If I Could Just Get Some Peace and Quiet Around Here!

I (through the thoughts of a 17th century Puritan, Matthew Henry) have been trying to convince you of the excellency of a meek spirit. First we considered how “creditable,” or respectable meekness is.  Next, think about the comfort of meekness. Meekness is comfortable!

Now comfort is a word that may have slightly different connotations today than it did four centuries ago. If the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word “comfort” is a thick, fuzzy blanket, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about here. I’m not talking about the endless search to be happy in which our materialistic, hedonistic culture engages. I’m talking about inward comfort. As Henry says, “What is true comfort and pleasure but a quietness in our own bosom?” There you go: when’s the last time you had a bosomful of comfort? ;)

Well, actually perhaps peace, or inward comfort, is really what our world is seeking. 1 Timothy 2:2 explains that if you want to lead a quiet life, you must lead a peaceable life. Matthew 11:29 instructs us to learn of Christ Who is meek and lowly, if we want to find rest for our souls. Philippians 4:5 and 7 connect the two thoughts that if our “moderation” is shown towards other people, God’s peace “which passeth all understanding will keep our hearts and minds.”

Matthew Henry makes some astute observations about the world’s quest for peace and quiet:

Those are most easy to themselves who are so to all about them; while they that are a burden and terror to others will not be much otherwise to themselves.

Quietness is the thing which even the busy, noisy part of the world pretend to desire and pursue….But verily they go a mad way to work, in pursuit of quietness; greatly to disquiet themselves inwardly, and put their souls into a continual hurry, only to prevent or remedy some small outward disquietude from others.

Henry even talks about the inevitable offences that may come from others and reminds of that wonderful verse Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they that love this law of love, for nothing shall offend them.” He says, “Whatever offence is intended, it is not so interpreted, and by that means peace is preserved.”

Meekness is comfortable because a meek and quiet Christian

  • enjoys himself
  • enjoys his friends
  • enjoys his God
  • and he puts it out of the reach of his enemies to disturb him in these enjoyments.

He enjoys himself.

At first when I read that thought I wondered if I were still reading a 17th century Puritan, or if someone had taken over this part of the manuscript. But no, this is not the same know-yourself-believe-in-yourself-love-yourself rigmarole that modern thought spouts. Matthew Henry is saying that if your thoughts are calm and rational, your emotions are serene, and your soul is composed in Christ, then you will be free from anger’s effects:

How free from the pains and tortures of an angry man, who is disseized and dispossessed even of himself, and while he toils and vexes to make other things his own, makes his own soul not so: his reason is in a mist, confounded and bewildered, cannot argue, infer, or foresee with any certainty. His affections are on the full speed, hurried on with an impetus which is as uneasy as it is hazardous.

Those who are worried or passionate don’t sleep well, getting up early and staying up late, and they eat too much or too little, being unsatisfied. But the meek “delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalm 37:11 Again, meekness helps one to be inwardly comfortable, or to find inward peace, and in that sense, to enjoy oneself.

He enjoys his friends. “And that is a thing in which lies much of the comfort of human life.”

God created us to be social, especially Christians. We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together so that we can provoke one another to good works and to encourage one another. “But the angry man is unfit to be so, that takes fire at every provocation.”

Meekness preserves unity amongst fellow Christians, so that distances and awkward feelings, fights and disputes, are happily prevented, and even the beginnings of quarrels are crushed with attention and care. “How necessary to true friendship it is to surrender our passions, and to subject them all to the laws of it, was intimated, perhaps, by Jonathan’s delivery to David his sword and his bow and his girdle, all his military habiliments, when he entered into a covenant of friendship with him.”

He enjoys his God.

And that is the most comfortable of all.

We enjoy God when we have the evidences and the assurances of His favor, the tastes and tokens of His love, when we experience in ourselves the communication of His grace, and the continued instances of His images stamped upon us, and those that are most meek and quiet have usually the greatest degree of this.

The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” ~Isaiah 24:19

And it is not in the power of his enemies to disturb and interrupt him in these enjoyments.

Remember David as he’s running away from the civil war begun in Israel by his proud son Absalom. Shimei stands near the road to curse David and rain down insult upon injury, rubbing salt in the wounds. But David by his meekness kept his peace, and Shimei was unable to hurt him. “So let him curse,” David said.

