Friday, December 25, 2009

It's Snowing!

All the rain we've been getting has turned to snow today. We got a white Christmas! A Florida kid's dream.

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:11
"For there is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Luke 2:14
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

Isaiah 9:6
"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government shall be upon His shoulder,
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Isaiah 60:1-3
"Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you,
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising."

Isaiah 53:4-6
"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

John 6:37
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."

John 14:6
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'"

John 1:1-4
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men."

John 1:10-14
"He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."

1 John 4:10
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

Psalm 118:25-29
"Save now, I pray, O LORD;
O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
God is the LORD,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever."

Revelation 5:9-10
"...You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth."

Revelation 5:12
"...Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"

Revelation 5:13
"...Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

Psalm 27:4
"One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple."

Jude 24-25
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever,
Amen."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Best Things About Christmas

All the twinkling lights and glittering decorations….I love all that.

The excitement of the kids.

Christmas carols, the fun and the serious ones. Have you noticed, though that our Christmas hymns focus little on how we feel and much on who God is and what He has done? Some of our Christmas hymns are also some of our most deeply doctrinal songs, focusing our attention on the glory of God. That’s what makes good worship music….

Wassail, Christmas cookies that I only make at this time of year, egg nog, candy canes (especially melted in hot chocolate).

Jingle bells.

Finding just the right gift for someone you love.

Giving to others.

Christmas choir musicals.

But the absolutely best part of Christmas to me is the way we are so encouraged to reflect and ponder on the wonder of the Incarnation, the Word made flesh, God With Us, our Emmanuel. The best thing about Christmas is that it gives us time and opportunity to really focus on the Gospel, not just the Baby in the manger, but the reason the Baby was born. I’ve started preparing for our Bible study which will start in January, in which we will be using Nancy Guthrie’s book Hoping for Something Better to take a 10 week look at the book of Hebrews. To say I am getting excited about this study is probably an understatement. I am so looking forward to the encouragement to see and savor and grow in love for Jesus, to grow in awe for who He is and what He has done. Because, as the author shared in the introduction to the book, the something better we long for is actually Someone better, none other than Jesus Himself.

If you’ve been reading here for a long time, you probably know how squeamish I feel about portrayals of Jesus through acting and portraits, and I’m not going into all that now. But this year during our Christmas musical, while the characters in the drama were discussing the meaning of Christmas using a little manger scene the Grandpa and Grandson were setting up, on center stage a live manger scene was slowly unfolded, and it was really effective. Mary, Joseph and the baby were played by a real husband and wife and their new little baby, and it was powerful because it really made me think about how very real these people were. On Saturday night, the baby started to fuss a little and the mom handed her (yes, we had a little girl playing the role of the Baby this year), to her husband and I couldn’t sing anymore for a minute because I just got so overwhelmed with thinking about what it must have been like for the real Joseph and the real Mary to hold the Baby Jesus, knowing that this was God’s promised Messiah, the One all the prophecies pointed toward, the Lamb who would take away not just the sin of the world, but their sin as well.

What must it have been like for the shepherds to have the stillness and darkness of that night (and yes, I am aware it was probably not a December night) by the light of the angel telling them the good news of a Savior born in Bethlehem. What wonder as they were able to be among the very first to see the One who is the Great Shepherd for all we who have gone astray.

I love the account of Simeon and Anna when Jesus was presented at the Temple and their joy at seeing the Consolation of Israel. Faithful people who had waited for God’s promised Messiah, His promised Salvation, and who knew the Scriptures well enough to know the time was right. God graciously allowed them to see Him and recognize Him and trust in what He came to do. If you’ve never read it, you can find it in Luke 2:22-38.

Christmas is a holiday of hope because it shows us God’s love and kindness and mercy and grace toward us. It doesn’t stop at the manger but goes all the way to the Cross and the empty tomb. May I never lose the wonder of the One we celebrate. May I seek to know Him more, and to continue to see Him as the something better that my heart yearns for. And as a Gentile, who is eternally grateful to have been grafted in to the faith, my heart sings with Simeon as he says this:

“For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”


Luke 2:30-32

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pet Peeve

Have you noticed that “Christmas” seems more a taboo word than ever this year? Why is it okay to name other holidays around this time of year, but Christmas has to become “holiday” even when we all know we really mean “Christmas”? I get depressed when I buy a box of cake mix that has red and green sprinkles and green frosting with Christmas trees and red sprinkles and it is called “Holiday” cake mix. We all know we mean Christmas. If I were making a cake for, say, Hanukkah, I doubt I’d pick up the red and green box, so let’s just call things what they are. It bothered my son so much that he took a Sharpie marker and crossed out “Holiday” and wrote “Christmas” on the cake mix box and frosting tub sitting on my kitchen counter.

Yesterday I was in the grocery store across the street, and in the bakery section there is a table with blue and white cakes and cookies and breads with a pretty blue balloon cheerfully wishing us a Happy Hanukkah. Cool, they didn’t say “Happy Holidays,” I thought. Then I saw the table next to it with red and green cookies, cakes, etc. and a covered dish with samples and a note that said, “Holiday cake…please taste a sample.” Also cheerful, but, in my opinion quite hypocritical. Why is it okay to actually say, “Hanukkah,” but on the next table where we all know the red and green signify Christmas, we have to say “Holiday” lest anyone might just be offended. I am not offended by the word, “Hanukkah,” so why is everyone so afraid to say the word, “Christmas”? If you are going to name one holiday, just bite the bullet and acknowledge all of them. If you can’t name one, don’t name any of them. To me, to name one but call the other “Holiday” even though we all know what that euphemistically means actually draws more attention to it rather than less. It just comes across as odd and overly sensitive.

I’ll tell you why people are so skittish about “Christmas” and not any of the other “holidays”. It’s because once you acknowledge Christmas you start thinking about the Christ of Christmas and Jesus Himself told us that one cannot be on the fence about Him. You’re either with Him or against Him, and I believe that deep down inside of us, we all have a sense of that, whether we consciously acknowledge it or not (Romans 1). So, the world has a vested interested in forgetting, pushing aside, ignoring the real reason for the celebration of Christmas.

I know that many people don’t celebrate Christmas, and many who do celebrate it do so in such a secularized, Santa-worshipping way that it isn’t really Christmas anymore anyhow, so really to get bent out of shape about whether people say the word “Christmas” at all is kind of like swatting at a pesky fly. The secularized celebration probably is better suited as “Happy Holidays” anyhow, because it has nothing to do with Christ anymore. For example, I found the movie, The Polar Express, to be very depressing. If that’s all there is to Christmas, no wonder so many people are depressed at this time of year. For me, Christmas is about worship, but for many, many people today it isn’t at all. I get depressed watching secular Christmas shows where much is made of the decorations and Santa and presents and all that part of Christmas, but the majesty and wonder of the real reason we have to celebrate is completely forgotten. This is one reason we don’t “Santa” at our house. Not because we think it is bad or wrong, but because I just don’t see the point in focusing on the fairy tale when we have something so much better and so much more exciting to talk about!

And that, my friends, is why people are afraid of the word “Christmas” and feel such a compulsion to change it to “Holiday” in order to take out the offense. Because it is real. The One we worship at Christmas is real, and holy, and He commands our attention and repentance and worship. Because Christmas does not stop at the manger but goes all the way to the cross and the empty tomb. The cross is the reason the manger happened. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Every eye will look on Him, and there will be no denying then Who He is and that He is absolutely worthy of worship. And because of that, the world system will continue to try to deny and suppress the knowledge of God that is evident, and we will continue to hear “Happy Holidays” when we really mean “Merry Christmas.” So, I don’t get all bent out of shape about “Happy Holidays,” or make a stink about it or an issue of it, or even get in anyone's face with a snarky "Merry Christmas" when they insist on the less offensive greeting, but I do find it extremely hypocritical and annoying, all the same.

Merry Christmas, ya’ll.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Status Report December 2009

Lisa’s status report format is a fun way to encourage blogging for those of us who find we are more and more sporadic about posting and more and more in need of a boost for post ideas. She graciously shares the idea, so I’m borrowing it again today. Hers are always fun to read, too.

Sitting….in my dining room/living room listening to Boo watch Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, a childhood favorite of mine. I was so excited when I found it on DVD a couple of years ago, and now I get to share it with my guys. Boo has a stuffed otter named Baby Otter, and she’s enjoying these Muppets.

Drinking…..coffee, mostly decaf with just a tad of regular and lots of hazelnut creamer and Splenda.

