Tag Archives: deliberate living

Recap: Do Hard Things

We went to the Do Hard Things conference over the weekend. Quick takes:

– inspiring and motivational
– disappointed that we had to leave early (previous commitment in conflict with the conference schedule)
– good books and resources available: We took some for “homework” and so our conference experience will continue as we read.

First impressions:

We arrived a bit late, but the conference organizers had things under control in the front lobby. Since we were preregistered, check-in went quickly. We were directed to create nametags and head in to the auditorium where we could hear praise music already blasting. On the way in, each of the youthful participants received an audience-participation gadget.

The main floor was full, and those who seemed to be ushers (I think they were ushers. They looked like ushers) didn’t seem to know what to do about it. They hovered in the back, by the doors, paying little heed to the conference attendees who were also hovering in the back, by the doors, trying to figure out the seating situation. (A large bank of seats near the back sort of fooled the casual observer, appearing empty as you entered, but proving to be “reserved” with personal possessions.)

I finally asked an usher if we could find seats upstairs, and she (seeming surprised) gave it a moment of thought and then said, “Sure!”

Since we weren’t familiar with the church, it took us a minute or two more to find the stairs, but intrepid, intelligent home educators that we are, we managed to solve the problem despite the fact that we were still on an adrenalin high from rushing there (belated), we were tired from a late night the night before, and the music was blasting our senses.

Why is it that teen music, even teen praise music, is so LOUD? Is the stereotype that all teens are deaf? Are teens deaf because they listen to music that’s so loud? Is the volume turned up to ear-tingling levels because teens are used to tuning things out? Do teens enjoy painfully loud music? (Mine don’t.) Is the volume kept high so that deaf participants can enjoy the music vibrating from the floor?

Wish we’d brought earplugs, at least for the musical portion. The lyrics were good, the tunes singable, but we sang along with our fingers in our ears to protect our hearing. Did you know that if a sound is loud enough to be uncomfortable, even painful, that you need ear protection, to keep the delicate mechanism inside your ears from damage?

(We had the same problem at the homeschool co-op, the last couple of years. We got in the habit of arriving late and skipping the praise-and-worship portion, because the music was painfully loud. When I say “painfully” I mean exactly that. Pity. The organizers try to set the tone for the co-0p day, but the praise portion is so loud that it’s damaging the hearing of those who come to hear, whether they realize it or not.)

Since I don’t want to leave this on a negative note, let me reiterate that the messages were good, encouraging teens to rise above modern society’s low expectations. I wish we’d been able to stay the whole day.

A friend loaned us the conference on video, so we can watch the session we missed.

Last word:

If you have a chance to get to one of the remaining conferences, GO. There are conferences coming up in Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Baton Rouge. If you live some distance away, be encouraged by the group that traveled from Dubai to get to the Portland conference. Besides that group, there were others who came from hundreds of miles away, including Arizona, southern California, and Alaska.

If you do plan to attend an upcoming conference, expect to be challenged and encouraged.

Oh, and bring ear protection.

(As the Lord allows, come back tomorrow for a more in-depth look at the message of the conference.)



I am so, so, so, so glad that it’s Friday today.

Got over what felt like the start of a bad cold in record time, with megadoses of Vitamin C and garlic. Still lacking energy.

Am so glad to have found clams at Trader Joe’s! No MSG or other additives, so homemade gluten-free clam chowder, here we come! I have to admit I’ve missed clam chowder. Got a good recipe to recommend?

I’m also looking for a recipe for an overnight crockpot tater tot breakfast casserole. If I find one (or the one I make up tonight turns out to be a success) I’ll post it.

It’s been rainy and sunny by turns. We’ve seen some remarkable rainbows over the past few days, all mostly in the late afternoon, making them very low in the sky. You have to make an effort to see rainbows, that time of day. They’re easily blocked by buildings and trees.

Just like some days you have to make an effort to count your blessings. It’s too easy to see the obstacles, interruptions, and frustrations, and let them clutter your thoughts, especially late in the day.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Start counting: What are you grateful for?

It gets easier with practice.

Wisdom in Science Education

We’re just about finished with the Chemistry unit in our homeschool science class. Tonight was the unit review game, in a Jeopardy-like format where the students were divided into three teams and the parents cheered them all on.

