we vow

Two bookish firstborns... of course we wrote the minister's entire script.

From the very beginning of his story God has been doing the impossible. He created the universe and everything in it, including the first man, from nothing. He looked at his creation and saw that it was very good. However, he said that it was not good for the man to be alone. So God created a helper just right for the man--bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh--and God said, “This is why a man will leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they will become one flesh.” That was the first marriage.  
As God’s story continued, he kept calling people to do the impossible. Throughout the Bible we find the stories of Moses, Gideon, Elijah, Esther, Mary, and many more, men and women who did not have the wisdom, strength, or ability to do what God asked them to do, but every time, God himself provided what was necessary to see the impossible accomplished.  
Lauren and Joshua both believe that above and beyond the love they have for one another, they have been called by God to enter this marriage. And they also acknowledge that they do not have the wisdom, patience, forgiveness, or perseverance they will need. Lauren wrote this in a letter to Joshua several months ago:
I almost think we should take communion before we make our vows... because, really, who has what it takes to actually keep those kind of promises? I can't promise you that I will love you for better and for worse--in fact, I can pretty much promise you the opposite--that when it gets worse, I won't have what it takes to love you. But if we exchange our body and our blood for Jesus' body and Jesus' blood, if we exchange our power for the power of Jesus and His Spirit, and THEN we make these impossible promises... not us, but Him... trusting that He will be the one working in us to want to love and to be able to love... THEN we will have more than a fighting chance, because He is fighting for us, and He is perfect love.
With those things in mind,
Lauren, will you take Joshua to be your husband; to live together with him in the covenant of marriage? Will you love him and respect him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful unto him as long as you both shall live? Trusting God's Spirit to do the impossible in and through you, say I will.
Joshua, will you take Lauren to be your wife; to live together with her in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her and respect her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful unto her as long as you both shall live? Trusting God's Spirit to do the impossible in and through you, say I will. 
Will all of you witnessing these promises trust God's Spirit to do the impossible in Joshua and Lauren, and will you support them in their marriage?
When you arrived here, you saw on the trees around us the story of Lauren and Joshua’s lives together, leading up to this day. The song that was sung earlier plays a special part in that story. Joshua wrote this to Lauren while she was in Scotland last summer, before they started dating:
“I'm not putting any proverbial horses before any carts. I'll leave that to others i.e. my mom.  If you haven't heard this song, stop and listen to it. Ok. The imagery in the song is pretty obvious but I was thinking a lot about the glassy sea part. "And it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea." I have always assumed that I would get married in a church. However, after repeatedly listening to this song, I have a different opinion. I want my wedding to be a sermon in and of itself. I don't want people to be so distracted by flowers or dresses or whatever that they don't see Jesus. I have heard preachers at weddings talk about it being a celebration of the bride and groom. But to me it should be a celebration of what Jesus has done in those two people and a commitment to what he is about to do in and with them. I want the preacher to talk about how this is an example and a rather poor one of the wedding between Christ and his church.  So maybe a lakeside is a better venue to proclaim that truth. It's the same reason that I want to wash my bride’s feet. To show her and everyone there the full extent of my love and my willingness to serve her. If it doesn't point to Jesus it won't be part of the wedding.”
The words of that song are printed on the fans you have with you.  
This is the story of the Son of God Hanging on a cross for me And it ends with a bride and groom And a wedding by a glassy sea