Thankful….for a heated house. It was 13 degrees this morning. That’s beyond cold. I didn’t have to convince anyone to wear a coat today! The extreme cold spurred an interesting discussion with the boys as we shivered our way to school wishing the heater in the car would crank up sooner. We were talking about how hard it must have been on the pioneers and settlers when winter came here. So bitterly cold. Then we started talking about how hard it must have been in the hot summer, too. We came to the conclusion that we are quite spoiled and extremely thankful for what we have.

Anticipating….an evening at “Star Wars in Concert” with the boys tonight. They are so excited. This is part of our Christmas gift to them, and a cool benefit to living in a real city where these kinds of things come in concert. Boo gets an evening with her favorite babysitter, and she’s excited, too.

Thinking….that I am not going to do Christmas cards or a letter this year. Maybe I’ll try to do something early in the year instead. I just let it go too long, plus it will cost an arm and a leg on postage and copying.

Needing…to get a picture of the kids made. My mom gave Boo the cutest little Christmas dress, and I need to get them photographed together. Sure would be nice if my camera hadn’t died. Guess what I’ve requested for Christmas.

Ready….for our Christmas musical this weekend. My 11-year-old son is in the drama and I’m singing in the choir. J is doing a great job with his part, and our youth pastor has written a sweet play to go with the music we’re singing. Last night was our first practice with the stage and props and it looks like it’s going to be very nice and I love that the focus is on worshiping Jesus. Last year, Drew had moved up here the first of December and I and the kids came after school let out the week before Christmas. I came up to visit him before bringing the kids and our stuff, though, and that week we visited our church for the first time. It was the week of the Christmas musical, and we never felt the need to visit anywhere else. This church has really become home and we love our church family here. I’m amazed how quickly St. Louis, and especially our church, has become home, and at the tight friendships we’ve formed. We really needed that after the desert of the past few years.

Planning….to do a bunch of baking next week. I want to do several different cookies and mini cranberry bread loaves to give to people. Looking forward to it.

Working….on a goal to go from being a couch-potato to being able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes. I found a plan that I’m following and so far I’ve stayed with it better than I ever have before. Also working to lose about 20 pounds. Hoping the baking next week doesn’t put a damper on my resolve. Moderation….

Reading….The Jesus You Can’t Ignore by John MacArthur. Good stuff. I had to not check out anything else from the library, though, so I could focus on finishing it because Drew wants to read it next and he keeps mentioning that he really would like to read it soon. Also reading Because the Time is Near by John MacArthur because I got to Revelation early in my through the Bible in a year reading plan and I have been wanting to read this verse by verse look at Revelation.

Preparing….for our January Bible study, Hoping for Something Better by Nancy Guthrie. Planning to start today to really focus on our first meeting’s reading. Looking so forward to digging into the book of Hebrews with the sweet ladies who meet together on Tuesdays!

Enjoying….our little Charlie Brown tree this year. We decided not to spend the money on a real tree this year and, besides, we don’t have much room in this apartment. We’re using the little tree Drew put up last December to make our furniture-less apartment more cheery when we moved in the week before Christmas and had to wait until after New Year’s for our furniture. While decorating it the other night, it fell over as we were putting the ornaments on. It's because our floor is slanted. Drew, my hero, was able to stuff some paper under one side of the pot it's in and evened it out so it at least won't fall over anymore. Memories….

Reminiscing....as we watch favorite Christmas movies with the kids....Charlie Brown's Christmas, the Grinch, A Christmas Story. And we have a new favorite read-aloud book that we're going to read together: The Shepherd, The Angel and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry.

Also enjoying...reading through an Advent devotional with the kids in the evenings as we seek to make the Christmas season worshipful.

Time….to end this post and go get some work done.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Random Wednesday Thoughts

The weather outside is.....cold. The automatic door on my van did not work this morning because the rain yesterday turned to ice on my van during the night and froze the door shut. Nothing a little extra pulling couldn't handle, but, baby, we're not in South Carolina anymore. Twenty-two degrees and snowing and I STILL have to tell my 11-year-old to wear a real coat. Otherwise he would have left the house this morning wearing his flimsy sweater/hoodie thing that he's been wearing every day since it got colder. It's been driving me nuts that he refuses to wear a heavier coat. I put my foot down this morning, though. He actually did not argue much. It is just plain cold out there. Do you think we could find the gloves I carefully collected when the weather warmed up at the end of last winter season when we needed them this morning, though? One pair is missing altogether, and the other was lost by my 8-year-old within minutes of getting them out this morning. Go figure. Same kid who paid his brother $16.00 to clean his room and then allowed it to get right back into a very sad state within a day and a half. The really mysterious thing is, though, that I cannot find those gloves anywhere. I'm wondering if he really had them this morning at all or if he's remembering some other time when they were in his possession. Very likely. Boo has her gloves, though, so we're averaging one out of three being organized, but that's only because I have more control over the youngest one, I think.

While cleaning the bathroom this morning, there was a loud knock on the door. I turned off my iPod to see if I truly heard a knock and Roscoe the hyper dog was growling at the door. I opened the door and there was a package the mailman had left in the box. Christmas season has begun at the Sweet Tea house. Anyway, Roscoe slipped past me and joyfully raced toward the friendly mailman. I ran out in my sweatpants and shortsleeved shirt (thankfully I had shoes on) to catch him and Boo tried to follow me with her bare feet. It's COLD out today, remember? The mailman kindly stopped and let me chase my dippy dog, who would run right to me and then feint left or right. Both the mailman and I were telling Boo to go back inside. Thankfully Roscoe the hyper dog decided that while it's cold enough to feel really spunky, it was better to be in the warm house so he followed Boo back in the front door. If he had not made that very wise choice right then, I would have had to leave him out and take Boo inside and put on her shoes and coat and my coat on before attempting to catch him. I am very glad he chose the warm house.

By the way, cleaning success today! My bathrooms smell clean!! I finally found a way to erradicate the smell left by boys who cannot aim, seem to not know the function of the flush handle and a 3-year-old girl who is STILL potty training and manages to get potty everywhere in the main bathroom. Bleach is too hard to work with when cleaning the messes because it affects my breathing and ruins my clothes. So, after watching a Mythbusters episode about removing skunk odor, I figured that what worked for them would surely work on my potty smells. I have this really sensitive sense of smell, and it seems that I can never get rid of the smell completely. Well, I took the Mythbusters remedy and tweaked it a little and it seems to have worked. I combined a cup of hydrogen peroxide, a cup of vinegar, a squeeze of liquid dish soap, and a sprinkle of baking soda. Caution: if you try this at home, use a really big bucket. Otherwise you'll have a foaming explosion. The vinegar and baking soda have a fun, sudsy reaction - I was amazed how high it foamed in my bucket. Anyway, then I proceeded to scrub all the toilets, every inch of them, and the floor around them. The result, quite fresh-smelling bathrooms. At least for the moment. The boys are still at school....

Studied AWANA with Boo this afternoon and she learned to say, "Trust in the LORD." She's ready for her class tonight. She wanted to go yesterday, but I told her she had to wait until Wednesday.

It's flurrying again outside. I'm thankful for a heated house. I think we need to look into weather-proofing the windows, though. It was super windy over night (there are trees and branches down along the road), and when I came downstairs this morning, I heard a loud gust of wind. I looked over at the glass door, and the blinds were moving slightly. That was some wind.

One more funny thing then I'm done for now. The UPS man just knocked at the door with a package for us. Boo asked what it is, and I told her it's a present for her and I need to wrap it and put it under the tree. She looked at this plain brown box (she can't read the writing on the side, but I can) and hugged it and said, "I love it! A present for me!" Now she's walking around singing, "Happy birthday, to me...." Three is such a fun age.

Which reminds me of one more thing. Last Wednesday when we were driving home from church the rain that had been falling all day had turned into the first snow of the year - not much, but substantial flurries. I told Boo to look at the snow, and she was really excited. When we parked the car and were walking across the parking lot to the house, she all of a sudden lay down on the wet pavement and started moving her arms and legs. I looked at her for a minute and wondered what in the world was wrong with her when I realized she was trying to make snow angels. I started laughing so hard I almost couldn't tell her to get up because you can't make snow angels on wet pavement when all we've had are flurries. It was so funny. Poor baby. She's really looking forward to the snow.

Okay, that's all the randomness for now. Happy Wednesday.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

And On Earth Peace, Goodwill Toward Men

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Lies Women Believe - Finally Getting A Blog Post Written

We’ve been reading Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss in our Sunday night ladies’ group at church, which is on break until January. I have been wanting to blog about it for a while now, but I haven’t gotten it done until now. I must say, I find it challenging and oh, so good. I really, really, really wish every woman I know, or don’t know, could read this with an open heart and glean from the wisdom shared by honestly examining her own patterns of thinking and believing.

