What kind of Clutterbug are you?

Cassandra Aarsen’s The Clutter Connection makes a bold claim: that all people fit into one of four clutter categories based on their preferences around the visibility of their organization system and the degree of organization within their system.

“Butterflies” prefer visual abundance and organizational simplicity. They need big, visible, easy-to-access containers that make it easy to toss something back where it belongs (even if it’ll take some extra time to dig around for the specific battery they need.)

“Bees” prefer visual abundance AND organizational abundance. They like to see their stuff, but they also like to micro-sort it into dozens or hundreds of categories.

“Ladybugs” prefer visual and organizational simplicity. They want things out of sight but have little patience for maintaining detailed systems.

“Crickets”, on the other hand, prefer visual simplicity and organizational abundance. They want things neatly filed out of sight into complex organizational schemes.

Okay, sure, you may be saying. Everyone has different preferences. So what?

Well, if the best organizing system is the one you’ll actually use… then knowing your type and that of the members of your household can be helpful.

And that’s the real strength of this book. Aarsen gives lots of tips for how to help the clutterbugs in your life keep on top of their stuff. Perhaps the most helpful tip for those of us in a huge household is to defer to visual abundance and organizational simplicity. It’s easier for a lover of visual simplicity to hang jackets on a coat rack than to get a lover of visual abundance to open the closet, get out a hanger, and hang up their coat. An abundant organizer can create an “inbox” for broad categories so that the simple organizer can toss items in – the abundant organizer can always micro-organize later.

I took Aarsen’s quiz and discovered that nearly every question slotted me neatly into the “visual abundance, organizational abundance” category. I didn’t pay any attention to which bug that was – which meant I was sure her quiz had gotten me wrong when she started describing the “bee”. It fit me to a T! Silly me for not paying attention to the moniker – I’m a total bee.

As is Daniel. Our kids, on the other hand? At least one is definitely a butterfly – and probably a whole lot more than one. We need to simplify our organizational systems wherever the children interface with them. And we need to have less stuff. Sigh.

All in all, I found Aarsen’s book to be an enjoyable and thought-provoking listen as I’ve been sorting through seemingly endless boxes of loose parts. Whether the insight I’ve gained will be able to help keep those loose parts from finding a place back in a random box? That remains to be seen.

What I do for myself

Eloise Rickman, in her book Extraordinary Parenting, writes of asking mothers what they do for themselves only to meet blank stares. Many mothers don’t do anything for themselves.

I had to stop the audiobook to clarify to Beth-Ellen, who was folding laundry alongside me, that I was not one of those women. I am no martyr. I do things for myself all day long.

I make my bed when I wake up and delight in the beauty of the quilt my mother made us or the one I made myself.

I copy out a passage of Scripture, slowly working my way through a text.

I cuddle with one of my little ones as they slowly wake up.

I peer out the window at the newest visitor to our bird feeder, trying to memorize its features so I can look it up later (if I don’t know its identity) or pointing out its various features to my children if I do know something about it.

I memorize passages of Scripture and sing hymns with my children during our morning worship.

I grub about in one of my many beds of native plants when I step outside to call the kids in or to get the mail or to empty the compost pail.

I read The Story of the World and Hans Christian Anderson during “together time.” I read poems, old and new. I learn the names of the clouds with my children and what weather each type of clouds portends.

I take long baths while reading up on whatever my current pet topic is.

I dream up and research out the next garden bed and then work to implement it.

I plan the next year’s school curriculum and delight in thinking of the next subjects my children and I will deep dive into together.

I sketch ideas for the next Easter or Christmas outfits and then comb through the patterns I have and what free patterns I can find to approximate the vision I have in my head. I dig through my fabric collection and delight in not spending anything, except joyful time sewing, on my kids’ festival clothing.

I make cut-up cakes for my kids’ birthdays, with each opening of the Twizzler bag bringing back fond memories of the cakes my grandma made me.

