Friday, February 29, 2008

So, I Wasn't Going To Post About LOST Every Week, But....

.....I’m driving my husband crazy with my “Beckitations”(small and probably unnecessary aside: some of those shows I listed in that post we don't actually watch anymore) so I’ve got to have an outlet somewhere. My only coherent (???) comment after last night’s episode is: “So, is the island Daniel Faraday’s physics doctoral thesis gone bad? Are the LOSTies just ‘rats’ in a big maze?” This season is good again, that’s for sure. (It's just a TV show, Beck.) I’m glad Desmond is okay again, too. I think maybe when Desmond returned to his senses (what else do you call it – was firmly rooted in time again?), perhaps Daniel did also? Still so many questions. I’m just hoping it ends with something I can at least understand.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rebekah Sweet Tea's Practical Mom's Dictionary, Installment #1

1. Waiting for sourdough starter.
2. Waiting for sourdough bread to rise – ever so slow.
3. Baking cookies with a 9-year-old and avoiding the temptation to micromanage.
4. Walking down the hall of the school with a 21-month-old who wants to touch every single decoration on the walls – there are LOTS of them to touch.
5. Calmly putting a screaming 21-month-old into a car seat she adamantly does not want to be in at the moment.
6. Not having your head explode when either of the boys gets a hold of a kazoo and proceeds to serenade you with it. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Repeatedly. For a long time.
7. Laughing at a joke you’ve heard thousands of times before which wasn’t funny the first time.
8. Listening to one more discussion of any LEGO product without banging your head against the wall.
I am sure there will be additions to this particular definition, but these are what came to mind right now.

Shock and Awe (Boo style): Caution this one is definitely TMI and not for the faint of heart or queasy of stomach……Combine one 21-month-old with a sinus infection and nasty green stuff copiously flowing from her nose at any given moment throughout the day and a hefty dose of Augmentin to combat said infection (known side effect can be slight diarrhea) with several sippy cups worth of watered down fruit juice and a distracted mommy who forgot to check the baby's diaper once too often this morning, and, well, it was something to behold. It was one of those moments when I prayed for an iron-clad stomach (seriously), stripped off the baby clothes and promptly plopped her into the bathtub in the middle of the day. My word. Note to self: Check that diaper often.

Disappointment: Missing seeing Tic Tac make his very first basket during a game last Saturday. This is his first year playing and he’s the youngest one on his basketball team and this is a huge deal for him. I don’t regret that I went to the conference on Saturday, but I do wish I could have seen his big moment. Drew said the whole crowd was cheering for him.

Heartmelting: Seeing the pride in Tic Tac’s shining eyes as he told me about his basket and the fact that the team won by two points that day. I gave him a huge hug, you better believe it.

Exciting: The needle on the scale moving 2 pounds to the left. You have no idea how exciting this is after having plateaued for a really long time now. I had to step off and then back on the scale like 5 times this morning before I really believed it. Of course, baking cookies with Monk tonight was probably not the smartest way to celebrate......I refrained from enjoying them too much, though. That little needle nudge was way more exciting than chocolate chip cookies tonight for me.

Might as well laugh: I accidentally left the laundry room door open this morning. Boo found the box of dog treats that lives on top of the dryer. Before I knew what she was up to, I heard her chattering away at Oliver and giggling. When I went to check, she had half the box of bones spread around her and Oliver was loving life. He thinks Boo joined our family just to feed him good stuff. I had to hurry up and collect the treats and the box before Oliver ate them all. All the while thinking to myself, "This is why you need a sense of humor to be mom...." I tell you what, that child keeps me on my toes.

That's it for now. I’m sure I’ll come up with more later. That was fun.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Scripture Memorization - Some Thoughts on Today's Verses

Psalm 103:17-18
“17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.”

These are the verses I am learning today and have been focusing on and thinking about all day. We are actually on verse 17, but I just couldn’t memorize that one without verse 18 at the same time – they go together too much to wait until tomorrow to add the rest of the thought!

This entire Psalm has become increasingly precious to me as I have been working to commit it to memory. I have always thought I had a hard time memorizing, but this has been such an incredibly rewarding experience and the Lord is showing me so much that I want to try to make scripture memory a much, much more important part of my time with the Lord even after we finish Psalm 103.

