Sunday, October 4, 2009

ROTC, Recorders, Rennaissance & Reformation

"Eli, stand there while I take your picture."

"Aw, Mom! Please! I'm so sure!"

All family members press in, gawk, compliment. Eli's so... what? It's hard to read. He puts up a big fuss over our fussing over him. There's much laughter. Light-hearted. We're gushing, really.

ROTC. This warrior boy man of mine who talks of becoming a Navy Seal one day. This one who dreams of daring rescues, his convictions and empathy driving desires to end injustice.

We walk him and his sister to the door, I deliver a quick momma hug, and pray a prayer of blessing over them before they walk to the bus stop. Then, as he reaches the rock wall at the edge of the yard, he turns and waves, and I hear him yell over his shoulder, "Thanks, Family. I love you." (Now I know how to read it. At least I'm pretty sure...)

My little one who daily displays signs of becoming a little lady. How she loves to talk! If only I could attach a microphone to her, to record all the adorable things she says in a day, all the dreams she has, the expectations. "I'm going to marry someone like Charles Ingalls." She rests her chin in the palm of her hand, resolved. Her big brown eyes, filled with confidence. "He's going to build me a log cabin. You remember where, right Ma?" Yes, I nod. She points it out each time we go by. The pond at the edge of the village of Grosslittgen. "I mean, I'll help, too. But I have to take care of the chickens and do so much other work, too."

She takes my cheeks in between her hands, nearly touches her nose to mine, "And we'll make our own ice cream! And I'll learn to play the fiddle!"

This lovely little lady who practices here and there all day long on playing her recorder. "Am I getting it, Mommy? Does it sound like the song?" I ponder whether I should tell her or not that I don't know the song, exactly. But then she settles it for me, the notes, almost familiar, sweet and then squeaky.
"It sounds wonderful, Israel! Play it again!" And I mean it. My delight is not diminished when a brother walks by, compliments her out loud, and then under his breath but so that I can hear, says that it sounds like a dying moose. My glare doesn't cause him to recant -- he simply leaves the room with a backward glance, eyes dancing with mischief.

She sits tall and straight, moves her fingers on the notes, puckers her lips carefully. This one who tells me as we pass by eyesores like nuclear energy plants, "Look, Ma! It's a cloud factory!"

"Lord, make us seriously disturbed!" Me and the two boys, Zae and Zeke, snuggle up on the couch as we read the book by Kay Warren, Dangerous Surrender, ending the chapter with this request to be forever changed, forever ruined, by the reality of other's pain. The prayer to increase our desire for our ripple to mean something in someone else's life.

We peruse the artwork of Albrecht Dürer, make a note to visit the house he lived in in Nuremberg, Germany. Isaiah stops on a page, studies it for a long time, lost in thought, his stillness speaks of an idea.

We read a biography of Michelangelo, our reminisces indulging in the moment we stood looking up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling. We are in awe all over again. Likewise when we read about the carving of The Pieta. Later, I would look back and realize our conversations returned to this life story here and there over the next several days. The boys compile their notes and write a summary of Michelangelo Buonarroti, handwriting documenting insights gleaned.

Next, we read about the boy, who at the age of 13, read all the books in his father's library and then waited impatiently while the manuscripts of more books were copied one tedious letter at a time by ink and quill. We engross ourselves in this story of how the printing press came to be. How Johannes Gutenberg had this idea for an invention and then spent his life persistently investing all he had, sacrificing everything, to make the dream a reality.

Gutenberg's first book printed on the press was the Bible because he believed it was the most important book. The boys and I stop to converse about this. Make another mental note to visit Gutenberg's hometown of Mainz, Germany... and perhaps find his workshop in Strasbourg, France.

These stories affect me, touch me. Change me. I pursue conversation with the boys. Ask questions. Wonder what they are taking away from all this... exactly...

Isaiah yawns, sleepily says, "He was perSIStent."

Ezekiel adds, "Yeah, he was deTERmined!"

I think that reading a story of so much longsuffering, heroic stick-to-it-ivness has exhausted us. We're still snuggled on the couch and I entertain the thought of dozing off with the boys and then while contemplating, we fall asleep.
Raphael. Shakespeare. Isaac Newton.

History and the shaping of now. Recording it all in our schema for tomorrow's interpretations.

This appreciation for art. For the story.

To seek and understand the heart of God better.

We begin each day with prayer and (for this particular study) Psalm 145.

Conversations about the roots of humanism, superstition, the evolution of the sciences, the religiosity of a people fearful of losing their soul to eternal damnation. Studying stories of Galileo Galilei, Leonardo da Vinci, and Martin Luther.
The library allows us to check out 50 books at a time. And so we do. We add a couple of Shakespeare DVDs in the pile: Macbeth and Taming of the Shrew.

And somewhere in the day, we add in a lesson on rhetoric, logic, and debate. This critical thinking that will make all the learning we're doing more interesting.

For a while we read about the history of Italy, the birthplace of the Rennaissance. Ezekiel and I take turns reading while Isaiah works on a project. After a long while he proudly holds up his masterpiece -- a copy of Albrecht Dürer's Praying Hands.

And all our dreams, hopes, plans, passions, activities, thoughts, ideas, learning... All of it... May it all be turned back to praise of the One Who graciously, mercifully gives all these abundant gifts to us out of His abundant goodness.

That every day will I bless Thee; and I will praise Thy name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:2)


  1. Mmmmmm. I agree!

    I also think you are a saint. I have lived through THREE recorder phases, but just barely.

    I'm a tad jealous of your book stack, lady. I love to learn--I swear I could go to college for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. Right now I can't seem to get through Heaven. It's sooooo deep and I don't want to miss a single thing.

    Tell Eli I think he looks like a stud!

  2. That outfit had better be for halloween... because otherwise our boys are too grown up and I just won't have it!!! Oh Miss Sharron how I love thee! I am actually talking to your mom on the phone as I type this and I think it is safe to say that both of us miss you so. I love you and I am so proud of our beautiful children and what God has done!

  3. Positively stunning. I'm breathless for the next glimpse into your sanctuary. The counterpoint of student and teacher, parent and cherished one, comrade shoulder to shoulder, makes me want to grab hold with my children and explore the world. Love your children. Love you!


  4. Oh, and keep 'em coming. LOVE your posts.

  5. Very fun to read all the exciting things your beautiful family is up to. I especially love the Ingall's family reference. I think living out in the German countryside lends itself nicely to imagining a life on the prarie. :) My girls are also big fans.

    I enjoy your posts. Our experiences are different, but I still have a sense of identifying somewhat with you! Take care,
    Heather (Nurnberg)

  6. I just love your family. And teaching them about Michaelangelo, I could die happy!