One of the remarkable features of this class is that it is solidly based on Biblical principles. In our science explorations, we’re viewing Creation through the lens of Scripture. Part of the classtime and homework is devoted to Bible and character studies, and part is devoted to learning science, and the two go hand in hand.

Take chemistry, for example. The theme for the unit was “Ye are the salt of the earth.” We learned about all sorts of uses for and properties of salt (along with lots of other info, like memorizing the elements and their symbols, the order of the Periodic Table and properties of the different periods and groups, energy shells, ionization, atomic and molecular bonding, acid-base reactions, and more).

The “final Jeopardy” question asked the teams to name three properties of salt, and apply a spiritual analogy to each, and then to state how to “shine your light before all men.” The answers from all three teams were amazing, and showed that the students had learned a lot, both about the chemical properties of salt, and about the spiritual application of the lessons throughout the unit.

More about this later, if you’d like to hear more. (Just let me know in a comment.) It’s nearly midnight and I need to head off to bed. I’d been managing a regular bedtime, the past few days, but the coffee I drank tonight sort of threw me off.

Consider the source

I had to take a book back to the library the other day, barely read.

I didn’t want it in the house. I didn’t want any of our voracious young readers to pick it up.

It was recommended by a friend when we were comparing good reads, and so I got on the library’s wait list for it. It was an intriguing premise: a love story of a man who travels through time, randomly and not of his own choosing, and the woman he keeps coming back to.

*sigh* I should have realized that a “love” story on today’s list of “good reads” is most likely a s** story, full of titillating details. But I read so little of modern fiction these days, I had forgotten. (s** is a euphemism, obviously, not because I’m afraid to say the word, but because I don’t want web-crawling robots to pick up on this post for the wrong reasons)

(I picked up a book by a popular Christian author recently, and it was too explicit for me… refining fire has been at work over the past few years, I think, even though I wasn’t noticing…)

There’s something about the act of s**– it’s difficult to discuss on this G-rated blog, but when you look at origins, there’s the Biblical principle that the two shall become as one. That is in the context of a proper helpmeet (who became mother of all the living), made for the Man because in all the world, in all of Creation, no suitable helpmeet could be found for him (no surprise, actually — it was all part of the Plan) until God took a rib from the man’s side and fashioned  Woman. Their union was part of the beauty of creation. Man was incomplete without her, but when they came together it was as if his missing part had been restored, and together they made a perfect Whole. They were truly made for each other.

The physical act was meant to be a part of a whole, part of a relationship of two becoming one, in spirit, in vision, in common purpose. In an ideal world, people would not be self-destructive, and so if your mate is as a part of yourself, you would look out for the other person’s best interests, and the other person would be looking out for yours. (I’ve heard it said by strident modern voices that marriage should be a 50-50 proposition, and they’re darn well determined to make sure their partner gives every bit of 50 percent; but the marriages that I see working are the ones where each half of the whole strives to give 100 percent.)

Since the Fall and the corruption of Creation, the physical act has also been corrupted into many things: an expected culmination to a casual encounter, a way to hurt someone else, often a way of using or being used to fill some deep craving that, only temporarily satisfied (if you can even call it that), keeps coming back and demanding more.

Pick up almost any romance novel and you’ll likely find yourself immersed in p*rn, not so many page-turns away. Even in Christian books, if you’re not already desensitized to it, you’ll read thoughts and actions that stir your own feelings, a sort of virtual adultery (yes, for the Lord said if a man even looks on a woman with lust, he’s guilty; that’s how serious this is).

In the classic books that we’ve been reading the past decade or so, certainly there are romances, and love stories, and even implied immorality. Notice the key word: implied. Not in your face, blow by blow, thought-by-thought, sensation by intimate sensation as you find in today’s books. It’s as if people just cannot get enough; like addicts, they need more and more to approach that all-elusive feeling of satisfaction.

This modern book, so highly recommended by a friend, was so much more explicit than I’d want to read, or want our teens to read. I forgot to consider the source, you see. The friend and I have a touchpoint, a small slice of common ground, a place where our taste coincides, but I did not realize how different our tastes in literature could be, until I picked up this book, opened it at random, and began to read.

