The story is familiar. Two men, who have seen and heard of the great deeds of Christ, encounter Him after His Resurrection, but don’t recognize Him. He walks with them a ways on the road, explaining the significance of what they have seen and heard. Jesus breaks bread with them, and their eyes are opened. They have encountered the Risen Christ, the Savior of the world!

The story is familiar. She grew up in church, and was a faithful Sunday school attendee. Faith grew over time, conforming her to the image of Christ. Still she wonders, could there be something more?

The story is familiar. She didn’t grow up in church, but had an encounter with God that radically changed her life. She jumped with both feet, or maybe she didn’t. Maybe life just happened, and somewhere along the way, those flames of first love became a smoldering ember. She asks herself: is this all there is?

I read a story in scripture today about a fig tree that stopped bearing fruit. It was the season for fig trees to bear fruit, but this stubborn tree just produced copious amounts of leaves. Jesus cursed the tree, and it died.

We were made for encounter with God. Not just one time, but a daily, faith filled walk with Jesus Christ. We are called to bear fruit, both in our own character and in how we reflect God’s glory to the world. Every Christian is called to bear faithful witness to a Risen Savior of the world both in word and in deed. The result of this witness bearing should be growing churches, acts of mercy and justice, and an increase in the rule and influence of Christ throughout the land. Our own might and power cannot bring these things about, but only a work of the Holy Spirit.

If this is not the case in our lives, if this is not the case in our churches, then the question we need to ask is this: when did we last walk the road to Emmaus? When did we last encounter the Risen Christ? Could we grow closer to Him, and learn to hear his voice even better?

On a practical level: How much time are we spending in bible study and in prayer? Are we growing in our faith? Are we responding in repentance when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin? Are we fully trusting in Christ every hour of every day?

Faith is not a one time commitment or a habit of performing certain acts. In the words of a very old hymn:

Faith is a living pow’r from Heav’n
That grasps the promise God hath giv’n,
A trust that cannot be o’erthrown,
Fixed heartily on Christ alone.

Faith finds in Christ whate’er we need
To save or strengthen us indeed,
Receives the grace He sends us down,
And makes us share His cross and crown.

Faith in the conscience worketh peace,
And bids the mourner’s weeping cease;
By faith the children’s right we claim,
And call upon our Father’s name.

Faith feels the Spirit’s kindling breath
In love and hope that conquer death;
Faith worketh hourly joy in God,
And trusts and blesses e’en the rod.


Image Bearing

“God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created Him, male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27 NKJV) We are created in the image of God. This has been understood in several different ways. We are like God in that we are capable of relationship. We are like God in our function, He has given use dominion over the earth, to care for it. Most importantly, and this is the traditional view held by the church, we are created in some psychological, physical or spiritual way that mirrors God. This image of God is true for all mankind, male and female, redeemed and not. God’s stamp upon humanity is independent of our ability, power, or wealth. Every human being is created in the image of God. Every human being is charged with some aspect of dominion or stewardship, and every human being is made for relationship with God, but even at our most feeble, reprobate and inept we still reflect a little of God’s glory.

How does this apply to my life, today?

First, both men and women are created in God’s image and given the dominion mandate. Both men and women are called to relationship. My husband is not a mediator between me and Jesus Christ, I must seek God as well. Practically it also means that some of the “how” of the dominion mandate is left up to us. If it some point my husband’s disability progresses to the point where he is unable to work, it is a matter of Christian liberty and common sense that I work outside of the home.

Second, and this also treads into the doctrines of sin and salvation, every human being has equal value to God. (We see this in that He requires an account for the lifeblood of all men) We do not know which ones will ultimately be redeemed, nor do we have any way of knowing. Though we are responsible to teach our children and “make them wise for salvation”, salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit and not dependent on the home in which we were raised. We see examples of this again and again in scripture, where the sons of the household remain stiff-necked out side of the gate while Gentiles, foreigners and prostitutes inherit the kingdom.  No parenting or educational method guarantees godly offspring. Because my children are Christ’s servants and reflect his image, I am free to disciple rather than seek to control, to steward rather than dominate.

