Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Why the Last of the Baby Weight is So Hard to Lose

I have a membership at the local YMCA. I had to put it on hold while expecting little R., however, for my sciatic nerve hurt so badly I wasn't able to use the treadmill. Sorry if that's TMI. Anyway, now that Boo is 8 months old, I finally had the hold released. Problem is, the child care is only open from 8am-12pm, then opens again at 4pm. If I don't get to the Y by 8:45 at the latest, there is no more room for infants, and I don't get to exercise. Keep in mind that the boys have to be at school at about 8:10 (they are late after 8:30, but teachers want them there early to do their morning work, and I aim to please), and it takes about 20 minutes to get to the Y from there. Also, most mornings I like to walk the boys into school rather than dropping them off at carline, so I try to leave the house by 8:50 am. Try to, anyway. The boys do not have the same sense of urgency as I most mornings, to say the least. When they move too much like pond water on my gym days, they do get dropped off at carline so I can join the Amazing Race to get to the child care door at the Y before the other supermoms who do not have older kids to deal with (most of whom are also pencil thin, go figure). I am not trying to be pencil thin, just healthier, by the way.

So. I made it to the Y twice last week. Yes, twice. Here's how this week has gone: Monday morning I opened the formula can to make Boo's first bottle and realized we were precariously low on that necessary commodity. Meaning, I'd be going to the grocery store after visiting the school rather than the Y that morning. I got the turtles boys to school that morning, went back home to finish baby's breakfast which she hadn't eaten well beforehand and noticed my answering machine light was blinking. The message was from my weeping oldest child asking if I remembered that the awards assembly was that morning, was I coming? Bummer. No, I hadn't remembered. For the record, communication (or lack thereof) is a constant headache with the school, and I'd never gotten notice about what time this assembly was supposed to be, and most parents don't come anyway since it's during the school day. But it is extremely important to this child that his mom be one of the three that do show up, and I desperately want his memories of his childhood to be that we were there for him. As I finished listening to the weepy message, the phone rang again, and caller ID showed the school number. Great, I hope no one is sick. It was J.'s teacher apologizing profusely, but J. is very upset, and the assembly is in the cafeteria in 10 minutes, would I talk to him? So, I did, and I told him I'd bring R.'s breakfast and be there as soon as I could. And I was. Then I hung around 20 minutes after his assembly so I could be there for my 5-year-old's assembly as well. The look on both their faces made it all worth it. And at 10am I managed to drag baby to the grocery and get back home without any meltdowns on her part. So, no exercise on Monday.

Tuesday: Well, you can read some of that in my goofy poem. Better to laugh than cry, I always say. After driving back home for lunch box, then back home again for a jacket and carrying it into the school, in a fit of optimism I drove to the Y. The other contestants in the Amazing Child Care Room Race must have been a little slow that day, for R. got the last baby slot at 9am. I was so tired from all the running around I really didn't feel like doing much, but I managed 30 minutes on the treadmill and the leg torture devices weight machines. R. was just beginning to scream when I arrived, so, all in all, not a bad trip to the Y.

Today: Baby wakes up with nasty, nasty snotty nose. After three, yes count 'em, three trips to the Y since reinstating my membership, she caught a cold. Not surprising, I suppose. Then oldest son woke up saying, "My stomach hurts. It really hurts." No temperature, no vomiting (thankfully!), but I let him stay home. This is the most honest kid I've ever known, and he absolutely hates missing school (he's weird like me), so if he says he feels too bad to go, I tend to believe him. But there's also no TV or computer games. This is NOT a fun day for him, and he just finished the mountain of homework his teacher sent home for him to do today when I stopped in after walking younger son to class. So, I'm home today. No Y. And it's ok. It's not like I really wanted to go today anyway.....But just in case anyone wanted to know why it's taking me so long to lose the 20 pounds I said way back a long time ago that I wanted to lose, that's a big reason right there.

Thank You, Jules!

Wow! A very special thank you to Jules at Everyday Mommy for the beautiful new look she's given this blog! It looks wonderful - so refreshing. Thank you so much!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Day I've Had

I wear several hats at my house it’s true
But today, I’ll discuss with you only two.
The first hat’s title that comes to mind
Is “Rememberer of Things That We’ve Left Behind.”
This morning as toward school we did drive,
I asked, “Have you lunch boxes?” Then, oh, man alive,
The answer from middle child was, sadly, "No."
So, a big u-turn I did and home we did go.
When at school we arrived with lunch boxes in tow,
I looked up at second son and said a bit madly,
“M., where’s your jacket?” This morning had started badly.
He shrugged, and I sent him on to class with the statement
I’d return with said jacket, for winter cold showed no sign of abatement.
Back home I returned to retrieve clothing piece,
And drove back to school with jacket of fleece.

But that first hat is just one of my many addresses.
The next we discuss is “She Who Cleans Up All Our Messes.”
Yes, this one is relentless at times it does seem,
But this is what it takes to make this house gleam.
One thing that I ask, with forehead awrinkle,
Is why my two boys can’t hit potty with tinkle?
Bleach is my friend when cleaning that room,
How in the world does he get toothpaste all over bathroom?
And also, I’ve managed to get laundry folded and stacked
And delivered to boys’ room, wondering, will it be unpacked?
There’s something about little boys and clean clothes,
They’ll walk round that basket asking, "Did you wash those?"
And really I’m not meaning to whine,
For now my clean house is smelling of pine.

(Well, not pine, exactly, more like bleach and Mr. Clean, but it had to rhyme!)

That was really bad, I know.........

Monday, January 29, 2007

My 100th Post!

Well, I’ve made it to my 100th post. Somehow, it's kind of fitting that I've hit it the same week my kids hit their 100th day of the school year. So, while they've been getting their 100th day projects done, I've also been working on my post. I have to say, I’m glad my husband encouraged me on this blogging venture, though I still get nervous when hitting the post button, especially on my “weightier” topics, and I probably always will. I have a deep desire that what I write be honoring to God - even the lightweight things - and I’m actually by nature very shy and reserved, so becoming a blogger has been a little scary for me. I was going to post a picture of me with my family on this one, but we can’t seem to take one that doesn’t come out blurry. It must be time to look into a new digital camera. I’ll have to save the picture for a future post, I suppose. In what seems to be a bloggy tradition, I’ve written 100 things about me to share with anyone who may be reading. I’m not promising they are all interesting things, mind you, so if you plan to read this, you might want to grab a tea, coffee, Diet Coke or other caffeinated beverage to aid in staying awake! Here goes:

1. I am a child of the King. By God’s grace, I was 5 years old when He granted me the faith to pray to receive Jesus as my savior. My parents wisely prayed with me and then waited for God to continue to lead in my life.

2. At the age of 7, I grabbed my mother by the hand and dragged her down the aisle, because I was ready to be baptized. I went through a “Precious Lambs” class our church offered to disciple children making a profession of faith, after which I was baptized.

3. God continued to hold me, and at about the age of 12 I began to more fully understand about Jesus’ Lordship and to understand how to study my Bible and learn about Him. I’m not sure how much I understood at 5, but I know that God kept me and allowed me to grow in understanding and grace, and I know that today I am trusting in Christ’s righteousness and His sacrificial death on the cross as the basis of my salvation. Thank God, He is still holding me and I am still learning and growing in faith, by His grace, and He has kept me from ever straying too far, though I have, on occasion, done some dumb things and sinned for sure. By His grace, He will grant me the faith to persevere to the end, for my hope is in His righteousness, not my own.

4. I was born on Memorial Day. My birthday is May 31, so whenever that falls on a Monday, it is Memorial Day.

5. I grew up on the Space Coast of FL – just a short drive from Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach, and only 45 minutes from Disney World.

6. I loved going to Disney World when I was a kid!

7. I have one brother who is three years younger than me.

8. My parents still live in the same house they’ve lived in since I was one year old.

9. When rockets would launch from Kennedy Space Center, our windows would rattle, it was that loud.

10. When the Space Shuttle would re-enter the atmosphere on its way to land at Kennedy Space Center, the sonic boom would startle me so badly I’d jump about 5 feet every time.

11. On January 28, 1986, I was sitting in my 9th grade biology class when we heard the distinct rumble of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s lift off. We in the class ran to the window when someone yelled, “It’s the shuttle!” It didn’t take long for us to realize something had gone terribly wrong when we saw that smoke trail bloom from the straight line it should have been into two big, deformed clouds. As we could see debris falling away, someone in the class kept saying, “They must be parachuting out, they must be okay.” Tragically, they weren’t. That was a sad day.

