Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Funny

Our youngest son is writing a funny story about a jungle and Christmas. We were looking for the song, "In the Jungle" (the Wee-ma-wa-pa song) to play for him and found this video. It produced lots of laughs at our house this evening.

Then, we stumbled across this one, titled, "How the Dinosaurs Really Got Extinct." Remembering that we have two boys (three counting their dad) and you'll understand the peals of giggles that ensued when we viewed it together. My apologies.

And now I'm off to help my family decorate our Christmas tree. Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Conversation With My Son

I had an interesting conversation with our oldest son the other day. On the way home from school we were having our usual, “How was your day?” talk. By the way, is it just our boys or kids in general, but why is the answer always, “It was good,” with no elaboration? I always say, “Well, what was good about it? What did you do all day? I want to hear all about your day.” Then they usually start talking a little more, but it always takes a lot of prodding. Every day we have this conversation. Maybe I need to learn to ask more open-ended questions from the start.

Anyway, we talked about some usual school stuff and J complained about how so many of the kids in his class were acting up that music class was messed up for everyone that day, and we discussed why we thought those same kids kept on acting up even when they’ve been punished for it repeatedly even having calls home to parents. I said I was really glad I wasn’t one of the parents getting called about bad behavior in class. In fact, his teacher has often told me what a good example he is. I also got to have a teachable moment with the boys and told him that because he is trusting in Jesus and belongs to Him, the Holy Spirit will convict him about sin and how he is to live in this world, and I told him that’s why it is so important to be learning what God has told us in the Bible because He uses His word to teach us.

J got a serious note in his voice and he told me that he has a boy in his class who says he’s a Christian but he’s consistently one of the kids who is acting up all the time and getting the class in trouble. In other words, his actions aren’t matching his profession. J was genuinely puzzled by this. We got to talk about how we don’t really know what is in that boy’s heart and only God can judge his heart, but that J could use his observations about this as a good reminder to be sure that he act right when he knows the right thing to do and to respect his parents and his teachers as the authorities God has allowed in his life at this time. We talked about how when we claim to be a Christian the way we act matters a lot, because other people will see and if our lives consistently and habitually don’t match the things we say we believe it is a form of taking God’s name in vain. It isn’t just saying His name disrespectfully, but it is also claiming to belong to Him but consistently acting in a way that someone who belongs to Him should not. That is disrespectful to Christ, too, because if we say He is Lord but act like He is not, are we demonstrating that we believe that Jesus is worthy of our worship? Then J said that reminded him of something our pastor at our old church said about coming to church on Sunday and living like a Christian on Sunday but living another way Monday through Saturday and how that’s not really living the Christian life at all – we should live the Christian life every day, not just put on a show on Sunday. I thought that was very perceptive for this 9-year-old to connect the dots that way. It is exciting that God is working in his heart and that he sees the disconnect that exists when someone professes to be a Christian, but is disrespectful to others and doesn’t act right. I like that this puzzles him, and I intend to use this in further conversations as teachable moments arise.

This has been a great reminder to me as a mom, also, that my children see and understand more than I sometimes realize, and I must be surrendered to the Lord and walking by the Spirit consistently. I really do want my life to match the confession I make with my mouth and my words. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to be in the Word, praying and learning what it is to live out the life we are called to live as blood-bought children of God, by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone, trusting Him for the faith and grace and strength to be doers of the Word, not merely hearers of it. No, we are not saved by our works, but true saving faith will lead to a life that looks different from the world. I don’t want superficial religion, but I want to remember daily and moment by moment that the Christian life is one of surrender and seeking the glory of Christ in all we do. And I pray so often that God would keep me true and bring these truths to my remembrance in the heat of the moment so that I will be sure to live that life at home, because my children are watching, and children are very sensitive and know a hypocrite when they see one. In other words, may I walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh and may I ever be a good ambassador for Christ, and may I bring honor and glory to Him, who is worthy of all praise.

1 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

1 Corinthians 5:20
“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.”

Exodus 20:7
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.....