I had a longer post written, but I decided it suffered with too much information. Here’s what I will share. These verses today are very special to me at this season of my life because this is a deep prayer of my heart. I do want to be a woman who fears the Lord. I very much want to see my children and their children and so on and so on learn to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. I very much want them to come to saving faith and to learn early what it is to trust Him with all they are and to see them serve Him passionately and share their faith boldly. I want to be the kind of mom who will love God that way in front of them.

Some of the things that our pastor’s wife shared on Saturday were things I really knew already, but she shared them in just the way I needed to hear them, and God used one example from her life and the things God taught her through His word to pierce my heart with a truth that is so basic and common sense and actually something I knew in my head but needed to be reminded of in a fresh and practical way. The example she shared pierced my heart because it dealt with exactly the area of discipline that I struggle with and helped me address the root of my own failings in keeping my temper in check. In fact, though she does not know it, what she shared was an answer to a prayer I had been praying for wisdom in a certain area of my own life. God used her experience to highlight exactly what I was needing to hear in a way I was able to hear and apply it, and it is already making an impact on some of the attitudes I bring into the day to day stuff of mothering as it has stuck with me and made such an impression. You know, a lot of people in this town accuse our church of legalism, but I am not hearing legalism. I am hearing solid, uncompromising teaching of God’s word, and, I’m telling you, with understanding is coming such a sense of freedom, as well. God is so good.

By grace, through faith, I am in covenant with Jesus. I, who once was alienated and an enemy of God, He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present me holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight – if indeed I continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and am not moved away from the hope of the gospel which I heard. (Colossians 1:21-23) Jesus, who kept the covenant on my behalf, while I was dead in my trespasses, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven all my trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14) My sins have been taken away as far as the east is from the west. Because of this, the Holy Spirit teaches me as I study His word and pray for wisdom, and I am able to grow in sanctification and find joy in keeping His commandments and wanting to do things His way. I am able, by His grace, to learn to train up my children in the way they should go and to talk to them when we rise up and when we sit down and when we walk along the way, teaching them line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. And I can enjoy them while we do this.

So, yes, I was able to smile and tell my son the other day that I did, indeed, learn a lot.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Kid Quote of the Day

I went to an all-day conference for women yesterday at our church (9am-3pm). Our pastor’s wife teaches a Bible study she calls “Mothering From the Heart” that usually is taught over a course of 5 weeks, but she decided to have a “Mothering From the Heart Marathon” yesterday to give some of us who are newer to the church and have not yet heard the material an opportunity to do so.

Anyway, yesterday was wonderful, and perhaps I’ll blog some about it in the future. But for today, I had to share this:

Yesterday afternoon, once I was home, my oldest son, Monk, and I were talking. He asked me, “What were you doing today, anyway?”

I told him it was a Bible study at church.

He said, “What was it about?”

“About how to be a better mom, and to apply biblical principles to how I act as a mom,” I explained.

“Well, did you learn anything?” He asked very earnestly. (subtext probably being, "I sure hope you learned something.....")

I laughed and told him, yes, I learned a whole lot.

Friday, February 22, 2008

LOST Gloat

Kindly just move on along if you don't like LOST.

I know, I know, it's just a silly TV show. But I like it. And I just have to gloat. I actually guessed a plot twist before it happened. I totally guessed that Kate would somehow take baby Aaron. And I said it out loud when Claire and Kate were hanging clothes on the line and Kate didn't want to pick him up when Claire asked her to, so I have proof - just ask my husband.

As to how and why she ends up having the baby with her and where in the world Claire is or why she would ever be parted from him, I have no clue. And as to all the other quadrillion questions I have - like, how does Sayid end up working for Ben?????? and what happened to everyone else and why is Jack lying???, again, no clue. But I got one right. Score: 1 for me, a billion, gazillion shocking plot twists for the LOST writers.

I am really hoping this ends happy. It isn't looking like it, is it? I'm at least hoping all the ends will be neatly tied up and it will at least make sense in the end. In other words - I hope it's a satisfying ending, even if it isn't happy. I told my husband last night that if this were a book I would just stay up all night so I could finish it already! You can only stand the suspense so long. Which is what makes that show so interesting. And I really do not intend to start blogging about LOST every week.

