Saturday, June 30, 2007
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”
I want to be a woman who fears the LORD. I want my thoughts to be more and more on Christ, and less on the temporal, fleeting pleasures of the world. There is so much to distract us in our culture. Lisa wrote a good post the other day that really echoes some thoughts I’ve had rattling around in my mind for quite some time (and I truly hope she doesn't mind me linking to her again). I am in this world. But I am not to be of it. There are things in the world that I enjoy that are not specifically “Christian.” For example, I watch movies, though I’m pretty selective in what I’ll watch, because I do not need to be filling my mind with things that will damage my walk with the Lord or will make it harder to keep my mind pure and live a life that pleases Him. I know when something I’m watching is something that is not edifying, and I’ve learned to turn it off and walk away from those things that cause me to stumble. Not every book I read is a theological or “Christian” book. I like to read novels. Lots of them. Again, I’m fairly selective in the kinds of things I let my mind focus on, but no, not everything is written by Christian authors or even necessarily from a specifically Christian worldview. And not everyone might agree with my choices – these are matters of conscience, so I’m fairly quiet on those kinds of things on my blog. To be honest, much “Christian fiction” that I’ve read is just so badly written that I’d rather read a good “secular” book I’ve gotten from the library. But I am careful in my selections, too. When my heart is devoted to my Savior, I’m able to see moral and spiritual lessons even in books or movies where the author didn’t intend to be giving them. I learned that in school while reading assigned works. My worldview informs how I view everything I read and see and do – whether in work or in play – and I don’t have to pull out into a completely sanitized subculture, but I do find a need to be discerning.
I also don’t blog a whole lot about fads, TV shows, or even the books I’m reading. Not that I never write about such things or that I’m not interested in them or that I think it is wrong for people to write about them, but when I write, I’d rather write about the things that matter most to me, the things I think the most and the most deeply about. It isn’t that I’m trying to hide the more frivolous things, either. They just aren’t all that important to me. If I’m going to take the time to write things out, I’d rather they be more meaningful, for the most part. Though I do watch some TV and some movies and read quite a bit, I want the character of my life to be such that the things I think about the absolute most are the important things. I don’t think there is anything wrong with enjoying a good book or a TV show or a movie now and then, with the exercise of discernment in choosing such things, but the perspective must be that none of those things even come close in importance compared to worshiping the Lord. In light of that, all else is not very important at all.
I was convicted the other day while wasting too much time reading blog after blog that much of what I’m reading is just chatter. Even a lot of the Christian blogging is really just talk, talk, talk that ends up being wasted time. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the more lighthearted and fun part of the blog chatter in and of itself, but it can be wrong when I let it eat up too much of my day that ought to be spent doing more meaningful things. Though not all my blogging is serious, I’d like the bulk of my writing to be something more. I’m trying to determine what I want to accomplish with my blogging. I enjoy the "just for fun" stuff and the friendships that forges, and that is a good part of blogging as long as it doesn't eat up time I need to spend on my real life where I put feet and action to the words I think and type. But I have also learned a lot from having to think through many of my posts while writing them and searching the scriptures to clarify my thinking. I’ve also learned a great deal and been encouraged to think by other bloggers, though I have significantly lessened the time I spend reading them lately. I guess what I’m getting at here is that I don’t want the main part of my blogging to only be adding to the meaningless chatter, but I’d like a good deal of what I’m doing be to help myself to continue to grow in Christ and to be edifying to believers and thought-provoking to someone who may not yet know Christ, otherwise I’m really just wasting time and should just turn off the blog altogether.
So, I want the character of my life to be that I am seeking Christ’s kingdom first. I want the words I say and write to be the overflow of a heart that is devoted to Him. When my heart is longing to seek Him, that is what matters most. I even want my blogging to be an overflow of those thoughts I think most. Even when writing about everyday things, I want to there to be more love to Christ expressed in the daily walk of my life, not compartmentalizing my life into “Christian” and “secular” but letting a biblical, Christ-centered worldview be evident in all I do, even in the everyday stuff of life.
Also, in our culture it is so very tempting to get caught up in the outward appearance. Stand in the grocery store line and you’ll see tons of magazines and so much ink spilled to waste time on the latest celebrity gossip or the latest fad to seek after that fleeting thing called “beauty.” More empty chatter – pages and pages of meaningless chatter. But so much of what the culture sees as beautiful is false. Nip and tuck plastic beauty, diet fads that are not healthy, make-up tips, immodest clothing, expensive showplace homes, fancy cars, boats and toys, and celebrity are offered up as the end-all-be-all of the American dream existence. And too much time spent perusing that empty chatter can skew a woman’s perspective on true beauty. But those celebrities don’t seem very happy to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone home and cried for them over the emptiness that they seem to mask behind their plastic smiles. So many of the “beautiful people” are so terribly lost. They have “arrived” with wealth and fame and beauty, but they live broken, empty lives that they try to fill with all kinds of activities, relationships, babies, stuff, charities and vices. And that is the lie women buy into. They need a Savior, not the next article on how to spice up a boring life.
