Thursday, May 31, 2007

Taking a Personal Moment to Reflect

Psalm 139:14-16
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.”

Psalm 139:23-24
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”

I am 36 years old today. Thirty-six. One year closer to 40. I’m closer to 40 now than I am to 30. I don’t get too hung up on age, but 36 is a funny number for me. For some reason, the year my mom turned 36 was the first year I remember knowing and thinking about her age on her birthday. I remember making her a card that year. And for years afterward I always thought of her as being 36. She stayed that age in my mind for a long time. I don’t know why. Thirty-six seemed such a long way off for me then. And I thought my Mom and Dad knew everything.

And now here I am at 36. Amazing that I don’t feel I know much of anything. Especially as a parent. I feel often that I’m flying by the seat of my pants and learning as I go along and hoping I don’t mess up my kids too badly when I make mistakes. I guess my parents probably felt much the same way. And by God’s grace they were (and still are!) good parents. I’m thankful for them. I’m thankful I can still talk to them, get advice, and, most importantly, discuss the things of the Lord with them. What a blessing.

When I was younger, I got a little annoyed when people would tell me how time would fly when I got older. I just wanted high school to hurry up and be over, and it seemed such a long way off. And now, here I am, and it’s been 14 years since I graduated from college! How is that possible? Now I’m the annoying one telling people how much time will fly when they get older. As a kid, the months between birthdays seemed to take forever. Now, it’s a blink and I’m another year older.

And my kids! How in the world are they growing up so fast? I want to enjoy them. I don’t want to allow myself to get so swamped in getting through the everyday stuff (or so involved in blogging, perhaps??) that I don’t take time to imprint this time in my memory and spend quality, quantity time listening to my kids and investing time and energy and love in them. I want to love and cherish them now, before they are grown.

And my sweet husband. What a good man he is. He is so incredibly patient with me. I don’t think I’m all that easy to live with, but he loves me and shows it in so many ways. There’s a little more gray in his hair than when I met him, and sometimes I wonder if I’m helping put it there! What a blessing to grow in grace alongside this man as we, together, grow closer to Christ and grow as parents. He’s really my best friend, and I am truly thankful for him. I love you, D.

I pray that however many more years the Lord grants me here that I will be a good steward of the time I’m given. May I learn more to live a life of praise for the glory of my Savior. May I share my love for Jesus with my children, my husband, my family, my church and with others. Jesus is the center and Lord of my life, and I want the days of my life to be lived for His glory that I may reflect Him to others. I have been so very blessed.

Thank You, God, for saving me and keeping me. Let me live sold out to You. Fill me and use me and let my life be a symphony of praise to You, for You are the only One who matters most. Thank You for another year of life. Help me to be a blessing to my family, my church and anyone You put in my life, and let me sing Your praise faithfully all the days of my life.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some Pictures Don't Need Words

May Our Hearts Be Broken, Not Arrogant

I saw something so sad the other day. It was a video of two young girls basically mocking and laughing or rejoicing about people who are either dead in their sins or on their way to hell. These girls are part of a “church” (it’s mostly members of one family by birth or marriage) that spews hatred and calls it preaching the gospel. Their justification for this arrogant, hateful attitude is that they say it is God’s will that people who don’t believe just like them and follow their grandfather, who is the preacher and leader of this inbred group, go to hell, so they must love it. And, yes, they said to follow this man, they did not say to repent of sin and believe on the Lord Jesus. It turned my stomach, and I’m not going to link to the video or even dignify their “church” by naming it, but they’ve been in the news because of the type of picketing they do, and you’ve probably heard of them.

The very idea that anyone would rejoice over people going to hell is repulsive, to say the least. Loving God’s law does not necessitate rejoicing over the state of the lost. Ezekiel 33:11 says, “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” We are to grieve over the lost and share the truth with them so that some will come to faith in Christ. Spewing venomous slogans at them and triumphing over their demise is not biblical, and it is not sharing the gospel.

God’s prophet Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because he was so grieved over the impending judgment of Israel. And he understood that the judgment was just and that it was God’s will. But it grieved him, nonetheless. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Though their hearts were hardened against Him, He wept over their unbelief. He didn’t spew venom over them and gleefully joke about their going to hell. He went to the cross and spilled His blood to save sinners who would believe on Him. As He bled and died, He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

I believe that God is sovereign. I believe that Jesus died to cleanse us from sin. We are not the judge of anyone’s eternal soul. Only God has that right. We are called to testify to His amazing grace. We are called to bring the true gospel into all the world, making disciples and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20). No where do we see the apostles gleefully laughing over the fact that sinners die and go to hell. Nor did they pridefully mock, scorn or picket anyone who was caught up in sin. They preached the gospel. They preached it accurately, strongly and with power. Yes, the results of the preaching are in God's hands, but we are to passionately tell everyone about Jesus. The lost need to hear God’s Word. They need to hear the gospel preached in its entirety. How shall they hear without a preacher?

By no means should we downplay sin and the need for repentance, but we must also never leave off teaching the love and mercy and grace of God. To just spew hateful slogans and write off sinners who are still in bondage to their sin without giving them the hope that is found in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ is the height of hypocrisy. And, to go too far the other way, as many churches today do in the name of being seeker sensitive, and focus only on God’s love without warning of His wrath against sin and not warning that true repentance is necessary for those who would follow Christ is also to teach a false gospel. And repentance is not simply changing my mind, as I heard a pastor say recently. It is a 180 degree turn from a life of loving the world and being enslaved to my sin to a life of acknowledging my sin before God and living for Him in faith, trusting in Christ’s righteousness to reconcile me to God. It is a radical life change through the power of the Holy Spirit because of the blood of Christ and His righteousness imputed to me, an undeserving sinner. Both aspects of the gospel, sin and the need for repentance and the grace and mercy offered by Jesus’ death on the cross, are necessary for an accurate presentation. Those who have been forgiven much must remember from where we have come. We, too, were in bondage to sin before the Lord opened our eyes through the teaching of His Word. May we have a brokenhearted, passionate, urgent concern for the lost. I grieve for these girls who have been taught this hateful way from birth. They, too, need to hear the true gospel.

I am convicted as I think about these things that too often I keep my mouth shut when I need to be sensitive to share with people. If I really believe that hell is real, and I do, it is imperative that I be willing to share the faith boldly. And if we really believe the time is short until the Lord returns, we need to be sure to be telling people to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the only way to salvation. I sit here knowing that far too often I am too content to just write about these things and go about my business, and I'm too often such a hermit that I'm not out in the community enough to have a witness to anyone.

Lord, guard our hearts from arrogant pride. It is only by Your grace that we are saved. Help us, first of all, to love You so much that all other affections pale in comparison, and help us to love people enough to share the truth with them in love and in a way that demonstrates that we care about them. I know that the Cross is life to those who believe, but it is offensive to sinners who do not want to repent. But please let the offense come in the message, not because we are offensive in how we deliver it. Please grant us a concern and passion to share Your gospel truthfully and boldly with the world, and let us be sensitive to Your Spirit to speak a word in season to anyone who will listen so that the lost can hear the truth. Pierce my heart, Lord, to be brokenhearted over these things and to really care about my friends and neighbors.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Things That Make Us Laugh

Last night while sitting with his feet on the desk and knees up to his chin, M told us he likes to sit like that at school and do his work. (He’s very flexible – he can even put his feet behind his head.) I asked him if that wasn’t against the rules.

“Oh, yes,” he said. “We’re not supposed to do it. I put them on my desk when the teacher isn’t looking and then take them down when she turns around.”

Hmm. That would explain a whole lot about the notes home we get about his need to practice his writing and coloring. It’s fairly hard to write well and color in the lines when you’re practicing your Cirque du Soleil routine at the same time.