So that, upon the whole matter, it appears that the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is as easy [comfortable] as it is comely.”

Meekness


This is my attempt to rephrase Matthew Henry’s book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.


 

Come link up to:

Come link up or read encouraging and thoughtful posts at these blogs

We would love for you to link up any “thoughtful” posts that you have written!
Here are the rules for this linky:

  1. The thoughtful topics for your posts could be related to but not limited to the following topics:
    • homemaking
    • homeschooling
    • devotional or Biblical posts
    • Christian in nature
    • family/marriage
    • inspirational*
  2. Do NOT link up recipes, reviews, giveaways, diy, or crafts
  3. Link up to three posts!
  4. We would love it if you visited a couple other posts and left a comment or shared/pinned the post!
  5. We would love if you followed your hosts on some form of social media, but this is not required. Our hope is that these posts will be encouraging, uplifting, and a source of good reading for you.
  6. If you link up, we would love if you put this button somewhere on your blog (sidebar, post, or party page) or provide a text link so that others can also find these great posts.
Creative K Kids
<div align="center"><a href="http://creativekkids.com" title="Creative K Kids"><img src="http://creativekkids.com/Thoughtful Thursdays 150.jpg" alt="Creative K Kids" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Posted in Thoughtful Thursday | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Hangin’ Out at the Tech Store with Dad

IMG_2017

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Farther Than Timbuktu

Our winter cuddle times are almost over. The warm spring is here!

Our winter cuddle times are almost over. The warm spring is here!

This week we studied the medieval history of Africa and the kingdoms that made Africa “heard-of” to Europeans of the time. The kingdoms of Songhay, Ghana, and Mali caused Africa to not seem as “dark” of a continent as it was labeled, as they became famous for their wealth in gold and salt. Timbuktu was the most well-known African city from this time.

The boys were disappointed that the history of South Africa or the countries south of the Saharan Desert is still dark to us, because the desert as well as jungles and mountains made it difficult to venture further into Africa. I told them more exploration into the interior would be done by a famous missionary, David Livingstone. I am often reminded during our studies of how much Christianity has changed the world. I hope our work here will help to make Africa less dark as well.

We played the “Salt and Gold: Fast Tax” game, in which the kids had to trade two pieces of salt or gold from one end of the house to the other. They could go the fast way by me (in the middle) and pay taxes (one piece) for the right to pass me, or they could go all the way around the house to avoid the tax. They lost points based on how much salt and gold they had at the end, and added points for every 20 seconds they took to finish their trades. The goal was to end with as few points as possible. It was a living example to all of us of the old adage, “Time is money!” The game also proved how Ghana became rich, because it was better to pay the taxes and save travel time than to run all the way around the house to save paying taxes on the cargo. Unfortunately I have no pictures of that because I was very busy collecting taxes and alternately scolding and encouraging two toddlers who wanted to be part of a game they couldn’t understand.

In science we finished a chapter on mollusks, which in my opinion, was solely interesting for its helpfulness in differentiating between shells you might find on the beach. We did an “experiment” on resonance, blowing across the mouthpieces of different bottles to make tones (to show how the air vibrates inside shells, which causes people to “hear the ocean”); but we didn’t have enough of the right kinds of bottles. Only one bottle made a pitch, so we experimented with filling it to different levels with water to hear the pitch change.

IMG_2342

Caleb is reading The Whipping Boy right now, a personal favorite of mine. It is a higher reading level than I expected when I first picked it based on its pictures, font size, and size of the book: the language is a bit difficult, and some of the nuances he doesn’t quite understand. But we’re going slowly and with my help, he’s really enjoying the story of Prince Brat and Jemmy, his whipping boy.

IMG_2348Colin is beginning his last set of readers for kindergarten, and I’m happy with how he’s progressing in phonics. Handwriting is his nemesis. I reward him with bits of candy for each well-written word, and if he is not done with his handwriting page in 15 minutes, he gets no candy. That has helped a lot with his focus, if not his neatness! Today we laughed at him when I asked him, “Colin, what are you doing? Get to work!” He replied, “I had to stop and yawn.”

