Introducing Crossbeams (a big kids’ building toy)

crossbeams-formulaonecar

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:
Continue reading

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

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)

physics-2nd-ed-exploring-creation-with-2-book-set
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: 8thGradePhysicsDailyPlan

(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!

Running Uphill

For The High Calling community link-up topic: How do you pursue God? One way I pursue God is by obeying Him—and when I pursue Him this way, His blessings pursue me!

How about you? Submit your own story on pursuing God by October 4!

UPDATE: This post was featured at The High Calling. Join me there.

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Over the 2009 holidays I fed my belly with lumpia, atole, chocolate cake—everything that came out of my kitchen.

I overindulged. Something had to change.

Two days after Christmas, I started running every day. We live on a hill, so those first days I ran half a block (downhill) and walked half a block (uphill), three times. Three times around the block wasn’t much.

Still, each day built on the one before. Eventually, I worked up from almost-negligible to three miles a day. I still go slowly, but I go.

A couple of years after I started running, someone close to me had hurt me. That Wednesday and Thursday, I was raging. I fed my heart with too much bitterness, resentment, hatred—everything I allowed to come out of my heart.

I overindulged in anger. Something had to change.

As I jogged that angry Wednesday I asked God my standard question that works for any circumstance: “Father, how do You want me to respond?” When I pray like this, I often get no neon sign, no immediate answer.

But this time it was immediate, in big, flashing neon:
Love her.

Impossible, I thought, feeling my upper lip wrinkle. IM-POSS-I-BLE.

Yet I chose to remember God’s works in my past. (The remembering was crucial.) I prayed out loud in faith: God, I remember years ago when I thought it was impossible to forgive Ben. But you did the impossible and helped me forgive in that relationship. I believe you can do it again, in this relationship. (I spoke these words with my vocal cords, but inside I thought, Yeah, right.)

I turned left, up Centennial Blvd (the steepest part of my running route). God brought to mind the run with endurance verses. I felt my leg muscles pushing off the pavement, steadily. There was a time, though, when I refused even to attempt that route, turning right instead of left because there was no way I could run up that hill.

extreme uphill portion
But one day I tried it, and it was hard. I repeated it every day, and the hill became not only possible but no longer difficult.

This brought new meaning to the phrase “run with endurance.” If I would try loving her just once, and build up my endurance by repeating loving acts, then rather than seeming impossible, it would actually no longer be difficult. It would eventually become easy—as Jesus said His yoke would be.

In order to “run with endurance,” I first had to … start running.

The biblical “run with endurance” doesn’t happen at the first attempt; it happens over time, when I run over and over. Running with endurance doesn’t mean I can wake up in the morning and, if I set my jaw firmly enough, I can finish any race, whether marathon or hundred-meter dash. Endurance doesn’t come instantly. Endurance has to be built up.

The transformative process is always done little by little, small obediences over and over.
– Jean Fleming

I turned to do the steep uphill in this relationship. My first act of obedience was to call her on the phone. A little later, I called her again simply to ask, “How are you?” I kept running up the hill, showing her acts of love, because my Father told me to love her.

Now, I don’t consider this a hard path. Not anymore.

———-

Photo credit: djfrantic, via Flickr Creative Commons

Don’t Touch That Stove!

A poem after Ann Voskamp’s recent tweet on bitterness:

“Holding on to bitterness is like holding a flame in your own hand and wondering why you feel burned.”
– Ann Voskamp

Don’t Touch That Stove!

You who taught your children
to keep away from the stove—
why does your own hand
reach for the burner
and even carry the very flame
that scorches your palm,
now blistering? Quick!
Run to the sink. Turn
the faucet full blast.
Open your hand
under cold running water.
Break a leaf from the aloe,
slice it lenghtwise, lay its healing
thickness, cut side down,
on your palm. Close your fingers
and press the soothing fruit
to absorb into the burn. This
is what you should hold.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
(Ephesians 4:31)

An excellent article on forgiveness by Mark D. Roberts: How Can I Forgive Someone Who Doesn’t Admit to Having Done Anything Wrong?

Photography Lesson

The following is a found poem from Jennifer Dukes Lee’s piece at (in)courage today: Light, for Your Darkest Days. (Scroll down if you want to know what a found poem is, or how to write one.)

To learn the magic of light, she said, I needed to wake before sunrise. I needed to watch how light overtakes dark.

– Jennifer Dukes Lee

Photography Lesson

To learn the magic of light, wake
before sunrise. Stumble barefoot
on gravel. Chase light before dawn

in the silky mist of valleys
where landscape yawns.
Then wait. Press

one hopeful eye against
the viewfinder and capture
the last word:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness
has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

Have you ever written a found poem? The Academy of American Poets defines it:

Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.

If you’ve never written a poem, try a found poem. It’s a gentle, fun, and easy way to dip your toes into poetry for the first time!

Related:
See more of my found poems here.