Monday, June 28, 2010

Savta & Bris for Baby Jacob




Savta
(A Haiku for Jacob)

Savta: Grandmother
Mothering your sweet mother
Dearly loving you

~*~


I am sure there will be more poems forthcoming for and about my dear little Jacob, but this little haiku (first line 5 syllables, second line 7 syllables, third line 5 syllables) is a small start.  I know it seems odd using a Japanese poetry style with a Hebrew word in it, but I've always been an eclectic anyway.


This evening is the bris (circumcision) ceremony for my newborn grandson Jacob.  Even though our boys were circumcised, the bris ceremony is new to me. I am thankful that as believers in the messiah, my daughter Mary and son-in-law Ryan will teach Jacob the truth of the Scriptures found in Romans 2:28-29: "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God."

Their rabbi asked me to pick out a Hebrew name for myself to use at the bris.  I chose Vida, which as a feminine form of the name David, means "Dearly Loved."  That fits where I am in life, learning about how God my Father dearly loves me. Jacob's middle name, Eliav, means something like "God my Father."  1 John 3:1 proclaims, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"   Colossians 3:12 reminds me, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."  That's what I aspire to as Jacob's savta. So in addition to all of the other things that identify me, I am also Vida Savta, dearly loved grandmother.

Ephesians 2:11-22 -- "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.   Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."

Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and bringing me into your family!

~ * ~

Are you interested in Jewish heritage and celebration?  Click here to see pictures of Mary and Ryan's Beautiful Jewish Wedding and Reception with Jewish Chair Dancing.   Or read my "Seven Blessings for One Marriage" poem that I wrote for the occasion.  

Blessings,
Virginia Knowles
http://www.virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 25, 2010

Light of Life!

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jesus in John 8:12)


For the past several months, I've been slowly working my way through all four of the gospels, learning about how Jesus lived and what he promises those who believe in him. I love his many "I Am" statements! (My blog post I Am lists many of these, along with affirmations of who I am in Christ.)

 This morning in John 8, I read his bold statement, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I stopped and thought for a moment about how this applies to me personally. "If I follow Jesus, I, Virginia Knowles, will be able to walk in the light of life." How does that make a difference to me every day? I can think of lots of ways!

I also looked down at the study note in my Bible, which mentioned that this could be a reference to the pillar of fire in Exodus 13:21, when God was leading the Jews out of Egypt toward the promised land: "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night." That, in turn, reminded me of a line from one of my own poems, "Grace Will Lead Me Home":  "Grace will lead me home like a pillar of fire for a pilgrim in the wilderness."   (Jesus is the source of all grace!)

 My son-in-law Ryan, who worships Jesus (Yeshua) as a messianic Jew, often reminds me to read the Bible from the perspective of someone who lived back then, with a knowledge of the "back story" in the Old Testament Scriptures and culture. In fact, we were talking about that concept on Monday at the hospital while he and Mary and I were waiting for Jacob to be born. So to realize how this connects back to Exodus was enlightening! Especially when I read in Exodus 14:24 that the LORD himself was IN the pillar of fire and that he wasn't only giving light and guidance, he was looking down on them and fiercely protecting them from their enemies who had pursued them to the Red Sea! Yes! He fights for me and routs the powers of dark forces.

Like Ryan says, reading the New Testament with the Old Testament in mind sure helps the understanding, so I used the cross-references and concordance in my Bible to find some other relevant passages. Many of these are messianic prophecies -- that is, they foretell or promise something about Jesus as the Son of God.


"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

"For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light." Psalm 36:9 (Ah, that brings to mind another line from the same poem: " He leads me to the oasis, to the crystal fountain whence the healing stream flows.")


"O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD." Isaiah 2:5  (That's a good word for my newborn grandson Jacob!  Walk in the light of the Lord, little one!)


"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined." Isaiah 9:2 (This is quoted in Matthew 4:12-16 to show how Jesus fulfilled it.)


“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness." Isaiah 42:6-7, speaking of the Messiah to come

(See also Daniel 2:17-23)

And now, some from the New Testament…

"For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Acts 15:47 (This refers back to Isaiah 49:6, again showing how Jesus fulfilled it. He didn't just come to save the Jews, but the Gentiles as well! That's good news for me!)

"And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:19-21"“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:14 (This one is for and about us! Since we have Jesus in us, then we are lights, too! We must shine for him!)