Then M told us that he can color with his feet.

“You can?” D and I said together.
“Yep. During free art I do it that way.”


Today D had to go in to work for a few minutes, and since Walmart is having a huge sale on sodas, he went over there, too, and did some grocery shopping for me. Hooray, I got to share the grocery duties today! Well, he always gets much more interesting things from the store than boring ol’ mommy does. He found root beer and Dr. Pepper popsicles this morning. The boys are ecstatic. Well, they’re excited, anyway. After lunch they ran to the freezer and picked some out. Sugar is just what they needed after already being so wound up this morning that they were fighting and wrestling with each other over some silly argument (it really was over something very silly) so much that they woke their little sister up from her nap resulting in the appearance of Little Miss Cranky for a couple of hours until I finally gave her lunch and made her take another nap. The boys are now outside eating their popsicles so cranky Boo can rest and be Happy Boo later on.

J looked at his popsicle and said, “Is it really Dr. Pepper flavored?”

Then he burped. Loudly. And he said, “Oh, yes. It’s definitely Dr. Pepper.” And his brother thought that was extremely funny. Burping is comic relief around our house.

And here’s a little example of M’s joke-telling fun. He told us this one from the back seat of the car yesterday.

M said, “You know what you get when the chicken crosses the road?”
We said, “What?”
M said, “A dead chicken.”
D said, “I thought you got lunch.”
M said, “No, you get a dead chicken.”
And D said, “Yeah, you get chicken nuggets.”
M said, “Huh?”
D said, “You know, dead chicken, chicken nuggets.”
M said, “Uh-unh. I don’t get it. You get a dead chicken.”
I said, “Good one!” Then to D, “He doesn’t get it, we’d better just laugh and drop it or this will go on until we get home……”

Life with boys is certainly interesting.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Something I'm Thinking Through

I heard someone say somewhere this past week that God will NOT interfere with our free will. I’m not going into a deep or comprehensive discussion of free will here – that’s a topic that has been debated for centuries, but, after reading through the Old and New Testament of the Bible, I do not see how we can biblically say that God NEVER interferes with man's free will. For just one example, He opened Paul’s eyes spiritually on the road to Damascus while blinding them physically. If he had left Paul (Saul) to his own free will he would have continued on in the same murderous path sincerely, but wrongly, thinking he was serving God. (Acts 9)

Romans 3:10-18 demonstrates what my free will chooses apart from God.
“As it is written:
‘There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.’
‘Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit’;
The poison of asps is under their lips’;
‘Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.’
‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.’
‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”

The very fact that I am saved is proof that He does, in fact, do that very thing - interfere with my free will. The natural man cannot understand or receive the things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:14) It does not say he will not, it says he cannot. The natural man, left only to his own free will, cannot receive the things of God or even know them. God had to regenerate my heart for me to even understand my need for a savior. Only by His grace can I exercize faith in Christ, and thereby was my will freed from the bondage of sin and freed to live for God’s glory. In my natural sin nature, I would not choose God’s glory. My sin nature is a prideful, selfish thing bent only to rebel against God and to try to approach Him through my own way and my own efforts rather than surrendering to Him in faith and humility, recognizing that I cannot live up to His righteous standard – my righteousness is as filthy rags. Even my best effort to please Him falls far, far short of His standard of holiness. It is only Christ’s righteousness imputed to me through His blood shed on the cross that has cleansed me and reconciled me to God. Apart from God’s intervention, I would never know Him. Apart from God’s intervention, I would not even want to know Him – at least not in truth as He has revealed Himself in His word.

Anytime God protects me from my own stupid judgments or mistakes He is interfering in some way with my free will. Anytime He calls to my remembrance His word and pricks my heart with conviction, He is interfering with my will, for He is turning my thoughts and heart back to His way. Anytime He chooses to allow me to suffer the consequences of my actions, He’s still interfering with my will, because the Bible says that all things work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28-30) He is in control. I am not.

I don’t pretend to understand how God’s sovereignty works with the choices I make throughout life and with what the Bible teaches is my responsibility to obey Him and believe the Gospel, but I do know that He is sovereign over all. The only way I could even try to say that I have true free will is from my own limited perspective when I make decisions. Because I don’t see God’s plan, I have to make choices based on what I do know, but God is still in control ultimately. So, from my limited perspective, I am making decisions using the mind, will, emotions, understanding and other resources God has given me like scripture, prayer and godly counsel, but He still works everything for my good and His glory. I don’t pretend to have all that figured out, because God’s ways are higher than mine and His thoughts are not my thoughts. But I definitely trust that God is in control – sovereign over all, and is not boxed up and bound to my pitiful will.

God will not share His glory with another. He is not subject to my whims – to follow through the notion that God will NOT ever interfere with man’s free will is to ultimately lead to open theism. Not a slippery slope I want to slide on.

Praise Him, oh praise Him that He has not left me only to my will. Left to just my will, I would never have chosen to follow Him. It is because He awakened my spiritually dead heart and opened my spiritually blind eyes that I was able to see the depth of my sin and total need for a Savior. It is the Holy Spirit in me through faith in Jesus Christ that produces the fruit of the Spirit and allows me to understand God’s word and grants me a love and passion for His word. I do want to persevere and obey and use the knowledge and understanding He has granted. I do want to seek His kingdom first and for my love for Christ to be such that all other affections pale in comparison. I do want to be found faithful. But I could never have had those desires had I not been born again by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I say again, praise my glorious savior that I am not left with Him never interfering with my will.

Let me have a teachable heart, Lord. Teach me, I pray. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and change my heart so that I will hunger and thirst for righteousness and hunger and thirst for more of Your word. Work in me so that I will obey and do what You call me to do.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

And Great Fun Was Had By Most

M loved climbing on the rocks and playing in the water

M with his good friends the twins - we heard a lot about his exploits with these two boys

I survived the kindergarten graduation at the beach!!! After all the anticipation and running around at the last minute to get my husband’s (and some of the other parents’) background check done, it wasn’t completed by the district in time for the big day. Bummer. So, he got to go to work as usual, and I got to go to the beach with the kindergarten classes and Boo.

It was a beautiful day, breezy and not too hot – perfect for a kindergarten graduation and picnic. All the classes lined up and sang some cute songs they’d been working on during the year. The one they sang to the tune of “New York, New York” about going on to first grade even brought tears to my eyes. I can’t believe my little M is going into first grade!! He’s just getting so big.

I started the day a little perturbed about the semi lack of planning for this trip. Then at the grocery store while picking up the chicken tenders I had added to what I’d already signed up to bring because of the note that came home chiding us parents because not enough people had signed up to bring chicken (hence some of the frustration along with the fact that hubby didn’t get to come), I ran into some other parents who were feeling just as perturbed. We all were wondering why we couldn’t just have everyone bring their own sack lunches – it would have been much easier to plan that way. Oh, and we ended up with so much chicken that the squirrels got into all the leftovers after lunch. So, in a weird sort of way I felt better to know that pretty much all the parents would have rather done this in the school auditorium. Then when I got to the beach and opened the back of the van, the smaller of the two coolers I’d packed fell out on my foot. Ouch. I got M’s beach bag, which he’d forgotten to take into school for the bus ride with his friends, my bag of towels and Boo’s diaper bag with her lunch, two coolers and Boo’s stroller out of the van. Can you see where this is heading? I got most of the stuff over to the picnic area, left Boo in the care of a mom I trusted, and went back for the big cooler. This would have been so much easier with the other half of M’s parents at the beach. Sigh. Then, when we moms who had arrived before the school bus got all the food spread out in the picnic pavilion, the school bus arrived, and my son’s teacher said that we needed to split our class from the other classes and go way over to the other picnic tables. Sigh again. So, we tried to figure out which chicken boxes and other food stuffs were from our class and trekked across the way down to the beach tables under the trees. Thankfully some of the other dads helped with all our coolers because we moms said we just couldn’t carry them that much further.