Callie and I play with “Letter of the Week” stuff when she wants. She can be independent but seems to like most of the little games. She doesn’t show much retention of the letters.

Our greatest joy is to hear that our children walk in truth, but a close runner-up is to hear that our parents are flying to Africa for a visit! In a few weeks, Seth’s dad is coming for a visit; and just last week we got the news that my parents may try a visit next year sometime. When we live farther than Timbuktu, that’s very exciting news! Come on over!_DSC3398

Posted in Weekly Report | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughtful Thursday link-up

I’ll get back soon to my attempt to rephrase Matthew Henry’s book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. For this week, I posted a review of homeschool curriculum Spelling Workout on Tuesday. So here’s the link-up below for anyone who wants to post their ponderings. :)


Come link up to:

Come link up or read encouraging and thoughtful posts at these blogs

We would love for you to link  up any “thoughtful” posts that you have written!
Here are the rules for this linky:

  1. The thoughtful topics for your posts could be related to but not limited to the following topics:
    • homemaking
    • homeschooling
    • devotional or Biblical posts
    • Christian in nature
    • family/marriage
    • inspirational*
  2. Do NOT link up recipes, reviews, giveaways, diy, or crafts
  3. Link up to three posts!
  4. We would love it if you visited a couple other posts and left a comment or shared/pinned the post!
  5. We would love if you followed your hosts on some form of social media, but this is not required.   Our hope is that these posts will be encouraging, uplifting, and a source of good reading for you.
  6. If you link up, we would love if you put this button somewhere on your blog (sidebar, post, or party page) or provide a text link so that others can also find these great posts.
Creative K Kids
<div align="center"><a href="http://creativekkids.com" title="Creative K Kids"><img src="http://creativekkids.com/Thoughtful Thursdays 150.jpg" alt="Creative K Kids" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Posted in Thoughtful Thursday | Tagged | Leave a comment

Found a Hotel for You When You Visit

IMG_2033

You have to see this sign right by our house. The formatting and spelling give us a chuckle. And the “hourly rate” turns our stomach.

Akaya Estate

Daily Accomodation

…. feels like home….

Akayaestate provide a clean. comfo

rtable and equippedroomswith

flat screens tv. microwaves. fridge

sand showers with hot water.

Anyone want a sand shower? :D

Posted in Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Spelling Workout ~ Spelling Comparison

The plethora of curricula available to homeschoolers today is dizzying. While wading through the options and recommendations, I eventually made charts of my top three to four choices for history, math, grammar, writing, and spelling to narrow them down. I thought I’d share my research with you. I hope it helps save someone else time!

Some of the curricula that I’m reviewing I have not seen in person or used. The thoughts shared here are my own personal thoughts based on what I’ve read. I noted price, description, and what I perceived to be the weaknesses and strengths of a curriculum based on our philosophy of education, users’ reviews, and practical aspects of our family.

If you are researching curricula, Cathy Duffy’s site is helpful to succinctly describe how a specific curriculum works. For actual user’s reviews, look on The Well-Trained Mind forums or Homeschool Reviews.


Based on my personal history and having read The Well-Trained Mind, I began my search into spelling curricula with these four choices: ABeka Homeschool (ABB), Rod & Staff Spelling, Spelling Workout, Spelling Power, and an internet program called wizardsSPELL, which I cannot find anywhere on the internet anymore, so apparently that’s not an option anymore! (I did find this, but I don’t think that’s what I researched a few years ago.) :P Since then, I’ve also researched Phonetic Zoo and All About Spelling, which I’m currently using.

Spelling WorkoutIn my short homeschooling career, I have used ABeka’s 1st grade spelling and All About Spelling; I have also purchased Spelling Power and Rod & Staff Spelling. Yikes! So today in true-to-Amy form, I’m starting with the program I know the least about (personally): Spelling Workout.

Description:

Again, since I haven’t used this program, Cathy Duffy was very helpful: “There is a student workbook and teacher’s edition for each level. Teacher’s editions are most useful for sample sentences to be used in pre- and post-tests. They include reduced pictures of student pages with answers overprinted. Students past the first few grades should be able to work through lessons on their own, so this is a good choice for a program students can use independently. Spelling Workout correlates with MCP’s Plaid Phonics program, but can be used apart from the other.