....Boo's the fairest one of all! The mirrored closet doors were her favorite thing about staying in the hotel for our trip. She couldn't get enough of her friend in the mirror.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Eternally Secure

Our Sunday school lesson today was on eternal security and the assurance of salvation. Read the following passage carefully and shout for joy with me this evening:

Romans 5:8-11
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

A Fluffy Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

No matter how much we enjoy a car trip to see family over Thanksgiving (and we did enjoy it!), it’s still good to be home once the visiting is done. After school on Tuesday, we started our car trip, and four hours later we arrived at Drew’s brother’s house in Charlotte, NC to spend the night. The next morning, we drove another four hours and landed in Knoxville, TN, home of my Grandma, where we met my mom and dad, my brother and his wife, my uncle, my mom’s aunt, and of course my Grandma. After visiting all Wednesday afternoon, the boys got to spend the night at their Great-Grandma’s house with their grandparents and Drew and I took Boo to the hotel for a not-very-restful night. Boo does not like her pack-n-play, and after a fitful night of waking and crying, we finally let her sleep in our bed. Meaning Boo slept peacefully the rest of the night, but her mom and dad did not due to her pulling the blankets off the bed thinking they were her blankie and her bed hogging and because we were afraid we’d squash her if we fell into too deep a sleep.

On Thanksgiving Day, all twelve of us gathered again at Grandma’s house (sounds kind of like a song, doesn’t it? Over the river and through the woods……). We watched the Macy’s parade and enjoyed my mom’s wonderful cooking (we were told to stay out of the kitchen and just enjoy) and had a good time with all of us there together. It’s been quite a long time since we’ve all been together like that. The only downside was that it drizzled and was cold all day, so the kids were cooped up inside, but they did pretty well at not being too awfully squirrely. Then another night at the hotel for Boo and her parents that was slightly more restful, but not much. We picked up the boys from Grandma’s house on Friday morning where they were having a nice country breakfast and enjoying themselves with their grandparents. All in all, we really enjoyed seeing everyone and the kids did remarkably well at getting along and playing with Uncle Lane’s old Tinker Toys and the dominoes we bought them. (Box of dominoes for each boy at one dollar a piece = hours of entertainment thanks to the handy dandy Dollar General store next to the hotel we stayed in.)

After breakfast we loaded up the van again and drove four hours back to Drew’s brother’s house where their parents and aunt and uncle had spent Thanksgiving. We spent the afternoon enjoying their company and then spent the night there again. On Saturday we said good bye to Uncle Matt and met some friends for lunch. The last time we had seen these friends was seven years ago, but they had been our original care group leaders from the Sunday school class in Florida that we still miss so much. Now they live in Charlotte and we got to have a really fun catch-up time over lunch with them and their little boy who is Boo’s age. It’s wonderful to reconnect with friends and feel like almost no time has passed at all. After lunch, we drove the four hours to home and arrived around supper time yesterday.

Whew. It was a fun week, but tiring. You should see the laundry……

Oh, and I mustn't forget to mention the gorgeous leaves we saw on our way through the mountains. It was a feast for the eyes! And on the way home, there was snow in the higher mountains. God's glorious creation is absolutely beautiful.

So, we’re glad to be home, and we’re also very thankful for our family and friends and the time we had to spend with them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Oh, Give Thanks to the LORD

Psalm 118:19-29
“Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them,
And I will praise the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD,
Through which the righteous shall enter.
I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.

The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the LORD’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Save now, I pray, O LORD;
O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
God is the LORD,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.”

Of the many blessings for which I am thankful, and there are so very many, I am far and away most thankful for God’s matchless grace and mercy bestowed upon me. Psalm 118 is one of the Psalms that is read at Passover. When you think of the words, “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it,” and remember that only hours after the Passover meal with His disciples in the upper room Jesus hung on the cross and atoned for our sin, don’t those words take on incredible meaning as you think about it? I am amazed that Jesus would endure the cross and all that went with it to atone for my sin, thereby opening to me the gates of righteousness. Though this is not the time of year for Passover, it is very appropriate to remember, as we set aside a day for giving thanks, that all thanks and all praise are to the Lamb who is worthy of blessing and honor and glory and power and praise. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

I’ll be taking a blogging hiatus for the rest of the week. Have a wonderfully thankful week!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hoping My Creative Writing Skills Aren't Hopelessly Rusty

I think my mistake was in telling the boys that my favorite class in high school was creative writing. Or maybe it was in telling them that I was on the staff of our creative writing magazine as the Quality Control Editor and a writer. Anyway, one of those little tidbits of information led my middle child to request that I write a story about pirates for him. Pirates. Hmmmmm……I’m thinking……and thinking…….And all I’ve been getting by way of creative thought for the past long time is echoes of my writing teacher saying, “No schmaltz!” and “Show, don’t tell!” Obviously, she repeated those cardinal writing rules often, as I still remember them all these years later.

