Saturday, December 30, 2006

Winding Down the Year

Here we are at the last Saturday of 2006 and the second to last day of the year. Where has it gone? Seems like this one has been extra fast in flying by. Of course, we've been extra busy, I suppose, with R. being born in May and M. entering Kindergarten in August, joining J. (2nd grade) at all-day school.

I'm not really one for making New Year's Resolutions, but it is nice to look back over the year and remember. I always look forward to the end-of-the-year issue of WORLD Magazine - it's always interesting to look it over and say, "I didn't remember that happening this year!" One thing I'm liking about this blog experience is that I'm doing a better job of keeping a sort of journal of my thoughts than I've done previously, so I can look back over what I've written and see some of the light-hearted things I've thought about during the last few months and some of the more serious things, too. I'd like to start a personal little notebook where I can write down some of the things I might not want to put out here, too. It's good to keep a record of the things God puts on our hearts and that He teaches us as we read His Word throughout the year and remember.

So, what are we doing on this last Saturday of 2006? Not much, and it's nice. D. has been out working on his "Man Barn" shed that he's been building in the back yard. My husband is becoming quite a handy-man, and I'm impressed! He got several gift cards to Lowe's for Christmas and is using them to finish this big project and to start another one we've been discussing. The boys share the bonus room upstairs, but they don't have a closet for their clothes and things, so it is hard for them to put their toys away. I did get the playroom finished and organized (a pause while I do the dance of joy.....) and right now they are using the closet in there. But D. and I have been thinking about how we could take the attic space which is accessed from the boys' room and turn part of it into a type of closet for them. The other night we stood in that chilly space for a while checking out how we could floor part and wall off part, adding a door to the rest and make a little closet there for them. We'd even have room to hang clothes. Then we could move their stuff out of the playroom, move R. into the playroom so she could have the bigger closet (her clothes are just little-bit sized right now and she's already running out of room in her current closet), and turn R.'s current room into a guest room and put a guest bed in there. Then when people come to visit, they could actually stay with us rather than at a hotel! And the really impressive thing is that D. says he's pretty sure he can do all this! I'm so proud of his handy-man skills.

D. also took J. for a run this morning. Now that J. is growing and getting a much bigger appetite all of a sudden, and also showing much propensity to be like his Mommy and rather sedentary, D. thought maybe they could have some bonding time in this way and try to instill some healthy habits at the same time. D. gave J. a step-counter, and that has just lit a spark under him. I'm getting updates every so often on how many steps J. has taken today. (And I'm fighting the urge to have my eyes glass over with each update.) He's Monk, remember?

Now D. is taking both boys for a haircut, then when R. gets up from nap (will it be a long one today, dare I hope?) we're going to Pizza Hut for lunch so the boys can use their "Book It" coupons from school, and then this afternoon, when it's supposed to be rainy, we're going to take down the Christmas decorations. I always try to get them down before New Year's, because, to me, there is not much that is more depressing than Christmas decorations in January. I went with J. to a birthday party once in February, and that family STILL had their tree up. Boy, that was depressing to see. Might as well just leave it up for next year and decorate it seasonally at that point, but I digress (not that this whole post hasn't been a huge digression from the cleaning I ought to be doing right now.......)

Did I say we weren't doing much today? Well, at least it's good family time and it's enjoyable. Must go do some cleaning now while the men of the family are out and R. is napping.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Something I've Thought About A Lot Lately

As I've been reading some of the discernment blogs and seen how very subtle false teaching can be, I've been thinking a bit about one reason it is so easy for us to be deceived. I'm convinced there are a lot of us in evangelical circles who really believe the Bible is true and that it is God's Word. But I'm also convinced that, though we claim to believe this, we don't really read it. This is also one reason we get so caught up in emotionalism and can hear an inadequate, but very emotional presentation of the Gospel and yet think it's been deep or thorough enough to still be the Truth, when really all we're hearing is a watered-down, non-gospel because we don't have a firm enough grasp on what the Bible teaches.

I have grown up in the church - Southern Baptist ones mostly - and I have been taught all my life how important the Bible is. And, by God's grace, I am continuing to grow in my love for Bible study - not Bible studies where you go and read what someone else thinks about the Bible and talk a lot, but never really get around to actually studying the Bible itself - but I'm learning to love reading it and learning. It is amazing that everytime I read through the Bible, God can light up a new passage and it will be like I've never read it before. This is how God speaks to us through His Word, and it is how we know Who He is. I am immensely aware that this love and appreciation comes from the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, not by my own intellect or ability, and it is humbling and I am grateful. So what I am about to say does not mean that I think I've "arrived." But it is something that troubles me greatly.