In our last section we dealt heavily with different lies surrounding the seriousness of sin – especially the idea that we are very prone to think our sin is not really all that bad. We also looked a good deal at the lies behind the thinking that we can’t help the way we are. Here’s a quote that sent an arrow into my own heart: “We see things about ourselves we wish were different or that we know are not pleasing to the Lord. But rather than accept personal responsibility for our own choices, attitudes, and behavior, we have 101 reasons for why we are the way we are…” and then she lists examples of the kinds of reasons we often give to excuse away our bad choices, attitudes and behavior. Later, Nancy says, “This lie – “I can’t help the way I am” – makes us into helpless victims of other people and outside circumstances……..........The truth is that we do have a choice. We are responsible for our own choices. We can be changed by the power of God’s Spirit. Once we know and embrace the Truth, we can break free from the chains of our past, our circumstances, and even deeply ingrained habit patterns.”

We also dealt with a related lie, “I am not fully responsible for my actions and reactions.” In this lie, we tend to blame circumstances or the actions of others for the reason we are in a predicament rather than owning up to our own part in the problem because of actions and choices we’ve made. In that section, Nancy quotes another author and this quote, again, struck me: “Sin is the best news there is, the best news there could be in our predicament. Because with sin there is a way out. There’s the possibility of repentance. You can’t repent of confusion or psychological flaws inflicted by your parents - you’re stuck with them. But you can repent of sin. Sin and repentance are the only grounds for hope and joy.” Like I said, challenging, convicting and freeing.

I’ve been thinking about what we’re reading a great deal, obviously. For one thing, the world’s way of counseling and analyzing our problems inevitably is feeding into the lies we believe. When counseling isn’t based on a biblical understanding of the human predicament, well-meaning people feed these lies because what we are left with is a kind of psychoanalyzing of why we do what we do and it ends up causing us to put blame on others and on our circumstances rather than getting us to realize that, at the end of the day, though it may be very, very difficult, we are the ones responsible for the choices we make and how we choose to act. I do think there are things in life that influence how we think and how we see things, but, ultimately, we choose how we act and react on a given day, in a given situation. The more we are aware of the things in our past and the things that influence us, as we surrender them to the Lord, we ought to be growing in victory in making the right choices in spite of our past, our circumstances, what others may have said or done to us or how we feel on a given day.

No one is saying this is easy. But if we buy into the victim mentality and the lies that we are constantly bombarded with by the secular way of thinking that says that we are determined by our circumstances, our past, how we feel, etc. then we will not ever learn to take the responsibility for our choices and we will live in defeat and continue in sin. It is only when we surrender our ‘right’ to be hurt, our ‘right’ to be angry, etc., or our belief that we can’t help the way we are, or all the other lies that are feeding our poor choices and bad attitudes that we will begin to have victory over those poor choices and bad attitudes and wrong reactions. I am convinced that a Spirit-filled life is one that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, takes the responsibility and learns to recognize sin for what it is and for how serious it is and does the hard heart work of owning up and confessing that sin and choosing to walk in the Light and stop blaming others or circumstances for why we do what we do. Hard, hard teaching. But what freedom can result!

I confess, I needed, needed, needed the blunt teaching I’ve found so far in this book, and slowly it seems, I’m learning to shed the lies I didn’t even realize I was believing and walk in the truth.

One thing that has struck me in this first part of our reading is how great a disservice we do to the Gospel when we downplay the sinfulness of sin and call it “wrong choices,” “mistakes,” “personality flaws,” or when we focus on “felt needs” at the expense of the real need at the core of all those surface troubles, which is sin. This is one of my biggest concerns with the seeker type movement and the Purpose Driven Life movement. They do not adequately tell the truth. They do not go deep enough. We do not need to add Jesus to our life, we need to surrender our life to Him. Subtle difference, but a vital one.

We are all sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God. We all willfully choose our own way. All we like sheep have gone astray, there is none righteous, no, not one. That is the awful truth. Ultimately, I am not really the way I am because of something that was said or done in my past, but I am what I am because I am a sinner. We need a Savior. Praise God that in Christ my sin is washed clean by His blood, shed for me. Praise God that I can come to Him in repentance when He opens my eyes and my heart to my desperate need for forgiveness and He freely offers that forgiveness to everyone who repents and believes that He is Lord. When we know the Son, we are free, indeed. Free from blaming others for our faults, free from living as a victim to those faults, and free to walk in His light.

I highly recommend this book. Be prepared to have your toes stepped on and to be uncomfortable when you begin to see lies you’ve believed that you maybe didn’t even realize you had been believing. But that’s not a bad thing.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Practical Mom's Dictionary Installment #11

Serendipity: When you are wandering around your kitchen wondering what you can substitute to satisfy a raging chocolate craving when there is no chocolate in the house, and then you suddenly remember the partial KitKat bar you were saving in a secret hiding place for just such an emergency.

Necessary Forethought: Remembering to buy a small amount of chocolate to replenish the secret stash when it gets low.

Practical Mom's Dictionary Installment #10

Dilemma: It is quite cold out today, and I was planning to drive up and meet my boys so they wouldn’t have to walk home in the cold. My 3-year-old who has virtually given up naps but who is habitually in a cranky mood in the evening because of the lack of nap just fell asleep in my lap, and it is just about time to leave to meet the boys. So, do I let them walk home in the cold in the hopes we can keep the princess from being crabby today, or do I risk the wrath of the cranky 3-yr-old, which has been exhausting lately, and wake her right now? What to do, what to do?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankful

Isaiah 60:1-3
"Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising."

I am forever thankful that God opened the eyes of this Gentile to His glory and mercy and grace. May I never lose the wonder of His grace, the wonder of the Cross that purchased redemption for even me, a Gentile who was lost in darkness and bound by sin, until He graciously opened my heart to His salvation. There is no other name given among men by which we may be saved, but Jesus Christ alone. He is our hope, our redeemer, our salvation, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and only through Him may we come to the Father, only by faith in Him, covered by His blood, hid in Christ, may we be reconciled to God. Jesus is my faithful High Priest, my Advocate, and I am so very, very thankful to be grafted in to the life He gives through faith. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Thoughts Upon Watching Another Classic Movie

So, we watched Dr. Zhivago a couple of evenings this week (that thing is loooong, took us more than one night to finish it). We’ve been watching some classics recently – some we had never seen or seen so long ago we couldn’t remember them, and Drew brought this home for us since he’d never seen it. I remember watching it once as a young girl, but didn’t remember a whole lot of it, so it was fun to watch it with Drew.

I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I often find when I watch movies that are talked about as great movies or that are still popular today and show up on a lot of people's favorite lists, often I don’t get why they are considered classics. Citizen Kane was one of those for me. At the end of that one Drew and I looked at each other and said, “That was it? Big deal.” I know it’s famous for some new directorial things or whatever, but, still, I don’t get it. I also don’t get the big deal about The Graduate (sorry, Dad.). The music in that one is great, the movie, I didn’t so much like. Maybe I need to watch it again now that I'm grown up? The reason I was saying anything about it on Facebook was because we had just watched Rebel Without a Cause. (I almost typed without a Clue…..) I was not impressed. At all. Another one where we looked at each other and said, “That was it?” Cheesy music, cheesy acting, story line and dialogue I had trouble buying into. I’m thinking that one is popular because James Dean died shortly after it was released.

So, I guess I am old movie challenged. There are some I have loved, so I’m not all that bad. The African Queen comes to mind, as do many of the Alfred Hitchcock movies and Casablanca and Ben Hur so my taste isn’t totally ruined, I guess.

Anyway, unlike Rebel Without a Cause, I do see why Dr. Zhivago has staying power and is considered a classic. Better acting, MUCH better music (though we were both REALLY tired of Lara’s Theme by the end), great and memorable sets and filming, and a sweeping story set against a dramatic historical backdrop. I don’t know a whole lot about the Russian Revolution, so that is interesting to me.

However, as supposedly one of the best love stories of all time, I have something against it. I just didn’t get what was so great about Lara that he was willing to risk losing everything to be with her. And he did lose everything. He wasn’t even unhappy in his marriage. I’m not sure he married his wife because he was madly in love with her, more that it seemed to be the expected thing and he was the kind of guy who did what was expected of him. But he DID marry her and had a child with her and another on the way. She loved him and was faithful to him and was a good wife. We’re supposed to see him as noble, if a bit naive, and a likable character, and I did like him right up until the point where he cheats on his very pregnant, very faithful wife. Prior to that, Drew and I were speculating that maybe she would die in childbirth and that was how he ended up with Lara, and we kept thinking he seemed too honorable to actually cheat on his wife. But nope. So, I had a hard time being very moved by this grand love affair thing. I kept wanting him to do the right thing. (Unimportant and unnecessary aside: Of course he picks the blond-haired, blue-eyed woman over his beautiful brunette wife. Said bitterly by the brunette writing this post.)

