fourth grade)
11:45 - Mid-Day Prayer
12:00 - Lunch
12:45 - Omnibus (eighth grade literature, theology, history)
1:45 - Latin I
2:30 - P.E. (Monday and Friday), Chorus (Tuesday and Thursday) or Study Hall (Wednesday)
3:00 - End of Day


I HAD to link to this one

I recently, by God's miraculous provision and grace, was hired as the third and fourth grade teacher at Covenant Classical Academy. I'd been applying for teaching positions at private schools since the spring -- private schools were the only option for me because I didn't get an education degree in college and I'm not certified to teach in Kentucky.

State certification is a pretty arduous process. Education degrees can be pretty tiresome, too, which is why I dropped mine in favor of English. I don't regret it for a second. I don't think having an education degree or a teaching certificate would make me one iota more qualified for the job I've got. Letters and certificates don't make good teachers; teachers are born, and great teachers are shaped through the blood, sweat, and tears they shed in the classroom.

Turns out I'm not the only one who feels this way. Anthony Lombardi, the NYC public school principal whose heavy-handed methods rankled many teachers but turned around the once-dismal performer P.S. 48, seems to think that our entire system of certification allows too many mediocre teachers to keep floundering away at the blackboard while their students languish, all because they have union protection from the first day on the job. He sees child development classes at college and intense, subject-specific board tests as a waste of time -- straight A's in your Ed classes and high marks on your practicum simply do not translate to excellence as an educator.

So what's the solution? Lombardi says it's time to junk certification tests, forget about looking for education degrees on resumes, and implement the millenia-old method of preparing a greenhorn for a man's work: apprenticeship. According to Ray Fisman, writing for Slate.com, "new recruits would have a couple of years of in-school training. There would then come a day of reckoning, when teachers-to-be would face a serious evaluation before securing union membership and a job for life."

Good call.


I posted a version of this series of questions on the Boundless Line today (intentionally not linked; it's a very heated discussion and I wouldn't recommend wasting your time reading it unless you're a glutton for punishment). Anyone want to take a shot?

1. What does God say about children?

2. Is God in control of human fertility?

3. If God calls children a blessing to be welcomed and he is in control of fertility, than do I have the right as a believer (whose life is supposed to be conformed to God's ways) to say (if married), "I don't want kids," or "I want to put off children (or marriage and children) because ___"?

You don't really have to answer them... And I'm sure my answers are painfully obvious. Pondering these questions was what changed my attitude about this whole thing. I realized that I had absorbed the culture's attitudes toward marriage and children -- don't get married until you're settled in your career, put off having children as long as possible because they're a hassle, stuff like that. But throughout the centuries, Christians have always been counter-cultural in how they valued children -- the early Church fought against the pagan practices of child sacrifice and abandonment, for example, and Christians led the charge for the illegalization of child labor.

So why is it that now, even among Christians, having a child early in a marriage must have been an accident? And why having a large family (i.e., anything beyond three or four kids) means you must not have figured out how to work those birth control pills? And why Christian parents tell their sons and daughters that they must not get married before they've graduated college and settled down into a good career (never mind the tens of thousands in debt it took to get there)?

What do you think is at the heart of the problem?


The Omnivore's Hundred

Thanks to Jen at Last Night's Dinner (my absolute favorite food blog -- check it out and you'll see why) for this fun meme, which she got from Very Good Taste. Instructions follow:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
(Sick. Blood and oats in a casing. Wrong.)
7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
(Mmmm, my favorite thing in Hong Kong! Char siu bau!)
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
(Like every year since I was born… duh.)
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
(And it had exactly the same texture as the mushroom soup part of green bean casserole. I.e., not good.)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (That would just be stupid.)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
(well… AN oyster, and it was not pleasant. It looks like a loogie floating in dishwater. The texture is the most appalling I’ve ever experienced. Really, there are no words to describe how disturbing it is.)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly (would it taste like anything except sweet?)
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (not a crossout, but whisky = yuck)
46. Fugu (Meh. Bourdain said it was boring, and if you can’t trust Bourdain, who can you trust?)
47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin (*shudder* Texture!!)
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone (see 50. But I’m curious, because what’s-her-name in Island of the Blue Dolphins ate it all the time)
54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
(Oh, the shame! But never, ever again.)
56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini
(Cocktail lovers, turn your heads. I hate gin. It tastes like something you’d remove paint with.)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
(Um, duh…)
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
(Unfortunately, and only because Guy Curlee was allergic to chocolate… and everything else.)
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads (Not a crossout, but somebody would have to convince me that they’re just divine, because those things are GLANDS. GLANDS, people!)
63. Kaolin (isn’t that a kind of clay?)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (No, no, absolutely no. Never. Why would you eat a fruit that smells like feta cheese and ammonia?)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis (Maybe one bite, on a dare.)
69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (“Chitterlings”? My, my, aren’t we fancy? I believe the correct term is “Chitlins,” y’all.)
71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini (I’m not a huge fan of the caviar. Texture thing again, I think.)
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu (I have a weird feeling this wouldn’t be delicious
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (Where do I sign up for this?)
85. Kobe beef (Whatever. Trendy foods don’t really do it for me)
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (I seriously cried when Eight Belles broke her leg at the Derby and had to be put down on the track. I made my parents change the channel so I wouldn’t have to watch her owner, trainer, and jockey sobbing. Do YOU think I’d eat horse?)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor (Lobster is just a meh for me. Maybe I just haven’t had the superlative lobster, but I dunno… seems like for something so expensive they oughta do the work for you.
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Wow! A lot more than I thought. Now you give it a go... Come on!