I do these things for myself day in and day out. Just because I also do them with or for others does not make them any less for me.

Sometimes, my family and I drink deeply together of life-giving water. Other times, I pour out and find myself all the more enriched for having used the things I delight in to serve my family.

Truly, I lead a rich and fulfilling life.

Notes from Lift by Daniel Kuntz

In The Liberal Arts Tradition, Clark and Jain argue that the ancients considered gymnastics and music to be an essential component of early education (perhaps even THE essential components of early education.)

As a mother of many young children and a not-particularly-gymnasticly-oriented person, I have lots of questions. What do the ancients mean by gymnastic? Of what benefit is gymnastic training? How does a gymnastic education fit into the whole idea of a liberal arts education (that is, an education fit for free men)? And, in what manner did the medievals interpret the classical emphasis on gymnastic training?

Cover of Lift by Daniel Kunitz

When I saw Daniel Kunitz’s Lift: Fitness Culture from Naked Greeks and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warriors in my local library’s catalog, I hoped it could help in answering these questions.

Alas, it was not to be.

Kunitz seems much more interested in telling the story of his beloved Crossfit and creating an ancient mythology for it than in uncovering a historical understanding of fitness. He mentions that “In Athens, the three great gymnasia – Plato’s Akademy, Aristotle’s Lykeion, and the Cynosarges – were also sites of the era’s three major philosophical traditions, directed by philosopher-athletes” but offers no assistance in understanding the interplay between philosophy and athletics.

For an understanding of the early Christian attitude toward athletics, Kunitz falls even further short, stating without reference that “Christian denigration of the body as inherently sinful… certainly contributed significantly to the deterioration of athletics in the Roman era as well as in the Middle Ages” and leaving the whole Christian conception of the body there.

Kunitz does somewhat better at detailing a history of modern fitness, but his own obsession with Crossfit and the “New Fitness Frontier” clouds his ability to tell a clean story. He derides an emphasis on fitness for the sake of slimming down, but fails to make a good case for why fitness for the sake of looking like Hercules is better. He is dismissive of jogging and other aerobic pursuits as pointless (despite advocates stated desire to either improve cardiovascular health or to attain or maintain healthy weight), but fails to make a compelling case for the endless improvement (always seeking a new personal best) that he considers the ideal.

The optimization of the body is Kunitz’s goal – and perhaps the goal of fellow members of the New Fitness Frontier – but such a goal falls flat to my mind. The body is not an end in itself. It exists for a higher goal – the glory of God. So, for me, fitness is not about achieving my body’s greatest potential but about being fit to accomplish the purposes I know God has for me: fit to serve as my husband’s helpmeet, fit to mother and educate my children, fit to serve within my church and community however God should lead, and so forth.

Which means my search to better understand the meaning and value of “gymnastic education” as conceived by either the ancients or the medievals continues.

In 15 Years

At the beginning of the summer of 2006, 15 years ago, I returned every single book I had checked out from my local library. I packed my bags, and with them just one book: my Bible. I was heading to Jacksonville Florida for a Summer Training Program with the Navigators and had purposed that I would be, for that summer, a woman of one book.

My summer in Jacksonville was a fruitful time, life-changing in fact. God used the focused time in his word to cut through some key misunderstandings I had about the gospel and my standing before God. I wouldn’t trade that summer for anything.

But I did miss my library.

I returned home and went under the knife, getting a long-awaited septoplasty to help me breathe better. But that septoplasty left me recovering from surgery with NO LIBRARY BOOKS!

My library shelf (not all books shown - dozens more on my nightstand!)
My library shelf (not all books shown – dozens more on my nightstand!)

I hatched perhaps the craziest, most ambitious plan of my life – I would attempt to read every book in my local library. (Okay, I’m just realizing that maybe the craziest, most ambitious plan of my life has been to keep having children after all we’ve been through…I’ll have to think about which is crazier :-P)

I embarked 15 years ago, on September 5, 2006.