Third, because I am free to see Christ in all and leave the work of salvation to Him rather than specific parenting methods, I am free to welcome the orphan into my home, in Jesus name. I am free to love traumatized kids and let God sort out how they turn out, even if the journey is messy. Properly understanding the image of God motivates me to live out Matthew 25:26, and see Christ in the prisoner, the naked and the sick. It turns my eyes out towards the harvest, rather then towards some external means of earning salvation.

The ways that we Love

I am convinced that, at least for most healthy individuals, we are attracted to people who will love us in the ways that we need to be loved. Maybe not perfectly. But love is so much more than chocolates and flowers, more than just 5 love languages.

The picture accompanying this was taken over eleven years ago, at our first child’s baptism, at a time we were just dipping our toes into this whole parenting thing, two years after the “I am my Beloved’s” wedding invitations went out. Back when marriage was one part reality and three parts idealistic dreams.

Six kids, a bunch of home repairs, major and minor illnesses, and a whole lot of drama later: I’ve learned that I married the right person.  I married the person who loves me in the ways that I need to be loved.  I married a man who will listen to me, even when I am over-analyzing every aspect of every thing. I married someone who will join me in my flights of fancy,  is supportive of my crazy schemes, who meets my over enthusiasm with insightful replies rather than criticisms or dimissals. Providentially, I married the person I needed.

And he married me. Someone who will do the things so that he can think his thoughts. Someone who pushes him, remains optimistic in spite of setbacks, and shakes him out of his sober inclinations. Someone who will support his reading habit, appreciate his philosophical meanderings, and will listen to conspiracy theories.

So this Valentines Day, I got him a book on the history of philosophy, and he listened to me deconstruct simple statements for all of their implied meaning. I found him a new book bag, and he watched the kids so that I could go to the gym.

I am my Beloved’s and he is mine. And it is still one part reality, three parts idealism. We are not opposites, but we are both alike and different in enough ways to work well together.  The ways that we love are small and simple and romantic only in sense that we dream of windmill dragons, but they, also, are love.

Abiding Again

Around this time last year, I spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to “Abide in Christ”. It was my word of the year, last year

Since then, a lot of things have happened. So much, really. I saw my sister radically transformed by the gospel. We acquired another kid, one with a lot of trauma. God provided for me to go back to school. I began to sift and sort through some of my ideas and experiences about who God is and how He works.

This is something I wrote for a class last week.

In John 15, Jesus commands his disciples to abide in Him, but was does that mean?

Paul compares our union with Christ to the mystery of marriage. In marriage, two become one, yet they are still distinct individuals. The Bible talks in many places about Christ being in us and us being in Him. Union with Christ has bearing on every aspect of salvation, because they all happen “in Christ”. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing “in Christ” (Eph 1:3) we are chosen before the foundation of the world “”in Him” (Eph 1:5), we are accepted “in Him”.We “put on Christ” and when the Father sees us, He sees his sinless son. In Christ alone are we are justified.

Secondly, we are joined to Christ through the Holy Spirit. We have an intimate relationship with God. We have the mind of Christ, and the same Spirit that searches the deep things of God testifies to our hearts and minds of Christ and our Father’s good will. We have the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ, as our Comforter, mentor and guide. He is distinct from us, yet continually guiding, convicting, cultivating and making us more like Christ.  I think this is best reflected in Christ’s example of the vine and the branches. Here is particular bearing in our understanding of salvation and the Father’s discipline of His children. Though nothing with separate us from the love of God, He will continue to prune and cultivate us, drawing us closer to Himself, enabling us to bear more fruit. One of my class texts calls this relational obedience.

Third, and related, the life of Christ gives life to us, causing us to bear spiritual fruit. In Christ, the same power that rose Him from the dead is at work in us, raising us from corruptible to incorruptible.

Union with Christ means that we are counted as righteous for Christ’s sake. We live by His strength. We suffer with Him and for His sake, and one day we will be raised and reign with Him.