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain. It is all emptiness if all we seek is the approval of the world and outward, skin-deep beauty. True beauty is reflected in the character of a woman who fears the LORD and walks humbly with her God. I heard someone say that if you want to be a godly older woman, you start investing in that lifestyle now. You begin to live godly now. You don’t just wake up one day as that woman, it comes from walking daily with the LORD. I want to be a woman who fears the LORD. I want to be a woman who will bring that hope to others who need to know Jesus. That is a life that has meaning. A life that seeks His kingdom first. I want to be different from all the chatter. I don’t want my life to be characterized by the latest fad or spin my wheels seeking after earthly, fleeting, temporal things. I want to be content and satisfied in the joy of serving the King, Jesus, my Redeemer, Savior, and Lord.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Lisa has so kindly named me a Rockin’ Girl Blogger. Seeing as we’ve had VBS at our church in the evenings and at another church in the mornings all week, my coherent blogging skills seem to have taken a nap. Even though I decided not to teach VBS this year since ours doesn’t end until 8:30 pm, and getting home at 9pm every night was just too much for Boo and me at this stage of her babyhood because my own need for sanity during the day is greatly helped along by a baby who is not miserable due to lack of sleep, I’m still exhausted just from taxiing the boys around to their various VBS events and piano lessons and library day, etc. Not to mention the heat. And the humidity. It’s like walking into a sauna every time we step outside, and I can feel my brain melting. Or that could just be the summer cold I’ve managed to pick up somewhere along the way which is sapping all my energy. Also, considering the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever been considered “cool” by anyone in my whole life, certainly not by my children at this point in time, this is a fun award for sure. So, with the understanding that my coherent blogging skills are napping, I just typed Blooger before I caught it and corrected it. Maybe I should have left the typo. Blooging might be a better word for what I do some days than blogging is. Blooging: less than coherent blogging or blogging while one’s brain is melting :^) Am I a Rockin’ Girl Blooger? Rockin’ as in I use my rocking chair, perhaps?
Anyway, thank you, Lisa, my kindred spirit blogging friend, for the kind words! Now I get to share the love. There are just so many that I think qualify for this prestigious honor, but, ya'll, I'm plum tired and I'll just name two for today:
One person I am very glad to know is my former college roomie, Heather. I started reading her blog way back a while ago, and after reading her thoughtful posts and enjoying keeping up with her and her lovely family through reading it, I thought and thought and thought about whether I would ever want to venture out into the blog waters. And here I am. Heather is the one college friend I’ve managed to keep up with through the years, and I’m so glad we have. I remember that hot, humid summer during the middle of our Gator days when we learned that we had not made the dorm lottery and would be forced to move off-campus into an apartment. We went shopping for some things we’d need for the apartment, and, my-oh-my did we buy a lot of cleaning supplies. That woman can clean, I tell you! Especially when the alternative is studying for finals. She taught me the benefits of stress cleaning, which I still reap today.
The other person I want to mention is Leslie at Lux Venit. She is a thoughtful, interesting and encouraging writer. I met Leslie through Sola Moms, and I’ve really enjoyed reading her thoughts over at her blog. Many of her posts are very thought-provoking, and I’ve appreciated so much her willingness to dig deep and base her convictions on scripture, not on feelings or just on someone else’s word or other shaky ground. She also ran a very nice series recently on blogging (almost said blooging again, but that wouldn't fit her blog) etiquette from a woman’s perspective that was quite informative and helpful.
And now Boo is napping, the air conditioner is working, and I think I'm going to go take a nap. Perhaps then my blogging skills will awaken and we can get back to blogging some coherent thoughts.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
When Paul’s physical eyes were blinded by the glory of Jesus while his spiritual eyes were opened, he was instantly a changed man. His response was instantly to submit to Christ, when he recognized Him as LORD. He never got over it. He was never the same again. In one of his letters to the young pastor Timothy, he wrote, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15-17)
Paul, for all the years he served His Savior faithfully in ministry, never forgot who he had been and what he had been redeemed from, and he never lost his joy over the great gift of grace which had been bestowed on him through the blood of Christ Jesus. While as a Pharisee he would have been prideful and boastful in the outward, painstakingly precise show of religiosity which was just so much empty effort, once his pride was broken and he was reborn and made new in Christ, he did not become prideful and boast in his accomplishments. He knew that apart from Christ he was wretched indeed. As are we all. Paul no longer boasted in anything except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I love the spontaneous praise that the Holy Spirit inspired him to write at the end of that passage. It’s as if he couldn’t think on so great a salvation without pausing to worship the One who had saved him.
I want to keep that kind of love for my Savior at the forefront of my thinking. The more I ponder on His grace and think of my unworthiness to serve so great a King, the more I want to live a life that praises Him and the more I want my writing and my speech to praise Him. Oh that there would be more times when my heart would just overflow with spontaneous praise for Jesus, the One who deserves our most excellent praise. When I think on the terrible price my Redeemer willingly paid with His own blood, the only proper response is to bow in worship of our excellent, gracious, precious, holy, awesome, risen Savior and King. My heart burns within me with the thought that He would choose me, that He would use this earthen vessel to entrust with the treasure of His gospel. Who am I to keep silent? When I am tempted to complacency and laziness, I must fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith and think again on His cross and how He finished the work of redemption and remember that this is the hope that anchors my soul. I, who have tasted of His goodness, must never be the same. We should weep for the times we allow ourselves to become complacent, comfortable and lazy, for they are far too often. May my heart’s desire be to shout His praises from the rooftop, never to be silent. Paul never forgot or grew complacent – he poured out His life in service to the King of Glory as he pressed on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, because he knew that nothing else mattered in comparison.