With that little complaint out of the way, I have to say that the day actually turned out really nicely. I loved their little concert, and the kids had a blast when we broke up into groups to have a scavenger hunt for shells, crabs, drift wood, etc. Then, after lunch, the kids got to play in the water. Some of the parents and teachers stood out about knee deep and kept the kids from going out deeper and they had fun in the chilly water jumping in the waves, which were pretty strong since the tide was coming in. I have to brag on Boo, too. We had just found out the afternoon before that she has an ear infection, so I was nervous about how she’d do if she wasn’t feeling well. She was great. She just chilled out in her stroller until lunch, ate some of the chicken and other food we’d brought, then enjoyed being carried around the beach for the scavenger hunt and wading. She wasn’t too thrilled about having her feet down on the sand or in the water, but I guess those waves must have seemed pretty intimidating to her. We were so much past her nap time that she finally just fell asleep in my arms while we were wading with the kids after lunch. But she never fussed. And M got to have a great time playing in the waves with his buddies. I put up some pictures of him with his good friends, but I painted out the school name on their shirts.

All in all, the kids had a good time, and we were there for them. That’s what really mattered, not the frustration we parents felt about the planning or lack thereof. So, one more week of school, and then we’re off for summer break! We’re all pretty excited about that around here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

In Which I Ramble On About Nothing Important

After all the excitement on Monday, things are kind of quiet around the Sweet Tea household. That’s okay with me. Oliver seems to be on the mend with medication that is helping manage the pain and acting more like himself, and the boys (and D and I, too) are relieved. Boo annoys him, though, when she sees him lying in the floor minding his own business and she gets that excited little gleam in her eyes and makes a beeline right for him so she can put her fingers in his beard. He patiently gets up and moves, until she does it for the umpteenth time and he’s had enough and gives her a little growl. Then her feelings are hurt and she bawls. Things are back to normal for sure.

The boys are going to be in our local paper sometime soon, and they were somewhat apprehensive about it this afternoon. Because D works in the medical fitness field at the hospital, he got into contact with the local paper to do a story about the kids’ Playstation game with the dance/aerobics mat. Something about interactive games as opposed to just sitting still. Anyway, this particular game isn’t actually our boys’ favorite – they’d rather play the Star Wars games – but they get to be in the article demonstrating their game. Kind of neat. I dropped them off at D’s office this afternoon to meet with the reporter and photographer, and Boo and I headed off to the grocery store. Does anyone else feel like you live at the grocery store? No matter how well I plan out our menu, I always end up having to go back for something a few days a week.

Well, another side-effect of all the excitement is that I’m feeling a bit of blog brain freeze. I’ve tried working on a couple of real posts, but they just aren’t ready yet, so I’m stuck with mundane ramblings again. Maybe the thoughts will settle out soon. But, at the moment, I’m mostly thinking about how the boys need to go to bed on time tonight so D and I can watch the LOST season finale. I don’t blog much about TV because TV, for the most part, is pretty silly and there’s not much that we feel good about watching and we don’t really watch much, anyway, but we did get interested in LOST in the first season, and have stayed with it because the writing is so good and the story is interesting. Sometimes a little too interesting, in that the mysteries get a little frustrating when they drag out so long, and some of the story line could be becoming a bit creepy (not sure I’m liking the whole bit with Jacob, if you watch it, you know what I mean) – I’m hoping in the end the explanations will be rational and not some weird spiritual thing. That always concerns me a bit, and if it goes too far off we’ll have to quit. But now that the writers have an end date in sight, it’s getting good again. I feel a little guilty being so interested in a TV show, but I do enjoy a good mystery.

On another note entirely, today was a good mail day. The books I ordered from the Westminster Bookstore came, and I’m looking forward to getting started reading them with the boys. Thanks, Leslie for pointing me over there! And I’m re-reading Hard to Believe by John MacArthur. Very, very deep thinking. Some of that is what I’m mulling over in those more serious posts in the draft folder. I should be getting my copy of Truth War soon, too. And summer reading starts at the library soon, so I’ve got to get the boys over there this week and sign up. I just found out they have an adult summer reading program, too, so I may try to squeeze in some fun mystery reading as well and join in. (You know, because I have so much spare time for reading. Ha, ha, ha, ha!) I’ve been planning some fun things for summer with the kids, too. I think I’m as excited about the break as they are.

Oh, and with all the end of the year excitement comes a major headache inducing frustration, too. The kindergarten classes have planned to have the kindergarten graduation out at the beach this year rather than in the school auditorium as they’ve always done in the past. It will be a big picnic with all the families bringing food and enjoying this Friday at the beach. Sounds like fun, huh? You would think so, but, the school district has to throw in its red tape. This year is the first year that new screening guidelines were implemented for anyone who wanted to volunteer in the classroom or chaperone a field trip. What the kindergarten teachers forgot to realize was that the school considers this trip to the beach a field trip. Any parent who wants to attend must have a background check done and be screened by the district office. I had already been screened and approved earlier this year when I volunteered in J’s classroom, but my husband has not. We found out yesterday that he needs to be approved or he cannot come on Friday. In fact, so many parents have not been screened that the trip may be canceled. He filled out the form and I took it in yesterday morning only to be told that he has to personally hand it in, it can’t come from me. So, he took the boys to school this morning and filled out the paperwork. We’re hoping he’s cleared in time for Friday. Actually, it’s becoming such a hassle, I’m secretly hoping the whole thing gets canceled and we can go back to having it in the school auditorium and I can get Boo back home for a decent nap rather than trying to juggle a cranky baby all day at the beach. Sigh. Oh, and the irony is, if we just have a production at the school, none of us would have to be screened and approved. We’d just go to the auditorium. How’s that for not making much sense? We were wondering what’s to stop anyone from just showing up at the beach, approved or not. It’s a public beach! Anyway, I am actually glad that they are taking the safety of our children this seriously, but it’s sad to me that we live in a society where such drastic measures are necessary.

So, there you have it. My not so very deep thoughts for this Wednesday.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Roller Coaster of a Day

Last night when we came home from church, our dog, Oliver, was lying in the floor listlessly. He slowly got to his feet when we came in, and when J called to him to let him out, he just stood there looking forlorn. D finally coaxed him outside, but he was moving oh, so slowly and finally yelped like he was in pain. This is not at all like him. He is the most neurotic, spunky, little dog who barks and jumps and gets all excited when we come home then jumps around the back door wanting to be let out so he can run around the back yard. We were concerned he’d had a stroke or something. He is almost 11 years old, after all. Then we noticed the huge dog across the fence in our next door neighbors’ yard. They’ve just moved in, and we haven’t even had the chance to meet them, so this was the first we’d seen of this dog.

Oliver seemed terrified of that big dog next door. At first we wondered if that might be what his problem was. A little over a year ago, while staying at our vet’s office for “camp” while we were out of town, a big dog had dug under the kennel fence and attacked “Little Buddy”, aka LB. Oliver is a tough little guy, but he was hurt pretty badly and couldn’t bark for several months afterward. Our vet felt terrible about it and all of Oliver’s resultant care was on the house seeing as it happened on their watch, but he recovered fully, except that he now has quite a healthy respect for big dogs on the other side of his fence. We also wondered, since we haven’t yet met our new neighbors, if it might even be the same dog. That wouldn’t be much fun for Oliver.

