Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Poor Kiddos

I’m feeling quite tired and just a bit loopy,
From dealing with children whose noses are goopy.
Poor little Boo was up way too early
Then crabby all morning – she was really quite surly.
And now oldest son has come home after school
Says he’s feeling quite warm – I’m nobody’s fool –
So out with thermometer, yep it’s a fever;
Wish he’d gone to the nurse, should have been a school leaver.

Three little kiddos are coughing and hacking
It seems that in our house, good health still is lacking.
Off to the doctor with kid one and kid three
Tomorrow that’s where this mommy will be.
Sweet little middle kid isn’t down like the others
Here’s hoping he doesn’t get fever like brother’s!

I’m writing and smiling and counting it joy
When kiddos are sick then I get to employ
Mommy loving and cuddling and all of those things
For this, too, shall pass- won’t be long ‘til spring springs!
For now I must bring an end to this rhyme
And go take care of baby – she’s needing my time.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

So Baking is Not My Forte, Either

Okay, I’ve spent this entire day baking. Tomorrow is the kindergarten bake sale at school which will hopefully earn enough to offset the cost of an upcoming field trip to a children’s museum (I think? Well, I may not remember what we’re earning the money for, but at least I remembered to bake, right???)

Anyway, I’m not really a bad cook, per se. I just don’t like baking, you understand. And I’ve decided that I’m just not meant to make Rice Krispies treats. Go ahead. Laugh at my expense. I know the recipe is deceptively easy. But not for me.

The first batch I made, the marshmallow butter stuff started cooling and getting too sticky to mess with before the Rice Krispies were fully coated. I had gooey Krispie mess stuck to the pan, the spoon and the buttered spatula before I finally just used my (clean!!) hands to mash the stuff in the pan. Oh, and I burned my arm getting the gooey mess out of the pan because I forgot the bottom of the pan is HOT when you’re done melting butter and marshmallows. Once the concoction cooled, however, I cut it into nice little squares, and they are now individually wrapped and ready for tomorrow along with some brownies and chocolate chip muffins – also individually wrapped and ready.

The second batch I made was solely for oldest son’s snacking pleasure. He was so sad the first batch would be going to school for the bake sale, I promised him I’d make him some more also and he’d have them when he comes home this afternoon. Well, I must have had more butter in this marshmallow butter stuff for the gooey mess just slid right out of the pan into to other pan. However, they are not cutting into the nice firm squares like the first batch did. These are just clinging to the knife and turning into Rice Krispie mounds as I cut. Good thing these are staying home. Oh, well. They taste good! Hope the kids like them. Who wouldn’t like buttery marshmallow Rice Krispie mounds?

Now that the baking is done, I must go and retrieve the kids from school and engage in what I am sure will be another entertaining conversation on the way home. They always are. They like to keep me on my toes!! :^)

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Many Things I Do Not Know


That was the sound of my head exploding. I cannot answer one more question today. I am not a walking encyclopedia of minutiae. Contrary to what a certain 8-year-old boy may wish me to be. Once again, I’m proving to be disappointingly short on answers. For some reason, a huge proportion of these kinds of conversations tend to take place while we are driving and I’m trying to divide my attention between the “island” drivers and my loquacious son.

“Mom, is it called Walt Disney World, or Disney World?”
“It doesn’t matter, J. You can call it either one.”
“But which one is it really?”
“Technically it’s Walt Disney World, but we all just call it Disney.”
"How come if it’s Walt Disney World you don’t call it that?”
“I don’t know…….”

“Who died first, Dr. Seuss or Walt Disney?”
“Walt Disney.”
“Did they live at the same time?”
“Yes, but Walt Disney died a long time ago, and Dr. Seuss died not all that long ago.”
“When did Dr. Seuss die?”
“I don’t really remember, but it was just a few years ago.”
“Wasn’t he 98 or something?”
"I don’t know, J. He was really old. I know that.”
“He was 100?”
“Did I say that? I don’t think I said that. I just said I know he was old.”
“How old was Walt Disney?”
“I have no idea.”
“When did he die? Were you alive?”
"J., I really do not know. I know Disney World opened the same year I was born, but I don’t know if he was still alive or not.”
"J., I said I DON’T KNOW.”

“Yes, J.”
“Why do they call it the Curse of King Tut’s Tomb?”
"Well, I think when they found the tomb and opened it some bad things happened around the same time and superstitious people thought there was a curse. But there’s no such thing as curses like that really.”
"What’s superstitious?”
"When people believe in things like luck or curses or things like that that aren’t really real.”
“What bad things happened?”
“I don’t really remember. I think I remember hearing that the man who financed, um…paid for the dig died soon after the tomb was opened and some other bad stuff happened, too, like someone got bit by a scorpion or something like that. I’m not really sure.”
“Did he die at the tomb?”
"I don’t really know that much about it, J.”
“How did he die?”
“Honey, I don’t know anything else about it. I think the book you’re reading will have that information.”
“Why do they have to pay for the dig?”
"Well, they have to pay the workers, for one thing. And for all I know they may have to pay for the right to dig there, too.”
"Do they speak English there?”
"Uh…they probably speak Arabic, but I’m sure some of them have learned English, too.”
“But how did he die?”
"J., go read your book…..”

“Which is more dangerous, a tiger shark or a great white shark?”
“I have absolutely no idea. I wouldn’t want to get close enough to either of them to find out.”
“But my shark book says they are both 4 dots, so they’re both dangerous, right?”
“But which one is more dangerous?”
“I said I don’t know, honey….”
"Where are tiger sharks?”
"Well, I think there may be some off the coast of Florida. I think so anyway. I saw some kids catch some kind of shark when we were at Sanibel once, but I might be wrong about what kind.”
“What about great whites?”
"Well, I know you hear about attacks around Australia sometimes, other than that, I don’t know.”
"But which one’s more dangerous?”
“Honey, I think I already told you I don’t know the answer to that. Asking again later in the same conversation won’t change the fact that I still don’t know…..”

I think my brain is imploding. I never knew just how much I didn’t know until J learned to talk……

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tonight I Pray

Most gracious, God, You are Most High;
To You alone must be all praise.
May I now to You draw nigh
And learn to live for You and love Your ways.

Too many times my affections turn
On me and what I think is best.
Oh, Lord, when will I ever learn
To let my heart and mind in You find rest?

I confess my faults to You once more,
And once more lay them at Your feet.
Your lavish grace on Your child You pour;
And my hope, it rests in You complete.

Forgive me, please, most gracious Savior.
Far too often I live in such a selfish state.
Please help my love for You not waver,
And teach my heart my sin to hate.

My hope is in Christ’s righteousness;
His blood alone has washed away my sin.
Now by His grace what once was wretchedness
Is cleansed and whole and I am new within.

Thank You, Lord, for Your gracious care;
You provide our needs every single day.
The blessings You so wondrously share
Are far more numerous than I can say.

To You I lift our precious children.
Please lead us, oh most blessed Shepherd,
To teach them and to love them when
We show them how we treasure Your Word.

Please grant to them saving faith that is true;
Touch their hearts with conviction of sin,
And open their eyes to seek only You,
Christ Jesus, our Savior and only true Friend.

And also, Lord, the Church I lift to You tonight.
Protect Your remnant to stand for Truth without error,
And let us be diligent to shine forth Your light,
And teach us to be a people on our knees and our faces in prayer.

Thank You, Jesus, our gracious Redeemer and Savior,
For loving us while yet in our sin with no thought for You.
Thank You, Our Lord, for granting Your favor
And shedding Your blood to redeem a people for You.

These things I pray in Your name tonight;
Oh may we learn to live for Your glory!
You, mighty God, are the world’s only light,
And Yours the most blessed redemption story.

To God alone be the glory.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Some Thoughts From the Grocery Check-Out Line

Is anyone else as tired as I am of hearing about (insert name of any one of a gazillion highly-paid, beautiful/handsome, arguably talented (or not) singers, actors, athletes or children-of-a-famous-family)? I was at the grocery store this morning with Boo, for when I opened the pantry, low and behold, we were completely out of baby food come lunchtime today if I didn’t make such a trip. Due to the recent condition of one or the other child being unwell during this week, my grocery planning has been rather hit and miss.