Just had to share, is all.

Turning a Blah Day Into a Day of Praise

I am very much enjoying memorizing Psalm 103. I woke up tired, tired, tired, groggy and very stuffy-nosed this morning. Boo also woke up with nasty nose and general cruddiness. Couple that with the fact that it is rainy, gray, dismal and chilly - all day today, and it could be a very blah kind of day.

I have been making it a habit to go over in my mind and out loud the verses I have so far committed to memory each morning when I first wake up and am getting ready for the day. This morning, however, I was so tired and feeling so blah I just did not want to work on remembering. But I did it anyway. As I got in the shower this morning, I started going over Psalm 103:1-14 (which is how far I’ve gotten), and the most amazing thing happened. The more I thought about what I was saying, the more I began to wake up and realize this was not a day to grow weary in doing good, but it was an excellent day to press on. And as I rehearsed the words of Psalm 103 this morning, I began praying – for myself and for others, using the words of that Psalm. There is a family in my church who is facing a very severe trial, and I have been so burdened to pray for them, not being sure how to pray but knowing I needed to lift them to the Lord. As I was rehearsing the many benefits that Psalm 103 focuses on, I began asking God to crown this family with His lovingkindness and tender mercies. I love taking the Psalms and using the thoughts so beautifully expressed and turning them into my own prayers. So often when I do not have words to express what I desperately want to express to the Lord, I find that scripture comes to mind and I pray back His word to Him as I think about what those promises and blessings mean in each situation.

Did you know that cleaning bathrooms and mopping is much more fun when you can use that time to practice scripture memorization? It is! While mopping the floors this morning, I got to turn my mind again to the great blessings of the Lord. Drudgery faded into praise. That, in itself, is something to cause me to praise Him.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


2 Corinthians 3:17
“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

This is a verse that is sometimes taken out of context and twisted. At times it is brought out to be used to justify some kind of behavior or speech that is less than holy in the name of our Christian liberty. I have started a lot of posts over the last year on the topic of how the concept of liberty is misused, mistaught and abused often in many, many discussions I run across in various blogs, usually by people who like to use the word ‘relevant,’ but I have never ended up posting my rants. Too often, when anyone starts saying there are standards of decent behavior that a person who loves Christ will begin to want to strive toward and that there are certain uses of language that are not edifying and have no place in a Christian’s dialogue, they are accused of being legalistic or, worse, of promoting a works based salvation message.

I have found in wading through many discussion threads over the past several years that this is not usually an honest argument. It is true that when we have been delivered from the dominion of darkness and placed in the kingdom of Christ’s light, we will desire to be more like Christ. We will yearn for holiness. And it is true that we are to put off worldly thinking and behaving and put on the mind of Christ. Not that we are to shut ourselves up in the Christian, evangelical subculture and never rub shoulders with unbelievers as some would do, but that we would be shining lights as we seek to live as ambassadors for Christ to the people who are still trapped in the darkness. But we are told to put off filthy speech and to put off unrighteous behavior. We are also told the kinds of behavior, thinking and speech to put on. All the mind numbing arguments about word etymologies and justifications of why ‘bad’ words aren’t really ‘bad’ words and all the snide comments about the ‘lists’ of words we supposed ‘legalists’ think are filthy are just blowing smoke. Honestly, we all know when someone’s speech is filthy and when it does not edify. And sometimes it has nothing to do with specific words and everything to do with how and why something is being said. We are called to be separate. That does not mean that we have to live and look like people from a long past era, but that we live in our culture in a modest and uncompromising way, not bending to the pressures to be crass and vulgar and overtly sensuous and self-serving and rude – you get the picture.