Well, last night, Oliver didn’t sleep on our bed and when I got up this morning, I noticed that he wasn’t even on the couch where he usually sleeps when he’s not in our room. He was in the hall floor, and he didn’t get up when I talked to him. I finally got him to go outside, but he was moving really slowly and he didn’t do anything but look at me pitifully, so I brought him back in and he laid down on the floor and didn’t get up again. I was worried. I know he’s just a dog, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s not all that important. But he’s our dog and he’s been a part of our family for over 10 years and all of the kids’ lives, so it’s a big deal for us.

When I took Oliver in to the vet today, he at first thought that maybe he had strained his neck or back somehow. We can’t figure out what he did, because it must have happened while we were at church last night. Maybe he fell down the stairs or jumped off the couch wrong. Anyway, the vet kept him for a few hours to do x-rays and blood work. Then he called me to tell me that Oliver was severely anemic, so something else must be going on and it must be serious and they needed to do more tests. I have been just sure all day that Oliver probably wouldn’t be coming home and we’d be having to explain to the kids that he’d had a good life, but wouldn’t be home anymore. We even had talked to the kids about how Adam’s sin didn’t only affect us. It affected all of creation. That’s why animals die and why we are sad and sinful. We live in a broken, fallen world. Even the earth was cursed, and all of creation groans for the day when it will be made perfect again. I know that dealing with the death of a pet is just an inevitable part of being a pet owner, and this scare was a teachable moment for sure, but not one I wanted to have last night.

Well, D called the vet before he came home tonight, and they were ready to discharge Oliver. After doing more tests, they couldn’t find anything, so they re-ran the anemia test and he isn’t anemic after all. Seems it’s a sprained neck like we originally thought.

So, after crying all day, it was nice to welcome Oliver back. He’s feeling pretty crummy, but he’s going to be okay. I know that, though we’re so relieved to have him home tonight, we’ve only postponed the inevitable. There will be a day in the not too distant future when we’ll have to cry with the kids, but it’s not today. And for that I’m glad.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Mommy Blog Post and a Potentially Touchy Subject

A Mom's Thoughts

Baby smiles and tight little hugs
A little boy’s joy for collecting bugs
A 6-year-old’s chatter sitting in the back seat
A bedroom that probably never will stay neat

Looking at the world through fingerprinted windows
Wiping tear-stained face and runny nose
Listening to all their dreams and fears
Cleaning up peanut butter and jelly smears

Rejoicing with them when they succeed
Crying with them when they bleed
Questions, questions ‘til I can’t think straight
Remember, Mom, he’s only eight

Caught in the moment I forget how time flies
One day they’ll be grown and I’ll miss their cries
Help me to cherish them today, in this hour
Jesus, grant me the wisdom to parent through Your power

Lord, I fall so short each day
Help us in this task, I pray
In all the little things we do
Help us to point them straight to You

Deuteronomy 6:6-8
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

I know that my husband and I are primarily responsible for training our children spiritually. I also know that I, as the one who is home with them most during the day, fall very short at times in this. I love my children. I want desperately to teach them about the Lord. I also am not a “kid person” by nature. I have a short patience level for childishness. I have to constantly remind myself to try to see things through their eyes and to remember that they are not little adults and they are still learning to think rationally. This can make living with three little people difficult if I walk in the flesh. That’s one vital reason it is important not to walk in the flesh and to daily deny myself and live for Christ. I can honestly say that He has granted me patience for things I never would have thought possible. But I have a long way to grow, too.

My husband and I struggled a lot with the decision about schooling our children. There was a lot of pressure from Christian friends to homeschool. At this time, we do not feel the calling to do so. Can I just tell you that I have experienced such guilt over this issue? I have really felt that maybe I just don’t love my kids as much as my homeschooling friends do. I finally realized that’s not true. I do love them. I also know that for now, in the situation we find ourselves in at this moment, homeschooling is not the best option for our family. I respect very much those who do homeschool and do it well, and there are very, very many like that. But we’ve really been made to feel that we somehow are sinning to not do so at this time. Now, I want to hasten to add that we are watching, paying attention, getting to know their teachers, and should a time ever come that we believe that having them in public school is harmful where we are, we need to be willing to pull them out, and I pray we will be.

We are aware of the many excellent reasons for homeschooling, and I’m not going into all the whys and why nots of our decision - we considered many things - for they are our situation, not anyone else’s. This is an issue each family has to decide for themselves with much prayer. And I hope that each of us who are part of the family of Christ will love each other enough to respect the choice each family makes in this issue and be kind to each other. No matter how convinced we are that our decision is right, we need to respect that each family faces its own circumstances in approaching the issue of how to educate their children.

One thing I am greatly aware of, however, is that with our decision to have our children in the public school at this time, we need to be even more diligent and purposeful in training them spiritually. We’ve got to really be listening to them, talking to them and teaching them our worldview, because I know that they are surrounded daily by people who hold a vastly different worldview from ours. We’ve got to make sure we address things as they come up, not letting things slide or glossing over worldly attitudes, and teach them to think biblically. So, we are looking at ways to do that more effectively. I am constantly searching my own heart with regard to my lack of patience. I do not want my selfishness to hinder how I interact with my kids. They are too important for me to neglect teaching them what really matters.

We also believe that God is sovereign. We have dedicated these children to Him, and we intend to teach them about His grace. I hope that we are making the right decisions in all areas of parenting. I hope that when we look back over the years we will be able to rest in knowing we did our best with His leadership and that we sought His way not our own. But I’ll be having those same hopes no matter whether we keep them in school or pull them out to homeschool. Every choice we make has consequences, and I do not know the future for my kids. But God does know. I trust Him to hold them and draw them to Himself and grant them saving faith. That does not mean that I let my guard down and become lazy. On the contrary, because I know these things matter deeply, I want to be faithful and intentional in teaching them and in who I allow to teach them. And I trust Him to lead us to make the right choices for them along the way and to forgive us and protect them when we err. That’s the best any of us can do. And our God is faithful. He chose to give us these children, and we have to trust Him to be good all the time and to lead us in how to parent them.

So, whether we homeschool or not, we parents do need to make sure we are talking with our kids, spending real one-on-one time with them and hearing and listening to them in such a way that we can discern how they are thinking through things. This is our calling as parents – to train them up in the Lord. I pray that we will do it well and that we will obey our Lord to be faithful in this task.

Being Aware, But Not Fearful

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High,
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two,
He burns the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

I heard something this week that has spurred me on to pray with more urgency. I don't necessarily endorse everything Focus on the Family says and does, but their broadcasts this week were sobering and informative regarding a very real threat that people in the free world face and that our media and leaders are not honestly addressing. If you get the chance, the daily broadcasts from this week are worth hearing.

I agree with what Michael Youssef said on the Wednesday broadcast that the only real answer and only hope to these concerns is real revival. I believe this is true with regard to the topic that the broadcasts this week address, but also with regard to what we see happening in our churches today with people sitting in the pews not really having a clue what they believe, so being ripe for deception.

