My Book Bag: A Dog of Flanders

A Dog of Flanders by Marie Louise de la Ramée is a very short book that is listed in my daughter’s reading curriculum for next year. I had heard of it but never read it. It is a considered a classic, so many of you have probably read it. Since I had never read it, I thought I’d take a look.

It is a moving story of a young boy, a rescued dog, and a loving grandfather. The boy, Nello, is orphaned and taken in by his poor grandfather. Together, they rescue a dog. The dog, whom they name Patrasche, shows almost human-like appreciation for their love by serving willingly to help them earn a living. Patrasche faithfully pulls a cart loaded with milk, as this is how they eek by. Nello has a great talent for art and longs to be as great as the painter, Peter Paul Rubens. Nello grows up, falls in love and seems to be making his way as an artist when he is falsely accused of starting a fire.

It’s a moving story of loyalty, devotion, and respect. In case you haven’t read it, or would like to read it again, I will not divulge the ending. I will say, however, it was a surprise.

I am glad I took the time (a few minutes, really) to read this book. I was brought to tears and educated on Flanders. I did not know it was part of Belguim until I read this book!

I think my fifth grader will enjoy it next year, as she is an enthusiastic animal lover.

Thanks for reading about what I’m reading.

Theological Term of the Week: Antinomianism

This week’s term: Antinomianism – Anti (against) nomia (law). The teaching of antinomianism is that whereas Christ is glorified by putting away our sin, the more we sin, the more glorious He becomes in His work of salvation. Therefore, we actually cause the grace of God to abound by sinning.

Last week’s term: Pelagianism – The doctrines taught by Pelagius. Pelagius was a monk born in England of great intellectual stature, but no apparent knowledge of God. He taught that man was inherently capable of doing right or wrong, that it was possible for him to live a sinless life, and that some men had actually done so. He taught that Adam’s sin had no real effect on mankind as a race, and that man was free to choose either right or wrong, not having a fallen nature.

Gettysburg

On March 2, 2017, our family rose before dawn, loaded up the van, and left on the longest vacation we’ve ever taken. We have been blessed to visit many interesting sites over the years, but they have always been in connection with ministry or visiting relatives. We have never gone so far away for so long before.

Lauren, our senior, had said several years ago, that if given the opportunity to go on a “senior trip”, she would choose Washington, D.C. When we lived in Arkansas, this seemed like a big request. When we moved even farther west, it became an even bigger one! Our goal had been to take her last summer, but we had to tell her no due to the lack of time and funds. We encouraged her to pray and to wait on the Lord. The Lord answered us in an amazing way. No sooner had we decided not to go when some friends graciously offered us the use of their time-share in the D.C. area. This would save us a lot of money. The only requirement being that we needed to be flexible on when we could go. As a homeschooling family, this was something we could do. Terry and I saved as much money as we could, and continued to bring it to the Lord in prayer. A six-day vacancy opened up in the time-share for March 5-10, so we took that as the Lord’s leading as when we should go.

As we mapped out our plan, we realized that we would be in the area of many interesting places. Since we were already traveling over 1,200 miles just to get to D.C., why not make the most use of our time out east? So we did! We were able to arrange a trip to Gettysburg, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, and Lexington, Virginia, in addition to D.C. I would like to share some of the highlights of this trip with you, and perhaps encourage you to see a few of these places, also.

We drove about fourteen hours the first day of our journey, and seven then next day. We arrived in Gettysburg to a lovely hotel (it really saved us money to be going during the off-peak season, which again, was the Lord’s doing). The hotel property backed up against an old cemetery, which the history lover in me found to be quite exciting.

The next day, we headed out early to tour Gettysburg. I read The Killer Angels at the end of last year, which really gave me a better understanding of those three days in July of 1863 and made the visit even more enthralling for me.

