Archive for March, 2010

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Happy birthday, Barnabas!

barnabas with 2 pacifiers

On March 31, 1983, you were born–our last child–or so we thought. And so with you I experienced all those bittersweet “last time” moments.

(Of course, Talitha came along 12 years later and she was the real last one. But in the meantime, you–our first last–got to be the youngest.)

One of the results of being the youngest was finding out how many ways your 3 big brothers could make you look, act, be silly. And you went along with it all amazingly cheerfully. Strong sense of survival?

We thank God every day for you, Barnabas–for your dependence on the Lord, for the wonderful woman you’ve added to our family, and for your girls.

Barnabas and familyWish we could be there to celebrate with you all!

I love you.

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Caldecott and cultures

One thing I’ve appreciated looking over the Caldecott Honor Books recently is remembering that several I’ve particularly liked are ones that took my children and me to other places and times and cultures.

Swahili-speaking Africa — 1972

jambo means hello

Medieval England — 1974


Appalachian America — 1983

when i was young in the mountains

1920s African-American city life — 1992

tar beach

I’ve also posted earlier some  favorite Caldecott Medal winners and other Caldecott Honor Books.

I receive a small percentage for purchases made through
the links which are included  here for your convenience.

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Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

A love letter from my husband

noel and johnOn Sunday, the last half of my husband’s sermon was the announcement to our people that he has asked for a sabbatical and the elders have graciously granted it.

In that sermon and in the letter that followed, he explained the reasons.

He loved me by acknowledging our need for concentrated time “for a serious assessment—a kind of reality check in the light of God’s word. Am I living in the mindset and the pattern of life that Jesus calls for here in Mark 8:31-38, especially in relation to those I love most?”

And I hope you noticed that he spoke and wrote as if all the need for this time away lay in his own shortcomings. I hope you are wise enough to know that things are never that simple. He loved me by covering for me–by being my protector. We’re in this together.

That was a love letter to me that you get to read too.

I pray with him that God might make these eight months the best Bethlehem and we have ever known.

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Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

So you want to be a writer

Periodically, someone asks my advice about being a writer and getting published. My advice is pretty much the same every time. Here’s what I wrote some time ago for the Desiring God blog.

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Monday, March 29th, 2010

Container to Haiti–deadline

Contents for the container for Real Hope For Haiti Rescue Center are being sorted this week.

. . . now is the time. Please mail or deliver personally to:

Debbie Woodward
1500 Jackson St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

In addition, pallet sponsors are needed for the shipment. $250 pays for one pallet within the container. Donations can be made by a Paypal link at the Rescue Center website or by sending a check to the address shown there. Please designate your donation as Minnesota Shipping.

Thank you so very much to you who have already been making donations and sewing lovely dresses.

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Saturday, March 27th, 2010

I love the 80s

I love the 80sWait! Not those 80s! I mean the 1880s.

And actually, that’s the title of another free album download–one I almost missed because I thought the same thing you did–Do I love the 1980s? (Except of course for the stellar arrival of our Barnabas.)

Instead, here are more than 5–five–hours of what might just have well been entitled The Best of the 80s — Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Dvorak, Borodin, Bruckner . . .

Excuse me while I lean back in my new armchair in my new study and close my eyes and listen–for a few minutes at least–before I finish turning pillowcases into dresses for little girls in Haiti.

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Caldecott Honors-1


On Randolph Caldecott’s birthday, I made note of my favorite of the winners of the annual Caldecott Medal for outstanding illustrations in children’s books.

I try to imagine how agonizing it must be for the judges to come up with just ONE book each year. You can see what I mean if you look over the Caldecott Honor Books, the titles that didn’t make it for the Medal, but were so good the judges just had to recognize them.

To take it one step further, these books are reminders of the other excellent work by the same illustrators–classics on a child’s bookshelf.

Here are a few of my favorite Caldecott Honor Books–from 1940, 1949, 1962, and 1971 respectively.

I’ll post more another day.

blueberries for sal

little bear

frog and toad are friends

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Actually, five

Last week, Abraham and Molly discovered she’s carrying twins.

Ever since Orison learned about the pregnancy, he’s been referring to the baby as she. No gentle warnings toward wait-and-see could shake his confidence.

Today Molly posted the video of Orison discovering he’s expecting not one sister, but two.

I love it near the end when he announces the number of children in the family, remembering Felicity.

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Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Father. Mother. “The most painful situation imaginable”

Imagine that someone shows up at your door and uses their authority to kick you out of your home. Just you. Not your children. Someone else comes in to take care of the children.

Whether your child was born to you, adopted by you, or is being fostered by you–how could you bear such a thing? What would happen to the children? To their emotions, their spirits, their health, their futures?

