Introducing Crossbeams (a big kids’ building toy)

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You already know about my husband’s book, Through the Bible with My Child. But did you know he’s an engineer and inventor, too?

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Crossbeams is a big kids’ building toy (ages 13+). What sets Crossbeams apart? The words strong, accurate, creative, and honorable come to mind. You can read about each of these features at the product website.

Some highlights:
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The Practice of Pondering (by Jean Fleming)

The following full-length article first appeared in Discipleship Journal (a discontinued publication of NavPress). You’ll find a condensed version of this article (with Ann Voskamp’s excellent photography) at Ann’s place today. Don’t miss it!

Giuseppe Momos' double helix spiral staircase in the Vatican
by Jean Fleming

Have you ever sunballousa-ed? If not, you should try it. Our Lord’s mother, Mary, did. It characterized her life.

The word sunballousa is Greek for “placing together for comparison.” In Lk. 2:19, the word is translated “pondered.” The Amplified Bible translates Lk. 2:19 this way: “But Mary was keeping within herself all these things (sayings), weighing and pondering them in her heart.” Later in that chapter, Luke says that Mary “treasured all these things in her heart” (v. 51, emphasis mine).

What things? The words of the angel Gabriel. The words of her cousin Elizabeth. The words of the shepherds. The words of the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah. Every developing event, every new word, might yield more light to this astonishing unfolding. So she kept adding to her treasure store. She held all that was happening in a precious bundle. Over and over again, she unpacked it and spread it out on the table of her heart. Each time she would arrange the pieces anew, placing the various elements in fresh configurations. Continue reading

Sunkist Oranges

that's right..Cara Cara Oranges!

Oranges were on sale,
Cara Cara variety, Sunkist brand.

I picked up the red plastic mesh bag—
three pounds of brightness—

and set it gently in the shopping cart.
I first tasted Cara Cara oranges

in a California farmers’ market,
generous samples sliced, openly displaying

its distinctive interior, deep red flesh
attracting passersby, free for the taking,

for those who would receive their benefit.
Almost as dark as blood oranges

but intensely sweeter, Cara Cara,
grown with the sun of the California coast,

leaves its flavor lingering long
after it is gone. Sunkist Cara Cara.

Son-kissed . . . Kara . . . Kara.

***

Cynthia Bezek wrote in one of her Lenten devotionals, “It’s Sunday again—another mini-Easter”—a mini–Resurrection Day. Last Sunday, Kara Tippetts had her own resurrection day. Read Kara’s “Letter to my readers upon my death” to learn how you can continue to show love and support to the Tippetts family.

Photo credit: luvjnx, via Flickr Creative Commons.

Rocket to the Moon

This post is for The High Calling | Share Your Story: Spiritual Disciplines. Visit The High Calling for other community posts on Spiritual Disciplines.

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People don’t buy quarter-inch drill bits. They buy quarter-inch holes so they can hang their children’s pictures.

– Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Made to Stick, page 179

The Saturn V is the rocket that took the Apollo 11 lunar module “Eagle” to the moon.

Having worked two summers as an undergraduate research fellow at JPL/NASA, I can imagine what it took to make the Saturn V (pronounced “Saturn five”) a reality. Rocket scientists pulling all-nighters. Precise calculations coming from years of education and research. Tests, failures, reworked designs, more tests and tests and tests.

I can imagine myself as one of the astronauts on my way to the moon. I have practiced and studied to understand the rocket that will take me there. I know how this spacecraft works, down to every knob and meter, every strap and latch. I train in it every day, becoming more familiar with its details and mechanisms. I want to set my boots on the moon.

I love getting to know the rocket. I ride in it and know the thrill of several G’s of pull on me during liftoff and, later, the rare exhilaration of weightless space travel. But after all my astronaut’s training in the rocket, I know I want more than the rocket itself. I want the moon.

Sometimes I leave the Bible on the kitchen table all day, open to where I can read the verses on that page every time I pass by.

My Bible reading is an alternating-day habit. Every other day, I read one day of a one-year Bible reading plan. In this way I read the whole Bible about every two years.

On alternate days, I do an in-depth study of whatever book of the Bible I choose (currently 1 Samuel), taking just a few verses each day in the “manuscript Bible study” method I learned at Campus by the Sea and in CCF Bible studies.