The thing that bothers me the most about the arguments I often run into about being ‘relevant’ to the culture around us and indulging in behaviors and language in our so-called “freedom” to use words and focus on things that, let’s be honest, we all know are not edifying and are not conducive to a holy lifestyle or fill our minds with things that make it that much harder to think on the things we ought, is that the proponents of such things so often mischaracterize those of us who think such things are dangerous to a Christian’s witness and well-being as stuck in the 1950’s or something. They pretend to be somehow better enlightened about their convoluted readings of scripture and pretend to have no understanding and continue to mischaracterize what we mean by our concern over the continuing slide of evangelicals into a sloppy, unbiblical, worldly, shallow, self-indulgent understanding of the Christian life and what it means to be growing in sanctification. The Christian life is one of surrender to Christ and seeking His glory, not one of seeking to indulge my flesh and justify that indulgence by saying I am just being ‘relevant’ to the culture. My language and behavior and lifestyle and dress all say something about what is important to me. If I sound and look and act exactly like my unsaved neighbors, what is there about me that would even cause them to ask me to give an answer for the hope that is in me - or even recognize there is anything different about me at all? Let’s face it, we all know that certain things are not seen as holy, even by the pagans who participate in them. I suspect that when we are cussing and drinking and partying and dressing immodestly we are not seen as ‘relevant’ but as hypocrites. And rightly so, in my opinion.

Okay, that turned into more of a rant than I intended. That’s why I haven’t yet finished one of those many posts I’ve started on this topic – they always turn into rants.

Anyway, here’s the point I meant to be making. Taking that verse in context gives it an extremely different meaning. Want to see? I have to back up to verse 7, and I’m going to put in bold something I wanted to emphasize.

2 Corinthians 3:7-18
“But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech – unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The liberty being spoken of is liberty from spiritual blindness. The veil over our understanding is taken away in Christ. When we, in faith, turn to Him the scales fall from our eyes and the Holy Spirit begins teaching us as we read His word. We begin to grow in the knowledge and understanding of His word. This is the liberty. We are freed from sin and given eyes to see the glory of Christ. And in seeing that glory, we who have tasted of the grace of Christ are being transformed into His image. This is the liberty we celebrate. To say it is liberty to live any other life than one surrendered to the holiness of Jesus Christ is to misunderstand and twist the scripture.

Therefore, always, always, always search the scripture to be sure what is being taught is really what the Word is saying.

Confessions of a Novice Baker

With some little sadness, I must finally admit a bread-making set back with the untimely demise of Leroy, our sourdough starter. Due to my forgetfulness in feeding our friend Leroy, and the fact that I accidently put the sponge too close to a boiling pot, it never really "frothed" as it should yesterday, even though I left it overnight. I think the heat from the stove killed Leroy. In my sourdough ignorance, however, I went ahead this morning and tried to make a loaf with some optimism. Poorly placed optimism, it seems, for the dough is not rising. At all. Just a sad lump in the bowl.

So, sadly, Leroy has gone down the drain and I am trying again to make a new starter. I think we'll call this one Edward, after a somewhat famous ancestor on my husband's side of the family. See, I haven't given up optimism. I am confident I will figure out how to make good sourdough bread. It just may take me a long time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Some More Randomness From the Sweet Tea Front Porch

I found a new recipe for sourdough bread that I am trying today. I've got the "sponge" setting up right now. I learned all kinds of new sourdough baking jargon reading that site. My last recipe never turned out sour enough, and it turns out that's because I was using store-bought yeast. Apparently real sourdough bakers do not do that but just rely on the starter and the yeast it naturally gathers from the air - the purest, and old fashioned way of baking bread. You can tell I am new to all this. We'll see how this bread turns out.

Lisa at Deo Volente has kindly bestowed an award to my blog. I still feel funny about the fact that people actually read this! But I have to say that I must award it right back to her - she is one of the many women I have found who enjoy writing about their walk with the Lord and she is so transparent about struggles that her words have often meant a lot to me. She does have an excellent blog.

Here are a few other bloggers (though not a complete list of those I read and am encouraged by) who I think have excellent blogs and whose writing often encourages me:


And three that I read often but very seldom have the courage to comment on:

Dan Phillips

I finished reading the book Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, which I mentioned the other day. When I got the end my reaction was, "Wow." I had to sit and digest it a bit. I liked this book. The ending was not at all what I was expecting and that is ALL I will say about that. At first when I read the jacket flap I thought they had given too much information, but, no, it was still a surprise. Very well written, too.

The weather is just plain weird this winter. We'll have one very cold day then the next it is hot. It is hard to know what to expect from day to day. But, Boo and I managed four laps around the block this morning- thank you, Boo, for enjoying the stroller today, Mommy needs to walk off some of this excess weight!