Something I've noticed quite a bit now that I am an adult and have walked with the Lord for a while (I was saved as a young child) is that a preacher will hear many "Amens" from the congregation when he talks about how important it is to believe the Bible and that we need to live according to what is in the Bible. But, these same people don't seem to know much about what the Bible says. In our young adult Sunday School class, while D. was in Iraq, we had a guest teacher who once brought in a quiz he'd found that tests your Bible knowledge. Some of the questions were fairly basic, some more obscure. It was pretty eye-opening how much the class did not know. They couldn't even identify Hosea - and we had just spent a whole month studying that book. And when they got Abraham and Moses confused, the response was, "Well, I knew it was one of those old guys." Appalling. Rather than spurring them to read their Bibles and study more, they got angry at the teacher and didn't come back to class until D. was back teaching. And when they asked me how I knew so many of the answers, I told them it just comes from reading my Bible through over and over, and the Holy Spirit works to drive it into my heart and mind. The response to that was, "I try that, but I get bogged down when I get to things I don't understand and just quit." I suggested reading through anyway and investing in a good study Bible. Then I was told, "Well, not all of us can afford that, Rebekah." Hmmm. And yet, there's a new car out in the parking lot and they seem to afford all kinds of other things that aren't all that important. D. and I were talking about this and we decided you pretty much do what you want to do - what is important enough to you - about these things.

So, if we don't read the Word, how are going to recognize the wolves? If we don't know the Truth, how are we to spot error? This makes us ripe for false teaching that sounds really good because it is so subtle. This is why if we hear "Jesus-talk" we think surely the person is a fellow believer - because we don't know how to discern what is actually being said. This is one reason so many former Southern Baptists are Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and other false things today.

Here's some things I'm praying about:

  • That the leadership of the SBC would open their eyes and see how very subtle the deception is. It isn't enough to just say that we believe the Bible - we must have good teaching from the Bible and stop looking for the next best fad.
  • That we people in the pews would develop a burning desire to know God and to read His Word. And then that we would begin to act on what He shows us in His Word. And that the Holy Spirit would bring conviction and brokenness and show us where we harbor sin in our lives and lead us to repent.
  • That my children would be drawn to Christ and that we would teach them His Word and the Holy Spirit would drive it deep into their hearts and protect them from deception. That they will recognize Truth and discern untruth.
  • That my own desire would become more and more to love God and glorify Him, because I confess that that is so often not my motivation, but oh how I want it to be. That the Holy Spirit would soften my heart so that I will respond to His leadership and act on the things I read in His Word.
  • Comfort for two friends who are battling cancer and struggling with chemotherapy among other things.

These are just some of the things I want to remember to pray daily. There are others as well.

Some Pictures

R. pulled her blanket over herself and rolled along the floor until she had a funny little cave. Everytime we "rescued" her, she just did it again. She must have liked it!

J., R., and M. on Christmas morning - a bit earlier than I would have liked, but they had a good time.
The disaster area that was the living room for a few hours that morning while M. and J. worked on their Legos and R. took a much needed nap. The boys know they cannot work Legos in the floor anymore. This was the first time we heard, "Mom! R. is getting into my stuff, can you move her???" D. and I looked at each other and said, "And so it begins." We told them, they haven't seen anything yet. She's a determined little girl, and once she's crawling, they'll really have to look out! M. really likes his big dragon, too. It's bigger than Oliver!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

We Have Come To Worship Him

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.'

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also."

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Then being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Matthew 2:1-12

This Christmas, may we bow in deepest reverence and worship Christ Jesus, the true King of the Jews, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Light of the World.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

"Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.'

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.' " Luke 2:8-14

All praise to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus, who is Christ the Lord, our Savior! Glory to God in the highest!

*picture found at

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sanity Break

Whew. I'm taking the gas mask and HazMat suit off so I can take a break from the pit that is our playroom. I cannot tell you how many times I've organized this room, but M., my little Captain Chaos, has been at it again. As has J. the Pack Rat.

The fog of my little slump has finally begun to lift, and now that my energy is coming back and I feel like doing more than just the normal everyday keeping up with the mess, I've begun to try to head off the disorder IN THAT ROOM once again. I am sorely tempted to go in there with a bunch of garbage bags and just get rid of it all, but I guess we're not there just yet, though I'm tossing way more than they'd like!

Here is just some of what I've found while attempting to bring some order once again to the disaster area during the whopping 20 minute nap that R. took this afternoon:

  • Rocks - lots and lots of plain, old, ordinary rocks. Both J. and M. think these are treasures, apparently.
  • Legos - I'm sure that piece J. has been looking for will turn up in all these pieces. It just has to. I'm beginning to wonder if Lego pieces get together and mate and have babies. I'm sure we didn't have this many before.
  • A pink M&M. Does this mean it's been there since the Easter candy was opened? I'm surprised Oliver the dog never discovered it.
  • Sticks - see rocks. And if they happen to see one of these sticks in the trash bag before I can smuggle it out of the house, I hear, "But that was my gun! I use that!" Sigh.
  • Sunday School papers from months and months past.
  • Scraps of paper and broken crayons.
  • Match box cars - I think they've had babies, too. How in the world do we have so many?
  • Tinkertoys - someone gave M. an old set, and he manages to scatter the pieces all over this house. I find them everywhere except in their nice round jar!
  • Lincoln Logs - again, I find them everywhere except in their box.
  • Various sizes of little tires. I can't throw them away, because I might find the Hess truck they belong to. Thanks, M. for this contribution.
  • Various and sundry "Kids' Meal" junk, I mean toys from kid-friendly, yet nutritionally vapid meals. Those have been going straight into the trash bag.