Even in the end, he didn’t even really love Lara, because he didn’t go after her. He just let her go off with that horrid man, and, as far as we the viewers know, didn’t even bother to try to find out whatever happened to her. Blech.

I’m thinking the book is probably better. If I ever get around to reading it, I am sure there is more characterization and detail than the movie is able to provide, and it might make more sense. Then again, I’m not sure I really care all that much. But at least I do see why this movie has staying power. I actually cared enough about the characters and story to be bothered by it enough to write a blog post. And a story that can draw you in to where you actually care about what happens to the people and that you keep thinking about for a long time after reading or watching it makes for a good story, even if you don't really like the people or the choices they make all that much.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hard to Feel Much Sympathy

Apparently the man who took it upon himself to shoot soldiers at Ft. Hood may be paralyzed. In light of the fact that the family members of his victims have lost, will have to spend the rest of their lives grieving the loss of, their husbands, fathers, wives, etc., I'm not sure I can gather up much sympathy that he may have permanently lost the use of his legs. I know that as Christians, we are not to seek revenge, and I'm not saying what I'm saying out of a sense of vengence. I am also not saying that we should not pray for this man, in the hope that he will one day hear and respond to the Good News of salvation found in Jesus Christ alone. We should pray for him. He is lost, and that should grieve our hearts. I'm just saying, I don't think there will be much sympathy if the spokemen for this man happen to be looking for any. He chose to do a despicable thing. He is not a victim. I'm not too sorry for him at all that he now has serious consequences to face.

And, for the record, those family members of his who keep insisting that he is a 'good American??' I beg to differ. A 'good American' does not walk into an Army base and shoot and kill and injure his brothers in arms, his fellow military members. No, a good American does not do such things. As an Army wife, I ache for those who have lost loved ones in this terrible act.

And another thing, it seems to be coming to light that there were warning signs all over the place about this man, and that people were afraid to report them or further investigate them for fear of being 'crucified' for doing so, for fear of being shut down and accused of profiling. There is something very wrong with the whole political correctness mindset that led to him being allowed to continue and not be investigated fully. I am so tired of being told that profiling is wrong. It would have saved a bunch of lives in this case. I am also really tired of hearing that a certain religion is a religion of peace so we need to not profile. If someone in the type of position this man held is making the kinds of statements he is reported to have been making, then those who have the authority to investigate him should have the freedom to do so to the best of their ability, without being accused of 'profiling.' It isn't profiling if he's giving legitimate reason for concern. If he's innocent, great, they will find that out. If not, maybe they would be able to prevent something like this or worse from happening again, but apparently we're so concerned about political correctness that we'd rather tie the hands of those who would investigate these kinds of threats than we are about protecting innocent people.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Music

While practicing our choir Christmas music this afternoon, which is very worshipful, I find I am in a weird place regarding Christmas this year. I love the lights and the decorations and, most especially, the wonder and worship of Christmas - the reminder of God With Us, our Immanuel, and that's the part I look forward to. If allowed to focus on our great and awesome God and His immense grace in coming to redeem us, in coming to live among us and do for us what we could not do and reconciling us to Himself through the cross and His resurrection, Christmas can almost undo me, in a good way. I love that the beauty of the story does not end with the angels singing to the shepherds on that night in Bethlehem, and it does not end with the wonder of the Baby born in the stable, and it doesn’t end with the majesty of the wise men coming and bringing gifts to the Child and bowing in worship before Him. That is beautiful and glorious, yes.

But the wonder of Christmas is that in fulfilling all the prophecy of a coming Messiah, the manger looks forward to the Cross. Jesus came to redeem us to Himself. He endured the humility of taking on human flesh and living among a people who did not recognize Who He was, who refused to see and repent when He confronted their false and corrupted traditions that mocked the God they claimed to serve, and who eventually turned on Him and spit on Him and humiliated Him to such a point that He suffered the humiliation and shame of a gruesome Roman cross. And as He did so, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And when He died, He triumphantly cried, “It is finished!” and the Temple veil was torn top to bottom. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the way is open to God the Father through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. He rose again on the third day, death is conquered, by His stripes, we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, and He is our Great Shepherd.

So, I love the wonder of Christmas. I am not a scrooge. My oldest son gets to be in the drama part of the Christmas musical this year, and our youth minister has written a wonderful drama to go with our choir music. I love the part my son gets to play. It will add much to our celebration and point our eyes to our King this December.

But I don't so much like the hustle and shopping and trying to decide what to get for everyone without overdoing it. That’s where I’m feeling a little scroogish. That part I'm not so much looking forward to this year, and wish I didn't feel so panicked about it already. This year, especially, I am dreading the material celebration of Christmas, and I’m trying to tone it down. I’ll go shopping, but I don’t want that to be our focus. We have not done as well with that in years past. Thankfully, the economy is helping us with that this year, too.

Anyway, I really enjoyed practicing my Christmas music this afternoon. May I keep the reason for the season in the forefront this year.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

One More Post Before I Break

I know, I am taking a blogging break. But I have to get this post out first.

Does anyone else find this to be true? For all that I want to be biblically minded and want to be growing in Christ, how is it that I still continue to do such colossally stupid, unkind, ugly things sometimes? In fact, I fear the hypocrite in me. At the time I thought I was just venting and in the okay, only to realize that I had made a rather blatant misunderstanding and spouted off in the wrong way and really messed up. I can even tell you several scripture passages I violated this afternoon. Me and my stupid, stupid words and my stupid, stupid too quick to speak, too slow to think.

The thing I want to do, I didn’t do today, and the thing I don’t want to do, I did. And it’s a direct result of spending too much time on the computer when I should have been doing something else. Hence the break. I’ll be back, I just need to get my time prioritized better first.

Blogging Break

I am taking a break from blogging for a little while. I haven't yet determined how long, but I'll be back eventually. Need to focus on something other than the computer for a bit.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ugh

For future reference: When you hear your 3-year-old in the bathroom saying, "Oh, crud. It's okay. It's okay," it is probably not, in fact, okay.

And on a somewhat related note, did you know that dogs will eat pretty much anything?

I, on the other hand, will probably not be able to eat much of anything at all for quite a while now.

Fun times. Fun times.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand - October 2009

It’s that time again – actually yesterday was that time again, but I seem to be on a semi-permanent blogging lite schedule and missed it, so I am a day late for this month’s "What’s On Your Nightstand." Very much wanting to return to more blogging, however, I am posting this today.

This month I am heavy on the nonfiction side. Once again, I feel like I have too many books going at once, but they are all things I’ve wanted to dig into and I couldn’t pick just one. So, here’s my list this month:

Nonfiction:
Becoming a Woman of Excellence by Cynthia Heald. We are reading a chapter a week for our Tuesday morning Bible study group, so this one will be on here for a little while longer. I must say that it has been a good study, and I’m really enjoying spending Tuesday mornings with our small group of ladies. Yesterday we discussed chapter 7, “Excellence: Guarded by Discretion.” It was challenging – for all of us. For me, especially challenging was the discussion about being careful with our words. I have written before about struggling with my temper, and this was a needed study for me. Also, I tend to talk too much in any setting. I often come home and wish I’d said less and listened more, especially when we may have discussed something I am passionate or concerned about. We spent a lot of time in the book of Proverbs this week, and I have also been reading a chapter from Proverbs each morning as part of my daily quiet time. I pray our time in God’s word and learning from this book will sink in and I’ll take these things to heart!

Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. This is another one that will grace my list for a while to come. Our Sunday night women’s group at church is reading this together and breaking into small groups to discuss it each week. We are taking it slowly and will finish up next spring, so I’ll be working along with the group. I plan to blog more about this one when I ever get back to blogging again.

The Jesus You Can’t Ignore by John MacArthur. This is one I just couldn’t wait to start once it arrived in the mail. I’m just now getting into it, and it is going to be good. I may blog some impressions from it, too, as I get to it, but, again, I’m taking it slow.

Because the Time is Near by John MacArthur. I have had this book for a while, and I got ahead on my reading through the Bible in a year plan during my morning quiet time, and since I’ve arrived at Revelation, I thought that instead of just reading through it, I would read it and read this book along with it during my devotion time, since it is a study of the book of Revelation based on MacArthur’s sermon series on that book. Again, it is kind of slow-going, so this one may also be on the list for a while.

The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics (Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Abolition of Man, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, A Grief Observed). This is on my nightstand, but it is taking a bit of a breather until I finish some of the others, though I’m really looking forward to reading these.