12. That was also the year we all wore neon. It was the 80’s, notoriously known for some tremendous fashion mistakes. I remember the neon, because I remember how everyone looked that day when it was so eerily silent during the class changes as we could still see that abnormal smoke trail in the sky.

13. I went through the spiral-perm, big-hair phase that seemed to be required in the 80’s.

14. I played the clarinet in the junior high and senior high marching bands.

15. I took 3 years of high school Spanish, but I haven’t retained enough to be able to understand much more than “por favor” and “gracias.”

16. I was on the staff of the creative writing magazine for our high school during my junior and senior years. I really enjoyed learning how to put together the layouts, and I learned a great deal from my writing teacher, whose two favorite phrases were, “No schmaltz!” and “Show, don’t tell.”

17. During that writing class I started writing a book that has been shelved for, lo, these many years. My husband still says I need to write it. Maybe I will when the kids are grown, Lord willing. We’ll see.

18. I walked to high school until my best friend got a car, then we drove together most days.

19. After I graduated from high school, I went to the University of Florida. Go Gators!

20. I majored in Communication Processes and Disorders. Try saying that 10 times fast!

21. I met my husband at Northwest Baptist Church in Gainesville, FL when I was a junior and he had just come to UF for his graduate work.

22. He had to ask me out at least 3 times before I realized he liked me as more than just a fellow student at the university.

23. I can be a little dense sometimes. See number 22.

24. D. asked me to marry him Easter weekend of 1993. I said yes, obviously; I'm not that dense!

25. After graduating with my B.A. degree in May of 1993, I completed one semester of graduate school, specializing in Audiology.

26. D. and I got married on December 18, 1993, just one week before Christmas. I was 22 and he was 24.

27. We went to Disney World and Sanibel Island, FL for our honeymoon.

28. I quit graduate school after we got married because I was stressed out about school and we thought it might be hard to be newlyweds and both of us writing a thesis.

29. I tend to work too hard when it comes to school. I can’t seem to stop studying, and I stress myself out.

30. I got a job working for an HMO, first as a clerk and then as a claims examiner.

31. I really did not like working the phones during that job. Some of the customers and medical office managers were downright mean.

32. After D. finished his Master’s degree, he had to go to San Antonio, TX for three months of Officer Training School for his Army commitment. We drove out to Texas together, then I flew home alone and cried the whole way.

33. While D. was in Texas, I packed up the house to get ready for our move to Tampa, FL, where his new job was waiting for him.

34. We lived in Tampa for a few months before moving on out to Brandon where we’d been going to church. You can read a little about that time here.

35. We bought a miniature schnauzer and named him Oliver. He still lives with us, but he’s neurotic as can be and drives me up the wall sometimes. But he’s really snuggly and cute, too. He’s my dog.

36. We bought our first house in 1997, and it had a grapefruit tree in the backyard. That is about the only thing that would grow back there. Everything else we planted died. We thought the soil might be toxic.

37. I’m not good with plants. I forget to water them and they die.

38. I tried to go back to school and work part time as an apprentice speech pathologist, but I felt so not cut out for the job and stressed out that I threw up every morning before going to work. We decided that it was time for me to quit school for good, and to look forward with no regrets, and I went back to work for the Lutheran ministry in Tampa where I had been, and I stayed there until a month before our first child was born.

39. We went to Cancun, Mexico for our last vacation without kids in May of 1997.

40. In October 1998, our first son, J. was born.

41. In June 2000 I miscarried at 10 weeks and we grieved the loss of a baby we never got to know.

42. In April 2001, we welcomed home our second son, M.

43. On September 11, 2001, I was preparing breakfast and taking care of our two little guys while watching the Today show that morning. I stopped everything when they showed the footage of a plane flying into the World Trade Center. I was holding my little 5-month-old in my arms and watching the TV in disbelief, thinking, “What is happening?” when the second plane hit. And I cried as I watched the buildings collapse into rubble and thought of all those people who had just entered eternity, and grieved that many probably didn’t know the Lord. My friend, Charla, called right then and said, “Are you watching the news? What’s this going to mean for D.?” I hadn’t even thought that D.’s Army National Guard commitment might be called upon, but, it certainly did look like we were under attack.

44. What it meant for D. in the early days was a call to 3 months active duty guarding the Armory on the night shift. So, while he technically was still at home, he was gone all night (12 hour shift) and sleeping all day. I took the boys to the park, the mall and Chick-fil-A a lot those days, because keeping two very small children quiet all day is very hard!

45. In July 2002, D. accepted a new job in southern Indiana, and we packed up and moved. He was hoping to have a little free time to go back to school and perhaps do some teaching eventually.

46. In October, 2002, D. told me he’d quit his new job. The work environment was such that I understood he’d absolutely done the right thing. But it was scary, all the same.

47. Two days after quitting, D. got the call to go to Bosnia for a year with a Kentucky Army National Guard unit that needed someone with just his qualifications. Though I cried many hours over the impending separation, we definitely saw God’s hand in providing a job for my husband.

48. I spent that year in Indiana, found a church home, made some good friends and got as involved as I could there. I enrolled J. in preschool so that he would meet some friends, too. During what could have been a very lonely year, God used that time to teach me and grow me and strengthen my dependence on Him. I praise Him for this, too.

49. When D. came home in October 2003, we packed up the house and moved to the southeast, to our current home, because, once again, God had led him to just the right job at just the right time.

50. In September 2004, I suffered a second miscarriage at 11 weeks, and we, again, grieved the loss of a baby we would not get to meet.

51. A week before Christmas that year, D. got a call from his commander that he was slated to go to Kuwait/Iraq for 6 months.

52. I had just learned the day before that I was expecting again.

53. In January 2005, D. left for Kuwait.

54. One week later, I suffered our third miscarriage. This one was the hardest, because we had told the boys before D. left that we were expecting another baby. We told them earlier than I would have liked to because we did not want them to be confused later on when they remembered that while Daddy was gone, Mommy’s tummy got bigger and a baby came along, since I wasn’t showing yet when D. left. They had not known about the others. I had to go through 5 long, painful days of the miscarriage effects while trying to keep it together for the boys and not let them know what a hard time I was having.

55. I still get weepy when the boys ask about “the baby that died.”

56. I got to welcome my husband home in June 2005. Because he was returning from Iraq, the airline gave me and the boys special permission to go all the way up to the gate so we could meet him as he deboarded the plane, and the boys waved the "Welcome Home" signs they had made. He looked so handsome coming off that plane in his uniform.

57. In September, 2005, we again learned I was expecting.

58. Our sweet little girl, R., was born in May 2006, and what a little blessing she is!

59. I don’t like to decorate.

60. I’m not sure I’ve ever bought a pair of drapes for my house. Every house we’ve had, I’ve just lived with what was already there, because it’s always been nice enough.

61. I don’t like clutter.

62. I like my walls to be wallpaper-free. Really, my tastes are pretty simple.

63. I really like Coke Slurpees from 7-Eleven, and whenever we are in Florida, I have to get one.

64. My second favorite drink is a Diet Coke with cherry from Sonic. Love their crushed ice.

65. Oh, and tea. I drink lots and lots of tea – cold, hot, flavored and not.

66. My favorite food is Italian food – pasta, pizza, you name it. I hope we get an Olive Garden close by soon.

67. My second favorite food is nachos with cheddar cheese, refried beans and good salsa. That’s our favorite snack around here. Not the healthiest, I know.

68. I’m right-handed.

69. I really enjoy reading – especially mysteries.

70. I spend way, way too much time on the computer. Blogging has become a small obsession – does that get any better now that I’ve reached the 100th post??

71. I struggle with patience. A lot.

72. I don’t like bananas by themselves.

73. But I could eat a whole loaf of banana bread in one sitting. I don’t, but I could!

74. I used to really like music, but lately I’ve found I climb the walls if I have it on all day.

75. I love to listen to good preaching on the radio when I’m cleaning house. Two of my favorites are John MacArthur and Alistair Begg.

76. I’m a morning person. I absolutely cannot stand to stay in bed or in my pajamas late into the morning. Once I’m awake, it’s time to seize the day and get moving. Drives my kids nuts.