And one more random thought before I finish this post: I just want to say publicly how much I love my husband. God blessed me much with him, much more than I deserve, and I am grateful.

That's all for now.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Baby Entertainment

Boo found 4 plastic cups of old Chuck E. Cheese tokens and tickets in the cabinet under the sink. She has been happily transferring the coins from one cup to the other for the past 15 minutes. She is at such a fun age….simple joys keep her occupied and her attention focused for the longest time! I love watching her figuring things out and entertaining herself.

Miscellaneous Friday

I don’t really have much to say today, but I have been so neglectful of the blog lately, I thought I would just share some random things. When I was in creative writing class in high school, we used to have stream-of-consciousness writing exercises where we just wrote down whatever came to mind with no rhyme or reason then tried to pull something useful from the stream that we could use later to develop into a poem or story or whatever. This post is something like that - disjointed random things.

I’ve been doing some maintenance in my sidebar over the past several weeks. You may have noticed I have added a new link that looks like this:

Reflections Apparel and Gifts

I hope if you have not yet visited Carla Rolfe’s online store that you would please visit! She has lots of fun t-shirts and other stuff for sale, and I just ordered an adorable t-shirt for Boo and one for myself!

Also, I have added a link to Answers in Genesis that gives a new question each time my blog is loaded and you can link directly to the AiG site for the answer. I thought that was an interesting addition.

I also added a list of scripture I am working on memorizing - I hope that will help me to keep at it! And I put in the Bible reading I'm doing each day. This is a guide my church passed out last year, and I liked it so well I am using it again this year. Following the guide we can read through the whole Old Testament once (except Psalms and Proverbs which we read twice), the Gospels, Acts & Revelation twice, and the Epistles three times in a year. I'll try to keep that list updated each week in the sidebar if I can remember to do so.

I am currently reading a really good book that I would not have found had I not read about it on a fellow blogger’s site. Hello, Lisa! I checked out Peace Like a River by Leif Enger from the library this week and it is so hard to put it down when I’m wanting to keep on reading and find out more about these interesting characters. This is a very well-written and engaging story which is, so far for me, absolutely living up to the enthusiasm Lisa expressed, and reading it is one reason I don’t have much time for blogging right now!

I am so glad I started with Community Bible Study! I met with my Core Group for the first time yesterday, and I just have to say that I actually love having homework to keep me focused throughout the week. We are studying the book of Matthew together.

I am also in a study through my own church of the book of Colossians, so I’m trying to read through that book several times a week and really think about what I’m reading.

Lots of reading going on means not so much blogging, I suppose, but I have so needed this interaction with other women who also love to study and apply God’s word. I have needed that encouragement and accountability, so I’m soaking it up at the moment.

Also, I should have mentioned this a few weeks ago, but I added a new blog in my blogroll called “Rahab’s Thread.” This is a new group blog whose writers have a real desire to encourage women to study God’s word. If you have not yet visited, I hope you will soon.

Though I don’t blog about politics often, I just have a little comment to make: I sure am glad my hope is not in government and in who becomes president. Otherwise, things might be looking a little depressing out there. Okay, enough said on that one.

Oh, and I am still working to memorize Psalm 103, as Leslie has been encouraging her readers. It is really good to think first thing in the morning about blessing the Lord with all that is in me and to think on all His benefits. I am really enjoying working to memorize this passage! My oldest son knows I am working on it, too, and in the car the other night when I was helping him and his brother work on Psalm 1, which they are still learning, he said, “Hey, Mom!” and started reading Psalm 103 for me to quote along with him. We got as far as I have learned, and then he kept on reading to the end. Then he said, “You’re going to learn all that?” I said I sure am!

I would love to share the Valentine I wrote for our middle son as a parent’s homework assignment for his school, but I made a poem out of the letters of his name, and since I don’t use the kids’ names on the blog, I guess I can’t. It was cute, though, but you'll have to just take my word for it. I’m going to ask him for permission to share what he wrote for his part of the assignment, because it was very sweet.