It also means that our salvation has more to do with relationship than a system of belief or outward signs.

Life Now and Further Up and Further In

I deleted my other blog, worried that so much time spent introspecting was a huge distraction from this wild adventure called life. This is an old blog. My first blog, a chronicle of Mommy adventures.

So, Life Now is welcoming a twelve year old daughter into our family last Friday. Sick kids. Answered prayers. Joy in seeing a small but mighty country church minister to children. Lesson planning. Ordering schoolbooks. Getting ready to start back to school myself.

Right now we are working on routines, and readjusting to what life is going to look like with another family member. We are also trying to aptly love a little human being who carries with them heartaches and memories and trauma. Today, life is kids curled up on the couch on a rainy day,board games scattered on the floor and a movie playing, with dancing hopes of riding bikes at the park when the weather clears up.

This Wild place is a place of abundance, and even Rest. If I flake on you sometime in the coming year, or you don’t see or hear from me for weeks at a time, I have been overtaken by blessing! When you see me, just give me a high five and catch me up on what’s been going on in your life, because I’ll probably feel really bad that I don’t already know.

Feel free to stop by, brave the chaos, and stay for a real cuppa and a real conversation.

Signing off for a while,

Plans? What Plans?

My plan for the day involved a movie, a sparkling clean house, and  newly canned tomato soup lining my cabinets. My reality for the day was runny noses, a not-so-clean house, canning jars stacked neatly in a closet for future use, and children sprawled about the living room.

We had intended to go to the movies to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman this morning, but the kids were somewhat snarfly and sleepy, so we had an at home day instead.  A  friend dropped off 100 canning jars, as was planned. I had great intentions of canning some soup today. However, reality struck again. I realized:  if I want to can, I need lids. To get lids, I must load 4  under the weather children into the car, and do several other errands since I am in town anyway. Thus, the large pot of tomato soup is becoming gulosh for the week. The kids love gulosh, and we could use the vitamin C.

My Mom (who lives with us) and Em (my teen) are both gone for the week. We miss them. It took me a minute to adjust to having less pairs of hands around. I had gotten used to my Mom spending time with the baby every morning and Em helping the girls brush and braid their hair. On the other hand,  It has been nice having time with just the little people, particularly in the evenings. I am getting less “done”, but maybe my time is better spent.

 We’ve been re-watching the kid’s favorite episodes of Dr. Who. We have been working with Annie on her potty training. Learning to milk goats. Trying to be more available for family and friends.  Worked on transitioning back into reasonable bedtime routines. I have been supervising the bedroom clean ups while I read to the kids from “The Silver Chair”. Not what was planned, but sweet, savory moments to remember.

…And I just remembered I was supposed to be at a baby shower tonight. It was planned. One of those errands was Target. But there is a small puddle on the floor and a bare bottomed child running around, a neighbor on her way over for a visit, so I guess we’ll do sweet reality instead and bring a gift to church Sunday.


Underhill Academy Fall 2014

It’s that time again. Time to plan another school year. Fall semester starts August 18th and will run until the week of Christmas.

Our day starts early. Every child is expected down for breakfast ready for the day, in proper clothing, with beds made, and animals cared for. Maggie will help me with the milking.

At 9am we have a  morning meeting. Students will be assigned a  verse to copy out in their neatest handwriting.  We will recite a weekly catechism question and work on a weekly psalm. I then read to the children  from the Bible (Prophets- Luke) and from our History book (Story of the World- Greeks). We are also researching subjects from various Dr. Who episodes appropriate to the time periods we are discussing. 

Emily will head to the computer for Math as she is using Teaching Textbooks: Algebra 1. Everyone else will  look at the calendar, sing some songs, and cover math concepts from the Saxon 1 curriculum (like skip counting and memorizing math facts), as well as a story a day from Life of Fred.

Younger children  will also work with me  on science/ cooking/geography. This fall we will be doing a Unit study on the Microscopic world two days a week, and working with various forms of measurement one day a week, and working on Geography and map skills one day a week.

