April 2009

Although we have been home for almost a week, I still feel some residual “holiday” feelings. Especially when I happen to glance at my toes.

Last week, Mom treated me to a pedicure. It was Thursday, our last day visiting with Mom and Dad. Lyndon, Uncle Quinn, and Grandpa took the boys to the Calgary Science Centre, and Mom and I had a day to ourselves. It was lovely. We spent some time at the HUGE Airdrie Superstore. Hey, when you live in The Sticks, even a shopping trip to Superstore is fun! Then, we went for pedicures.

This was my first time to have the Pedicure Experience. Wow, what a treat. After being ushered into the Tender Tootsie Palace, Mom and I were seated, side by side, on matching, padded thrones. Our feet were gently submerged into a sweet bubble bath, tea was served, and the pampering began. An hour and a half,  and twenty-four bright, red toenails later, we were helped off our thrones and, sigh, returned to reality.

The experience lingers, however. Everytime I look down at my new toes I get a tiny rush of pleasure. Even though the weather has been cold and, basically, yucky, ever since … I have pretty feet.

It’s the little things.

We are having a fabulous time. We left home a week ago, and began this Ross Adventure by attending the Walking with Dinosaurs show in Regina. If you remember, we had won tickets to this event back in December. Many thanks to Colton’s giant brain for knowing the answer to the radio contest question which resulted in this opportunity. It really was a lot of fun. The boys loved it. Carter was a little nervous about it all, and it was pretty loud, but it was well done. My favourite dino was, of course, the T Rex, who made her appearance at the very end of the show. We spent that night in a hotel in Moose Jaw, and headed west the next morning.

We have learned over the years of travelling with our family that the trip goes more smoothly if we take the time to stop now and then. So, we stopped in Medicine Hat at the mall for some lunch and a stroll. The kids had been bickering in the truck and the break was welcomed by everyone. The boys bought a couple of books at Coles, and I found a Vinyl Cafe on cd that we had not heard before. I also picked up The Five People You Meet in Heaven on cd. We shared a candy apple, threw some pennies in the fountain, and then we were good to go.

The rest of the trip was much more enjoyable. The boys browsed through their new books, we listened to and laughed with Stuart McLean, we got as far as the meeting with the Blue Man on the Heaven cd, and were at Mom and Dad’s before we knew it. Just in time for supper. A little laundry, a little visiting, a fairly early night, and then up early the next morning to drive to Red Deer for the Homeschool Conference.

I thoroughly enjoyed Friday and Saturday in Red Deer. The conference was bigger than our Saskatchewan conference. I’m not sure how I would compare the two. The venues are very different. Saskatchewan’s conference is always held in a hotel. Cushy chairs, nice atmosphere, catered lunch. The Red Deer conference is held in an arena complex, so I didn’t feel quite as pampered. And you had to buy food from the arena concession. The content, however, is the main thing and I would say that in that respect the conferences are very comparable. The keynote speaker in Red Deer this year was Kevin Swan. He presented, I think, a total of seven times. I sat in on three of his sessions. Very energetic, dramatic, enthusiastic speaker. The main thrust of his lessons was that, basically, character is key. The main reason for homeschooling (according to Swan) is to teach kids character. I didn’t hear anything that was really new, but it was an encouragement to be reminded of some of those foundational ideas. It’s easy to get caught up in curriculum and to forget (or maybe misplace) the basic philosophical reasons why we decided to do this in the first place. Anyway, Kevin Swan has a website where he offers lots of things, including a daily online audio message, if anyone is interested in checking him out.

I did spend a lot of time at the curriculum fair. I was happy to see a Teaching Textbooks booth, as that is the math program I am considering going with for the older boys next year. I didn’t purchase it as there was no financial benefit offered to buy at the conference, and I know they ship for free if you order online. It was good to see it and try it out a bit, though. I did buy The Mystery of History, as well as several literature books, including some G.A. Henty, which we have not read before. I looked at Runkle Geography for a long time, but ended up not getting it. It is so expensive. I need to think about that one a bit, and decide if it is really something we would use. I also found a Larry Burkett Money Matters for Teens Workbook for Tyson. I told him that once he had finished it and we felt confident that he understood some basic money management, we would talk about some Work for Pay projects. And, I bought a “mom” book. I always buy something that is an encouragement for me when I am at a conference.

