Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Until We Meet Again

Dear Friend,

I'm stepping out of the blogosphere until February 1, 2014.

Hope you have a delightful holiday season!

Love & Blessings,


Monday, November 25, 2013

Washed Ashore: A Guest Post by Sheena Señara

Dear Friend,

Today I'm grateful to host my friend Sheena Señara who blogs from the Philippines at Tabulyogang. I first met Sheena through my comments section. Her cheerful messages here are always a delight. 

Recently when I saw on the news that Sheena's country was about to be pounded by Super-Typhoon Haiyan, I contacted her via email. We stayed in touch over a period of days as she described some of what she was experiencing to me. 

Sheena wrote the following poem in response to the disaster. I'm deeply honored that she has allowed me to post it for you today. 
image source: Tabulyogang

Waves angry,
Washed ashore bottles, and slippers, and toys, and weeds
What delight to see them come here?
Who could have owned these washed up things?

That was of long ago
When other areas were terribly far
And far meant messages sent were received for the next 2-3 days
Where mails were a delight, and not too slow

Now these washed up things meant somebody's terrible loss.
Not that story of a little boy losing his slipper in the sea
Decided to throw the other one hoping for someone to find all two

There is no little boy who owns these washed up things.
These washed up things are not my delight no more.
These washed up things are memories
Memories crying in the dark; wet and cannot breath.

* * *

For the little girl who takes delight in washed up things after every storm, and for the big girl who remembers that little girl.

My name is Sheena Señara. I'm a student. I love writing poems -- especially when I'm overwhelmed with emotions. My nickname's Gang-gang, my parents call me Tabulyo/tabulyogang. 

Let us continue to be in prayer for those affected by the disaster. If you wish to make a donation, Sheena recommends Unicef.  Visit Sheena at Tabulyogang and follow her on Twitter @tabulyo

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

In Which We Give All to Get All : Guest Post by Anita Mathias

Dear Friend,
I'm honored to have award-winning author Anita Mathias as my guest today. Anita has been blogging through Genesis and Matthew on her blog since June. Here she shares her reflection on Genesis 35. You can find more of her insights at Dreaming Beneath the Spires.

+ + +

So Jacob has an amazing vision of a stairway between heaven and earth,
and angels ascending and descending on it. And at the top was the
Lord, who promises him the land, fruitfulness, blessing, protection,
his presence and his favour.

The context?

Jacob is fleeing the brother whom he had effectively disinherited and
deprived of the blessings of the first-born through deceit.

Hardly the best place to meet God and be promised his blessings,
wouldn’t you say?

But God is gracious and compassionate, full of mercy and abounding in love.

* * *

So after Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi disgrace and endanger him
through slaughtering every male in Shechem and then looting it, Jacob
is on the move again, back to the place of blessing.

God suggests that he returns to Bethel and settles there, building an altar.

In preparation, Jacob commands his household, “get rid of the foreign
gods you have with you, and purify yourself and change your
clothes(Gen 35:2).”

When they do so, and bury all the foreign Gods, and the rings they
wore as amulets or charms, God gives them safe conduct. “Then they set
out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that
no one pursued them.”

And at Bethel, God blesses him, and promises him fruitfulness and the
land, Eretz Israel.

Getting rid of foreign gods was a precursor of protection and blessing.

* * *

Why was this so important?

Because we can only be in one place. We are either in the waterfall of
God’s goodness and favour, or we are not.

We are either relying on God, or on our own strategies for success,
for wealth, or getting our own way, for example. (Nothing wrong with
strategies. Strategy is fun--and strategic action is obviously more
effective than random action. However, we have to continually ensure
that our strategies either originate with God, or have been run by
him, and have his approval.)

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chron. 16:9).
Somehow being wholly committed to God, wholly in the river of his
love, is necessary to being able to wholly access his ideas, and his
inspiration, and to experience his undeserved blessings. Selling
everything to buy that pearl.

All I have is yours, and all you have is mine, Jesus says. They are
correlated. Perhaps all we have needs to be His, for all He has to
become ours.

Our lunch must be handed over to Jesus for 5000 men to feed on it.

* * *

How do we reach this level of surrender?