"So Jesus said to them, 'The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.'” John 12:35-36 (Have you believed in him yet?)

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9 (As the royal priesthood, we each have direct access to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Do you remember that the veil shielding the Holy of Holies in the temple was miraculously torn in two when Jesus was crucified? Read more here: The Throne Room of Grace)


"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:5 (Walking in the light is not just a promise, but a command! It means rejecting the deeds of darkness, and doing the things which please and honor God.)


"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." Revelation 22:1-5 (In heaven, we won't need artificial light or even sunlight! God himself is the source of all light! After all, he made the sun in the first place as a reflection of his own power. The Lamb in these verses is Jesus! He was the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb in the Old Testament, because by his sacrifice, the angel of death passes over those who claim his blood covering. He takes away our sin, too. See here: John 1:29-34, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 and Acts 8:26-40, and Exodus 12.)


I'm glad I took the opportunity to reflect on these Scriptures this morning because "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105

Let me walk in the light of life as I follow Jesus.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jacob Eliav Tindall, My Grandson

Our first grandson, Jacob Eliav Tindall, was born this evening (Monday, June 21) at 7:28, weighing 7 lbs 1 oz.

Congratulations Mary and Ryan!





Grandma's turn to hold the little sweetie!


I am too tired to write any more tonight!

Blessings,
Virginia

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Grace

Dear friends,

Grace!  We sure need it, don't we?  Unfortunately, we don't always experience it.  That can change.

The title of this video is "When You Get Tired Enough." I found it on-line after someone gave me an audio CD labeled "Grace" by the same man, John Lynch, on the same basic topic.  This one was for the students at Biola University.  John Lynch is the pastor of Open Doors Fellowship in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as an author.  I find his perspective extremely refreshing and motivational  just about now.   God's love for us is not at all based on how well we perform or how well we hide.

I highly encourage you to watch it!  (He's pretty entertaining, too!)  I'd love to hear what you think, so hit the comment button when you're done.

Grace, peace and joy to you!
Virginia Knowles
http://www.virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Honey Italian Potato Salad

Honey Italian Potato Salad

 Mix all of the following ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate.  
  • 10 medium potatoes, washed, cut into thirds, boiled, cut into bite size chunks and cooled
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup chopped fresh broccoli florets (not stems)
  • diced green, red, and/or orange peppers (optional)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (can be low-fat)
  • 1 cup Italian dressing (can be fat-free)
  • 1/4 cup honey
I made this recipe up a few weeks ago but can't find the photo I took of it, but it was yummy and the family liked it.  I just now found the e-mail I sent to myself with the ingredients that I typed in so I wouldn't forget them -- and I'm sharing with you, too!

Blessings,
Virginia Knowles
http://www.virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 4, 2010

Creativity AND Order (They Aren't Mutually Exclusive!)

Creativity AND Order
(They Aren't Mutually Exclusive!)
by Virginia Knowles

 
[Note: This was the feature article in the May issue of my Hope Chest e-magazine.]
 
Creativity! Orderliness! Imagination! Productivity! I've thought so much about these topics in recent months. It's going to be a challenge to channel all of the ideas buzzing and bouncing in my brain through my fingers, onto the keyboard, and out to you in cyberspace. But I'm going to try.

One thing that hugely irritates me is when people use fallacies called false dichotomies, framing situations in tight either-or constructions. In their minds, something must be EITHER this OR that, and can't be both or neither. It's all black and white, with no grays and certainly no colorful rainbows. One of the most common false dichotomies is that individual people are either creative OR orderly. In truth, we are all a mix of both, though some of us lean disproportionately in one direction or another. I'm saddened when I see an imbalance lead to personal dysfunction or family conflict. It doesn't have to be creativity versus order, as if we are pitting enemies. Creativity and order need to work together to create beauty and productivity. People who tend to be more logical and analytical can help create a useful infrastructure of life for their more creative counterparts. In return, the creative souls can enliven and envision their more technically-oriented comrades. A passion for whatever we do -- whether creative or more orderly -- can either burn and consume people, or fuel itself up on God's energy to love, light, and warm other people. In a marriage, we can see our creative or orderly personalities as an offering to serve our spouses, rather than a reason to demand that things always be done our own way. And we can see our spouse's requests to us not as threats, but as opportunities to show love.