Reading Since September 5, 2006 (15 years)

CategoryItems in 2020-2021Total ItemsNotes
Juvenile Picture Books3722880My goal for 2021 has been to read at least one picture book a day – and I’ve been cruising right along. So far, I’ve closed out picture books author last name AA-EL and X (totally cheating because my library of record only has one picture book with an author last name X!)
Juvenile Board Books0558I closed these out in 2018 and, with pandemic going on, have chosen to only read our personal collection rather than borrowing board books from the library this past year. I *did* review my logs of board books read in the past to request favorites to be added to our collection as Christmas presents to Shiloh.
Juvenile First Readers47127I purposed to read one of these a week with Tirzah Mae during 2021, but have been disappointed to find that I’ve not been able to find decodable readers – everything is leveled readers, which don’t follow the best science for teahing reading but instead encourage kids to guess vs. decoding words. I’m still reading by myself but I’ve found precious little the Tirzah Mae can read to me as of yet (she’s getting close though – once we get to r controlled vowels soon her decoding ability will explode.)
Juvenile Fiction42452Between whole-family read-alouds during morning time, individual read-alouds with each of the three older children during their “special times”, and a bit of independent reading of my own, juvenile fiction reading has really picked up this year.
Juvenile Nonfiction54522I think we peaked on these pre-pandemic when the kids adored picking out their own nonfiction when we went into the library in person. My guess is we’ll increase again over time as we start doing more science and history work with our homeschool.
Teen Fiction1264One of my 2021 goals was to read a teen fiction book each month – Daniel found Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books and we’ve both been enjoying those this year.
Teen Nonfiction05This is barely a category at the library, but it does have a few titles.
Adult Fiction8511My 2021 goal is one a month – and I’ve been keeping up (barely), which means I didn’t read any in the last quarter of 2020 :-)
Adult Nonfiction531084I don’t need a goal to keep my nonfiction reading up – this is the kind of reading I find easy to do in the 10-15 minute segments I have available (generally while exercising, using the restroom, or winding down before bed.)
Audio CDs4652243This really inflates my numbers – I listen to one to two albums per day, one album from each Library of Congress classification before looping back around to the beginning. In this way, we listen to a broad variety of music throughout the course of a week or month.
Juvenile DVD1280We’ve been enjoying watching the “Signing Time” videos, slowly (very slowly) building up our vocabulary in American Sign Language
Adult Fiction DVDs9128Daniel and I are watching (sometimes rewatching) the Marvel movies in chronological order – and, of course, we’re borrowing the DVDs or BluRay from the library to complete our watching
Adult Nonfiction DVDs1892SO. Many. Dinosaur. Documentaries.
Periodicals12143I’m reading “Women’s Health” this year – and I continue to hold to my opinion that all popular health media is a bunch of hot air carrying a thin veneer of science.
3.0 items/ day1.2 items/ day

I only have annual data for 2010 and then 2016 through now, but it’s interesting to see trends in my reading makeup over the course of the years. I have reason to believe that 2010 was actually an outlier as far as picture book intake – I believe I was trying in a concentrated way to make my way through the picture book collection at my library that year in a way I didn’t do before or after until I had children. Of the more recent data, you can see that my “grown up” reading tanked in 2018, the same year my children’s book reading really took off and I started getting serious about listening to CDs from the library. Is it a coincidence that this was the year that I had a three year old, a one year old, and was expecting baby #3? I’m guessing not :-)

When I look at the non-media, non-picture book reading I’ve done on an annual basis, I’m a little surprised at the variability of the past four years. Though if I think of it…

…2018 I hit board books hard, trying to finish the category (I didn’t succeed until just a bit into 2019)

…2019 we were at the library in person on a weekly basis and the kids were picking up dozens of nonfiction picture books every chance they could get

…2020 was pandemic and I had to read on a device or nothing for months while the library was closed (Ugh.)