Reaching total surrender to God and totally experiencing his
blessings, ideas and provision, like everything else in life, is a
matter of one step at a time, one step of obedience at a time.
Practice, blow it; get up, practice again.

I have not reached total surrender, alas, though I want to--because I
think living in Jesus is a more exciting place to live than following
my own whims and strategies.

Here are some areas I am working on: turning to Jesus rather than food
when in a low mood; not worrying about my work, but entrusting it to
him and asking for his ideas; doing my fair share of house-running

But the real battleground for me is within. Forgiving and praying
blessing on those who injured me. Blessing those I feel envious of,
and asking God to bless me indeed, instead of lingering in envy. Not
dwelling in the negative, but turning my thoughts and words to the
positive. Praising and thanking God when I do not feel like doing so.

Tweak, tweak, tweak, until I am aligned with Jesus, and living in Jesus, with Jesus himself living in me.


Anita Mathias is the author of Wandering Between Two Worlds
(Benediction Classics, 2007) and blogs at Dreaming Beneath the Spires,

Anita lives in Oxford, England with her husband, Roy, and daughters,
Zoe and Irene. Visit her at Facebook at Dreaming Beneath the Spires or
on Twitter @anitamathias1.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ascending : Guest Post By Jeannie Prinsen

Dear Friend,

I'm delighted to share a poem with you today! It was written by my friend Jeannie Prinsen. Jeannie is an online writing instructor at Queen's University. She shares many insightful reflections on her blog Little House on the Circle. 

+ + +

The experience that inspired this poem took place a couple of years ago in Prince Edward Island (where I was born and where my family still goes every summer).  We  had arrived at my parents' place earlier that day, and I was taking an evening walk.  There is something about the quiet of the surroundings and the beauty of the sky there, especially at sunset, that always makes me feel peaceful.  But the cloud of starlings -- something I don't think I'd ever seen before -- added a different dimension to this walk. I was fascinated by their swooping formations and the way they crowded into a tree, chattering loudly, and then suddenly lifted off as one.  This poem tries to capture the sight, sound, and feeling of that experience.


shape-shifting black
ellipses thrill the evening sky
a thousand starlings
then settle
turning a sun-kindled apple tree
into a quivering
each leaf and twig
pulsing with their over
lapping voices

they rise in a shush of underlit wings
like flakes 
of fire
like fallen stars returning
to heaven
and I watch
how it would feel
to fly
my own wings touched with the light
of day's golden 

In case you missed it: Jeannie and I did another photo/poem collaboration earlier this year. You can read it here.

poem cJeannie Prinsen 2013
please do not reproduce without author permission                                                       

Friday, November 15, 2013

A New Cyber-Samper: God is a Trick of the Light

Dear Friend,

It's been a while since I've created a new cyber-sampler. A few days ago I read a post by Ellen Painter Dollar that was so good I wanted to savor it. I pulled up this picture of a rainbow that I took last year and added my favorite quote from the post to it. 

Read the entire post here.

Have a blessed weekend!

Peace & Joy,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's on My Bookshelf

Dear Friend,

Today I'm linking up to the Modern Mrs. Darcy for the "What's on YOUR bookshelf?" synchro-blog event. This is a marvelous way for bookish types to get to know each other; bookshelves speak volumes about their owners!

Taking a moment to glance over a  person's books will likely glean many more insights about his or her worldview, taste, interests, concerns, and desires than could be disclosed in the same amount of time spent in conversation.

I'm planning to visit all the blogs who participate in the link-up this week.

If you are coming by Classical Quest for the first time -- welcome! I look forward to getting to know you. 
From the top: baskets contain needlework supplies and musical instruments. Boxes contain love letters from my husband and kids, and the seven year correspondence between my friend Jeni and me.
I read most of Willa Cather's works in my early twenties.
The Spy Doll was one of the first chapter books I ever read. (Charlotte's Web was the first.) I wrote a research paper on The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis during the short time I was in college. I purchased One Hundred and One Famous Poems when I was twelve with money I earned from cleaning my grandma's house. I've read it at least one hundred and one times.

If I had to pick one book out of my entire bookshelf that I think says the most about me, it would be Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
Many of the titles on my bookshelf were purchased from public library book sales or consignment shops. I've read everything in this group except Les Miserables.