You may have sensed by now that I am more of a creative and imaginative person rather than orderly, logical, and technical one like my husband. Yes, this sometimes drives him crazy since I tend to "fly by the seat of my pants." I do have to work at using my creativity to actually get things done around the house, reminding myself that tidying up a room or even cleaning out the refrigerator is like creating art since it brings beauty out of chaos. This morning I put this into practice by cleaning our master bedroom. It's amazing what a bit of decluttering, dusting, vacuuming, making the bed, cleaning the mirror, and rearranging nicknacks and pictures can do to make a room beautiful! I felt like an artist!

As Alice Bass writes in her book The Creative Life, "We label people creative, then grant them immunity from being like the rest of us. We put them in a special category. God does not treat his artistry with such a cavalier attitude. He takes care of the details and claims sovereignty over the outcome. What that means to your creative life is that unearthing your creativity does not grant you immunity from doing dishes. Sorry. But the good news is that your creativity includes everything in your life, not just the artistic projects on your list…. Being creative does not require you to step out of your life and into an artistic activity… If you figured out a way to potty train your resistant toddler, it wasn't artistic but it was creative."

 
Alice recommends a book called A Whack on the Side of the "Head: How You Can Be More Creative by Roger von Oech. It's an older book but I found it in our public library. (It is not written from a Christian perspective, and I don't agree with everything in it, but it's still quite useful.) Von Oech talks about soft (creative) and hard (analytical) thinkers and shows how each of us needs to use both the imaginative and practical phases of developing new ideas. For example, in the imaginative phase, we brainstorm to sprout fresh ideas. Even if some of the ideas seem silly at first, the mental leap just might take us somewhere else we need to go. In the practical phase, we evaluate, select, and plan our options so we can actually carry them out in a useful way instead of merely dreaming and dawdling.

So instead of seeing creativity as merely being "artsy" I can apply my imagination to solve problems around the house. A couple of weeks ago, my kids spotted two Little Tykes slides, a little one and a bigger one, at a neighbor's curb waiting for trash pickup. We snatched them as the garbage trucks were rumbling down the street. One of them was missing the stabilizer bar and would collapse without it. I told the kids that we needed a metal bar at just the right length and diameter. One of them remembered a piece of steel rebar in the storage room. It fit the holes, but stuck out a bit on each side so we covered the ends with a sturdy padding of plastic bags and duct tape so no one would get hurt. This is creativity in action. Then a few days ago, I needed some knobs to put on the doors of a bathroom cabinet that we had recycled from a neighbor's house. I remembered seeing some pretty porcelain knobs in a hardware bin in our storage room when I was looking for replacement parts for that Little Tykes slide. The cool thing is that a while back I spent several hours reorganizing all of our tools and hardware supplies into bins, tool boxes, tool bags, and zip-lock baggies. This made the knobs very easy to find! This is how practicality and organization served my creative decorating efforts today. You can read Organizing with Plastic Zip-Style Bags at Home and On the Go for tips on how to put your games, puzzles, school supplies, art supplies, flash cards, car supplies, pantry, first aid supplies, hardware, diaper bag, and family momentos in order!  You might also like A Place for Everything.

 
What about cooking? Everyone needs to eat, which is a practical thing, but how creative can we be at the same time? Sometimes I find the need to adapt recipes to our tastes and whatever ingredients we have on hand. 
I am not necessarily artsy all of the time (though I do like to sing, draw, and make things) but like I said, I've always got ideas buzzing and bouncing in my brain. I love to write. I can't NOT write. (Yes, I know that is a double negative, but it's the only way to say it.) These past four years, I've focused a lot of that creative energy on lesson plans for teaching an English class at our home school co-op, but I've been itching to put that back into more direct teaching of my younger five kids the way we did in our earlier years with my five adult and teen daughters. Now that we're done with co-op classes for the year, I've had a blast in the past week or so firming up plans for next year at home with my own kids. We will be doing American history through literature, writing, art, and music. Fortunately, not all of this planning has been random imagination. I'm learning to use my creativity for being orderly and productive, too. On Monday, for example, I totally reorganized our school bookcases in the dining room so that our first semester's worth of books are generally located on two shelves. I also have a Word table document on my computer listing all of these books by title, author, reading level, historical time period, and geographic setting -- as well as page numbers for individual stories and poems in larger anthologies.