…2021 has been my year to focus on “balancing” my consumption between library categories. Each day, I’ve tried to read one picture book and listen to one CD. Each week, I’ve tried to read one early reader, one juvenile nonfiction book, and one juvenile fiction book. Each month, I’ve tried to read one adult fiction and one teen fiction, watch one children’s DVD and one adult fiction and nonfiction DVD, and read one magazine. Nonfiction I read at will, which is lots :-)

So there we have it. 15 years of reading, right there.

Reading My Library (14 years)

How is it possible that it’s been 14 years since I began my crazy goal of reading every book in my local library?

In that time, I moved from Lincoln to Columbus Nebraska (and kept on using my Lincoln library) and then from Columbus to Wichita (and switched from my Lincoln library to Wichita’s Central Library). We moved from downtown-ish Wichita to just outside of Wichita (and kept on using the Central Library) – and then the Central Library moved to the new “Advanced Learning Library”. Now that coronavirus means just picking up books we’ve requested (rather than browsing the stacks), I’m picking up my books at a closer location (but I’m keeping on using the Advanced Learning Library as my library of record, in hopes that someday we’ll be able to return!)

TOTALS as of September 5, 2020 (14 years or 5114 days)

Category Items in 2019-2020 Total Items since 2006 Notes
Juvenile Picture 528 2508 We were racing through these at the beginning of the year, but pandemic really slowed us down – and then we started really liking chapter books…
Juvenile, Board Books 15 558 We closed these in 2018, so this is just “fun reading” that the kids picked up during visits to the library (back when we could still visit the library.)
Juvenile, First Readers 3 80 I’m going to vote on this one for greatest growth over the next year.
Juvenile Fiction 2 410 The “two finished” is quite deceptive, since re-reads don’t count – and I’ve been reading quite a few of my favorites out loud to the kids. Also, these numbers won’t jibe with previous reports since I reorganized the “chapter books” from my old library into their place here as juvenile fiction.
Juvenile Nonfiction 55 468
Teen Fiction 0 52 Just not doing a lot of this sort of reading these days.
Teen Nonfiction 0 5
Adult Fiction 13 503 My statistics tell me my average for adult fiction is 37 books a year – obviously VERY skewed from my pre-kids days.
Adult Nonfiction 29 3 I knew my reading was down, but this is shocking. My overall average is 76 per year.
Audio CD 357 1778 Music, which takes an hour (for shorter CDs) to ten hours (for the big multidisc sets) and can be listened to while carrying out ordinary tasks, is a lot easier to get through these days.
Juvenile DVD 7 68 Harry Potter and kids yoga videos. The children watched the latter with me; Daniel and I did not let them see the former – because, witchcraft ;-)
Adult Fiction DVD 7 119 We’re currently watching the Marvel movies in chronological order (per this list. It’s fun.
Adult Nonfiction DVD 7 74 Do I like documentaries? Yes. Did my children and I watch a college course on child development? Yes, that too.
Periodicals 4 131
Total 1018 items 7786 items
2.78 items/day 1.21 items/day While I have vastly decreased my “me” reading over the past 14 years, picture books and audio CDs inflate my item count these days.

What with not being able to access our library’s physical collection AT ALL for almost 2 months, it’s been a weird year of reading – but I’m soldiering on with my goal. I’m going to keep trying until I die (no doubt.)

Picture Book Highlights (Author CRO-CZE)

We read 74 children’s picture books in the month of March – which, given that we only visited the library once the whole month (and that only to pick up less than a dozen books on hold!) is quite a feat, I think.

Our physical libraries are closed at least through the middle of April, so I’m guessing my “read every book” goal is going to have to take a pause while we spend more time reading what we already have in our home collection.