And these are just from the toy box and half the closet. That's only one corner of the room. I'm still working my way around the rest. I've filled one large box for give-away and one large bag for trash. Now I'm ready for round 2. Just as soon as I feed the baby and get her settled. Unfortunately, there are way too many small pieces lying around for her to go into the playroom with me, so this job is taking me a bit longer than I'd like. Is there something inherent in little boy DNA that prevents them from a.) throwing anything they've ever touched away and b.) putting like pieces with like in their designated containers (i.e. Legos, cars, Lincoln Logs, etc.)?The just pitching it all idea is looking more inviting all the time........

A Glimpse At My Day Today

Overheard at my house many, many times today, because being out of school a whole week before Christmas may just be too much of a good thing:

"Stop it!"
"You stop it!"
"I'm telling on you!"
Bang, bump, crash, someone crying.

Thump. That's my head banging on the table because I do not want to hear one more tattle, and I just don't want to know who hit who first or why this time.


Star Wars action figures: $7.00/piece
G.I. Joe figures from their Daddy's childhood collection: Who knows how much they cost, but they were free to me
Card Table: $24.00 from K-Mart
Two boys building a Star Wars-G.I. Joe fort upstairs in their bedroom - two hours and counting of great, getting along fun, Mommy gets the laundry folded and starts in on organizing the playroom. Priceless.

P.S. My friend's husband just called. S. is in labor and at the hospital...I'm waiting to hear once baby is born! I'm so glad she (the baby) is coming before Christmas - that's really what they were hoping for.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Break At Our House

Only 5 days to go! I hope the kids make it. They are just full of anticipation, I tell you. And that is leading to some frayed nerves, I'm afraid. We have a big wooden castle thing (I don't know if I should call it an advent calendar, really, but I guess that's essentially what it is) with 24 doors that I fill with candy and little nutcracker ornaments. Each day the boys open a door and hang the little nutcracker on little pegs at the top of the castle. I'm ashamed to say it took my then 7-year-old last year to figure this out. Last year we tried hanging these tiny little things on the Christmas tree each day and that was just silly. Then J. (I'm tired of the nicknames, by the way) asked - on Christmas day, after we'd been doing this all month, what are the little door knobs on top for? I had one of the moments where you go, "DUH!" and counted them. Sure enough. There are 24 pegs. You hang the ornaments there! So we've been doing it right this year. Here's what it looks like so far:

Those little figures in front are part of a miniature manger scene. Starting about the 19th the kids also find parts of that scene each day in the little doors, culminating with the manger and baby on the 24th. Unfortunately this little fun thing was the cause of the fussing and fighting this morning. M. wanted to set it up one way, and J. didn't like it, so much weeping and gnashing of teeth ensued until I had to step in with some suggestions - "Just let him set it up how he wants and you can change it later! This is supposed to be a fun thing, I don't mind if it changes every 20 minutes until Christmas comes, just be nice to each other and enjoy it!" The boys totally ignored that and more weeping and gnashing continued until I told them they had lost the priviledge of playing with it at all. Bummer. They get to try again tomorrow - after a cool down period I talked to them about how this is supposed to just be a fun thing, and I think they get it now. We'll see. Such drama around here today!

I went ahead and did that baking I mentioned the other day, and I was ready for J. and M. to help, but they decided they would rather play army men in the playroom and build a gigantic fort with the blocks. Fine. By. Me. I got the M&M's blondies mixed and in the oven, and have just now pulled them out, smelling yummy. And the boys have been playing together so nicely for at least the last hour. And R. has been down for a long nap for over an hour - this is a big deal since she's been giving me about 20 minutes at the most the past few days. Ahhhhh.

Oh, here's a picture of the boys with their gingerbread houses they made when they spent the night with D.'s (Hubby's) parents so we could go out to dinner for our anniversary:

I took the picture this morning. Notice the shorts and short sleeves. We are having a much warmer than normal Christmas break this year, obviously.

And, just so the baby isn't left out here's one of R. playing with the stockings that fell off the fireplace the other day:

Oh, and here's one I forgot to post back when M. had his Christmas concert at school. He's the one in the Santa hat with the great smile:

And now I must bring this very long post to a close as the "Happy time" for the boys is apparently drawing to a close and I think a moderator (ME :-)) is going to need to step in shortly. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Special Day

Happy anniversary to my sweet Hubby! We've been married 13 years today. I wrote in my Christmas letter that I can't believe we've been married that long. As I was folding the myriad copies I realized how wrong that sounded. I didn't mean that I couldn't believe we've lasted that long, I just meant it doesn't seem possible that 13 years has already flown by!