First, we headed to the visitor’s center. The battlefield can be toured for free, but the museum charges admission. As we were walking into the museum, an elderly couple passed us as they were leaving. The gentleman stopped Terry and said, “Hey, they didn’t take our tickets for the museum inside, would you like to have them? I don’t know if they will work, but you could give it a shot.” Terry thanked him and we went inside. He showed the admissions lady the tickets and she said they were for the wrong time. We thought, oh well, it won’t work. She proceeded to change the time on them and issue us the remaining five that we needed. That gentleman saved us $30! What a blessing from the Lord.

The museum was filled with interesting exhibits. The younger ones always seem to run ahead to the interactive parts of the museum, so we had to move quickly.

Of course, I had to get a photo with the Confederate flag.

The museum portion of our visit included watching a short film about Gettysburg, seeing the Cyclorama, a 360-degree painting of The Battle of Gettysburg with various sound and visual effects which made it seem like 3D, and the museum itself.

On this trip, we had to take group photos in twos. The person who snapped the first photo then handed the camera off to someone else and we took another with that person in the group. The sun was bright in this photo, but we couldn’t resist snapping a photo with Abe outside the museum.

Group shot, take two.

Next, we loaded up in the van and began our own tour of the battlefield. I visited Vicksburg National Military Park last year. It was a brief trip, but we were able to see it all in about an hour. The Gettysburg battlefield is huge. It took us four hours and we still could have explored it in more detail if we’d had more time. It was bitterly cold the day we were there, with strong blasts of arctic air hitting us in the face, yet we soldiered on and had a great time.

This is the view of Seminary Ridge the direction where Gen. John Reynolds (Union) was looking when he was shot off his horse. He died instantly in the opening moments of the battle.

This seemed like a nice place for a photo.

Cannons were all over the place.

Two Arkansas natives with the Arkansas memorial.

Me with Gen. Longstreet (Confederacy).

It has been debated that, had Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson not died at Chancellorsville, the south would have won the Battle of Gettysburg. Due to Jackson’s death, Longstreet became Lee’s second in command. There is much more to the story of course, so I encourage to read about the battle and about the men behind it.

There are three observation towers at Gettysburg. We ended up climbing roughly 37 flights of stairs. I photographed the view from each of them, but they sort of run together after a while. From these vantage points, you can get the big picture of the battle, with the help of placards that explain what is before you. The wind was quite strong up there, so we didn’t get to enjoy the view long. This was the best group shot of the fifty-five we took (haha).

The Virgina Memorial has this amazing monument to Gen. Robert E. Lee and Traveller.

Lee and Traveller.

Me and Terry on the top of Little Round Top! I was pretty excited!

Little Round Top

More of Little Round Top. It’s the setting for much of The Killer Angels, hence my excitement at seeing it.

The rock formation below is Devil’s Den – Confederate snipers camped out there and shot at the Union who held Little Round Top.

The Confederate’s view of Little Round Top.

The Wheatfield was the site of brutal fighting, 6,000 men died here.

The Trostle House. This served as Major Gen. Dan Sickles headquarters during the war.

The Pennsylvania Memorial is grand and beautiful.

I didn’t realize you could climb to the top of the Pennsylvania Memorial until I heard a faint yell from above. Can you see Mitchell?

There he is!

I had to climb up, too, and get the full experience. Here is the view inside the stairwell.

Lauren and Mitch at the top of the Pennsylvania Memorial.

The wind was so strong at the top of this monument, that my Nikon lens was shaking. It was all I could do to hold it steady. It still did a good job, though. The round disk on the wall has landmarks listed pointing in their general direction. It was a lovely view.

In front of the library on Seminary Ridge.

At Soldier’s National Cemetery.

Unfortunately, we didn’t tour the Soldier’s National Cemetery, where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, until Sunday morning before church. The frigid air drained the battery in my Nikon, so this is the last photo I was able to get with it. The next few are from my iPhone. Even with the full day that we spent at Gettysburg, we didn’t see everything. I do hope to visit again someday. Even if I had seen it all, I don’t think I can ever really get enough.

There was a poem written out in stanzas across part of the cemetery. This portion says, “Your own proud land’s heroic soil, Must be your fitter grave, She claims from war his richest spoil, The ashes of the brave.”

