Book Club

Book Club makes me happy. Hubby teases me by calling it wine club, but really? It’s about women from various walks of life getting together and talking about ideas outside of the day-to-day. 

This month we read “Serpent in Eden,” a true crime story about the murder of Sir Harry Oakes. The appeal? It is set in Nassau in the 40s and gives a great glimpse of the social / historical settin of things I see every day. 

Book club makes me a little bit happier. So does the wine. 

Palm Trees and the Trinity


“You know the palm tree in the fairy garden that has three trunks? It’s kind of like the Trinity. It’s one tree, but three.” – A4


“Education is the Science of Relations”; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of–

“Those first-born affinities
“That fit our new existence to existing things.”

Charlotte Mason





Sugar as a “Shadow Comfort”

My dear friend Anne wrote,

“I’m noting times when I would, before, have eaten in order to help myself. Times of fatigue, stress, Vitaliy being gone, emotional fatiuge or frustration, boredom … and I’m finding other ways to comfort and strengthen and busy myself that don’t involve food. It’s a good thing. When I want to eat for no good reason, I remind myself that I love how my clothes fit and how my body looks, and that’s worth more to me than this temporary, often non-physical craving to eat.”

It prompted me to share a bit about the past year.

I listened to Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” via audio book  a few months ago. One of the things she talks about is “shadow comforts.” I thought that was such a good way to consider the things I turn to during stress/anxiety instead of the Lord.

This past year was a challenging one. I was feeding my body/soul the “shadow comforts” of coffee (with lots of milk and sugar!) and wine. My body and hormonal system does not like being fueled by simple sugars. My soul needed more. (And, yes, I was seeking the Lord — but me immediate impulse when stressed was the sugar/coffee)

I feel “weak” to be self-disciplined alone. Last month Hubby and I together made some eating changes and movement changes. (He’s been changing a lot since he went to the Cleveland Clinic in March.)

For me, I had to quit coffee cold turkey — it was too much of a draw. Hubby and I go out for a coffee date after church (a celebration of the Sabbath!) That was good for the first month.

This past week I was trying to see if I can moderate with my coffee consumption — just cafe au lait or a latte, no sugar. Honestly, I think I still need to abstain. (Check out  Gretchen Rubin on habits and abstaining.)  I’ve made several poor choices (with regard to stress/sugar) this week, and I think I need to just keep my mind away from that.

I’ve had more thoughts about the “shadow comforts” and the Lord. . .  During some of these ponderings we sung “Abide with Me” in church.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I wish Anne was here or I was in Ukraine have coffee (no sugar!) and chat.

Key to Less Stress?

Friends, it’s a new personal record. Fourth time in a year to lock my keys in the car. This time, it’s still running. With a full tank. 
Ironically, earlier today I was thinking about how long it has been since I did that, and it must be related to my lower stress and anxiety. 


(Thankfully, we can easily get a duplicate here, unlike Ukraine. Unfortunately, one of my sons had made key-breaking skillz, so my duplicate doesn’t work and I have to call roadside assist. Again. The guy knows me well.)

Meditation on Christ’s Bounties Towards Us (Calvin)

“Every good thing we could think or desire is to be found
in this same Jesus Christ alone.

For, he was sold, to buy us back;
captive, to deliver us;
condemned, to absolve us;

he was made a curse for our blessing,
sin offering for our righteousness;
marred that we may be made fair;

he died for our life;

so that by him
fury is made gentle,
wrath appeased,
darkness turned into light,
fear reassured,
despisal despised,

debt canceled,
labor lightened,
sadness made merry,
misfortune made fortunate,
difficulty easy,
disorder ordered,

division united,
ignominy ennobled,
rebellion subjected,
intimidation intimidated,

ambush uncovered,
assaults assailed,
force forced back,
combat combated,
war warred against,

vengeance avenged,
torment tormented,
damnation damned,
the abyss sunk into the abyss,
hell transfixed,
death dead,
mortality made immortal.

In short,
mercy has swallowed up all misery,
and goodness all misfortune.


I read this today and it draws me to prayer, meditation, and rejoicing in Christ’s bounties towards us.  Have a peaceful sabbath of worship and rest.



(HT: Matthew Sims, Justin Taylor)

Nature Study: Seussical Fruit


So much of the flora here reminds me of a Dr. Seuss book. I’ll update once we figure out what this is!

ETA: Thanks to a friend who used to live in Thailand, I’m pretty sure this is part of the Screw Pine / Screw Palm family — most likely Pandanus utilis.

Eat the Weeds is a cool site, which I’ve referenced frequently since moving here.  Like in Ukraine, people in Bahamas forage quite a bit.  The other day dropping off a friend at the airport, I saw a woman picking a couple of coco plums in the parking lot and popping them in her mouth on her walk to her car.

Holiness: Relational and Ethical

Exalt the Lord our God;

worship at his footstool!

Holy is he!

Themes of God’s holiness have been recurring in my Bible reading lately.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. 

Holy is he!

The Lord our God is holy.