At age sixteen I discovered English author Daphne Du Maurier. I read every one of her titles that I could get my hands on. (I even read one while spending time on the grounds of a castle in Hungary.) I found My Cousin Rachel about twenty years ago in an antique shop. Du Maurier's style is a bit romantic for my current taste, but it was perfect for my sixteen year old self.

The books in the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder are some of my all-time favorites. I've listened to the entire series read by Cherry Jones several times with my kids. I found On the Banks of Plum Creek last week for 50 cents.
I recently came across my copy of Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak. A slip of white paper fell out of it which was marked with a letter "A." On the back there was a note in my mom's handwriting: "Adriana wrote this "A" at age three."

I purchased The Great Palace of the Moscow Kremlin on the street in front of the Kremlin when I was seventeen.
I purchased the French dictionary from a school book sale when I was in grade school. I still refer to it from time to time.

Out of all the books in this stack, the slim unassuming black one has been studied the most. I bought it at the Biltmore Estate when I was nineteen. It's John Singer Sargent by Kate F. Jennings. 

Little Women and Anne of Green Gables were also some of my very first purchases. Strangely though, I just read Anne for the first time last year! (I could quote the entire movie with Megan Follows by heart though.) 

Great Hymns of the Faith is a new version of my childhood hymnal. 

I read Beau Geste when I was fifteen. I was desperate for something new to read, but wasn't yet old enough to drive myself to the library. I found this abridged version in our house. It turned out to be quite the page-turner!

Having Our Say is the autobiography of Sarah and Elizabeth Delany -- African American sisters who lived to be centenarians and never married. I think I'll read it again soon. It's charming, inspiring, and full of wisdom.

Unquiet Soul is a biography of Charlotte Bronte that my friend Jeannie Prinsen recommended. I haven't read it yet but I'm really looking forward to it.

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis are excellent chapter books for kids. I read A Year Down Yonder aloud to my family last summer when we went "down yonder" for a week long family vacation. (My kid's have told me I do a good Grandma Dowdel voice.)

I've read all these except for The Princess Bride. I found this copy at a consignment shop for a $1.00. It was recommended by Tim Fall.

Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King Jr. is underlined heavily. 

Redwall is another book we've enjoyed listening to as a family.

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle was recommended by Anne Bogel.  I highly recommend it for all spiritual/creative types.

I can remember listening to my dad read from  The Bible Story Library when I was young. It's full of famous Biblical art. I spent hours flipping through the volumes, studying each picture before I knew how to read.

Q: What do you call people who use Natural Family Planning?

A: Parents! :-)

Most of these are holiday titles that we will use this year for our Advent Literary Countdown.

Young Children and Worship helped me change my methods for imparting faith to my kids. It's kind of like Montessori for Sunday School : less lecture and more wonder.

I bought the John Hopkins Family Health Book before I had internet access. Now it serves as a nice leaf and flower press.

We've read The Child's Story Bible  by Catherine Vos through with our kids three times.

Sewing School was a Christmas gift for my daughter a couple years ago. We've enjoyed creating projects out of it together. The authors of this book also have a fun blog.

I've kept you long enough, but here are two quick bonus shelves --
This is where I store the books I'm working through for my Well Educated Mind project
And last but not least . .  . the cookbooks! Yay! 

I often use recipes from Barefoot Contessa, Better Homes, Joy of Cooking, and Fanny Farmer.

I did not include the bookshelf in our office (mostly reference materials), the playroom (children's books), or my virtual library on the Amazon Cloud. 

So that's it! Hope you enjoyed the tour! Don't forget to visit other blogs who have linked up to Modern Mrs. Darcy!

Peace & Joy,


P.S. Don't forget to "Like" Classical Quest on Facebook! Thank you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Story of a Life in Three Quilts

Dear Friend,

I've written another guest post! It's about a legacy that was passed down to me in the form of three quilts. My kind friend Jeannie Prinsen has posted it on her blog, "Little House on the Circle." 

You can read it here.

While you're there take some time to explore other posts by Jeannie. She shares reflections about faith, family life, special needs children, reading, writing, and other fascinating topics. I visit her blog frequently to glean rich insights and be encouraged.

Peace & Joy,