At the church we visited Sunday, I had an interesting conversation with a lady who grew up in Gettysburg. She informed me that the battlefield has really hampered the growth of the town of Gettysburg, after all, it takes up most of the town. As a child, she assumed every town had a battlefield in the middle of it!  Gettysburg is currently about 8,000 in population, which is how many dead they had to bury in July of 1863. She also told me that many people move there just because of the history. Before our trip, my kids liked to joke that “mom wouldn’t be coming home because she would want to live in Gettysburg”. Well, I did come home, but it’s nice to know that I’m not the only person who would want to move to a place just for its history.

We did a lot of walking and climbing at Gettysburg, and everyone got a good dose of history. And just think, this was only the beginning!

Thank you for traveling with me.

My Book Bag: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson is a quick and delightful read. It will especially buoy the heart and mind of those in ministry. D.A. Carson, the author, is a former pastor, theologian, and professor who has risen to prominence in his ministry. He writes this book not about himself and his own ministry, but about his father and mother, Tom and Marge Carson, and their faithfulness to the Lord over many years. Tom Carson ministered in French-speaking Quebec. He never pastored a large church or lectured theology to an auditorium of future ministers. He was just an ordinary pastor. But as D.A. Carson shows us so beautifully in this short book, God likes to use the ordinary.

Tom Carson never wrote a book, but he did keep journals. After his father’s death, Don (D.A.) Carson decided to write about his ordinary, and amazing, father. The journals of Tom Carson are filled with his own private pleadings with the Lord to help him overcome his sins, like laziness, yet he was not lazy. He labored long and hard each every day preparing sermons, working on his French, visiting the sick and corresponding with those who not yet come to Christ and yet, he felt lazy. Perhaps this was because he never really saw the results in number that he so longed to see. Tom Carson served faithfully behind various pulpits, sometimes as the second man, others as the pastor or interim pastor, never feeling adequate enough for the job. His journal often describes how horrible his preaching is, or how poorly he preached, in his own opinion, of course.

At one point in Tom’s ministry, he became the center of a controversy. Simply put, Mr. Carson was promised funds from a fellowship to start a church, and the board- men he knew and admired – reneged. Mr. Carson firmly pointed out the problem, but ultimately, he was forced to separate from several men who had been his mentors. This was a painful time. Mr. Carson was in the right and could have slandered these men to his son, who would hear about the controversy much later in college. What a man Tom Carson was to keep his silence in order to protect his son from bitterness!(p. 59)

One journal entry that struck me was from April 7, 1973: “A pretty good day, but I’m not on the ball for my Lord. How different my diary is than that of David Brainerd.” (p. 105)

Don Carson observes of his father, “In some ways, he was replicating the stance of the apostle Paul. Most people go through life afraid that people will not think enough of them; Paul went through life afraid that people would think too much of him. (2 Cor. 12:5-6)” (p. 131)

In later years, Marge was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Tom lovingly and faithfully cared for her until her death. He then lived out his days quietly serving the Lord as best he could, admiring his son, Don’s, great success in ministry in England and the states.

Near the end of the book, Don Carson says this about his father: “Tom Carson never rose very far in denominational structures, but hundreds of people in the Outaouais and beyond testify how much he loved them. He never wrote a book, but he loved the Book. He was never wealthy or powerful, but he kept growing as a Christian: yesterday’s grace was never enough…He was not very good at putting people down, except on prayer lists.” (p. 147)

I enjoyed this book on two levels. First, I was blessed by it as a pastor’s wife, often identifying with that feeling of being ordinary, and perhaps a little useless. What a blessing to be reminded that obscure doesn’t mean worthless. Second, I identified with it as being the daughter of an ordinary Christian. My father was not a pastor, but he certainly was the greatest Christian man I knew. He worked tirelessly in the world, often feeling that same defeated and hopeless feeling that Tom Carson felt – and that I often feel – yet he got up and kept going. He got on his knees, even when they ached, and he got up to work, even when he was discouraged. He kept a Bible verse in his shirt pocket and worked to memorize it. He kept a smile on his face and a funny song ever-ready at his lips. He walked faithfully with the Lord, as just an ordinary guy, until he saw his Lord face to face! This book was certainly a balm for my heart and a blessing to my soul.