Anyway, to get back to my point (yes, there is a point to this), when you go through the check out line of pretty much any grocery store I’ve ever shopped in you are bombarded with headlines that just scream from the tabloids in the racks along the line. I don’t like celebrity gossip, and don’t read the magazines or watch Oprah or The View or any of those daytime shows that seem to feed off it, but avoiding at least looking at the headlines is about as difficult as avoiding craning your neck to see the wreck that’s been pulled into the median on the highway when driving past. Recently, as I’ve seen the headlines with one or another famous couple breaking up, getting together with someone else, having babies but never married to the father (or perhaps not even knowing who he is), living in a weird cult-like setting or just basically self-destructing, I’m struck with how lost some of these supposedly successful people really are. In the quest for fame, they've bought the lies of this world system. And they've arrived. They have the "success" the world offers. And in watching that, too, I’m amazed at how many people wish they could be right there with them having their fleeting moment of fame. (American Idol, anyone? Survivor, anyone?) And that fleeting moment of fame is fleeting. It cannot bring joy. It may bring material comfort, and even happiness for a season, but it cannot bring real joy – the joy of knowing Christ and having a clean conscience and having eternal life and knowing freedom from sin’s bondage.

When I was a kid, I had dreams of being a singer. I laugh so very hard at those dreams now, but they were real at the time. I mean, who wouldn’t want the fame and glamour and talent that goes with all that. Thankfully, not me anymore. I am truly thankful to be in blessed obscurity today! I just want to be wife and mom, thank you very much. I'm so glad that the Lord changed my desires and has taught me contentment here at home.

I think when people get up in the “famous enough for the tabloids” circles, there are just so many temptations, and so few people holding them accountable, that it’s just easy to lose their way – especially if they are not all that grounded anyway. And of the multitudes that are not believers at all, then they have nothing real to hold on to, and no way to avoid sin. They just get to demonstrate our fallen nature so very publicly. We all get to watch when a young starlet/singer very visibly self-destructs on the pages of the tabloids and no one seems to be able to help her or protect her from herself.

While standing in the grocery line one day, it struck me how very, very sad and lonely these people must be behind the glittery masks. In fact, it was so sad to me that I went home and cried and started praying for the ones that had so affected me that morning. Hell is real, and without Christ, these empty, hopeless lives will lead there. They need a savior. They need to know that there is hope. And the only hope is Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. He is the only way to the Father, and He is the only One who can clean up any of our messes and bind up our broken hearts. And the people standing with me in the grocery line need that hope, too. I will never know those people on the magazines, but I do need to get out and get to know the people at my children’s school and in our neighborhood. And for a wallflower like me, that is a hard thing. But God has placed me here, and I want to be obedient to Him.

Mark 9:36
"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"

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

Proverbs 31:30
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised."

1 John 2:15-17
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

Oh, Lord, prick my heart with compassion for the lost and dying all around me. Help me to step out of my comfort zone and befriend my neighbors. Let Your light shine through me in such a way that I can plant or water gospel seeds as You lead. May You be glorified when lost sinners come to You in repentance and are then able to add their voices to the eternal Hallelujah Chorus of Heaven. Please change my heart that I will not be such a hermit, but will get out and get involved with the people in my community.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Here We Go Again...

Well, baby and oldest son were up with the you-know-what last night, and my stomach is feeling not so good this morning. At least this bug seems to be pretty quick - J is already saying he's feeling some better, and baby has had no more incidents after that first one. The goal for today: just get through it!

And I had a post up last night that I'm thinking might need some more editing, so that's why it's gone. It may go to my private journal, so I don't know if I'll put it back up today. I seem to be going through one of those blogging things where I have a hard time with topics. Must be February.

Will return shortly......

**As you can see, the Thursday post is back. That publish button really is scary, sometimes, and I'm something of a hesitant blogger, I guess, but I think that post needed to be there. Must go attend to the day now.****

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Things Are Looking Up!

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you may remember that I had a little pity party a little bit ago (no, I’m not linking back to it if you didn’t read it :^)). Well, I want to report back that the Lord, in His extreme goodness, has seen fit to begin showing me some answers to my prayers for my church and for myself.

On Sunday, as we drove to church, D and I were talking about how great it would be if we could get a Bible study started for ladies who are home during the day, as I am. He suggested that if the young mom I’ve been trying to reach out to was there that morning, I ought to talk to her about it. Let me back up a minute and say that of the young couples that had been in our Sunday School class, which D teaches, most are young Marine families who have either not re-enlisted and moved on out of state or have orders to relocate out of state in about a month. That means in March, we only have one couple left in our class, and that is this young lady and her husband. I am extremely excited about what we are planning to do, Lord willing, in the near future, however. There is a new couple at our church, and the husband has an apologetics ministry. He is also involved in some way (on the board, I think?) with Answers in Genesis (very cool!), and he’s agreed to teach a Sunday morning class on apologetics. D is going to step back and allow it to be our class, which we’ll advertise to the church, and we are really hoping people will come hear this exciting series. This church desperately needs some good, solid discipling. The church is also planning some special prayer meetings in March that we are very excited about, and the new apologetics class will start up after that.

Anyway, back to last Sunday. Turns out this young mom was there, and her husband had to work, so it was just her, D and me. Before I could even bring it up, she was saying how she really wished our church had a Bible study for someone like her who was home during the week. Coincidence? No way! So we talked a bit about how we could get this started, and also about what a blessing it would be to be able to invite people who visit the church on Sunday morning to something like this. I know of at least one young family we've had phone conversations with that liked the church but did not come back because there just didn’t seem to be anything for stay-home moms during the week. We are still very small, but, like my husband, I am beginning to see that perhaps God is working to change things here and it’s not time to leave, but it is definitely time to get busy. This young mom is a fairly new believer and is really seeking some good teaching. I believe that God has gifted me to teach and has granted me a burden to see these young moms come to a deeper understanding of their relationship with Christ through solid Bible teaching. While we were having this discussion, the pastor came by – he does that during the Sunday school hour, checking up on all the classes. When he heard what we were talking about, he sat down with us. He is now looking into ordering some material for me to look over as we begin getting serious about starting up a study within the next few weeks. Even if it is just me and this other woman in the beginning, I am really looking forward to doing this. We are now trying to figure out how to handle childcare during the time we meet. If we want young moms to come, we’ll have to provide for their kiddos (mine, too!). The pastor said if we have to we may just have to hire some workers to come in. D is hoping some of the older ladies in the church will step up and help if we bring the need before the church. This was an issue in the past when we tried to have a daytime meeting, but I was the only one with kids at the time, so I’d just bring the boys and let them watch a (decent, clean) movie while we met. But I have an infant, now and so does the other mom, so that’s not going to work. We’ll have to have help.

So, what I’m praying about this is wisdom to know how to get the study rolling with the practical issues of childcare and deciding what we need to be teaching as we start out. I am also praying I will be a humble and dedicated teacher as we get this going as well, and that Christ will be glorified as we draw near to Him and study His Word together.

I’m glad to report that I am continuing to learn to submit to my husband’s leadership in staying put in this church and I’m seeking to obey God and get busy about discipling those He puts before me. Oh! And I forgot to mention, speaking of discipling, my boys and I got back on track this morning with their Truth and Grace Memory Book. Why in the world would I let that slide? The mornings we start out with that are just so sweet. And these kids God has blessed us by placing in our home to parent are definitely our first discipleship responsibility.

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Power of Suggestion

Really, there is a point to this ramble if you care enough to follow through the first part. Okay. I’ve loved on and pampered a sick 5-year-old and let him watch Curious George all day while lying on the couch. And I’ve vacuumed and bleached and shampooed and Lysoled and vinegared (thanks, Rabbit!) and I think the house is as clean as I can get it. The best part is that M is feeling 100% better and managed to eat two small bowls of chicken noodle soup for lunch and has been quite spunky all afternoon. And he was able to eat dinner tonight, too. Hooray!! And, another blessing of this interrupted day is that I am much further along in getting the boys’ room under control. I stuffed all the books that I was trying to organize back in the bookshelf and dumped all the toys back in M’s foot locker so I could get to the floor and vacuum and shampoo it. Now all I have to do up there is take each area one at a time and organize (read that throw away junk they will never miss). Nice.