77. I get kind of loopy when I stay up too late.

78. Some TV shows I enjoy when I have time to watch are: LOST, Jericho, Monk, Psych, and House. I don’t watch any daytime TV at all.

79. Because neither of us are night owls, we tape most of them and watch later if we have time.

80. I like strawberries.

81. I consider eating watermelon to be an excellent way to hydrate my body. I could eat half a melon in a sitting.

82. When I’m pregnant, I can’t stand to eat chicken.

83. Green beans with butter and Creole seasoning are another favorite.

84. I don’t like going to the gym, but I love the way I feel once I’ve finished exercising for the day.

85. I don’t like taking my dog for a walk because he winds his leash around every mailbox.

86. One of my biggest fears is finding a frog or snake in the house. Gives me the willies.

87. I really like to type.

88. I always feel I’ve said too much.

89. One of my favorite phrases from a song is: “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” I find myself saying that a lot.

90. One of my favorite Bible verses is: “You will keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

91. I have lots of other favorite Bible verses, too.

92. I’m too serious a lot of the time.

93. My husband tells me often, “Lighten up, Beck.” But he says it with a smile.

94. While I love and enjoy my children greatly, I am finding that I don’t think I’m a “kid person.” I have to really work at remembering where they are coming from and not treating them like mini-adults.

95. I really like to go to the movies, but I’m finding there are fewer and fewer worth going to see these days. (Aside: We did really enjoy Night at the Museum .)

96. I like to cook, but don’t like coming up with what to cook each day. I get into a rut sometimes.

97. I’ve always wished I could be a runner, but have never wanted to do what it takes to get over the hump of learning how to run.

98. I like to have lots of big windows on my house. I don’t like feeling like I’m in a cave. Lots of light, please.

99. Sunny days can really perk up my mood.

100. I like to take the kids to the beach.

Wow. That is probably way more information about me than anyone could possibly want. If anyone is still here, thanks for reading!

Friday, January 26, 2007

How Should Christians Pray?

I’ve read a lot recently about contemplative prayer on several blogs, and after reading the storm going on over at Everyday Mommy's blog regarding an article about contemplative prayer practices, I’ve been doing some thinking and biblical searching. Before I start, I need to say that the area of prayer is one that I am working on. I am not trying to say I know everything about prayer. I also am very convicted while doing this study that I do not take concentrated time to pray often enough. Being a mom with two school age children and a baby that is up before the sun most days can make finding blocks of time for prayer challenging. But I am working on that area of my life. I do take the time every day to read my Bible, and I know I ought to be praying more as well. This is not a theological dissertation level presentation on prayer. This is one stay-at-home mom’s honest attempt to be like the Bereans and search the scripture during a time when many differing methods and ideas about prayer are being brought into the church, and we need to be discerning.

People in our culture today seem to be searching for “spirituality.” That can have all kinds of definitions depending on who is using the term. Something that is becoming more and more mainstream within the evangelical community is the idea of contemplative prayer. I’ve looked at some of the discernment ministries’ discussions of this phenomenon, and I am concerned by how similar it is to the transcendental meditation methods of the Eastern religions. Many of these ministries’ articles are written by people who were heavily involved in transcendental meditation before coming to Christ and being delivered from error, so they are more aware of subtle meanings of terms being used by the contemplatives that I might miss, having no experience with mysticism or New Age practices. Specifically troubling to me are the discussions of “breath prayer” and “entering the silence” and focusing on one word from a passage of scripture and finding the unique meaning of that word for you personally and meditating on that one word and using it as a sort of mantra.

While I wonder if some of the Christian people who use some of these terms may not mean the same thing that Eastern mysticism does by them, I believe they are playing with fire. We need to be precise with our vocabulary. If we are using the same terms that pagan religious practices use, we’d better be very clear what we mean. So, in light of these concerns, I have gone to the Bible to see what our Lord taught about prayer.

During the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6, Jesus first instructed his disciples in some things not to do while praying: 1.) Not to be like the hypocrites, praying standing in the synagogue or on the street so that they would be seen by men (this was the primary motivation). He said, rather, that they should go into their room and pray in secret, get alone with God, motivation is praying to God, not being seen by others (there are times in the Bible, too where corporate prayer is modeled, but this is specifically addressing personal prayer); 2.) Not to use vain repetitions as the pagans do. I believe the mantra type of clearing the mind of all but one word (even if that word came from a Bible passage) and repeating it over and over falls in this category. More on that in a minute.

Then Jesus gave His disciples a model prayer: (All the scripture references I use are the NKJV)
Matthew 6:9-13
“In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Not to belabor the fact, but nowhere here does Jesus begin to go on and talk about “breath prayers” or “breathing God in and my sin out” or anything like that. He simply modeled for His followers how to talk to God, for that is what prayer is. First, He focused on to Whom He prayed. Then He spoke words of praise and recognition of His holiness and sovereignty, and our prayer that God’s will be done. He acknowledged that our sustenance for daily life comes from God. He modeled that we are to ask forgiveness for sin (though Jesus had no sin of which to be forgiven, He showed us how to ask for our forgiveness), and He stressed that we are to be forgiving of others. He modeled that we are to recognize that we are vulnerable to temptation and to ask God to deliver us. Then the prayer ends with acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and glory. This prayer was given as a model of how we are to pray. Not that we are to vainly repeat these words like some mystical formula, but that we would know how to talk to God.

Something else I’d like to point out is Matthew 22:37 “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” Notice, we are to love Him with our MIND. This implies active involvement, not an emptying of all thought, as is taught in the contemplative model. When we pray and think on God’s word, we ought to be using our mind and learning what the passage we study means. Along these lines, I add that words have meaning, and they have meaning in context. We must understand the context of a passage we are studying, not focus on one word alone. The passage always goes with its context. There is nothing biblical about saying a word over and over and over until we have gone into another state of consciousness. I do not see this advocated anywhere in scripture! (Not all Christian authors I’ve read take their methods this far, but with imprecise language, the door is left open a crack for less discerning people to be led into error when teachers come along who do advocate a deep meditation that opens up the practitioner to spiritual deception.) Instead, in the book of Acts I see believers being encouraged to be like the Bereans who searched the scriptures to see if what they were being told was true. No where does it say they took a passage and read it slowly to wait for one word to jump out and then focus on that one word and search for meaning in it alone. I do not mean to imply there is anything wrong with reading a passage slowly or rereading a passage to try to get your mind around what it means. I’m talking about approaching a passage with some mystical expectation of enlightenment meant only for you. I know that God can and does use passages to teach us things we need to hear, but it is not through taking one word and repeating it over and over. It is through conviction that in some way our life is not lining up with what we’re reading and we need to change or that we need to put into practice what we are reading in our daily life.

I have read the verse in Romans 8:26 that says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” This, however, is not in response to our entering a mindless silence and waiting on His groanings. Rather, it is an ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit on our behalf because He knows we do not know what we should pray. This is a glimpse of His mercy and grace, for even in striving to pray as we ought, we do not know how, so He intercedes for us. There have been times in my life, also, when I’ve been distressed and unable to pray a coherent prayer, and quoting scripture was a great comfort at those times, and sometimes all I could manage to say was, "I will bless the Lord at all times," or "Help, Lord, I feel so overwhelmed." I know that the Holy Spirit did intercede for me, even when I couldn’t voice my prayer, but I did not look for some mystical experience from the words of scripture He used to comfort me, I just expressed my faith that He is in control. I am deeply grateful for the grace He grants us, and that I don't have to word every prayer exactly right. But I do want to be careful to avoid areas that I know would not be pleasing to Him or that would seek to incorporate pagan methods to come to Him.

Also, as I’ve looked in the Old Testament, anytime prayers are recorded or talked about we don’t see someone repeating a mantra and going into a silence of emptied thought. The Psalms are also recorded prayers. In none of them do I see the type of meditation advocated that is being taught through the contemplative prayer movement, which basically looks to be a form of transcendental meditation with Christianized terms layered on top. Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The first part of this verse is often used by those advocating we “enter the silence.” But I am looking at the context of this verse, and it is not the silent, empty the mind of all thought kind of stillness that is being talked about. For the context, read all of Psalm 46. It is a discussion of how God is the refuge of His people, while the nations are raging. As the nations war and rage, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Point being, He is sovereign even over the nations, and He will still their rebellion. Another point being, His people do not need to panic, for He WILL be exalted in all the earth. Again, to use this as an invitation to enter the silence of Eastern meditation is a faulty reading of this verse.