M actually made this request months ago, but blogging and laundry and life got in the way of my remembering to sit down and actually start the brainstorming process that could eventually lead to an entertaining piratical type story for his enjoyment. This morning, however, I was struck with some little bitty ideas that have begun germinating, with the possibility of a parrot as the main character. M loves parrots. In fact, he’s also requesting a parrot for Christmas. Not this year, my son… all know how I feel about birds, right? Beautiful, wonderful creations that they are, I would much rather enjoy them at the zoo or somewhere else other than my house. I told him that he’ll have to wait until he has his own house and can responsibly clean up his own bird’s mess, thank you very much. This mommy loves her children, but the line is drawn at a large tropical bird that could live as long as 75 years and eats fruit and poops a lot. Sorry, M, but the dog is almost more pet than I can handle some days. (Aside: my favorite, cough-cough, store in town has life-sized toy parrots that actually record what you say to them and talk back. You think M would like that instead? That’s what he’s getting from us, I think – I’m heading over to Wally World this morning when my inlaws get here to watch the kids.)

Anyway, I think I need to try my hand at starting to write M a pirate story. Who knows where this might lead? I still have my fairy tale shelved that I started back in high school and intend to finish one day, too, but that will have to wait a while longer. Wouldn’t it be great if I could surprise M with a whimsical and fun parroty piratey something by Christmas? Maybe I can get to the brainstorming start today, as time permits. Here's hoping I can get the creative thoughts flowing. They're a little rusty these days. Yo, ho, ho!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Laundry Day

Alternate title: Tales From the Laundry Basket

Quarters are very shiny after a run through the washing machine.

Dollar bills are still usable but soggy and crinkly after being washed.

You can still write with an Expo marker after it has been through a wash.

Spaghetti stains are tough.

If you have little boys in your house, there will always be acorns, rocks, sticks, etc. – otherwise known as treasures - in the washer or dryer, guaranteed. Hopefully nothing worse (dreading the day I find lizards and squishy things…..)

Now that my husband has the flower beds in the front of the house torn up so he can bury pipes so we can expand our irrigation system to that area and I can plant bulbs next month, I’m seeing filthier than usual clothes in the hamper because dirt and mud have unique magnetic properties that draw children to it like ants are drawn to sugar. But I’m very proud of my husband’s do-it-yourself ability – it will be nice once the pipes are finished and buried and the dirt and mud are cleaned up.

If we are missing a juice cup, toothbrush or toy that Boo has been carrying around, it will probably turn up at the bottom of the laundry hamper. She’s fascinated by that hamper.

The less baby clothes that have to be ironed, the better. Wash and wear is definitely best. Because…..

Laundry is a job that is never finished. Even if you empty the hamper and get it all washed and folded in one day, when everyone puts on their pajamas tonight, the dirty clothes will start filling the hamper again.

I discovered that what works best for me is to go ahead and take the time to fold the clothes as I take them out of the dryer. Though time consuming, it is much less depressing than an overflowing basket of laundry just waiting to be folded.

A basket full of folded clothes placed provocatively next to the stairs leading to the boys’ room has zero meaning to a nine-year-old or a six-year-old boy. They have to be told to take that basket upstairs and put away the clothes in the dresser (that specifically) every single time. Otherwise that basket will live in the hallway next to the stairs until the next laundry day rolls around.