The Really Groovy Story of the Tortoise and the Hare by Kristyn Crow, illustrated by Christina Forshay

The Really Groovy Story of the Tortoise and the Hare

A fun rhyming retelling of the classic story, set in modern day Chicago (I think) with a fast-moving city hare and a slow-and-steady country tortoise.

Just as Good: How Larry Doby Changed America’s Game by Chris Crowe, illustrated by Mike Benny

Just as Good

Homer, a young Cleveland boy, is ecstatic that Larry Doby has joined the Cleveland Indians. Here at last, is a chance to prove that Jackie Robinson is not just a fluke, that black folks can be just as good as white ones. Homer and his father eagerly listen to the fourth game of the World Series, rejoicing as Larry Doby makes a home run – one of the two scores to win the 2-1 game. In the morning, Homer and his dad see a picture of Doby and white teammate Steve Gromek hugging in the newspaper – and they feel that, at last, change is coming for black people.

Only You by Robin Cruise, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Only You

I’m a bit of a sucker for “precious” picture books with very few words and a general theme of “I love you”, clearly intended to be read to babies and young toddlers. This is a very nice example of the genre – sweet without being saccharine, expressing a parent’s delight in a child without romanticizing bad behavior (as some books of the type occasionally do.) I also appreciate how the illustrations show a diverse selection of children and parents – boys, girls, men, and women black, white, and brown.

Ten-Gallon Bart Beats the Heat by Susan Stevens Crummel, illustrated by Dorothy Donohue

Ten-Gallon Bart Beats the Heat

Texas is so hot that Ten-Gallon Bart (the dog) heads up to the Yukon to cool off (and maybe prospect for a bit of gold). When he gets buried in a crazy snowstorm, his friends head north to dig him out and bring him back home. This is not fine literature, but it’s fun. The children enjoyed the story, mama enjoyed the Texas drawlin’ and the fun cut paper illustrations. Crummel and Donohue also wrote two books about Ten-Gallon Bart before this (but that we read out of order): Ten-Gallon Bart and Ten Gallon Bart and the Wild West Show. We thoroughly enjoyed all three in this series.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

A man has the lonely job of uncorking ocean bottles and taking them to their recipient. He dreams of having a bottle addressed to him, but knows there is little chance since he has no friends. But, as Tirzah Mae pointed out: “Well, then, he should make some friends!” And so he does, with the help of an anonymous bottle. A sweet and lovely book.

The Cello of Mr. O by Jane Cutler, illustrated by Greg Couch

The Cello of Mr. O

A young girl grows up in a war zone. Wednesday afternoon relief trucks are the only thing she has to look forward. Until a bomb strikes the relief truck and their drop-off point is cancelled. But the neighbor, Mr. O brings out his cello and plays in the center of the empty war-ruined square, giving everyone hope. This is a weighty book, but a wonderful one.

The Little Fire Truck by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Bob Kolar

The Little Fire Truck

A relatively simple book with thick, tear-proof pages. Each page starts “I’m a little fire truck…” and can (generally) be sung to the tune of “I’m a little teapot.” Louis (who is obsessed with trucks) and Beth-Ellen (who is obsessed with singing) particularly enjoyed this title, requesting it over and over and over again until I had no voice to sing and had to refuse to read it again.

Reading My Library (13.5 years)

March 5 just so happened to be the half-year mark on my “reading my library” challenge, which I began on September 5, 2006. So we’re about 13.5 years in. So far, it looks like this year will look relatively similar to last year – except that we’re reading a lot more juvenile picture books compared to other types of books/materials.