I implore you to read Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor and be encouraged in the Lord.

Theological Term of the Week: Pelagianism

This week’s term: Pelagianism – The doctrines taught by Pelagius. Pelagius was a monk born in England of great intellectual stature, but no apparent knowledge of God. He taught that man was inherently capable of doing right or wrong, that it was possible for him to live a sinless life, and that some men had actually done so. He taught that Adam’s sin had no real effect on mankind as a race, and that man was free to choose either right or wrong, not having a fallen nature. 

Last week’s term: Arminianism – The system of doctrine which holds salvation is brought about by a cooperative effort between God and man. Again, Arminius was not the originator of this doctrine but simply became identified as the champion of it. Arminianism is a modification of Pelagianism, though most Arminians will deny that they are in agreement with Pelagianism.

A Blog Schedule

Yes, folks, it’s time to get serious about blogging. I have decided that I must make a commitment to write here regularly like I used to do way-back-when, or I’ll never squeeze it in again. My life has been full to overflowing lately, just the way I like life to be. I am busy with my five children – teaching them chores and life skills, homeschooling, and helping my oldest get things in order for graduation and college. I work part-time at the church for my husband and I try to keep my home running smoothly. We also recently took our first two-week family vacation – we’ve never been away just for fun that long – and we made a truck load of memories. I’d like to share them with you, as well as some of the 1,200 pictures I took (no exaggeration), but unless I make a plan, that will never happen.

I also had planned to write about the books I’ve read this year, too. I’ve already read 12 this year, but I’ve only posted about one. I need a plan for that, too.

So, in an effort to become more disciplined about my writing, I’ve decided to make a schedule. (It’s my favorite thing to do, right after making a list.) Here’s how I want my blog to go this year:

Monday  – Theological Term of the Week I know everyone eagerly awaits for the dawn of every Monday morning so they can see the new term. Okay, okay, I jest. However, you should care about theology, if you’re a Christian. And terms really do matter. We use them for everything in life, and theology is no different. The only time people despise terms are when they don’t like the definition of a theological one that applies to them. If you have a problem with a term, I invite you to disagree, to prove it wrong, or to find a term that does define what you believe. (And before claim to be a “Biblicist”, care to know the definition? It’s “one who takes the Bible literally”.) We must have terms! We speak, write, and read, all because we know what words mean. I hope you will read the theological term, but I  do understand if it’s not your thing. If you ever change your mind, you can always come back and catch up HERE.

Wednesday – Book Review I hope to catch up on the books I’ve read little by little. When I am caught up, I’ll try to post new book reviews on Wednesdays. If you have a favorite book recommendation, I’d love to hear about it! Please comment or write to me using the “Contact Me” tab above.

Friday – Vacation Post We visited 17 museums and historic sites on our recent travels. I really did take over 1,200 photos. I would like to share our experiences here for two reasons: 1. I might be able to offer help to those who would like to also visit these locales. 2. I use this blog as a scrapbook of sorts, and, it’s a handy way to show my mom the photos.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be quiet around here unless I think of something absolutely mind-blowing to share. In that rare event, I’ll post it on one of those days.

I just realized that, according to my new schedule, I should have posted this article on a Tuesday or Thursday! This leads me to add one more thing:

*Disclaimer: This schedule is subject to change at the whim of the blogger. 

Thank you for reading and I’ll see you Monday! 😉

 

Theological Term of the Week: Arminianism

Theology-image

This week’s term: Arminianism – The system of doctrine which holds salvation is brought about by a cooperative effort between God and man. Again, Arminius was not the originator of this doctrine but simply became identified as the champion of it. Arminianism is a modification of Pelagianism, though most Arminians will deny that they are in agreement with Pelagianism. 

Last week’s term: Calvinism – The system of doctrine which holds salvation is strictly of grace and totally monergistic. This system is often wrongly attributed to John Calvin and thus called after his name, though no one supposes or claims that he was the originator of it.

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