Lord, grant me the desire and will to do so also and not get so mired in the tyranny of the mundane that I forget that all that I do is to be done as unto You and to be willing to open my mouth in praise of my Savior, giving witness to anyone who will listen of the great hope that is within me because I’ve been washed in Your blood. Please grant me the words to say when the moments arise for me to stand for You, for Your glory alone.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Anyway, I am so glad D is finally home. Though I know he’s not gone as much as he probably would be if he were active duty, sharing him with the Army gets old and it’s hard being essentially a single mom when he’s gone. Which seems to be a lot lately. He is with the Army Reserve now, and when he was with the Army National Guard, we used to joke that the whole recruitment thing about “one weekend a month and two weeks a year” is very funny, indeed. It’s a lot, a lot, a lot more than that. He basically has two full-time jobs – his civilian job and his Army commitment. But I really can’t complain too awfully much. I knew when I married him that he had this commitment, and the way things are today is vastly different than they were when we got married 13 ½ years ago. What he does is important, but it does drain family time. But it also makes the time together more precious.
So, he’s home, the boys are thrilled to see Daddy again, and I think Boo still remembers him! :^)
On the home front, VBS started last night at our church, and Tuesday the boys also get to start the VBS at the church down the street which holds theirs in the morning. Busy, busy week ahead. The boys and I went shopping this morning so we can send in the supplies they are collecting for the summer missionaries who are here to work throughout our Association this summer, and the boys were adamant that we must do it this morning.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
This is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, in my opinion. It always brings me to tears as I think on our glorious Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ who is the Lamb who is worthy of our most excellent praise.
“…Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
“…Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Thursday, June 21, 2007
The bittersweet note for today is that one of the hardest things about living where we live is the fact that with so many military families in the area, we are always having to say good-bye. I just had to say good-bye to our wonderful neighbors a few minutes ago as they headed out for their new home several states away. This family had become good friends, and our boys have spent many hours playing with their kids. The oldest boy is the same age as our oldest and they were in the same kindergarten and first grade classes together. In fact, when we moved into this neighborhood a year and a half ago, we were so excited to find that this family lived just across the street.
I had run out to the grocery store this morning and, while there, I bought some treats for their children for the long car ride they have ahead of them. I had thought they were leaving tomorrow, but when I pulled up to the house, I saw they already had the boat hitched up and were preparing to head out. I ran in the house and got the card I had for them and took their good-bye present to them. I’m so glad I caught them before they left! The wife and I cried and hugged, and I’m just going to miss them so much. It’s been an especially good friendship because we also share our faith in Christ. This family was active at another church in town, and I liked that our kids could play together so well and that we share that bond as well, and the boys liked going to VBS with them at their church which is larger than ours and has more kids for them to interact with. This year they’ll go to VBS there without their good friend. It is so hard to say good-bye to these friends! But I do pray they will settle quickly into their new home and that this will be a good move for them. While good-byes are sad, I know they will have a new beginning in their new place, too, and that is exciting for them.
It’s even harder on our boys because the new people who bought the house our friends are leaving don’t have any kids. I’m dreading telling the boys this afternoon when they get home from camp that T’s family left today. I think they were hoping to get to see him one more time before he left.
Anyway, that’s where I am today. Rejoicing over our good report for Boo, but sad to say farewell to our friends.
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace."
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Here are the rules of this meme:
1. Link to name of person that tagged you.
2. Include state and country you live in.
3. List top 5 favorite local restaurants.
4. Tag 5 other people and let them know they’ve been tagged.
I’m tweaking the rules just a little for my post. Because I was squeamish about the whole blogging publicly on the internet idea in the first place and internet security and all that, I try not to give out too much specific info about where we live, so I’ll just share that we are somewhere on the coast in the southern USA. In my more frustrated moments I have been known to describe our little town as the armpit of America, but that’s not at all genteel, kind or ladylike, is it? The reason I mention that is because it relates to the fact that I’m not sure I’ll be able to come up with 5 local restaurants that are favorites, but I’ll try.
1. Barbara Jeans – good home-style cooking, and I love that I can get the veggie plate, with squash casserole being my very favorite of the choices. They are known for their crabcakes, but I’m not a seafood lover, so I leave those for others to enjoy.
2. Panini’s – The only Italian restaurant we have (still longing for an Olive Garden….), but it’s quite good and it's located downtown in the historic district right in the waterfront park area. It is a good place to go without the kids, and you can’t beat the location. Actually, the whole downtown area is nice because it has neat little (expensive) shops where window shopping is an enjoyable activity, and the waterfront park is great with lots of bench swings and a wonderful playground for the kids. When the weather is nice it is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.
3. La Nopalera – Mexican food. The whole family loves the queso and chips. The kids are always asking when we can go get “cheese dip.” My mouth loves it, but ever since I was expecting Boo my stomach hasn’t loved it. I thought once she was born I’d be able to tolerate it again, but not so much. Their spinach quesadillas are wonderful, though.
4. Outback – The only good steak place that doesn’t involve driving to the next town. D loves the Bloomin’ Onion, and I do, too, but my stomach doesn’t. This last pregnancy pretty much ruined me on lots of foods.
5. The Upper Crust – a little pizza place around the corner from home. Great pizza, small town atmosphere, and we almost always run into someone we know there. There are benefits to a small town, too. They also put a big pasta noodle in your drink as a straw. The boys think that is the coolest thing.
Due to the fact that I’m typing this with a horrid headache that seems to have accompanied the weather front that brought the rain we’ve been experiencing all day, I’m sure I’ll think up better and more witty suggestions after I’ve already posted this one, but I’m going with this as is. I’m tagging Kim, Kim, Leslie, Rabbit and Lisa!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
This open letter is a very interesting one, though rather long, and the pastor who wrote it does a nice job of confronting some of the misrepresentations that were made in a sermon the state convention mailed out to Florida Baptist pastors and which are often made about those of us who hold to a reformed or Calvinist view of doctrine by men who disagree with that view. Though I tend to stay out of the debates I find on this topic, I have been awfully frustrated when I’ve read many of those same misrepresentations on several blogs recently and heard them in other places, and I’ve often found myself thinking, “But that’s not really what we believe or say. Why do people insist on twisting what we really believe and presenting it as something else?” I am not intending to get into an argument in my comment section over this debate or rebuke anyone who disagrees with me or anything like that, so please don’t go there. I’m just pointing out an article that does a nice job of articulating a response to some of the misrepresentations that are commonly used by brothers in Christ who disagree with what they think their reformed brothers and sisters believe and who are not giving an accurate presentation of what the reformed pastors in the SBC are truly saying. This pastor does a nice job of taking these misrepresentations and articulating what we actually believe in a very coherent manner, and I appreciate his spelling it out so well.
(HT: my dad for mentioning this letter and telling me where to find it so I could read it.)
This is also interesting, and relates to the subject matter of the above link, in regards to the Florida Baptist Convention in my home state. I’ve been following some of this situation due to the fact that I lived in Florida most of my life, and my parents are still there, so I’m very interested to see how this develops.
I very much appreciate what Tom Ascol says in conclusion in his post:
“We have no interest in division or in being contentious. We do have an interest in truth. We believe what we believe because we think the Bible teaches it. We understand that not everyone shares our convictions. But we desire of ourselves and ask of others, not to misrepresent the views of their brothers and sisters with whom they disagree on these vitally important issues.
For the cause of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, please pray that His truth will prevail and that we will all be humbled before it.”
(HT: Reflections of the Times for this one, for I saw she had posted about it before I happened to see it on Tom Ascol’s blog myself.)
Monday, June 18, 2007
Whew. But she perked up pretty quickly after her initial grogginess, and she’s been crawling around babbling and exploring everything ever since we got home.
Also, my nervousness about driving in the city an hour away from home and finding the medical center ended up okay, too. I found it in plenty of time for the appointment and without too much confusion. We didn't know when this appointment was scheduled that Hubby wouldn't be home from his Army annual training in time to drive us down there and be with me, but my mother-in-law went with me, so I had good support today, and Hubby will be home soon.
Thank you for praying, and we’re still trusting the Lord with whatever the results will be once we hear them.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
“I love the LORD, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.”
“I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
There is a medical procedure involving one of the kids that must be done tomorrow and I’m a little nervous about it. I’m sure everything will be fine and the procedure isn’t a really major thing, but it feels major and a little threatening when it’s your own child! I am trusting God for tomorrow, I know that He is in control, and I know His grace is sufficient no matter what tomorrow (any of our “tomorrows,” not just this particular one) brings. But my mommy’s heart still feels a little fearful even though deep down I do have a peace about it. That’s all I want to say about it, but it would be nice if anyone is reading this if you’d pray for my little one and me on Monday. Thank you!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
“A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back.”
I can see going two directions with this one this week while thinking on it myself and in talking to the boys about it.
First, as applies to me: This would be a good verse to tape onto my computer monitor so I’ll remember it when I’m tempted to spill too much in a blog post or comment. A good thing to learn is that we don’t have to spill all the details of our gripes, frustrations, or bad feelings regarding our own personal situation in order to make a point. Consider the audience and don’t share just everything with just everyone. Something I need to remember.
Sometimes after an opportunity to have a time of conversation with grown-up type people (something that is rather rare for me these days), I often feel like I’ve “said too much” once I come home and think over the evening, especially when there is an issue burdening my heart or that I’ve been struggling through or feel especially passionate about. I think that probably stems from the fact that I too rarely have opportunities to have conversations with anyone, other than my husband, who is over the age of 8, and when I do get to talk about things that matter with people who, theoretically, would understand the kinds of things that are on my heart these days, I sometimes say more than I should have, venting too many of my feelings on a topic that would have been better left unsaid in that particular conversation or with that particular person. Better to consider who I’m talking with and whether what I’m venting is really appropriately shared with that person or if they’ll even understand what I’m so exercised about in the first place and think over something for a bit and not spill more than should be spilled than to just discuss all the frustrations or deep feelings I may have. When I’ve asked D about whether he thinks I “said too much,” usually he doesn’t think so, but sometimes I wonder. Discretion and thinking through the appropriateness of what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to is a good thing. Not everyone needs to know everything I’m thinking on every given subject. The same goes for blogging. Though I have benefited from having this blog to work through some of my own thoughts, better not to vent the personal stuff too much. I’m pretty transparent in that I don’t want to wear a mask and present myself as something I’m not or be afraid to tell the truth when it needs to be said, but I’d rather go back and clarify than wish I had just kept my mouth shut in the first place.
Another direction I can see taking the principle in this verse when talking with our boys who are little people still learning how to deal with their own powerful emotions, is to remind them to keep their frustration and anger in check. And while I’m reminding them, I’ll be reminding myself, too. It is far, far too easy in the comfort and familiarity of home to let down that polite guard we keep up for everyone “out there” and let loose with all kinds of venting when feelings are stepped on or tweaked by those we love most. Sometimes it scares me how quickly a little well-chosen (or not so well-chosen, depending on how you’re looking at it) comment that hits just the right hair-trigger button made by one boy to his brother can escalate into a full-blown shouting and punching match. It’s amazing how quick the trigger to vent is at home, when out in public we seem to put on our best behavior. How much more beneficial to demonstrate that wise trait of holding back while we’re at home! I want to learn to be wise and hold back the worst of my feelings rather than responding in the heat of the moment when something tweaks my frustrations. And by teaching and by example, I want to pass the understanding of the importance of that discipline of self-control on to my children.
Somehow in our culture, feelings have become king. Road rage is an example that comes to mind. Rather than showing the discretion of holding back, we lash out at complete strangers and things escalate so quickly these days. People complain about how we no longer live in a civil society. This venting of any feeling, and not just anger, but anything we feel, in the name of “honesty” is a key reason for that.
And this “feelings are king” mentality that seems to have taken over lately in our culture has seeped into the church among professing Christian people and manifests itself in other ways, too. Decisions are often made based on feelings rather than careful thought and prayer. Even Christian couples are too often terribly quick to jump ship on the commitment of their marriages because they no longer feel like they are in love anymore, rather than understanding that real love is working through the hard stuff even when we don't feel like it and enjoying the deep satisfaction of knowing they are committed to each other for life, through the good and the bad. We often are more interested in feeling good at church than we are in worshiping in truth and teaching the Word truthfully and boldly. Somehow we’ve gotten it all turned around to where we think the church is solely about our feelings and having our felt needs met rather than gathering to worship the One who shed His blood to make us right with Him so that we could be equipped to love and obey Him, and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ, and work together to spread the gospel and disciple new believers. Our opinions often matter more to us than what the Bible actually says. Our taste in music style is more important to us than what the words of the music are actually saying. Experiential feelings are elevated to the same level as, or even placed higher than, the revelation of the Bible in a lot of people’s minds in determining what is true faith. How we feel about faith or the experience we’re having is seen as much more important than searching the scriptures for what is true.
I pray often for the wisdom to hold back when I feel like spilling all the feelings I have all over my family or anyone else. And I also want to remember not to put too much trust in my feelings, which are not a true teacher of what is right. Feelings are subject to all kinds of things and are really not trustworthy. I keep stressing with the kids when they argue that they don’t want to do what I’ve said or don’t feel like doing what is right that it really doesn’t matter what they feel like when they know what is right. They’ve got to do right anyway. Usually the feelings will follow along behind, and this is a major reason it is wise not to vent them all too quickly in the first heat of the moment.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I rewound and rewound and rewound and realized that not only Barney is on this tape but several hours of PBS Kids programs as well. I did finally get it wound back enough to find the end of last week’s episode of my show as I puzzled over how I ended up with hours of Elmo, Clifford and Barney after it.
Then I realized. After I recorded last week’s episode of my show, I left the tape in the VCR for a day or two until I got around to watching it. Boo has discovered the buttons on everything electronic in our house. She must have been doing her typical exploring the next morning and somehow managed to push the record button. Even if the TV wasn't on, the cable box was and it was still tuned to PBS from earlier that morning when the boys had watched something.
Considering that it took me a fair amount of hair-pulling frustration over reading the VCR manual for me to figure how to program the crazy thing to record my favorite programs, I think I can say that my little 13-month-old is probably the smartest baby in this house. (The fact that she’s the only baby in this house is beside the point.) I guess she just wanted to make sure she could have a Barney fix anytime she so desired.
Moral of the story: The most sure-fire way to have something bloggable happen in your life is to mention on your blog that you’d like to slow down on the blogging unless something bloggable happens. And while this may not be the most entertaining post I've ever written, I thought it was funny. Maybe you had to be here. Or maybe I'm just tired because Boo kept me up last night when the really loud, very scary thunder storm woke her up (and woke up our neurotic dog, Oliver, who cowered and paced around the house with his dog tags jingling until it was over, too.) Just thought I'd share.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
A short note about my boys’ mom (that’s me!) first: While I wasn’t a super-duper girly girl growing up in that I had a few Barbies, but they weren’t really my favorite thing, and I wasn’t all that intrigued with the color pink, frilly things, nail polish and shopping (still not), I was most definitely not a tomboy, either. I guess I was just a run-of-the-mill-boys-have-cooties kind of girl.
Nowadays, I’ve outgrown the fear of cooties, but boys do still have an uncomfortable love of squishy things. All kinds of squishy things. Mud and lots of it. Playdoh (I can handle that one, I even made some homemade the other day with their requested colors). Food in its various stages of being chewed and viewed. And the worst, worst, worst for me: lizards, frogs and snakes. I have an almost pathological fear of living squishy things, and that is a really, really difficult fear to have when you live on an island surrounded by marsh. We see all kinds of squishy things around here. And my boys love to scare me with them. Let me back up and say that they do not use live critters to scare me with. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone to turn down the bed and had some kind of plastic floppy critter jump off the sheet at me or go to turn on my lamp and have a large, squishy plastic tarantula land on my hand. It’s amazing my heart hasn’t stopped yet. My husband thinks it’s hysterical. I’ve threatened them with grave seriousness not to ever put a live frog, snake, lizard or anything else in my bed. I think I would have to move. Seriously.
I’ve blogged about the ongoing debate over whether Curious George is a monkey or a “chipmanzee.” It continues to this day. And I’ve also blogged about the many things I do not know, but which a certain 8-year-old boy just needs to know. Speaking of needing to know, we’ve had to hide the screwdrivers around our house. That same 8-year-old is immensely fascinated with how things work, and if given half a chance, he’ll take anything apart just to see what’s inside. Both boys get to go to Camp Invention next week. This is right up their alley. It is sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation and one of the things they get to do is take an old, unusable appliance and take it apart and make something with it.
Another interesting thing about boys that shouldn’t surprise me but does make being their mom an interesting exercise in judicious refereeing is that everything is a competition. I mean everything! Who got their teeth brushed fastest without mom sending them back to do it again, who gets in the car first, who passes who on their way up the stairs, who can make Boo laugh the loudest, who can burp the loudest, who smells the worst (don’t ask), and just about anything else becomes a World War III level competition around here if we aren’t paying close enough attention to how quick the “happy noises” become “I’m going to kill my brother” noises and step in to referee.
I do think that little boys do not have a “clean-up gene” anywhere in their body. It isn’t that they particularly want to defy me by not helping keep the clutter picked up. I really believe they just do not see it. I will sort, wash and fold the laundry and put the basket suggestively next to the stairs. They have been asked countless times to take their clothes upstairs and put them in the dresser (we have to be specific) when they see this arrangement, but that basket will sit there in their path for days – until I’m ready to do laundry again if I don’t let Evil Mom-Lady come out and use that tone of voice with them. The typical response? “There are clothes in the basket?”
They also don’t seem to know what a trash can is for. I watched M drop a candy wrapper on the floor and said, “M, where does that go?” He gave me this totally incredulous look like he had no idea how that had happened and said, “Oh!” and took it to the trash can as if I’d just told him something he’d never even thought of before. This is almost a daily occurrence with one or both boys.
The scariest thing about being a boy’s mom, though, is that they seem to have a switch that turns off their common sense thinking. Of course, that’s assuming they have common sense thinking at this age. I’m not so sure some days. They tore up my only remaining decent laundry basket by sitting in it and sledding down the stairs. To be fair, Daddy was right there cheering them on with that one. It’s alarming to look out the window and see one of the boys with a gleam in his eyes sitting at the top of the swing set slide perched on a tricycle that is too small for him anyway that he’s somehow managed to get up there. If I run to the door and yell out there, “Don’t ride down the slide!” the answer would be, “I wasn’t!” Not yet, anyway, being the unstated subtext here. We were more than alarmed once when we were out back and M called, “Mommy, Daddy, look!” He had a jump rope tied to his foot and the other end tied to the roof of the treehouse and, before we could say a word, he jumped. Of course he fell right on his head. We went running to him, he was fine, my heart kept racing for a while, and we told him never, never, never to try that or anything remotely like it again.
But, while being mom to two rowdy boys is exhausting, it’s so very rewarding, too. They are both so incredibly funny, sometimes the funniest when they don't even mean to be. I never know what crazy costume they'll be wearing or what story they'll make up or write about to entertain us all. Our middle son is the sweetest, most loving child and he melts our hearts all the time with his crazy, wacky sense of humor and his sweet hugs and smiles. Our oldest son is our thinker, and you can just see the wheels turning up there when he’s puzzling out some new thought. I love it when the light goes on and he joyfully shares some new discovery with us. Though he’s not the snuggler his little brother is, when he opens up and shares his joys, fears and dreams, that, too, melts my heart.
And the hardest thing in the world is to fight back my first response to smother them with protectiveness so that I can step back when there are times one of these tough little boys needs me to let him try to brave it out when he feels scared or broken-hearted, and I know what he wants most in the world is to let those tears that are welling up out and run to Mom, but he knows he’s got to go on and he squares his shoulders and does what he has to do anyway and takes one more step toward growing from being a real boy to becoming a real man. Oh, how I pray we will be faithful to teach them the things that really matter and train them up in the Lord, because I know, too, that as they grow, those days of stepping back are going to come more and more often, and I’ll have to let them go, and do, and grow while I encourage them to step out with confidence, and pray they will stand firm in the truth they’ve been taught as they go on to live their lives while I treasure in my heart the little boys they used to be and grow to respect the men I hope they’ll become.
In my ongoing angst over blogging, I may need to rethink what the purpose of my blogging is or needs to be. I think I need to put an end to my public ranting about things that I find difficult at my church. I view my blog as a sort of journal, but sometimes I forget how public this venue is.
I am fairly certain that some of the posts I've written would make me feel pretty uncomfortable if people I know in real life here in town were reading, so I probably shouldn't write them. It's easy to forget that when blogging I'm not just writing for myself, and that's a dangerous thing to forget. So, I'm going to start using my good ol' trusty notebook with old-fashioned pen and paper to set out those more personal rants and stop the blog ranting on certain issues.
It's really easy to sit behind the keyboard and spout out my opinions, but what I really need to be doing is, as I've said before, praying more and complaining less, and putting feet to the things I know I need to be doing.
It also very well may be time to take a blogging break for a while. I find that I spend far too much time thinking about what to blog, reading other blogs and writing my own. It is starting to eat into time better spent with my kids and doing other things. Once again, I find that balance is needed. I tend to feel a totally self-imposed pressure to post something every day. Why? It's my blog, I should just post when I have something I want to say or feel like sharing. And I don't need to be sharing quite as much as that last post did. So, I think I'll take a day or two and decide how I want to continue with this blog thing. I also need a day or two to get some things done in my "real life" like organizing the play room and the boys' bedroom (again!) and getting ready for the new women's Bible study that starts tomorrow. Then, maybe, I'll get back to the blog. Unless something extremely bloggable happens before then that I just have to write about.
Friday, June 08, 2007
So, since it is obvious I have nothing serious to blog about today, here are some posts I thought were good to read. Enjoy!