May we who love Christ be on our knees, repenting and praying for revival. I confess that listening this past week to these broadcasts I have been tempted to fear. I also don't believe that America has any guarantee of special protection or blessing, so my confidence is not in my country and this world, but in my God. Whatever happens to my country, God is in control. I know that no matter what is happening, Jesus warned us to look up when we see these things begin to happen. Whether the Lord returns today or years from now, He is sovereign. He is in control. His plan is in motion. He is not surprised by any of what is happening today - not the global wars and looming wars, and not the apostacy and false teaching flooding into the church. None of it is a surprise to Him or outside of His sovereignty. And at the end of the end times, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is all ultimately for His glory alone. We do not fear man. I pray that those of us who have eyes to see will bow and pray and repent and seek God for revival. I’m praying for the strength and conviction to stand firm, no matter what the future holds. We need to get about the business of worshiping our Lord and really knowing what we believe so that we can give a defense to anyone who asks about the hope that is in us with gentleness and reverence and fear for our God.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Another E-Mail Rant

I got another one of those e-mail forwards yesterday that said I would score 100 or zero. I get a 100 if I love Jesus and pass this thing on to at least 10 people. I score a zero if I don’t pass it on seeing as I must not love Jesus if I don’t want to pass on this picture that was the e-mail. Most of these kinds of e-mails say something like this:

“Jesus Test
This is an easy test, you score 100 or zero. It's your choice. If you aren't ashamed to do this, please follow the directions.

Jesus said, "if you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father."
Not ashamed Pass this on . . only if you mean it.
Yes, I do Love God.
He is my source of existence and Savior.
He keeps me functioning each and everyday.
Without Him, I will be nothing. !
Without Him, I am nothing but with Him I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.
Phil 4:13”

This is wrong in so many ways! First of all, the test of whether I love Jesus doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not I’ll forward any old e-mail that someone slaps this little speech on (and I get bunches of these). Jesus says in the Bible: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) While a definite command of Christ is to tell people about Him, whether or not I pass on a picture that someone thought was neat isn’t a measure of my faithfulness to that command. And if I choose not to flood the inboxes of everyone I know with one more picture that isn’t very good anyway, it doesn’t mean I’m ashamed of my Lord. At least this one didn’t also superstitiously promise me various levels of blessing depending on how many I forwarded it to. Those are even worse.

There is another thing that bothers me about this, and I hesitate to mention it because it is a matter of conscience and probably much of what I’m about to say is disputable and not to break fellowship over. I know several readers who will disagree with me, and that's okay. I’m really not trying to start an argument or make any statement except that this issue bothers me. Keep that in mind, please. I’m not being judgmental, just sharing something that is an issue for me.

I’m not a real big fan of pictures of Jesus. We don’t know what He looked like while He was on earth, other than that He would have looked like other Jewish men in Palestine in those days. I don’t like to have some artist’s visual rendition in my mind when I pray. This is the same reason I dropped out of the choir at my old church the last couple of years they did Passion Play when we lived there. I was kind of okay with most of the production, and it was a big, well-done, elaborately staged production, and I know that people did come to Christ after hearing the Gospel presentation. But in the last scene we tried to depict Heaven. The actor who played Jesus came down the center aisle in a white robe with the words “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords” on it and we all turned and raised our hands in his direction while singing a glorious praise song, wearing our white robes as he proceeded to the front of the auditorium and was seated on a throne at the top. After several performances, and several years, this got to be too much for me. For months afterward, I would see that actor in my mind when I prayed, no matter how hard I tried not to. While I’m still not sure what I think about the rest of the Passion Play, this part was definitely too much. I’m not sure, but I probably could have stayed on with it if we had stopped the visual portrayal at the ascension and then simply told the people about how Jesus is truly seated on the throne today, and even sung about it without visuals. We really shouldn’t be trying to portray the risen Lord of Glory, when our feeble effort just cannot come close to showing His glory as it is. When John the apostle saw the glorified Christ in Revelation, he fell at His feet as though dead. Jesus is sitting on the throne, and, for me, it was just too awfully close to idolatry to try to portray the very throne room of Heaven with actors. And, when I sing praise, I want to really be praising my Lord, which was awfully hard to do while raising my hands toward an actor trying to portray the glorified Lord. It just shouldn’t be done. That was my conviction. Of course, if I do mention this to people, I usually get the, “Oh, lighten up, Beck,” speech, so I usually just kept my concerns to myself.

Another little side rant, too. When the movie The Passion of the Christ came out, my husband and I chose not to see it due to some of the same concerns we had over Passion Plays in general and due to the fact that we had heard about the extra-biblical elements that were added in. We were told, repeatedly, that we just couldn't have a complete understanding of what our Lord suffered for us if we didn't go see this movie. Well, if people want to see a movie, that's okay with me, but I was very tired of people saying that I couldn't appreciate the crucifixion without seeing it. I can't read the crucifixion accounts in the Gospels without tearing up, and, really, God gave us His word so we could understand. I don't need a movie to see the depth of my sin and need for a Savior. What I'm getting at here is the subtle implication that we were somehow sinning because we didn't want to see the movie and the idea that somehow I can't appreciate the sacrifice my Lord made without seeing this Hollywood movie. I'm not telling anyone not to see it, just saying that we need to understand that it is a movie. The scripture is the inspired Word of God. There is a difference. People went 2000 years without the Mel Gibson movie and were able to comprehend the crucifixion from scripture alone. D and I are not heathens or less spiritual because we've chosen not to watch a movie.

But, anyway, this e-mail was a picture of two people kneeling in front of a church (I think) and a ghostly image of Jesus standing by the open doors at the front watching them. I know that Christ is present when two or more are gathered in His Name. The Bible tells me that. I don’t need to forward this e-mail to lots of people who also get annoyed with unthinking e-mail forwards (most of the people in my address book fit that category) in order to demonstrate that I believe that. I also don’t need to forward it to “prove” that I love my Savior. I do, however, need to get more serious about actually speaking to people around me about Him and being willing to accept the commission to tell whoever I can about Him. But I don’t need this false “test” of my love for Him. I’m much more concerned about the areas where I really am falling short than to heap on made up, self-righteous, superstitious stuff.

Rant over. Pass an e-mail on if it was meaningful to you and you think the person you're forwarding it to will appreciate it. That's fine. Just take the little self-righteous, unnecesary speech about not being ashamed off first.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Random Thoughts on a Sunny Day

I’m fighting off a raging headache, due to my new decision to eliminate caffeine and Nutrasweet/aspartame from my system, as well as deciding that the allergy medicine my doctor put me on is having decidedly worse side effects than the original symptoms, so I’ve quit taking it, too. Foggy-brain, occasional unsteadiness in walking, slight dizzy spells, upset stomach, incredibly crazy dreams and extreme fatigue are not worth it to have clear sinuses. Though, the dream I had last night gave me a great plot idea for the book I started writing in high school and which I intend to get back to one day. I need to write the ideas down before I forget…..

Speaking of forgetting, I haven’t had many bloggable thoughts the past few days due to the fuzzy head the Singulair has given me. I feel like I’m thinking in a fog and I can’t get any ideas to settle. So, no more of that for me, thank-you. I need to be a functioning member of my family, not a lump on the couch because I’m so tired I can’t think straight. One of the websites I read said it takes a few days for all the medication to leave the system, so I’m hoping to be back to normal in a couple of days.

Seeing as this post is fairly random, I’ll just share some stream-of-consciousness thoughts. The damaged bridge is open to alternating traffic during certain times of the day, and since it is the fastest way to church we drove over it Sunday morning for the first time since the barge hit it. The boys were having quite an animated conversation in the backseat about what it would be like to drive over the bridge. During our smooth drive over when it was our turn to cross, M said, “It feels kind of bumpy, but it doesn’t feel like it’s breaking under us or anything.” Whew. Poor kid. I didn’t realize how worried they were. We knew it was safe enough to drive over with the restrictions in place, but they’ve heard all the talk about the damage, and I think they were expecting to see a gaping hole or something, and they didn’t realize that it is damage to the underside that is being shored up. Though D and I couldn’t look at each other without laughing when M said that, I do feel badly that they were that worried.