From the very beginning God designed marriage to be a picture of the relationship between Jesus, the groom, and his people, the bride. Today we all find ourselves in the middle of that story: God’s Son has already hung on a cross for us, but we’re still waiting for the wedding of Jesus and His bride, when Jesus and his people are finally together in heaven. The apostle Paul wrote:
“Husbands, love your wives as Jesus loved his people. Jesus died for his people to make them belong to God. Jesus made his people clean by the washing of water with God's word. Jesus died so that he could give his people to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that his people could be pure and without fault, with no evil or sin or any other wrong thing in them. And husbands should love their wives in the same way. They should love their wives like they love their own bodies. The man who loves his wife loves himself. Nobody ever hates his own body, but feeds it and takes care of it. And that is what Jesus does for his people, because we are part of his body. The Scripture says, “So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife. And the two people will become one body.” This is a huge mystery—but I am talking about Jesus and his people. But each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself. And a wife must respect her husband.”
The night before Jesus died on the cross, he ate one last meal with his followers. Jesus got up from the table, poured water into a bowl and began to wash their feet, drying them with a towel. He told his followers that if he didn’t wash their feet, they had no part with him. When he finished, Jesus said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet.
Lauren and Joshua would like to display their love and respect for each other, their willingness to serve each other, and their choice to listen to Jesus and do what he says.
Feet Washing (Song: Keith Green, When I Hear the Praises Start)
That same night, after Jesus washed his followers feet, He made them some promises. He promised that he would be with them and send them a helper--His Spirit--and he promised that he would come back to get his people at the end of the world for that wedding by a glassy sea. But He also promised that the rest of their story would not be easy or filled with comfort.  
Joshua, repeat after me these promises to Lauren.
In the name of God, I, Joshua, take you, Lauren, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.
Lauren, repeat after me these promises to Joshua.
In the name of God, I, Lauren, take you, Joshua, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.
Although we will all be parted by death from the people we love, the story and promises of God give us hope and confidence. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember the song again.
This is the story of a bride in white Waiting on her wedding day Anticipation welling up inside While the groom is crowned as king O death where is your sting Cause we'll be there singing Holy Holy Holy is the Lord
For Jesus' people, our story doesn't end with our funeral. Our story ends with a wedding, when we see Jesus, our groom and our king, face to face.
The Bible talks about that wedding day at the end of the world; it uses another name for Jesus: the Lamb of God.
"Then I heard what sounded like a great many people. It sounded like the noise of flooding water and like loud thunder. The people were saying: “Hallelujah! Our Lord God rules. He is the All-Powerful. Let us rejoice and be glad and give God glory! Give God glory, because the wedding of the Lamb has come. And the Lamb’s bride has made herself ready. Fine linen was given to the bride for her to wear. The linen was bright and clean.” (The fine linen means the righteous things done by God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Those who are invited to the wedding meal of the Lamb are blessed!” Then the angel said, “These are the true words of God.”
Lauren and Joshua, through the giving of rings today you acknowledge the love you have for one another in spite of your imperfections and weaknesses. You acknowledge that you no longer belong only to yourselves but to one another. You acknowledge that God’s Spirit is working in you every day, giving you what you need to be faithful to one another and to him, and knowing all these things, you choose to trust him to do the impossible in your life together.