“Spelling Workout has all the components you need to lead students from simple sound-letter relationships to more complex spelling patterns. Students learn spelling skills based on phonics through unique, cross-curricular reading passages, practice, and high-interest writing activities. Packed with flexible lessons, motivating activites, including fun riddles and puzzles, this dynamic program leads students to spelling success!”

The Teacher’s Edition: Provides detailed lesson plans for either a 3- or 5-day plan. Offers strategy activities for reinforcing and analyzing spelling patterns. Includes Dictation Sentences for a Pretest and Final Replay Test. Suggests tips for meeting the needs of English learners. Features Take-It Home masters to help foster home involvement. Follows the scope and sequence of MCP “Plaid” Phonics.

“The weakness…is that the unaltered Spelling Workout 2002 de-emphasizes memory work. Lesson exercises do not specifically ask the students to spell the words or repeat the phonics rule from memory. On the contrary, the answers to the exercises (the list of correctly spelled words) are found on each page of the exercises. Only the tests ask the students to spell the words from memory; the phonics and spelling rules are not even tested at all. The level of phonics in the spelling rules is far from in-depth. This is a weakness when helping students who are struggling spellers, who often benefit from careful and detailed study of phonics.

Strengths: 

  • Top pick in the Well-Trained Mind and by Cathy Duffy thru 7th or 8th grade. (Actually, Cathy Duffy no longer lists it as a Top Pick.)
  • Primary levels have a strong phonics base; learn the rules of spelling; upper shift toward word origins (Latin and Greek, giving foundation for Vocabulary from Classical Roots) and vocab.
  • After the lower grades, student can work independently.

Weaknesses:  

  • Secular.
  • Have to buy teacher and student books for just a spelling course.
  • Many teachers report that it is too easy for bright students, but does little to help struggling students.
  • Whether they do well on the tests or not, students seem to not retain the material well.

Comments or Modifications:

Also, the reading passages and dictation sentences contain some words that are more advanced than the spelling words, sometimes a cause of frustration for pupils. One recommendation from homeschoolers, is to move through the lessons faster, thus completing 1½-2 books in just one year.

Many teachers compensate for the weaknesses by assigning extra activities such as spelling bees, midweek quizzes, and extra copy work for missed words. These teachers often test spelling students on the rules themselves, which they are supposed to be able to explain and point out the use of, if not quote from memory.

Spelling teachers handle the advanced words in reading and dictation in various ways. Some use the words as weekly bonus words; some edit the higher level words from the dictation, and read the passage along with their spelling student to help with difficult pronunciation. All that said, Spelling Workout receives warm recommendations from many teachers, who say their students loved learning from it.

My personal thoughts:

The Well-Trained Mind makes Spelling Workout sound like the best program. She recommends keeping a spelling notebook along with it, with the child copying each spelling rule for the week into a list of rules. After reading several users’ reviews here at Homeschool Reviews and here on the WTM forums, I decided not to go with Spelling Workout. The biggest reason is for this weakness mentioned above: “Many teachers report that it is too easy for bright students, but does little to help struggling students.”

In my humble opinion, Susan Wise Bauer, author of TWTM, was a very bright cookie. I also picked up on reading and spelling naturally and quickly as a small child. I think people like Bauer and me (haha, do you like how I put myself on her level so easily?) don’t “get” people who aren’t natural spellers.

From the research I’ve done, it seems that natural spellers could use any spelling program, and actually would probably only need homemade lists of the words they misspell along with a basic knowledge of spelling rules from a spelling resource book. Struggling spellers, on the other hand, will need a more teacher-intensive program. Spelling Workout then, wouldn’t fit either case well, unless you simply want something independent for your natural speller to work through to make you feel good as a mom-teacher that your child is “doing spelling.”

Price:

Graded Spelling Workout Homeschool Bundles from Christianbook.com (including teacher’s edition and student workbook) range from $17.99 to $18.49.

Have fun shopping!

Posted in Trivium Tuesday | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Ethical Difficulties on the Mission Field

Here’s our recent prayer letter. We love to share the ethical “dilemmas” we come up against in our ministry here. Well, “dilemma” might be too strong of a word for most of these situations. But it is always interesting to get responses back from people who read the letter and send their humble opinions. What is most interesting and humorous is when two people respond dogmatically on opposite sides of the same issue!