Whew. Another ambitious list! Now on to fiction:

Currently reading:
The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly. He is one of my favorite authors and I’ve read everything I can find by him, so when I saw this on the new books shelf at the library, I had to check it out. Detective fiction/mystery is probably one of my favorite genres of fiction, and Connelly’s books are great. I love how his main characters are flawed, but likable – realistic. It is due back tomorrow, and I haven't finished it yet because I read the two listed below first, so I'd better get this post finished and get back to reading!

Just finished reading:
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly.

The Rook by Steven James.

Enjoyed both.

Reading with the boys: Inkspell by Cornelia Funke. We finally finished Inkheart and have moved on to the second book in the trilogy. They love our evening reading time, though lately we’ve been so busy and I’ve been just too tired to read every night. Need to get back to it and find out what’s happening with Dustfinger and Meggie and all the rest!

Don’t forget to visit 5 Minutes for Books to see other nightstand lists!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Best Laid Schemes O' Mice an' Men

Saturday afternoon, about 4PM: Planning ahead, I prepare the roast, cut up the vegetables and set out the crock pot, complete with liner.

Saturday evening, about 11ish PM: I pride myself on remembering to turn on the crock pot with the roast and veggies in it, knowing the recipe said to cook for about 12 hours, AND I remember to turn on the dishwasher, something I frequently am frustrated in the morning to have forgotten.

Sunday morning, about 5:30 AM: I gasp myself awake with the sinking suspicion that the care I took not to plug in the crock pot earlier in the afternoon may have backfired by my not remembering to plug it in later when I turned it on the night before.

Sunday morning, about 5:31 AM: I find the suspicion growing when, as I sit up in bed, I realize that I do not, in fact, smell roast cooking from downstairs.

Sunday morning, about 5:32 AM: I stumble down the stairs in the dark, walk into the kitchen, turn on the light, gingerly touch the side of the crock pot and find that it is stone cold. Look up to find that it is not plugged in.

Sunday morning, about 5:33 AM: I stand in the kitchen and wonder if a 12 hour recipe could at all be ready to eat by noon if I turn on the crock pot right now, and, though math was never my favorite subject, I decide that my carefully laid plans for Sunday lunch now need a major overhaul.

Sunday morning, about 5:34 AM: I put the whole crock pot in the fridge, trudge upstairs and go back to bed, mumbling to my husband that all my joy for remembering to turn the crock pot on last night has come to this…..think we could go out to lunch after church today?

Sunday morning, 9AM – 11:45ish AM: Enjoyed worshipping our Lord together with our church family, what a fellowship, what a joy divine!

Sunday afternoon, about 12:00ish PM: We enjoy a light lunch at Jimmy John’s, where the family teases their mother gently about forgetting to plug in the crock pot. Oldest son was actually kind enough to be disappointed not to be having crock pot roast beef for lunch. He actually likes it. Love that boy!

Sunday night, late: Took very cold crock pot out of fridge, set it out to bring it up to room temp and not risk breaking it by turning it on immediately.

Monday morning, 5 something AM: PLUGGED IN crock pot, turned on crock pot. Started the coffee and sat down to read my Bible and pray before kids got up and had to get them off to school.

Tonight, dinner time: Unless more plans go awry, I hope our family will be enjoying the 12 hour roast beef crock pot meal that took two days in getting to the table. Hope it’s still good for all that.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Have Internet Again

I have internet, cable and phone again. Hooray! Wednesday afternoon I was, ummmm, working, on the computer (okay, I was playing on Facebook), I heard some banging and bumping on the wall where the cable box is located outside and some banging next door where we share a wall with our neighbors and then I lost my internet connection. When I went to check the modem, I found that we had also lost phone and cable at the same time since we have one of those bundle packages, and the usual solution of rebooting the modem had no effect whatsoever.

And now, today, after a couple of days of being told a different story every time we called the provider, and not having a working phone in the house besides my cell phone which is long distance for people here to call, we finally had someone come out this morning. Turns out that when they rewired our building a few months ago, the wires were mislabeled , and on Wednesday when they meant to be disconnecting our neighbor, they disconnected us instead. Gotta love apartment living.

Anyway, I had been praying that I would better learn to exercise discipline about the time I waste on the computer. This forcing of computer silence has been a good thing. My fingers didn’t fall off or anything, and I managed okay without being connected for a little while. Though I am glad to have it back, I do need to not be on the computer as much as I have been recently.

I have to say, however, that the aspect of apartment living that led to being disconnected suddenly and being given the runaround for two days by the phone operators who were either clueless, lying or both about what was going on with our system is even more annoying than having to experience the mysterious tator tot smell from next door periodically. I also have to say that it is really disturbing how disconnected I felt without phone, internet and cable. These things probably shouldn’t be quite so important to me, I am thinking.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

In honor of this gloriously beautiful Fall day, here are a few of my favorite things about the Fall:

Pumpkins – as decoration, in pie, as inspiration for pumpkin spice lattes and teas, pretty much in any form

My oldest son’s birthday

Crunching acorns – I got to introduce my boys to that joy on the way home from school today

Cooler weather

The crisp, almost indescribable feeling in the air

College football – it helps that we have a winning team. Go Gators!

High school football – such wonderful memories of Friday night football games and marching band, blazingly hot in wool uniforms in central Florida (hello? Wool uniforms? Really? I remember smelling like a goat after Friday night football. How we cherished those free Cokes after the half time show. But for the few cold games, I remember them not being quite warm enough. But the fun and camaraderie of marching band was not to be beat. It was worth it all. Hooray for the Marching Mustangs! Good memories.

Beautiful colored leaves – I love how Boo has to collect “bootiful” handfuls of leaves whenever we go outside.

Crunching through the leaves

All the colors and smells and tastes of fall – smoke from fireplaces on those evenings when it’s cool enough, spices from pumpkin pie cooking in the oven, chili simmering on the stove….Fall is a cornucopia of delights for the senses

Corn mazes

Hay rides

Bonfires

Scarecrows

Thanksgiving

The anticipation of the glitter and wonder of Christmas (coupled with the struggle not to experience Christmas overload before December even gets here from all the commercialization that starts way, way, way too early these days)

The opportunity to talk to my children about our awesome Creator God who gave us the blessing of all these things.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Doubt Your Doubt and Cling to What is True

Proverbs 14:7-8
“Go from the presence of a foolish man,
When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
But the folly of fools is deceit.”


I read this the other day and it made me think about some blog conversations I’ve seen and some of the current “conversations” going on in certain areas of evangelical Christianity, even among people I know in real life, today. It also reminded me of people I know who seem to question everything except the things they ought to question. For example, there is a movement in this postmodern world away from the notion of absolute truth to some amorphous view of relative truths. People who are being caught up in this thinking begin to question the plain things in scripture and try to make them seem more mysterious than they are, or just downright discount them altogether. In fact, with some people, it seems that the questioning and doubt are the end goal, not finding the answers to the questions. It’s enough to be ‘on the journey’ and it’s assumed that we need to rethink everything and question all assumptions – but instead of going to God’s word to check the assumptions, they go within their own selves, their opinions, the opinions of cool and hip emergent or postmodern pastors and writers. I don’t have a problem with examining assumptions and making sure that what I believe is really real. But the standard we use to judge that is God’s revealed word. There is an ultimate standard by which we can and ought to measure the truthfulness of our assumptions. To paraphrase a quote from John MacArthur that I have found helpful, “Doubt your doubts and cling to what is true, trust God’s word, trust what He has revealed to be true.”

Granted there is mystery in the Christian life – in Deuteronomy 29:29 it says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” But the end of that verse shows us that, though there are some things we are not to know in this life, there are things that are revealed. We can know what God has said to us. He spoke clearly through His word and by His Son. Rather than tickle our ears and excite our fallen imaginations by trying to reimagine the doctrines of the faith with all kinds of speculations and worldly wisdom, and rather than enjoying the ambiguity of doubt as an ideal, we ought to be about the business of knowing the things God has revealed and submitting to Him and His authority.