a year in books, 2018

Favorite Read-Aloud with my Husband (yes, I am married)

A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken

First-Time Favorites
The Power of Proximity, by Michelle Warren
For the Family's Sake, by Susan Schaeffer Macauley
Letters to the Church, by Francis Chan

Favorite Re-Reads
100 Cupboards, by N.D. Wilson (plowed through the entire book the day before my wedding)
All Things Bright and Beautiful, by James Herriot

Favorite Read-Aloud with the Girls I Look After
The Star of Kazan, by Eva Ibbotson

Biggest Book that I Couldn't Put Down but Will Never Read Again
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Looking Forward to in 2019
The Door Before, by N.D. Wilson
The Descent of the Dove, by Charles Williams (I know, I said I'd read it last year...)
Orbiting Jupiter, by Gary Schmidt

Currently Reading:
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxes
Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, by Edward Welch
The Mennyms, by Sylvia Waugh (with the girls)
That Hideous Strength, by CS Lewis (with my husband)

a year in books, 2017

Books That Compelled and Marked Seismic Shifts in My Life
March 2017: (I moved out, one mile from home, with my brother!) 
Houses That Change the World, by Wolfgang Simson
July 2017: (I sent a letter to someone I barely knew, knowing it meant he would become my future husband)
A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken

Top Five Favorite Mystics
1) Organic Church, by Neil Cole
2) The Power of Proximity, by Michelle Ferrigno Warren
3) Primal Fire, by Neil Cole 
4) Transformed, by Caesar Kalinowski 
5) Family on Mission, by Mike Breen

Favorite Re-Reads
The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald
That Hideous Strength, by CS Lewis
Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers

Favorite Sibling Read-Aloud
Boy: Tales of Childhood, by Roald Dahl

Favorite Read-Aloud with the Girls I Nanny
The Saturdays, by Elizabeth Enright

Looking Forward to in 2018
Images of Faith: Reflections Inspired by Lilias Trotter, by Miriam Huffman Rockness 
One Thing, by Neil Cole
The Descent of the Dove, by Charles Williams
The Penderwicks at Last, by Jeanne Birdsall

How Would Charlotte Mason Teach the Bible Today?

For a while now, I've researched the way Charlotte Mason taught the Bible. Charlotte was a British reformer and pioneer in the field of education in the 1800s. I found a lot of ideas, and a few helpful resources. However, most of the blogs I read lacked practical examples of how to discuss and apply God's Word. Most of the printed study resources I found were designed for grades 7-12.

I know that people who love Charlotte Mason's style of teaching also love the fact that special, expensive purchases are not necessary. So I'm very excited to share a practical Bible study resource for all ages that applies Charlotte's ideas, without requiring any special purchases. The resource is called Simply the Story.

Simply the Story

Simply the Story is an oral study method, which means it is appropriate for all ages, countries and cultures. Literacy is not a requirement; everyone takes part in deep discussion and discovers treasures in God's Word. Simply the Story gives teachers the opportunity to put away their pens and teach the way Jesus taught, through stories, questions and discussion.

STS champions direct contact with Scripture. Participants build relations with each other as they study and share the Bible, using open-ended questions, listening and responding. The teacher is a guide, and not the fountainhead of knowledge--that role is given to God's Word and His Spirit.

Participants also build relations with the real people who lived in Bible times, as they consider: what might we learn about this person's character from the words they speak? From their actions? From the choices they make? Could they have made a different choice? And yet they made this choice. What might that tell us about this person spiritually? Do we see any results of words, actions, choices... Was anyone impacted? Where do we see God in this story?

Does it measure up to Charlotte's standards?

Every requirement that Sonya Shafer (of Simply Charlotte Mason) wrote about in her blog post about CM-style Bible studies is included in Simply the Story: participants hear and then narrate an accurate Bible story (an "episode" in CM language), putting the story into their own words to strengthen comprehension. Discussion is central to STS, as is slow, careful observation, and each study ends with personal application made by the participants themselves. The joy of self-discovery is prized, and sermonizing is strongly discouraged. There are no crutches--the Bible is the only resource needed/utilized. It's exciting to watch the Bible become a living book again!

How can I learn more?

Here is a link to Simply the Story's free PDF handbook, where you will learn everything you need to know about how to tell stories and engage your children in deep discussions.

Simply the Story Handbook

May Truth not become a tool that we hold in our hands, but remain the living Word Who changes us.

my year in books


Favorite New Discoveries from Authors I Love
The Man Born to be King, by Dorothy Sayers
That Hideous Strength, by CS Lewis

Favorite Mystics
Beautiful Outlaw, by John Eldridge 
The Insanity of Obedience, by Nik Ripken 
Honor and Shame, by Roland Muller
In the Arena, by Isobel Kuhn

Most Appropriately Atmospheric Re-Reads
Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers, read in St Andrews, Scotland
Celia's House, by DE Stevenson, read in the Scottish Highlands 

Favorite Sibling Read-Aloud
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin

Favorite Biography
No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Greenby Melody Green

Looking Forward To In 2017
Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil, by Melina Marchetta
The Jeweler's Shop, by by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)
The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Lifeby Ann Voskamp

reading during lent...

Dorothy Sayers' radio drama / play-cycle "The Man Born to Be King."

Why can't the BBC Radio archives be available?