 
Despite my distaste for un-creative busy work, my four younger kids (ages 4-10) all insisted that they wanted some workbooks to do over the summer. We do like the Comprehensive Curriculum workbooks that you can buy at Sam's Club for less than $8. They are at quite colorful, mind-stimulating and well-organized. The kids are going to do the entire math section as a refresher during the summer, and we'll use the most of the English section throughout the school year for language arts skills. (I am not buying any other packaged English curriculum since we are doing Charlotte Mason style copy work and oral/written narration with lots of literature and writing.) Melody loves the activities like matching and coloring shapes in hers. Micah, who is both very creative and very orderly, insisted that I tell him exactly how many pages of math he needs to do each day to finish by the start of our new school year on. I told him that he had 95 pages to finish in 28 week days (which I figured out later was incorrect!), for an average of 3.39 pages a day. He wanted to know exactly how many days he needed to do three pages, and how many days he needs to do four. So, I had to pull a little algebra out of my brain to do a simultaneous equation. See if you can follow along…  
  • 95 pages in 28 days=3.3928571428571428571428571428571
  • 3x+4y=95 (x=days for 3 pages, y=days for 4 pages)
  • x+y=28 (total days)
  • y=28-x (expressing y in terms of x)
  • 3x+4(28-x)=95 (substituting the new x expression for y in the formula)
  • 3x+112-4x=95 (calculating it out)
  • 3x-4x=95-112 (grouping like terms: variable expressions on left, constants on right)
  • x=17 (here's our answer for the number of days he needs to do 3 pages!)
  • Check: 17*3 + 11*4 = 95 pages and 51+44=95 days
  • So, on 17 days he will do 3 pages, and on 11 pages he will do 4 pages

Now, for extra credit, look at the original full decimal number 3.39285714285714285714285714285714 (Do you notice a repeating pattern in the decimals? You can write this as 3.39285714 with a line over the 285714 since those numbers repeat into infinity.)

 
Uh oh! Not done yet! The next day when we were driving in the van, I realized that I had miscalculated the number of weeks before school starts again. It is actually seven weeks from this Monday. [Note on June 4: I was STILL wrong on this.  It was nine weeks.  Oy!]  I tried to do the new simultaneous equation in my head, but I'm not that sharp. However, I did remember a much quicker way to do it. I knew that the new average number of pages per day was between 2 and 3. So I figured out how many pages he would do at the rate of 2 pages per day for 36 days. Then I subtracted from the total pages to find out how many were left over, which is the same number of days he would need to do an extra page. So since he had 92 pages left for 36 days, I multiplied 36*2 to get 72. Then 92 - 72 = 20. So he needs to do 3 pages per day on 20 days, and 2 pages per day on 16 days. Checking the math, 3*20 + 2*16 = 60+32 =92 pages. 20+16=36 days. Bingo! I am glad I thought of an alternate way of figuring out these numbers. Sometimes there is more than one way to solve a problem. The more you are used to brainstorming and gathering information, the more prepared you will be to find creative and orderly solutions to the situations you face, whether they are math or not.

 
What's that? You didn't know you were going to get a math lesson in an article on creativity? I guess after teaching my kids math for 20 years that I do have a little bit of technical in me after all to serve the greater good -- or at least to amuse you for a moment. None of us are completely random-creative or completely orderly-technical. What about God creating the world? He is the Ultimate Artist, as well as the Ultimate Organizer. Imagine all of the bizarre and colorful things he made to delight our senses! But he was orderly, too, creating certain things on certain days, putting animals and plants into species and families with recognizable traits, assigning Adam to name each kind. Even mathematics is full of order and beauty! Have you ever wondered at some of the marvels of the patterns of numbers? Read my little article The Mystery of Math!

 
I know this article has been sort of random and bounce-aroundy. I've actually written more about these topics in an ORDERLY (organized and edited) way! The following two blog links are from my book The Real Life Home School Mom.

 
Let Our Ordered Lives Confess the Beauty of Thy Peace…?


 
The two other full articles I included in the May issue were:

 

There were lots of other articles linked, but you'll just have to poke around on my blogs for those!

www.VirginiaKnowles.blogspot.com
www.ComeWearyMoms.blogspot.com
www.StartWellHomeSchool.blogspot.com
www.ContinueWellHomeSchool.blogspot.com
www.FinishWellHomeSchool.blogspot.com

Blessings,


Virginia Knowles
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