Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Characteristics

From John MacArthur's commentary on Ephesians, p. 209, emphasis MacArthur:

(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing the Lord.  (5:9-10)

In what appears to be a parenthetical statement, the manifest characteristics of the children of light are given in what Paul here calls the fruit of the light. . . The three supreme characteristics, or fruit, of our walk as children of light are all goodness and righteousness and truth.

These are the tests of true faith, of a true saving relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.  A "decision" for Christ, church membership, faithful attendance at worship services, being baptized, financial support of the Lord's work, and many other such things are often used as evidence of salvation.  The faithful Christian should do all of those things, but they are behaviors that are easily done in the flesh and are therefore unreliable in themselves as evidence.  On the other hand, the three characteristics Paul mentions here are spiritual works that cannot be achieved in the flesh.  The all reflects the perfection of the divine standard.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Winter Birds 2013

The cold weather this year has caused our feeder to be far more active, with a much greater variety of birds, then last year when we barely had winter.  Right now the finches of all kinds have discovered our "buffet" and are just about eating us out of house and home.  I filled the tube feeder this morning and it is already about a quarter gone.  

I've been trying to get some pictures and have finally been a little successful, though not of everything I'd like to get.  And with the magic of the editing feature on iPhoto, some of these pics are actually easy to identify the birds.  For each decent pic, I threw out about ten blurry or bad ones.

This is a pine warbler, which any more is a constant visitor.  At first it appears to be just another goldfinch, of which we seem to get hundreds any more - until you realize that it is a beautiful golden color, not the duller color of a winter goldfinch, and it does not have the same wing markings as a goldfinch.

Here is the pine warbler on the suet feeder, with a Carolina wren on the opposite branch.  You can see the yellow so much better here.

Looking past the "bird buffet" out to Mike's shop.  I thought this was a pretty picture of a beautiful winter day around here.

Chickadee at the bird bath.  We moved it around to here from the back of the house, where it's stayed the last couple of winters, and have been amazed at how much it's been used.  Bluebirds, who don't eat from seed feeders, have come to drink also.

 This male cardinal is always the beauty of a winter bird feeding station.

Mourning doves at the birdbath.  A couple of times I've looked out and seen doves that were definitely not mourning doves - a big surprise as these are the standard dove for the southeast.  Turns out what I saw are called Eurasian Collared Doves, an invasive species that is now moving through this area.  They weren't even in the book I used when we spent a lot of time studying birds when we were first married.  

And this is my favorite.  The pine siskin is an eruptive species that is not predictable from year to year, but with the cold air this was predicted to be a good year for siskins.  Here they are getting thistle seed out of one of two sock feeders hanging from our trees.  You can see the yellow stripes on the wings of the top bird - sometimes they are easy to see and sometimes not.  If you can catch them in flight, the yellow on the inside of the wings is visible also.  In addition to the yellow, they are slightly smaller, more heavily streaked, and have a smaller bill and a notched tail, than female house finches.

The last time I saw pine siskins was when we still lived in the little house on Paris Mountain--23 winters ago.  So having them back this year is a real treat.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


As a child, I read and re-read the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series repeatedly (and read and re-read them on into adulthood).  I do remember a time or two wondering why, if the books were about Wilder's life as a child, were they then catalogued as fiction?  But somewhere along the way, a librarian or an article or something satisfied that curiosity by explaining that the books were loosely based on her life - a big difference than being true biographies  That settled my childhood curiosity in a way that made sense.

On an adult level rather than a child's, Pamela Smith Hill's book, Laura Ingalls Wilder - A Writer's Life, attempts to tackle the bridge between the true life story and the novels that evolved from it.  Hill introduces Wilder's memoir, Pioneer Girl (Wilder's first work), and then spends the first few chapters of her book pointing out all the differences between the memoir and the novels.  Frankly, I found her attitude toward the differences to be off-putting.  I thought she described the differences with a "gotcha" tone - "Here's another one!" - and almost quit reading the book.

But then Hill gets into the Almanzo and Laura's lives, the move to Mansfield, and Wilder's early experiences as a writer.  Then she moves into Wilder's early attempts to transform her memoir into the novels.  Here is where the book really gets interesting.  Wilder had zero experience with agents, publishing houses, or editors.  It is true that without her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, and Lane's editorial skills, the books probably would never have been published.  However, Lane was also like a steamroller in her attitude toward her mother's literary work.  She was condescending and she did not recognize her mother's great talent.

The irony is that Lane badly wanted to write great and lasting works. and thought her mother incapable of doing such.  Yet in the end her mother's simple works became far greater than the daughter's ever did.  Lane, although acclaimed, never received the long-lasting success of her mother, perhaps poetically, because the source of Rose's successful novel, Let the Hurricane Roar, was her mother's memoir Pioneer Girl - but was used without her mother's knowledge or permission.

Page 152 - "Let the Hurricane Roar was an instant success. . . Critics raved. . . . Wilder, on the other hand, was dismayed by the book's success.  Lane had raided her manuscript, lifted its most memorable and dramatic elements, and used them to create a bestseller.  And she had done it, apparently, without Wilder's knowledge or permission.  This amounts to plagiarism.  If Wilder and Lane had not been mother and daughter, the case could have ended up in court, and there were those who thought it came close to doing so.

"Wilder must have also worried that Lane had robbed her of a literary future. . . Lane, in whom Wilder had entrusted her literary career, had dealt her a major and unexpected blow."

It was years before the breach between the two women healed.  And although Lane's editing skills are what shaped the books into what they were, as the series continued to be churned out over the years, Wilder's own skills, both in writing and in dealing with the publishing world, revealed a growing sophistication.

The book concludes with these statements: "And while Wilder was indebted to Lane for her editorial expertise, Lane was indebted to her mother for the material she used in her most widely read novels. . . Their artistic relationship was as deeply entwined as their familial one.  Wilder, however, was the stronger novelist, Lane the stronger editor."

This book was an interesting look into a very complicated relationship.  I thought at first that my sympathies lay with Wilder simply because I've loved her work for so many years; however, even a disinterested party could easily side with Wilder because of the actions of Lane.  Hill does an excellent job of writing about this, and the book is well documented.  If a reader can get past the first few chapters of comparison between the memoir and the novels, he or she will find a fascinating read and new insight into the beginnings of the LITTLE HOUSE series.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday's Fave Five - February 15, 2013

Link to Friday's Fave Five blog

1. Some of my crazy senior boys gave me a "singing valentine" yesterday.  Too funny!!!  They are full of personality and sang "My Girl" - two verses - with great enthusiasm.  They know how to "feather their nest" - they know I am grading their senior projects right now!!  Someone tried to video it but only got about two seconds of it.  Oh well - at least they got a picture.

2. My dear friend Nancy took me out on Monday night for dinner for my birthday.  A couple of months late, yes, but better late than never.

3. A situation resolved at least where hearts are concerned.

4. Last Friday evening we went out with good friends, to eat and then to the Greater Vision concert held locally as a fundraiser, and with free tickets (thank you!) from a couple in our church.  Very nice evening.

5. It's the fifteenth - it's pay day again!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ten Days and a Project

 Don't know when I've gone this long without posting on this blog.  Just had a lot going and some things on my mind this past week.

Mike has started a project behind his shop.  The lean-to is rotting out and needs to be replaced.  Yesterday was a beautiful, not-too-cold winter day and so he spent most of it starting to tear the old one down.

The base of one of the rotting-out posts.

And you can barely see him with the backlight of the sun.  With him on the roof I hoped all day not to hear the sound of a thud coming from back there.  :-)