Things I love and things I love not so much.

Things I love not so much right now:

People thinking their wedding is the perfect excuse to be the selfish brats they've always dreamt of being but were afraid to try. I'm going to write a book about this someday, I swear, and one of the chapters is going to be called, "Your Wedding Day: Celebration, not Extortion."

Allergies. How can my nose be stuffy AND runny at the same time? Hmm?

Having to move at the end of the month. Do you think that if I just pretend it's not really happening, my stuff will all just miraculously box itself up and find its way to the condo I'm hoping to buy? Hey! That'd make the house-hunting process a lot quicker! I'd just have to call around to the folks who own the places I'm looking at and ask if a whole truckload of stuff just materialized in their living room!

Things I love right now (so as to end the post on a more cheerful note):

The Dick Van Dyke Show. I actually love this all the time -- it's a truly one-of-a-kind show. A sitcom that portrays the American family as it might have been, if only: a smart, clever, successful husband with a loving, supportive wife, an unfailingly hilarious premise (comedy writer whose life is often funner than his job), and some of the best supporting characters ever to softshoe, sing, and hurl oneliners in the background make it my absolute favorite. The first two seasons are available at hulu.com for free streaming. Best Episodes: the "Walnuts" one, Richard "Rosebud" Petrie, the haunted cabin episode, and anything with a flashback to Rob and Laura's Army/USO days.

Having a job (see also: Classical education).

Michael Phelps. I know, I know... not very original. But have YOU ever found yourself spellbound by a swimming competition before? That's what I thought.

Tomatoes. For reeeeeeal. This week I've had an organic Brandywine and an organic Cherokee Purple from my friends Justin and Stacey's garden (both of which were delectable, but let's be honest. It's Justin's garden.), as well as a beautiful and exceptionally delicious tomato of some faintly heirloomish variety that I sliced, salted, and ate alongside a few tiny nubs of fresh mozzarella. For supper.



In the church, there seems to be an idea that "discernment" means "praying and waiting for God's specific, personal direction on every decision in my life" -- see John Eldredge's book, Walking with God for a classic example. But is that the view of Scripture? I think not. Such an understanding of discernment leads to several errors:

1. A separation between Christians who "know God's will," i.e. the super-Christians that God speaks to, and the "ordinary" Christians who seem not to hear from God about stuff like the color of their wallpaper.

2. Using "discernment" to excuse unwise behavior and even sin. I don't know how many times I've heard people say, "Well, I've prayed about it for months and the Lord has told me it was OK," even if "it" was buying a $300,000 house when you're $60,000 in debt, or living with but not sleeping with your fiance, or being slack in disciplining your kids. Those are not areas about which we ought even to pray. The best advice I can give people who encounter this "God told me" business from people is to remember that it's not a trump card. We have a responsibility to one another in the body of Christ, and letting someone off the hook just because they played the "God told me" card is hardly showing love to our brothers.

3. Total paralysis in decision-making, stemming from not using your brain and instead waiting for some sign or feeling to show you that God has given you direction. I strongly believe that for the Christian, the ordinary way of making decisions goes like this: Learn, study, and love God's word. Use the mind that God is sanctifying to make wise decisions. Rinse and repeat. But too many people seem to think that's just not "spiritual" enough. A Christian's life IS spiritual -- it's life IN the Spirit! And it can look very ordinary, but an ordinary life lived faithfully still results in "Well done, good and faithful servant." That's not to say that I don't think God sometimes uses other methods to reveal his will to us -- I certainly do believe that he does! But the ordinary way seems to be knowing God's word and living wisely in accordance with that.