Oh, and I complain a lot about living here, but there are benefits to life on the island, too. Today Boo and I went out front for some fresh air and to try and wake myself up a little. We sat in the grass in the front yard, and I blew bubbles for her and just enjoyed this beautiful, breezy day. While sitting there I realized that it was really quiet. I mean, at that moment, I heard no cars or other people, just birds and the buzz of the bees in the flower beds. It was really nice. There aren’t many places like that anymore. We get so used to constantly hearing motors of some sort as the background noise of our lives, that to just sit there and enjoy the quiet was very nice. We also saw a red-headed woodpecker in the tree across the street, and I watched him for a while. I tried to get a picture, but I think it might have been too shady. The other day we saw a beautiful bluebird, too – not a bluejay, but a bright bluebird. And the geese at the pond have had babies, and they are so cute and fuzzy yellow, and the momma goose is so protective she hisses if you walk past. So, there are fun things about living here, too, and that little quiet moment out front with my sweet little girl was a nice way to take my mind off my headache for a bit.

Hoping to get my system detoxed, decaffeinated and back to normal soon so I can be a more effective wife and mommy and also get a few decent blog posts written. Meanwhile, it’s a beautiful day, and I’m thankful the Lord is slowly changing my heart and attitude about living here. He is worthy of all praise, at all times, no matter what my head feels like, and even when I can’t get my thoughts around a deeper topic to post about. It was nice to just sit in the quiet sunshine and thank Jesus for the glorious day and the peace to sit and enjoy it.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mall Tag

Lisa tagged me for this one. Shopping’s not really one of my favorite things – mostly because we learned the hard way when we were younger that credit card debt can build up quickly (especially when you're paying off a student loan, too), so we've made it a strict policy over the last 8 years to live within our means and not spend on credit, and with me staying home with the kids, funds are usually better spent on groceries, car upkeep, and keeping the kids dressed than much of anything else, so shopping is more utilitarian than fun these days. Also, the closest mall we have is over an hour away, so most of our shopping around here is done at Walmart…..and you know how I feel about that if you’ve read my blog for a while….or at one of the two department stores that usually have pretty slim pickings as far as selection goes. I tried to buy myself a new dress for Easter this year, and went to several stores but found nothing decent in my size. Oh, there were lots of things in the plus sizes and the teeny-tiny sizes, but nothing in mine. So, seeing as it’s been so long since I’ve been around good shopping I can’t even remember what the good stores are, (Seriously. I had a really hard time coming up with stores for this project.) I guess I can dream…..

Here’s the rules: You get to create your own Mall. Choose 6 stores that would definitely be included in your ideal one stop mall. Then as a bonus you can pick your favorite restaurant and fast food eatery to be located there, too. After you’ve created it, post it and tag some bloggers to join in the fun.

1. Target – Okay, Lisa reminded me of this in her post, but I really do like Target much better than Walmart. I keep hearing rumors we’re getting one, but so far I’m not seeing much activity. Anyway, affordable, good selection – especially casual kids’ clothes and home decorating in the casual style.

2. Kohl’s – Oh, how I miss having a Kohl’s nearby. I didn’t always find what I was looking for, but when I did, I usually found quite a bit, and they usually had great sales. Being so hit and miss, however, we found it’s not worth driving through the back roads over an hour to the nearest one these days.

3. Old Navy – I usually find pretty good things for the boys here. We have one fairly close, but in town would be nice. A lot of the hand-me-downs my friend passes on to me come from Old Navy.

4. Bed, Bath and Beyond – Essential for the day when we finally pay off the last of the debt from earlier, less responsible years and I have a little bit extra to put into dressing our home up a bit better.

5. Barnes & Noble – Books! I’m not into the coffee thing, but I do like the atmosphere in a nice bookstore. And, my experience with them was that if they didn’t have the book I was looking for, they could usually get it for me in a timely fashion.

6. Best Buy – This one’s for my hubby. It’s his favorite store.

7. I know the rules said 6, but here’s another essential for my make-believe mall: An affordable place to buy really cute kids' clothes (is there such a store???) .

Now for the food court: A really good tea shop (are you surprised?), Olive Garden (Oh, how I miss Olive Garden. My mouth is watering for soup, salad and breadsticks. This is another rumored addition to our town that seems never to come about), Fazoli’s (Think Olive Garden on the run. Fast food, but good, especially with no good Italian restaurants in town), Longhorn Steakhouse (we don’t currently have anything like this, either), Arby’s (the best roast beef sandwiches). I love Mexican food, too, but we have tons of those around town, so my mall doesn’t need another one.

I’m not sure who to tag, so if you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged. Anyone interested in playing along, leave me a comment so others can see what your dream mall would be.

The Fear of the LORD

Proverbs 1:7
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction."

I believe it is very important to teach our children a reverent fear and awe of God. While Jesus is our greatest friend, and those who are washed in His blood can boldly approach the throne of God, He is not our buddy. I see and hear a lot of talk about Jesus that really borders on the irreverent and flippant at times, and this is by people who say they believe in Him. Though I have great joy, peace, and comfort in knowing that I can approach Him confidently and that my assurance rests in Him, we are wise to keep in our attitude a sense of reverence and awe before Him. So, we need to spend some time thinking on God's holiness.

We'll also be reviewing Proverbs 19:11 from last week with the kids, because, I confess, I didn't spend as much time on this with them as I would have liked with Hubby out of town until yesterday. That's no excuse, but that's what happened, nonetheless.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Boo!

One year ago today, our little Boo was born. I can't believe she's already a year old. We had a small family celebration today, and Boo's Sunday School teacher and her family came as well. I think Boo had a blast at her first birthday party!

Boo enjoying dinner before digging into her cake.

She was a little hesitant at first, not quite sure what she was supposed to do with this cake stuff.

As you can see, she figured it out, and, boy did she enjoy it!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Prone to Wander

Judges 21:25
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Hebrews 2:1-4
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken though angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”

Jeremiah 17:9-10
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.”

Proverbs 16:18
“Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

I’ve just finished reading the book of Judges in my daily Bible reading. It never ceases to impress me when I read through Judges, and the whole of the Old Testament really, how very prone to wander our hearts are. Throughout the period of the Judges, the people really did some horrific things as “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” And some of the stories are heartbreaking and shocking. But, in His grace and mercy, God would periodically raise up judges, many of whom were quite flawed themselves, who would bring order from the chaos and the people would be faithful for about a generation or so before straying back into what was right in their own eyes again. It was only a generation after Joshua that the people were already forgetting the covenant with God, but He always upheld His promises to them. Judges 2:10 says, “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.” And so, they went their own way.

This was heartbreakingly true throughout the history of Israel. When the leader was faithful to the Lord, the people would follow their leader, and when the leader was not faithful to the Lord, the people would follow that leader into syncretism where they tried to incorporate pagan practices into their worship of God and then just outright, flagrant idolatry with no pretense at worship of the true God.

One reason it is important to read the Old Testament is, first of all, to understand the Law – which understanding will help us to understand our desperate need for a Savior, because none of us can keep that Law. Another reason is that reading about Israel’s history of straying from faith should serve as a warning to us how prone to wander the human heart really is, and what serious consequences there are for attempting to approach God on our own terms rather than His.

I heard Alistair Begg preach recently on Hebrews 2:1-4, and I’m still thinking on what he said about being very careful to pay heed to the Gospel lest we stray from the truth into error. I’ve always been extremely sobered by the passage in Matthew where Jesus warns that there will be many who think they are saved but will be told that He never knew them and to depart. He said many. (Matthew 7:21-23) And He said that the way is very narrow, and few find it. I take very seriously the example of the Israelites and their fickle faith and the warnings in the New Testament to be careful, to take heed and guard my heart and examine myself to be sure I’m in the faith. My assurance must not rest in my deceitful heart’s ability to be faithful. My assurance rests on Christ’s faithfulness, not mine. He kept the Law perfectly, every jot and tittle. He offered Himself on the cross, enduring God’s wrath for my sin, my shame, my utter inability to seek after His glory. His blood cleansed me. He is alive and at the right hand of the Father interceding for me. That is where my assurance rests.