During this time, older children work independently on language arts. We are using a computer program that helps them progress through core standards as they develop competency. http://www.mobymax.com/.

All children are sent outside  with their nature journals before lunch.

Older children break from math/language arts to work with me on reading aloud from the Webster’s Speller and spend a little bit of time on Latin vocabulary (Latin’s Not so Tough Level 1). Em is choosing to work on Spanish this year (Mango Languages through the library).  Older children will  spend a total of two hours  spent logged into Math and Language Arts subjects areas per day, and may continue working until the proper time is logged.  There will be weekly writing assignments graded according to a  rubric.

Younger children will  read to me from their phonics readers and spend some time answering reading comprehension questions.

Everyone is to spend 30 minutes- 1 hour daily reading or looking at books of their choosing.

Children will all spend the late afternoon participating in household chores and meal preparation

Nightly bedtime reading will include : The Silver Chair, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Stories from Shakespeare, Stories from Dickens, White Fang, Heidi, and stories of famous Americans from the Childcraft books.

On Fridays, we attend Creative Kids Co-op. Emily will be going early for a weekly science class with reading assignments and homework to be completed through the week. One of Gracie’s classes for the fall will be “the Human Body”. All the kids will have Art and PE.

Em will continue with weekly art lessons and Gracie with piano lessons.

How a Mom Washes Dishes…

Fill sink with hot soapy water.

Teen asks for batteries for the wii remote. The fact that there are none is apparently the last straw to a hot and bothersome day. Spend several minutes trying to offer perspective. Give up and return to dishes

Wash two plates. Notice baby emerge from storage room with a half eaten apple in one hand and a half eaten potato in the other. Follow baby baby back to storage room. Notice the rest of the potatoes, apples, and all the clean wash on the floor. “Help” baby clean up the mess. Get her involved in another activity in a room where it is hoped some older siblings will help watch.

Wash two more plates. Notice children wrestling in living room. Send baby in to Daddy and the rest outside to play until dishes are done.

Begin, once again to wash dishes.

“There’s a cat with a mayonnaise jar stuck on its head and we can’t get it off.”

Go outside for a half hour and look for the cat that is now terrified and hiding from helpful children. Vow to return to look for the cat after the kids go to bed.

See that the water in the sink has gotten cold. Refill sink with hot soapy water. Hear the baby scream. Find her dangling from the bathroom sink, and notice she is poopy. Change the baby. Wash hands. Return to dishes.

Repeat however many times it takes to get the dishes done 🙂


Not What I Ordered… Dreams of Plumbers and Lollipops

“I DON’T WANT THAT!!”, my toddler shakes her head emphatically at her supper. We laugh.

My teenager has a similar response to a limit that I feel, as a responsible parent, I must set. It doesn’t seem as cute coming from her, but I recognize the sentiment.

I didn’t want kids to be sick this week…we had plans. I didn’t want to wake up early after being up all night with a sick baby, but that’s life.

I didn’t want to be without hot water for several days, waiting for a plumber and electrician to fit us into their schedule. We had company and I would have liked to impress with my clean children and house.

I didn’t want for us have to pay for a new chimney liner when we were saving for a kitchen remodel.

I didn’t want to hear any feedback from my husband about what he would have done differently after I’d spent a day organizing our oft neglected bedroom.

I, like my toddler, prefer lollipops and ice cream. I want the sweet parts and whine when I get what is necessary. My struggles are not nearly as difficult as what some of my loved ones are dealing with right now. Yet, the same truth speaks to us all:

There is more to life then what we can immediately see.  In our death, and in all our little deaths, we live. We are being conformed to the image of the Perfect Man .We take on new resurrection life. And when Christ, who is our life appears, we will be with Him, and know Him, and be like Him.

And then, we won’t care if it was green beans or lollipops. Newly laminated kitchen floor will seem a trifle, and plumbers just a silly dream we had before we woke.

The Book of the Lost

The Book of The Lost


Chapter 1 Aoide

The children of Cain were dying.