I memorize long sections of the Bible using a memorization aid: write the first letter of each word. Then I take that paper with me on my daily walk, thus combining a spiritual discipline with a physical discipline.

I sing lyrics that glorify God and edify His Body by downloading free lead sheets from my favorite songwriters.

The words of Scripture are wonderful and exalted.

”Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.”
– Psalm 119:18

“You have exalted above all things your name and your word.”
– Psalm 138:2

But to maintain the spiritual discipline of daily Bible reading, I need to think of the Bible as the rocket. What I want even more is the moon.

My Bible reading happens before I even open the cover. How do I approach the Bible? With what heart attitude do I turn the pages? Do I read it only as an intellectual exercise and remain content with the increased head knowledge? If so, it’s just words on a page. That rocket goes nowhere.

Intimacy with God is the moon.

Another day passes. I awake at 2:30 a.m. and see the full moon out my bedroom window. I watch the moon’s descent until its smiling circumference kisses the mountain silhouette. I think of the moon as insomnia gives way to slumber, and I know that tomorrow again, I can open God’s Word. I’m not in it just for the ride—but what an awesome ride. The Word is a blast!

I want the moon, but I can’t get there without the rocket. So I turn the pages and read. The Eagle has landed.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
– Psalm 130:5

crossbeams_SaturnV

Top photo by Patricia Hunter.

Bottom photo: my son with the toy Saturn V he designed.

TheHighCalling.org Christian Blog Network

At The High Calling—Tithing: We Skimp for a Reason

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In 2009 my husband, Charles, quit his day job as a circuit design engineer to work full-time on a toy. When the toy was still in its design stages and we were living on savings, we invited a family over for dinner. My friend, also an engineer’s wife, said, “Monica, when the money starts rolling in from selling this toy, let’s talk. I’ll show you how to spend money.”

Read the rest of my article at The High Calling, where this week’s topic is tithing. Come join the discussion!

TheHighCalling.org Christian Blog Network

Featured image by SimplyDarlene

You’re Invited to a “Baby” Shower (and Giveaway)!

Diaper Cake

Last week, a blog was born. Welcome to the world, Jean Fleming: Live the Mystery!

To celebrate, I’m hosting a triple book giveaway. Three “baby shower” guests will receive one copy of a Jean Fleming book:

Pursue the Intentional Life
A Mother’s Heart
Feeding Your Soul

Thank you for coming! Enter the giveaway, and invite your friends. I can’t wait to get these books into the hands of three winners.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

For TWO EXTRA entries, subscribe to Jean Fleming: Live the Mystery (when you get there, click on the “Follow” tab on the lower right). After you’ve confirmed your e-mail subscription to Jean Fleming: Live the Mystery, let me know here in my comments and I’ll add two giveaway entries for you.

UPDATE: Congratulations to the three winners: MF, DJ, and CSR! Thanks to everyone for participating!

Baby shower cake photo credit: mnd.ctrl
via Flickr Creative Commons

People are dangerous when

they feel in danger,
threatened,
afraid.

Let them know you
are safe

and they will pose
no threat.

Reflections from Deuteronomy 2:4—

New Living Translation:
“Give these orders to the people: “You will pass through the country belonging to your relatives the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. The Edomites will feel threatened, so be careful.

English Standard Version:
“and command the people, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers, the people of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful.

New American Standard Bible:
“and command the people, saying, “You will pass through the territory of your brothers the sons of Esau who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful

King James Bible:
“And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:

Holman Christian Standard Bible:
“Command the people: You are about to travel through the territory of your brothers, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, so you must be very careful.

Daily Plan for Jay Wile’s Physics Text (Apologia)

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For high school physics, we use Jay Wile’s Exploring Creation with Physics, 2nd ed. (Apologia). If you also use that text, and if you’d like a ready-made daily plan for your physics class, feel free to use our resource (includes reading assignments and review questions):

Click for downloadable PDF: JayWilePhysicsDailyPlan

(Also posted in my Home Education Resources page)

Wishing you an energetic, enlightening physics course!

Book Review: The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp

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Ann Voskamp doesn’t start the Christmas story with a baby in a Bethlehem manger. In fact, with 25 days of readings and devotionals starting on December 1, you won’t get any New Testament readings until Day 20. Only about the last one-fifth of this entire book on Christmas comes from New Testament passages about the baby Jesus.