It is exhausting and frustrating to talk to someone who has gotten caught up in the postmodern way of thinking. It’s almost like doubt is a badge of honor and to be certain of anything is the only taboo. With some of these conversations, you finally get to a point where you wonder if the person isn’t actually asking the questions to resolve doubts or to come to a better understanding of God and His word, it really does seem in some cases that merely questioning is the goal, and that the better you are at questioning your assumptions, the less you need biblical answers, and the more ‘enlightened’ you are in this warped way of looking at things. In this postmodern age, to be uncertain is to be ‘tolerant’ or accepting of just about anything as long as it isn’t an insistence on absolutes. It’s filled with this arrogant humility that pretends that it is a darkened understanding or an arrogant person who can claim that there are absolute standards that are true. The Christian faith and the deep and serious things of God are treated like a big game where they deconstruct language and meaning and play around with words and ideas, or like some grand intellectual exercise where we are free to speculate whatever we want and the stakes aren’t very high – a form of godliness without power, something to play around with. It is frightening, however, because life is not a game and the stakes are actually very high. The fact is, there is truth, the Bible says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This isn’t a game. We aren’t free to change the meaning of words and free to determine our own “truth.” Ultimately, we are all bound by true truth, God’s truth. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life that sets us free to worship God in spirit and truth.

Later in the same chapter, I read this:

Proverbs 14:26-27
“In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death.”


The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. There is confidence in Him, yes, strong confidence. It is not arrogant to take God at His word. It is the beginning of wisdom. I would argue that the true arrogance is this false humility that questions everything and can never seem to come to a point where God’s word is good enough and sufficient to answer the doubts, always questioning, learning, but never coming to the truth. It’s a false humility that arrogantly seeks man’s opinion and tries to impose it upon God’s word by twisting it to say what we want it to say and twisting it to fit our fleshly lifestyles rather than seeking to know what it really means and submiting to the authority of our Creator God.

I have recently come to be very, very wary of certain Christian bookstores. Books filled with this pseudo-intellectual kind of questioning and subversive and subtle planting of seeds of doubt fill the shelves. I left one store in tears as I asked my husband where in the world was the discernment of the booksellers at that store after we had found some books aimed at young teens about dopplegangers. No, I didn’t read the books, so I don’t know how they attempted to Christianize that topic, but really? Isn’t there something better to offer kids? Really? And then they go on to read books by respected authors in the Christian book world who are peddling heresy, cleverly masked, but heresy all the same. The Shack, anyone??? Drew’s answer was, “It’s not about discernment, Beck. It’s all about money, marketing and what sells.” And that’s why I cried.

Too many of us would rather read books about the Bible than to read the Bible. We don’t have time for Bible study, but we gobble up Christian fiction and Christian (at least in name) authors and read opinions and allow subtle doubts to creep in, but too seldom do we know the Word itself. And please don’t take this as a rant against all Christian fiction or all Christian books in the bookstore. I have read some that aren’t all bad, and some that are actually pretty good, and some that are very good. It’s just all the weeds you have to sort through to find them that are so extremely troublesome. And they are troublesome because I actually know people who are being swept along in the current of ‘doubt is good,’ and who are swayed deeply by the postmodern/emergent “conversation,” and who are in danger of being led seriously astray while everyone pats themselves on the back and gloats about how clever they are.

Proverbs 14:12
“There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.”

P.S. As I was getting ready to post this, I happened to read the following quote from one of Drew’s friends on Facebook, and it is very fitting:

"Without 'absolutes' revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice, and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers." -- John Owen

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Mug With an Attitude

This is what my husband bought for me when he went to Washington D.C. for the Army 10-mile run. Pretty much sums it up.



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Now That's Funny

Site meter showed that this blog got a hit from the search query, "how to reason with a 3 year old." I must say that really made me laugh. Came to the wrong place for that answer! ha, ha, ha!!!

How do you reason with a three year old? You don't. You just have to patiently teach them, be truthful, be lovingly firm (i.e. you don't give in to their every whim and demand and temper tantrum), you certainly don't argue with their circular reasoning, and be very, very consistent. Be the mom!

Monday, October 12, 2009

On the Menu for Tonight

Dinner by request of the birthday boy:

Homemade pepperoni pizza (his Sunday School teacher told me yesterday that he told her his mom makes the best pizza. I'm glad he's so easy to please, food-wise.)

Salad (to make me feel better by giving them something green)

Spiced "wine" (before anyone gets all hyper on me, we do not drink alcohol, for lots of reasons, which we won't discuss here today. The spiced "wine" came from a book he was reading about the Roman Empire because he is very interested in that part of history at the moment. In the book there was a recipe for spiced "wine" using watered down grape juice, honey, and spices - watered down the way they would have watered their wine back then, by the way. It was really good, so it's become a favorite special drink and he requested it for tonight.)

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting (his absolute favorite. I made my own frosting this time - it's just so much better, but I did use a mix for the cake.)

Hope he likes it. :-)

Eleven Years Ago

On Sunday evening, October 11, 1998, Drew and I were at a Care Group Leaders’ meeting at the home of our Sunday School teacher. I was quite pregnant, but thought I still had about 3 weeks to go until the due date of our first child. I had just the week before finished my last week at work in anticipation of staying home with our little guy, and had just had a baby shower the day before – the gifts were still in their bags in the living room , we had not had time to put them away yet.

While having dinner that night at our friends’ house I was laughing at a funny joke someone had made, when I realized something was definitely happening. Drew pulled my friend into the kitchen and I asked her if it could really be my water breaking, and she insisted I call the doctor and get myself to the hospital RIGHT NOW. So, we left the meeting, went by the house to hurriedly pack my hospital bag, which had not been packed yet – that had been on the agenda for Monday! As we hurried in the door of the women’s center, the man at the welcome desk took one look at me and my husband, smiled, and said, “There’s the elevator – third floor, first door on your right.” Or something like that. Who remembers the exact words now? When we got upstairs, I told the first hospital staff type person I saw why we were there and she took me to the nurse on duty who did not look up and said something about having me wait a minute, until she looked up and realized that I definitely needed to be put in a room.

Excited, nervous, happy..…..and at 12:31 PM the next day, Monday, October 12, 1998 we welcomed our sweet Joshua into the world.

And now, eleven years later, it seems like just yesterday he was our “little man,” and then I blinked and he’s this big kid. It’s not going to be any time at all before he’s taller than me, and I’m feeling like a dork for crying when I posted a happy birthday to him on Facebook. He’s a really neat kid, and I’m so grateful to be his mom. I pray he will continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we teach him well, and never forget our calling to train him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. May God be merciful and gracious to mature him and develop in him a love for Christ Jesus, in spite of my many failings as a mom.

Happy birthday to my oldest son.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Believing the Truth

"What we believe about God is crucial because it affects what we believe about everything else. A distorted or damaged view of God will distort the way we see everything and everyone around us." - From: Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

We are inundated from all sides by wrong views of God, even from some supposedly Christian sources. It is so important to fill our minds and hearts with God's word and to run everything we hear through a biblical filter.

I am benefitting from reading this book. I know there will be some things in later chapters that I'm pretty sure I'll have to wrestle with, but the first few chapters have been very helpful to me. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been struggling with a bit of a low time, and it has been very helpful to be reminded to examine my thought patterns and try to discern the lies I may have bought that could be feeding that lowness. I have especially liked her discussion about the lies we often unconciously believe about God and how to combat those lies with the truth revealed in His word, the Bible.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Lessons Learned

My son seems to have found a way to work the AWANA system . Clearly I’m missing something as a parent….

M: I got my book tonight! I finished the last 3 sections and got my book!

Me: Great! How did you do that? I only signed off on one section for tonight. How did you manage to get the other two? I didn’t think you had studied them enough yet.

M: Well, I’m usually one of the last ones to say verses, and N_____ always has, like, 12 or something, so while he says his, I study mine, and by the time they get to me I can say them.

Hmmmm. So, one boy actually studies at home like he’s supposed to, and my little procrastinator piggy-backs off the time it takes him to say his verses and uses that time to cram. So, is the lesson being learned that procrastination pays off? What am I, as a responsible parent to do with that?

I’m making him study at home. I figure if he can learn two extra sections in the time it takes his motivated friend to say his verses, then he ought to really be learning it well here at home. Thankfully, having gotten his book has served as motivation to study. He’s been excited about doing it himself without me pushing so far this week.

Sigh.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Status Report October 2009

Sitting…at my computer desk and listening to the rain that has been falling all day today. Also listening to my daughter talking to herself in her room and not taking the nap she really needs to take because we’re going to see "Curious George Live" tonight and I really want her to be happy there instead of cranky because she had no nap.

Drinking….sweet tea with lemon . Ha!

Loving....Fall. The leaves are turning, the air is cooler, I love, love, love it.

Hoping….to return to blogging on some kind of regular basis. I’ve been in a slump for weeks now. Not even posting much on Facebook these days, if that tells you anything.

Having…spaghetti with meatballs for dinner tonight before we all go to the show. Meatballs were requested by oldest son, and I made up my own recipe for them and cooked them this morning so we can get dinner ready early enough to eat before we need to leave to go down town. Hope they are yummy.