It was a mild summer night and  Aoide stood off from the rest of the women attending the birth. She held a stillborn babe in her arms. As an apprentice,she cleaned the baby while her aunt attended the mother. The daub and wattle fishing hut filled with pungent smoke from the herbs Rhea, the midwife, used to ease birth pains. It was hot, stiflingly so, and loud.  Older women cried out as they surrounded the distressed mother. Rhea tried to quiet them so that she could finish her work. The afterbirth still needed to be delivered, but the mother was weakened by a long labor, broken by the death of another child.

Aoide gently wiped the green fluid from the baby’s face. She wasn’t sad, exactly. Stillbirth was a fact of life since the Days of Blood. She did feel sorry for Jatem. It was her fifth child born dead.  This child had gills on the side of his neck, but apparently no way to breathe outside the womb. It uttered a single pitiful mewling as the cord was cut, then remained silent forever. Aoide crooned a sorrowful tune as she worked on preparing the body for burial.


Her song beckoned Kroba, the empath. Soon he appeared at the door. His scaly body glistened a like a sapphire studded robe.  Kroba was Kn’keth, a native of Mashu’s seas. He moved on two flipper like legs: slowly, painfully. Aoide knew that time on land took a great toll on her friend, as would the emotional intensity of the unfolding scene, but the call had been instinctive.


Kroba approached Aoide, enveloping her in a quick embrace, and brushed the baby’s cheek with a webbed hand.  He paused to lean over her and whisper, “We need to talk later, dear one.”Then he silently approached the keening women. He reached for Jatem, beginning the deep melodic groans of some Knketh song of mourning. Jatem’s body sagged, her loud crying ceased.  A sweet peace fell on everyone in the room. Some of the women, still wary of native ways, gathered their things and left. Old Rhea, the village healer, remained.


The normally gruff woman looked up, with tears in her own eyes. “Thank You”. Kroba nodded, then shuffled out of the room. The afterbirth had been delivered. Rhea led Jatem to a simple pallet and began cleaning her up.


Aoide finished her work, laying the infant in a small boat of waxy sea grass. She had fashioned it in preparation of the birth. Tomorrow Jatem would give her child’s body to the Sea, and pray that his soul would find the keeping of the Shepherd of Souls. The tawny girl left the baby and his funeral craft with one of Jatem’s relatives.


She slipped quietly out into the night, gathering up her ragged woolen skirt so that she could walk quickly. Aoide carefully picked her way through a shell garden between the huts, trying not to cut her bare feet, and went to find Kroba.


A fish salt breeze was the first thing to greet her. Aoide followed the rush lined path between the homes, taking her time now and enjoying the feel of the cool sand beneath her heels.  Nets were carefully stretched over wicker fences. The village at night was an obstacle course of fishing paraphernalia. Gossiping women leaned over fences as they carefully inspected  and repaired the nets. In the commons, sweaty men teased each other as they prepared an evening meal of the day’s catch. No one danced now. Music had been buried in the graves of a thousand dead infants.


The smell of the cooking fish reminded Aoide that she’d not eaten since noon meal.  Aoide reached into a pouch strung to her side and pulled out another staple of the village diet: some dried, seasoned seaweed.


The girl chewed thoughtfully. She wondered briefly at her own birth. Her parents had left her in the small seaside village before she had been old enough to ask.  Did they rejoice to give birth to a live child? Even then, it was a rare thing. She only vaguely remembered her mother’s long, dark hair and her father’s scratchy beard. Her throat began to tighten, but she forced herself to relax. They had a good reason. The Resistance is important. I am here, and I am safe, Rhea teaches me the healing craft and I have a good friend in Kroba. It is enough.

She swallowed the lump in her throat and threw back her head to catch the breeze.


Through the darkness, Aoide could sense that her friend was in the water near the dock. She unfastened her leather belt and pouch, carefully setting them on a pier. Quickly then, she stripped off her skirt and tunic and lowered her body into the cool water. Kroba floated up to her, scales glistening in the first slivers planet rise. Mir, the sister planet, began her ascent in the horizon. The Robin’s Egg gracefully rose, as if from the depths. The sea sparkled like a field of diamonds in its cerulean light.


