Do you see some irony in our current situation? Our world is preyed upon by an invisible evil, pushing us back into our homes. Homes.
Most people have worked hard to have beautiful homes. Look at the popularity of HGTV! I too love creating a beautiful home. But the irony is that so many people really don’t want to live at home — working from home, schooling from home, and playing at home. Only for short segments are they comfortable there. Do our lovely homes intimidate us?
Cabin fever! At the large sizes of most American homes? Compare the size of an average home built in the USA in 1950 with today’s average: around 980 square feet in 1950 to around 2600 square feet in homes the last five years. You and I fit somewhere in there. If our homes or apartments have more than 980 square feet, then we live in relative spaciousness. And style and convenience. . . .
Third world people may be more than puzzled at our angst at staying home, with our first world problems. Time to buck up (it appears we are) and be creative.
For most of us in America (and first world countries), we are called to fight this war in the luxury of our own homes. And with the luxury of all our modern conveniences (as long as we have them; may they continue, and may we be thankful).
Yes, yes, there is enormous stress we’re living through. A novel virus. Illness of varying degrees. Possible death. Shortages of medicine and supplies. Economic upheaval. All the unknowns. I’m telling you nothing you don’t know, except I state it to validate our multidimensional anxiety. We’re told not to panic. Maybe trusting God would help. And so I could sermonize, but you’ve had sermons.
I’ve been racking up a list of resources that may contain sources of blessing to us and for others. How can we employ some of these, especially for those of us who are isolated or quarantined at home, to serve others in our families, churches, and neighborhoods? While most likely you are already accessing some of these, this list may stir your imagination, bolster your motivation, and invigorate your spirit!
Forward this email to someone who may need some of this encouragement. (Thus, I’m playing a role from my sun room!)
Skim through this list. Choose something to try. Take your time and come back to this JNC post to grab another resource idea or site. Knowing the rich blessings available here, I’m delighted for you.
Resources to Explore
1. I’ll start with a read-view combo idea: The Pilgrim’s Progress. You may have a copy in your home library. Many versions, edited and paraphrased, are on the market. But there’s also the outstanding video version produced by RevelationMedia. I’m so excited about this one! Try this one first and soon!
You can access it and watch it free, I believe, until the end of April, in your home — alone or with those living with you. Kristyn Getty superbly introduces the movie. (Her introduction alone is worth listening to over again and meditating upon.) Oh, what blessings you can receive from this resource. Then talk about your reading/viewing experience with your family or others!
Access Video: https://www.revelationmedia.com/watchpilgrims/
2.) Bott Radio:
There are plenty of Christian radio stations across the country, but Bott Radio Network offers Bible teaching. Its motto is “Getting the Word of God into the People of God.”
When you need music, you don’t turn to Bott, but when your ready for some good teaching, turn to Bott. Check out the schedule of teachers. You’ll also find a few shows that deal with current events and news from a Christian perspective, but most of the programs are Bible teaching programs. Most of them are good programs. I often listen while getting ready in the morning (part of my “Ready Ritual”) and while I cook or wash dishes. Share a Bott program with a friend and discuss it on the phone with him/her.
3. Good Books, Great Books: Since our libraries are closed, check out your home library and online books. How many books and resources do you have that you’ve saved, hoping to have time in the future to pick them up? Now may be the time. Can you find one hour a day to read? In cumulative blocks or in one whole hour period? Read to yourself or read to whomever is home with you. Read alouds are social and bonding! Try Skype to read aloud with someone who is home alone or may be in a nursing home.
Reading that is educational, entertaining, and stress relieving is my goal. When your mind is really anxious, technical and “deep in the weeds” books may not be helpful. Here is a different idea:
Read excellent books written for older children (from upper elementary through high school). Consider some Newbery Award books. Newbery Medal and Newbery Honor books have been named yearly since 1922. Many are outstanding. You’ll learn, enjoy, and be inspired, no matter your age.
Access the list here: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberywinners/medalwinners
Wikipedia has a great article:
Amazing! From the following site, you can access online Newbery, Nobel, and Pulitzer prize winning books to read:
Here are some of my favorite Newbery award books:
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (1990)
Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan (1986)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (1977)
Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt (1967)
I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino (1966)
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle (1963)
The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare (1962)
Oh, oh, the books that won the award in the 1950s are mostly amazing: The Door in the Wall; Amos Fortune, Free Man; The Wheel on the School; Carry On, Mr. Bowditch; Miracles on Maple Hill; and Rifles for Waite!!! Oh, read reviews of the books and start reading them, even if you read some of them as a child! Children should read many of them, but many adults will enjoy them more, and there is so much to be gained from them. Many are based in history; all offer life lessons. I always want to learn all I can from others, to increase my wisdom (and decrease my ignorance, foolishness, and my learning the hard way through my own experience, which I already do enough of!).
I have not read many of the more recent Newbery books (last fifteen years), so I can’t make recommendations there, yet. The awards began in 1922, and most of the ones I’ve read are well worth it. Read a few reviews first and then choose.
Other excellent children’s books (in the “juvenile” division of literature) are biographies. I just finished a children’s biography of Lafayette, considering it as a possible read aloud to do with our two grandsons. Yes, we are now reading aloud to them via Google Hangouts for an hour at a time while they are doing school at home. This biography was delightful! Great for 5th graders who are studying American History for the first time. And a joy for this old nana, all alone, cuddled up on my recliner in the living room, while my husband slept upstairs.
Biographies of scientists, musicians, artists, and statesman can give us windows into fields, viewpoints, and experiences outside our own. I once did not like “science,” but once I read biographies of Michael Faraday and George Washington Carver, my attitude changes, as I saw into their minds and their passions. Reading good literature enriches us.
Besides The Pilgrim’s Progress book and video, Bott Radio, and excellent books, there is another, huge but potentially precarious resource (oh, now, be careful):
4. YouTube. Once you make a few good selections on this platform, you will receive more options, some of which will also be good or even better (and some not good). There, you can access good music, classic movies, educational documentaries, how-to videos, cooking videos, talk shows, conversations, political discussions, lectures, Ted talks, and such. (You probably know all this.)
How can you use good YouTube selections to connect with someone else, or even with a group of others, from one home to another and another? Here are some YouTube choices that I find beneficial:
Music on YouTube: I’ll offer just one idea today. This one is stunning. Listen, read the translation, meditate, and I expect you’ll be like me — in wonder, awe, and as Johann Sebastian Bach signed his works, you’ll concur – “Soli Deo Gloria” — Glory alone to God!
Here is Bach’s oratorio, St. John’s Passion based upon chapters 18-19 of the gospel of John. Before you click on the video below, pull up the translation of the lyrics. This is sung in German; how I’d love to hear it in English. J.S. Bach (1685-1750) lived his entire life in Germany. The choir begins by singing these words:
Flauto traverso I/II, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Herr, unser Herrscher, dessen Ruhm
Lord, our ruler, whose glory
In allen Landen herrlich ist!
is magnificent everywhere!
Zeig uns durch deine Passion,
Show us through your passion,
Dass du, der wahre Gottessohn,
that you , the true son of God,
Zu aller Zeit,
at all times
Auch in der größten Niedrigkeit,
even in the most lowly state,
Verherrlicht worden bist!
are glorified. (https://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV245-Eng3.htm)
NOTE: Sigh! When you click below, it will start in the middle: move the recording back to the very beginning! That is what I want you to hear first. Then listen, study, and enjoy as much as you want. (I’m sorry, I tried multiple times to transfer it so it would begin at the beginning, but I’m just not cleaver enough.)
Read about Bach with your children, or just enjoy this bio-sketch piece yourself:
You’ll also want to find a performance of Bach’s famous St. Matthew’s Passion! And, and, and. . . .
Teaching/Demonstrations on YouTube: Type in what you want to learn about and flip through the video options. Some will be poor, but you’ll find helpful lessons and how-to demonstrations. As a handyman, my husband’s retirement career/ministry/hobby, Paul types in the problem he wants to solve and sorts through videos to find helpful solutions.
Culture/Politics on YouTube:
Just two sample ideas:
The Eric Metaxas Radio Show. Skim through the show list and choose some intriguing conversations.
Prager U videos, such as PU’s new book club discussions! There is one a month, and since this was begun in January, three episodes are out (and April’s is ready to come out soon!). The books discussed are these: 1) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl; 2) Hamlet, by William Shakespeare; 3) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. Michael Knowles leads each discussion. I’m so pleased with the selections and would love to tell you why, but no time! You can subscribe free to the club here: https://www.prageru.com/series/book-club/
Possibly you’ll find your pastor on YouTube, and other good teachers (and some not biblically sound; sort and discern. . . .). We’ll close with one, short video and then one soul-enriching hymn page that should bless you (and anyone you share this with).
Gospel Encouragement during this Coronavirus Pandemic:
John MacArthur: The Gospel, The Church, and This Present Problem:
5. Hymnbooks and musical instruments you have at home. They are there to bless you and others!
I gratefully took this picture this morning after playing this hymn on my excellently tuned piano (joy to my ears):
Thank you for the Pilgrim’s Progress link – we read it as a family last year, so it would be good to watch a film version of it.
Also, I watched the Prager U book club episode about Jane Austen a few days ago. I loved the insights shared, and it got me thinking about how many women who read Austen probably see themselves as a type of Elizabeth Bennett. But most of us, if we’re honest, may have more in common with supporting characters, or even characters we don’t like. While Elizabeth is not perfect, she still seems to be an “ideal” women aspire to, much like Mr. Darcy is an ideal women wish more men would aspire to.