TOTALS as of March 10, 2019 (13 years and 187 days or 4935 days)

Category Items in past 6 months Items in 2018-2019 Total Items
Juvenile Picture 272 323 2252
Juvenile, Board Books 14 31 557
Juvenile, First Readers 1 2 78
Juvenile, Chapter 0 0 92
Juvenile Fiction 2 4 326
Juvenile Nonfiction 28 133 441
Teen Fiction 0 3 52
Teen Nonfiction 0 6 11
Adult Fiction 9 22 499
Adult Nonfiction 16 49 1018
Audio CD 142 488 1563
Juvenile DVD 6 8 67
Adult Fiction DVD 1 5 113
Adult Nonfiction DVD 1 18 64
Periodicals 2 33 129
Total 494 items 1125 items 7262 items
2.93 items/day 2.94 items/day 1.21 items/day

We are racing through the children’s picture books, having read 84% of last year’s total in just 6 months! I’m loving having found something that’s working for us for read-aloud time. Juvenile nonfiction intake, on the other hand, has plummeted (only 21% of last year’s total so far this year) as we’ve spent a lot more time in the car, which makes me less likely to want to go INTO the library (and therefore less likely to let the kids pick out their own favorites) – we’ve been doing a lot more just driving through the window to pick up our holds on the next picture books in line.

Grown-up reading seems a bit low so far, but it’s always a little hard to tell actual status on that, since I always have quite a few books going at any given time (I think I have about 10 going as we speak, give or take). Also, especially when it comes to fiction, I tend to go in spurts and fits. I’m guessing I’ll be doing lots more grown-up reading after the new baby comes when I’ll be breastfeeding all the time.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Challenge Wrap-Up

On her Read-Aloud Revival podcast, Sarah Mackenzie makes no bones about it. She does NOT think Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books make a good first chapter-book read aloud.

They’re too boring, she says. Too much description, not enough action. You’ll lose interest, mom, she says. Listen to the audiobooks read by Cherry Jones, she says.

I’ve pooh-poohed Sarah’s advice regarding Laura since I first heard it. Laura, boring? I listened to my mother read them, then I read them myself over and over, then listened again as my older sister read them aloud to myself and my younger brothers and sister.

Two years ago, when Tirzah Mae was three, I read her Little House in the Big Woods. Last year, we read it again. Was it hard at times? Of course. I dare anyone with four children four and under to find reading chapter books aloud EASY. But it wasn’t because the Laura books are boring.

I still disagree with Mackenzie about reading the Little House books aloud. But I now completely AGREE with her about the magic of Cherry Jones’s narration.

You see, near the end of last year, we had some changes in our life that meant the kids and I were spending at least an extra two hours a week in the car. I know that for some of you, that doesn’t sound like much. But I’m a homebody and even the most extroverted mama is likely to be a bit overwhelmed by loading four children into carseats a minimum of six extra times a week.

I knew we needed something to help us manage that awful extra car time, something to help us escape. Honestly, I needed something to get me out of the pity-party-slash-anger-fest that I was simmering in every time I had to yet again disrupt my life and rush my kids through meals and pack them all in the car and waste all. that. time. in. the. car.

So I looked into audiobooks. I needed something that wasn’t too scary (since our Tirzah Mae is currently a sensitive soul), but that would interest both me AND the children. The Little House books it was.

And, oh. Oh. Oh! Cherry Jones’s narration is just wonderful. Listening to her is a delight (especially when she starts singing along to Pa’s fiddle!)

We listened to Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy in January. In February, in conjunction with Barbara’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge, we hoped to listen to Litte House on the Prairie and On the Banks of Plum Creek but fell just a little short of completing the latter (Praise God for several days where, for one reason or another, I was able to leave the kids home while I did the driving, minimizing the disruption to the whole family!)

As part of Barbara’s challenge, I also read Old Town in the Green Groves by Cynthia Rylant, a fictionalized account of the Ingalls family’s time between On the Banks of Plum Creek and By The Shores of Silver Lake. I am glad that I read it, but I am also glad that Laura chose to skip over that period of her early life in her Little House books. It was a hard, hard time that Rylant only partially succeeds at making seem less difficult. Barbara also read that book this year and reviewed it at her blog – my thoughts were pretty similar to Barbara’s.