And now, with a nod and apologies ahead of time to my high school writing teacher whose number one rule for creative writing was, “No schmaltz,” here is my final laundry lesson for today:

How I approach ‘Laundry Days' makes all the difference. It could either be vanity of vanities and drudgery of drudgeries OR it can be a joyful opportunity to count my blessings and serve my family: we have clothes to wear appropriate for each season, we have electricity and a washing machine and dryer which is so much easier than washing it all by hand and hanging it on the line, the clothes smell so fresh and clean when it all is done, there is something satisfying about watching the mountain grow smaller as the clothes are folded and put away once again, and the people who wear these clothes are so very, very special and I’m so grateful they are in my life dirtying their clothes while we share our lives together.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thankful for Nature

When it’s outside, that is. Not so much when critters decide to come into my living space. I just went out to the garage to get a V8 from the refrigerator we keep out there for stocking sodas and V8s. In the corner, M had set up his “table tent” – it’s a fabric cover someone made for him that fits over a square card table and reaches to the floor on all sides. As I looked up after opening the door to walk into the garage, something with a tail slinked (slunk?) past that table tent. I don’t know what it was. I only saw movement and a brownish something tail-like before I bolted back to the door. Then I cautiously walked back past the van and peeked around the table tent. Nothing there. I think whatever it is was scratching around under the tent. I can’t be sure. I quickly got my V8 while never taking my eyes off that table tent area and went back in the house and called my husband and told him he’ll need to inspect the garage when he gets home. Ewwww. I believe I’ve mentioned before how much I don’t like squishy critter things. Well, I’m not really all that thrilled with furry or feathery things in my garage, either. The outer door is open and I’m hoping our little visitor will take my not-so-subtle invitation to just leave on its own accord.

But, I do like to see birds and furry critters and whatnot outside. I think the world God created is wonderful. That’s another story. I just don’t want to have to make close acquaintance with them, you understand. Nature at a distance is what I’m thinking. Actually, nature without rodents, spiders, and squishy things in the near vicinity would be okay. I once saw a bird in the backyard that looked like it might have been hurt. I really wanted to help it and went and got a towel and was going to try to pick it up and move it so the cats in the neighbors’ yard wouldn’t get to it. I got right up to the bird and found that I could not pick it up. My arms and legs would not go any closer. I just couldn’t physically make myself do it. I’m a nature/wildlife wimp. I don’t know what happened to that little bird. I really hope it was okay. And I really hope our current little garage visitor, whatever it is, will just move on along and be okay outside, too. Needless to say, we don’t do much camping in our family….

Staying in the Word

For the past several years I have made it a practice to read through the Bible in a year. It is amazing how no matter how many times you read through the books of the Bible, God has so much to teach us in it! I always come across things I either had not noticed before or that I wasn’t ready to fully understand and can now see it better, through the Holy Spirit opening my understanding. This year I’ve been following a read through the Bible guide our church passed out back in January. Each day we have a reading from the Old Testament, a Psalm or Proverbs chapter, and a passage from the New Testament. By following this plan we will have read through the whole Old Testament once, except Psalms and Proverbs which we’ll have read twice), the Gospels, Acts and Revelation twice, and the Epistles three times by the end of December. The readings are broken up in such a way that though the number of chapters read each day varies, the number of verses is pretty consistent each day.

I have really liked reading through the Bible this way. Having the suggested chapters listed by the day of the month has been a great way to keep me on track with staying in the Word each day. There is a temptation, however, to just read through the day’s chapters and treat them as a goal to be accomplished rather than taking the time to really think about what I’m reading. I have often had to stop and re-read something because I find my mind wandering. I can read the words on the page but be thinking about something else, and it’s sometimes a struggle to go back and really read thoughtfully and prayerfully, but if I just treat it as a goal to accomplish, what’s the point? My real purpose in reading the Bible daily is not to be a legalist about reading it and check off my to do list for the day that I followed my little guide, but to use that guide to encourage me to stay in the Word and learn what it says and fill my mind and heart with it so that I can learn to live a life worthy of the calling of one who belongs to Christ.

I don’t want to get top heavy, just filling my mind but not living what I’m learning, that is a sure road to spiritual pride. I don’t want to just study so I can feel proud of how often I read the Bible or how much I think I know. I pray that I will be diligent to learn so that I can be giving away what the Lord teaches me. I want to learn so I can better live for God’s glory. I want to be a doer of the Word as well as a hearer. I want to be an evangelist in my home, teaching my children and talking to them as we wake up, as we sit together, as we walk along the way. Something that really blessed my heart yesterday was that the boys requested that while we continue working through the catechism and reading the biblical support verses as we do, but they want to start reading through the Bible together, too, “Like you read through it, Mom.” That was exciting to me, and I’m praying that Drew and I will have wisdom as we begin to do this so we can accurately explain to them as we go along, and I’m praying that God will make His word never return void, just as He promised in His word and continue to open their understanding.

I want to have my heart and mind so full of the knowledge of God’s grace that I will have a compulsion to talk about Him and a compassion to share His truth with others, which He alone can cause to grow in my heart.

Lord, fill me and make me a useful servant. I don’t want to be a hypocrite who knows all the right words but doesn’t live them out or keeps them to myself and doesn’t open my mouth to teach. Help me to be looking for the opportunities You give me to do so. Let me have a willing heart to be and live broken and spilled out in service of my Savior. Those are hard things to pray. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thankful Thoughts

At the church we have been visiting the past several weeks, the pastor is preaching through the book of Acts. Sunday we reached chapter 15 and the Jerusalem council. I really love this passage, especially where the apostle James quotes the prophet Amos:

Acts 15:16-17
“After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the LORD who does all these things.”

This being the month when Rebecca from Rebecca Writes is encouraging many bloggers to post things for which they are thankful, I have to say I am overwhelmed with thankfulness that I, a sinner and a Gentile, am allowed access to Holy, Holy, Holy God through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amazing, amazing, matchless, marvelous grace. May I never, never outlive my love for this Savior who has cleansed me by His blood shed for me. Praise Him, oh, praise Him that I was given the opportunity to hear the Gospel! I am so thankful for His word and the ability to read it and know Him and love Him and obey His word and rejoice in the Lord, again, I say, Rejoice!

May I grow in thankfulness to my glorious Savior. May I grow in compassion for the people around me who still need to hear the gospel. May I let my light so shine before men that Christ would be exalted in all I say and do. I want to live a life of gratitude for the great salvation I’ve been granted. Praise God, thank God for Jesus, the light of the world who has brought me out of darkness and made me to walk in the light of a covenant relationship with the Creator of all. Amazing, amazing grace.

We also sang this song on Sunday, which is becoming a favorite of mine of the newer worship songs from Hillsong:

Worthy is the Lamb

Thank You for the cross, Lord
Thank You for the price You paid
Bearing all my sin and shame
In love You came
And gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love Lord
Thank you for the nail pierced hands
Washed me in Your cleansing flow
Now all I know
Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Crown You now with many crowns
You reign victorious
High and lifted up
Jesus Son of God
The Treasure of Heaven crucified
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This Week's Memory Verse

Our six-year-old son came rushing out of Sunday school this morning all excited. He had his Bible out and wanted to share his memory verse with his daddy right then when we came to pick him up from class. Drew moved him out of the middle of the hallway to a less crowded spot and told him to read away. So, M read this:

Psalm 37:5
“Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:”

Then, Drew said, “Read the next verse, too. What will the Lord do?”

So M read,

Psalm 37:6
“He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

Isn’t it exciting to see children get excited about these kinds of things? I love that M wanted to share it from the Bible with his daddy, and he wanted to do it right then. And I love that he's so excited that he can read it himself. I think we’ll be working on hiding these verses in our hearts this week.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I love Christmas. Really, I do. I even love nice Christmas music - the worshipful kind or the Manheim Steamroller and renaissance type that is, you can spare me the syrupy Santa and snow stuff, please.

But, while shopping at Walmart this week, puttering around in the dog food aisle listening to Boo say, "Goggie? Goggie!" (she just loves doggies) and thinking about all the groceries on my list, I all of a sudden realized that the quiet background music assaulting my eardrums was syrupy, wintertime sleighbell songs. Ugh. I'm not ready.....

Can't we at least get through Thanksgiving first?

Of course, the day after Christmas you know what happens don't you? The Valentine's Day decorations go out.