What a wonderful 13 years it's been. I'm so thankful for my husband. God has sustained us through some good and not as good times. Hubby once figured up how many days we've been apart due to his Army commitments. I don't remember off hand the exact number, but it was a ridiculously high one, anyway. We've weathered his being one year in Germany/Bosnia, two weeks in Guatemala, 6 months in Kuwait/Iraq and numerous in-country duties (one weekend per month, two weeks per year and several months schooling in San Antonio). But God is so faithful, and the times apart have truly made us appreciate more the times together.

God has also granted us peace during the three miscarriages we've suffered. Though I may have felt those losses a little more deeply due to the hormones and trauma, I know Hubby grieved them as well in his own quiet, supportive way. I'm so grateful for the small kindnesses and tendernesses he showed to me during those times, even though I know his heart hurt, too.

And, oh, the blessings we've had! Three especially sweet, special ones - Monk, Tic Tac and Boo. It's a real journey learning to be a parent, and I'm glad to be sharing that journey with this man God joined me with. And we've had lots and lots of laughter along the way, as well. And I'm thankful I can honestly say that I don't remember ever having a serious argument about anything. We've been able to work through things and respect each other and enjoy each other - and he's so patient with my moodiness sometimes. That is a blessing.

Happy anniversary, honey, and I'm looking forward to many more - as long as God gives us breath. I love you, D.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.....

There is a local radio station that is playing Christmas songs 24 hours a day until Christmas. I've been listening off and on for the past several weeks, and I'm struck by how many secular Christmas songs there are. It's not unusual for several hours to go by with no mention of Jesus - the One who this season is really all about. And I don't really expect any different from a secular station.

But. Here's the thing. As I'm listening to these nonreligious, inoffensive (well, inoffensive to some, anyway) songs, I'm struck by how empty Christmas must be without a Savior. It's just so much schmaltz. And it's just so much anticipation and build up for one day. What a let down! I don't have anything wrong with some of the songs in and of themselves, really, and even like some of them. It's just that the real Christmas is so much better!

That's why we, in our family, don't "Santa." It doesn't bother me what other families do or don't do about that, but we don't, because for us, Christmas is about Jesus and the majesty of what He has done and Who He is, and I don't like to cheapen those thoughts with Santa and all that. I'm not all weird about it, we just never really did the Santa thing with the kids and it's just not part of the traditions that we're laying down.

Anyway. After listening to these schmaltzy songs and cutesy songs, I'm focusing now on a song that I think is absolutely FULL of doctrine and praise for Christ's majesty. THIS is a good Christmas song!

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled."
Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic hosts proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King."

Christ, by highest heav'n adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time, behold him come, Offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King."

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings, Ris'n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King."

While I was thinking about this song, I got out my Bible and looked up just a few of the scriptures to which it alludes.

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

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."

Matthew 2:6 "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel."

Colossians 1:15-23 "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight - if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven"

Colossians 1:26-27 "the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Wow! These verses are something to think on! The majesty of Christmas becomes more real the more we focus on Christ. And as we focus on Christ Jesus, it is not just His birth, but His life, death, and resurrection, the very thing that reconciles us to God, that ought to bring us to our knees in adoration of the King. And, I am growing very convicted that I'm not nearly concerned enough about my neighbors who only know the schmaltzy Christmas and do not know the Savior. I once heard John MacArthur say in a sermon that we witness to others in order to see more voices added to the great "Hallelujah Chorus" of praise to God. I pray that this would become my passion as well.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Good Reading

I am reading through something that my dad alerted me to by telling me it is one of the best things he's read in the blogosphere in a long time. When I read that, I had to check it out, and he's right. Nathan Finn has written a series that started with his post titled "Why I Don't Want to be a Southern Baptist Sometimes." I'm reading through his reasons and his suggested ways that local Southern Baptists can confront or fix these things. Very interesting reading. In fact, I've been neglecting some of the chores that must be done today in order to read more, because I find I'm having a hard time quitting.

His ultimate conclusion, and I agree wholeheartedly, is that we have lost or watered down the Gospel in many of our churches and preaching. So true! Why is it so hard today for preachers and teachers and lay people to correctly articulate the Gospel?

One of his first concerns is the baptizing of very young children who may have shown an interest in Jesus but may not yet be regenerate. This is one that really hits home as a mom with small children. In fact, as we're working on catechizing the boys (Boo is only 7 months old, but we'll do the same with her), I'm having some really interesting conversations with them. In fact, Monk has actually prayed "the prayer" a few years ago, but we have not pushed baptism, because we, first of all are watching for fruit and evidence of regeneration, and second of all want it to be the leadership of the Holy Spirit in his life and his faith in Christ that bring him to the altar, not our pushing him to do so. And, I do not want him putting his trust in a formula prayer but in Jesus Christ's atoning work on the cross. Last night, while working on the catechism questions, Monk said to me, "I'm a Christian." Now, I believe we should encourage every step of faith that we see the kids make, but I do not want to put words in their mouths.

So I asked him, "Why do you believe you are a Christian?"