It makes me sad, because good books are hard to find, and she had thoughtfully given me a list of her favorites to consider for summer reading leisure. Now I must consider carefully before bringing any of those books home, for even if I have the discipline to put down a book I find unwholesome or damaging to my inner thought life, I don’t need the girls to be filling their heads with such thoughts. (Ah, I sound such a prude, but on second thought is that such a bad thing to be? Its derivation is from the French for “virtuous woman” or so The Free Dictionary says. “Prude” could also be short for “prudent” which, rather than the “overly” and “excessive” modifiers attached to “prude” has instead a connotation of wisdom and sound judgment. Why is it so common in our fallen world to taunt people for trying to walk the narrow path instead of the broad way that leads to destruction? Rhetorical question, the Bible has a number of passages that address this.)

So, do you have any book recommendations, whose authors hold to higher moral standards, or at least show consideration for their reader?

Just off the top of my head (and I’m in haste, so this will be a short list), these are some we’ve enjoyed:

– anything by Jane Austen (except Northanger Abbey, didn’t like that one)
– just about anything by Miss Read (yes, there is some impropriety expressed by some characters, but “crime doesn’t pay” in her world, just as is true in the real world)
– Jan Karon’s Mitford series
– hobbity fanfiction posted on the web by an author with the pen name Dreamflower
– C.S. Lewis’ works
– J.R.R. Tolkien’s works
– Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter series
– Ellis Peters and her Cadfael series
– Cornelia Funke’s Ink- trilogy

Sono’s memorial service

The service was a beautiful celebration of life and hope, even in the midst of temporal loss.

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:13-18)

There was music, there were stories, tears, even laughter. Of course there were praise and worship, prayer and Scripture.

Three members of Highstrung String Quartet accompanied the music with haunting beauty. Joel Harris sang Goodbye, Mama after a heartfelt message from his older brother, Josh, who spoke of how deep and rich and all-encompassing (“ferocious”) Sono’s love was, for her children. There were remembrances that bring me to tears, thinking on them, even as I smile in recollection. I can’t put titles to all the music; nor can I name everyone who spoke, together building a picture of a woman who lived fully and… yes, “abundantly,” that is what the Bible calls it. She embraced the roles of helpmeet and mother, she invested herself in the lives of her children, and others. She was passionate about life and protecting innocent life, and used her gifts wisely and with a generous heart.

She poured out her life for the Lord. She lived… here is something I have been stabbing at for years, but never really managing. She lived deliberately. The picture emerged as the service went on, memory after memory, of a woman who once was dead in her trespasses and sins, but at age 17 was adopted into the family of God, trusting in Jesus Christ as her Savior, covered by His blood and righteousness.

For years I have been pondering what it means to live life deliberately, on purpose, but without the courage or commitment to buckle down and do it. Sono showed that it can be done, but it takes dedication. It takes energy, even when you don’t have the physical strength, and focus, the kind of focus where you keep your eyes on the Lord, living by faith.

Focus. It sounds so simple. It seems so impossible. I am so distractible. *sigh* At least now I’ve come to realize how much it impedes me  (those who know me well probably know better than I do how easily I’m distracted) I can make it a matter of prayer. Of focus. One step forward, even though so often two steps back follow? Get back up, and keep walking, and lean on the Lord, for it’s His strength and not mine that can fight this battle and succeed.

Rather than asking, “Why?” we should instead bless God for giving us the time we had with (Sono), was one of the messages spoken today. And a curious thought sprung to my mind. Sono might have lived to an old age, beside her husband. Alternatively, she might have perished instantly in a car accident, taken away without a chance to say goodbye. Instead, the Lord chose to take her in the way He did; He gave her time to spend deliberately, knowing that soon she would be going Home, and so perhaps even more intensely focused than she had been in everyday life. She spent her last days surrounded by friends and family, affirming love and shared hope, saying the important things, not a moment wasted.

Proverbs 31 sums up her life so well.

Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her.
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her  own works praise her in the gates.

In a way, the memorial was not just a celebration, but a challenge to those of us she has mentored over the years.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Gal. 6:9)

I have let myself lose heart, more than once; slid back into “just going with the flow” or sometimes even just going through the motions. Up to the mountaintop, down into the valley, too often in the doldrums. But really, there is no time to waste. We never know when we will be called to give an accounting for the life given us.

Let us do our best to make it a good one.