This is what happened at the Village of Hope in Ain Leuh, Morocco. At VOH, 33 children for the most part have known no other parents than the families which they’ve become part of. And now these expatriate families have been forced to leave Morocco. This video was shot just after the authorities announced to the children that their foster parents and siblings were being evicted from Morocco. The cries are tearing at my heart.

In the midst of my emotions, I plead with you to be careful how you spread this information. The parents want to return to their children more than any of us might want it for them. So please, let’s honor their request:

We also appeal to our supporters around the World to not react to this situation and use the internet or any other means to say anything that might be viewed as detrimental about the Moroccan authorities.  We the parents are the only people who carry the authority to speak into this situation on behalf of our children and we are raising up a team of people whom we trust with our message to speak on our behalves.

I hope you will read their official statement, especially if you’ve been stirred by other announcements. Let the parents be the guide.

If you feel led to action, please work through the contacts the parents have listed at the end of the statement.

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Monday, March 22nd, 2010


Randolph Caldecott was born on this date in 1886. Caldecott greatly influenced illustration of children’s books during the nineteenth century.

To me, his name means outstanding illustrations in contemporary children’s books. The Caldecott Medal was named in his honor and is awarded by the American Library Association to the year’s most outstanding illustrations in a children’s book.

The first Caldecott Medal was awarded in 1938.

I feel nostalgic looking over the list of winners, remembering books my children and I enjoyed together, for example the Medal winners from 1942, 1954, 1963, and 1978, respectively:

Make Way for Ducklings, McClosky, 1942 winner

madeline's rescue

snowy day


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Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Happy birthday, Mr. Bach

happy birthday, bachI made a recommendation yesterday of a free MP3 album of baroque music.

That just shows you my lack of planning. I should have saved it until today, because today is the birthday of the greatest Baroque composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.

Well, anyway, here’s a piece that’s really for the day. It’s Happy Birthday performed as Bach might have arranged it, if given the chance.

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Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Sea should be his name!

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on this day in 1685.

Here’s an article about him that I wrote few years ago for a children’s magazine. As I read it again this morning, I am reminded what a gift God gave to Bach, and through him to us.

Johann Sebastian Bach produced more works in his lifetime than most musicians, and he influenced the development of Western music more than any of them. Yet during his lifetime, his music was not very popular.

He began studying music when he was 8 years old. His parents died when he was 9. He sang in the soprano section of the school choir and learned to write, compose, and play music on the harpsichord and organ. Recognized as a virtuoso—a person who has exceptional musical talent and creativity—he became a church organist at the age of 18.

Church was a good setting for his creativity, which he saw as God’s gift. Struggling for the right notes, he would jot a prayer on his manuscript, Jesu juva (Help me, O Jesus). At the end, he often wrote thankfully, Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the glory).

Even his first cantatas—songs written for a combination of voices and instruments—were masterpieces. Unfortunately, only one appeared in print during his life. The rest were scribbled by hand.

One of these works is called the Coffee Cantata. During the late 17th century, coffee was all the rage in the high societies of Europe. This piece tells the story of a father who gave his daughter an ultimatum: Either she has to marry her suitor or give up her daily two cups of coffee.

At times he was making so much music that he was composing a cantata a week! In all, he composed over 200 choral works, 17 concertos, hundreds of works for the keyboard and organ, and oratorios for every season of the church year. (An oratorio is a cantata telling a specific story).

Before he came along, folks played the harpsichord or the piano (a recent invention during his lifetime) with only 6-8 fingers. He decided that he should put all 10 fingers to use. Can you imagine playing the piano any other way?

He rose above any particular style by combining old with new. The older counterpoint style used different melodies woven together or playing off one another. The use of harmony was a little newer in his time, and blended notes into a smooth sound. Sometimes he would  combine complex versions of both styles, making them precise and beautiful.

Johannes Brahms said of him “Study Bach. There you will find everything.”

His 2-volume work, The Well-tempered Keyboard, gave a new definition to tuning. He spread the sound-steps evenly over the keyboard and was able to present each of the “well-tempered compositions in 12 major and 12 minor keys. This was revolutionary. If a song, say, is too high for your voice, no problem—just transpose it to a lower-pitched key! Any music can be played in any key. It would be hard to find other music books that have been so much studied and played and enjoyed as The Well-tempered Keyboard.

However, many of his compositions are lost. When a church musician took over after Bach’s death, his work didn’t seem to matter anymore. Some manuscripts were even sold as scrap for wrapping meat.

When he died in 1750, the Baroque Era of music ended. But one 20th-century musician [Max Reger] called him “the beginning and end of all music.”

In German, the word bach means brook. The great German composer Beethoven, contemplating the depth of the global influence of Johann Sebastian Bach, exclaimed, “Not brook (Bach)! Sea should be his name.”

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