There is no room for pride in this thought. But, I have to confess that when I do not pay careful attention, give the more earnest heed, to the things I’ve learned, it is far too easy to find myself slipping into Pharisaical self-righteous pride. I don’t want to allow myself to give over to pride and fall. When that temptation comes to think higher of myself than I ought, or to think that I’m really smart or something to have gotten my ducks in a row doctrinally speaking, I need to remember again that the only, and I mean only, reason I have any understanding of God’s grace and His word is because He has regenerated my spiritually dead heart and opened my understanding. It is not because I was so good or so smart to have figured it out all by myself. The natural man cannot comprehend the things of God. That’s why you have some people claiming these days that the Bible is just not understandable. Because it isn’t understandable to the natural, unregenerated heart and mind. But, I emphatically reject the notion floating around in so-called Christian circles today that the Bible can’t be understood at all. Yes it can. The basic, fundamental doctrines of the faith are understandable to the mind that God has regenerated and opened the understanding. Will there be some things we, in our finite understanding can’t get our minds fully around? I think that may be so, for God’s ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are not our thoughts. But the scriptures are clear on the fundamental things, and as God does His gracious, sanctifying work in the heart of a believer, understanding will deepen as that believer devotes himself or herself to diligent, prayerful study of God’s word.

So, understanding all this, that pride is a real danger and will take my eyes off of the Savior and put them back on me and my natural tendency to wander, I need to pay careful attention and guard my heart. I need to pay careful attention to the things I’ve learned and rehearse them often and take great joy in such a great salvation so that I will recognize the truth and not be seduced into error. And in doing that, the way I speak to and think about others should be affected. But, this post is already too long, so perhaps I’ll address the matter of how I ought to speak in another post. For now, here’s a hymn that beautifully articulates how I’m thinking about the heart’s tendency to stray and how I long to banish pride from my attitudes.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Brain Fog Update

So, the doctor thinks I may have some seasonal allergies that have become more severe because of all the differing stuff in the air in this part of the country. Apparently that is somewhat epidemic in this area. Great. I'm allergic to my town. One more reason to love island living.....

I started to write a little diatribe about how the receptionist forgot about me and I ended up waiting an hour because they thought I hadn't shown up even though I had signed in when I arrived 15 minutes before my appointment time, but I think I'll spare you since it all worked out in the end and the rush hour traffic due to the bridge situation wasn't all that bad on the way home. And when I got home, my parents were here playing with my kids who my mother-in-law had been watching when I left because hubby wasn't home, so, in the end, it's all good. And now I'm tired and going to turn off the computer and go to bed.

At least now we can treat the symptoms, and hopefully my head will clear up so I can get on with the blogging. Okay, and all the other really important stuff I need to be doing before blogging, too. :^)

Spinning Again

I woke up to the room spinning again today. It's not as severe as last time, but disconcerting, nonetheless. I've also got lots of sinus pressure going on in my head, so I'm thinking this may be due to the weather front coming through. I've had a slight cold, too, so that's not helping. I'll be going in to the doctor this afternoon, and I'm hoping we can determine why I'm getting these fuzzy-headed sinus, spin city episodes. Not fun at all.

Meanwhile, while my physical head is feeling fuzzy, I've got a couple of blog posts rattling around in my brain, too. Hopefully I'll get the vertigo under control enough to be able to organize my thoughts soon.

My mom and dad were already planning to come for a short visit this week, and they'll be here this afternoon. I'm looking forward to spending some time with them, too.

So, with all that going on, if I by some chance don't get back to the blog for a little bit, I haven't left it. I'm just still working out some thoughts, that's all. See you soon.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I Will Bless The LORD At All Times

Psalm 34:1-3
"I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together."

May my words, thoughts, and actions be acceptable in Your sight today, my Savior. May I seek to bless You at all times. Take my focus off everyone else and let me seek to praise You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Proverb for the Week

Proverbs 19:11
"The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger,
And his glory is to overlook a transgression."

D and I want to begin teaching the boys through the book of Proverbs. We are trying to be more diligent in our discipling and training of these blessings that are our children. Because of some attitudes we are seeing in each boy that we want to address early, and because of how practical the advice in Proverbs is, I kind of thought this "Proverb of the Week" might be an interesting new feature to add to my blog, too. We are going to try to choose a new verse from Proverbs on Saturday that we will begin teaching the boys during the next week.

This week, the one we've picked is a good one for me, too. I've mentioned before the struggles I have with my own temper and patience, and we are going to work on hiding this verse in our hearts this week. The boys are being typical brothers lately, and we've had some petty fighting and tendencies to be too easily offended around our house, so D and I thought this would be a fitting verse this week.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Terri at Keeping the Pace and Kim at The Upward Call have tagged me to play along on this fun meme. I was needing blog material, anyway, so this is an easy and fun way to get one more post written! I’m not sure I can come up with 7 things about me that aren’t on my 100 things post and won’t be really boring, but I’ll try. You may want some caffeine before reading…..

Here’s how it works: Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their seven things, as well as these rules. You need to tag others and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them that they have been tagged and to read your blog!

And now, for some random facts about me you may not have known or care to know:

1. I think I’ve become addicted to caffeine again. I can tell because I get this slump in the afternoon around 1pm when I really, really, really want a nap and have to push through it, because that is not Boo’s nap time, unfortunately. This means I probably need to back off on the diet cherry Cokes from Sonic, and it also means a week long seriously bad headache while I decaffinate. Ugh.

2. I finally started reading Pilgrim’s Progress, but I’m having to share it with D, because he grabbed it up and got interested in reading it before I could start it. The boys and I are finishing up the Little Pilgrim’s Progress book in the evenings, and we’ve all enjoyed it a lot and had some good conversations.

3. Now that we only have one bridge off the island for a while, I haven’t been as free to go in to the hospital fitness center to exercise like I was trying to get back into the habit of doing. But, Boo and I have very much enjoyed walking around the big loop and duck pond in the neighborhood. Once around is a half mile, and I go as many laps as she will tolerate. I just load her up with Cheerios and listen to good preaching on my radio headphones and pray as we stroll around. All the kids are enjoying watching the baby ducks at the pond, by the way. I’ll try to get some pictures of them soon, if I can. There was a heron the other day, too.

4. I’ve tried several times in my life to wear my hair long. I think long hair can be beautiful. But my hair is so very thick and heavy (I was once told that I have “fat” hair) that it becomes unmanageable very quickly, and we have to layer it and then I can’t braid it, so I finally grow tired of the stringy-locks look and cut it off. My most recent attempt was this past year since Boo was born, because it was just easier to go longer periods between haircuts when she was so little. I finally gave up a week ago and cut it shorter – still feminine, just not nearly as long.

5. I was born and raised in Florida, but I hate seafood. I’ll eat salmon and cod once in a while, but I don’t like shrimp, lobster, shellfish, crab or other fish. My husband thinks that’s just weird. When we got married, the rehearsal dinner was in Cocoa Beach, FL, and all of his family was coming in from Indiana and other Midwest, non-beach places, so, of course, we had a seafood buffet for dinner. At least I wasn’t tempted to overeat at that dinner.

6. I like summer because the kids are out of school, we get to go to the beach and Summer Reading at the library and do other fun things, and watermelon is in season. Yum.