The best thing about the conference, though, was reconnecting with a friend of mine. Margaret and I lived together years ago in Edmonton when we were both in college. I have seen her the odd time over the years, but have never really visited with her much since our Edmonton days. She is a homeschooling mom of six children. Lyndon and I went to Margaret’s home for supper Friday night and had a wonderful visit with her family, as well as some other old friends that they invited over. So, so, so fun.

Okay, long enough post for now. More adventures to come…

Hanging out in Airdrie (Alberta) with the family…and loving it. Planning on hitting the Calgary Zoo today, Elbow Falls tomorrow, and the Science Centre on Wednesday. We’ll probably leave for home on Thursday, and might stop in Drumheller to visit the dinosaur museum on the way.

There are so many awesome things about being at my parents’ house, not least of which is…the food. Yum! Barley salad, turkey, lemon pie, spinach soup. And that was just breakfast!  I’m kidding. I just had lemon pie for breakfast.

Also enjoyable about visiting the grandparents is that they are, well, grandparents. Which means they are interested in doing things with the grandkids. Dad has taken them swimming a couple of times already, and there are more adventures planned. Also, because my sister and her husband and son live in the basement suite, there are extended family members to hang out with, without having to go anywhere. So fun. And convenient!

Also, my mom’s house is really, really clean. Love that.

Finally, they keep asking me what I want to do. “What would you like to do today, Janelle?” That’s not a question I hear very often in my real life. Very heady stuff.

All in all, we are having a fabulous time.

As I talked about in my last post, I recently attended a conference where Scot McKnight was the keynote speaker. He is a college prof who has become interested in the phenomenon of “delayed adolescence” or “emerging adulthood”  (depending on who you talk to). Basically, he is interested in the twenty to thirty somethings who, he says, have been raised on a steady diet of Self Esteem. Therefore, they believe the world revolves around them. But this is not, he stresses, about selfishness. It is, rather, a generation that has been told, over and over, that they can be whatever they want to be, do whatever they want to do, marry a soul mate… what McKnight describes as a “generation in a castle”. So how do you think this generation is responding to the traditional sin-salvation gospel message? Yeah. McKnight makes the bold statement that “the gospel being preached is not interesting to this age group.”

I can hear the murmurs… The gospel is the gospel. You can’t just change the message because the audience doesn’t like it. Jesus came to save sinners. Period.

Okay. It’s uncomfortable, I know.

What I hear McKnight (and others) saying is not so much that we need to change the gospel, but that we need to “reclaim the fulness of the gospel” and that we need a “robust” gospel. According to McKnight, we need to rediscover the Kingdom Vision of Jesus, which will lead to a NEW understanding of evangelism. Here are his Ten Themes Leading to a New Evangelism:

1. Heaven. The motivation in the past has been to go to heaven. A new approach is to think of heaven as coming to earth. “May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.” Thinking of the Kingdom as, in a way, heaven on earth, sanctifies what we do now. It leads to a holiness about the tasks we involve ourselves in here. It’s not all about the future.

2. Sin. It’s bigger than just offending God’s law. It is a violation of our relationship to God, self, others, the world. Salvation is more than “getting right with God”. It’s bigger.  It’s reconciliation in a larger sense.

3. Mission of God. The new question is… what is God doing in this world that I can be a part of? I want to participate. I want to be part of the redemptive work of God.

4. Conversion. Is it about making decisions or making disciples? It is more than a single-point-in-time decision. It is ongoing. It includes decisions but is a process.