Perfect. Because any Christmas story that starts with Jesus’ birth is incomplete and lacking in richness. Ann gives us the whole story from the beginning, and she gives it with fullness, with thoughtfulness, with depth.

The Day 1 reading is from Isaiah 11. Day 2 is from Genesis 1, when in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Ann writes on page 12: “This Christmas story—it begins in the beginning, this love story that’s been coming for you since the beginning.”

What Christmas book highlights the Baal prophets performing for their idol? This one does, and it fits just right for the way Christmas happens in our culture, doesn’t it? Many who struggle and rush through the Christmas season would be blessed by the December 15 reading and devotional on First Kings chapter 18.

What Christmas book has us pondering the life of Esther, who used her position and risked her life to save the lives of others? Ann says on page 179, “You’ve got to use the life you’ve been given to give others life.” The December 18 section on Esther is one of my favorites in the whole book. That, and the message of God’s love consistent throughout. The book’s subtitle is well chosen: “Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas.”

Yes, this is an Advent book, perfect for the Christmas season. But you can use it as a devotional for any time, in every season. Please do.

Rituals (Guest Post for Charity Singleton Craig)

In Your Own Words

I’m delighted and honored to be a guest writer at Charity Singleton Craig: Bringing Words to Life, where you can read about my personal rituals as well as some of our family rituals.

One of my rituals is memorizing parts of the Bible. Don’t miss the link in the second-to-last paragraph (on memorizing Scripture by writing the first letter of each word)!

I invite you to join me at Charity’s website and read In Your Own Words: Monica Sharman – Rituals.

Book Review: Playdates with God, by Laura Boggess

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I play tennis with my husband once a week. I wouldn’t normally associate tennis with forgiveness, but as I swung back my racquet, or reached high for a serve, or ran to the net for a quick approach shot, my tennis lessons from Coach Bob (my coach from age 9) and Coach Karen (my college coach) came flooding my mind to dovetail with some of what I had read in the Bible over the past couple of decades. Does that sound weird—playing tennis helped me forgive and overcome bitterness?

Yet it happened; different aspects of tennis served as a metaphor for certain aspects of my spiritual life (Scripture memory, focusing on God, acknowledging sin, forgiving quickly).

Bread-making, too, has been part of my spiritual life. I’ve associated kneading bread dough not only with a particular Psalm I memorized, but also with verses in Habbakuk about rejoicing in hardship.

And again, with hiking. One summer we went on backpacking in autumn at the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and that, like the tennis and homemade bread, helped me grow in intimacy with God.

On one of these hikes I decided to start photographing flowers from behind. Did you know that the backs of flowers are just as interesting and beautiful as their fronts? As I noticed this about flowers, I thought of how God values the beauty of the hidden person. I thought of how God delights in and rewards secret acts of righteousness. It made me want to be like the back of a flower.

Laura Boggess helps me understand that when I play tennis, or make bread, or hike through the Sangres and position my camera behind a Columbine, it is a playdate with God—and these playdates doubly enhance my relationship with God. These playdates both rekindle and cultivate my love for Him to make it “the love that endures—the excitement of new love and the security of old love all twined together” (Playdates with God, page 111).

Since 2008, I’ve been reading Laura’s words. With her lyrical, tender voice, she always stirs a deep part of my inner life and makes connection with my own ponderings, struggles, longings, and celebrations. Laura’s book is new (launches today!), but her living-out of the book’s message is not new. For a long time now, she has been intent on noticing and embracing every moment as sacred. And I’m going to be one of her playmates.

The stories we tell ourselves matter. When we are able to communicate the wonder God drops into our lives, others are drawn into our story. And when our stories hold rich tales of intimate times with God, people will want to step into that bigger story of the gospel. What better story to tell than the one Jesus lived and died for? Are you letting the gospel story lead your internal narrative? Am I? Because when we do, it will change our focus. It will change our lives. When we live our story in tandem with the narrative of the gospel, God is given the place in our lives that he deserves. And spending time with him becomes the most important thing.

– Laura Boggess, Playdates with God, 123-124.

Watch the book trailer for Playdates with God!