Aoide allowed herself to float in the warm water as she watched, face to the night sky. She could see the Great Whale, the Ram, and the Fishwife. The Crab and the Conch were blotted out in the halo of lillac planetlight. Held in the womb of the sea, glimpsing the glory of the heavens, she was filled with awe. “ I wish I could live here all the time”


Kroba floated next to her, shoulder to shoulder. Aoide felt the warmth of his body radiate up her arm. She was young now, but she supposed she’d be his mate one day. She would live in a hut near his sea cave, and somehow THIER children would be able to breathe in sea and on land. And he would wrap those muscled arms around her and…


“You’d miss the village” Kroba interrupted her reverie, answering both her spoken words and her thoughts.


“I like being alone. Floating. Not worrying about dead babies or collecting herbs or trying so hard just to get by” I could join the KnKeth and be “alone together, always joined in thought”.


“ You’d miss the people, the noise, the conversation. You’d miss being involved with the stuff of life. We are a solitary people. I have not seen another Kn’Keth in six cycles”


“You’re not alone though. Not really. We’re friends. You talk to some of the people from the village” A school of vibrantly colored fish swam beneath them. Aoide rolled upright to study them, suddenly embarrassed by her presuppositions. She treaded water next to him.


“That wouldn’t be enough for you. It’s not who you were meant to be”


“What about you?” Her voice was muffled, squeaking past a constantly threatening lump.


“I’m KnKeth” and soon I must leave even you, little one.


Aoide could sense the wistfulness, but not the full thought. “What’s the difference?”

His next words were brutal, but his tone tender. “You are a child, a self thinking youngone who has isolated herself as much as possible from her own people. You miss your parents and do what you’re told. You haven’t learned to Knth– to pour yourself our like water– for another. You have not yet sacrificed anything.  This is not the way of the KnKeth.” He filled her mind with images of many individual rivers and tributaries all pouring into the Great Ocean. Of billions of droplets, each playing a part.


“I gave up my parents. I gave up my home. I work for Rhea all day!” Aoide flushed and began to swim back toward the dock.


He dove beneath the water. In seconds he was up again, this time directly under Aoide. Before she even knew what was happening, he was upright, with her gathered in his arms.  Aoide sputtered and splashed. When she calmed, Kroba began to speak again. “You have not given up anything, though much has been taken from you. Be careful, dearest friend, that you do not hold too tightly to what is left.  Holding onto the things that you claim as your own is a good way to remain a child forever.”


The girl’s eyes stung with tears. She knew that Kroba loved her, but his words hurt. She wanted him to think better of her, maybe even pity her for what she had been through. Instead he called her selfish. It wasn’t fair! He didn’t understand! Didn’t she weep with the mothers! Who was it that made all the funeral crafts, and hunted herbs for Rhea.  She was involved!


Kroba gently set her down into the water, still supporting Aoide with one arm.  “I know that I have spoken hard words. Soon I must leave you, and I could not leave without warning my best loved friend of her greatest snare.”


“You’re leaving…?” Aoide began to cry in earnest. Kroba tightened his grip.


“It is time for me to find a mate from among my people. The call has gone out. We will soon assemble. “ He gave her the image of a sacred assembly that would take place on a small island off the coast. There were scores of KnKeth present, in every shade of sunset and planet rise. They all had eyes like Kroba–deep warm pools teeming with life.


The beauty of the image made Aoide gasp. “I didn’t know there were so many of you, in so many colors. All so beautiful.  Will you come back then, with your mate?”


“No, I must leave this life behind.”


She tried to be happy for him. He was joining his perfect race once again, and would have a worthy mate. She should have congratulated him. She should have hugged him goodbye and wished him well. Instead, Aoide’s last words to her best friend were: “So you‘re leaving me too?”


Aoide pulled away from him and swam back to shore, the salt water mingling with her tears.


Kroba mouthed a silent goodbye, and began his journey towards his final act


copyright Kim Shank 2014