"Because I believe in Jesus."

"What do you believe about Jesus?"

"That He died on the cross to save me from my sins."

Well, I do think this 8-year-old is learning the correct answers, but I'm waiting to see if he has the understanding of his own sinfulness and true need of a savior. I believe God is working in his heart. I also believe that when the time is right for Monk to be baptized, he will know that, too. Until then, we will continue to teach them the Bible and work through the catechism and just talk about these things. And most importantly, I am praying that God will be working in their hearts and that they will recognize His voice when He calls and respond in saving faith. I'm praying we will teach them the Gospel, not some watered down, powerless thing that will only serve to inoculate them to the truth.

And I constantly pray that we will not be lazy in this most important part of parenting. I fear that too often we are not as diligent as we must be. This is one of those areas where I really feel like a hypocrite, as I've written before. I KNOW it is important to teach our children the full Gospel, not make it mushy. But too often we get all caught up in the relentless day-to-day, and I find we've not been careful enough. I don't want to do or say anything that will make it hard for these kids to know and believe the Truth. And I want to give them the right answers when they make these steps of faith. That's why I grill them when they make those kinds of statements. I want them to really think about what they are saying means, not just spout off Sunday School answers or answers just to please mommy and daddy. I write and think about Truth all the time, but I'm not sure I speak clearly about it enough. But, I rest in the knowledge that God is sovereign and these children are in His hands. As Hubby and I are discussing these things, the children are hearing them. I know that is one powerful way that God taught me, through hearing what Mom & Dad talked about at home. Not only did they teach us, and we also learned at a good church, but they talked about these things all the time - to each other and to us. It was just a part of who they are. And that's what I want my kids to see in our home as well.

"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:6-7

School's Out, the Countdown Begins!

Great rejoicing in the land - school is over until 2007! The boys are really glad to be out on break. Monk had his big Christmas party today, Tic Tac had his yesterday, and now they are DONE. Whew. Ten whole days with the boys saying, "I wish Christmas was today," still to come. Oh boy!! I think the way we do Christmas can be hard on a little kid. Almost more excitement than they can handle.

Boo is ready for Christmas. I had the stockings hung by the chimney (not with care, mind you but with scotch tape), but the humidity keeps on making the tape lose its stickiness, so they keep falling down. I said before I'm not much of a decorator. And I'm waiting on Hubby to get some extra hooks we can put under the mantle for hanging. Anyway, Boo rolled herself over to the fireplace and I caught her examining her brother's stocking. No, we don't let her roll freely when there's an actual fire in there.

So, with the kids being ready, I guess I am, too. I'm going to try to bake cookies with the boys next week, and, even harder, I'm going to try to let them help without getting too freaked out about the mess. Maybe I'll even take pictures.....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blogging and Blood-Pressure

This whole blogging phenomenon has got me thinking today. The written word is incredibly powerful, and there is something intoxicating about sitting at the keyboard and just typing away and seeing my thoughts take form on the screen. However, one dimension of the blog that is a little disconcerting is that, though I really don't think many people will read mine, since it is out there on the web, someone might. So, therefore, I find the need to filter what I'm thinking and be circumspect in what I write. Though I've only been blogging since October, I've had numerous posts that I've written, read and re-read, finally published, and sometime later in a mad scramble returned to them to either severely edit or delete them completely. Why? Because upon further reflection I've realized how arrogant, silly, or lame what I've written may be, or because I'm afflicted with perpetual TMI (Too Much Information) disease and realize I've said too much - again.

Another thing I'm seeing in some of the blogs I read is that there is something a little bit voyeuristic about reading other people's blogs. It's like you're taking a peek inside their lives, and if you're not careful, you begin to feel you know them. You don't. You know what they write on their public blog. No matter how personal a blog may be, it is never the same as sitting down with a friend over a cup of tea and having a real, face-to-face conversation.

I see this most on the discernment blogs I read, and especially in the comments sections of these blogs. It is easy to enter the delusion that by commenting you are having a dialogue or conversation. But you're not, really, because much of the art of conversation cannot be conveyed from the anonymity of a computer keyboard. Too much is lost. You don't have the nuances of voice inflection or facial expression or the opportunity to immediately ask for clarification. I've noticed in following some of these conversations that an argument quickly can escalate in the blogosphere, where it would not have had the people been sitting down face-to-face and having a true discussion. Hubby had this experience when posting a comment on a discernment blog the other night. It was obvious from his response that the person who wrote the post didn't really see Hubby's true intent in commenting, and that he had made some assumptions about Hubby that were just dead wrong. We basically agreed with this man's post, just not the fact that he called certain fellow Christians "fools," though we agree that there is much foolishness going on. Upon re-reading this man's reply, I do see the point he's making, but I do think he was making some wrong assumptions about my husband (and I know subsequent commenters made these wrong assumptions). But, to be fair, I think that because this man gets criticism from emergent types about the name-calling, that he just assumed Hubby was one of those emergents and dismissed him at that point. Very wrong assumption. We also agreed that had Hubby and this man been sitting together having a real conversation, the exchange would have been vastly different because Hubby could have conveyed that he's on the same side of the main issue. But this was lost due to the limited medium of the blog comment format. Anyway, I've decided not to comment on these "hot-topic" type blogs because I don't want to enter the fray, so to speak. I appreciate what they are trying to do in educating us about heresy that is creeping in, and I'm glad they are doing that, but I think, at times, they are too careless about the name-calling or a little too quick at implying guilt by association as they sit behind their keyboards. Just tell us the issues in clear, concise language. There is a difference in saying someone is behaving, believing or even associating with someone else foolishly and actually calling him a fool. This has made it hard to read some of the blogs I used to respect.