While meditating on Psalm 99 today, I wondered whether I was just assuming I knew what God’s holiness is.  I remembered that Louis Berkhof had a great section on the attributes of God in his Systematic Theology (free, here!)

Intuitively, I consider holiness as something that refers to God being completely Other, and so I was surprised to see that Berkhof places that in the category of God’s communicable attributes.

Communicable attributes are aspects of God which He can pass along to us, as humans — such as spirituality, knowledge, morality, grace and mercy. Incommunicable attributes are aspects that are wholly God and can not be exhibited in us — such as God being an absolute being, self-sufficient, unchangeable, infinite, perfect.

Berkhof talks about the nature of God’s holiness having both a relational aspect and an ethical aspect.  Relationally, God is wholly distinct from us — His infinite majesty reinforces to us our creatureliness.  He is our Creator, we are His beloved created.

“The numinous” is how this Berkhof (citing German theologian Rudolf Otto) describes this aspect of God’s holiness:

“It is this holiness of God…“the numinous,” [is] part of the non-rational in God, which cannot be thought of conceptually, and which includes such ideas as “absolute unapproachability” and “absolute overpoweringness” or “aweful majesty.” It awakens in man a sense of absolute nothingness, a “creature-consciousness” or “creature-feeling,” leading to absolute self-abasement. ”

You may be familiar with the idea of “the numinous” from the writings of C. S. Lewis, and experienced something like what he described in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:”

“None of the children knew who Aslan was . . . but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning . . . so beautiful that you remember it all your life.


In addition to the relational aspect of holiness, holiness is an ethical attribute of God.  As revealed in the Bible, God is completely unassociated with any sin and is completely filled with moral excellence.  Berkhof defines this ethical holiness as “that perfection of God, in virtue of which He eternally wills and maintains his own moral excellence, abhors sin, and demands purity in his moral creatures.”

I know that I understand (and can understand!) God’s holiness only in part.  My mind and heart are finite, and God’s holiness is infinite.  Yet as get glimpses of God’s holiness in Scripture and in commentaries, my heart is drawn to worship and continued meditation.

Holy is he!



In Remembrance of Hana Williams

Hana Williams, Kidane Mehret
Hana Williams, 1997-2011

It’s been five years since the death of Hana (Alemu) Williams.

In the past five years, the media has not reported on any deaths linked to “To Train Up A Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl.

Still, I hear people recommending this resource to new parents — though more hush-hush than before.

We mourn.  Mourn the lives of Sean, Lydia, and Hana.  Mourn the children harmed by their parents, influenced by the Pearls.  Mourn for the lost innocence of the children and church alike.

I have posted little on the blog this year beyond mourning.  It’s been a hard year plus for our family.  Yet we are here, together. . . alive and loving. . . struggling and healing. . .

I’m thankful for that.

And still my heart is pulled to weep with those who weep, to remember those who are gone.

God, have mercy.




In Remembrance of Sean Paddock

Sean Paddock, 2001 – 2006
Sean Paddock, 2001 – 2006

It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since the news of Sean Paddock’s death rocked my world.

Ten years.

We had been back in the U.S. for just under a year. God had already worked on my heart in ways that changed my attitude and actions towards my children. I understood the conventional wisdom about the rightness of spanking was  a cultural value more than something mandated in the Bible.

And then Sean Paddock died.

Died of child abuse.  Died at the hands of his adoptive parents. Died a young four-year-old boy, acting simply as four-year-old boys act.


Why did his mother, who some say always wanted to do the “right” thing, abuse her child to death?  Part of the legal defense points to her own abuse as a child.  Part of the legal defense and the investigation point to the influence of Michael and Debi Pearl and their book, “To Train Up A Child.”

Within many churches and home school circles, copies of this self-published book was handed out to every new parent by others who bought it at great discount by the case. I read it in the early ’90s, while babysitting for a lovely family.  Just enough sounds good or Biblical–build relationships, “tie heart-strings,” nurture your children–and just enough Bible references are scattered throughout, that many parents have bought in to its harmful teachings.

Then Sean Paddock died.  Slowly the few voices that had warned about the extremism of the Pearls’ teachings grew.  I thought it would shock enough Christians that churches as a whole would stop promoting these teachings.  But not everyone was listening. . .

Then Lydia Schatz died.

Then Hana Williams died.

And, honestly, I know there are many hundreds or thousands more who have been abused at the hands of their well-intentioned, loving and Christian parents.  Perhaps others have died from the abuse, but the connection has not been made to TTUAC by the media.

Still some parents are lured by the promises of Michael and Debi Pearl of instant obedience and fewer spankings, charmed by their folksy common-sense stories, and deceived by their shiny website with faces of happy families.  Some are not only sucked into their false teachings, but promote them actively to others.

Stop a moment.

Digest that.

Three children died of abuse at the hands of their Christian, adoptive parents.

And people STILL defend “To Train Up a Child” and the Pearls.


God have mercy.

February will always be a month for me to remember. I believe we all need to mourn these little ones and warn other parents.

““Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.””

Mark 10:14-16

More about Sean:
State vs. Paddock

More about the Pearls:
Heart of Wisdom
Why Not Train A Child?