As to the idea of “breath prayers,” I admit I’m not sure what some of the Christian authors mean. If all they mean is praying quick prayers throughout the day as God brings things to mind, then I don’t see a problem with that. I do pray that way often. When the name of a friend I’ve been praying for crosses my mind, I often stop what I’m doing and go to God again. Or when I see a beautiful sunset, I might stop and thank God for the beautiful world He has made. And I often quote scripture verses and pray throughout the day. But there is nothing mystical in my breath, and I don’t quote them with a supernatural belief that the words themselves have power over my situation like a magical charm. I’m just talking to God throughout the day, trying to maintain an attitude of prayer and to order my thoughts biblically. However, if something else is meant, then it warrants closer scrutiny. I think this is one area we need to be very specific about what we mean.

Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
Because our God is a consuming fire, it is important that we offer acceptable worship and not allow ourselves to partner with darkness that would masquerade as light. The contemplative prayer model is basically repackaged Eastern mysticism, and that opens people to real spiritual forces of darkness. We must steer clear of paganism and offer undefiled worship to our God. I believe many Christians who are exploring this method have good intentions and really want to be closer to God, and I also think that not all of them have totally advocated the emptying of our minds, for many talk about filling the mind with scripture (which is a good thing to do), but I pray they will do some searching and look at the roots of the contemplative method. I’m just saying we need to be very careful to define our terms scripturally and not yoke ourselves with questionable practices or open the door for error by not being careful. Uzzah had good intentions, too, when he put out his hand to steady the Ark of the Covenant as it slipped from the cart on which it was being carried (not God’s prescribed method of transporting it, by the way), but God struck him dead for touching the Ark. Read it for yourself in 2 Samuel 6.

Also, it seems in reading about some of the contemplative models that the practitioners are seeking closeness with God and inner peace. In Philippians 4:6 it says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding , will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Again, we're not being taught some mind-emptying approach to prayer. We're being taught to come to Him with thanksgiving and bring our requests before Him. And He will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. I am so thankful that He will guard my heart and mind, for I know my heart can be deceitful. We are not being taught to adopt some method for finding "stillness."

So, as for me, I will seek to pray as our Lord taught us and diligently seek to avoid all appearance of evil. And I’ll try to be careful in the terms I use, as well. I’m also not saying we will all look and sound like little robots in our praying. There is much freedom within the model we are given to express our prayers from our various personalities, so long as we do not engage in practices that would mix false worship methods with true. I do believe that prayer is just talking to God. I don't think we have to narrowly follow a formula each time we pray, but we should keep our prayers within the parameters of what the Lord taught about it. I don't think there is anything wrong with short prayers throughout the day, but we must always, always approach God with an attitude of reverence and thanksgiving for His awesome grace, recognizing that it really is all about Him. When I began thinking seriously about the high cost Jesus paid on the cross that allowed me, through faith in Christ, the privilege of entering the court of Heaven with my prayers, it changed how I thought about prayer. It has made me much more reverent in how I come before Him, but I am also thankful for His grace which allows me to talk to Him personally and to be able to know Him as my heavenly Father. I also freely admit that there are things about prayer I don’t understand, and I want to keep learning, within the bounds of scripture.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Because My Brain Feels Like Mush, I've Written a Poem

Today I’m feeling slightly off and glum.
My writer’s block has made my mind go numb.
Our little one won’t take a nap this day,
And I must get my chores out of the way.
I dusted, swept and mopped, while round the room
Boo rolled and fussed and screamed at the vacuum.
She finally sleeps, I hear no peeps
I take some time to write this rhyme.
What’s this I see through yonder window pane?
The sun is bright, gray skies begin to wane!
When Boo awakes I think we’ll walk a while
Our trips outside can always bring a smile.
Perhaps a sunny jaunt is what I need
To fix my mood and bring me up to speed.
For now this post will have to do
My brain is tired today, it’s true.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Enough, Already....

If you knew how many times this conversation took place at my house, you'd cry with me:

J. "Curious George is a monkey."

M. "No, he's not. He's a chipmanzee." (Spelling error is intentional. This is how he says it.)

J. "The man in the yellow hat calls him a monkey."

M. "He doesn't have a tail. Chipmanzees don't have tails. He's a chipmanzee."

J. "He's a monkey."

M. "Chipmanzees are part of the monkey family, but he's a chipmanzee."

J. "No he's not. Everyone calls him a monkey."


I'm going slowly out of my mind. I've stopped intervening in the great debate, for it Just. Never. Ends.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Five-Year-Old's Sense of Humor

In search of a lighter topic:

M. thinks he's pretty funny. And so do we, but not always for the reasons he thinks, but we laugh a lot around here.

Here's his idea of a really funny knock, knock joke:
M.: "Knock, knock."
Me: "Who's there?"
M.: "Aren't you glad I didn't say banana?" Lots of laughing.
Me: "Um, I think you forgot part of the joke."
M.: "Nuh-uh. That's how it goes."
Me: "Oh, okay. Ha, ha, ha...."

Also, we never know just what he'll turn up wearing. One day he could be Zorro riding the neighborhood on his trusty old too-small bike, another he could be some weird combination cheesehead person with his "mad face." That one had me rolling when he came up to me wearing it.

Another thing that both boys, but especially M., think is just hysterically funny is trying to scare Mommy by putting a toy snake, frog, or bug on my pillow when I'm not looking. M. is really good at this, because he'll sneak into my room and never say a word before he goes to bed. I never even know he's been in there at all until I go to bed later and there it is.

Most of the time I just see the latest treat and laugh, but the other day M. got me good. When I pulled back the comforter, a black lizard leaped out at me. I yelled, and once my heart slowed a bit, I looked, and, sure enough, it was plastic. It had been placed just right to flip off the blanket when I moved it. My husband laughed so hard to think about M.'s sneakiness finally paying off and he didn't even get to see it. When we told M. the next day that he really had scared me that time, he thought it was hilarious. Meaning there have been even more creepy crawlies left on the pillow since.

As long as they never, ever, ever get the bright idea of using a real snake skin or live creepy thing, we'll be ok. I'm not sure my heart could survive the real thing.

Writer's Block

I've been facing a bit of writer's block (blogger's block??) since yesterday. In fact, I did write out the thing that is heavy on my heart, but decided it is not something I ought to put out here in detail, due to the fact I'm trying not to be publicly critical and complaining. Suffice it to day we are still struggling with some things at our church and that I have spent much time crying over them. I am convicted that I need to be spending as much or more time praying over them as I am crying about them, however, so I won't go into details here again. That will be for my personal prayer journal. I am also a little nervous, but also encouraged, because my husband is planning to take some of the specific concerns to the pastor when the opportunity arises and be blunt about what his concerns are. I'm praying for my attitude and that I would be obedient to God in how I think and act on this, and for my husband to have the right words at the right time, and for the pastor to be able to hear him, because we really do want God to be glorified through this church body. And we really do want people to be hearing the truth explained well whenever the church doors are opened so we can truly be equipped to live out our faith in the community. We are encouraged, too, because yesterday afternoon D. talked with another deacon at the church who seems to be becoming aware of some of the same issues independently of us. As they talked, D. was really encouraged that perhaps there is still hope for our church.

It is also encouraging that the pastor is supporting a massive curriculum change in the Sunday School that will affect babies through adults. It is doctrinally sound and teaches the Bible more chronologically and shows how God's plan throughout scripture fits together and how all scripture is connected. This is very different from the traditional way of teaching a story here and a story there, but never spelling out why it is all important together as HIS story, and how a proper understanding of the Bible leads to a proper understanding of Who God is and of the atoning work of Christ. I'm excited about that. So, I'll be spending some time in prayer today, for sure, and I hope to spend less time complaining on my blog and saving that for the private prayer journal.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Why I Blog

I’ve been thinking a bit about why I write this blog. Part of the reason is that after years of my husband saying, “That’s a good thought. You should start a blog and write about it.” I finally got over my fears of “being on the web, anybody could read my stuff, and then they could find us and you never know just who is out there” and jumped in. And, let’s face it, if I deep down didn’t want anyone at all to read what I’ve written I’d just get a notebook and keep a private journal. I do a little of that, too, but not as much. I seem to be able to get my thoughts out better behind a keyboard than with pen and paper.

So, my reason for blogging is that I like to write. I really, really like to write. And I needed a place to spill some of my thoughts. I try hard to make sure the spiritual thoughts I share are doctrinally correct, and if I learn I’ve gone off the rails in that way, I’ll make every effort to correct it. But my purpose in writing those thoughts is not to instruct or teach, but to work out my own understanding of things I’m pondering. So, in that way, those more serious posts are personal devotions, I guess. But, obviously, I don’t mind sharing, or I wouldn’t blog. At the same time, I’m not looking to argue with anyone. That’s why I don’t go to some of the more contentious blogs and enter the fray and argue in the comments sections. I just write what I believe, again, making every effort to stay within the bounds of scripture. Hopefully, I’m not saying offensive things, but if someone disagrees with me, that’s okay. But not all my posts are serious and heavy thinking. Sometimes I like to just write about my kids or my “Front Porch” everyday kind of thoughts. These, too, I try to keep within the bounds of scripture, but they are just thoughts about everyday kinds of things.

Something really neat is that Blogger is free! It’s been nice to have an outlet, that’s for sure, and I’m really glad it’s not costing us financially. Though, I’m finding I do need to find a balance. I’ve been on the computer too much lately, so it sometimes does have that hidden cost of time spent blogging that probably should have been spent elsewhere.

One reason I’m on the computer too much is that I’ve found several blogs I really have enjoyed reading. It is a lot of fun finding other women out there who think about serious things, too, and also to read their fun posts about how they enjoy their families as Christian moms should. This has become a real treasure for me. And there are other blogs I like to read, too, that may be more of a deeper thinking, teaching sort. I’ve learned much from them, as well.

So, why do I blog? Because I needed a place to write out my thoughts, and because I enjoy sharing them to a small extent. I’m glad my husband encouraged me on this venture, and I’m glad he’s still encouraging me. There have been a few posts I’ve saved to draft and asked him to read before I hit that scary post button. Hopefully, he’ll help me to reign in my too much information tendency. And I blog because I enjoy it, and I’m enjoying finding other treasures on different blogs I read. I also like to leave a comment now and then when a post someone has written has touched me in some way and to encourage that writer that what they said was worthwhile. And I appreciate the kind comments that are left here, too, though I don’t always respond. I appreciate all of them. And I’m, most of the time, glad I listened to Hubby’s advice and started writing.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Fears in the Night

Our middle child is fanciful, creative and very imaginative. This makes for a lot of fun. During the day. Unfortunately, his very active imagination has a big downside, and that is his fear at night. For a few weeks now, he has had a real struggle with what he calls "bad thoughts" when he is trying to settle down at night. When we ask what kind of bad thoughts he's having, it's usually that he is afraid monsters are either under the bed, in the attic (access door in his room), or in the part of the bookshelf with the closed doors (we've started letting him leave those doors open). We aren't sure what has brought on this sudden fear of monsters ("munsters"), because we've always been careful what he is allowed to watch and we try very hard not to talk about anything scary with him close to bed time, but we certainly don't laugh at his fears. It would be easy, as rational adults, to downplay them, but I remember how scared I used to be at night, and at 5-years-old, those fears are very real. In fact, there are times I struggle with fear in the night, though my fears aren't monsters like M.'s. When I was younger, I used to love to watch certain shows that now, years later, the scary feelings from them get stuck in my head at times. So, I don't laugh at M.'s fears.

So, we've been trying to talk him through these fears and we've been praying with him a lot about them. We tell him that Jesus is bigger than any of the fears and that there are no such things as monsters and that Jesus will take care of him. We've also taught him to get a book and look at it to try to turn his thoughts elsewhere. And I always leave a light on downstairs so he doesn't have to creep around a pitch dark house if he does get up at night.

We've been teaching M. some scripture verses lately, too, to help him to remember that God is real and that He will care for him even when he feels afraid. These are scriptures we are reading to him and also claiming for him:

Psalm 23:4 "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (The boys are learning the whole Psalm, but we're especially emphasizing this verse with M. when he is scared.)

Proverbs 3:21-26 "My son, let them not depart from your eyes--
Keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught."

Psalm 4:8 "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety."

Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

One night M. came down a little after we had put him to bed just in tears and crying so hard it was difficult to understand him. We got him calmed a bit and asked what was wrong and he said, "I'm afraid I don't believe in Jesus."

We asked him why he thought that, and he said that he keeps praying, but he still feels afraid. I took him up in my lap and just hugged him. D. said, "You know, M., the fact that you're afraid you don't believe in Jesus is a pretty good sign that you really do believe Jesus exists. If you didn't believe He hears your prayers, you wouldn't care."

"Really?" M. said. Then we told him he needs to believe God is in control, prayed with him again and took him back up to bed. I hurt for him struggling through his fears, but, at the same time, I was a little excited by this exchange because he tends to be pretty quiet about spiritual things, and this was really the first serious indication I've had that he is thinking over what we're teaching him and processing it. It is also a difficult thing to get across to him that God is not a genie to just grant us anything we ask. We are created for His pleasure, not the other way around. M. thinks if he prays for his fears to go away, that if he still feels afraid, then God must not be listening. We're trying to teach him to trust God even when he feels afraid - to understand that God is in control and will help him get through the fears. This is so hard for a 5-year-old to comprehend.

Last night, M. told his daddy that, while he believes God will take care of him, just in case he's going to sleep with the covers over his head tonight. Why? Because that way, the monsters can't see him.

We continue to trust our loving God to draw these children to Him, in His time. And we continually pray for the wisdom to teach them the truth correctly. We also pray the Holy Spirit will prick their hearts and enable them to understand the scripture we teach them and that they will learn to place their trust in Christ alone, for it is only in Him that we are freed from fear.

Goin' On a Treasure Hunt

I'm a little slow in posting this, but Everyday Mommy is hosting a nice thing on her blog. It's a Hidden Treasure blog awards. So, if you've found some meaningful, funny, faithful, interesting posts at some of your favorite, but maybe not as well-known blogs, then check out the rules here and get ready to submit your nominations. You can also start hunting by looking at blogs that are new to you and searching the archives for nuggets of treasure. I've already started making my list!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Tomorrow Mentality

"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." James 4:13-17

Lately I've found myself to be a "tomorrow" or a "one day" kind of person. You know, as in, "Tomorrow I need to spend some serious time in prayer about some things I'm dealing with." Or, "I really need to call so-and-so, but I'm busy right now. I'll do it tomorrow." Or, worse, "The kids really need me to sit and spend some quality time with them, but I'm washing the dishes right now. I'll do it later." Ouch.

In the three years we've lived in this town, I've spent an awful amount of time complaining about the town, our church, the fact that I haven't really made any true friends since we've been here, etc. I've also spent a fair amount of time wishing we were somewhere else. My mentality has been, "Well, I'll mark time here for now and one day it will get better." That's not the right attitude to have. My first experience with this town was when I came down with my husband for his initial job interview. That took place immediately upon his return to the states from a year of active duty in Bosnia. I met him in Kentucky when his unit flew in, and the two of us drove south for his interview, which he had set up through e-mail conversations with the man who became his current boss. He didn't even get to go home and see the boys first (we lived in Indiana then). When we visited here, I was less than impressed and didn't want to move here, but D. needed a job, and this was really a dream job in his civilian career, and the Army only pays some of the bills, seeing as it is his "part-time" job. So, sitting in that hotel room, listening to D. talk about what a great interview it had been and how the job was just perfect, I asked, "So, it looks like you're going to get an offer, huh?" And I truly was excited for him. I just wasn't as excited about the location. But two weeks later, we were moving in to our new house, and now it has been a little over 3 years. This is where submission can be hard! Don't get me wrong, this is a beautiful part of the country. It's just a much smaller town than I had ever lived in before, and I am so not used to not having a mall and all the amenities a larger city can provide, and the Lord has really worked on me about the church issues as well, and we are still praying over some of them, as I've posted in the past. But the way the whole thing came about, it was just obvious that God had provided this job for D. and that this was the right move. That's why my feelings about it have been such a hard thing for me to work through. Though, slowly, slowly the Lord is teaching me things and I'm learning to be thankful we moved here.

Anyway, while indulging my attitude about our new home, I have not done what I ought to do. I have gotten involved at church, but I've held people at arms' length. There is a young mom I know I need to reach out to, but I've been procrastinating. I don't know anymore why I'm having such a hard time reaching out, but it is a struggle. Also, in light of my post yesterday, I am really convicted that I've had an attitude of taking for granted that we have lots of tomorrows. We may, but, then again, we may not. Only God knows for sure. For us to assume we can count on tomorrow is the height of arrogance. I do know that God has written all the days He has fashioned for me. He knows the days of my life. But I am not guaranteed tomorrow. So, for me not to do today what I know is right and put it off until tomorrow, is to sin. It is essentially not to do what I know to do, because it seems I usually don't ever get around to most of those "tomorrow" things. And to assume that I have all the time in the world to catch up with old friends is also the height of arrogance. The time to do that is now.

So, I'm going to make a phone call right now and set a time to get together with that young mom I know that needs some encouragement. How about you? What have you been putting off until tomorrow?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Satisfying My Blog Fix Now That I'm Home

As the boys' school was out yesterday and today, and since we did not go to Florida over Christmas break, we decided to take a quick weekend trip down to see my parents. We left on Saturday morning and got back tonight, and I'm in blogging withdrawal, so thought I'd at least post a short one this evening, though I'm so tired that it won't be anything very deep.

This was probably the first time we've been there that the boys were old enough to actually care that this is the town I grew up in, so we took them around and showed them the mall and, more exciting for them, Ron Jon's Surf Shop and Cocoa Beach. They each got a Ron Jon t-shirt, M.'s has pirates on the back and J.'s has the space shuttle. Very fitting if you know these boys. We also found some Florida Gators National Championship t-shirts at my favorite store, Target. The boys and D. also got to enjoy swimming in Grandma and Granddad's pool and J. had a blast on the slide. The water was a bit cold for R. and me, so we just watched.

Jeff Foxworthy would probably say we are rednecks. You might be a redneck if you've ever spent an hour at a table at the hamburger grill at the Daytona International Speedway feeding a squirming 8-month-old. Let me explain. I do not think it would be possible to be less interested in NASCAR than I am, but my oldest son thinks he wants to be a race car driver when he grows up, so, since we were driving right by the exit to the Speedway on our way home today, we stopped so the boys could see it. I must say, it was pretty impressive when those cars zoomed by on their practice laps. And the boys enjoyed being there. Now they want to go to an actual race. I told them that will have to be a "Daddy and the boys" trip someday. J. told his teacher the other day that he wants to be a NASCAR driver, and Mrs. L., who thinks J. is really smart, told him he should be a race car driver on the weekends and a doctor or something during the week. J. said he'd rather be a doctor or something on the weekend and drive a race car during the week. Sure hope he outgrows that ambition!

Anyway, we had a good visit and the boys and R. were very well behaved until R. decided about an hour from home this afternoon that she had had enough of her car seat and started screaming nonstop until we could get out at a rest area and let her stretch a bit. So, we're glad to be home and glad we had a nice visit with my parents. And it's off to school tomorrow and back to real life.

Friday, January 12, 2007

School Lunch

Last year, school lunches were fairly simple. I made J.'s lunch everyday except pizza day or beef & cheese nacho day, when he would buy. Without fail. Now that M. has joined the school scene, we've gotten a little more adventuresome on which days school lunch will be bought. M. has done a lot to help J. get out of his "Monkishness" and try some new things. (By the way, Monk starts again next Friday night on USA, if you're interested.)

Anyway, this new spirit of adventure was the reason the boys decided to try meatball subs yesterday for lunch. I thought it sounded pretty good. So, when I picked them up and we were driving to piano lessons, I asked them how lunch was. Both agreed that the meatball subs were good. Or to quote M. "Mmmmmm!" with raised eyebrows.

Then J. told me, "It was good, but one of my meatballs fell out and rolled on the floor."

Then M. said, "Yeah, my sub exploded and all my meatballs fell out, but they landed on my tray."

I started laughing. And couldn't stop. I just got this image of about 400 elementary kids at lunch with exploding sandwiches and meatballs rolling all around the cafeteria. Bet they rethink that lunch idea.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Check Out This Link:

This post was interesting. It kind of exposes the seeker-sensitive way we present the Gospel and how we miss the mark in leading people to believe that "all they have to do" is pray a "sinner's prayer." It is important to tell people the truth about sin, God's wrath and anger at sin, man's lostness in his sin, and the Good News of Jesus' incarnation, sinless life, death on the cross and resurrection - His sacrifice that has satisfied God's justice and paid the price for our sin. It is only in His righteousness that we have any hope. Apart from Christ we are hopelessly lost and in bondage to our sin. In other words' we need to get it right. That is something I strive to do when talking about the Gospel with my children. I do try to use words they will understand, but I don't want to ever dumb it down and tell them essentially an untruth by not giving them the whole truth.

A Winter Day

A composite of the type of conversation I have on any given chilly morning during the winter:

Me: "J. and M., wear long pants and long sleeves. It's cold out today."

One or the other boy: "Can I just wear long sleeves and shorts?"

Me: "No, it is winter. It is cold. Wear jeans. There are clean ones in the laundry basket you passed 5 times on your way upstairs yesterday afternoon."

Now, we've had breakfast and are getting ourselves to the car:

Me: "Guys, put your jackets on, it's cold out."

One of the boys: "Do I have to wear a jacket? It's already in my backpack, and I have long sleeves on. I always get hot."

Me: "Yes. You must wear a jacket. There is frost on the ground outside. It is winter. Put. It. On. Now."

Sulky looks, but the jackets go on.

Now we are at school and climbing out of the car.

One of the boys: "It's cold out here."

Me: "This is what I'm saying." Mentally smiling and trying not to scream.

Question of the Day - Fire Safety

I've decided the question of the day is : When was the last time you were a.) glad you owned a fire extinquisher, b.) wished you owned a fire extinguisher or c.) wished you knew just for the life of you where in the world you had put the fire extinguisher when you moved into the new house? I'll be answering c.

A time I wished I had known where in the world our fire extinguisher was:

Before I go any further, it is important to note that my oldest son is extremely nervous about fire safety. Anytime they discuss it at school, we go through weeks of questioning about the smoke alarms (do they work, will I hear it, what if I don't hear it, etc.) So, we try to reassure him ("Honey, we're very careful, the house isn't going to catch fire. That's pretty rare. Yes, we check the smoke detectors often.") J. has even drawn out a fire safety plan for his Cub Scout project.

Well, not long after we had moved into this house, hubby was away for a meeting or drill or something (I don't remember) and I decided I would make pizza for dinner. I happily fixed the dough and popped it into the oven for 5 minutes. Then I took my pizza stone (Pampered Chef, of course) out of the oven, placed it on a pot holder on my counter (didn't want to scorch the new counters....) and put on the sauce, cheese and toppings. Then the pizza stone went back into the oven.

A few minutes later, I looked over at the stove. You know how one burner is open to the oven? Well, my teapot was on that burner and there was "steam" coming from under the teapot. I said, "Why is steam coming from under the teapot?" and picked it up. It wasn't steam. About that time the smoke detector in the kitchen went off, thereby setting off every other smoke alarm in the house. J. came running in to find me throwing open the oven door and smoke billowing out. I went running for the baking soda after turning the oven off and dumped the whole box on the flames. Then I got the smouldering mess out and realized that when I had put the pizza back in, I was wearing my oven mitt and didn't realize I had grabbed the pot holder under it, too. That's what caught fire.

The hardest part of the whole ordeal was having to stay extremely calm myself while frantically trying to get the fire out with the very loud smoke alarms blaring and blaring, because J. was watching with saucer-like eyes and getting more and more worried and throwing all kinds of questions at me. Needless to say, I did get the fire out, no one was hurt, but the smoke alarms blared for a while until I could get the house aired out. At it did wonders at setting back all our reassurances for J. But I think it helped him to know that there is NO WAY he could sleep through that racket and that I kept my cool and didn't panic. That's only by God's grace, too.

So, I'm still having a hard time getting all that baking soda out of the oven, but, thankfully, no one was hurt, and no real damage was done.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday - Two Recipes My Kids Like

With this light and healthy themed Works For Me Wednesday, I’m trying my first entry in this blog carnival. In my husband’s civilian, real, full-time job (as opposed to his Army Reserve sideline), he works in cardiac and pulmonary rehab and diabetes management, so he is pretty up on current healthy eating research. He came home from a conference recently and now he’s got us working towards a Mediterranean diet (lean meats- but not every day, fish, whole grain breads or pastas, olive oil, lots of veggies and some fruit, as a very brief summary) and smaller portion sizes. This isn’t a scripted diet like South Beach, it’s more just a healthy way of eating. I’m finding that in weight control, portion size is definitely the key. Anyway, these two recipes fit in nicely, and my kids like them (always a plus). I don’t know if they always would have liked them or if they are just getting used to the weird things I fix in the on-going effort to be healthier and lose that pregnancy weight plus another 10 pounds.

Black Beans and Yellow Rice

This is super easy and my kids love it.

1 package yellow rice mix (what size mix you use depends on how many you are feeding, obviously)
1 can black beans (you’ll need more than one can if you have a bigger family)
1 can chicken breast (white meat only) or you can cook as many chicken breasts as you need and shred the meat, but I usually just used the canned because it’s easier.

Prepare yellow rice mix according to package directions, but add the shredded chicken when you pour the rice into the boiling water. In separate pan warm black beans.

That’s it! Serve black beans over the rice and chicken mixture. You can add cheddar cheese, but remember that adds fat! So I usually don’t. My kids love this meal, and it’s quick and easy to fix. I usually will serve it with steamed broccoli and a salad with light dressing, and some fruit for dessert.

Pasta G Viola

We had this last night, and, surprisingly, my boys really liked it! It comes from a vegetarian cookbook I bought just to be nice to a girl who had come to our door with a fundraiser, but I’ve found many recipes in it I like: CHOICES: Quick & Healthy Cooking by Cheryl Thomas Peters

1 Pound vermicelli or angel hair pasta (I use whole wheat pasta)
2 T light olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
10 Garlic cloves, minced
4 cups precooked cannolini beans or white kidney beans, undrained (I used two cans cannolini beans)
Salt to taste if desired (when I used canned beans, I don’t even need to add any salt)
Parmesan cheese, for garnish if desired

1. In a large saucepan, start water for pasta.
2. In large skillet, combine olive oil and onion and cook over high heat until the onion is lightly browned. Add garlic and cook gently for an additional 3 minutes, but do not brown onion or garlic any further. Add precooked beans with liquid and return to a boil. Lower temperature and simmer for 5 minutes. (Additional water can be added to this sauce at this time if necessary.). Add salt to taste, if desired.
3. Put pasta in boiling water during the 5 minutes that the bean sauce is simmering. Cook pasta to the al dente stage and drain. On individual plates put a thin layer of pasta and top with a generous portion of bean sauce. Be sure to drizzle the bean liquid over the pasta to add flavor. 4. Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan chesse, if desired, and serve immediately. This dish tastes wonderful without any cheese.

I serve this with broccoli or another green vegetable. It is also good with a crusty bread like French bread, but we’re cutting out unnecessary carbs, so we don’t do the bread.

Check out Rocks In My Dryer for more Works For Me Wednesday recipes today.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

On the Lighter Side

Go Gators.
Florida: 41 Ohio State:14
Okay, I know that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter one bit that my team won the National Championship last night.
But it was fun to watch! Let me rephrase. It was fun to watch the first quarter and then spend the second quarter dozing on the couch until half-time and wake up every now and then to ask my husband, "What, what did they do?" I went to bed at half time, which was around 10:30pm, because I knew Boo would be up at zero dawn thirty this morning like she has been every morning for the last 2 weeks. But she's sleeping in today, what do you know? Thanks, Boo! Anyway, when D. finally came to bed last night I opened one eye and said, "So, did they do it?" And he said, "Oh, yeah. 41-14." Then I said, "Oh, good. I'm so glad." And promptly fell asleep again.
So, while I wouldn't have lost any sleep whether the Gators won or lost, I'm pretty glad they won. And now, breakfast must still appear on the table shortly, and boys must be gotten ready for school, and I have lots to do around here today. So, I think I'll take a bit of a bloggy break for the rest of today. Unless I just have something I have to say. This is my primary source to vent these days. Note to self: Less public blog venting. That is what the purple notebook is for.
And on that note, there's Boo making her morning wake-up noises.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Christian or Christ-Follower?

Jules at Everyday Mommy is encouraging us to be Thinking Christians. To which I say, "Amen and amen!" She references a video produced by Community Christian Church in the Chicago area then asks for comments on this parody of the Mac vs. PC commercials which puts a "Christian" in the role of the PC and a "Christ-follower" in the role of the Mac. You can see the link to that video in her post "If Pastor Bob Says It's Okay Then It Must Be Okay." This sort of piggy-backs off my recent posts about discernment and my feelings of hypocrisy, so I thought I'd tackle answering the questions she asks.

Her questions and my responses are:

1. How is the Christian portrayed? Favorably or unfavorably? How is the Christ Follower portrayed? Favorably or unfavorably?

The Christian is portrayed as a stereo-typical Independent Fundamental type with a heavy stack of dry, boring books and rule manuals with KJV only Bible on top, and bumper stickers inside his suit so everyone will know he is a Christian. It's meant to be quite unfavorable. The Christ Follower is portrayed as cool and relevant, your best buddy, very likable and totally unencumbered by all the books and "stuff" of the fundamentalist. It's meant to be favorable and approachable.

2. What message is the video attempting to convey about those who use the name Christian?

Uncool, not relevant, reads too much, too interested in his image and wanting to be known as Christian. Not approachable. Proud, arrogant, etc. A Pharisee.

3. What audience is this video attempting to reach?

Young and/or disaffected with church or Christianity. Those who associate Christianity with the stereotype presented by the "Christian." To some extent I can agree with the sentiment behind this, for I think some groups have done damage to our witness by being too much like this stereotype and not as loving as we ought to be when sharing the Gospel. There is a group around here that stand on the corners around the "Historic Downtown" area and wear sandwich boards and wave KJVOnly Bibles and shout. I'm not real sure how effective this really is. There was someone like that in Gainesville when I was a student at the University of Florida who would do the same thing in the Plaza, and when we walked by on our way to class, he would point a finger at us (yes, at me once, too) and shout, "Slut! Jezebel!" I guess because I was wearing pants, and modest clothing, at that? Anyway, I used to think, "How dare he? I am a Child of the King, and he doesn't know me at all!" So, if I, a real Christian would bristle at this, how much more so someone who is still in rebellion to God and hasn't been reached with the Gospel? Then he would "preach" and all that I ever saw come about was that large groups of sceptics would crawl out of the woodwork to debate him. I never once heard honest discussion with someone who was under true conviction. So. Point being that I do understand the sentiment of wanting to reach out to the disenfranchised, but I do NOT think we should compromise on what the Bible says to do it.

4. Is this just a case of semantics? Are Christians, after all, simply Christ Followers? What do you think?

I guess a case could be made that it is a case of semantics - after all, Christians are to be followers of Christ. However, having read quite a bit of what is going on in the current postmodern scheme of doing church, I don't think that's really all that is meant by the term. What I'm seeing in most of the instances where this term is being thrown about is an attitude of, "Hey, we're all on this journey together. You follow Christ the way you see fit, and I'll do the same, and we'll agree to be tolerant of each other and agree to disagree on certain things." Also, I don't hear much talk at all about repentance, God's wrath (and no, it is NOT just an Old Testament concept!) or the need to die daily to ourselves and take up the cross and follow Him. The kind of following that seems to be alluded to is more a "let's all just get along, and it's okay if you want to live however you want as long as you are nice to people and claim to follow Jesus." I wouldn't presume to say that this particular church means that with their video, just that this is what I tend to see when people use these false types of comparisons.

I say false comparison, because there are many of us who truly believe that the Bible is God's Word and that we need to be reverent before a holy God, but who are not like the stereotype offered up in this video. I do think as we become more and more casual, we are losing our reverential awe and respect for God's absolute holiness. When one becomes a Christian, yes, he will ultimately become a Christ-follower in that as the Holy Spirit works in us we will begin the walk of sanctification that will lead to our behavior coming more and more in line with obedience to His Word. But here's what I tend to see among the post-modern type of thought portrayed by this hip, cool, casual approach: they tend to be fairly worldly in their approach. Yes, we should understand the culture we live in, but we should not embrace the things in that culture that dishonor God - coarse speech, flippant attitude toward holy things, loving the things of this world too much, and a willingness to not call sin what it is - sin. And that is what I tend to see. So, yes, there is a difference. A Christian is one who understands that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father apart from Him. A "Christ-follower" tends to be more open to discussion on what ought to be nonnegotiable things. There is something to be said about loving those we want to reach with the Gospel and trying to understand where they are coming from. But in doing so, we must not be just like them. We are different when we are in Christ, and we must be true to Him, not so in love with our liberty that we, in actuality become stumbling blocks by not looking any different than the unredeemed we seek to reach.

One more thing. In the video, the "Christ Follower" says to the Christian something along the lines of "That's a lot of reading." Kind of implying that we don't need all that, we just need to get about the business of following Jesus. Well, doctrine is important. Unless we do read the Bible and know what God has revealed about Himself, we can't really follow Christ. And, contrary to popular belief today, there are absolutes. That's not to say I understand everything I read in the Bible, but there are definitely knowable truths that aren't up for discussion. The Bible says what it says, and most of the time when people are wanting to quibble about meaning, I've found, it's over things that are pretty clear, but hard to accept. And therein is the crux of the issue, I believe. We don't want to admit we are totally depraved before a holy and righteous God. But that's what the Bible teaches.

"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:1-8

Long post. Must now go and get about the mundane business of cleaning the house this morning.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Some Days I Feel Like Such a Hypocrite, Part 2

I meant that prayer I prayed this morning. But not two minutes after praying it, I was wrestling with my temper over how to motivate my two rambunctious boys to get ready for church this morning. They weren't even being bad, just being little boys. I don't know why the one Sunday each month Hubby has Army duty are so exponentially harder to manage than others. I get two rowdy boys and a 7-month-old ready every weekday and out the door to take the boys to school just fine, and we leave an hour earlier those days. But, for some reason, Sundays are different. But we did manage, and I kept my temper somewhat in check, though I probably yelled too much. Again.

I struggle a lot with being consistent in parenting. And I worry too much about how I parent. I know that God is control. I am trusting Him to save my children. But I don't want to ever be a stumbling block to them. And I think I am when I frustrate them by either offering too many choices or by not being consistent.

I just read an excellent post at Following Judah's Lion about being a disciple of Christ. And he used Matthew 6:33 to illustrate that we don't need another sermon about "how to," but we need to learn to be truly devoted disciples of Jesus and seek His righteousness. Now I'm getting off the computer and going to pray - for wisdom, yes, and the grace to parent well. But also that God would continue to develop in me a hunger and thirst for His righteousness so that I would be teachable and live out what I know is true daily in front of these kids.

Sunday Morning

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

As I prepare for worship this morning, may I focus on You today, not on what others do or don't do. When I feel frustrated, let me lay it at Your feet and worship. No matter what anyone else does, please help my heart to be right and my thoughts on my Redeemer, and may I offer acceptable worship today. Amen.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Scintillating Dinner Conversation

The hospital where Hubby works has started a new thing where he can order a pizza from the cafeteria on Thursday, and they will payroll deduct for it and he can pick it up on Friday afternoon to bring home for dinner. I know what you're thinking: "You had hospital cafeteria pizza for dinner?" Go ahead, laugh, but it was really good. When D. brings it home in the box it's uncooked, but all put together, so all I had to do was pop it in the oven for 10 minutes and we had supper all ready. Because we believe in great home-cooked meals for our kids.

Anyway, here's what the boys were discussing at dinner tonight along with the standard, "What did you do at school today?"

J. put a huge 3-bite portion of pizza in his mouth whole, and D. said, "Don't do that. You need to eat slower and let it digest."

M.: "What's digest?"

Me: "It's when your stomach does what it does with your food." (Like my scientific explanations?)

M.: "Like when it gets all squishy in your tummy."

D.: "Yeah, like that."

M.: "And if you get too much squishy stuff in your tummy you get fat." (He's pretty scientific, too.)

Me: "Right, I guess."

M.: "Some people have bumps on their bodies that mean they are strong."

Me: "You mean muscles?"

M.: "Yes. How do muscles grow?"

Me: "You have to exercise a lot and eat healthy."

D.: "That's right."

If you've noticed that J. wasn't contributing much to this part of the conversation, it's because he was still chewing that monster bite.

I suppose we'll have to eat less of these pizzas if I don't want too much squishy stuff making my tummy fat. And my membership at the YMCA kicks back in at the end of the month, so hopefully my muscles will grow and my fat will subside as I exercise a lot and eat healthier. Thanks M. and J. for that scientific analysis.

Far As the Curse is Found

J. and I had that discussion again last night. The one about "good" and "bad." He's reading a book about the Civil War and wanted to know if the guys in blue were the good guys. I said that, while I believe that it is good that the North won that war, you can't look at history that way. It isn't like Star Wars with some all good and some all bad. There were good people and bad people on both sides. Even though the North was fighting for the right things, some of the people doing the fighting did horrible things. And though the South was fighting to keep in place an economy based on the despicable institution of slavery, there were people on that side who were decent as well. We had the same kind of discussion about the Roman Empire when he wanted to know why they destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. He wanted to know if it was "good" that Rome did that. We told him that whether it was good or bad (humanly speaking) depended on which side you were on, and that Rome was just doing what it had to do to stay in power against those who were rebelling. Whether or not the Roman Empire itself was good or bad is up to interpretation. It's so hard to get the idea across that history is just the story of what happened, and sometimes there's not a "good" or "bad" but just what is. J. wants everything to be spelled out like it is in stories. I did tell him that spiritually there didn't need to be a temple anymore because Jesus was the final and sufficient sacrifice. They didn't need to offer animals anymore. I hope we explained that well enough - he seemed to get it.

Poor J. He's so concrete minded and he wants everything to be black and white. We told him that sometimes history is a little more complicated than that. Then I told him, again, that really all of us are bad. We are all sinners in need of a savior. That's why it's so hard to say whether some things are good or bad because we are all depraved - sin mars everything - even good efforts and good causes. This is kind of heavy for an 8-year-old. It's kind of heavy for me.

As I've been reading in Genesis, I've been thinking some on what the implications of the curse of sin are. D. and I have been talking a lot about the implications of total depravity. He even brought it up in church council when, as Sunday School director, he was presenting a new curriculum and talking about how we need to be going about teaching the children differently than we have been. Total depravity means that every part of us is marred by the curse of sin. Our desires too. We are poor, blind and wretched apart from Christ. My righteousness is as filthy rags when offered up in my own strength apart from trust in Jesus. My hope is in His righteousness. When God told Eve that her desire would be for her husband, how does that play out for me as a woman today? It means that I am in a struggle with my flesh which wants to go my own way over and above my husband's leadership. It means I fight constantly the temptation to say that I know better or to push for what I want all the time rather than looking at what is more important for the whole family and trusting God to work in my husband's life and to direct him as he leads us. It also means that submission is not easy. This is where the Holy Spirit's leadership is so vital. He changes my desires to be conformed to His will. Praise God that when the Spirit regenerated me, He began a work that He will see to completion. This is what sanctification is all about. Learning to die daily to that fleshly sin nature that would seek to dominate and daily take up my cross and follow Jesus. So, no, J. there is none that is righteous, no not one. Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to His cross I cling. Only Jesus is good. And all praise to Him whose blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Quoth The Raven, "Nevermore".......

One morning back in November, I thought a squirrel might have fallen into our chimney. Well, I believe I've discovered what is actually happening when I hear those particular sounds. And it may be worse than a squirrel. It's more like something from some cheesy horror movie. What I believe I'm hearing are the flocks of VULTURES that have decided to congregate on our corner of the neighborhood. Here's some pictures I just took:

Here are two hovering on the shed my husband is building. They are, in a word, creepy. These things are huge, and they just sit on the roof like they are gargoyles or something. Their wingspan is large. The picture doesn't do them justice. I'm a little scared to let my 18 lb. mini schnauzer out in the yard when they congregate there. Though, after this morning when he woke R. up from her nap and just generally annoyed me all day, I'm sorely tempted to see what might become of him if they did show an interest in him.........

Here's two on my chimney. That's why it sounds like something is in there. The talons scratch the top and it echoes down inside. Lovely.

Here are some roosting on our next door neighbor's roof. You can't really see it in the picture, but they are all lined up along the crest of the roof.

The other morning, there were dozens of these huge, black gargoyles all over the yards in this area of the neighborhood. This is so not what we intended to invite to the yard when we filled the birdfeeder this winter. Why couldn't we just get nice little red cardinals? When they hulk on the roofs around here it looks like something from the movie, "The Birds" or an Edgar Allan Poe story. Just one more reason I love living here on "the island." NOT.