5. Gospel. Traditionally, Paul’s voice has been the voice heard “at the table”. Jesus’ voice needs to be heard as well. Jesus also preached the gospel, in Kingdom terms. So, according to McKnight, we are “gospelized”  to “missionize”, that is, to bring heaven to earth.

6. The Bible as Story. The Bible is not a puzzle. It is a story, from beginning to end.

7. Kingdom. If asked the question, “Why do you think Jesus came to earth?”, most people would answer, “To die on the cross so I could be saved and go to heaven”. But Jesus, in his own words, said that he came to “bring the Kingdom of God”, and he died to make that happen.

8. Justice. There is a renewed sense of responsibility or interest in justice…the poor, economics, peace. People want to hear about a gospel that makes a difference here on earth.

9. Israel, Kingdom, Church. The Bible is about more than God and me. God cares about other things. He is at work in other things.

10. Jesus. People today say they like Jesus but are not interested in the church. Jesus matters. People care about him. they are interested in what he had to say. Telling the story of Jesus is really all we have to offer people.

Lots to chew on. I’m still chewing, myself. A robust gospel. I like that.

Yeah! The snow is melting. Gophers and robins are making appearances, as are the snowy owls. Joy! Joy! Joy! I hope Spring is here to stay.

Okay. Just to get this out of the way. I haven’t been blogging much lately. March, as I have written about in the past, is a horrible, evil month that, among other things, saps all of my creative energy. So instead of writing I find myself engaged in such worthwhile pursuits as, say, googling child celebrities from the seventies to see what they are up to these days. But, with the flip of the calendar page, all such dilly-dallying is behind me. Productivity, here I come!

Seriously, though. There is something revitalizing about Spring.

I have a lot of things, or thoughts, or whatever, swimming around in my head these days. Where to start? Perhaps with the past weekend. Much too much for one post, though. The keynote speaker at the SERVE 2009 conference at Briercrest College and Seminary was Scot McKnight. Never heard of him before, I’m sorry to say. He has written tons of books, however, including Jesus Creed and Blue Parakeet. This is who he is, straight from the brochure:

Scot McKnight is a widely-recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. He is the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois). A popular and witty speaker, Dr. McKnight has given radio and television interviews across the nation, and he is regularly asked to speak at local churches and educational events. Dr. McKnight obtained his doctorate at the University of Nottingham (1986).

Some observations. Of mine. He spells his name with only one t. Scot, instead of Scott. It looks a little unfinished, don’t you think? I wonder if the word snot was ever part of a childhood insult? When I see the word Scott (with two t’s) I don’t think anything, but when I see it spelled Scot (with one t) I immediately think Snot. Weird.  But he has a very cool last name. McKnight. It makes me think of a medieval warrior, cross emblazoned on his shield, preparing for battle, … but stopping first at the local tavern for a quick two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun. And an ale. Super-sized. To go.

Anyway. He was an interesting guy. He talked, mainly, about a couple of things. First, he presented an argument about why 20 and 30 somethings are the way the are. Namely, that they don’t go to church as much as this age group did in the past, they are less interested in religion than they are interested in things like Social Justice, and they struggle with the concept of absolute right and wrong for all people. He attributes this, in large part,  to the “self-esteem doctrine” that they have had preached to them their entire lives. Think about it. Big Bird has been telling these kids for years that they are okay, awesome in fact, and that they can do anything they want to do. So, of course, they believe it. And why would someone who is awesome just the way he is need a Saviour, or be interested in a message that tells him he is a sinner.

Interesting. More on this next time.

In other news, we are getting ready for a little family holiday. We have tickets to attend the Walking with Dinosaurs show in Regina on April 15. Following that, we will head for Calgary where we will leave the kids with my parents for the weekend while Lyndon and I attend the Homeschool Conference in Red Deer. I am REALLY looking forward to it. Looks like lots of interesting speakers. I’ve been researching curriculum to see what I will need to purchase for next year. The level of pleasure that I get from this kind of research is, I think, an indication of my intrinsic nerdiness. Yes, I am getting excited about the possibility of teaching my kids Plutarch next year.