7. I love my husband, and I’m so thankful for him. He is truly a good man, who loves the Lord and I love that we can talk about anything. And I love my kids, too. I'm very, very thankful for the family I get to be a part of, and I pray often that I will be a wise, faithful, godly wife and mom.

I guess that wasn’t so hard!

I’m tagging:

Rabbit at The Hutch
Lisa at Lisa Writes
Elle at A Complete Thought

Thursday, May 03, 2007

More Thoughts on Prayer

I have some thoughts about prayer rattling around in my mind that I am trying to organize and articulate. This being the National Day of Prayer in our country, there have been lots of words said about prayer on several of the radio programs I’ve listened to throughout the day. And I have no doubt that a few of the prayer gatherings around the country have been real times of prayer, if they are attended and led by people who really know the Lord.

I do believe that we who call on the Name of Christ as born again believers need to get more serious about prayer. But I’m very wary of a national call to do so by secular elected officials. Hear me out before getting angry. Our need to get serious about prayer is really an “in house” discussion. We who know Christ need to get serious about repenting of our sins and living holy lives and sharing the Gospel in truth with a lost world. This is just a given. Do I need the president of my secular government telling me to pray? No. I have that mandate from the very Word of God. As an “in house” discussion among Bible-believing church members, I do think that far too many of us neglect the privilege we have of going to God in heart felt, repentant, joyful, soul-searching prayer, recognizing the holiness of our Lord. I mentioned this yesterday. And it is very good to set aside time to pray for our government officials, our homes, our country, etc. This is biblical. See Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-16. I’ve said before that I don’t get into politics on this blog, and that’s not where I’m going now. We are to pray for our elected officials whether we like their politics or not. I think that since we have the freedom to vote in this country, we should, as good citizens, vote our conscience, but if the one we voted for doesn’t win, it shouldn’t affect our outlook and plunge us into despair. We may live in this world, but we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. That is where our hope is to be focused for those issues that are really matters of the heart and spirit. Not government. I must live out my calling to be salt and light in this dark world, no matter what my government is doing. But this is a digression from where I meant to be going with this post.

Though I am glad enough for a day when people set aside time to pray, I think we need to be careful, as well. It is good for Christians to use this day to gather and pray, but we should be extremely wary who we will join hands with in doing so. In a religiously pluralistic society like ours, any proclamation by our government officials for a day of prayer must, necessarily, invite all faiths to the table. We hear so much talk these days about there being many ways to God, and how sincere people of “faith” will be heard when they pray. But is this true?

When we put different faiths on a stage together and engage in prayer, what are we doing? Who are we praying to? Though we may all say we are praying to God, what god do we mean? Do we mean a generic god bless America god of our own making, or do we mean the Lord of all Creation, the Triune God of the Bible? We need to be very careful who we, as followers of Christ, join hands with in prayer.

This is one reason I’m not all that exercised about the fact that my kids do not have corporate prayer in their school. I don’t want my kids learning that prayer is empty, vain words that can be repeated by pagan and believer alike. I also don’t want them praying a Buddhist, or Mormon, or New Age or something else prayer, which, if we’re going to have “prayer” in the secular public arena, we’re going to have all of that and more. That’s the “tolerant” and “politically correct” climate in which we live. I want them to know that prayer is talking to the only wise God, and that He hears the prayers of His people, those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. Anything less is a mockery of prayer, and it is idolatry. And, believe me, as a student in public schools that allowed prayer before football games, I heard some prayers that were downright blasphemous. I’d rather there not be a prayer said out loud at all than one that is a mockery.

After a tragedy happens, you often hear people who never at any other time claim any relationship to Christ talk about praying for the victims. What do they mean by pray? To whom do they pray? Too many times people want God’s blessing without His sovereign Lordship. They want God without Jesus. They want good feelings, but no sacrifice.

Apart from saving faith in the only High Priest, Jesus Christ, prayer is just vain, empty words. We cannot approach Holy God on our own terms and expect Him to hear us and bless us. We must approach Him only by the narrow way of the Cross, washed in the blood of Christ. Only then can we pray with confidence.

Boo Has Discovered the Stairs

There's a baby on the move at our house. Yesterday morning the boys had great fun laughing and encouraging their little baby sister as she managed to start crawling up the stairs. They thought she was adorable as she worked her little legs and arms and got all the way to the third step before I got there to see what was so funny. And she is adorable. It’s just not the safest little hobby she could be adopting. The boys don’t realize that Boo’s not old enough yet to know how not to slip backwards down the stairs. They also don’t realize that this means she is even more mobile and none of their stuff is safe from destructo-baby now! She’ll be walking within days, I’m thinking.

Throughout the day I pulled her off the bottom stair many, many times. She’s so excited about her new skill. I’ll be putting up a baby gate just as soon as I can get one (I’m a little slow on the baby-proofing this time around). Until then, she’s keeping me on my toes, but she’s really, really happy about it! Well, she’s happy until she gets on the second step and looks around and realizes she has no idea how to get back down. Then she starts yelling. This happens several times a day.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Rise and Pray

In my daily Bible reading yesterday morning, the New Testament portion was Luke 22. As I read about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just before Judas betrayed Him, this verse got me thinking:

Luke 22:45-46
“When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”

What I got to thinking about is what an incredible privilege we have to approach the very throne of God in prayer. That He would wash me in His blood, cleansing me from my wretched, miserable sin and accept me by His grace and hear my prayers is an incredibly amazing thought. I neglect this privilege to my shame. How many times would it have been less easy for me to give in to temptation if I had spent real, repentant, soul-searching, on-my-face-before-His-holiness time in prayer before starting the day?

I desire to see true revival happen. I am concerned by the lack of discernment and mind-numbing biblical illiteracy happening in the Church today. I want to be a faithful follower of Christ and a good wife and mom.

Why, oh, why, then do I so often neglect deep, rich prayer time? Why does it sometimes seem so hard to focus my mind and pray thoughtfully? I seem to be able to concentrate on so many other things, but when it comes time to be alone in my prayer closet I seem to get distracted. It seems that the earlier I try to get up, the earlier the baby gets up as well. Then when I do have some quiet moments, I too often tend to let other things encroach when I could be praying, or when I do sit down to pray, I suddenly get so sleepy I can hardly stay awake.

While Jesus was on earth, He often went alone to pray – so much so that His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. They saw how important it was to Him. I want it to be important to me, too. I am learning to set aside time throughout the day to concentrate on praying with my heart, soul, mind and strength. This is not something that is a new concept, but something I want to devote time and energy to, because we are commanded in scripture to pray without ceasing. The greatest commandment is to love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. As I spend time concentrating on Who the LORD is and worshiping Him in spirit and truth and praying for my family, friends and neighbors, these commands begin to characterize how I live, by the power of the Holy Spirit working in me.

The times when I get to where I really, truly with all that I am think about and remember Who it is to whom I pray, and remember the great, precious cost that was paid so that I, a pitiful, wretched sinner who has been shown such mercy, might have that privilege of going before the very throne of God, I begin to take prayer much more seriously. Grace is the free gift of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. But it is not cheap. Nothing less than His precious blood shed for me has redeemed me, reconciled me to God and granted me access to Him. What joy there is in knowing that I can pray to God, and He knows my name! He knows my thoughts and my ways, and He works all things for my good and for His glory! May I fix my eyes on Jesus, my great High Priest, and fall to my knees before Him. May I learn to spend much more time rising and praying so my heart will be conformed to His will and prepared to obey Him and love Him and understand His word.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Some Words This Mom Wants to Remember....

Proverbs 15:1
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

James 3:6
“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.”

Galatians 5:22-25
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”