Oh, and I gave little boxes of chocolate to each of the kids for Valentine’s Day yesterday. Boo has decided she really likes chocolate. Definitely like her momma! Anyway, she got into each of her brother’s little boxes this morning and took one bite out of a piece in each boy’s box. They are not amused with their little sister. I think that should teach them not to leave them on the table. It isn’t like they have not been told and told and told and told and told (you get the idea) not to use the table as their own personal storage place.

Tic Tac is still asking when I'll write his pirate story. I have to confess I haven't spent much (okay any) time on it lately. I've got to sit down and do it! I was sort of hoping he would forget, but he hasn't. His birthday is in April. I wonder if I can knuckle down and get something on paper for him before then.

I got my hair cut today. I am wanting to grow it longer, but I had to cut it to even out some of the layers. It turned out really cute! I just knew the woman who cuts my hair would laugh at me when I told her I wanted to try again to grow it out since I keep on giving up before we get it there, but she didn't. She did a really nice job on it, and I hope I can stick with it this time, at least long enough to see if I want to keep it long.

Boo is having spaghetti for lunch again, so I must be going as she is in the process of getting antsy -wouldn't want orange spaghetti to start flying around the kitchen. She thinks throwing food is an acceptable method of letting us know she is finished. We are in the process of teaching her it most definitely is NOT. And looking at the destruction she has wreaked upon her sleeves, I see that she will need to change clothes before nap time. Note to myself: Long sleeves and spaghetti are a bad combination for a 21 month old.

That’s all the randomness I can stand for now. Have a nice Friday!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

And They Saw the God of Israel

For about five years or so now I have been making it a practice to read through the Bible each year. While reading through Exodus this month I came across something I had not really noticed before. In chapter 20, God gave Moses and the people the Ten Commandments. The people knew right then that, first of all, they were to have no other gods before the LORD God who brought them out of Egypt. Nor were they to make graven images to bow down and serve them. After hearing all the Ten Commandments, and seeing the thunderings and lighting flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and seeing the mountain smoking as God spoke to them, they trembled, stood afar off and said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

So, now the people have seen all the plagues God sent while they were still in Egypt when Pharaoh would not let them go, they saw the miraculous way He spared their firstborn sons when the blood of the lamb was placed on their doorposts, they saw the Red Sea open up before them and they walked through on dry land, they saw how God destroyed those from Pharaoh’s army who were following after them when the Red Sea came crashing down on them after the children of Israel had crossed over safely. They had also, at this point, seen the bitter waters turned sweet, manna from heaven, water from a rock, and victory from the Amalekites. And now they were seeing these manifestations on the mountain as God came down to give them the Law. And for several chapters it is recorded how God gave them His Law. Pretty amazing stuff so far.

Then we get to chapter 24. I’ve got to put quite a few verses here to get at the thing I noticed, so here is Exodus 24:1-11(the bold is my emphasis):

“Now He said to Moses, ‘Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. And Moses alone shall come near the LORD, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him.’

So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the LORD has said we will do.’ And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘all that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.’

Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.”

When I read this a couple of days ago, I did a double take. I don’t know how I have missed this, but, these men, the 70 elders and Aaron and Nadab and Abihu, SAW GOD. And they were not consumed instantly. Now, it only describes under His feet, so I wonder if maybe they only saw His feet or they were so full of awe that they couldn’t lift their eyes higher, but I suppose we shouldn’t speculate too much and just take what the Word says, but they saw God.

The reason I did a double take was that as soon as I read that, I thought, “Wait a minute. Did I sleep through the golden calf episode? Surely they wouldn’t have made an idol after seeing God, would they?” So, I flipped ahead a few chapters and saw that, no, I had not slept through the golden calf incident. It happens later. After they have seen God. Does that strike anyone else as just hard to get your brain around?

Here’s the thing. I get that the people had seen Moses go up on that mountain while those men came back down, and I get that they saw him go into that awesome, fearful, amazing glory cloud of God that was like a consuming fire, and I get that Moses was gone a long time – 40 days. So, I understand how the people could be getting antsy wondering if Moses had been consumed and if he were coming back.