Also, Tim Challies has an excellent post about why he doesn't homeschool. I'm not linking to it, because I don't want to enter that fray - and boy, oh boy, did he stir up a hornet's nest. Why is it that that issue is one that will get people on both sides all worked up? We struggled greatly with that decision ourselves, and for now we are ok with the public school for our kids. And we've been made to feel pretty badly about it by some homeschooling families we know. We're watching, paying attention and working to make sure we continue to talk to our kids and help them to know the truth, and right now they are doing fine where they are. If we ever believe God is calling us to pull them out and homeschool, we'll have to be open to that, but that is a last resort for us at this time. I know there are some school districts that I would not feel this way about and we'd have to find other schooling options, but, thankfully, where we are right now some of the issues that are of concern are not issues here. The schooling decision is one that should be up to each family's own discernment about what is best for their kids and about what God is calling them to do. But, again, Tim Challies' site is a good example of what I'm talking about. He happens to have a very well-known site, so lots of people comment, but it's still his site. He can say what he wants, and I doubt if the irate people who disagree are going to change his mind. So why do we feel the need to argue and argue and argue? On the schooling issue I think it's because we each struggle so much to come to the right decision for our family, that we sometimes cannot accept that what was right for us in our situation may not be what another family in another school district is called to. I told Hubby I'm bowing out of reading the comments sections on these blogs because I don't need the rise in my blood pressure that happens when I can see that a commenter is deliberately (or perhaps ignorantly) misinterpreting either the poster's words or another commenter's words.

I guess what I'm really saying is that I'm glad I'm not a widely read blog, and I don't want to be. I don't think I could handle the pressure of knowing that whatever I chose to write about today would be read by lots and lots of people. I'm not even sure I can handle the pressure of knowing that my parents read my ramblings!! ;-) While I don't mind if nice people occasionally drop in and visit, this is really just my little space to work out my thoughts. And if it gets to be too much, I'll delete it or shut it down and walk away from it. I spend too much time at it as it is anyway. Oh, and this post is one of those that tend to eat at me, so if you've read it and if it disappears later, you'll know I had second thoughts again. :-)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Spelling Out the Rules

Because the children have been moving like pond water the past several mornings and we have been just a bit later each day when leaving for school, and because, it pains me to say this, we have been terribly inconsistent with discipline, I've been developing a new system today. I know that kids need boundaries and consistent parenting. Unfortunately, since my kids are relatively good natured, we've become quite lax (and oftentimes downright lazy) in the discipline area, which inevitably leads to me being frustrated and ultimately angry and yelling to get the kids moving in the right direction. I realize that the kids are frustrated and angry, too, because we haven't had clear enough rules and boundaries. This, obviously does not work for anyone. It is imperative that we address this right now. We do not want to violate the principles of this scripture by not being consistent with our children: Ephesians 6:4 "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."

So, I've devised a list of house rules and consequences for breaking the rules. This will be hung on the wall next to the boys' staircase along with a traffic light picture and clothespin for each boy to be a visual of where he stands on following the rules each day. I'm really hoping that by having these things specifically spelled out and written down where we all can see them, not only will the children learn what we expect, but we will learn to be much more consistent.

The traffic light idea came from Monk's teacher. I got to take Boo and visit in his classroom yesterday and help them bake chocolate chip cookies. It was a lot of fun! Mrs. L. incorporated teaching the kids about measurements and fractions as we worked, too, so it was a learning experience as well. I've been amazed at the respect Monk has for this teacher, and after being in her room, I got a glimpse of why. She is very organized and has well-spelled out expectations for the students. I like that and I can use that at home. One reason I didn't enjoy working in a school setting way back when I was just starting out was that I had never learned how to earn the kids' respect, and they were smart enough to sense how incompetent I felt. So I am glad to use good ideas as I find them. I've always understood the fact that boundaries are needed, but now I'm finding ways to work them out practically.

O, Lord, teach us to be consistent in parenting these children. I want so much to model for them a life that is devoted to You, and to teach them Your ways. Help us not to be lazy in disciplining or in teaching them about You. It is only by Your grace that we will be the parents You have called us to be.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hope In God

"Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God."
Psalm 42:11

For some reason I'm still in that slump. I have absolutely nothing to be depressed about, and yet, here I sit. So, rather than focus on the disquiet in my soul that I cannot comprehend - because, believe me, I've tried to figure out the source and there just isn't one - I'm going to focus on scripture. I heard someone say once that we need to wallpaper our minds with God's Word. I like that. Instead of moping, think biblically. So in light of the fact that Christmas is coming, I'm thinking about the story of Simeon.