While doing all the expedited cleaning today (it all needed to be done, but I was going to do it after the organizing, but I’m really okay with my plans being superseded here) I got to thinking about the power of suggestion. When all the drama ensued last night, Hubby got up with me and took care of M and his horribly messed up bed situation while I got busy scrubbing the worst of the carpet mess. I had been feeling just fine until I heard that very tell-tale noise from M letting me know he was sick. That’s all it took for my tummy to start feeling overwhelmingly queasy, too. That’s how powerful ideas are.

What’s the point, you ask? Well, I started thinking about how easy it is to be swayed by ideas that sound good by themselves until you shine the light of scripture on them. There is a lot of extremely subtle error floating around the (so-called) Christian blogosphere and the Christian world in general. Some things are not so subtle, some are extremely subtle. I’m not getting into specifics here, just thinking a bit. I don’t want to address any specific heresy/error today. That’s not the purpose of this little writing. Part of the problem is that we are not always very good at defining terms. A lot of us use the same words, but mean very different things by them, and if we’re not careful to know what someone means by their terms, it can be easy to be sucked in or opened up to being deceived. I have learned that just because something suggests that it is Christian, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it truly is. We need to know and be convinced of and grounded in the fundamental essentials of the faith, so that when someone comes along preaching or suggesting error, we can know whether it lines up with God’s plumb line. This involves daily time in the Bible, knowing it and studying it. It involves exposing ourselves to solid, biblical, expository preaching. It can also involve reading solid, biblical books. The key, however, is that what we read and listen to must be grounded in the truth and authority of the Word. Anything else is just someone’s opinion. Because God is Who He is (holy, sovereign, the only true God, Creator, Redeemer), I want to follow and obey His opinion. That’s the only one that matters, bottom line. In the realm of theological and spiritual discussions I’m not all that interested in what some other human thinks if it’s just based on how they feel and not the settled Word of God. If I’m basing what I believe on my feelings or on someone’s opinion rather than on what God says in His Word, then I’m following an idol. It’s that important. We must know the Bible well enough and be praying often enough that we will have the discernment to know when a suggestion doesn’t sound right. Even if we don’t know immediately what is wrong with it, we must start digging and searching the scriptures to make sure we stay true to the plumb line. And, truly, it is only God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a true believer that can lead him or her to right understanding and away from error. I am praying the Holy Spirit will grant me the discernment to recognize truth from error and to keep my own musings squarely in line with scripture as well. And I’m praying that He will guard my mind from following just any suggestion or opinion or method that comes down the road, but that I will test the spirits by His Word.

I hope this thought made sense. It has been a long day, and I am tired. But I’m thankful the Lord can turn my heart and mind to Him, even when doing the daily things around here.

Isaiah 42:8
"I am the LORD, that is My name;

And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images."

Exodus 20: 2-3
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me."

And Now the Cleaning Has Become a Necessity

Well, I'll be taking a bit of a break today. I had wanted to work on a good post, but my middle child woke up sick in the night - complete with vomiting all over his bed, the stairs and the hallway since he came to our room rather than the bathroom. So, I've just completed shampooing the living room and hallway carpet (that Kirby was a good buy) and I'll be up to my eyeballs in laundry today as well. Oh, and that spring cleaning has moved from a project that needs to be done soon to an absolute necessity so that I can get up there with the shampooer as soon as possible. Hopefully Boo will be cooperative today and I can get it all done. If I can come up for air this afternoon, perhaps I'll get back to posting. It's not looking too hopeful at the moment, though. Thankfully, M has only had one other "incident" and seems to be feeling a bit better at the moment.

I'll be back whenever I get the house as sterilized as I can (good thing we have lots of Lysol still).

Monday, February 19, 2007

And So the Spring Cleaning Begins With a Whimper

Spring is springing at my house. Well, not as far as the weather outside. It's still pretty chilly. But inside I'm starting the chore of organizing the boys' room and the playroom. Yes, again. I'm wanting it done badly, but I'm not wanting to do it at all. Everytime I go up there to get started I sort of go brain dead, I just don't even know where to start. It's that bad. Hubby says, "Just do what we tell them to do, start with one thing first then move to the next." Easier said than done, and I see why they get so overwhelmed. This time I'm going to police the area better and make sure the stuff is put away each evening rather than waiting for the weekends to catch up. By then it's just too far gone with these boys. Anyway, the boys are over at grandparents today (no school!!), so I've got to get up there. Here it is 2:22PM and I've managed to squander most of today. And now I'm blogging about it.

Once the boys' stuff is organized, dusted, sparkling and clean, I've got to get to the rest of the house. Over the next few weeks I will be emptying and organizing drawers, getting rid of things we don't need, dusting, organizing and making sparkling clean the other rooms as well. It's time to purge the "stuff" for all of us. Do you think by blogging about this I'll hold myself accountable to actually get it all done in a timely fashion?? If my blog goes quiet for a while, rest assured I've probably finally gotten the urge to clean and get it finished. Besides, our neighbors across the street are moving this summer and are planning to have a yard sale next month. If I can get it together, she said I can take some of my things over and join them! Then I won't have to do my own yard sale. But, boy, we're going to miss these neighbors. The boys are good friends with their little boy, and they're going to be pretty lonely when he moves away. That happens a lot around here with all the military families in town.

Well, I've procrastinated long enough, and now Boo is quiet, so I think she gave it up and finally fell asleep for nap. I must get to it!

A New Look, Part 2

My new friend, Jules of Everyday Mommy and Everyday Design, is amazingly talented at many things, and you can see some of her work here on my blog. She's finished the design for it, and it looks wonderful! Thank you, Jules, for the fresh look - it helps keep blogging fun.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Love and Obedience

I woke up with an annoying song in my head this morning. Let me say here at the beginning of this post that I am not one who thinks all modern worship music is bad. Just like all music, some is good, some isn't and I wouldn't pitch it all just because, frankly, a lot of it is pretty awful, because there are some gems among the yuck. I have some praise and worship CDs in the car that I bought because certain songs I did appreciate were on them. However, with these songs came some not so good ones as well. In fact, on those CDs there are about four categories (keeping in mind that music style preference is a matter of opinion, but doctrine must be measured by the plumb line of scripture)- decent music and doctrinally okay, doctrinally okay but not my favorite musically, catchy music but doctrinally weak, and skip it - it's just not worth dirtying up the van's airwaves.

One type of song I find particularly irritating is the kind that sounds like a sappy high school love song you would have sung to your boyfriend. Sappy, sentimental, self-absorbed and shallow notions of some nebulous "love." We Americans (I focus on Americans because I am one, that's the culture I know) have self-absorption as a birthright, I think. The lyrics running through my head this morning went along the lines of, "Jesus, Jesus, You're my friend forever....Jesus, I'm so in love with You......." See what I mean? It sounds like a whiny teenage love song.

Yes, Jesus is our greatest friend. However, He is not our equal, pal or buddy. He is our friend because He loved us when we were thoroughly unlovable - while we were yet sinners with NO thought for His glory, He loved us so much He died to reconcile us to God. That is a real friend. He met our deepest need, not just a felt need, but our very real need to be cleansed from our sin. And we did nothing, absolutely nothing, to deserve it. He did it as a gift of His grace. But, in our shallow, self-absorbed culture, we tend to dumb friendship down to someone I feel good about (feelings again!), my buddy, someone I like to hang out with. Jesus, while He is our friend in the very truest sense of that word, is not our equal. He is LORD.

Here's what Jesus said about His friendship with us:
John 15:13-17
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another."

See, friendship with Christ isn't just warm, fuzzy feeling good about our buddy Jesus. NO. It is loving Him enough to obey Him, bearing fruit and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And true love isn't some mushy, sentimental, shallow love that just means, "I feel really good about Jesus." True love for Him means total surrender to obeying Him out of our sheer gratitude for His grace. How do we know the standard of that obedience? He gave us His Word. Read the Bible. Study it. Obey it. Learn to love Jesus in spirit and truth. Our Lord suffered and died in our place so that we could be reconciled to God. Our vile sin is washed away in His blood. Accepting that gift of salvation also leads to submission to Jesus as Lord. It all goes together. We can say we love Him and sing sappy songs all day long, but if we are not reverently obedient to His Word, we are saying those things in vain. True love leads to repentance and obedience from a grateful heart. Sappiness is shallow, at best. I'd rather display reverence. Part of what bothers me so much is that the focus of these types of songs is shifted from the glory and majesty of the LORD to how I feel about it all. I think that is the most deeply irritating thing. If we are to sing a worship/praise song, let's sing about His attributes, not how I feel. Give Him the glory, not me.

John 14:23-24 says:
"Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.'"

Strong words! I'm speaking to myself here most of all: If I am to say boldly that I love Jesus, I'd best be serious about knowing and obeying His word. I am not saying we are saved by our works. I am saying that those of us who trust in Christ's righteousness, whose faith is in Him alone, must walk like we love Him. Let's not be too careless or shallow when proclaiming our love for him, and let's make sure we are never flippant or careless about Who we worship. He is LORD. He is not our equal. He is our friend, for no one else cares as deeply for our souls, but He is not our buddy.

Lord, please restore my first love for You. Convict me of sin that reveals an attitude that I do not love You as I ought, for in any area that I stray from Your plumb line of righteousness, I'm demonstrating that something else has taken Your rightful place in my affections. Let me love You with reverent awe and gratitude for the grace you've lavished on me. May my life bear fruit that truly glorifies You. Amen.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Some Random Thoughts on an Early Saturday Morning

What is it about babies and dog food bowls? Every one of my children has been fascinated by Oliver’s bowl. It happens when they learn to crawl. Boo has learned to crawl over the past couple of weeks. She’s so cute – it is a kind of commando crawl where she pulls herself along with her arms, and she’s getting very fast. I can place ten of her toys around the floor, and what does she seek out like a guided missile, consistently? Oliver’s nasty toy duck. Then she makes her way to his bowls. I am constantly pulling her away from the food bowl and wiping dog food off her little hands. We can’t put up the bowls anywhere else, either, because then the dog can’t get to them. The other day she was soaked before we could get to her because she’d tipped the water bowl all over herself. Sigh.

And J is funny, too. Last night I let the boys stay up to watch a movie since D was out of town and it was Friday, and, let’s face it, I was hoping if they stayed up late they would sleep in on Saturday. Smile!! (Yep, there was a definite ulterior mommy motive, but it didn’t work; they were up earlier than any school morning.) Anyway, as they were on their way upstairs, Monk came on the TV. (Remember, Monk is J’s nickname….) J grinned really big and said, “I know that song. I hear it when you and Daddy watch TV. It’s from Monk. I have my own song!” And he danced away up the stairs while I fell over laughing.

Not to leave out M, the poor little guy gets so tired. He told me last night his eyelids were shocking (???) him whenever he closed them. I said it was because he was overtired so he needed to go to sleep. Oh, no, he said, “No, it’s because they don’t like to be closed.” Hmmm. I’ve never known eyes that didn’t like to be closed. I’m always pretty happy when I can get a good night’s sleep, but my son’s eyes don’t like to be closed, and my daughter still doesn’t like naps and wakes up at 6am or so every morning. Funny!

By the way, my husband told me once when reading the blog that the way I use initials for everyone’s names reminds him of the movie Men In Black. Yep, we’re just a bunch of alien monitoring agents around here.

I’ve decided it’s time to get serious about losing 25 pounds. Boo is 9 months old and no longer nursing. I have no more excuses to not get busy. I’ve given up my YMCA membership because I can exercise at the hospital fitness center where hubby is a director of cardiac rehab – we’re already payroll deducting the fee, so why pay the Y just to get childcare when I can’t take Boo most of the time anyway? My mother-in-law said she will watch Boo a few mornings a week to help with the cause. Isn’t that nice?

Well, since I’ve told on every other member of the family, might as well give a report on the dog, too. Oliver got to see the groomer yesterday – after about 2 ½ or 3 months of not being groomed. Have you ever seen a mini schnauzer that’s really, really shaggy? They don’t shed, their fur mats. He was looking (and smelling) pretty bad. But now he looks mighty sleek, especially when he lies with his front paws straight in front like the Sphinx. I’d put up a picture, but, sadly, our camera finally died. We’ll be shopping for a new one soon, because I’m having picture withdrawal.

***Okay, I decided to update and add this picture D took a couple of weeks ago: This is me (with inbetween-trying to grow it long hair) and Oliver (looking shaggy, but not as shaggy as he was yesterday morning). That may be all the pictures I'll be able to share for a while until we find a new camera!***

That’s all the boring, mundane details I care to share this morning. Have a relaxing Saturday!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Because Real Life Doesn't Rewind

Sometimes I wish my life had a rewind button that would take me back about 10 minutes or so. I’ve said before that I struggle with patience. Losing my temper is one of the biggest temptations I find myself giving in to far too often. I really want to learn to take a few minutes to think before I open my big mouth with my kids. On a blog, you can consistently put your best face forward, because you can edit and edit and edit until the words sound just right. Or you can hit the delete button and it all goes away. Real life is not like that. In real life, the words I say are out there the minute they are said. And when those words are said in anger to a sensitive child who then dissolves into tears because I’ve overreacted or made a wrong assumption about something he did in childishness rather than actual defiance, my heart breaks because I’ve once again spoken hurtful words rather than helpful ones. And once they are out there, I can’t delete them or take them back. I can apologize sincerely and profusely, and the child can forgive, but the words or angry tone of voice are still there in his mental tape recorder. The apology, while demonstrating that I’m aware I did wrong and I’m learning and want desperately to make it right, does not erase all the hurt the initial outburst caused.

Because life does not have a rewind button, it is so important that I learn to put a rein on this evil, critical tongue of mine! I need to start the day in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to give me the strength to guard my words carefully. Just as I edit what I put out on my blog, I need to be mentally editing what I am to say to my children. And that is so hard! I need to learn to step back when I feel that familiar, fleshly frustration starting to build up inside and think before I speak.

James 1:19-20
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 3:2-11
“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”

With such a powerful tool at my disposal, I must learn to be more careful in how I wield it. My words can build up or tear down, and what mother wants to tear down her precious children? Yes, they must be corrected and disciplined, but, oh, how much more effective I am when I speak kindly - even when they've done something that needs correction or attention. No frustration I'm feeling at the moment is more important than modeling for these precious children what self-control looks like. And no feeling should dictate how I interact with my children; I am responsible to act in a way that brings glory to my Savior, no matter what I feel like.

O, most gracious Heavenly Father, please teach me to be much slower to speak and to think before I react. Help me to remember, in the moment, how my words can either build up or tear down, and teach me to put my hand over my mouth before I tear down! Please teach me to look to You for the patience and wisdom to know how to teach and speak in love rather than simply react to what the kids do. Help me to remember they are still children, and they are learning from all I say and do – rightly and wrongly. Thank You for the grace to change and to guard my tongue. Amen.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

To Live As An Ambassador

Our pastor has asked each church member to read through a devotional book he’s provided to help us begin to focus our thinking and praying as we seek God for real revival. While reading today, I find I am convicted about personal holiness and about being a faithful ambassador for Christ.

We read 1 Peter 2:9-10 today: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” Here, we learn who we are, those of us who trust in Jesus as the way, truth and life, the only way to the Father; we are a chosen people set apart, holy, unto God, so that we may proclaim the praises of Jesus Christ.

Then in 1 Peter 2:11-17, we see what being holy, set apart, means for us today as we go about the business of living in this world but being of His kingdom:
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men- as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

I’ve noticed these days that there is a growing emphasis among evangelicals, especially, on our freedom and liberty. And what seems to be happening is that in expressing liberty, there seems to be a downward slide in personal holiness. What I mean is, we're starting to see a lot of people who claim to be Christian, but use questionable language and allow themselves to look so much like the world that there is no difference at all. The problem is, this really makes for a cheap understanding of the grace we’ve been given. Peter says in the passage we just read above that we are to live as free, but not to use that liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. My liberty does not mean I’m free to live as worldly and vice-ridden as I please. What it means is that I am no longer a bondservant to sin, but now I have the freedom to live a holy life before God. Someone who does not belong to Christ is in bondage to sin. That is his lot. He cannot live holy, even if in some way he can do good deeds now and then, he cannot be holy, for even his so-called goodness is marred by his fallen nature. He doesn’t desire to honor God, even his seemingly good deeds are done for some other reason. But, for those of us who have been freed from the bondage to sin by faith in Jesus, we are now bondservants of God. If I am God’s bondservant, my life will begin to display holiness, for my Master is holy. I have been bought with a price, and now I am free to seek His glory and to seek to honor Him, whereas before I was born again I only ever sought my own glory. So, what I am convicted to pray about today is that God would show me the areas of my life where I am still seeking my own glory and my own way, in other words, that He would show me where I am not living as someone who is a bondservant of the Most High God.

We also looked today at another passage: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

We are to live holy lives to bring glory to God. In bringing Him glory, we are to also be living holy lives so that we may act as ambassadors to the world around us for our Lord. An ambassador represents the One who has sent him or her. How I act will cause others to form an opinion about my Lord, who I represent. We are to bring the message that God has offered them reconciliation to Himself through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He became sin for us so we could be reconciled, made right, with God. Wow. I’m convicted here to pray that God would show me the love of Christ that I would be a faithful ambassador to implore others to be reconciled to God. That is quite a message. And as I share that message, I must do so in a way that will bring honor to Jesus, by living a life that shows respect for His holiness. I do pray today, that these truths would grip my heart and I would learn to be less focused on me and completely focused on Him, and that I would become obedient to live holy and speak forth as an ambassador for my blessed Lord as He places opportunities before me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, Everyday Mommy!

I just found out from Rabbit at The Hutch that it is my blogging friend Everyday Mommy's birthday today. Happy Birthday, Jules! What a fun birthday. Much love from the Sweet Tea front porch!

I Love My Husband

Jude 24-25

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

When I graduated from high school, I was asked to give a testimony before my church. I am not a public speaker, by the way. (In fact, even knowing that someone other than my family is reading this blog is enough to cause me to feel a little sick to my stomach every now and then and wonder why in the world I started this thing!) I ended up as salutatorian of my high school graduating class, and when the announcement was made over the intercom, I panicked. First of all, I had no idea I was up there in the rankings, I just went about my business studying and doing my best, so it was a shock. But, rather than feeling pleased I had done so well, I was terrified that I’d have to give a speech at graduation. This fear consumed me for a few days until we learned that the two girls who had been named co-valedictorians would give the speeches. So, anyway, when my very large church asked me to give a testimony, it wasn’t as nerve-wracking as it would have been at the graduation ceremony, but my knees were shaky nonetheless.

I don’t really remember all that I said that morning. I do remember that I’d been dealing with lots and lots of my peers and adults around me who were questioning my decision to go off to the University of Florida the next fall. In fact, one person said I was going to a “brothel,” and how would I ever maintain my faith in such a heathen place, one of the top party schools in the nation? I remember thinking that I could have been a partier in high school if I’d wanted it – most of the kids in the “homecoming” crowd were drunk almost every weekend at some party or another, so, if I had no desire to be part of that crowd while still at home, why would I change once I left? I do know I used the text from Jude 24-25 to express my faith and trust that God would protect me and cause me to stand, even in the midst of temptation. And He did. It wasn’t any more difficult for me to stay away from the party scene in college than it had been at home, because I’d already dedicated myself to my Savior.

But, I was pretty naïve back then, too. I wasn’t always the wisest in choosing who to date, but even in that area, God spared me from my own stupidity. I believe that is because I truly wanted to live for Him, though, in my pride I really thought I had it all together. Looking back, I can see His hand of grace gently leading me and protecting me from dumb decisions.

Why am I thinking about this today? Well, I’m thinking about my husband, the man I dearly love and am so thankful I met in church one day back when I was a junior in college. One day just recently I was thinking how incredible it is that, even though I was really naïve and not thinking seriously about some things that I think are incredibly important today, God put me with just the right guy. Even though my own faith wasn’t as fully developed as I thought it was at the time, God saw fit to bring together two people who did love Him and were, even then, committed to living for Him, though I think both of us were probably a little more worldly than we would have admitted at the time. I remember thinking one time how grateful I am that I did not wake up one day a few years after marriage and say, “Who is this person I married?” No, God in His mysterious, matchless, infinite grace has led us both together in the same direction toward Him.

My husband is a man who is growing in grace. It’s such a blessing to be able to talk to him about God’s doctrines of grace and to be on the same page, so to speak. I love hearing him teach the boys scripture verses and talk to them about what they mean. Though we both have a ways to go on being more consistent there, too, I’m thankful he is wanting to improve with me. I’m always blessed when I hear him teach in Sunday school, and last week when we had a special children’s lesson I was blessed again to hear him with the kids at church.

On the lighter side, he likes to watch Discovery Channel programs on archeological discoveries with me. And he watches LOST with me, even though I "Beckitate" all through it because the mysteries are driving me nuts. I'm telling you, he puts up with a lot!

My husband is also a very kind man. This is a blessing I didn’t really know to look for way back when I was in my 20’s. He is patient, and he bears with all my weirdness. I am not an easy person to live with, but he does it with such patience. And he teaches me so much when I watch him discipline the boys in love with patience. He's such a good dad! He really loves our kids, and he plays with them and lets them know he loves them. And he brings me diet cherry Cokes from Sonic for no reason. How cool is that? And when we suffered our first 2 miscarriages, he cried along with me and took care of the boys when I was loopy from the anesthesia from those hated surgeries as a result. He also, very quietly when I wasn't looking, put away the maternity clothes we had just gotten down from the attic, because he somehow knew how painful it would have been for me to deal with them right then. And he cried long distance with me during that third one when he was in Kuwait. How hard that must have been for him.

So, today, on Valentine’s day, I’m thanking my God for the man He brought into my life that January 15 years ago. I’m not saying either of us would say every single day has been bliss. No, we have ups and downs, like any couple might. But we made a covenant with each other and with God in front of lots of witnesses that we would love, honor and cherish each other until death parts us. And we hold that covenant dear. I love you, D., and I thank our Lord for the home He has granted us together. And I am so thankful that Jesus has kept us from stumbling and is ever leading us to grow in His grace together.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Yesterday afternoon someone came around the neighborhood selling frozen boxed steaks. I don't typically buy from door-to-door salesmen (except the one time I did get talked into the Kirby vacuum, but that really was worth it.....), and we very rarely eat steak anyway. Besides the fact that I saw no truck, didn't catch the name of his company and am not sure I trust his beef anyway, I can't stand being manipulated with sales come-ons and we're not exactly rolling in cash at the moment, so salesmen don't fare real well with me.

Anyway. When I stepped back in the house after talking to him, J. asked me what he had wanted.

I said, "He's selling steaks, but we don't want any right now."
J. said, "You mean you can buy South Carolina or Georgia or Hawaii?"

I looked at him blankly for a moment and just blinked at him a couple of times.

Then I said, "OH! Not STATES, honey. STEAKS. With a K."

Hee, Hee. Wonder how much Hawaii's going for these days. Sometimes I think I could use a private island getaway......

Monday, February 12, 2007

Valentines For Our Little Boys

At the school my kids attend, the teachers all go through a writing program to be certified to teach a certain writing curriculum, and the school really stresses writing in all areas of learning. As you walk through the halls, each class has examples of the students’ creative writing up on the walls, and even the “specials” classes like art, music, and science lab will display writing throughout the year. As someone who enjoys writing (hence the blog addiction), I love walking the boys into school each day and seeing the various writing projects as they change through the year.

Once in a while, the teachers send home homework for the parents to write something to be posted on the wall along with something our child has written. Whenever I see some special stationary come home, I know what’s coming. Well, for Valentine’s Day, the kindergarten students have written something for their parents, and we were asked over the weekend to write a note/poem/etc. for our child and send it in on the pretty pink paper that was supplied. It is all I can do not to share what I wrote for M., but since I made a hokey little poem out of the letters in his real name, and I don’t use my kids’ real names on the blog, I won’t share that part. I’ll just share the note I wrote him under the poem. We also did this for J. a couple of years ago, and I’ll share his note part, too.

Though my high school writing teacher was anti-schmaltz in our writing, I think it is just fine to use schmaltz when given a chance to edify my kids! So, here’s what I wrote for my boys. (Too bad I can’t share the dorky poems, but, trust me, it made the boys smile, and that’s what counts!)

Dear M.,
God gave us a precious gift when you were born. You add so much joy to our family. We love your laugh and watching you dress up in funny costumes. Your imagination is so much fun. We are enjoying watching you grow and mature, and you are a great brother to J. and R. You are the most “shareful” kid I’ve ever known, and you make my heart smile! We love you, Tic Tac!
Mommy & Daddy

Dear J.,
You are our very special first-born son, and we are so glad you’re part of our family. Your happy smile lights up a room, and we love being your mom and dad. You make us proud in so many ways, and we’re enjoying watching you grow and learn and mature. You are such an honest kid, and it’s exciting to see your mind at work. We are also proud of the way you are a good big brother to M., who really looks up to you, even when you don’t realize it. God truly blessed us when you entered our life.
Mommy & Daddy

I’m really glad the school gave us the opportunity to write out a love note to our kids. It’s also a convicting reminder to voice my love for them more often. When we get all caught up in the every day stuff, sometimes I find I spend so much time correcting, correcting, correcting, that I forget to balance it with verbal affirmation of what they do right! And that’s something I want to remember to do more – learn to edify, even when correction is needed.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What a Surprise!

Well, what do you know? I just checked my e-mail and I had the biggest surprise! Apparently a post I wrote a while back has been selected as a finalist in the Motherhood category on the Hidden Treasure Blog Awards. I'm speechless. Please visit Everyday Mommy and check out all the wonderful other posts that are nominated in all the categories, and to find the rules for voting. I'm truly thankful to be mentioned along with such good writers!

Attitude Matters

Malachi 3:16-18
“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another,
And the LORD listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the LORD
And who meditate on His name.

‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts,
‘On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.’
Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him.”

It’s amazing how the attitude I bring with me into the worship service is so important. Today was just different. In a really good way. The pastor has begun preaching about seeking God for revival in our church, and, I’m telling you, it was good today. We looked at Malachi 3:16-18, and also at the churches in Revelation and talked about the cycle of sin in a believer’s life and in a church body when we depart from our first love.

Also, after what I posted yesterday, throughout the service I kept thinking about how this same Jesus who spoke to the storm and stilled it is the One we are here to worship. That was amazing. To think that the Creator of all came to earth and lived among us, and submitted Himself to the humiliation of the cross, and was resurrected on the third day to redeem a people to Himself is humbling. That glimpse we are given of Him standing in that boat and speaking to the wind and the sea as LORD, while the disciples cowered in fear. Absolutely amazing. Try thinking of Him in this way next time you pray. And another thing that is revolutionizing my attitude is learning to remember that the humiliation He suffered on that cross is the price He paid for me to even be able to have the privilege of coming before the Throne of Grace at all. Though the gift of grace is free, it is so very costly. It was bought with the precious blood of the Son of God. May I never take that lightly. Amazing love, how can it be, that You, my King, should die for me?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

We Worship the One Who Calms the Storm

Mark 4:35-41
35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

I love this passage. It's always interesting to see the disciples' reaction when they got a glimpse of just Who Jesus really is. In this instance, He demonstrated His sovereignty over the wind and the sea. And the disciples feared exceedingly at this One who could calm the storm with a word, and they were awed by Him.

As we prepare for worship this Sunday, may we remember Who we worship and come before Him with reverence. May we seek to honor Him as we gather together with fellow believers, and put aside the weights that would take our eyes off of Him.

Saturday Ramblings About the Slow-Country

So, D.’s parents are moving in to the house they finally found here in town (but not “on the island,” ha, ha - that sounds so weird, it sounds like we live near the LOST survivors or something, speaking of which, by the way, I enjoyed the season premiere and I'm hoping there will be some answers to a few of the mysteries......) this weekend after living temporarily in the next town over since September. We’re glad to have them close – because we love them, of course, but also because they offer FREE BABYSITTING! We went over this morning to help with some of the unloading of stuff, but I had to bring Boo home for a nap. Now D. and the boys are over there, and the boys are on “Pinecone Duty.” D. has told them Gram and Granddad will pay them a penny per pinecone they gather from the yard. There are A LOT of pinecones in the yard! You would think that would be great incentive for two boys who have Legos and StarWars action figures on the brain. In fact, these boys will carry around one of those little advertisement paper things that are in EVERY Lego set or Hasbro/Fisher Price, etc. type of toy until it is just falling apart, and proceed to tell us exactly which item(s) they desire from said advertisement every time they think of it until I feel like pulling out my hair and banging my head against the wall just to not have to hear it ONE MORE TIME.

The house the in-laws found to rent at a very good price (for the area, anyway) is right on the marsh. The boys love it, of course, and are already planning how they can start trapping crabs. Fun for all, I’m sure. But my poor mother-in-law is beginning to see some of the same inconveniences I’ve noticed about the slow-country living here. The house has horrendous peach (no, more like dark salmon) colored walls, and aqua countertops. The management company said, “No-go,” on the owner painting the walls a neutral color, so, she’s either going to have to live with it or paint it herself. And, they were told it was a no-smoking house with good renters, but we smell that distinct odor AND the water company is asking for a hefty (but returnable) deposit due to the fact that the prior tenant failed to pay and had their water turned off. And none of the sinks have stoppers and the walls have holes in them where they were not fixed when prior tenants left and took down pictures or shelves or something, and one of the contractors who came the other day to fix up some of the things that had to be repaired was just a real snot to her - just a rude and arrogant and disrespectful twenty-something year old guy who probably felt he had better things to do than to touch up that ugly paint (yes, owner will touch up, but not re-do, go figure). But, all in all, it’s still a pretty nice house, and they are happy with it for a year until they can find something better.

Ah, the joys of “island” life in the slow-country. But we’re glad they are here, and I hope they will be, too.

Friday, February 09, 2007

For a Post That Made Me Think A Lot Today......

Wow. I read this post by Dan Phillips at Biblical Christianity this morning, and that's my response. Wow. He talks about how the angels are fascinated by our redemption. I've been thinking all day about how shamefully carelessly we sometimes view our redemption.

He says: "Think of it: angels know nothing of redemption themselves, except as spectators. Some of their number fell into rebellion, and not one of that company will be redeemed. The others stood fast with the Triune God, and not one of them needs redemption. Angels experience nothing of redemption. They either have no chance of it, or they have no need of it."

Go read it. And please don't miss his final zinger of a point.

Pressing On

Philippians 3:12-16
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”

Philippians 1:6
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”

The things I write here are truly what I hold dear and believe in my heart of hearts. But I find it so hard to live them consistently. Sometimes I look back at something I’ve written and cringe, thinking, “Boy, I need to be living that out better.” For example, as I mentioned the other day, I know that I know that I know that it is vitally important that we parents teach our children God’s word. But far too often I let days go by that I don’t diligently teach them. I know they hear D. and me talking about our faith, but I want to purposefully teach them more consistently as well. We only get to parent them once, I don’t want to waste precious time.

If I believe correctly and write correctly, but do not have enough love for my Savior, my children, my family, my neighbors, and people I encounter throughout life to live it consistently and open my mouth as a witness of His grace when God puts the opportunities in front of me, then all the writing and thinking is in vain. It will be wood, hay and stubble that are burned up. I must, must, must do better at putting feet to what I know is true.

I need to say thank you to my brother in Christ, Rick Freuh. We attended the same church when D. and I lived in Florida, and though I didn’t actually know Rick then, I did know of him and heard him teach a few times. And some of my very good friends were in his Sunday School class at the time, so we know a lot of the same people. Yesterday when I was having a real down day and wrote about it, Rick left a comment that touched my heart. He said:

“Rebekah - If you can only share what you completely perform and never allow the Spirit to lift us all up higher than we have gone than your blog would be nothing more than an earthly narrative. But I have read some of your posts and poems and like me the Spirit has allowed you to be a Spiritual conduit that draws attention to the Savior and not you. Be encouraged, your words glorify Him not you which is the greatest privilege of all! “

I also had a conversation with my dad recently and he encouraged me that we confess what we know is true, and the Holy Spirit continues His work of sanctification in us. It is a process – we are not glorified yet, but when our Lord calls us home, and we see Him face to face, only THEN will we truly know as we are known. Only then will we be able to worship Him completely. Until then, we press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. This is a true encouragement for it has helped me to regain perspective on why I write.

My primary calling right now is to be wife to my husband and mom to my kids, so I still write about them and our everyday lives sometimes, too (that’s really all I know right now) – not all my writings are serious.

But as I write the more serious things, my desire really is to bring glory to my Savior. The things I write about are what I am striving to be. I want my life to glorify Christ, and I hope that by writing the serious things I write, perhaps, first of all, I will begin to better put into practice what I know is true, and if I can encourage someone else to want to know God's Word better and to live out the faith and seek to honor Jesus, too, then that will make it worth it. But I don’t want to leave the impression that I think I have perfected these things – I write about the goal I am pressing toward. Sanctification is a life-long process, and I’m glad to write about my walk along the journey, pressing ever toward the goal of living a life that brings honor to my Lord.

Please, God, teach my heart to want to do Your will and put into consistent practice what I say I believe – to walk according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Where I Am Right Now

*Just so you know, this is the kind of post I often rethink, so if it disappears later, you'll know I decided it was too whiny. So there.*

I may have mentioned that I don’t really like where I live. Honestly? I hate living here. And I don’t use the word “hate” often, mind you. I hesitate to mention this, but I had myself quite a pity party this afternoon. We’ve been here a little over 3 years, and I’ve never lived in a place like this before where it was so hard to make friends. This is a heavily active-duty military town, so people tend to have a short-term mentality here. They know that they are only here 3 years at the most, and most that I meet hate it here, too. We are military also, but the Reserves is a whole different breed. The active duty people have their squadron or unit here for support. Hubby’s unit is stationed an hour away, and it’s his civilian job that has us here. It’s also his civilian job that will keep us here. I tend to be pretty shy, too, so that doesn’t help. And I guess I'm weird because, though I love to laugh and have fun like anyone else, I really like to talk about doctrine as well. And apparently, that makes me weird to most of the other women I know - it always has. I don't get it, because if we say we love Jesus, why wouldn't we want to talk about biblical things? So, anyway, right now, I’m lonely. There. I finally said it. I have tried to reach out to a few other ladies who are home during the day, as I am, but how many times can you ask someone to meet you for lunch and have the answer always be that they are busy, but they’ll get with you soon before you realize they just aren’t that interested? Or maybe they are as wrapped up in their own lives as I tend to be, and we just aren’t able to get out of our little routine boxes. It doesn’t help that I live way out on “the island” while our church is 20 minutes away in town, where most everyone I know lives. And it doesn’t help that we don’t really have very many young families at our church with stay-home moms. My poor boys are sometimes the only kids in their Sunday School classes. I am struggling greatly right now, because there is a larger church we could attend (and, no, it is not Purpose Driven or seeker-sensitive, or any of that ugliness) where there would be women in the same stage of life as me and more kids for our boys to interact with, but D. doesn’t feel a release to leave our church right now. So, I’m praying that I will have the grace to bloom in the place God has me for now.

I have an ambivalent relationship with my blog at times, too. I’m able to articulate what I believe pretty well in writing, but I feel like such a hypocrite in my real life. I want so much to put into practice what I know is true. But so many days I find that I haven’t talked to anyone, other than my husband, who is over the age of eight. And I know that I need to get out of the house more and find a place to plug in. I know all the clichés: to have a friend you have to be a friend, etc. But I’m just saying, I’ve never found that to be as hard anywhere we’ve lived as it is here, for some reason.

So, I’m holding onto my verse: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3. And I continue to confess what I believe and know is true, no matter how I feel today. Because, honestly, I don’t always feel like I do right now, and it is not about how I feel anyway.

And I’m praying that I will get over myself and reach out, again, and find a place to plug in here, in this town, where God has planted our family. And I know He will lead me where He wants me to be, and He will never leave or forsake me – even if I’m in the wilderness for this season.

Psalm 34:1
“I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Psalm 33:20-22
“Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us,

Just as we hope in You.”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bear With Me While I Vent For a Moment...

One of my pet peeves lately has been this:

Five-year-old comes home with "Bible verse" he is to learn for this month in Sunday School. I look at "Bible verse" reminder paper. It says: "Jesus loved people..." Matt. 14:14. Now, I don't happen to have that particular verse memorized, but I'm pretty sure those words aren't verbatim. Here's what the verse actually says: "And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick." Matthew 14:14

Why do the authors of the children's curriculum think that 5-year-olds couldn't memorize that verse as is? When the conservative revolution happened in the Southern Baptist Convention, we may have won the battle, but we are quickly losing the war. We have GOT to stop dumbing down the teaching and start teaching the truth well from babies to adults. Though we say we believe the Bible is inerrant, we ARE NOT TEACHING IT! My husband teaches a class of young adults, most of whom are at least 10-15 years younger than we are. These young adults grew up in church, went to Sunday School, and do not know much Bible at all. They are the sad product of this watered-down method of teaching. Granted, now that they are adults, they need to be studying the Bible for themselves, but it is extremely sad to me that they were never given more than isolated stories with no context.

In what is becoming something of a theme with me, I am growing more and more convinced that we need to rethink the way we teach the Bible to our children. The Bible is a comprehensive history of God's redemptive plan. To teach isolated stories out of order and out of context and present them with watered down moral lessons is wrong. Our kids need to learn how big God is and how amazing His grace is. We must teach the whole counsel of the Word of God! No wonder these same young adults complain that the Bible is boring, stale, irrelevant. They do not know what a beautiful story of grace it really is!

My husband and I have been praying for our church for a long time now, and I believe God is beginning to open our eyes. First of all, our pastor is encouraging us and teaching us to really begin praying for revival.

As for our own family, what we've been doing is taking the scripture reference and teaching the boys the actual verse from the Bible. What a novel concept! And we are also still working through the catechism material we got from the Founders Ministries, but we really need to step that up, I think. So, we are praying for revival, praying God will show us what needs to change in our own lives, and thanking Him for every step we see this church take in the right direction. Only the Holy Spirit can bring about the heart change we all need.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Hope That Anchors the Soul

I'm so glad my salvation is not dependent on how I feel on any given day. I struggle often with feeling a little blue. Whether it's unneighborly neighbors, a cranky baby with a cold who isn't sleeping well, an 8-year-old who asks endless questions, a 5-year-old who has meltdowns when he's exhausted, or just plain old hormones, I've been a little down today. Our kindergartner had a 20 minute meltdown this evening over something extremely silly. He gives the phrase "hopping mad" new meaning, because he was hopping all around the living room tonight he was so mad that we'd told him, "no," about something he didn't need. I'm so thankful for my husband, who is much, much more patient than I. When M. hopped out of sight for a moment during the tantrum, D. and I looked at each other and almost fell off the couch in silent laughter. D.'s ability to laugh at such things is a blessing, let me tell you. Of course, we didn't let M. know we were laughing. Days like today make me question whether I have the wisdom to be a good parent. And you know what? I don't. But God does. And His grace is sufficient for me - even when all those things I listed up there are part of the circumstances around me.

This afternoon, when feeling blue, I wrote a poem about my hope. I'm sharing it here with you:

Before all time He is the Great I AM.
His glory all creation will proclaim.
We bow before the spotless, risen Lamb.
All praise is due unto His glorious Name.

The Three-In-One in matchless majesty
Salvation grants to sin-drenched fallen race;
By grace, through faith we have this mystery:
That God's own Son did suffer in our place.

By faith my sin and shame I do confess;
The Cross of Calvary: blood-bought ransom paid;
By grace I stand clothed in His righteousness,
And at His feet my sinful burden laid.

Oh, praise His name, Christ Jesus is the King;
To Him all knees will bow and voices sing!

Jesus is the hope that truly anchors my soul. My salvation rests on His righteousness, not my fickle feelings. Praise God for His matchless grace. Amen.

2 Corinthians 5:21 "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Hebrews 6:19 "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

Hebrews 7:25 "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Overheard At Our House Yesterday...

Granddad: "M., tell your mom & dad why you hit the floor so hard with the bowling ball when you're bowling."

M.: "Because I was killing terbites on the wood floor. I had to bang them."

(You know, terbites, those little bugs that eat wood........)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Saturday At WalMart

The problem with being a morning person, and the mother of a baby who is up no later than 6:30am any given morning, is that the stores don't open until 9am. At the earliest.

Let me back up. The list of what each parent is to supply for the big kindergarten Valentine's Day bash came home yesterday. M. needs a Valentine's gift bag by Monday so he can start decorating it for the party. I am assigned to provide 21 party favors for their treat bags. So, since the boys spent the night at their grandparents last night and D. is away for Army drill weekend and we needed formula anyway, Boo and I headed out this morning a little after 8:00 to try to find these items, because the "happy time" window before Boo needs a nap is pretty narrow when she wakes up so early in the morning.

I do have one little digression from a story that basically has no point anyway, which I will interject here. Why is it that on a weekday, when I'm in a hurry to get to piano lessons or a meeting somewhere, everyone on the island drives about 10-20 miles under the speed limit, but on Saturday, when nothing is open anyway, everyone feels the need to ride my bumper and act like we're all trying out for NASCAR and I'm just crimping their style by driving 46 MPH in a 45 MPH zone? I don't get it at all. Because, as I found when I drove to the Dollar General, nothing is open before 9am anyhow.

Seeing that sign on the door, I looked at the clock on my dashboard which said 8:38, and realized it would not do to sit in the parking lot for that long, so I resigned myself to do my shopping at WalMart this morning. Being open 24 hours means it was, of course, hopping. Perhaps all those Dale Jr. wannabes this morning were actually in a race to get the closest parking spot at WalMart. Or it could have been Lowe's. They were open, too, I saw. At any rate, Boo and I found ourselves at my least favorite shopping destination this morning. If Target wasn't in the next town over, we'd go there, but, alas, I'm not sure the rumors I keep hearing of our town getting a Target are ever going to come true.

We found M.'s gift bag, the groceries I needed and some party favors, as well as the required Valentine's cards they will be needing shortly (might as well spare myself another trip out here and get them now!), paid for said items and began our walk back to the parking lot. Because the seat on the WalMart carts is somehow wider than the ones at the grocery store, Boo's carseat will not set on it the way I usually do. This means her carseat takes up all of the cart, while my purchases were placed underneath. This is an important tidbit, because as I approached our car, I noticed that one of the bags was drooping off the bottom of the cart and spilling bananas into the parking lot. I looked behind me and noticed we'd already left a box of chai behind as well. So, looking so put together, I gathered up all the scattered purchases, put them in the van, took the cart to the cart corral, carried Boo in her 500 pound carrier back to the car.....and looked at her feet. One sock missing. I looked back at the corral, there was one purple sock all on its lonesome there where she had kicked it off. Meanwhile, there were two cars waiting for me to hurry up, lady, and get your car loaded already since we had a close spot, but I ran over and retrieved the sock anyway. Oh, I forgot to mention that while loading the bags, it occurred to me I ought to check and make sure I hadn't left anything else behind when the bag slipped. Sure enough, only two packages of party favors when there should have been three. At least I was pretty sure I'd been carrying 3 through the store. I checked the receipt - only 2 "novelties" listed. Somehow the third package never made it through the checkout with me. It's probably still sitting there on the counter, or has already been rung up with whoever came along behind me. Someone is probably at home now putting away their purchases saying, "Why do I have a package of little stretchy hearts???"

By this time, the Dollar Tree was open, so I moved the car closer to it and ran in with Boo. They had the same party favors!! I would only need to buy one!! Then I checked my purse. No cash. None. Back to the car we went and I scavenged through the change holder and came up with $0.17 and a handful of peppermints from Sonic. So close, but yet, so far. Am I pathetic, or what? Then I happened to look in the back seat. J. had left his lunchbox there yesterday afternoon! And he had just enough change in his "just in case there is a bake sale in the cafeteria" pocket for me to run back to the Dollar Tree and buy the last package of party favors (remind me not to reprimand him for his carelessness, just this once). I almost did the dance of joy right there in the parking lot, but decided I looked foolish enough as it was. Though I don't think I looked nearly as foolish as the woman across the parking lot who, it looked like out of the corner of my eye, popped her child in the face (at least, she did something in the child's face, because when I looked up, child was holding her mouth) and proceeded to yell at her. Loudly. Good reminder to watch my own tone of voice with my kids, by the way. And this is why I do not like WalMart shopping. Excuse me, it's "WalMarts" when you live in the south. Have a great day.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


When I hear similar messages from several writers or speakers, I begin to think God is leading them to say something He especially wants His people to hear. If so, I desperately want to listen. I’ve been reading and hearing about revival in several different places in the last few days, and I’m growing more and more aware of how needy we are in this respect. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking this week about revival and she’s been sharing about some of the great movements of God that have been seen in fairly recent history – like the Great Awakening and the Welsh revival. She was talking today about how when the Spirit of God moves, people begin to be broken over their sin. Oh, how we need that again today. Oh, how I need that today.

In all the talk about prayer recently, I want to be sure that in my zeal to be doctrinally correct that I never lose sight of a right passion for worship. I want to worship my Lord by believing correctly, yes, indeed. And I want to worship Him with all my being, as well. By how I pray, how often I pray, for what I ask when I pray – I want to be worshipping Him. I have heard the people who tend toward the contemplative prayer methods ask what we are afraid of; they say there isn’t anything wrong with reading the Bible then sitting quietly and pondering what we’ve read. And that is true. But only so long as we approach the Bible as God’s Word, His complete revelation to us, through His Son. Nothing that we ponder in that quiet must contradict the settled Word. And we must be thinking intelligently on what we’ve read and what it means and how to apply it correctly, not just vainly repeating a phrase and waiting for a mystical revelation.

I do think that we who are doctrinally conservative need to put into practice what we know to be true. We need to be on our faces in repentance before our holy God. I need to be on my face in repentance before our holy God. When Isaiah was given a vision of God on His throne in all His holiness, he recognized his sinfulness, his total unworthiness to be there. We need to be praying that God would instill us with such a sense of awe for His holiness, and such a passion to obey Him at any cost, that our lives will be transformed. I am talking to myself here. I know that I stand on God’s Word as my sure foundation. Where I falter, however, is that, though I know the truth, far too often I allow the distractions of the everyday to encroach. I do not spend the time praying and meditating on the Word (and I mean that in the plainest meaning of the word – thinking deeply upon what I’ve read and pondering what it means) that would transform the way I relate first to God and then to those around me. And for me, to know the right thing to do, and to do it not, is sin.

I am beginning to cry out to God to show me any wicked way in me that is hindering me from living the Spirit-filled life I so want to live. I am beginning to cry out to God to grant me not just a desire, but a passion to obey His Word. I do not want to just be a hearer of the Word, I want to obey it! I am beginning to cry out to God that He would grant me the kind of longing for revival that I would weep and pray with dedication that my heart would be filled with a passion for His holiness and glory. Only through His power will we see the change we so desperately want to see. When He brings conviction of sin, then people will begin to come to the Savior.

Before those great revivals, God moved in the hearts of His people to pray. Some of those believers sowed prayers in tears for years before they ever saw fruit. May I be faithful to pray and seek His face, and seek to live a holy life before His face day by day. May I not be distracted by the tyranny of the day to day things, but may I do those day to day things to His glory.

When Moses saw the burning bush, and God spoke to him, he hid his face when he realized that it was Yahweh who spoke to him. When Solomon finished the temple, and the Ark was brought in, when the priests came out of the holy place, “…the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8:11) When Isaiah saw the LORD, he said, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5) After God revealed Himself to Job and spoke, Job said, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:4-5) John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) And when John the beloved apostle saw the risen, glorified Lord Jesus in Revelation, he fell at His feet as though dead. (Revelation 1:17)

When we recognize Who God really is, we cease striving, and know that He is God. Our pride is brought low to that poverty of spirit that Jesus spoke of. Our vain arguments are silenced before His supreme holiness. I pray that we will begin to hunger and yearn for that kind of understanding of our King, our Savior, and our Lord. He is not our buddy, boyfriend, homeboy, copilot or any of that. He is LORD. I pray that He will bring the conviction to our hearts to fall on our faces before Him, confess our sin, and passionately obey out of a heart of reverent fear, love and worship.

Writer's Blah

Feeling the writer's block beginning again....I have a serious post I'm wanting to write, but can't seem to get the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head the past few days to settle out. I need to go read my Bible and pray on it some more, I think.

Also, I had a great post about something I'm dealing with one of my kids about, but took it down, too. I started thinking about how I would feel if all my dirty laundry had been aired by my mom when I was growing up. I wouldn't have liked it a bit. So, I'm rethinking how much I wanted to say, and it's probably going into the blogging netherworld of the delete button. So, for this moment, that's all I've got. Must go be about the business of real life now. I'll get back to the blog as time permits.