No wonder it feels like time flies.....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

From My Reading of Our Covenant God

I’ve been continuing to read Our Covenant God by Kay Arthur, though the discussion has been a little on again, off again now that our hostess has stepped away from her blog. The discussion has been continuing over at Mudlark Tales, so if you’re still reading along and weren't aware of that, be sure to check over there. I’m very glad I picked up this book. I think in the discussion we are on about chapters 5 & 6, but I have kept on reading and am now up to chapter 14. I must say, it is all good, and the early chapters are so important for building the foundational understanding of what covenant is and how important a concept it is, but this chapter has just meant so much to me as I read it this morning that I wanted to write out a few thoughts while it was fresh in my mind.

In chapter 14, we learned that because we are in covenant with God, we have His strength and power. When He calls me to a task, He also empowers me to do that task. That was extremely comforting to me. I have often felt that I have not been a very good witness for Christ, or at least not nearly as vocal as I want to be, because I tend to be kind of shy with people, but when Kay talked about trusting God to grant His power to do what He has called us to do, it was just a great reminder that I need to be a willing vessel and to trust Him to give me words and boldness to be used of Him. This also applies to the trials we face in life. When we encounter various trials, we are told to count it all joy. We truly are able to do that when we start thinking on what a joy it is to know that we do not walk through those trials alone and that every one of them can bring us closer to our God and teach us patience and perseverance in Him. We have a Covenant Partner who is more than able to see us through every trial! Kay talked about laying aside our dependence on our own inadequate capabilities (stop trying to be independent!) and trusting Him for what is ours in Him as our covenant God. I can trust Him! Because of His grace, I trust in Christ, and my righteousness and hope are secure in Him. He will never leave me nor forsake me because I belong to Him in a binding covenant. This is so amazing!

Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” Then I read in the book, “You are not called to be strong in yourself – your own strength will run out – but in Him and in the strength of His might, which will never fail.” What an amazing thought and desperately needed reminder to those of us who far too often tend to try to do things in our own strength. I am called to stand with Him and to abide in Him. He is my strength and my shield, my strong defender. It isn’t that we are to work to generate the strength to do what He calls us to do by pulling up our boot straps and gritting our teeth, no! I can trust Him to be my strength. He is strong and mighty to save and strong and mighty to bring me through every trial and strong and mighty to enable and equip me to do the works He has prepared beforehand for me to do.

I am thinking and praying on this today. One thing that learning about covenant is doing for me is it is changing how I pray. It is really something to approach His throne with a better understanding of how wonderful it is to be in covenant with the living God because of our gracious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my advocate and great High Priest and the only One who is able to present me faultless before the throne!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A "Where I Am Right Now" Post

My husband flew to Tampa on Thursday morning so that he could be there for the service to celebrate our friend’s life. I wish I could have gone, too, but with kids in school we decided I really needed to stay home.

We have been talking a lot over the past few days. Our friend’s homegoing has really made us think, I must admit. Our friend had been healthy and active, but a heart attack struck on Saturday, and 51 seems too soon from our limited perspective. I know and trust that God has His plan in it all, and I know that His grace will sustain the family. Knowing the church body there, that family will be loved and cared for and I am praying for them that they will experience His peace which passes all understanding. Drew said the service was wonderful and a beautiful time of remembering the faithful life this man led. It was also a time of worshiping our wonderful Savior and enjoying the hope and bond of love and fellowship we have together in Christ.

Drew and I have been struggling with a big decision recently, and we were pretty sure we had made the correct one for our family, and Drew told me that this event has served as confirmation for him that our decision is the right one. We are taking a close look at things and making sure our priorities are in order and that we’re making wise use of our time because this has really reminded us not to take tomorrow for granted. Not that we’re living in fear, but just that we sometimes get a little too comfortable with being too busy and with taking time for granted.

In our church situation, Drew has had an awful lot of hats to wear, and he has made the difficult decision to step down from those positions. We are also very seriously looking at going to another church. This has not been an easy or quick decision. But we see our kids growing older and having no Christian peers their age and not enough solid teaching to support and back up what we are attempting to give them at home, and though we truly have tried to be part of the solution for the past four years, and though the pastor wants to lead the people to do a better job of training the children and is trying to look at ways to get that functioning better, not enough people in the pews seem to see the need for things to change, and we cannot do it by ourselves and our oldest son is 9. We don’t have time to waste on these kinds of things! Our kids actually went to VBS last summer at the church we are visiting now. When we first visited the other church last month, it was amazing the excitement our kids have expressed for the teaching that utilizes less fun and games and more solid stuff. They beg to go there even though the service is longer with longer preaching time and the Sunday school classes aren’t as full of games and fluff, though still geared for their young minds and structured in a way they can learn. But there are lots of young families and many kids in their classes who are their age and teachers who are passionate about not wasting the short time we have with these kids. In other words, the times they are there will never be treated as babysitting, but as opportunities to present the gospel in a way children can hear it.