Luke 2:25-35
“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

'Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
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

And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, 'Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'"

I've always loved this passage and this faithful old man who was trusting God for the Consolation of Israel. This consolation encompasses the very deliverance from sin and separation from God. The time was right for Him to appear - when you read Daniel, you see that he prophesied the time that Messiah would come. And Simeon was in the Temple, and God granted him the eyes to see His salvation. What a blessing! Simeon demonstrated his hope in God by his devout life and with the wonderful blessing he spoke. And I especially like that Jesus is a light to the Gentiles. Praise His name - that includes me! He is truly the glory of God.

And I think, too, of Mary, pondering all these things in her heart, as Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her soul also. And yet, His suffering bought her deliverance as well. I love the line in the song "Mary, Did You Know" that says, "This Child that You delivered will soon deliver you." I'm so thankful that Christmas doesn't end at the manger, but continues all the way to the Cross. Jesus is the Light of the world, and in Him is life. Because of His grace, I can hope in God. Even when struggling with feelings I don't understand.

It's Chilly This Morning

It's chilly outside today. I'm drinking hot tea this morning in my big Starbucks Kuwait mug (a souvenier Hubby brought back from his 6 month, all expense paid visit there last year courtesy of the US Army). Neither of us like coffee, and I've never even been in a Starbucks (shocking, I know....) but this is my favorite mug - partly because it's large and can hold a lot of tea, and partly because it basically represents 6 months of our married life that we had to endure a separation from each other. Thankfully, Hubby has been home this year.

I was going to put up pictures of the boys in their shepherd costumes from the church Christmas play this past weekend, but none of them turned out very well. And the picture we took of the whole family that was going to go in the Christmas letter (if I ever get it put together - we are fast running out of time. Maybe it will have to be a New Year's letter this year), well, after looking at it, we may just be putting some pictures of the kids in the letter this year. See previous post to understand my feeling like a blob-o'-fat. It just wasn't a good day for picture taking, I guess.

But, here's a nice one from a few days ago:

Apparently we left the timer on the sprinklers and they watered the yard for us one night when the temperature went below freezing. It made for some pretty icicles the next day!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I'll Never Fit Into My Jeans Again.....

This is what temptation looks like:

We went to a Christmas party at the home of Hubby's good friend (who is also his boss) last night. They had one of these. With strawberries, pound cake squares and pretzels to dip. And warm, rich chocolate cascading from the fountain. Think fondue, but way better. So much for the diet.

We used to eat at The Melting Pot once in a while, and Hubby really liked it. He's a cheese lover. And their cheese was really good. Maybe it's a good thing our little teeny tiny corner of America doesn't have said restaurant here.

The holiday parties make it so hard to lose that last bit of pregnancy weight. Sigh.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas Carols, Tic Tac Style

So, Tic Tac is very concerned about this song they are learning at school that says something about a mountain. (I'm paraphrasing him here.) He said they don't say Jesus is Lord, they say He's bored. "What??" I said. Then I got him to describe the song. OH. So I sang "Go Tell it On the Mountain" for him. "That's it! That's the song! See it says bored!" I held back a giggle and said, "Born, honey, it says born......"

And, while we're talking Christmas songs, what exactly is figgy pudding, anyway? Tic Tac wants to know. And now that he mentions it, so do I.....

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Memories

MomRN2 is inviting us to share Christmas memories at her blog called My Quiet Corner. The memory she shares is really sweet.

One memory I have isn't so much a memory as a story I've heard all my life, since I must have been too young when it happened to actually remember it myself. Apparently one Christmas Eve when I was about 5 and my brother was 2, Mom and Dad tucked us into bed and we proceeded to go on off to sleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads. Along about 11pm, I came dragging my poor sleepy brother into the living room to the tree, just sure it was already Christmas morning. "Santa" hadn't even put out the presents yet! Mom still laughs about that one.

I also remember one year when Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle L. were driving in from Tennessee. Mom had prepared all these great treats for the supper when they would be there. Well, there was a big crock pot full of cheese dip, and my brother and I kept sneaking into the kitchen and eating the chips because it was just that good.

Another tradition we had growing up was to read the Christmas story from Luke around the Christmas tree and drink egg nog. And Grandpa would always call on Christmas Eve to tell us that he'd just heard on the news that Santa was seen entering the airspace over Florida, could we hear the sleigh bells, yet? And the firetruck with Santa that would drive through the neighborhood passing out candy canes always brought us running out the door.