Thank you, Barbara, for the past decade(?) hosting the Little House Challenge. I and my children have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to revisit Laura each year. We’ll miss the challenge next year; but I think, thanks to several years of participating (and thanks to discovering Cherry Jones’s wonderful audio narrations of the Little House books), we’re not likely to have seen the last of Laura in our household :-)

Picture Book Highlights (Author COO-CRO)

Despite being a shorter-than-average month (even with that leap day), February was a productive reading month. I read 83 children’s picture books with an author last name “C”. In large part, I think this was due to my decision to try to spend just a little bit of time with each child individually each day (usually right before their naps). I’ve mostly spent that time reading aloud (what else?) When I don’t have to wait for everyone to be ready to listen together, it makes reading aloud tons easier – and has allowed me to power through a lot more of our picture books. We have maybe 40 or 50 more books to go until we’re done with author last name C – we’ll likely finish those out in March!

Homer by Elisha Cooper


The dog, Homer, is offered lots of opportunities to go out and do all sorts of interesting things. He’d rather lie on the front porch and watch it all. He delights to hear everyone’s stories of all the exciting things they’ve done, but mostly, he likes to be at home with everyone he loves around him. I can identify. :-)

Petra by Marianna Coppo


A little rock has great dreams – but what will he become? A simple, short book that’s just right to keep the interest of all four of our little ones (5, 3, 2, and 19 months.)

Little Pig Joins the Band by David Costello

Little Pig Joins the Band

When all his big siblings make a brass band, Little Pig wants to join too, but none of the instruments fit him. He’s able to find his place, though – a much needed place – as band leader, getting them all to play together in time.

What Elephant? by Genevieve Cote

What Elephant?

A cute little story that helps to explain the saying “the elephant in the room.”

The Road Home by Katie Cotton, illustrated by Sarah Jacoby

The Road Home

More a poem than a story, with art that’s visual poetry. Animal mothers invite their children to join them in their tasks before ending with a refrain: “This road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home.” And then it ends, “This road is hard, this road is long, but we are not alone. For you are here, and I’m with you… and so this road is home.” Just lovely.

Don’t Be Silly, Mrs. Millie by Judy Cox, illustrated by Joe Mathieu

Don't Be Silly Mrs. Millie!

This is not fine literature, but Mrs. Millie’s silly mis-speaks had my two oldest (5 and 3) roaring with laughter all the way through. Mrs. Millie instructs her students to “hang up your goats” at the beginning of the day and keeps making “mistakes” with rhyming words and sound-alikes all day long. “We have parrot sticks and quackers today!” Very fun.

The Paradox of Christ

“Above all, he is unselfish. Perhaps nothing strikes us more than this. Although he clearly believed himself to be divine, he did not put on airs or stand on his dignity. He was never pompous. There was no touch of self-importance in Jesus. He was humble.

It is this paradox that is so amazing, this combination of the self-centeredness of his teaching and the unself-centeredness of his behavior. In thought he put himself first, in deed last. He exhibited both the greatest self-esteem and the greatest self-sacrifice. He knew himself to be the Lord of all, but he became their servant. He said that he would one day come to judge the world, but he washed the feet of his friends.”

~John Stott, Basic Christianity

Nothing struck me quite so strongly as I read Stott’s Basic Christianity as the bolded sentence above. As someone who has believed since she was a young child, I have never really considered the “self-centeredness” of Jesus’ teaching. Of course he was self-centered – he’s God. He ought to be talking about himself. But if he weren’t God, were simply styling himself as God, he would be quite pompous.

Yet his actions aren’t pompous at all. He cares for the poor and needy, embraces outcasts, visits sinners in their homes. He served.

“…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

~Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

This is the paradox of our faith – the God who is so High stooped down so low. He is indeed exactly what every person needs and does not shy away from proclaiming it: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” “I am the bread of life.” “I am the living water.” “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am…” “I am…” “I am…” But, despite being God’s gift to man, he did not act as though he were.