Frustrated…this morning when I had to go back out in the rain again to take my son’s jacket to him which he couldn’t find when it was past time to get out the door to school this morning. Obviously I am not doing my job in teaching organization skills. We will be putting out clothes and jackets the night before from now on in an effort to avoid the kind of frustration we had this morning.

Encouraged…by the book that our women’s group is reading together, Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I am reminding myself again of God’s great love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. I’ve been on the edge of a mild slump/depression for a few weeks now and I’m seeking to recognize the lies I have been believing that are contributing to the malaise and replacing them with the truth of God’s word. What a blessing that is!

Swimming…in the depths of the wonder of God’s grace and mercy and love as I ponder Romans 8:31-39 and seek to hide it in my heart by memorizing it and feasting on the Bread of Life and remember and hold firm to the fact that nothing, nothing, nothing can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen!

Challenged…by our Tuesday Bible study as we examine a biblical view of excellence. What a sweet time of opening God’s word together with our little group of women on Tuesday mornings as we’re guided by our study, Becoming a Woman of Excellence by Cynthia Heald.

Beginning…to prepare for our next study that will start in January, and which I will get to lead. That thought humbles me, and I covet prayer as I prepare for that study! We got approval from our associate pastor to use Hoping For Something Better by Nancy Guthrie and take a deep look at the book of Hebrews together. Exciting!

Wondering…why it seems to be that I get hit with depression/slumps right when I start to really get going and involved with Bible study or teaching opportunities. Praise God that He is able, and strong, and mighty, though I am pitiful, poor and weak.

ReadingThe Rook by Steven James. Just finished the first book in the series called The Pawn and really liked it. Found these from a review Lisa did at 5 Minutes for Books. Thanks, Lisa!!

Quit…reading another fiction book that really seemed interesting but I felt would not be the best thing I should be reading, especially with the spiritual malaise I was finding myself in. I won’t mention the name of the book, but the first book by the same author was one I found intriguing, disturbing and probably another I shouldn’t have read right now, too.

Waiting…for a book I requested from Grace to You to arrive: The Jesus You Can’t Ignore by John MacArthur. Can’t wait to read it. I’ve been challenged by and enjoying the sermon series that it is based on – I’m a few weeks behind, still, on my podcasts, so I’ve been listening to them as I walk the treadmill or work around the house.

Praying…for someone dear to me as they are encountering a big trial.

Thankful…for my husband.

Needing…to end this post and go pick up the boys from school. It’s still raining….

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Heart Music

Philippians 2:3-4
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

This is a principle I am constantly trying to teach my children. While in the trenches of the tyranny of the every day, there are lots of times when I find myself discouraged and wondering if they will ever get it. Some mornings I feel more like referee than mom, and there have been times I’ve been reduced to tears, wondering if I am a colossal failure as a parent. I want to train them up in the way they should go and I want to be a faithful woman who does not lose her temper sinfully, but many days, I fail and fail largely. I have to confess and apologize often.

But there are blessed times, too, when I am given a glimpse into their hearts and I am amazed at the kindness they can show to each other. They are getting it, and I thank God for the times He allows me to see it. At those times I thank my Lord that He is more than able to overcome my failings and teach their hearts by His grace and mercy.

As I was sitting here at the computer, I was listening to all three kids playing downstairs. Boo got frustrated about the toy she was playing with and tears and wailing were beginning to ensue. She is three and giving up her afternoon nap. Frustration is a daily, yea, momentary state with her these days. This time when she began to wail, however, I heard her brother, M, gently say, “Here, R….., let me help you,” and she calmed down. When she became frustrated again only a moment later, he again stopped what he was doing and gently helped her.

This set off a symphony of thankfulness and wonder in my heart as I listened to my son so tenderly look out for his little sister, with no prompting or intervention from me or his dad. He just showed her love.

Thank You, Lord, for this glimpse that he is learning it!

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

For years I have had a recurring dream, nightmare, whatever you want to call it. I am in a house, it is not always the same house in every dream, but it always an interesting house where I want to be and want to feel safe. In this house there is always a large window or door that, for some reason, I cannot properly close or manage to lock, and there is some undefined danger ‘out there’ that makes me sure I very much need that door or window to be locked. I spend the whole dream working on locking the door or window while the sense of unease and danger mounts and I become more and more frantic about getting that thing closed and locked until I finally wake up and find myself safe in the real world again.

Do you remember the book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from the Chronicles of Narnia? Do you remember the island where dreams come true? People thought they wanted to go there, because when you think about a place where dreams come true you are thinking about your personal wishes and deepest desires being fulfilled. This island, however, is not like that. This island is the place where your REAL dreams come true, the creatures and emotions that inhabit your nightmares come to life. It is not a place where you would want to find yourself marooned.

Today, I think I have found myself on my own island of dreams. This morning when I went to let Roscoe out, I went out the back sliding glass door because I was still in my pajamas since we were out really late at the home of some friends last night and we slept in this morning, but the dog still needed to attend to his morning business, so I just thought I’d slip out back where the chances of being seen in my pajamas were slim to none. Anyway, when I undid the three locks on that sliding glass door, essentially a large window, and tried to slide it open, it began falling toward me. The top of this door that is essentially a large window (notice it combines both elements of my dream just so I cannot possibly miss the connection) is off the track and I don’t know how to fix it, and it’s heavy. I leaned it over and let Roscoe out and realized I have entered the heart of darkness of my own imagining. I feel like there ought to be eerie music and an ominous voice over saying, “…You’ve just crossed over into….the Twilight Zone.”

My son sleeps downstairs, and I started wondering if this door has been unsafe since the last time it was opened, and that bothers me a lot. My Facebook friends may remember the day I mentioned that there were policemen out back several times and how nervous I was when one asked if I’d seen someone walking back there who looked like they didn't belong. You may also remember the refrigerator door incident.

I am not loving this apartment. The office will be receiving a call this morning, and I am glad Drew got home yesterday and can probably reset the door until the maintenance people can get here to look at it.

Somebody pinch me so I can wake up….

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Good Word from Al Mohler

This is a good article from Al Mohler about the school speech controversy. Nice to see a reasoned response when so many tend to knee-jerk. To be fair, however, this administration brings the knee-jerk response upon itself with its tendency to secrecy and seeming unwillingness to listen to those who do not agree. Dr. Mohler makes some excellent points about the cult of personality that has been built up around this president, and why that fuels much of distrust. Again I say that I really believe most of the hooplah and concern over this speech really shows how many of us just do not trust our president. He, frankly, frightens us. But, I am thankful for Dr. Mohler's willingness to look into the issues and controversies and try to have a reasoned response. I read the text of the speech online yesterday, and if that is truly the speech that will be given, I don't really have a problem with it. However, I do NOT like the "I Pledge" video that is mentioned in Dr. Mohler's article.

Thank you Dr. Mohler, for being willing to help us think through the things that are in the news and culture.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Goodness

I am so thankful for my church family. Our pastor faithfully opens God’s word and preaches truth to us week in and week out. Sometimes what he shares is hard truth, hard to hear, but God grants him the faithfulness to teach it straight. Today’s sermon pierced my heart. May I take it to heart as I live out the weeks to come and not just leave it there in the pew.

Our Sunday School class began The Truth Project today, and, wow. It is going to be a great study. I am so excited. I’ve wanted to go through this study ever since I heard about it over a year ago. We are having to take 24 weeks rather than the 12 it should take because we do not have a long enough time in the Sunday School hour to give it what it needs, but it will be worth the time spent. We watch the video one week and discuss it the next. I am excited to review what we learned and pondered today and think about it this week to prepare for the discussion next week. Good stuff. May I apply it well.

On Tuesday we get to start our women’s Bible study, looking at Becoming a Woman of Excellence by Cynthia Heald. I am so excited to meet with the ladies who have decided to join us. May it be a precious time of studying from God’s word what it means to be a woman of excellence. I really pray that each lady involved will come to a deeper understanding of God and develop a deeper love for learning and studying and applying His word. May it be so, Lord!

When God tells us in His word not to forsake the gathering together of believers, He is telling us something that is for our very good. The encouragement to grow in faith is so strong on Sunday and the time to worship God together with other believers is sweet, a mere glimpse of the glory Heaven must be with the throngs of the redeemed worshiping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How thankful I am that God allowed us to quickly find this gathering of believers when we moved here. We needed the balm to our souls that these dear brothers and sisters bring. I pray we are a blessing as well, and that we will learn to step out of our comfort zone and be blessings to others, in the power of the resurrected Christ in us – Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Drew and I were talking about how hard it will be to leave here next summer. For now, I want to be faithful where we are and trust God to lead us to the right place when it is time to go. For now, I am really loving the joy of fellowshipping with our family here.