In July 2011, I sent out a list of difficult ethical situations our team has experienced. Another list came along in July 2012, but last year I took a break while we were in the US. The world has not gotten easier in the last two years so here are another ten conundrums that commonly confront us.

1. Should I show frustration with incompetence?

If I’m purchasing at a shop and the employee is amazingly slow to help, is it justified to express that we are busy and would appreciate prompt service in exchange for our money? Would that communicate a Christian work ethic and personal responsibility or would it be one more example of American impatience?

  1. Should I sit with my wife and children in church even though many churches separate the men and women?

Traditionally, Africans do not mix the sexes at church and maybe at other public gatherings too. Should we be like them to win them, or is there some distinctly Christian virtue in a man sitting with his family? And this goes for dinner too. Most Africans do not eat their meals as a family: Must we teach them to do so?

  1. Should I spank village children?

On an average afternoon in the sunshine about 5-15 village children can be found playing in our yard. Once a 9-year old went home and brought a knife back because he and another boy had been fighting. He does not have a father living at home and probably will not get any discipline from the adults in his life. Should I discipline him so that he learns not to brandish weapons? What about the other little boy who stole our children’s toys (no dad there either)?

  1. Should I allow children to return to our yard if they have not been punished?

And when the children come to play on our grass, we have to decide whom to admit. Should we allow kids to return if they have done wrong but have not yet been punished? What about the younger brothers of our teenager neighbor who has repeatedly stolen from us? When he broke in he used some small boys to fit through our window. Was it them?

  1. Should I use loud speakers if that is what the culture wants?

Large speakers are used to amplify both speaking voices and music as a call to the village to signal that a social event is opened to the public. But they also are commonly found in parties where the purpose is entertainment or at churches where the purpose is to put on a show. Should we buy a set of 6-foot woofers to attract people to the church?

  1. Should I ever encourage someone to pay a bribe?

If a police officer pulls me over and asks, “Now what can we do because of your speed?” Is it always wrong to give him money so that you can go on your way? What about customs officials? And the situation is more complicated when we think of some of our Zimbabwean friends who have slender bank accounts. Could they pay an official to get through?

  1. Should I use a literal translation that is difficult to understand or a thought-for-thought translation that sometimes oversimplifies theological discourses?

Tsonga has two translations. The first from 1907, revised in 1929, is more literal than the recent 1989 Good News Bible. The modern is generally easier to understand, but is also looser than the earlier translation. The earlier translation has many words that no one knows; and just remember, the education level is low, and very few people have dictionaries. Both translation employ the same Greek text. Which one should I use? Or both?

  1. Should I rebuke unconverted people for sinful behavior?

I am returning from preaching at an evening Bible study as I walk on the road by my house. Two young people in the dark are preparing for sin near the corner as I near home. Should I rebuke them to have a moralizing effect on the community? Or should I ignore them because they are only doing what sinners do? After all, if they stopped that particular sin, it wouldn’t save them. Yet how can we be indifferent to blatant violations of God’s law?

  1. Should I open civil functions in prayer if the society is nominally Christian?

They don’t care about my gospel, but they are as one writer says, “incurably religious.” So they ask me to open their children’s graduation from kindergarten with prayer. Does that open a door for the gospel, or does it sanction their own baseless claims to being Christian?

10. Should I feel obligated to stay in a place because of the investment of time and money?

Many villages need the gospel and ours has not been overwhelming in its response to our ministry. Should we stay here because we’ve put so much money into our house? Or because seeds take time to grow into trees with fruit? Or are we nearing the time to shake the dust off of our feet? It is difficult to know when we should endure all things for the elect’s sake and when we should preach the gospel where Christ has not yet been named.

Hopefully, these scenarios will inspire godly conversation and fervent prayer. Remember us with the words of Paul to the Philippians: “I pray that you would overflow with discerning love so that you will know what is right in any situation.” We would enjoy hearing from you if the mood betakes you to hit “reply.”

With Mind and Heart,

Seth and Amy Meyers

Posted in Missional Monday | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment