Saturday, August 30, 2008

Life Matters

Drew and I were listening to a CD in the car yesterday and the song “Adonai” by Avalon came on. That song became very special to us when I was pregnant with our first son, J.

When I was about 18 weeks along with J, I had the AFP test done – it was routine in my doctor’s office, and I was na├»ve enough not to ask a whole lot of questions and just agree to have the blood work done. Well, this test is usually done between 15-17 weeks gestation, so I was on the later side. It also has a fairly common false positive rate for the defects it is attempting to detect. I did not know this until later.

So, when my doctor’s office called me at work with the results, informing me that our baby had tested positive for possible spina bifida and I needed to have a Level II ultrasound, I was nervous. To say the least. But we soldiered on and got our minds wrapped around the possibility that this precious baby might be facing some scary challenges and prepared to go to the perinatalogist’s office at the local hospital for my ultrasound appointment.

On the day of the ultrasound, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I was going to get a first look at our first child, and that was exciting. Drew had taken off time from work to come with me and we proceeded into the examination room with no small amount of trepidation and excitement. As the technician performed the ultrasound she said that things looked good so far, but the doctor would be in soon to look at it, too, and did we want to know if it was a boy or a girl? We did want to know.

When the doctor came in, he was very businesslike and said something like this (I don’t remember the exact words), “Okay, this baby tested positive for spina bifida and Down’s Syndrome, right?”

I said, “What?? Our doctor only said spina bifida. I didn’t know it could be both.”

He kind of humphed, asked who my doctor was and said something like, “That figures,” never once looking at me, but keeping his eyes on the screen.

So, he proceeded to continue the ultrasound murmuring that he wasn’t seeing anything that he could point to that would explain the test results. Meanwhile I was fighting tears. When the ultrasound was finished he told us that he did not see anything on the ultrasound to indicate why our test results had come in as they had, but, since I was getting very close to twenty weeks at that time his office would set up a genetic counseling session as soon as possible. Asking about our insurance, he said they probably wouldn’t cover a genetic counseling session but they would go to bat for us. And he mentioned we needed to do it soon if we wanted to think about abortion.

I said, “What?? We are not planning to abort this child.” That wasn’t even on the radar as far as we were concerned. As I sobbed at his cold manner and the cavalier way we and our son were being treated, Drew and I both knew that was not an “option” as far as we were concerned. Then the doctor shook my hand and said it was nice to have met us and walked out, leaving Drew and me reeling, me sobbing, and the technician trying to clean up the devastation he had just left in his wake. She handed me a tissue and said something like, “I can’t make you any guarantees, but what I saw looked like a perfectly normal ultrasound.” I thanked her, and we left that office with our world reeling.

When we got home, I asked Drew to call my doctor because I was too upset to be coherent with him and ask about an amniocentesis. At that moment, I just wanted to know what to expect when our little one was born and to be able to prepare myself and be ready. Drew called our doctor, who calmly told him he had not mentioned the Down’s Syndrome because the odds were so very low as to be practically nonexistent and he had ordered the ultrasound just so we could rule out the spina bifida, which had been his main concern, and so we would be prepared with the proper doctors at the birth if there was need. He calmly told Drew that the odds of causing a miscarriage or hurting a perfectly healthy baby by having an amnio done were higher than the chances that there was even anything wrong with him in the first place, and he strongly advised against it, though if we wanted it done he would. I am very thankful our doctor was strongly pro-life. We decided not to have it done and trust that God would provide all we needed no matter what happened with our son.

Later, when the perinatalogist’s office called and told me they had worked it out with my insurance company to have the genetic counseling appointment, I told her I didn’t want it. We were not going to abort this child, and we couldn’t see what benefit it would do for this pregnancy for us to go forward with any other counseling or testing. We were done.

I remember driving back and forth to work in Tampa through the next four months and listening to that song, “Adonai,” became extremely comforting as I thought about the fact that God is in control and He had this baby in His hand and He had us as the parents in His hand as well.

On October 12, 1998, we welcomed J into the world, whole and healthy, and we have had nine years of joy with him.

Last night when we heard that song again, I looked over at Drew and said, “Look what we would have missed if we had let that doctor influence us,” and we both sat there with tears in our eyes.

I am convinced that the evolution mindset has helped to lead to our society’s acceptance of abortion. There are other factors too, but if we are no more special than a highly evolved animal, and the precious baby in the womb is nothing more than “tissue,” the value we, as a society, place on that life is much less than if we view each life as created in God’s image – from conception. It leads to the assumption that a baby who is determined to be not “perfect” would necessarily be not wanted. We had already determined that this baby was very wanted, no matter what the diagnosis said.

This is why I do not see abortion as a merely political issue. It goes to the very heart of a person’s worldview. If we do not value the very earliest life, it will color how we view all of life, whether people want to admit this or not. This is why when choosing between candidates I will always choose to vote for the most pro-life candidate I can. There are other issues I consider when choosing how to vote, but this is my top one, and I say that absolutely unashamedly, because this one issue says so much about a person’s world view. And it does not matter to me how loudly a candidate talks about “faith” or “morals” or whatever, this one issue talks a whole lot louder than words as far as I am concerned. And it matters. A lot.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

So, I Got My Hair Cut Today

I rarely post pictures of myself on the blog because, well, just because, but I got my hair cut today. What do you think?





And Boo wanted her picture taken, too, so here's one of both of us:



Maybe it's time to think about changing my profile pic, too, if I can figure out how to do it. It's a little less anonymous that way, I think.

I went in today for my haircut, which I decided this morning must be done ASAP. I was tired of the no layers shoulder length pulled back with a barrette with bangs tired look I had which just wasn't working for me. Problem is, I didn't know what I wanted to replace it with, except I didn't want too short. This is when it is nice to have gone to the same hairdresser for four years. I sat down and said, "You're going to laugh at me, but, now that we've worked so hard to grow the layers out, I don't think I can stand it anymore. My hair's driving me crazy and I'm starting to get headaches again." (I have super heavy hair).

She didn't laugh. She just said, "I'm surprised you lasted this long, actually."

So, then I told her that I had been looking at magazines and trying to get an idea what I wanted, but none of the models had round, pudgy faces, they were all super skinny with perfectly oval faces, so I just couldn't find the look for me. Then she did laugh.

But I think I like what she did with my unruly mop.

I Have Not Quit Blogging...

Though it might seem like it due to my slow posting non-schedule this week. It's just been one of those weeks. I seem to be blog slumping again. Lots of thoughts, not so much ready to blog. For all few of you who still stop by once in a while, here are some pictures to try to jump start my blogging again:

Boo has discovered the joys of crayons and coloring books. Yay! (Her reaction to anything fun) The boys never got into coloring all that much, but just this week she has started asking to "color Pooh" and will sit for 20 minutes at a time or so and color in her Winnie the Pooh coloring book. Nice. Much better than coloring on the floor, the table, the couch, the chairs, the wall...yes, I am very, very happy she finally understands what crayons are actually for.





However, it is getting harder to take candid shots of her because the minute she realizes I have the camera in hand, she looks up, smiles and says, "Cheese!" over and over until I snap the shot. Very cute. I'm not biased at all, you understand. We are kind of wondering if our poor little girl is ever going to have hair. She has a little curl in the back, but still not enough in front to even put in a barrette.






Here she is coloring next to the computer desk. I just had to get a picture. Isn't it amazing how much cleaner the floor looks in pictures than it actually does in real life? I'm impressed.


Speaking of the camera, by the way, M somehow fixed it. It wasn't working - wouldn't even turn on, so we thought maybe the battery had gone caput and ordered a replacement battery. That came in the mail the other day and I charged it up, only to have the camera do the same weirdness it had been doing with the old battery once I put the new one in. I figured the camera had probably just not survived its dunking in Oliver's water bowl a while back and we were going to be shopping for a new camera soon. (That would be Boo's handiwork, by the way, the baptizing of the camera in the dog bowl.)

So, anyway, yesterday evening Drew told me M had fixed the camera. I asked how, and M said, "I don't know. I just pushed the power button on and off and on and off and now it works."

I don't get it. But it does work now. I pushed the power button on and off and on and off the other day, too, but it didn't work for me. M must have the touch. The camera seems to have recovered.

Here are some pictures of our camera hound, M, testing out the now functioning camera:






And now I must go and get ready to join the new and totally not improved, very frustrating car line so I can attempt to get the boys home in time for piano lessons. I only do car line on Thursdays now that the boys are bus riders, but don't get me started on how the new car line procedure is going. Not well, is all I'll say here. Bus isn't much better - hoping they get the kinks worked out soon and the kids home earlier in the afternoon. Enough whining. Enjoy your Thursday.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thinking About Heaven

I didn’t blog about this earlier because I just didn’t have words to express my many and complicated emotions, but I received yet another several e-mails this week with sad news. The beloved minister of music from the church where we were members in Florida before we moved here passed away suddenly from a heart attack last weekend. That church has experienced so much sadness in the past year, and my heart hurts for them, but I do know that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. This news was very hard for me this week because I had been a member of the choir there and we were there when Simeon first came to Bell Shoals Baptist, and choir was kind of my family away from home. I know that the sadness I felt does not begin to compare to the sadness of his family and those still there at the church, but, still, I was so saddened by it, nonetheless. Today in church we sang a chorus that we used to sing at Bell Shoals and I cried, remembering Simeon singing it all those years ago, and then the choir sang a song that our choir there used to sing, too. I kept thinking that today he was worshiping his Lord and Savior in Heaven, and I was praying for the church in Brandon, too, as today was probably a difficult day for them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Heaven for the past year or so, since the first time we got the shocking news that a close friend had died. I also read a Christian fiction book recently that tried to portray what Heaven may be like for a believer who dies. Though the book was interesting, and very well-written, I kind of wish I had not read it. All the neat ideas presented were still just that author’s ideas. I don’t think our not-yet-glorified minds can even imagine or comprehend what it will really be like, and I’m growing more sure that maybe we shouldn’t try too much to speculate awfully much. I’m not expressing what I want to say well. Let me try again.

Though I found that author’s ideas intriguing, I don’t like that by having read them I now find myself thinking of my friends who have passed on into the presence of the Lord with that limited view of someone’s imaginings about what Heaven will be. They are too limited. The Bible tells us what we need to know, but it does not tell us everything we will know one day or everything that God knows. The Bible does tell us everything God wants us to know about Him and Heaven, though. I believe there is a reason for that. So, I am not sure how beneficial it is that I read that author’s ideas, nice as they were. Because, nice as they were, they are extrabiblical. Maybe what I mean to be saying is that it is inevitable that we will speculate, but maybe we shouldn't get too consumed with our imagined thoughts. I know that Heaven is a wonderful place and that we will be present with the Lord, that I know. I know that we will be free from sin and able to worship Him in holiness and righteousness and truth. Much beyond that, I think I don’t want to speculate, because, no matter how holy my thinking, there is still so much man-centeredness that clouds my view. That is what I found in that book. Though a real and sincere attempt is made to glorify Christ, and I’m not judging the attempt, there is still too much man-centered speculation. How can we avoid that when our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways are not His ways, and we still see through a glass darkly?

We do not grieve as those who have no hope, because we know that our loved ones who are in Christ are now with Him, and one day we will be, too. One day we will know Him as we are known. One day we who are in Christ will worship Him in truth and purity around the throne. One day every tear will be wiped away. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I think that is enough for me today. I think I don’t need to fill my mind with speculations outside what the Bible says. My questions will be answered one day. Today, I need to obey what I know and worship Jesus in spirit and in truth and be content to know that He holds tomorrow in His hand. He alone knows the days of my life. May I be sober, alert and ready to meet Him when He calls me home to enter into the joy of His rest.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hmmmm....

Well, if you could see my house right at this moment, you probably wouldn't agree, but the little test I took said that:

88

As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!



Maybe I read the questions wrong or something? No wonder I always feel like an odd duck with the other bus stop moms....apparently I would have fit in better if I'd been born in the early 1900's?

HT: Lisa Writes

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Electricity Went Out Last Night

We have been experiencing just a taste of the outer bands of the notorious Fay. I am not complaining, because I know that my family and friends in Florida are experiencing the full brunt of the storm as it has sat and stalled and dumped gallons and gallons of water over them. My parents are without phone and there is water, water all around, so, I am not complaining. Half my driveway is under water at the moment, but I know that much of Florida is under water at the moment, so I know that my driveway being wet is not a problem.

But, due to the air pressure this system brings with it, I have had a splitting headache for five days now. Yesterday and today are much better than earlier in the week, but, ouch. It is so hard to be patient and loving and kind and ready to teach my children when I have a blinding headache and Drew is in San Diego for the week. Only by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit can I hope to do right. I confess I have walked in the flesh more often than I wish I had to admit this week.

Anyway, last night the wind and rain were so loud that I woke up around 1:45 AM and was going to go back to sleep when I realized that I had forgotten to take the trash can back up to the house after the garbage truck came yesterday, and I had visions of our big green garbage can blowing down the street in the storm. I ran out into the deluge and dragged it up to the garage, came back into the house drenched, dripping and shivering (the A/C was working nicely) and decided I was too cold to just go back to bed, so I took a hot bath. At 2 AM. I know, I'm crazy. I was so awake at that point that I didn’t think I’d be able to go back to sleep for a while anyway. Then I put on warm, dry clothes and went back to bed. Then I decided I had to go to the bathroom.

While in there, the power flickered and then went out. It was pitch dark in my house. I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. I hurried back to bed and tried to go to sleep, but I was fighting a little bit of unreasonable panic. I hate being in the pitch dark. We usually have some kind of night light on in the kitchen or living room, especially when Drew is not home in case one of the kids gets up in the night, so it is never completely dark in our house. But it was last night. Then I started thinking that it would be really scary for the kids if they woke up with the wind and rain so loud and no lights, so maybe I should have the flashlight. I like to keep the flashlight in my room, but someone in my house who I won’t name here usually comes along behind me and puts it away, way up high where I can’t reach it over the pantry in the laundry room. I tried to just go to sleep, but it bothered me so much that I didn’t have the flashlight that I finally got up and carefully felt my way through the living room to the kitchen and over to where I keep the stool then back through the kitchen to the pantry, set up the stool and reached up over my head and carefully felt along the top of the cabinet until I found the one flashlight that works, hoping I would not accidently knock that heavy thing down and knock myself out with it in the process. All done blindly in the dark. We are not exactly the poster children for hurricane preparedness in this story are we?

It was amazing how comforting it was to have the little bit of light to walk back to my room by. The flashlight will live in my room from now on, by the way. Especially if I have to be home by myself so often.

So, I got to thinking about the dark and light, and how in the dark the best I could do was stumble around feeling my way along blindly but with the light I was confident and able to what I needed to do. In the old days, before electricity, I guess people got used to either sleeping through the dark or making do once the sun went down with only candle light or lanterns. They were used to it, never having had the benefit of bright, electric light. But for me, who has experienced the benefit of electric light, being in the darkness was not fun at all. I’m not used to it, and I don’t like it.

As Christians, there is a lot of symbolism in the Bible about being light in a dark world. And it says that when the Light came, people loved the darkness rather than the Light. Spiritually, there are a lot of people still blindly groping along in darkness, while we have the light. I am convicted that so often I am quiet and too content to enjoy the light myself but am not purposeful and looking for opportunities to help others to see the light, too. I have had to confess that I am often fearful to speak up, but I am learning to pray that my heart would be changed and I would be open and seeking opportunities to share the hope that is within me.

Something I’ve realized recently, too, is that in the culture we live in, we have so much affluence and comfort and seeming good things, that it is hard for people in the dark to recognize how dark it is, to see their need for salvation. Kind of like our comfort and security function as night lights bright enough that we don’t see the dark for how dark it really it, but not so bright that we see the truth we need to see, either. I am beginning to understand what Jesus meant when He said that it was hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. We are so prone to trust in temporal things and in relative goodness, what we define as good, comparing ourselves to others instead of seeing that it is God’s standard to which we need to compare ourselves, realizing that there we all fall short. Every single one of us. Only with that realization that we cannot measure up will we begin to see our need and begin to recognize our darkened sight. I also realize that once exposed to and living in the true light, I don’t want to go back to the darkness. More and more, the things that the world sees as fun and needful and harmless, I am more and more uncomfortable being around and don’t have the desire to participate in them any longer.

May I purpose not to hide my light under a bushel, but to let it shine for the glory of my Lord Jesus Christ, that others may be drawn to Him and brought out of the darkness into the light. May I be like that flashlight and point to the hope in the midst of the darkness, aiming the light away from myself and straight to Jesus and reflect His glory to my neighbors and friends and family. And may I do more than type those words and think about them, but do them.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Libraries

Booking through Thursday today is asking about early library memories, specifically asking these questions:

What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

I remember lots of trips to puppet shows and story times in the special event room at the library. I even remember the way our library smelled. I loved that smell as a kid. I can’t even begin to describe the smell, but only the library had that smell, and I associated it with good books and fun puppet shows. I can’t remember anything about the puppet shows, but just that I looked forward to the times my mom or dad would take us.

I also remember how much I liked going to the library even when there wasn’t a puppet show or special event going on. I loved finding new books to read, and many that I checked out from that library are still old favorites. I also remember the little circular step down sitting area with the green shag carpet (they remodeled during the 80's, but I was an early elementary child during the late 70's, lime green shag carpeting was everywhere) where we would sit and look at books and the Sesame Street magazines we could only read there at the library, not take home. I even remember doing research projects in the library. This was before everyone had a computer. You had to actually go to the library and look through the card catalogue, actual index cards in drawers, mind you, and go open up the encyclopedia to do research. There is still something satisfying to me to sit at a table spread with papers and books and flip through the pages to find what I’m looking for, though, the Internet has made research much faster. I feel a little sorry for my kids, however, that they probably won’t have that satisfying spread out the books and papers experience.

When I had the chicken pox in fourth grade, I remember my mom checking out some books for me to read. The only one I really remember was James and the Giant Peach, and that was extremely surreal to read while slightly delirious anyhow from the fever and all, but I’ve always associated the library with that memory for some reason. Probably because I was a little worried that by reading the books while infected with the chicken pox I hoped I wouldn’t be passing it along to whoever next read that book.

As I got older, I was allowed to ride my bike by myself to the library, since it wasn’t very far at all from our neighborhood. I can’t imagine allowing my boys to do that nowadays, and not just because it’s really too far and too dangerous for them to ride over the bridge to our library, but more because we live in a different time, sadly. But that’s another post.

The one summer I stayed in Gainesville at UF and did the required summer semester, my roommate, Heather, and I visited the public library and got cards there. We enjoyed having a little more free time to read a few novels, which the heavier load of fall and spring semesters didn’t allow. I liked that library, too. It was always so cool and airy on a hot Gainesville day, and summer in Gainesville is most definitely hot, and I would even study there sometimes, rather than studying in the stuffy campus libraries. I remember it had a good smell, too, better than the dorms, at any rate. Can you tell I associate memories with smells? That downtown library is also the one I raced to one Saturday evening a few years later, after marrying Drew and quitting graduate school, when I just had to read the next book in a series I was reading through and the branch closer to our house didn’t have it. I had called the downtown branch an hour before closing time to see if they had it, and then raced over there to check it out because I just couldn’t wait until Monday.

When we lived in Indiana a few years ago, I loved our library because it was right on the Ohio River. I would take the boys and walk along the river and let them look at the “bar-edges” (barges) and then we’d go check out books. We all loved it, especially on glorious fall days (my absolutely favorite time of year), and the boys had their first experience with the summer reading program then, even though they were just little.

These days, I’ve really enjoyed letting the boys participate in our library’s summer reading program. The first summer we were here, the theme was the Gold Rush, and the boys got to pan for gold in a wading pool in front of the library and have beans and corn bread and lots of fun stories. Another year the theme was medieval times, and they had some really fun activities that year, too, including a demonstration by a group of medieval re-enactors in heraldry and sword fighting. Very cool.

Now that Boo is getting bigger, but not quite big enough for the library, it’s been a little challenging. When the boys are with me, I usually send them to the children’s section and then head to the grown-up books with Boo in her stroller. I have to have a plan in mind, because if I try to browse titles, Boo’s quick little hands get busy pulling books off the shelf and she quickly grows bored and starts wailing. Loudly. Something about the library brings out the banshee side of her. Hopefully she’ll grow to love the library as much as the rest of us do. Until then, I go with book list in hand and aim for the proper aisle like a book-seeking missile and snatch and grab in record time with little time to browse.

Well, I went on and on and overdid the answer to those questions. I don’t seem to be able to write short blog posts. See what other people have shared about their library memories over at Booking Through Thursday.

HT: 5 Minutes for Books

Rich Consolation

"I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me in vain."—Isaiah 45:19.

We may gain much solace by considering what God has not said. What He has said is inexpressibly full of comfort and delight; what He has not said is scarcely less rich in consolation. It was one of these "said nots" which preserved the kingdom of Israel in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, for "the Lord said not that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven." 2 Kings 14:27. In our text we have an assurance that God will answer prayer, because He hath "not said unto the seed of Israel, Seek ye Me in vain." You who write bitter things against yourselves should remember that, let your doubts and fears say what they will, if God has not cut you off from mercy, there is no room for despair: even the voice of conscience is of little weight if it be not seconded by the voice of God. What God has said, tremble at! But suffer not your vain imaginings to overwhelm you with despondency and sinful despair. Many timid persons have been vexed by the suspicion that there may be something in God's decree which shuts them out from hope, but here is a complete refutation to that troublesome fear, for no true seeker can be decreed to wrath. "I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I have not said," even in the secret of my unsearchable decree, "Seek ye Me in vain." God has clearly revealed that He will hear the prayer of those who call upon Him, and that declaration cannot be contravened. He has so firmly, so truthfully, so righteously spoken, that there can be no room for doubt. He does not reveal His mind in unintelligible words, but He speaks plainly and positively, "Ask, and ye shall receive." Believe, O trembler, this sure truth—that prayer must and shall be heard, and that never, even in the secrets of eternity, has the Lord said unto any living soul, "Seek ye Me in vain." - Charles Spurgeon

I am glad I read that this morning. Aren't you so glad we can take God at His word and trust Him to save to the uttermost those who call upon the LORD Jesus in faith by His amazing grace.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And Now For a Long Story You Probably Aren't Interested to Read....

We had a new air conditioning system put in a few months ago. You may remember me whining about mentioning it back then. We bought a top of the line system, and according to all the research and testimonials we read, we were expecting cool temperatures inside and significantly reduced power bills.

You can imagine how confused I was when I was running it at 72 degrees and having the kids’ side of the house be cold, while right at the stairs and beyond to the living room and my room there was a serious temperature change and it went from arctic to desert. I kept bumping it down to 72 thinking surely it would cool the house, it was a new, better system, after all. I was becoming quite unhappy with the new A/C, thinking that at least with the old one it was cool throughout the house and I wasn’t sweating in the afternoon.

And, you can imagine my shock dismay surprise when I opened our first electric bill since installing the new system and seeing, not a reduced bill, but a bill that had more than doubled. Yes, you read that right. Doubled. We are not made of money in the Sweet Tea With Lemon household. I immediately got on the phone to my husband and wailed. We called the power company, who sent someone out to re-read our meter and then informed us that the reading was, indeed, accurate and that it was now spinning even faster and using even more wattage than when they had initially read it. We called the guy who installed the new system. This is someone we decided to trust with our very expensive purchase on the recommendation of a friend and on his coming in significantly lower in the cost estimate than our A/C maintenance company did in their estimate.

Well, when we called him, he was out of town, meaning we had to wait another week for him to come and try to find the problem, during which time we bumped up the temperature at which we were running the A/C hoping to put a slow-down to the relentless turning of the wattage meter, knowing that by the time I had received the bill we were already a week or two into the next billing cycle and racking up an astronomical bill for that month, too.

So, Mr. A/C man came out, tried to explain about how we should be able to run this fancy new system at higher temperatures and be cooler than we were at lower temps with the old system because of the way it dealt with humidity (??) and, were we aware that we had been having record temperatures and no A/C could realistically be expected to keep a house at 72 degrees in this heat. How come my in-laws run theirs at 72 degrees all the time and they don’t have $400+(!!!) power bills ever and they only live right over the bridge from us? Couldn’t answer that one. Must be your cathedral ceilings in the living room. Right. Then he checked the power output at the source, declared that he couldn’t see any significantly alarming power output from the A/C unit and that maybe something else in the house was doing it. Right. Nothing else had changed but the A/C. Umm, if we want to set it at 72, it should not double the power bill from a system that had been failing and not running efficiently at all.

Oh, yeah, when he installed the new system, he did not have the thermostat that goes with it, so he put on one that would run it okay until he could install the proper one. When he came out that evening, he said he had the thermostat, but not time to put it on right then, he’d be back the next week. He never came back. When we asked if that could be the problem, we were assured that it wasn’t.

Guess what? We ran the air at 74 for the next billing cycle, and the bill came down a little, but it was still a lot higher than we paid this time last year. We’ve called Mr. A/C man several times, still no thermostat in sight, still hasn’t come into the house to see how not cool it has been during all these record hot days of summer. Then, yesterday, I got a call from our maintenance company following up on whatever happened with the quote they gave us back in March, and is everything going okay? I explained what we’d been up to, and a technician came out yesterday evening to evaluate the system. Turns out that the man who installed it apparently does NOT know how to install this particular system, and that the thermostat he put on there does not allow the different parts to communicate, so the brand new swanky system has been going a little haywire, not able to communicate with itself. He got me a quote for what it would cost to rewire and properly install this system and put the proper controller thermostat on. It wasn’t cheap.

The work is finished. I can feel cool air blowing all over the house. In fact, it is blowing just as cool and strong in my bedroom as it is in Boo’s. And all this time Mr. A/C man has been saying that my room is so much hotter because of the ductwork and how it has to travel through the attic across the house. Guess he was wrong, huh? Sigh.

Thanks for letting me vent my little tale of woe. In the grand scheme of things, I know this is not really a huge thing. I know this. I also know I am thanking God that in His providence He allowed such a thing to happen while Drew was on active duty and making a little extra income and we could afford this little jaunt into the world of A/C incompetence. Though we had other plans for that extra cash, and we’ll have to reevaluate the budget a little now, I’m very thankful it was there for this little escapade. God has richly blessed us, and I am grateful.

Lesson learned, go with the known company – it may cost more up front, but you’re probably going to pay the difference either way. I’m really hoping this solves the issue and the power bill recovers, because we certainly cannot afford to have that big of a hit each month.

Another lesson learned, if you think something isn't right, don't second guess and limp along, get it checked out. I never felt like the A/C was working right, but I wasted the summer thinking maybe I was just expecting too much, so we didn't have another company come in and check it out until we'd gone through most of the summer. We could have had this fixed a couple of months ago if we had not been so willing to wait on the man who didn't do it right the first time.

Another reminder, do the job right the first time if you want a good reputation. You’d better believe we won’t be recommending Mr. A/C man to any of our friends. And we live in a small town. Several people have told me that Mr. A/C man should be responsible for our high power bills since his people did not do the job properly, and that's probably true, but, realistically, I don't think we'd get anywhere with that. Besides, even with all the headache, we're still going to come out having paid a little less than if we'd gone with the first quoted price, but it has been a hot summer. I’m hoping Drew will be calling him to let him know that his installers did not do the job properly though, otherwise, the next customers might not be as willing to chalk it up to caveat emptor, which is what we’re going to choose to do.

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Day of School

The boys boarded the school bus early this morning and headed off to the first day of a new school year. Do you hear someone hyperventilating? No?

Oh, that was me a few days ago when Drew suggested for the twenty millionth time that we should just let them ride the bus while we were at Open House/Meet Your Teacher last Thursday. Initially I said, “No. I like taking them to school.” Clearly I wasn’t practicing being the excellent wife at that moment.

That was before we learned about all the new rules that are coming into play along with our school’s new principal this year. No longer can we get out of the cars and walk them to class in the morning. If we bring them, we must go through car line to drop them off, and then if I want to come into the school I’ve got to go sign in at the office. Humph.

When I heard that, I looked at Drew and said, “Might as well let them ride the bus.” To which he replied, “This is what I’m saying….”

Since my reason for holding so tightly to driving them in the first place was that I just liked walking them to class, and since I can no longer do this without a lot of hassle, let the county pay for the gas, I say. We figure, gas prices being what they are, that we’ll save close to $50 a month letting them ride the bus to and from school. Plus, if Boo actually decides to take one of her rarer and rarer afternoon naps, I won’t have to wake her up to get into carline. And, I’ll have time to bake them cookies that will be nice and warm when they come home from the bus stop this afternoon. That’s next on my agenda for today, by the way, baking cookies.

Another good thing that will come of this is that I’m hoping the boys will meet some more kids from our neighborhood, and this morning I already met three new moms who moved in over the summer, too. That’s a good thing. And, it will encourage me to get in there and volunteer in the classroom, since I want to be involved, too, since I won’t have that daily connection of walking them in each day. I’ve needed to do that anyway, so it’s all good.

J was a little put out when he first started thinking about how he’ll have to walk to the bus stop and home in the afternoon. Ya’ll, the bus stops four houses down our street. It’s not like I’m asking him to walk uphill both ways barefoot in the snow or anything. It’s a longer walk from the parking lot of the school to his classroom than the entire walk he’ll have to do to the bus. Besides, Boo and I walked with them this morning and saw them off. They can handle it.

I’m just not sure how well I’m handling them getting so big. Still having trouble wrapping my brain around the whole fourth and second grade thing…..

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Blogger's Dilemma

So, Drew has some meetings in Charleston today and tomorrow, and since the Army is paying for a nice hotel room for him to attend these meetings, and he is going to have some free time along the way, he asked me to come with him. We left the kids with his parents and I'm sitting here in a really nice hotel room in Charleston. I sat on the balcony and read my Bible this morning in peace and quiet. A rarity. Yesterday evening we walked around down town a little, and we'll have more time for that this afternoon when he's done with his meetings.

Until then, I have a few hours this morning to read and blog without feeling guilty about it at all. No housecleaning I can do, kids are having fun with grandparents, I could write a lengthy blog post and take all the time I want about composing it with no guilt this morning.

Problem is, I don't have much to say today. Aside from that silly little story in the last post, I'm blog post dry. Like a vast blogging desert. A blogger's dilemma, indeed. Time to write, not much to say.

So rather than waste time staring at a blank computer screen willing a blog post to materialize, I think I'm going downstairs for a fancy cup of coffee and I'm taking a book with me, and I'm going to enjoy a rare time of being able to read for an extended period with nothing pressing that I need to be doing. Nice.

Oh! Guess what came in the mail yesterday?

I'm looking forward to digging into this one. I also still have Because the Time is Near that I'm wanting to dig into and keep meaning to get started on.

While I brought my new book with me, too, I think I'm taking the fiction book I also brought downstairs this morning. But I'll be getting to the deep stuff soon. So, though I have time to blog today, I think I will just go read for a while. Maybe some blog inspiration will come along in the meantime. Be back soon!

The Princess At Play

Yesterday, my son's piano teacher and a few of her other students and their moms came over to our house for a little mini-recital. Mrs. T. did this to kind of help some of the kids get a little more used to playing in front of people, and we're planning a real recital in November, but this was a nice little get together for piano and lunch.

One of the families has a little brother who is about Boo's age and who we also know from church, and Boo got to play with him some during the fellowship time. Drew was home yesterday, and he witnessed an interesting interaction between these two and we laughed about it together when he told me about it. We have a little basket of toys out in the living room, and Boo's little friend found a toy apple which makes a musical noise, just like the picture up there, in the basket and was playing with it.

The Princess was not amused.

"Apple, apple," she protested. When he put the apple down, Boo proceded to pick it up, lick it all over and then held it out to him, saying, "Apple!" And we wonder why the kids get sick so often.

Drew said it was like a little Nellie Olson in action.

In all fairness to Boo, she has just learned to eat real whole apples and loves to munch on them - a healthy snack - and I think she was just engaging in imitative play. That's what the former speech pathology student in me sees in that. But, sin nature being what it is, there was probably a lot of the "Nellie Olson" in that gesture, too ("It's mine, and you can't have it or touch it or look at it, so there!").

She's a live wire, is our little Boo.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh, The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

"But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:24-25

I am so grateful that my salvation is not dependent upon my emotions and feelings, but it is solely dependent upon His grace. It is not the amount of my faith, but the object of my faith who is the sure foundation upon which I rest. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him. He will not fail. Though my faith may be weak and frail at times and my vision clouded by faulty emotions, I know, I know my Redeemer lives. He is a covenant keeping God. Our covenant God will ever hold me and keep me and grant me the faith to persevere and run the race, to the uttermost. Our great High Priest is ever interceding for those who are trusting in Him. Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to His cross I cling. Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

No Title Came to Mind......

The boys have a week off from school in October. We are already planning to take a fun family vacation that week (tell you more about it later, I am sure), something we haven’t done in the past I can’t remember how long. I’ve set myself a goal of losing some weight before that week. I would put the actual number of pounds I’d really, really like to lose, but I fear that goal may be unreasonable, so I’m just going to do the best I can about eating healthy and exercising and be content with that. I’m actually after changing my habits to healthier eating for life, anyway, not a temporary, quick-fix kind of diet.

Part of that plan involves drinking a lot of water. I was reading a diet plan in a fitness magazine my husband brought home the other day. While the diet was way too heavy on fish for this non-seafood liking woman, the advice about drinking lots of water stuck, and I pretty much know how to eat healthy, it’s just a matter of doing it. It said to drink an ounce of water for every pound I weigh. That’s a lot of water! But I’ve been drinking it, and it does help to curb the appetite enough that I don’t want as much to eat all day. That, and it does a good job of keeping me hydrated in the heat of this very hot August as we swelter toward the end of summer. Then again, the less eating could be happening because I’m just so full of liquid that my eyeballs are floating, necessitating more trips to the necessary room, if you know what I mean, so I just don’t have as much time for extra snacking.

Now if I could just get someone to hide the chocolate chip cookies I’d be floating – literally – through this changing my eating habits and eating better plan nicely. I have had some personal breakthroughs. The last three times we’ve been somewhere that the children have had fries with that, I did not eat a single one. I’m pretty good about not ordering them for myself, but the temptation to eat one or two (who are we kidding here?) of theirs is sometimes too much. Even at Arby’s the other day (by the way, I think I’m going to write that company and ask them to please, please, please put a small side salad on the menu for those of us who occasionally have to go there to appease the roast beef cravings of the little people who live with us but who really cannot eat fried stuff anymore, what do you think?) and their fries are sooo tasty, but I fought the temptation to put one in my mouth and won! Not one fry that day.

Now to the point of this rambling stream of consciousness. (There’s a point? Well, sort of.) Drew is also trying to eat healthier, and part of that is both of us are also cutting way back on the number of diet soda we drink, too. He came home with flavored bottled water yesterday, which he has come to really enjoy during this summer of the Army keeping him away from home more than he is here (almost done with that, the end is in sight, hooray!). Anyway, I was looking at the “natural grape flavored water beverage” with zero calories and zero fat that he had me try yesterday and started laughing. That’s a blog post, I laughed. What, exactly, is a water beverage? A little more than water, a lot less than juice, it’s a water beverage. Interesting. And, for the record, I’ll stick with my plain water, I think.

And while I’m thinking of water, I actually cooked fish last night. And I liked it okay. So did Drew and M – M even asked for seconds and thirds. I have finally found something he likes to eat. Unfortunately it is something I only tolerate and J and Boo didn’t like it so much, but M loved it. Loved the fish. That’s what comes of sending my husband to the store with a grocery list asking for, among everything else, cod fillets. He found several different varieties of fish and brought them all home. This non-seafood liking woman will be eating some fish in the near future it looks like.

And speaking of food, I have one more little quirky thing I have wondered often. What is process cheese food? Aside from being something else I don’t eat anymore, I mean. Not exactly cheese, not exactly food, but package it in thin little individually wrapped squares and grill it between two slices of bread and feed it to the children with tomato soup and call it food because it is actually something they will eat? Sounds about right.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is It That Time Already?

And so the countdown begins. Letters from the boys’ teachers arrived in our mailbox yesterday, introducing themselves and providing the all important ‘back to school shopping list’ and time for open house and meet-your-teacher-day, which will be this coming Thursday, but missing the tax free weekend, like usual. Did you hear the sudden intake of breath? How can it be back to school time already? Summer went almost as fast for me this year as it used to seem to go when I was in school myself. Do we really only have one week left? What happened to summer? Where did it go? Did we really waste this whole break? Well, not exactly waste, but not exactly doing what I had obviously not actually fully planned to do but intended to do all summer. We did get some fun beach days in. And lots of reading together. And swimming lessons (finally). And days to just be kids.

I’ll tell you why it seemed so short. Drew was gone for most of it. We were in survival, single-mom mode most of the summer. So be it. Here we are.

We made a trip out to the office supply store yesterday to buy the school supplies the letters listed. Oh, do I have a story about that - remind me to tell you all later. Another intake of breath. My oldest son is going into the FOURTH grade this year. And just when I got my brain wrapped around that unbelievable thing, I realized my youngest son (not youngest child, but youngest son) is going into the SECOND grade this year. I mean, obviously I knew he is going into the second grade, but it kind of hit me all of a sudden that he’s going into the SECOND grade! Aaaaaack. Gaaaack. They are not little anymore. What happened here? Time happened. It does that. You blink and there you are.

And then it hit me, too, that I usually start making the kids go to bed earlier the week before school starts to get them back into that habit, and that is THIS WEEK. Aaaack......

Life is a vapor. If you don’t believe it, well, you haven’t seen how fast a kid changes once his baby teeth start falling out and his grown up ones grow in and he finishes kindergarten and first grade. All of sudden, in the blink of an eye, he’s just not a little guy anymore.

And with the back to school letters arriving in the mailbox yesterday, guess who had a nightmare last night? Well, I’m not saying, but it wasn’t the happy-go-lucky boy but the more intense, sometimes-thinks-too-much, sometimes-obsesses-about-things, goodness-but-he’s-a-lot-like-his-mother-in-that-respect boy. Poor guy. He came into the kitchen around 11ish PM last night, where I was ineffectively staring at the blank computer screen trying to will a blog post to write itself because lately, I’ve just got nothin’ much in the blogging department, upset because he’d had a bad dream. I prayed with him and hugged him and sent him back to bed and soon after turned off the computer and went to bed. Not much later I heard the same boy spreading blankets in the living room floor because that seems to help on those kinds of nights. I asked him this morning if he thinks it might be because the back-to-school letter came yesterday that he suddenly had trouble sleeping. He doesn’t think so. I silently and knowingly beg to differ. I know how it is. I still have those kinds of nights when this time of year comes around, but I have them also at midterms and finals, too. I'm starting to think that it isn't going to matter how many years post-school I am, that this may just be how it's going to be. I’m sorry, son. I have truly tried not to pass my weirdness down.

So, that’s what’s up with the older children. Guess what’s next on the agenda for the rapidly-growing-out-of-babyhood Boo? Potty training. Oh dear…….

Though the thought of being done with diapers and the hit to the budget that they are is intriguing, but it’s just one more reminder that in just a few blinks she’ll be in kindergarten, as the little grocery store toddler preschool pals club newsletter informed me when it hit my inbox with its brightly titled “Countdown to Kindergarten” headline. Don’t rush me, people, she’s only two…

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Being Careful With Our Speech

I was reading Proverbs 8 yesterday morning, and have been working on this post ever since. These are some of the things that wisdom says:

Proverbs 8:8
“All the words of my mouth are with righteousness;
Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.”

Proverbs 8:13
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.”

I’ve stumbled across a lot of blog discussions on Christian blogs about language. Lots of people seem to want to justify using bad language with arguments that we have freedom, we shouldn’t judge others, bad language is a cultural thing - meaning not all cultures would consider the same words bad, they say we have arbitrary ‘lists’ of what we consider bad language, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, until your eyes glaze over and your heart sinks and depression could set in if you don’t quit reading. And it’s sort of implied that those of us who choose not to use language that is offensive and who think someone who belongs to Christ ought to have clean speech are just old-fashioned, prudish and not wanting to reach the culture.

I think they protest too much. I think some of the arguments I have read are immature at best and rebellious in some cases. When the Bible says that it is wisdom for all the words of my mouth to be with righteousness, and that the perverse mouth is not wise and is actually hateful, we shouldn’t be playing around arguing and blabbering about what words are arbitrarily bad or flirting around with some invisible line to see how worldly our speech can be. We ought to err on the side of righteousness and avoid all appearance of evil. Words have meaning, and we need to be careful with them.

A lot of the people I’ve seen trying to defend less-than-lovely speech will argue that they are just trying to relate to people in today’s culture. I believe you can do that, and should do that, without adopting language that is not pure. You don’t have to use crude and unnecessary language to befriend and talk to people. If you can’t have a meaningful conversation without obscenities or even merely questionable phrases or unkind phrases, perhaps it’s time to expand your vocabulary. It’s not prudish to take care with our speech and to attempt to be above reproach. It is actually an attempt to be kind to others and to not be a stumbling block when we guard our speech and plan to keep it free of unnecessary phrases or words that are offensive to a lot of people. I hardly think that you will lose an opportunity to witness because you choose not to use certain words in your speech. You don’t have to bash the ones you are trying to win over the head about their use of the words, but you don’t have to mimic them, either.

In my own life, I try to avoid using words or phrases that would get my children into trouble if they used them. If my kids shouldn’t be cussing or using crude speech, neither should I. I also don’t use language in private that I would not want someone from church or anywhere else knowing that I said. I don’t want to be different in private than I am in public. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. That’s because, for one thing, I don’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone, not that I’m trying to win the applause of men, but that I want my life to be conformed to Christ Jesus. I am saved by His grace. Because I love Him, I want to think about things and talk about things that are honorable and true and pure and lovely - as a rule of life, publicly and privately. He is the One I answer to and will be held accountable to for all my speech. That’s a heavy thing to think about, that I’ll give an account for every word I say. I know that I don’t really think seriously enough about that sometimes.

I really don’t get why this is so hard and worthy of so many heated blog discussions (trust me, I've seen bunches of them, and they can become very heated). That's why I'm posting this with a bit of trepidation and I think I'm going to walk away from my computer once I get this finished and hope for the best. Our speech is to be seasoned with grace and gentleness. James tells us to lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness (James 1:21). That’s kind of hard to do when you’re sprinkling four-letter words and obscenities around or even just plain careless speech. I hardly think that if we put that kind of standard on our speech we would be able with a straight face and honest heart to say that the kinds of words some of those discussions are trying to justify using would honestly be considered appropriate or useful. Let’s face it, even those who are still of the world know that certain speech is vulgar or offensive or unnecessary. Even if they use it themselves, most people know obscenity or crass or hateful, unkind speech when they hear it. I’m not saying I’m going to act as the language police and go around correcting everyone - that's not my job. Some of the discussion may possibly fall under the 'weaker brother' kind of argument, I don't know, and we need to follow our own conscience and trust the Lord to teach us how to apply His word in our speech and also we need to be careful not to condemn or judge others' motives too harshly. When we are Christians, we do have things that we are having pruned away in our lives and we all have differing things that are stumbling blocks for us, and growing in grace is a process. But I am saying it is foolish to try to argue that it’s good, righteous, graceful, gentle or honorable to make a habit out of using gutter language or demeaning language, too.

I know sometimes in the heat of the moment, things can pop out of our mouths that we regret whether actually a ‘cuss’ word or maybe just an unkind thought, especially if unsanctified speech has been a part of our past. That’s one reason it’s really important to stop and consider what we will say when that heat of the moment begins to rise and to learn to control our temper and to pray for the Holy Spirit to help us to put a guard on our tongues and to bring His word to remembrance. But I really don’t understand trying to justify or excuse away the use of those regretful things.That's also one reason it is important to retrain out thinking. Instead of thinking how close to the line we can come, we should be training ourselves to think righteous and godly thoughts.

I was listening to Alistair Begg on Thursday, and he gave a guideline for our speech that was extremely helpful. It was actually in the context of not gossiping or being hypercritical and being forgiving, but it’s appropriate to all speech. Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Seems to me that if we all took a serious look at those questions and honestly applied them to our daily speech, there would be a lot more of even our regular speech going unsaid. Not to mention that it pretty much wipes out the argument for using crude or obscene or cussing speech. I can’t think of too many times where that could truthfully be said to be necessary, true or kind. Enough said.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Sown in Peace

James 3:13-18
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

I read James 3-5 this morning, and this passage got me thinking. I think one of the goals I have as a parent is to promote peace in our home and to teach my children to be peacemakers – with each other and with others. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the ultimate peacemaker. He has made me to be at peace with God by reconciling me through His blood shed to atone for my sin. By His grace, through faith in Him, I have peace with my Creator and I am His child.

If I harbor any kind of bitterness or self-seeking in my heart, and allow it to go unchecked, then that is not wise, but foolish. I know that I am very selfish at heart. This is a daily, minute-by-minute struggle. I don't want confusion and evil to be the tone of my home, but I want the tone to be one of peace. Learning to live in righteousness is not easy. It is hard work. It is necessary. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can I hope to grow in sanctification. I must not rely upon my own strength. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9). I want to see the fruit of righteousness in my life. I want to sow the fruit of righteousness in peace as one who makes peace. To teach my children these things, I must first be practicing them. To be wise – pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield (oh this is so hard at times!), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. May it be so, Lord, Jesus. May I learn to purge self-seeking and bitter envy from my heart. I want to be wise, not foolish! I don’t want confusion and evil to reign, but the wisdom of good conduct, meekly submitted to my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, learning to walk in His wisdom with a pure heart.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm Melting in This Heat

It is 102 degrees outside right now. It's humid, too. Have you ever had all your makeup just melt right off your face and your hair hang limp the minute you walk out into the sauna outside? Do you think that’s why I’m having trouble corralling a coherent thought for a decent blog post? I’ve tried three different rewrites of a thought that’s bubbling around in my brain. It’s still not right. Maybe it needs to stew a little more. It’s hot enough to make stew out there. That must be it.

I’m putting off thinking about back to school. I cannot believe it’s almost here. I’m not ready. I didn’t do what I meant to do this summer. It can’t be almost over. We’ll be getting their letters from their new teachers any day now with the back to school shopping lists. I don’t want to go back to school shopping. Not yet. Where did summer go? I did go through all the kids’ drawers and pulled out clothes they can’t wear anymore in an effort to see what we need to shop for soon. I’m putting off thinking about that, too. They’re all getting just too big. Where is the time going? How can they be this big already? And they need new clothes. You know, you have to clothe them. The clothes don’t just magically appear. You have to actually go and buy them clothes. Unless you sew. Which I don't. Especially J, the oldest, who really needs to go shopping with me and try things on and Boo, the youngest and our only girl, so she doesn’t have the benefit of hand-me-downs. M is sitting pretty with stacks of to-be-grown-into and should-fit-nicely clothes in his closet, only needing a couple of things. I do not want to go clothes shopping. Can I tell you how I am dreading taking the boys to Savannah for real clothes shopping? It must be done. We’re thinking about taking them overnight and bribing them with a Chuck E. Cheese visit once the shopping is done. I don’t want to think about a day at the mall with two boys who do not like to shop for clothes. I’ll think about it tomorrow. Just call me Scarlett.

I tried to take the kids outside to play this afternoon, but it’s just too hot. I gave in and they are now watching TV and Boo is napping. They watch too much TV. Super Mom I am not. I held out all day, but they’re in there watching Popeye now. Drew is out there mowing the yard. I think instead of trying to force this post or the more thoughtful one I’ve tried off and on to write all day, I’ll go take him some ice water.

Be back soon. I hope. If we don’t melt in the heat.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

In the Car....

The other day, as we were driving around doing errands, I was surprised when J piped up from the back seat, "Mom, can you put in disc #9?"

I asked him, "Disc what? What do you mean?"

He answered, "Disc 9, from the Bible discs. That's where we left off."

He wanted to hear more of the New Testament on CD from Marquis Laughlin, which we listen to sometimes. Isn't that exciting? My 9-year-old son wanted to hear the Gospel of John being read aloud as we drove along. I think that's exciting.

And I think I'm wearing out my Casting Crowns Lifesong CD. I just really, really like it, and almost never get tired of hearing it. I also love hearing M sing along when he doesn't realize I can hear him. Here's one of our favorite songs from it:



Now that you've heard it, imagine hearing it with a little seven-year-old voice singing along in the way back of the van. Priceless.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On Those Who Hope in His Mercy

Psalm 33

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

For the word of the LORD is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.

No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O LORD be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.

(emphasis mine)

How comforting to know that our hope is in the LORD. Jesus is our sure foundation. He is our help and our shield. My hope is in Him alone. May my heart rejoice in Him, because I have trusted in His holy name. How amazing that His mercy is upon us who trust in His holy name. Our hope is not a vain hope who fear the LORD, but a sure one. Hallelujah!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Practical Mom's Dictionary #6, Beach Edition

Debatable: Is the great fun had by all during a day at the beach with friends worth the hassle of packing lunches and beach gear, getting it all to the beach (30 minute drive), getting it all out of the car and down to the actual beach, and then getting everything rinsed off and back to the car once it is time for the fun to come to an end and it is time to go home? And is it worth the splitting headache I inevitably end up with in the afternoon? I’m still pondering the answer this afternoon.

Answer, upon pondering: Okay, usually it is worth it. We had fun last Tuesday when we went with some friends, and, can I just say that it is so nice to finally be making friends here?? We had a good time this morning with the boys’ Uncle M and Gram and Grandad, too. It is a lot of fun to watch the boys enjoying themselves in the water and Boo enjoying herself……all over the beach. She’s a busy little thing, I tell you. But she loves the beach. I’m pretty sure I don’t have the stamina to do too many more beach trips this summer, though. They wear me out. Good thing we only have two more weeks until school starts back. Aaaack. Did I really say it’s only two more weeks??? Where has the summer gone?

What were they thinking?: I wonder why the state park people did not put a boardwalk from the showers and restrooms to the parking lot. It doesn’t do much good for the showers to be located in the sand and then have several more yards of (very, very, scaldingly hot) sand from the showers to the car. Not sure what the logic there was. I suppose I am glad there are showers at all. But it doesn’t seem too smart to have to walk across all that (did I mention it was hot?) sand once we’ve rinsed off. We’re just as dirty by the time we get to the car as we were when we got to the showers in the first place. But I should not whine and digress.

Ahhhhhh: The clean feeling after a shower once we finally get home following a day at the beach. Is there anything like it? It almost makes the hassle of getting there and getting home again worth it. Almost. Regardless of what my house might look like on any particular day, I like things clean. I’m not Monk, mind you, but I do like it clean. You might not realize that immediately upon seeing my house sometimes because, well, life happens around here a lot, but I don’t really enjoy the grimy, sticky, dirt-everywhere feeling of the beach.

If my camera were working, I could have taken some cute pictures and shared them. But my camera is not working.

Another plus of a day at the beach: The kids sleep really well those nights. For all the not wanting to leave when it is time, they are worn out once we get home.

I’m off to enjoy the air conditioning and a good book for a bit this afternoon while everyone is somewhat quiet until it’s time to get the supper going. Happy Saturday.

Hello? **Updated**

I’m not sure what’s going on with Sitemeter, but I couldn’t get into their site, my blog or anyone else’s blog who has a sitemeter on it last night. Can you believe my husband was laughing at me on the phone when I was complaining about not being able to get to my blog, by the way? He said I’m addicted. Whatever. Okay, he wasn’t laughing a lot, but he was laughing.

I am not super computer savvy, but I finally figured out this morning that it had to be the sitemeter code on my blog that was causing me to be kicked out, so took it off and now I can pull up my blog again. And after I figured that out, when I pulled up my Google reader I saw from Carla’s blog that she has come to the same conclusion, so maybe I was a little more computer savvy than I thought.

I haven’t gotten any information from sitemeter, and I can’t get into their site still, so I don’t know what’s going on there. Anyway, I suppose I don’t really need to know who all is visiting (or not visiting as the more likely case may be) the Sweet Tea Front Porch at the moment.

I’m just relieved it isn’t my computer that was going crazy. That was what I was afraid of when I shut down last night, because I’m pretty sure our computer is heading towards being on its last legs.

**Updated** Sitemeter appears to be working again.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Recommended Reading

I just finished reading Don't Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman. I recommend it highly. I wish I had understood some of the very practical advice she gives better when my children were younger, though, knowing the me I was then, I'm not sure how teachable I would have been. As I look back, I see how very much insecurity and pride mingled together in my heart and how I bristled sometimes. My mom can attest to that, I am sure. Well, I want to be teachable now, and I pray I have not let some things go too late.

I know that we are to be training our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I aim to do this. I have always meant this for my home, but I have not always understood how to implement it as well as I should. I have always talked to my children about the Lord and His word, but I am seeing some ineffective and sinful parenting habits I've developed over the years that I wish I had not, and I'm seeing some areas where I have not been nearly as consistent in the day to day discipline as I wish I had been. I see some areas where I have exasperated my children, and it grieves my heart. I think I had a lot of worldly thinking that influenced me. There were also some parenting models that were being promoted in the evangelical world at the time when I was just starting out as a young adult which did not seem quite right to me and seemed kind of cultish, cliqueish, legalistic and prideful in the way some of the people I knew followed them, so it made it harder to find good and solid and practical advice. I am very wary of fads in the Church that people tend to latch onto, thinking that if they will just follow what this or that teacher says to the letter my children, life, whatever, will turn out right. What I really needed was not some teacher's or parenting 'expert's' model with lots of external and man-made do's and don't's, but practical, biblical advice on how to discern heart issues and to use scripture to train and teach and reach my children each day.

This book is very practical, and I am glad I read it this week. I am repenting of some areas where my parenting has been sinful, and I'm learning to depend daily on the Holy Spirit to bring His word to my remembrance and to help me to recognize sinful habits I need to change and to help me to wisely teach my children and not rely on my feelings but upon His word. I'm also encouraged, though I knew this already, that proper training happens most effectively as we interact with our children all day, not just in formal, sit-down teaching times, though we need to do that some, too. I want to diligently and faithfully apply God's word to my heart and life as we walk along the way and to teach my children the same.

I think I'm going to make this a standard gift when I want to encourage a young mom.