But the amazing thing to me is that their first response was to build an idol. Their first response was to forsake God. Even if Moses had been consumed, they had still accepted the law that said that the LORD was their God. The elders of the people had seen God! They had heard that there was to be no bowing down to carved images and that the LORD was to be their God, they were to have no other. The people had agreed to this. And Aaron was right there with them, giving them what they asked for. He didn’t even argue with them, but went on to make it happen! And he had seen God! Was the culture of Egypt still so much a part of their thinking that there was no other response for them than to seek out other gods immediately?

Now, I know that the full plan of redemption had not yet been revealed to those people. I know that I am a benefactor of the fact that God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Colossians 1:27) My hope and faith and trust are in the righteousness of Christ and His blood shed for me on the cross, where He bore the penalty of my sin, and in His resurrection.

I cannot help thinking that some questions I find I must ask myself are these:

Where are my affections placed?

Do I seek to love the LORD my God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind?

Is my thinking so clouded by the things the world values and the attitudes the world exalts that my love and desire for Jesus do not burn as hot as it should and my witness for Him is dimmed?

Is the culture I live in still so much a part of me that it infects my thinking and my first response?

How much of my thinking and how many of my decisions are based on the worldviews I’ve picked up along the way instead of informed by a worldview that seeks first God’s righteousness?

How many of my first responses to situations are not grounded in a firm understanding of who God is and in a firm understanding of His word?

How often is my fear in trusting His sovereignty rooted in a faulty understanding of who He is, a faulty understanding of His character?

Do I truly trust Him to be who has said He is in His word?

Do I know His word well enough that it informs my very thinking?

Am I hiding His word in my heart, that I might not sin against Him?

Since I am in Christ, I must set my mind on the things above, not on the things of this world. I must be transformed by the renewing of my mind and seek to offer my life a living sacrifice and not be conformed to this world. Because my eyes have graciously been opened to see the truth, I have been freed to walk in it. I must walk in it.

Oh, Lord Jesus, give me eyes to see where my own thinking is not in line with the plumb line of Your word. Thank You for giving us Your word. Thank You for a Bible to read and learn and study and know that through it I may know You and love You. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to teach us and comfort us as we seek to honor Your word and obey You and delight in You alone. Let my first response always be to seek Your glory. To whom much is given, much will be required. I have been given so much, Lord, help me to be faithful to live a life worthy of Christ Jesus!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

And After Winter Comes the Spring

Blogging has been a needed outlet for me in many ways. During the years we’ve lived here, it has been an especially lonely and dry time for me, and blogging has been such a blessing in that I have connected with many other women around the blogosphere who also like to write about the Lord and His grace and mercy. It has also helped me to think through more carefully and biblically what I believe and why because I sense a responsibility to be true to the Word when I write things out here, and for this I am grateful. It is often useful to me to chronicle this stage of my life, but I am finding that there are times when I may have something happening in my life that is fairly consuming emotionally, mentally, and/or physically and if I decide not to blog about it, it seems like it is hard to blog about anything else, either. But there are times when it is probably best to keep details about certain situations to myself, and that’s where I struggle. I tend to want to tell everything I am thinking about those big things, and that is not always the best for the blog, even if they are over all good things.

That is how this post started out. I have tried several drafts and every time I say more than I probably should. In fact, this final version is probably still suffering from some of the same.

Back last February, I bared my heart a little about how much I have struggled with not liking living where I live. Now, a year later, I am writing a post to share a little about how refreshing it is to finally feel that I am entering an oasis in this wilderness we have called home for a little over four years now. I shared a few weeks ago how we were struggling with the decision to go to a new church. Well, we did join that church on December 16, and I told my husband a few weeks ago that I feel as if we have come in from the desert and found the oasis we had needed. It is as if we are drinking from a deep well that has been here all along if only we had known where to find it.

Finally I am beginning to feel like this wilderness doesn’t have to be so dry. It is so nice to be in a place each week where the Bible is opened and taught well from the pulpit and in the adult and children’s Sunday school classes and to finally be making connections and friendships with people who also have the hunger and desire to be in the Word, and we are, all of us, drinking it in like thirsty wanderers who have panted for such richness.