About School...

Every year when it’s time for school to start up again, I’ve noticed I start hearing and reading lots of discussion about homeschool or not all over the place. Especially this year with “Our Beloved Leader” (surely those of you who read this blog somewhat regularly can hear the sarcasm there, I hope) planning a somewhat secretive address to public school students, I’ve been hearing and reading rather stringent words about how all conservative Christians must surely now see that it is time to pull our children out of the public schools. I didn’t intend to blog about this this year, but I’m just so tired of some of the things being said that I believe I will state my opinion for a minute on my own blog, and stay out of the discussion anywhere else.

If God has called you to homeschool and you are faithfully following Him in this, bless you! And I say that sincerely. I applaud you for being obedient. I recognize that it was a decision you most likely made with much prayer and are truly committed to doing it faithfully. I have lots of friends who homeschool and do it well and find much joy in doing so.

However, please watch your rhetoric and assumptions when talking to your Christian brothers and sisters who do not homeschool. We do love our children, are concerned for our children, want the best for our children, and want to see them develop a biblical worldview also. I am not sinning by having my children in public school. I did not blindly hand them over to the government schools to allow them to be indoctrinated, as I have heard from so many, many, many committed Christian homeschoolers. My husband and I do prayerfully consider how best to educate our children. We also spend a lot of time sitting down with them and discussing worldview issues, how to think them through, how to deal with things the world believes and how to think about it biblically. We don’t blindly hand them over. We talk to them. We have dinner together as a family every night, which, by the way, means we sacrifice some of the other activities that could eat up our time as a family. We help them with their homework and we listen to them and talk to them. We also do not leave their discipleship solely up to the church to do.

We know that parenting is a high calling, and we take it seriously. Are we perfect? Absolutely not. Are there areas we need to be doing better? I know there are, and we are working toward that end. Are we making mistakes along the way? I have no doubt we are. But is our God bigger than our mistakes? Absolutely. If He changes our hearts and calls us to homeschool, I pray we will do so faithfully. If we see things happening in our local district that we believe warrant us pulling them out, may we have wisdom and discernment to do so. But, please, allow us the courtesy not to assume that we do what we do blindly. You may disagree with us and our reading of the situation, and you may disagree heartily, but please don’t assume that all of us are ignorant or unaware or sinning or blind.

I do not want to parent out of fear. I know homeschooling is the best option for a lot of families. I also know that it is an emotional hot button in Christian circles these days, and I really have no intention to debate the pros and cons here. Please don’t assume, however, that because you are completely convinced that it is right for you that there can be NO other way for all Christian families. Please don’t assume that we are lazy or that we do not care or that we are not obedient to our Lord if we do not believe it is the best option for our families at this time.

Whether any of our children, homeschooled, private schooled, or public schooled come to understand and love and know God through a right relationship with Jesus Christ by faith in Him alone is a matter of grace, God’s amazing grace. Homeschooling or not is not a guarantee that our children will personalize the faith we teach them, or that they will not ever adopt the fallacies that the world teaches and believes. We all must humbly pray and seek God’s gracious favor in this. We are called to teach our children God’s precepts when we rise up, when we sit down, and when we walk along the way. Amen. All of us Christian parents have a high calling to take this seriously. More important to me than where they are schooled, however, is how well we are teaching them how the Bible is relevant to everything: anthropology, geology, origin of life, astronomy, how to live life, how to be right with God, what is truth, what is right and what is wrong, etc. Drew and I firmly believe we need to be showing them that God’s word is the ultimate standard for all truth, the ultimate standard for how to view the world and everything in it. Sure, the fact that our kids are in public school means we sometimes have to take extra measures to teach them this and to be creative, but it has also opened up great opportunities to discuss with them what we believe and why we believe it and how so many people in the world are still in bondage to the blindness of sin and not understanding the ultimate standard. It has also given us opportunities to rub shoulders with our neighbors and to meet people outside our church and Christian circle we might not have met otherwise and to hopefully be a light along the way.

And even with this thing Obama may or may not be doing, no, I don’t like it. But you’d better believe we’ll be talking to the boys about it, and, for the record, it looks like our school district has opted not to show it on Tuesday and to let parents discuss with their children and let teachers have the option of showing it later on if they think it may fit with a social studies lesson along the way. Sure the propaganda usage by this administration galls me to no end. I think all the backlash that is happening about this school message shows just how many of us fundamentally do not trust this president, and that his beliefs and policies terrify us. Absolutely we are paying attention and should the time come, I hope we’ll continue to do whatever the Lord leads us to do – if it’s to pull them out, so be it, if it is not, then may we continue to be faithful to talk to our children and listen and be aware.

So, please, understand that to broad brush us public school families as necessarily less faithful somehow or blind or….whatever, please don’t.

Thank you.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Status Report September 2009

Sitting…in my dining room, listening to my 3-year-old scream and pitch a royal fit while she sits in her room where she has been banished until she can calm herself down. She wanted apple juice, but she did not want her daddy to get it for her, she wanted mommy to drop what she was doing to get it. Daddy got her a perfectly good cup of apple juice, but she is screaming that she wants a different apple juice. Not gonna happen….

Wondering….how long until she just gives it up and cries herself to sleep. She really needs a nap.

Smelling…the Cincinnati style chili that is simmering on the stove for dinner with some friends who are coming over tonight.

Enjoying….the cooler weather that signals that fall is on the way. Love the Fall!! I do not love Halloween and am really hoping we can get through October this year without having to do costumes. I really do not love having to do costumes. But I do love the fall.

Also listening…to the rain which has been going since the middle of the night sometime. Makes it a little hard to motivate for the house cleaning I still need to do. It would be a really nice day to curl up with a good book, if a certain little person would get over her fixation with having another apple juice and give in to the yawning and go to sleep already.

WatchedBen Hur last night with my husband and our boys. I liked it. Due to the fact that my son did not realize the disc had a side A and side B, however, we ended up watching the second half of the movie first and wondering why we had no idea what the characters were talking about. I kept thinking, “Well, they are certainly using a lot of ‘show, don’t tell’ here and I’m really having to read between the lines.” Then, when the movie was ending barely an hour and a half after starting, Drew and I looked at each other and realized we must have missed something, because we knew it was a really long movie. Then we realized poor J had put it on the wrong side. So, we watched the first half after the second half, and we kept saying, “Oh, so that’s what that meant!” Anyway, I liked it a lot. I’ll probably like it even better if I ever watch it in the right order.


Enjoyed…playing Frisbee and catch with the boys yesterday evening when it was still nice out, before the rain came. Boo sat in the grass and read a little book while we played over her head. Followed by movie night, it was a fun family evening.

Finished…reading the Inkheart trilogy. Finally. I enjoyed it. The ending was okay. A little bit of a let down, but happy and satisfactory over all. I had a different ending in mind, though. But, overall, I enjoyed the series. It was a little weird, but interesting.

Excited…that our ladies’ Bible study starts Tuesday. We are going through the book, “Becoming a Woman of Excellence” by Cynthia Heald. We have a small group signed up, and I think it will be a good group. May God bless our time in His word and our time discussing it together!

Amazed…at how determined my daughter can be. She’s still going….

Pondering…a small blogging break. I’ve kind of been taking one already, it seems. I don’t know why I feel guilty about not blogging, but I do. Whether I take a formal break or not, I’ll just mention here that I’m probably going to slow down a little. Maybe. Unless the ideas start flowing again, then I’ll write more. The problem isn’t so much lack of ideas, but not being able to take the time to write or being too tired to think through a good blog post when I get the time lately. I have a lot going on at the moment, none of which is major in itself, but all together leads to busyness.

Needing…to end this post and get back to vacuuming and laundry.

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Listening and Thinking

Dr. Albert Mohler had an interesting discussion about the health care reform debate from a Christian perspective on a recent radio broadcast. You can find a link to that broadcast here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Just One More Reason I'm So Thankful for My Husband

Drew figured out how to take the memory card out of the camera and get the pictures directly from it and just bypass the problem I was having yesterday. Thank you, Drew! Now, here are some pictures I wanted to share, especially so my Mom and Dad can see them.

Boo brought me these cute little pony tail holders she has and asked me to, "Put these on, please, Mommy." She's been such a baldilocks for so long, this is the first time I've been able to put them in her hair and have them stay at all. I just thought she was so cute. She did, too, and kept looking at herself in the mirror.


She's looking so much older all of a sudden. Sniff.



At the pond on the way to meet her brothers after school.


On the way home from school one afternoon:






My sweet M:



My sweet J:



Roscoe the hyper dog wrapping his leash around a tree: