Thursday, November 30, 2006

He Knows the Days of My Life

Psalm 139:13-16:

"For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You.
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them."

Hebrews 7:25:

"Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."

It is supremely, deeply comforting to know that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost. My hope, my faith, my trust is in Christ. How awesome is it to think that He is ever interceding for His own - those who come to God through Him.

It is also supremely, deeply comforting to know that the very days of my life are written by the One who created me. I believe that means not only that He knows how many days I will have, but also that He knows the details of each one of those days. He is sovereign. Nothing surprises Him. He doesn't say, "Oops." He is in control, and His will shall be accomplished.

Because He knows the very days of my life, though I may face a trial that is difficult or unexpected to me, I can rest in the knowledge that Jesus, my savior, is already interceding for me and the Holy Spirit has sealed me and will keep me and grant me the faith to persevere to the end. He is able to save to the uttermost. By His grace, there is no heartache that He will not give me the strength in that moment to endure. He will hold His children - those who come to God through Christ. Praise God today for grace. May I never forget what a gift it is, for I am a sinner. My prayer is ever, "Be merciful to me, a sinner." And He is. Praise His name, He is.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Even Though I Didn't Major in English...

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Saw this at Fruit in Season. It's right up my alley! Certain grammar errors irritate me like fingernails on a chalkboard. Check it out and see how you score!

Seeking a Flu Shot

Because I wasted too much time on the computer yesterday, this was to be a blog-free day, but I just can't do it, it seems. I had to share this today.

Due to the fact that I've been on a two month quest to obtain a flu shot for myself, I found myself driving to the next town over to visit a pharmacy which is giving them for $25. I have been calling the military medical facility that is much closer and that would have given me one FOR FREE as an Army Reserve family member, but they were always either awaiting another shipment of vaccine or already out each time I've called since October. Keeping in mind that the little town we live in is the armpit of America, I called my doctor's office a few weeks ago and was told to call back today. When I did, I was told that only high-risk patients would be given the shot, but they'd put my name on the list if I wanted. Small tangent: the people who develop the flu vaccine each year have got to know that LOTS of us are going to be wanting it, so why can't they ever develop enough for all of us? Every year it's the same shortage. I don't understand how these things work, but as a mommy of little kids, I try to get the shot.

Back to today. My mother-in-law lives in that next town over and told me about the pharmacy thing, so in a fit of frustration I called her to ask if they still had flu shots there. Answer: yes. How come the military medical facility and the doctor's offices can't get it, but this pharmacy has had plenty for over a month now??? So, I packed up Boo and off we trekked - a 40 minute drive from "the island." I was first in line (woo-hoo!) for the flu shot clinic at 11:00am today. I filled out my paperwork and waited. Then I realized I was standing in the "confidentiality zone" by the front counter that is two whole steps from the waiting bench. I guess if you're sitting on the bench you won't be able to hear them talk to the person two steps in front of you at the counter?

So, I took two steps back and put Boo's carseat down in front of a little fish aquarium that was there, not really paying much attention to the normal-looking woman sitting on the bench. That's when the normal-looking woman said, "I'll move over, put the baby up here on the bench where she can see the fish." I just smiled, while thinking, "I don't think so." Then the normal-looking woman scooted over and promptly fell off the bench. Now I'm thinking, "Loopy!" But I said, "Are you ok?" while a worker from the store also asked if she was ok and helped her up. N-L woman says, "I'm fine, the bench just wasn't as long as I thought it was." Then she proceeded to strike up a fairly one-sided conversation with me and all the while I was thinking, "Her speech is a little off somehow and she's kind of strange. It's a little early to be drunk." So then she said, "Do you think since I did that that I'm dangerous?" I was thinking, "Starting to now....." But I said, "I just don't put her carseat up on benches." So she scooted back over and started talking. To the baby. Now I was thinking, "Please hurry up and call my name, please hurry up and call my name. Don't. Touch. The. Baby......" Then she reached out and touched.....the toy on the carseat handle. Now I'm thinking, "Great, now I have to take that toy off and wash it. Why is she in the pharmacy line? Is she contagious? I'm moving the baby RIGHT NOW." Then N-L woman said, "That must have been some head to push out." HUH??????? Stupid me, still trying to be nice, I said, "No, she was tiny when she was born." Then they finally called me back for my shot.

While I was back there, I happened to hear the name of the medication she was there to pick up. So much for the confidentiality zone. I kept on saying the name silently in my head so I could look it up once I got home. Guess what. It's an anti-PSYCHOTIC. No surprises there, I think. I'm glad to be home, for sure.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Island Living Part 2

We now have a new pizza place that (theoretically) will deliver to "the island," and it's located just down the road from our neighborhood. We decided to try it out on the night that is probably the heaviest pizza delivery night of the year: the night before Thanksgiving. With brother & sister-in-law as guests, because we'd been cooking all day for the next day, we, with great anticipation, called the new restaurant and made our order. For the first time in 3 years we were to have pizza delivered hot and fresh right to our door. That was the plan, anyway. Sadly, we function on island time, after all......

After about an hour or so of grumbly tummy waiting, while kids were growing more antsy by the minute and I was having visions of our pizza driver riding on a tricycle or something, Hubby called again to track down our dinner. He was told that out of 5 scheduled drivers that night, only one had bothered to report to work. So, the manager of the neighboring town's pizza restaurant (about 45 minutes from here) was busily making pizzas and delivering them, and by the way, since he had us on the phone, did we know where this other address was located? Poor man didn't even know the area and was having to be out delivering pizzas on the busiest night of the year. Our pizza arrived shortly after that call, not hot, not all that fresh, but we were thankful anyway. And, yes, we tipped the poor man who was having to make all the deliveries due to the island non-work ethic that left him holding the bag that night. Wonder how long this pizza place will last on "the island?"

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Holiness of God

"The holiness of God makes the angels cover their faces, and crumbles Christians, when they behold it, into dust and ashes."--John Bunyan

I found this quote on the Slice of Laodicea site. It reminds me of Isaiah 6:1-5
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with God's holiness that you just fell on your face? I have, but too rarely. Much too often I'm flippant with prayer and I forget just Who it is to whom I pray. And I become lazy in my praying. I'm finding that prayer and Bible reading are hard. It is hard to put aside the things I want to do and put aside empty busyness to focus on the important things. I pray for the perseverance to live holy and to learn what it is to live a life that glorifies God. I say these things after struggling tonight to read my Bible intelligently and to pray. Sometimes I feel that I'm just going through the motions, but I keep on because I know that my feelings are not the measure of my standing with God. Jesus' righteousness is the hope that anchors my soul. Praise God that my salvation is not dependent on my fickle feelings and emotions, but upon Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. I am a woman of unclean lips. Thank God for grace. I pray that God will lead me to live a life characterized by holiness and that I will learn to glorify Christ. I am also praying tonight for a friend who started her chemo treatments today and for her family as they walk this road with her.

Lord, once again I ask You to help me not to be a hypocrite. Help me to live what I know is true. Help me to be humble when I come before You, and not flippant and lazy. You are holy, and I want to live in a way that will honor You.

Gator Girl

"......Through all kinds of weather, we'll all stick togetherrrrrrrrrr, for F-L-O-R-I-D-A!!!!"

Some Pictures From Last Weekend

Tic Tac and Boo. Too sweet!

Tic Tac, Me and Monk

Boo and Me

Tic Tac and Monk wrestle a Gator at the UF campus

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Homebody at Heart

We're home!

We're home, we're home, we're home, we're home, we're home!!!!

Can you tell I'm excited to be home? Visiting with family is fun and all, but home is just, well, HOME! We had a great time seeing everyone, but I'm so ready to sleep in my own bed - not one with a super soft mattress that causes me to roll into Hubby all night, have my own bathroom - rather than sharing one with seven other people (nothing says closeness like having someone walk in on you in the bathroom, and nothing is more embarrassing than being the one who does the walking in), and just sit quietly for a bit tonight.

We drove home today, the worst day of the year to travel - the Sunday after Thanksgiving, via the great travelling parking lots that are the interstates. Thankfully we left early enough this morning that we were in front of the worst of the backups that usually happen later in the afternoon, though it took us about 2 hours longer than usual. One year when driving back to school at UF on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I didn't leave Mom & Dad's house until later afternoon. The trip usually was about 2 and a half hours, but when I got off the FL Turnpike onto I-75, I hit a wall of brake lights with no end in sight. After stop and go traffic for an hour to the next exit and a painful hip due to my foot hovering over the brake for that long, I pulled off and called Mom & Dad in tears asking them to please look at a map and direct me to some back roads to Gainesville. I got a map for Christmas that year.

Back to today, though, we had thought about going to our old church this morning, but when we saw the huge, Purpose-Driven, seeker friendly largeness it has become, and when we thought about what a long drive we had ahead of us with 3 children who, although well-behaved this weekend, were extremely exhausted, we decided to just leave early. After driving around the town, where we lived for almost 8 years of our married life, we've decided you just cannot go home again, and that's ok. When we first left there 4 years ago, I cried for the longest time, but now I don't think I'd want to be back there. First of all, the church has changed. Alot. And I've heard enough from friends that are still there to know that it's not what we remember. Also, we drove by our old house and I felt so claustrophobic. No way was the yard that small back when we lived there! I guess I've gotten spoiled with my yard here and my front porch. And the traffic. Wow. Granted, it's been built up a great deal, but even though I complain about the slowcountry slowpokes here, at least there aren't 60,000 of them here.

The dog was quite welcoming when we came home, too. We sort of forgot that he would need to be placed in a kennel for the weekend until the Monday before Thanksgiving. Oops. So, of course, there was no more room for him "at camp." But Hubby found the teenage son of a co-worker who was glad to come and let him out and feed him for us. So Oliver got to stay home this time. Considering that the last time he was at camp he got attacked by another, larger dog and lost his bark for about 2 months afterward, you'd think he'd be glad of these arrangements, but I think he was lonely. He's been begging for bones all evening.

It was a nice trip, but the bittersweet side to it is that I am now totally done nursing little Boo. Since she is (probably) our last little one, this is a sad thing for me and was really hard for me to give up, but this is the second day in a row that she hasn't nursed at all. But, we made it to 6 months - that was the goal - and I don't think this trip would have been doable otherwise. And she's so much happier now. The boys are really bummed because one of them stepped on the DVD player getting out of the car and now it is broken. No more movies in the car. They were quite well-behaved even still, though they got a little squirrely when we hit Interstate brake lights, and I'm so glad I don't have to hear, "How much farther to home?" one more time tonight.

Oh, and remember those two pounds whose loss I was celebrating, lo, these many days ago? Well, they're baaaack. And they brought a couple of friends with them. So, starting RIGHT NOW, I'm back to eating healthy. Again. And walking more. If Boo will cooperate.

So, though we had fun, we're glad to be HOME. Hubby's family is sweet, loving, gracious, hospitable......but exhausting. And we love them all.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What a Good Bunch of Kids

A good time has been had by all. We came to Florida this weekend for a surprise party for Hubby's Aunt B. and Uncle G. - celebrating their 40th anniversary. I think it was a good time, and I think they enjoyed all the family and friends being here. When we first heard this was being planned, Hubby really felt we needed to be here, but I was so nervous. Boo, for a long time, would not sleep in her Pack and Play. Last summer when the AC broke at our house (that's right, we had 4 days during the hottest part of a very hot summer with no AC), we could not get her to sleep in it in our room even though it was fractionally cooler than her room. So I was pretty sure that Hubby and boys would have to make this trip without Boo and me. But I worked and worked with her, and she finally slept two full nights in the dreaded Pack and Play at home, so we decided we could brave the 6 hour trip.

Now. I have to brag, brag, brag on my children today. First of all, they all did great on the drive here, like I said. Boo did have a couple of screaming fits in the car, but that was only because she was tired and wanted to stretch out. Understandable. Unnerving, but understandable. The boys got along ALL DAY. Today, though, all three were just stellar! Boo has been so pleasant and grinning at everyone and just happy - even though you can tell she's tired and out of her element. What a change a few months makes. This is the same child that just a few months ago people at church were asking me if she was EVER happy - asked by the same people who seemed to obsess about if I was still nursing her or not. (Don't you wish people would just keep their kind opinions to themselves???? I mean, really, when a mom has a semi-colicky baby - and we've had two, the last thing she wants to hear is, "Isn't she ever happy?" Just tell the mamma what a pretty baby she is and keep your comments to yourself, thank you very much.) But that's because she was still nursing every hour and a half and needing a nap right during church time - and, again, would only sleep in her bed, which makes for a miserable baby at church. Anyway, Tic Tac and Monk have also behaved awesomely. NO fighting, and they've just been sweet all day. Even though the party was all adults. And we know how boring that is when you're a little guy. So, thank you kiddos, for making your Mamma proud!!

By the way, GO GATORS. That's all I have to say about that.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Travelling With the Kids

Well, we're in Florida. I haven't blogged about this trip until now, because we weren't 100% sure until this morning that we wanted to try this trip with Boo. But she did ok most of the way here, except for a couple of screaming jags and no quality naps, and the boys were great - it's amazing how well they travel now that Hubby has a portable DVD player we can use in the van. We don't let them watch much TV at home, so they actually look forward to long drives since they get to watch movies the whole way. I had practiced with Boo in her pack-n-play first and we decided that if she's tired enough, she will sleep in it - and we were right; she's sound asleep now without a peep. This should make it easier to travel in the future. I'll write more tomorrow if I get the chance about why we decided to come to Florida this weekend for a quick trip - going home Sunday.

We got to stop in Gainesville on the way, too and showed the kids where we went to school. They loved that! I'll try to put some pictures up once we are back home.

Oh, and yesterday was wonderful. The turkey did, indeed, thaw and the meal was nice and the fellowship even better. I wasn't too Martha-ish, just a little when the dishes needed washing up, but we all had a good time together. I hope our guests felt welcome and comfortable in our home, because we enjoyed them being there!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Big Game

Saturday is the Florida-Florida State game. This is a big rivalry! It also brings back a funny memory. When I was a sophomore at UF, we played Florida State at home in Gainesville Thanksgiving weekend. I had student tickets and wanted to go back for the game and I had a guest pass, too, so I took my little brother up with me for the game. We had a good time together looking at the campus and then at the game. After the Gators scored near the end of the game, someone's drink cup went flying over our heads, spilling the contents over us and the people below us. My brother looked at me with this surprised look and said, "That was beer!" Yep, it sure was. So, we two non-drinkers, college girl and high school little brother, got to drive back home to Mom & Dad's house smelling like beer. Ah, memories.

So, hopefully the Gators will keep up the tradition and beat the Seminoles even though they aren't in the Swamp this year.

Thanksgiving Eve

Psalm 100
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
Things I'm thankful for:
Seriously -
  • Salvation and the freedom from sin's bondage
  • My husband
  • My children
  • My parents - they have loved me and been such an example of unconditional love (as much as is humanly possible) for me and my brother, and now for my children. They are also an example of a stable family, which is something that is becoming less and less common these days, so I'm thankful my children have both of my parents in their lives. I'm so thankful for the fact that they not only taught me about Jesus and the Bible, but they constantly talked about spiritual things and allowed me to hear and become part of the discussion. As they learned, I learned. They have given my brother and me and the next generation a great heritage.
  • My brother and his wife - we've been having such a good visit today with them and it's been fun remembering things with my brother and getting to know my sister-in-law better. We haven't always had much time to do that, so I'm thankful they chose to come down and visit this year, even though it must be difficult to be surrounded with the constant chaos my kids provide.
  • My husband's parents and family - they accepted me right from the start when they met me 14 years ago, and we've had a great relationship since. That is truly a blessing, I know. And for the great example of a stable family that they are and the way they raised Hubby and taught him to love Jesus as well.
  • Friends
  • Our home and the material provisions God supplies (food, shelter, clothing, etc.)
  • Health
  • The freedom to worship and read the Bible

Light-heartedly -

  • The turkey is thawing and the food is mostly prepared for tomorrow.
  • We almost got to see snow yesterday
  • The window on the van has been fixed and I can open and close it again.
  • Florida football and basketball (Go Gators!)
  • Beautiful fall leaves - we're actually seeing some color this year.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

One of My Favorite Recipes

We have a dish that is an absolute favorite in our family - Acorn Squash Casserole. My mom found it in a newspaper article about Florida Thanksgiving and we always had it growing up. My husband loves it, so I got the recipe from Mom (thanks, Mom!!) the first time we had Thanksgiving at our house. I make it other times of the year, too, but it's a staple at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Acorn Squash Casserole
1 large acorn squash
1 small can yellow sweet corn
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 large can fried onions
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 tsp seasoned salt (or to taste)
Poke fork holes in acorn squash and cook it until soft. Discard seeds and scoop out the squash. Combine squash, corn, cheese, half of the onions, egg substitute and salt and mix well. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top with the remaining onions and cook another 5 minutes.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Update to Martha Monday

I'm not much of a decorator. I said I feel like Martha, but I didn't mean Martha Stewart. I don't think I've ever even bought drapes for the house; we've just sort of lived with what was already there. It's not that I don't want to, but, having me stay at home with the kids has meant that there usually isn't much extra cash in the bank account for non-essentials (diapers, food, and clothes being more important than nicer drapes and nick-knacks.) I'm not complaining, that's just how it is for this season. I'd rather have comfortable, hand-me-down furniture and sparse decorations with a mommy at home than a Southern Living style home with mommy at work and kids in day-care any day. You've heard of shabby chic decorating; I guess our style is shabby but nice enough. Even with extra cash, I'm not sure that I'd do too much differently. I just don't have the eye for decorating, and I'm not real crafty. In fact, I got so stressed out about my scrapbooking that I was waking up at night in a panic over how far behind I was getting and how uninspired I was to create beautiful layouts for it. I finally just bought some photo albums and put the pictures away in chronological order, and now I'm a much happier person. I call it the tyranny of the crafts. If Boo wants to make a scrapbook of all the pictures some day, she has my blessings to do so. Anyway, Tic Tac did a great job of helping us decorate for Thanksgiving this year. I just love the turkey he made for the front door! He has really gotten into the whole Thanksgiving thing since his teacher taught the class about the Pilgrims and Indians. He got really excited when we told him that he had an ancestor (on his daddy's side) who came over on the actual Mayflower! Yes, that makes this time of year extra special in our family to think I married a Pilgrim and we had little Pilgrim children.

Oh, and about that playroom that had me almost reduced to tears this morning? When Boo took a 2-hour nap this afternoon (that's right, little no-nap actually slept 2 whole hours this afternoon), I took a deep breath, waded in and straightened up the room. It wasn't nearly as bad as I'd thought, and now that Hubby has brought home the groceries from my last minute list, I think we're actually ready for the company that will be coming tomorrow. I just hope that turkey does thaw before Thursday......

Having a Martha Monday

So, it's the Monday before Thanksgiving and I have SOOOOO much still to do. So what am I doing right now? Blogging of course. I needed a bit of a break while Boo Baby is happy for the moment. My little no nap wonder took about 45 minutes this morning - just long enough for me to clean the bathrooms, dust the living room and straighten up the kitchen. Now she's playing with her toys for a minute and I'm at the computer, but will have to make it quick.

For Thanksgiving this year we'll have my brother and his wife (coming tomorrow afternoon, and we're so excited!!), Hubby's parents and brother and us, of course. Usually we have some of the young military families from church over, but we've kind of got a housefull this year and not much table space, so we couldn't do that this year. Anyway, I'm trying to get the house in order, and it's not looking real hopeful. I just went into the boys' playroom and almost started crying. Looks like that door will stay closed, Mommy just doesn't have the energy or will to tame it ONE MORE TIME this week. Those women who have tons of kids are pretty amazing to me - they must really be organized with all their kids. I need to learn how to contain the chaos. Actually, I could probably go into the room with a few garbage bags and get rid of a lot of the stuff and no one would even miss it (more about that closer to Christmas probably......). Maybe part of the problem is my perfectionism, but I just cannot stand clutter. And we have lots of it.

The turkey is in the fridge to thaw, and has been since Saturday, but it's still feeling pretty rock hard to me. What happens if it's still frozen Thursday morning??? Hope everyone likes the side dishes! And I've just sent my third update to the last minute grocery list to Hubby at work. I did the major shopping on Friday (good thing since the van is in the shop today getting that driver's side window fixed!!!!!!), but I keep on thinking of little things we still need. Hope that last update was really the last. Hubby probably hopes that, too.

What is this holiday about? Oh, yes, being thankful. So, if the house isn't perfect and we're short something nonessential, no one will really mind, I know. We Martha types need to step back and remember that the important thing is the hospitality - paying attention to the guests themselves and enjoying the fellowship, rather than sweating over every detail. And remembering the many, many blessings we have. Oh, and rather than breaking out the china, we're eating off some fancy paper plates that my mother-in-law supplied. So there.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Praying For the Persecuted Church

The pastor this morning shared a story that he heard this past week at the conference he attended from a missionary that had recently been to China. This missionary told about meeting with some underground church leaders there. When they gather for worship, they have to be very careful, since their church is not legal there. When they sing, they cannot sing out loud like we do, they must whisper their songs of praise. Our pastor had us stand and whisper-sing Amazing Grace to get a feel for what it is like for our brothers and sisters in China. It made me cry. I complain and whine and moan here in our free country, and I count the cost so lightly, while these believers risk their lives just to sing a song. And the church there is flourishing as it meets "underground" and under persecution. Pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters all over the world and pray, too, that we in the free world will not treat grace so lightly.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Some Days I Feel Like Such a Hypocrite

The title pretty much says it all. I write a lot about living holy, worshipping properly, loving my husband and kids, etc., and it is all true. I mean every word I write, and want desperately to put those thoughts into practice in my everyday walk. The things I write about on this blog are the things I think about. That's why I use this space. But, like I've said before, I can believe right, but it's so hard to live it consistently.

There are days (too many) when I don't read my Bible or, if I do read it, I don't focus on what I've read and think on it. I just read to get the reading done, so to speak. And there are days (way too many) when I don't pray much at all. And there are days (lots of these, too, I'm afraid) when I yell at my kids - not so much because they are disobeying, but because I'm living in the flesh and letting my feelings of tiredness, frustration, selfishness, and what have you rule my actions. Or I just get so bored with hearing for the umpteenthousandth time about a Lego creation I wasn't interested in the first time but tried to at least act like it, so I get a little snappy or act a little cold and distant for a bit rather than just encouraging the child again - it wouldn't have cost me anything just to say a kind word rather than let my boredom be known. And there are times (too many again) when I spend (waste) too much time on the computer that I ought to be devoting to something else or to spending time with my kids or husband. There are many, many, many days when I just go along in my little cocoon of Christian family, Christian friends, Christian church and never have any contact with the nonbelievers who live and work all around me. I complain that I don't know my neighbors, but is it only their fault? I could be more proactive on that front, couldn't I? I hide behind shyness, busyness, laziness.

So, I'm being honest here. This is who I am. I mean all these things I write about. But when I'm writing, I'm writing to myself. I deeply believe these truths, and I desperately want to be the kind of woman who lives out this kind of faith. What I pray with broken heart and deep yearning is that the Holy Spirit would change my heart and desires. That He would mold my will and conform my will so that these things I want to be would begin to be the characteristics of my life. Like happens with the main character in Stepping Heavenward, I hope that the course of my life would be such that when looking back over it, I will have grown, matured, and become more of the woman I was saved to be - one who enjoys and glorifies God forever. By God's grace that will be so. One of the most convicting verses in the New Testament to me is from the parable of the Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant in Luke 12:48 "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." I have been given so much - the knowledge of the Gospel, the faith to respond to the Gospel, new life in Christ, the Bible and the education and freedom to read it, health, family, material needs met abundantly, and on and on. May I be a faithful servant ever learning to be true to my Savior. May I be obedient whether I feel like it or not. May I be teachable. May I see the opportunities to be a blessing to my family and to anyone the Lord puts in my path. May I get off my front porch and learn to serve and share the Truth faithfully and consistently. May I learn to be a doer of the word, not just a hearer. May I not be a hypocrite.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Goodies, Band-Aids and Baby Burps

I've been making the goodies I'm taking tomorrow to the baby shower we're hosting. It is all I can do not to cut into the Cranberry Bread right now!! It smelled so good baking, that I'm really wanting it, but, I'm holding firm. Thanks, Mom, for this good recipe - it came from a book we read when we were kids called, "Cranberry Thanksgiving." I'd copy the recipe here, but I'm pretty sure it's copywrited with the book it came from - look it up at the library; good story and good bread. We always had this at Thanksgiving time growing up, and now I'm sharing it with my kiddos, too. I wasn't quite as strong-willed while frosting the cookies, though. Had to make sure they tasted ok - I don't want to offer up something gross to the guests, right??? I guess I should have waited until after lunch to do this. The hardest thing about this time of year is eating right. There are just so many bad food choices available, and I've got such a long way to go on the weight loss quest.

Looks like the baby and I will be going for a walk after her nap and taking the dog with us. Yes, Oliver did not get a clean bill of health at his last visit. He is officially overweight now, too. That's what happens when he eats scraps from Tic Tac's side of the table. When we take him for a walk, I usually can stand about one trip around the loop with him, because he is just too hyper on a leash. He spends the first half of the loop winding himself the wrong way around every other mailbox or around the stroller. By the time we get to the duck pond, he's into trying to chase every squirrel he sees and he thinks it is his personal mission in life to catch those ducks. I have no idea what he thinks he's going to do if he ever catches one, but he talks big, anyway. We let Tic Tac hold the leash the other day, and Oliver pulled so hard trying to catch a squirrel, that he pulled Tic Tac right over and caused him to scrape his hands and knees. Poor little guy, and he's just too heavy to carry all the way back home, but he was ok once we put some band-aids on his ouchies. It's amazing how Band-aids just make it better. Even if he's not bleeding. Needless to say, Oliver gets dropped back at the house after one loop, and baby and I go on for a few more laps.

Speaking of the baby and the dog, yesterday I was feeding Boo and went to burp her. I heard, rather than saw, a big spit up over my shoulder and kept checking my shirt and the floor behind me, but didn't see anything. I figured it must have just been a really loud burp. Well, sometime later, the boys were playing with a neighbor friend and they said, "What's this white stuff on Oliver?" "OHHH," I said. "I guess that's where it went." No wonder Oliver was skulking around with his little stubby tail drooping. I didn't realize he was back there when she bubbled over. Gross. Serves him right for hovering and begging for food all the time. Guess he won't be pestering Boo for scraps for a while.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Hope

We've been working with the boys on memorizing the Ten Commandments and talking about what they mean. And with that, I'm thinking today about how Jesus summed up God's Law. Mark 12:28-31 "Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, 'Which is the first commandment of all?' Jesus answered him, 'The first of all the commandments is: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these.'"

When I really start thinking about what it means to love the LORD our God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength, I begin to see how very far short I fall. And then when I think about loving my neighbor as myself, I see what a selfish person I really am. I say a lot on here about living a godly life, but I find myself in the day-to-day of things falling so short of where I want to be. It seems like I can believe right, but it's so hard to have my actions follow what I believe. I want to live what I believe. It's so easy to get caught up in whining, in laziness, in just plain old selfishness. We watched a video series one time that talked about God's glory. And one point that really struck me was that sin is more subtle than we think it is. It is ultimately doing anything for any motive other than God's glory. Even good things we may do if done with any motive other than glorifying God are sinful. Even my righteousness is as filthy rags. I have absolutely nothing to offer Him on my own. When you begin to think in this way, you see how very deep our fallenness goes. Jesus alone was able to live a life completely and without question focused on God's glory. He did what none of us are able to do. What a savior! To come and be born in obscurity, take on flesh, live among us, walk among us, experience life among us, and to live as totally other than we are. And the world hated Him for it. To live a life untainted by sin and completely in submission to the Father's will, to the point that He died on a cruel cross to pay the penalty for my sin. He paid the ransom for my very depravity. He took on all my shame and selfishness and sin. And the Father accepted the sacrifice and the work is finished. All my hope rests in Christ.

I've also been reading 2 Peter over that past two days, and I'm struck with how timely the warnings against false teaching are even today. Too much of modern teaching reduces the Gospel to a feel-good message without mention or understanding of repentance. It's more about having a fulfilled life than it is about being made right with the holy God. Praise Him that since He's restored my life, I have peace, but it's really not about all the Western angst and whining we hear about from so many of the fad preaching today. I've also been reading Ezekiel and it's kind of frightening when you read the description of the vision of God's glory that the prophet had and when he describes the glory of God leaving the temple. This is the God we worship. And the amazing thing about grace is that He in all His holiness did not just leave us in the stink of our sin, but provided a way to be cleansed. Not only did He provide the way, but He IS the way. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

Thankfulness in the School Lunchroom

The boys' school invited parents to come join the kids for Thanksgiving lunch in the cafeteria at their regular lunchtimes. Hubby and I met there and had lunch first with Tic Tac, then Monk's class came in for their lunch. It was neat to be able to eat with Tic Tac and see all his friends. He gets so excited about having us come visit. When I went over to sit with my oldest son, he had just come through the cafeteria line and he was sitting at his table with his eyes closed and head bowed. As I came up to him, his friend across the table was saying, "What are you doing?" The teacher was there and she said, "He's being thankful." He just kept on with his silent blessing until he was finished then I said, "Hi." The smile on his face was priceless. It thrills my heart to see him praying on his own there at school, because the greatest desire of my heart is for these kids to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ and have what we are teaching them become theirs, not just something they hear us talking about.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Smiles From My Sons

I got my hair cut today. I made mention in passing this morning that I was going to get it cut, and Monk said, "But I like it how it is!" I looked at my decidedly sheep-dog style in the mirror and almost laughed. Boo is 6 months old and prior to today I've had my hair cut exactly one other time since her birth. I've decided to go from really short and very layered, to longer and more feminine, but once my bangs start hanging in my eyes to the point where all I see is hair when I peer out, it's time for a trim. Anyway, it made me feel really good that my son thinks I look ok, even in my shaggy, disheveled state. I don't know if it's just that he really loves his mommy or if it's that he's being like his nicknamesake and fearing change, but it was sweet. I love it when you get a glimpse of the sweetheart underneath the rough and tumble little boy exterior.

Tic Tac pointed out a very interesting incongruity today. The boys got to go on a field trip with their classes to see the play "Cinderella," and they rode the bus. Of course, the bus is his favorite part. He said that he wishes he could ride the bus everyday. I asked him even if it meant I didn't drive him and walk him in to class and let him play on the playground after school? He said even then. Why? Because they don't have any seat belts on the bus. Now, file this under "Things That Make You Go Hmmmmmmm." If I, driving my fairly safe van, am stopped and Tic Tac is not buckled and in a booster seat, I'll be in very big trouble. Yet, while riding in a large vehicle that is so unstable we cancel school during a mild tropical depression due to the fact that the school system doesn't feel confident running buses in the wind, no seat belts. Tic Tac told me every time the bus made a turn they were sliding across the seats. Hmmmm.

Island Living

We live on an island. That's not nearly as exotic or romantic as it sounds. I had a telemarketer once stop in the middle of her spiel when she caught the name of our address and ask, "Do you really live on an island?" Then she went on to tell me how cool she thought that would be. I didn't set her straight. For one thing, it's not an island like you think of Hawaii or the island on Gilligan's Island would be. It's just a big area of land surrounded by lots and lots of marsh. And there are only two bridges to the mainland and downtown, both of which are only two lanes. One of them is a drawbridge. If there is an accident on one bridge, just count on it backing traffic up on the other one, too. I am not looking forward to seeing what it will be like when we ever have to evacuate for a hurricane, because we are in a mandatory evacuation zone if one ever bears down on us. To get to the nearest beach, we have to travel about 20 minutes and cross a few more bridges, but it is nice that it's close enough to be able to enjoy it pretty often. Also, due to the fact that there are only two bridges off this island, it takes us about 20-30 minutes to get to places that aren't really all that far from us as the crow flies, but we have to get past all the water. Oh, and when we first moved here, we called a local pizza delivery place for pizza and were told that they do not deliver to "the island." It's all considered part of the same town, but we are somehow too far for them to deliver. Supposedly we're getting a pizza restaurant closer to our neighborhood, but it's been "Coming Soon" for months now. I'm not holding my breath. When Hubby was in Guatemala for his Army Reserve duty, he could have Domino's delivered to the base there by a little guy riding his bicycle. But back home in the good ol' small town, no pizza delivery.

So, why am I going on about this tonight? We have dinner at church on Wednesday nights, then prayer meeting for adults and RA's for the boys. Since we've had Boo, I've been taking her to dinner, but going on home with her after that because it bumps right up into bedtime. Hubby comes on home later with the boys. Tonight I took Boo home like usual, and, for some reason, traffic was worse than usually, and Boo was not a happy camper. She was ready to have her bedtime bottle and be in her bed, but here we were driving in the bridge traffic taking 30 minutes to get home. You have no idea how hard it is to drive the speed limit when your 6 month old is screaming herself hoarse in the backseat and you've finally gotten past the slowpoke drivers and made it to "the island." But I've been convicted lately that I must not speed, so I really try to keep my foot light on the pedal. Besides that, the driver-side window on the van's automatic control is broken and it would be really embarrassing to have to try to explain to a policeman who pulled me over why I won't put the window down. So, we made it home, finally, she had her bottle, spit up about half of it on me, went to bed and sang herself to sleep a moment ago. AHHHHHH. Hubby and boys will be home any minute, I'm taping Jericho to watch later with Hubby, and the tea kettle just whistled. So, I think I'll take advantage of a few quiet minutes and go drink my vanilla caramel tea.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Psalm 127: 3-4 "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them"

I'm getting ready to co-hostess a baby shower for a friend this Saturday. The other friend I'm working with asked me to do a devotional for it, and I think I'll use the above verse along with Psalm 139. It really does make you think about how awesome God is when you look at a baby and think of all the intricate details that have gone into forming us. DNA is so complex, and there is no one person that is just like another. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made. I am so grateful that God has allowed me to be mommy to these little ones. Please, God, may I be faithful to teach them and lead them the way I should.

Today when I was thinking about what to talk about, I looked at Psalm 139: 23-24 "Search me , O God, and know my heart, try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Pondering the responsibility of being a parent can be so overwhelming at times. I know that those little eyes and ears are seeing and hearing so much, and we are so transparent to them. I pray God will search my heart and convict me of any wicked ways so that I can live righteously in front of my kids. Also, I know that His peace passes all understanding. He will teach me not to fear as we seek to guide these kids to adulthood.

Today with Boo, I heard her first genuine belly laugh. She's laughed before in response to tickling, but today she was making the funniest little noise, and I made it back to her and she just laughed and laughed. We did that back and forth until we were both laughing. I just love that. Tonight the boys got in on the act and played with her. You see the pictures here of them loving on their little sister. What a blessing.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Our sweet little girl is 6 months old today! I can't believe half a year has already come and gone since she was born. Seems like it's only been a blink. This little bee is her favorite toy, so we've upgraded her nickname to "Bumbleboo." Neither of the boys ever played with this little bee, but she loves it.

Now that she has reached the 6 month mark, we can finally get going with more baby food. She's been eating baby rice cereal for a while, but her pediatrician wanted me to wait for any others. I'm not sure if that's because she was born 3 weeks early and was tiny (5lbs 8oz), so he wanted her to get most calories from mommy-milk and formula until she reached 6 months, or if he's just conservative that way. At any rate, she got baby oatmeal today - and she really liked it. How do I know this? Because she serenaded her dinner, that's how. She likes to sing to her food. Sounds like this: "AAAAAHHHH, Aaaaahhhh, brooooooo......" and so on. The entire time she's eating. Then while she's swallowing, it sounds like this: "MMMMMMMmmmmmmmm." Very cute.

Below you can see little Bumbleboo when she petered out tonight and finally decided it was bedtime. She had such a great day, she just wore herself out. Happy half-birthday, little one. Or as my Grandma P. would have said, "Burpy Hapday."

PS: Go Gators! We just finished watching them beat South Carolina. Woo-hoo!

Thoughts About Being a Godly Wife

What a great post from Dan Phillips over at the Pyromaniacs site today:

My Hubby and I have been married for 12 years (actually 13 next month), and this is something I was convicted about early on - even before we were married. I have, throughout our married life, made it a point not to say things in public that would tear down my husband or would cause others to lose respect for him. Just like Christine (whose post is referenced), I remember sitting in Sunday School classes and Bible studies, also, and cringing when women would say just awful things about their husbands, but they were said as jokes. Hubby and I once had a discussion after one couples Sunday School class meeting when we'd heard that type of talk (from husband and wife) about how there must be problems in a marriage where such unkind things can be said so publicly in a joking manner. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't say things in public that could hurt my husband - even in jest. Because often there is truth in humor - if I can say something hurtful in a joke, I'm probably nurturing unkind thoughts in my heart.

Also, I have worked hard to make sure I nurture thoughts about him that honor him and cause me to think well of him. That's not to say there haven't been temptations to be frustrated or angry with him (neither of us is perfect, after all), but I actively turn those thoughts over to the Lord when they come and trust Him to change first my own heart and then the situation if He wills. And it really does make a difference in our marriage. When I allow negative thoughts a prominent place in my mind, I can see a difference in the way I act toward Hubby and how I respond to things he says. This is when I realize that I am sinning, and need to fix my own attitude, rather than focus on his faults. I can honestly say that in the 12+ years we've been married, Hubby and I have not had a serious argument, and my respect for him has just grown and grown. I am so thankful that God put us together, and I'm thankful He is teaching me how to properly love this man that He brought into my life so that we could share the journey through life together.

I love what Dan Phillips said at the end of his post:

"The godly wife will soon learn what husbands learn as well: such change is
beyond us. Our fallen nature hates God, hates His authority, direct or delegated
(Romans 8:7; 13:1ff.). We love our fleshly passions. We cannot merely try harder. We must be born again (John 3:3), and then we must be filled with God's Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), and stop making enabling excuses for our flesh (Romans 13:14). Only by the Spirit of God can the righteousness of God start to work out in our lives (Romans 8:4, 12-14)."

This is so true. Only by God's grace and the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives can either of us be the spouse we're supposed to be. And I am really accountable to God for the kind of wife I am. It doesn't matter if my husband does right, but I must do right to honor my Savior. But, I must say, in our case, my husband makes this so much easier because he does such a great job of loving his wife.

Friday, November 10, 2006


I love good mystery stories. They lend themselves so well to my favorite (and Hubby would probably say most annoying, yet endearing) habit - speculating on the motives of the characters and the outcome of the plot. Hubby calls this "Beckitating" or "Beckitations." As in, "You're Beckitating again," or "No, really, I like your Beckitations." We are not a huge TV watching family, but there are several shows I do like to watch: Jericho, Lost, CSI (the original in Nevada, not so much the other ones), Law & Order (most versions), Monk, and House. During most of the shows, I drive even myself nuts with my comments. Sometimes I have to physically put my hand over my mouth. I've told my husband that if he thinks I talk a lot, he would be totally amazed at the nonstop thoughts that I don't voice! So, with Lost going on hiatus for the winter, I'm left wondering if they are ever going to throw us a bone and give us a few answers. If not, this may be my last season. Like I said, I like the speculating, but it's only fun if you ever get to find out if you're right! They just keep us hanging.

It's a good thing my husband loves me and is totally committed to marriage for the long haul - we see this as a covenant, after all. I think I would have a really hard time living with me. Then again, he is becoming a master of tuning out the nonessentials and tuning back in when I say something important. Pretty important skill, if you ask me! Then again, this may be a man thing, as the boys seem to tune me out fairly regularly, too. But I'm learning how to tell if I have their attention or not. I'm also ok with being left to Beckitate away when I need to. That's one reason I started this blog. I've heard that men only use a limited number of words in a 24 hour period (sorry, can't off-hand remember the number) but that women use an exponentially greater number. Therefore, Hubby and sons have used up all their words by the time they get home from work and school, but I'm only about half-empty. So, I blog to relieve the pressure, I guess! Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, Tic Tac may have a higher than average capacity for talking. That child is not quiet unless he's sleeping. And then he snores. And Monk just asks non-stop questions - to the point where he misses the answer because he's so busy asking the next question. I guess both boys take after me a bit that way. And Boo, is trending toward talkative already, too. She just babbles away whenever she's awake. Kind of like me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Why is it that people who are virulently anti-Christian think that the strongest insult they can hurl at us who do believe in Christ is that we're brainwashed? I've had people say that to me before when their perception of me being a "goody-two-shoes" rained on their parade - not because I was trying to impose anything on them, but because they just didn't like that I wouldn't participate in whatever it was they were doing right then. My husband had a client at work yesterday say that he was a brainwashed fundamentalist bigot. If you know my husband in real life, you know how funny that is. All because this person was loudly bemoaning the fact that the "fundamentalist bigots" voted for a defense of marriage amendment for our state and it passed Tuesday. Though my husband wasn't trying to be drawn into the argument, the man figured out that he is one who voted for the amendment and just went off on him about how he thinks those of us who believe the Bible are brainwashed. Some of Hubby's coworkers later told him that this man is like this with everyone and is always trying to get a rise out of people.

Well, for one thing, I feel sorry for someone who is that angry that he has to spew venom on everyone. For another thing, I feel sorry for him that he can't see the beautiful truth of God's Word. Having been accused of being brainwashed in the past myself, I'd like to take a different view of that than the insulters meant. Look at 1 Corinthians 6:11 for a moment. After a long list of behaviors and sinful lifestyles that will not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul says: "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." Since being washed means being made right with God, I say, "Hallelujah, Amen!" So, sure, I've been brainwashed. I've been given a new mind, new desires, freedom from the bondage of sin. Hallelujah, praise Jesus for that washing. I join Peter as he said when the Lord told him that if He did not wash his feet he would have no part with Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" And again, in Revelation 1:5b-6 "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

Lord, may I never lose sight of the fact that I am a new creation because of the washing away of my sin by your precious blood. You are my God, and I will praise You. May I walk in a manner worthy of that washing. And I pray for that man that his eyes will be opened, for it is only by Your Spirit that he will be able to see the truth.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Love of Books

There is something so rewarding about teaching a child to read. Tic Tac and I are working through a book that just makes that task so easy. I love it when the lightbulb goes on and he realizes he's actually reading words. I remember that when Monk and I worked through the same book, and now he's a great reader - actually enjoys books so much he'll stay up late to read a chapter or two (just like his mommy!). I feel so guilty that I waited this long to do this with Tic Tac. I really meant to teach him last year while he was in pre-K, but I was so pregnant and tired and he was so not interested at the time. I know that early readers tend to do better in school even later on, so I hope I haven't waited too long for him. But he's very excited about it now. We figured out that by the end of December we'll have finished the book and he'll be reading on a strong second grade level, and that is motivating to him. He just realized he'll be reading like his brother. Being a book fiend myself, I'm so thrilled to see my kids get excited about reading. Even Boo is in on the act - she was holding a book this afternoon and chewing on it. Hey, baby steps right? She loves to sit in my lap and let me read to her. And the coolest thing is to see her older brother reading to her. The boys really enjoyed the Summer Reading program at the library last summer, and I'm so encouraged that Tic Tac will actually be able to do some of his own reading next summer. Now if we could just get him interesting in his writing skills, too - though he's doing much better with that too. In fact, I'm amazed at how just going to school and being around other kids has so helped him to get interested in all these things. I could have tried until I was blue in the face to interest him, but it's taken being around peers who are able to read and write to light the fire under him. Whatever it takes!

Neat Link For Hymns

I like this link:

It has tons of hymns listed, and you can look up a specific hymn several different ways - especially by title or scripture allusion. It even has MIDI files so you can hear the tune of the hymn you are searching. Very cool.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What is On My Mind Today

A lot of the blogs I read are discussing the extremely public fall of another prominent minister. I have to admit, I didn't even know there was a National Association of Evangelicals until I began reading some of these blogs - I had quit taking Christianity Today (or as some aptly call it Christianity Astray) a long time ago. Even when I did take it, I remember feeling a real disconnect that a lot of what they were writing about being important in the evangelical world, I had never even heard of. With all that said, I probably couldn't have told you who Ted Haggard even was before all this came out. So, not knowing him at all, I won't comment on his particular situation except to say that it is so sad for his family and I hope he will repent and take care of what needs to be taken care of.

First thought: in James we are warned that those who teach are held to a high standard. We are correct to be appalled when one who has allowed himself to be placed in such a prominent position is found to be living a life characterized by sin. We should pray that those whose faith may be weakened by this will turn their attention from prominent men to Christ, who alone will not fail. We must be so careful not to idolize any mere man or teacher, as we cannot know anyone's heart. Only God knows our hearts. I know from personal experience how deceitful my own heart can be and how easily I can delude myself when I don't spend the time in the Word and in prayer that I ought. But I also know from personal experience that the path to gross sin is filled with lots of compromises with sin along the way. Usually I don't start out with blatant things, but seemingly smaller things that begin to harden my heart until one day the bigger things don't seem so unthinkable anymore. May I stay tender to the Holy Spirit's leading in my own life and learn to lay aside the weights that so easily entangle me and live a holy life dedicated to the glory of my Savior. And may I remember to pray for my pastor and those whom God has appointed as leaders over me that they will persevere to live holy lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. It really bothers me that we evangelicals are so very undiscerning in who we allow to become prominent faces for us. So many of the most influential faces associated with American Christianty today aren't even preaching the gospel correctly! And the NAE, Ted Haggard, et. al. don't even speak for me.

I agree with some of the comments I've read that this (the media's fascination with a prominent evangelical's very public crash and burn) is what comes of marrying politics and Christianity, and being too fascinated with this world system and power structure. I'm assuming the NAE is involved with that mindset of putting our hopes in government for what really needs to be spiritual reform, not governmental. That's what I really wanted to write about. Let me say this first: I am patriotic. I love my country, and there are many times that I pray and thank God that I was born here and that we have the freedoms we do. I also believe that we ought to be good citizens, vote our conscience and values, and even serve in elected office if God leads us to do so. But that is not to mistake the fact that this world is not really my home. My hope does not rest in whoever is elected or in what legislation is passed. We should do all we can to keep this a moral society, but I am not deluded enough to assume that this is a Christian nation. It is a free nation, and I am thankful for the Christians who were instrumental in laying some of the foundations, but we must understand that it is secular and we should not be so entrenched in political concerns that we lose sight of our real focus - making disciples and living holy lives that are dedicated to God's glory. The kind of reform we want to see won't come through secular government. It comes from lives surrendered to Almighty God and delivered from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. And, yes, I said delivered, not perpetually recovering. I am aware that as long as I live on this earth I will deal with sin in my life, but on the road to sanctification, as I'm surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, habitual sin ought not to characterize my life.

For a long time now I've been uncomfortable with the way we American Christians seem to incorporate love of country with love of Christ. At times it is almost idolatrous. Especially when July 4th, Memorial Day and Veteran's Day come around. Then we give the American flag and patriotic songs the forefront during a worship service that ought to be dedicated to God and His holiness. Don't get me wrong, I deeply appreciate our veterans and those who sacrifice so much to protect our country. But that appreciation must never, never trump the worship of the God who created all and Christ who is the true King and who will return to judge all. Then all of us, and every government will bow to His authority. That is where our focus must be. Not on earthly power and influence.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Life on the Island

I never thought I'd live where we are now, but here we are at our 3 year anniversary of moving here. Though I grew up in Florida, I am not a GRITS (Girl Raised in the South). Florida may be geographically south, but Central Florida is not really like the rest of the south. I have, at times of frustration with this area, called it the Slowcountry, for things happen much more slowly around here and it just seems hard to get things done. At times of extreme frustration with this area, I've even been known to call it the armpit of America, but I know that's not really very kind. We have no mall, and the nearest decent shopping besides Walmart, is about one and a half hour away, unless you count the outlets, which I don't. We have a few nice restaurants, but, for the most part, the service is poor to say the least. And need I say it, slow. Last night, Hubby and I got to go out BY OURSELVES for the first time in a long time. My in-laws have recently moved to the area, so they came over and watched the kids so we could have dinner together. Well, we went to the new restaurant in town. It was very crowded, but that would have been ok if the hostesses had not been clueless. My husband dropped me off and I went in to get our name on the list for a table. When I walked in, there was a woman at the front desk complaining about her take-out order while one hostess talked to her and one hostess seemed flustered about a patron that was not answering their page. I waited patiently for them to acknowledge me. While waiting, another woman walked in and kind of edged her way to my right, glancing at me then moving past me. The hostess immediately looked up and asked her, "How many?" I turned around and walked out, found my husband and told him we needed to go somewhere else. For one thing, the wait was going to be LONG, and for another, I didn't appreciate being totally ignored while being polite, while the rude customer got their attention. Ok, rant over, I know that the hostesses were flustered and that I wasn't purposely snubbed. I also know I'm not the most important person in the room. I just wish customer service would come back, and I'm tired of rude people. The next restaurant we chose was much better, and the service was excellent, so we had a nice time. The problem I have is, most restaurants and stores I've had experience with here either do not have good service or they are extremely slow. The last time we ate at that same restaurant, we were with a very large group, so we were careful to cut the wait staff a lot of slack and made sure we tipped well. We had the kids with us that time and the baby was beginning to get fussy and the checks had still not been brought out. My husband politely got the waitress' attention and asked if she could bring our check out when she got the chance because the baby was getting fussy and we wanted to go ahead and leave so we could take her out and not disturb anyone else. Well, we waited and waited, and I finally took Boo out to the car and waited there. When Hubby and the boys finally came out, he told me that his was the very last check she brought out. She gave everyone else theirs first. ugh. That's the island mentality for you. And have I mentioned the stinging marsh gnats recently???

Another gripe. Monk went on a carriage ride in the historic downtown area for a friend's birthday party and came home telling me that the South were the good guys in the war. We had an immediate impromptu history lesson to set him straight on that one. I don't go for that whole "War of Northern Aggression," "the South will rise again," tripe. I guess from their perspective, the North were the bad guys. But it's been over 140 years. Let it go! Then, Mr. Concrete Mind asked me if they were all bad. I had to explain that I'm sure there were good and bad people on both sides, but that it is good the Union won. In fact, I told him that really we are all bad - we're all sinners in need of a Savior ultimately.

So, with that in mind, I need to end my rant and say that there are good things about living here, too. It is a mild climate, and we're not too far from a pretty beach. There are benefits to a slower pace of life like running into people I know all over town. Hubby has a great job and is very happy there. That in itself is worth dealing with lots of environmental nags. If we hadn't moved here, I wouldn't have had my faith stretched in certain areas and learned to see the benefit of a small church. I would have just continued to shuffle along in the Purpose Driven mega church mentality. So, really, I can thank God for moving us here. It really is growing on me. I just have to learn to be patient. Looking back at the restaurant incident, nothing really worth bothering about really happened anyway. Who knows, those hostesses and that other guest may have had a rough day, and if I had been ugly to them, it would have made it worse. I hope that woman got to have a nice, relaxing dinner, and I'm glad I'm not dealing with guilt today for pitching the fit I was tempted to.

Monk, Tic Tac, and Boo

We have some nicknames for our kids that I'll start using here. The oldest is Monk, because the poor kid is so much like Adrian Monk on the TV show Monk. He tends to get an idea in his mind and fixate on it, just can't let it go. Also, he doesn't like his foods to touch on the plate, though he's not nearly as dysfunctional as the TV character. He also has an innate need to touch things and make them straight - it drives him batty for something he's working on not to be just right. Ah, the life of the perfectionist. I'm sorry, my son, but unfortunately it's in your genes! The middle son is Tic Tac because of his love for those little minty candies. Though he doesn't like the white ones, thank you very much. It also just seems to fit him somehow. The baby is Boo. Don't ask me why, there's no real reason except that I just started calling her that soon after she was born and it just seemed to stick. So, there you have it. This is not the most recent picture, but I'm sure I'll have more recent ones to put up before long. I just wanted one with all the kids together.

I Think There's a Squirrel in the Chimney

As I was sitting on the couch nursing the baby this morning at 6:30 (she slept in today, woo-hoo!), I was startled by bang, clang, clattering noise coming from the fireplace. This was followed by more banging and distinct claw-like scratching noises for quite a while. I'm wondering if one of the myriad squirrels that like to prance across our roof each morning somehow found its way down the chimney. I guess it could be a bird, but it didn't really sound fluttery enough. Then again, it could have been the wind, but it wasn't that windy out this morning. I, for one, am NOT opening the flue for any reason. I just have no desire to see a little furry or feathery head peeking out at me. I'm all for nature and animals in the wild, I just don't desire to see them in my house!

Why do these things always seem to happen when my husband is off doing his army drill weekends? Both times I've sprained my ankle were on a drill weekend (the second one while pregnant with our second child - gracefulness has never really been a defining trait with me). Also, the time I shredded the back tire on the van and had a flat on the other car happened not just with him gone for a weekend, but when he was gone for 6 months in Iraq. I am so thankful for husband's good friend and boss who kindly came over and changed both tires for me so I wouldn't be stranded with two little boys and no transportation. Oh, and that was the evening I was supposed to be going down to the church for directory pictures to be taken. Thanks to this kind friend the boys and I made it to that appointment - late and a bit disheveled, but our pictures made the directory. The hardest thing that happened while he was gone, though, was that one week after he left for Iraq, I suffered my third miscarriage. That was tough to face with Hubby away, but God's grace is truly sufficient.

Back to wild animals and the house. I haven't heard any noise from the chimney in a couple of hours. I hope whatever it was got out and is now leading a productive little life somewhere away from my chimney. I sincerely hope it hasn't died in there. My middle child likes to surprise mommy every now and then with a toy bug, frog or snake on my pillow. The only one that kind of really bothers me is the snake. I really, really, really do not like snakes. (Well, actually I'm that way about frogs, too. Just ask my husband about the time I called him at work in a near panic because there was a frog sitting ON THE TOILET SEAT.) When this same child came in all excited that he'd found a real snake skin out in the yard right by the front porch, mind you, I had to swallow my revulsion and be excited for his sake. Then an awful thought struck me and I got very serious and sat both boys down and said that I know the toy bugs and things are really funny, but if they EVER put a real snake in my bed, they don't even want to know how NOT FUNNY that would be. I think I would have to move. Hopefully they believed me.

Friday, November 03, 2006

O Happy Day

Hooray!! After weeks, nay, months of the scale being stuck on a certain very unwelcome number, I've lost 2 pounds! I was starting to think maybe the scale was broken. Ok, it's not much, I'll grant you, but it's finally trending in the right direction. A week of salads for lunch, no snacks, lots of green tea (Yuck!) with Splenda, cutting sugar and taking calcium tablets seems to be having the desired effect. Oh, and I'm walking lots when little bits tolerates being in the stroller, too, and using an aerobics tape, though, I fear I am hopelessly uncoordinated when trying to follow the steps, but I keep moving! I love tea, so I'm drinking lots of it, and trying to add green tea, which I don't so much like, but I have found a decaf mint green that is pretty good. Now I've got 18 (or more) pounds to go - those 10 stubborn ones left from the pregnancy plus the 10 I was trying to lose before becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, I am NOT one of those women for whom breastfeeding causes wonderful weight loss. No, I tend to hang onto mine until the weaning happens. So 2 pounds is cause for celebration! I got a diet cherry Coke from Sonic today, and am hoping the caffeine won't affect my little one. Since she's only nursing half the time now, it will probably be ok. I had to start supplementing a formula bottle or 2 (and sometimes 3) throughout the day because she just wasn't satisfied. It seems that for all my kids, a formula-fed baby is a happy baby! I'll keep nursing for a while longer, but not feel guilty about the bottles. It's hard to feel guilty when she is so happy and giggly all the time now as opposed to cranky and fussy. Plus she's napping better and sleeping through the night consistently. All told, the girls in this house are having an all around great day. Now, if I could just lose weight as consistently as she's gaining.......

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thoughts on November 1

Well, we got through another Halloween. Definitely not my favorite day of the year. If it were just up to me, I think we'd ignore it altogether, but we did let the kids dress up last night and go trick-or-treating. They were cute - Oldest son was Darth Vader, Middle son was a king (King Peter, he says), and Baby was a duck until she petered out and I put her jammies on for bedtime. She got to sit on the porch with me and my mother-in-law to pass out candy. I kind of like that part - being sociable with the neighbors, that is. We live in such a cocooned society that I really don't know my neighbors, and that's sad. I'm also pretty sure that it hinders my Christian witness that I don't really have much contact with them. Anyway, I hate the celebration of death and evil that Halloween represents, and I sort of resent the pressure to participate that seems so relentless, so this is always a frustrating time of year for me, and I'm glad once it's over, because I absolutely love the fall. One house in our neighborhood really went all out with a make believe graveyard, spooky music and just really elaborate get-up in front of their house. It struck me as very sad that people would get so excited about celebrating the darkness. I know that Christ came into the world as the Light of the World, and I just don't have any desire to participate in all the eerie, creepy, grossness of Halloween. These customs came into being because pagan people were afraid of the darkness of winter and things they didn't understand. Christ came to free us from that. I guess what I'm saying is that I wish we could have fall with pumpkins, scarecrows, nice weather and sociable neighbors without the witches, ghosts, love of darkness part. Speaking of sociable neighbors, I've been thinking a bit today about how comforting a cup of tea is. Perhaps I could learn to be a better friend by opening my home and inviting someone to share a pot of tea? As a child of the King, I ought to be sharing His light in a dark world. Because He has come, we really don't have to be afraid of the dark.