But my very favorite Christmas happened 13 years ago. Hubby and I were married on December 18 - yes, we were that crazy to get married 7 days before Christmas. Needless to say, subsequent anniversaries have been shared with work or church Christmas parties. But our wedding was beautiful. Our color scheme was royal blue, silver and white, with white poinsettias and candles. Lovely! The pastor of the church in Gainesville where we met officiated, and the service was held in the church in central FL where I'd grown up. And we had Christmas music played and sung (by Hubby's brother) at our reception. Then we went to Disney World for the first two days of our honeymoon. Disney all decked out for Christmas is a sight to behold. Then on to Sanibel Island, FL for the rest of the week, and we had such a sweet time together. On Christmas Eve we drove up to my parents' house and went to the candlelight service at church and spent the night at their house.

Then after Christmas we drove back to Gainesville and the condo that Hubby had lived in before we got married. Some of his friends had been there after the wedding on their way back north and dropped off the wedding presents and "decorated" the house for us with cute little things written on the windows with shoe polish, some of the furniture turned backwards, toilet paper streamers everywhere and cute little heart shaped notes hidden all over the house. We were finding those notes until the day we moved out of that condo.

So, a week from this coming Monday, I get to say Happy Anniversary to one of my very favorite Christmas gifts.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Shepherds

Well, the Christmas season has finally arrived at our house. We're a little slower than some of the other bloggy ladies I read, but we got here. Now that my little Bah-humbug spat is over, that is. I deleted that post, for the record. It was just too cranky. Tic Tac has been pestering, I mean, asking about when we could decorate, and we finally got the tree this week and put up the ornaments last night. I must say, it is beautiful, and the weather has cooled down, too, so I'm starting to feel like it might be Christmas. Oh, and almost all of the shopping is done. Great rejoicing in the land! I've been playing my Manheim Steamroller in the car, too. Monk can't stand it - he keeps saying, "I wish today was Christmas." And I keep answering, "No, you don't, because we haven't gotten the big gift yet!" So, there we are.

I've been thinking about the wonder of Christmas the past few days. For my kids, the wonder is still in the glitter and presents - I remember what it was like to be a kid with all the anticipation. But as I've grown up, I'm really coming to be so full of wonder about the fact that Christ came to earth. It's amazing that no matter how many times I read the Christmas story, something new will strike me every time. This week I'm thinking about the shepherds. Common, ordinary, ceremonially unclean. And the angel came to them - not to the priests and the religious leaders or the political leaders but to shepherds minding their flock of sheep one night, just like they always did, and they got to experience the glory of the Lord shining all around them. And they were afraid. What an awesome sight it must have been. They got to be the first to hear of the Savior's birth. Has it ever occurred to you how incredible it is that God so beautifully orchestrates even the details? How incredible that the shepherds who were guarding a flock of sheep, some of which were probably destined to be Passover lambs, were the first to be invited to see THE Passover Lamb - the One about whom John the Baptist would say just 30 years later, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Some of the lambs the shepherds guarded that night were born to die in the Passover sacrifice. And the One they hurried to see that night was also born to die - 33 years later on a Roman cross. That is why He came, and He never veered from that mission. He glorified His Father by living ever only for God's glory, a sinless life, and then dying on that cross to be resurrected on the third day, delivering all who believe on Him from our sins. And the first ones to be told of His coming were common, ordinary, ceremonially unclean shepherds, marveling and glorifying God for the One who is the Good Shepherd and the King of Kings for all time and the final, complete sacrifice for sin. How amazing.

Luke 2:8-20 "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.'
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.' And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them."

Monday, December 04, 2006

On the Lighter Side

The sweet potatoes were scrumptious. My compliments to the chef.

This is what happens when you stick your finger in a light socket while wet after a shower. (Just kidding!!!)


Why I Changed My Name

The tea is just a tad lemony today. I made the decision last night to move the blog to a new site, change my name, and add a little more anonymity. I've taken a bit of a bloggy break for a few days, too, because my last couple of posts (now deleted) were kind of cranky.

I've been a little bit down lately for a couple of reasons. First of all, once Boo quit nursing for good, I was hit with a slump, and that really surprised me. I had a touch of baby blues after both boys were born - nothing serious, but it was there - and I thought I'd escaped that with my third. But apparently it just waited until she quit nursing to settle over me like a light fog.

Then there are the people who don't have enough to do, so they have to take it out on the rest of us. I used to work for a parachurch organization before kids came along. People used to call in to complain about the most nitpicky things or to try and make extra and unnecessary work for us. My boss would be so kind and gracious on the phone and then hang up and say, "Some people don't have enough to do." I would agree because I was usually the one who had passed the call back to her after having dealt with the person myself. I'm new to this whole bloggy world, but I'm finding that apparently there are people who have nothing better to do than to troll around to other people's sites and either leave weird comments or start arguments with blog owners with whom they disagree and enter into endless, fruitless discussion. After a conversation with someone about my site, I almost quit blogging. I was just so depressed over the whole thing. But I decided that rather than quit and give up something I've really been enjoying, I'd just edit my posts and become a little more anonymous.

Lord, help my stinky attitude today. Help me not be negative, depressed, or critical. Let me be a woman who will project Your joy!