Saturday, July 31, 2010

Arming with prayer...

This, Gentle reader, is a beautiful baby arm belonging to the child affectionately known as Mini-Finni.  He or she is between 31 and 32 weeks of gestation right now, and is beginning to seriously want to make an entrance into this world. We can't wait to meet him or her, but would much rather he or she stayed put for several more weeks!  Please pray for this little one to stay put, and for his or her Mama and Papa to trust that God planned every detail of this little one's life before the foundations of the world were laid, and to know that they can trust Him with this baby's entrance and exit from this world, and all the times before and in-between.  Thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A sonnet for your spouse...

I am cleaning and organizing my desk-- a task that has not been done since we moved into this house, lo, more than 6 years ago.  That is a frightening proposition, but with digging through piles and file folders, comes fruit.  I ran across some writings by my children.  And being fresh off of my anniversary celebration, I thought I would share one of my eldest son's lovely poems. God has given him a gift with words!

A Sonnet for my Wife by Ben Finnegan

How can I start, with what sincerest words
should I presume to some humility
or sadly boast of all my faults and failures,
or maybe calmly raise the possibility
that mine are not the hands that I would wish
to feel your fragile faith or touch your trust,
that I am fallen, broken, a work unfinished
shaped by shameful sins and lowly lusts?

While I am earthware, dust and gilded wire,
my frame and substance all corruption, you
lift your eyes and pray refining fire
because your love for me is pure and true.
You are the clay the same as i, but bold,
bravely, humbly daring to be gold.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How God built and wired us...

Today I attended several lectures at Veritas Press' Teacher's Training Conference. At the end of a long day of computer time, I am amazed at how God wonderfully made us as men and women.  I am amazed that the basic strategy for teaching art well and to the nature of our students is the same as teaching music, or English composition, or any other discipline area.  You figure out the God-given grammar of the subject, and train students with increasing skill and discernment, by looking at what masters in that discipline have done before us, to use that grammar in the building of something beautiful.  It is the way God built and wired us to learn.  And it is why I think classical Christian education, which builds on a long history of this approach to learning, is the best way to go.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The year of adventure continues...

Since my husband declared this our "year of living adventurous lives for Christ", God has provided opportunity aplenty.  Dave began a new project at work (which he can't tell us about or he would have to shoot us-- but he is keeping the world safe for democracy somehow) and now it looks as if I will be starting a new part-time job as well.  More details will be coming on that as it becomes appropriate to share, but I am amazed at God's perfect timing, and at the way He works all things for my good and his glory, even in the mundane details of life!  This morning in my quiet time, I read the following verses from Isaiah 43:
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,
   he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
   I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
 when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
   and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
~Isaiah 43: 1-3
 That seems like a pretty safe place from which to launch an adventure, doesn't it? May your adventures, Gentle Reader, be rooted in the sure foundation of such a God.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The God of sanctification...

There are times in our lives when it seems many things are ending: our children are growing up and leaving, our relationships with family and friends are shifting, ministries we love come to a close. But God never leaves us there. Those times give way to times of new beginnings: new children or grandchildren, new friends, new ministry.

He is a God of sanctification. He moves and shapes us in mysterious ways, and while there are mountains and valleys on that road, the general progress is upward, closer to Him. I am so grateful that He doesn't let me stay in the places where I'm comfortable. He molds me and shapes me, and makes me more and more into the image and reflection of His own dear Son. How is that for amazing?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sundays with Jean

On the topic of "Patient Perseverance in Prayer", Jean says this:

If, with minds composed to obedience, we allow ourselves to be ruled by the laws of divine providence, we shall easily learn to persevere in prayer and, with desires suspended, patiently to wait for the Lord. Then we shall be sure that, even though he does not appear, he is always present to us, and will in his own time declare how he has never had ears deaf to the prayers that in men's eyes seem to be neglected...
~Jean Calvin, Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 Volume Set) III. 20.51
I long for the day when God makes clear how he heard and answered prayer that seems neglected.  I love the thought of those martyr before the throne who call out, "How long?" being told exactly how long, and why. It's a comfort in these days to remember that we serve a God who is wise, and knows the end from the beginning!

I am God, and there is no other;
   I am God, and there is none like me,
  declaring the end from the beginning
   and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
   and I will accomplish all my purpose...'
~Isaiah 46:9-10

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Butterfly in the rain...

Last night dh and I went to Madame Butterfly at the Santa Fe Opera. As per our usual M.O., we planned a lovely al fresco dinner to have as a tail-gate picnic. For those of you who don't know, tail-gating at the opera is a real trip!  people arrive a couple of hours before the performance begins, and put up tables with linen and crystal, and serve things like sushi and lobster.  We usually have something a bit simpler, but try to make it nice. It is always fun to watch people, watch the sunset over the Jemez Mountains to the west, and just enjoy a leisurely meal while anticipating an excellent musical experience.

Last night, however, as we drove down to Santa Fe, it began not just to rain, but to pour.  And it continued for three hours at least (which is quite unusual for us in the high-plains desert!  So, our picnic ended up being inside the car.

While it wasn't exactly what we had planned, it was a pleasant adventure to be cozy in our car, safe from the elements, and enjoying time and good food together. And all around us, the other tail-gaters were tail-gating.

The most serious of these had brought tarps to put up in the parking lot and provide shelter.  The most entertaining were the groups who had come to eat together, and were in separate cars, each with a little part of their collective dinner.  We watched them cover with umbrellas, shawls, coats, blankets, shirts and run car-to-car with the wine bottle or the bread or the pesto. It was hilarious.

And once inside, the music was sublime Puccini: an Italian opera about a Japanese and American tragedy, set to thick, rich orchestration and soaring melodies.  Kelly Kaduce and Brandon Javanovich had the lush voices needed, and sang beautifully and with strength and stamina.  The fog rolling in and misting the whole house was an added enhancement to the atmosphere of the tragedy.  If you have never seen a good production of Butterfly, watch the most recent movie version-- it is beautiful.

The only part of the evening I would have changed was the wet, clammy shoes I had to endure.  Mental note to self: always wear quick-drying footwear to the Santa Fe opera.

What a lovely night!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How does my garden grow?

It grows well!

We are enjoying lettuce and green beans and zucchini in abundance, and have enjoyed many garden peas and snap peas. And the tomato plants are covered with green tomatoes, so the promise of bounty is present there.  And the first batch of beets was picked last night. God is gracious in His bounty to us!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Anniversary trip...

My sweet husband and I drove up to Colorado last Thursday to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. God blessed us on our way to Colorado Springs the first evening with a glorious Colorado sunset. And on Friday, we drove east, along the cities west of Denver and east of the front-range of the Rockies.  We drove up Mount Lookout outside of Golden, and enjoyed the views. (Notice the hang-glider?)

We drove up through Golden to Longmont, then on to Fort Collins on Friday.

On Saturday, we enjoyed some of the parks and trails around Fort Collins, and in the evening, visited the Old Town area.  it is a lovely city.  And the next time we visit, we are taking our bikes!  I have never seen such a bike-friendly place!

On Sunday, we enjoyed worship with an OPC congregation, and then headed out through Loveland and Big Thomson Canyon to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. It is such a glorious place: one cannot help but praise our Creator God for creating such majesty and beauty!

On Monday, we returned home via shopping and lunch in Colorado Springs and dinner in Taos. It was a lovely trip, and a wonderful time of celebration.  God is so good to me-- and Dave spoils me so!

Look for more photos tomorrow...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A few more nostalgic photos...

Here I am with my sister, Jeni, the morning before my wedding on July 19, 1980, in Loveland, Ohio.

These are the nervous moments before the wedding., with two of my best friends from high school, Marla Shoemaker and Maureen McHugh.

Here is the whole wedding party: my sisters Annie, Wendy and Jeni, Marla Shoemaker, me and Dave, Randy Greenwald, Dave's brother Jon Finnegan, and Dave's college friend Mike Pulsey.

Marla and Randy played an important role in our courtship, and helped sway Dave in my favor!

Annie, Wendy and Mike afterwards in the receiving line.

My brother, Jeff, read one of the scripture passages for us.

My youngest brother, Matt, read the other scripture passage.  he had to use a step-stool to be seen over the podium!

Here is Adria Greenwald, who now has her own baby about this size!

Happy anniversary, Mr. Finnegan!

30 years ago on Monday, July 19th, I will have been married to my dear husband for 30 years.  He was my best friend then, and is my best friend still.  I was never so sure of a decision as I was that marrying him was the right and best thing to do.  And in 30 years, I have never, even once, regretted that decision.

That doesn't mean it has always been easy. We are sinners, living in a fallen world.  Stuff happens.  We hurt and disappoint each other. And love actually means you OUGHT to say you are sorry sometimes.  It means living in the light of repentance and forgiveness. Without that, a couple would not make it 30 days, much less 30 years.

I often feel that I am Dave's "cross to bear".  And he does so with such grace and kindness. Thank you, dear, for the many years of friendship and love you have so freely and lavishly bestowed upon me, despite my faults and failings and shortcomings.  Thank you for your faithfulness in daily deciding to love me.

Happy anniversary, Mr. Finnegan!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I write like...

Thanks to CM, I had fun experimenting today.

I write like
George Orwell
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

The excerpt I used one:
As homeschoolers, we live in a blessed time.  The Lord has provided freedom, abundant curriculum choices, and many avenues of support for our endeavors: this is a far cry from the days many remember of fighting for basic rights.  But even in a time of such blessing, homeschooling is an intense job, requiring parents to work hard and tirelessly in order to provide the best possible Christian education for their children.  Why in the world would an already harried homeschool parent consider a teaching method as teacher-intensive as “classical education”?  And, more importantly, why would a Christian, who understands our most important job is to equip our children to glorify God and enjoy Him forever , choose such a method?

First, let’s begin with a definition of “classical education”.  Indeed, defining just what “classical education” is presents a challenge in itself. It is a methodology and movement that has grown, changed and altered over the centuries.  It continues to be adapted today as many of us seek to reclaim the “lost tools of learning” .  It is all too easy to caricature instead of accurately representing this educational method.  Classical Christian education, according to Andrew Kerns,  is “the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty by means of the liberal arts so that, in Christ, the student is better able to know and enjoy God.”  Classical education is that method of instruction which is the legacy of the Christian middle ages, Christian Europe, and early America.  Its roots lie in both the Greco-Roman and Hebrew cultures.  It is word-centered, rigorous, and has as its goal the practice of Christian virtue--not just the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.   The mentoring of the pupil by the instruction and example of the teacher is its characteristic ingredient, and together, teacher and pupil move towards study of the “queen of the sciences”, theology. 

Classical education is occasionally characterized as the emulation of pagan authors and philosophies.  While study of all of history is important, “classical” education, in its broader historical sense does not necessarily imply that we admire and revere Roman or Greek or pagan theology.  While classical education may include some careful study of the ancient period, it would be inaccurate to characterize it as focused on pagan beliefs.

Then, I decided to use a different kind of writing, and entered the following:

This morning, I drove with my youngest child the two-hours of highway through the desert of northern New Mexico to the airport at Albuquerque. It was the first step on his 1500 mile journey to college. In the back of my car were two large backpacks and three large suitcases filled with most of his worldly belongings. But the most precious assets of the boy beside me could not be found by rifling through the tee-shirts and jeans, books, posters and CDs.

This fledgling young man has been the object of my wrestling and rejoicing in prayer for more than 18 years. The Lord called his dad and me, first with his older brother, then with him, to leave what we knew behind us and trust God in their nurturing, admonition and education. That led us often to struggle with them, and in that struggle, we discovered that the real enemy was us: our sin, our failures, our selfishness. God used this young man, once a child, to make me what He wanted me to be—to lead me where He wanted me to go. And wonder of wonders, in the process this young man became my brother and my friend. He now bears the fruit of the journey we have been on with the Lord over the course of his life.

“You know to call when you get there,” I say.
“Yes, Ma’am,” he answers.
“And you will make daily time with the Lord a priority, and get involved with a good church right away?”
“Of course, Mom,” he says with a patient smile that reminds me he has heard this before.

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

 Oh dear... At least CM writes like Daniel Defoe...

Wednesday without words...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blessing, indeed...

Can you see the perfect little foot on the left?  That is one of the most recent "photos" of Grandchild #1, affectionately known in these parts as "Mini-Finni".  He or she is betweem 29 and 30 weeks gestation now, and we are praying they stay put until at least 38 weeks.  Please join us in that prayer, Gentle Reader! Each week that passes is a great blessing. 

We have been incredibly blessed as a family.  Just today I was reminded of our blessing when I read updates on dear friends that I keep in my prayers: surgeries and illness, loss of spouses and children, the aftermath of horrible accidents, living with metastatic disease, mistreatment of serious illness, unexpected death. 

And then I think about that little foot.  It is promise of love from God to His people, and a reminder that He never gives up on us.  That is blessing, indeed!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sundays with Jean

I was challenged in my love for the body of Christ by the following passage in Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion. :

...[W]e are not so instructed [to call God 'Our Father'] that each one of us in common should call him his Father, but rather that all of us in common should call him our Father. From this fact we are warned how great a feeling of brotherly love ought to be among us, since by the same right of mercy and free liberality we are equally children of such a father. For if one Father is common to us all, and every good thing that can fall to our lot comes from him, there ought not to be anything separate among us that we are not prepared gladly and wholeheartedly to share with one another, as far as occasion requires.
Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, III. 20, 38
This challenges me not only in the way I look at  my brothers and sisters in Christ, but it reminds me that my treatment and love for my brothers and sisters springs from my relationship with our common Father.  When I hate my Christian siblings, what does that say about my relationship with God?  After all, we know all sin spring from the heart.  What does that, therefore, say about my heart?

So this Sabbath, as I am home ill, I am praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and in my own church.  May God be honored and glorified in our love for one another.

And if you want to listen to an excellent sermon online (as I did this morning) on our freedom in Christ, check this out: I found it encouraging.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Today, for the first time in at least two years, I am really sick.  You know, Gentle Reader, the kind of sick that actually keeps you mostly in bed and taking Tylenol. It's just a virus/cold/flu thing, but it's not very nice. What *is* nice is that I don't think I've had a cold since before my cancer: more than two years ago!  So as I watch (or fall asleep to) old movies, sleep through the world-cup game, or fall asleep reading and listening to Pandora, I am remembering to be grateful for excellent health most of the time.  God has been very good to me!