We had already basically made up our minds it was time to go where we could be better fed and in effect be more fruitful servants, and this news about our friend has helped solidify in our hearts that it is the right thing. And, talking with my friend who had called to tell us the news on the phone the other day and hearing Drew talk about the friends he reconnected with yesterday while in Florida has really made me realize just how very, very lonely I have been here for the past four years, and also to realize there is a good possibility that will not change if we stay at our current church. We have plugged in for four years to be a useful part of that body, and I think we have been, but we also believe it is finally time to move on.

We only have a short time to parent these boys and little girl. We know that we are responsible to train up our children in the Lord. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that they are in a Bible believing and teaching church where they will be exposed to good teaching that supports what we teach them at home. Drew and I didn’t want to wake up one day and realize we had sacrificed our own children to serve where we are when the thriving and growing and Bible teaching church down the street is a better place for us to plug in. We really do love our pastor and the people of our church and do not want to hurt anyone, but after four years of trying to be part of the solution and seeing so very little change along the way, we have found that we are in need of more solid food and fellowship for ourselves and for our children, too. We were beginning to dry up for lack of solid fellowship with other growing Christian friends. This has been so hard for us, and anyone who’s been reading my blog awhile probably already knows I’ve had it so very heavy on my heart for many months now. We do not take membership in our local church lightly, and we are not angry or hurt or leaving for petty reasons, but we do think that it is time to go, and I hate that it will be hurtful to some when we do, and no, I have no desire to air out all the issues here in this public forum, but we do think this is the proper decision for our family at this time.

So, this is what I haven’t been blogging about, and maybe I shouldn’t even be writing as much as I have here. But it is what we have been praying and seeking direction about for a long time. I know this post is somewhat rambling, but these are some of the thoughts weighing so heavily on my heart lately, and they are part of the reason for the “fluffier” blogging of late, as well.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Kids in Their Costumes

If I had my way, I’d just ignore Halloween altogether, but we live in one of those neighborhoods where people from other neighborhoods drive their kids over here to go trick-or-treating and my kids really like to dress up in costumes. So, we compromise somewhat, I guess. Our kids do dress up and go around the neighborhood with Daddy and I usually stay home and pass out treats. For one night, at least, we see more of our neighbors than usual. We don’t celebrate the spooky and gory, but we do let them go begging for treats.

One thing I don’t understand is what a big deal Halloween has become. People in our neighborhood decorate their houses more for it than for Christmas and it starts beginning of October. And the decorations are just plain icky and weird. Who wants spiderwebs, ghouls and graveyards on prominent display? Actually, I can understand it. It’s called marketing. The stores make a lot of money off our candy and costumes and junk.

When I was growing up, I don’t remember it being all that big of a thing. I certainly don’t remember people having all the hooplah decorations all over their yards for the whole month of October. Usually it was just the week of October 31 and only the little kids went trick-or-treating. Now we get big ol’ teenagers coming by repeatedly throughout the evening and we have to tell them to save some for the little kids – my father-in-law made the older kids do some kind of trick for a treat. That went over well. Some of the teenagers were pretty funny and creative with the “tricks” they came up with just for a few pieces of candy, and we had quite a few handsprings and gymnastics moves across the front lawn.

And, I know that for some people Halloween is THE big issue and all and I can understand that, and, yes, I know all the arguments for and against participating, but for our family, we decided we could let them dress up in cute little costumes and visit the neighbors and carve a pumpkin, but the creepy, icky stuff is left out. Anyway, like I said, Halloween would be a big, fat nothing if it were only up to me.

So, all my little disclaimers aside, I just have to share the pictures of the costumes the kids wore.