Everyday Mommy has a beautiful answer to a young mom’s questions and concerns that was very encouraging.
This post contained some very funny complete thoughts.
Lisa has a beautiful post about the holy call of being a stay-at-home mommy and training up our kids to be godly young men (and women).
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.”
“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”
Carla has a very good series she’s been posting on her blog the past few days about how from the heart our mouth speaks. You can read those posts here, here and here. Specifically she is addressing the disturbing and growing trend among professing Christians to use curse words and filthy language.
I was out somewhere the other day, and there was someone there who I know to be a serious and professing Christian, and she was dealing with a group of kids at this outing. I also know where she is a church member and the solid Bible teaching she sits under because I listen to the pastor of that church on the local Christian radio station. Well, in a moment of frustration while trying to explain something to a second grader who was acting kind of dense at the moment (they do that, you know), she let slip, under her breath, the name of Jesus. But she wasn’t praying or praising. I felt like the air had been knocked out of me. I’m not that naïve. I went to public school and the University of Florida and worked in the "real world" before having children - I have heard some really bad language from my peers. But I didn’t really expect anything different from people who haven’t been born again. I have heard my Lord’s name used as an expletive, but I was surprised to hear this particular woman use His name that way. I’m really hoping I misheard her. I also don’t want to be too harsh or judgmental in my thinking of her, because I think many of us have probably had things slip out that we desperately wish we could take back and never have even thought, much less have said. I do hope that’s the case here, and not that this is a norm for my friend.
I have learned the hard way that I must be very careful with the kinds of things I allow myself to read and listen to on an ongoing basis. I love detective and mystery fiction, but I have to be quite discerning in which authors I spend any time reading. There was one author I was really enjoying for a while, and I checked out several of his books over a few weeks one summer. However, some of the characters in his books used Jesus' name and Christ as swear words often. I tried sort of skipping over it in my mind when I read the books. I didn’t like that. Even more, I very much didn’t like that in moments of frustration sometimes those precious names would pop into my mind in that blasphemous way after I’d read enough of those books. So, I had to quit reading that author. Later on, I had started another book and the author also wrote with the Lord’s name used in this way and with other curse words that were just not necessary to the story – it would have been just as good, better even, without such language. Even though I wanted to continue reading what was turning out to be an interesting story, I closed the book and took it back to the library. I don’t like filling my mind with language that eventually pops into my own thinking. When it’s popping into my mind, it’s only a matter of time before it will slip out of my mouth in a moment of unguarded frustration or anger. Garbage in, garbage out, you know.
I am careful with what I read and allow myself to hear in movies, because, for some reason, curse words (and the “cleaned up” substitute words that are really the same thing as saying the original word) just seem to stick like glue in the back of my mind and are quick to pop into my thinking at inopportune moments, and once in a while I’ve had things slip out of my mouth that I hate. Of course, I feel horrible for days when they do, and, thankfully, with God’s grace, I don’t have much trouble with that so much these days. How much better it is to train my mind to think on the pure, rather than the profane. I do enjoy movies and books, I’m just saying that I’m a lot more careful these days when choosing them. I already know that I struggle mightily with my temper and my tone of voice. I am way, way too quick to yell at my kids when frustrated or angry. I sure don’t want to add to that a struggle with the coarse language that so many seem to think is fine and dandy these days. I can imagine how horrified I’d feel about spilling that kind of toxin over my kids on top of my sinful temper!
That’s what is so disturbing about the discussions going on among certain Christians about when it’s appropriate to curse! It isn’t. We should not be celebrating the very thing we ought to be fleeing from! My liberty in Christ does not mean I’m free to talk like the world and live and sound like the sin from which I’ve been redeemed. My liberty in Christ means I’m free to live for His glory. How, exactly, does talking and writing with words that we all know are ugly, demeaning, and filthy glorify God? It doesn’t. I know that we have seen a general coarsening in our culture. It used to be that gentlemen wouldn’t curse in front of a woman or child. It used to be that certain language was not used in polite society. This is not true any longer. But we Christians ought to be different. We should never let the sin-drenched culture dictate how we talk and live. Even when trying to relate to people in our culture, we do not need to talk ugly like them to reach them. No. We make a greater impact when we stand out and are different enough to have the restraint to keep our language pure. No matter how coarse our society may be becoming, people still do respect someone who can keep their speech clean and their temper in check, though they may not respect them enough to check their own speech in front of them anymore. We are to be salt and light to a dark world, not to become dirty and soiled along with them, but to point them to the Savior. There should be a difference among those who know Christ.
I do want my words to be seasoned with grace. I do want the thoughts I have to be pure and clean, even in the words that reside in my mind. I do want to learn to keep my temper in check. I certainly do not think that we Christians have any business trying to justify the coarsening of our talk. I know that we all have struggles with our flesh, but it is appalling to me that there are people who call themselves Christians who feel no qualms about impure speech. May our talk be seasoned with praise. How could we possibly think that we can justify the casual use of coarse language in one moment and sing glorious praise of our awesome and holy God in the next? Not so.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon the earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works.”
Have you ever taken time to think about how amazing God’s grace really is? Have you ever really sat and thought about the immense privilege we have to approach Him in prayer and adoration? When Isaiah saw the Lord God on His throne, He was undone. Isaiah’s response was, “Woe is me for I undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
We tend to overuse the word, “awesome,” in our culture. I’ve begun checking my own use and my kids’ use of the word “awesome” lately. Not to be cranky, but because I started really thinking about what is awesome. A video game is not “awesome.” New shoes are not “awesome.” A good time at the Fun Park is not “awesome.” Seeing the Blue Angels do their stuff, while extremely impressive, is not awesome. They may be really neat, fun, cool, exciting, whatever. But not awesome.
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s just slang. Lighten up, Beck, and all that.
Awesome is really only appropriately used to describe our God. When I really think about Him in His holiness, that is the word - awesome. With it, I have the sense of holy fear, reverence and, yes, awe. The word awesome connotes a sense of such reverent fear that the only proper response is like Isaiah, to be undone. In the presence of such holiness, our sense of our own pitiful sinfulness is even more pronounced. Even my best attempt at righteousness is filthy rags in light of His glory. That’s why the gift of grace bestowed on us through Jesus’ cross is truly awesome. When I really think that He has granted me saving faith and allowed me this gift of grace. Me! Who am I that He would lavish such grace on me? The grace that is His free gift, but yet is so very costly. His blood shed for me. That is awesome. To think that such an immensely wonderful sacrifice was made for such a worm as I, and that cleansing by His blood has made me clean in His perfect righteousness to stand before His presence. Such thoughts are wonderful, almost too much to comprehend.
Hallelujah! What a Savior.
The longer I walk with Jesus, the more aware I am of how great, how awesome He really is. I want to live, not merely thinking about the assurance that I will go to Heaven when I die, as extremely wondrous as that thought is! But I want to live vibrantly and wholly committed to Him now. In the book of John we see that Jesus prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) Think about it. When we have placed our trust in the atoning sacrifice of Christ – His blood shed for sinners on the Cross – we are granted eternal life now. We are not saved so we can sit back and mark time and just hang on until we get to Heaven. While we live this life, we are freed by this truth to live lives wholly dedicated to the glory of God, declaring His works - shining His light - to a dark and desperate world, because we know Him. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live by the Spirit, not by the sensuality of the flesh. We are no longer slaves to our passions, lusts, failing hearts. We are made alive in Christ, to walk in newness of life, free to love His law and serve Him passionately. Those who belong to Christ are changed and our desire turns from rebellion against the truth to a whole-hearted love for truth. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7) I want so much to take this truth to heart and sing His praises loudly, joyfully, boldly. As the Psalmist says, “I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.” We are freed to be a part of the great and eternal Hallelujah Chorus now! We don’t have to wait for Heaven to begin worshiping the Lamb, Christ Jesus the Lord, who is seated on the throne! As I think on this truth, I want to spend more time drawing near to God, praying and praising, and I want that to spill over more and more into my everyday life. I want my lips to sing His praise in everything I do and everywhere I go. I want my love for Him to be the consuming, defining passion of my life, that I may declare all His works.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Sounds like a great last day of school, doesn’t it? Well, you’d think so, but, the same people who have implemented all the frustrating red tape of background checks and approving volunteers (read parents who want to help out in the classroom or come for field day) also planned out the school year so that the required 180 days are not actually fulfilled until next Tuesday. So, we have all this wonderful last day of school fun today, and the boys get to go to school for a full day Monday and half a day Tuesday. How much learning do you think will be happening those two days? You’d think the powers that be in the school district would plan out the school calendar to end on a Friday. That just makes more sense. If I were making the decisions, that’s how I’d vote. But, since I don’t think I’m cut out for the school board at this time in my life, here we are.
Oh, and I must share my grocery saga/frustration/imponderables. Because I ran out of Boo’s juice this morning, I had to run to the grocery this morning. Yes, again. I’ve mentioned before that it doesn’t seem to matter how far ahead I plan, I still end up there many days of the week. So, anyway, in the quest for table foods I can fix quickly for Boo now that she’s moving beyond baby food, I grabbed a bag of frozen peas. The first bag I pulled out of the freezer had a hole in it, and a few peas escaped into the floor. I put it back and got another bag. It had a hole, too. So, I dug around and finally found an intact bag of peas. We proceeded to the checkout, where the really nice man bagging the groceries had a fun time making faces and singing at Boo. She thought he was funny. I was smiling and biting my tongue in half so I would not say something to hurry him along because I was wanting to get on home with the groceries and back to field day.
So, I hurried home and put away the cold things. Lo and behold, no peas. I searched every bag and the car. I checked the receipt – yep, peas were purchased, but they did not get home with me. Argh. Mr. Really Nice Bagging Man at the store must have missed them while singing at Boo. I still needed to get to field day, so I just decided to write it off this time.
The irony of this is, though, that I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten out to my car and found some item that had inadvertently been left in the cart and not paid for that I have run back into the store to pay for. This used to happen a lot when Boo was still in her car seat and things would slip under it and I or the bag person would miss it when unloading the cart. Every time that happened, however, I made sure I went back and went through the line again and paid for it. The boys were with me when it happened one time, and J couldn’t get over how mommy “stole” a bag of rice. I kept saying, that, no, I didn’t steal it because when I realized it hadn’t been paid for I went back and paid for it. If I’d just taken it on home and never paid for it, that would have been stealing. Now I check and double check the cart when loading things on the conveyor belt to pay for them. The cynical, fleshly part of me just thought, "Yes, but had you not paid for that rice that time, it would now be a wash since you don't have the peas you did pay for." But, that is not a good thought, and I'm banishing it. So, now someone else has my $2.00 bag of frozen peas. Hope they enjoy them.
Grocery shopping is not my favorite thing to do.