It was not without tears and struggle that we made this move and it was not without heartache that we could no longer continue where we had been for four years, but we came to believe that it is what our family needed, and each week we are there this is confirmed in our hearts. Even though we keep hearing that people are saying we “should have stayed and made it happen” when our in-laws explain to people who ask that the main reason we left was because our children were not getting the kind of teaching and peer support we knew they needed – many times they would be the only ones in their classes, and my oldest son had no kids his age on a regular basis most of the time we were there. Such comments are made by people who don’t seem to understand that we tried very hard to do just that for four years, and the reasons we finally decided we could no longer do so are some of the things I think I probably will not blog about. We so much wanted what they, and we, were hearing and doing at church to support better what we are trying to do and teach at home rather than much of their class time being little more than babysitting. We believe that now they are getting the kind of encouragement that will help them grow in the Lord every time we meet at church – it is never treated as babysitting, but precious opportunities to teach them. You know, they are even excited about sitting through the hour long sermon and taking notes! That is incredible to me. First of all, they are listening closely enough to ask questions, and I have yet to find the need to undo something they come home telling me was said by a teacher, and they are excited to take notes – granted, the note taking thing is because they get a reward on Wednesday if they bring their completed sermon note sheet to children’s choir, but, it works!

And, though we are still concerned about the SBC and the direction it is going, and we still are paying attention and will pray, it has not bothered me nearly as much as I thought it might that we are no longer in a SBC church. I am very saddened that we could not continue to serve in a SBC church in this area, but this is where we have found ourselves.

OH, and here’s something exciting, too. We have a Community Bible Study right here in our town!! If only I had realized exactly what it was that was meeting over there all these years! I have needed something like that for four years and because of my hermit-like tendencies which make it so easy to just turtle into my home and so difficult to step out of my comfort zone and actively seek out these opportunities in the community, I missed that it was there all the time, right under my nose. I had heard about a study that met at a certain church downtown, but for some reason I had been given the impression that it was mostly for military wives and it was super huge (it really isn’t compared to some places we’ve lived) and there was usually a waiting list for moms with little children (this is actually true if you don't sign up early enough due to space constraints) and some other wrong information, so I never got up the energy to find out what it really was. Even though they are in the middle of the study of Matthew, and even though the childcare is usually too full to allow newcomers in the middle, when I contacted the coordinator she told me they did have a slot for Boo and that I would be able to start right away if I didn’t want to wait until September when the next class will start. I started Thursday and am so excited about it.

After four years, I finally have begun to feel that this is home. Or as my husband just said, after four years of winter, spring has finally come.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

4 Things

Lisa has tagged me with this, thus kindly providing me blog material for one more day. Thank you, Lisa! Here goes:

(that pay money)
1. Chick-fil-A – while on breaks during college
2. Clerk and then a claims examiner for an HMO
3. Speech Pathologist-in-training for a public elementary school while I worked to complete my master’s degree (I quit once I realized I HATED it and I threw up every morning before going to work and quit graduate school once I finished that semester, too. That was proof that I could have very good grades in the classroom and clinic but still not be suited for that particular career)
4. Secretary for Lutheran Outdoor Ministries of Florida

1. The Chronicles of Narnia
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
3. The Princess Bride (I can quote lots of lines from this one!)
4. A Christmas Story

1. LOST – this is the only one I really hate to miss. I am so incredibly hooked and was very glad it is back – 8 months was a long time to wait after last season’s ending!!! By the way, I keep hoping we’ll finally get some solid answers – it seems that for every question answered, at least 15 more are raised…..I have so much more to say on that, but I’ll save it for a possible future blog post.
2. Monk
3. Psych
4. Myth-Busters (Apparently I mostly like shows with one-word titles. Interesting. I almost put Sesame Street because Boo loves Elmo and friends, but she's really the one watching while I use it shamelessly as a distraction so I can get a few things done in the morning)

I’m really a homebody, but….
1. New York City (high school choir trip with church)
2. Indiana
3. Sanibel Island, FL
4. San Francisco, CA

1. Our Sunday School prayer list coordinator
2. My husband
3. My sister-in-law
4., Ligonier, Answers in Genesis, Kohl’s, Target, Truth for Life devotionals, a certain friend who still forwards every crazy e-mail that comes along

1. Italian food
2. Nachos
3. Chocolate chip cookies with milk
4. Popcorn (on the stove or from the movies)

1. Actually, I’d really rather just be home – can you believe I can finally say that about my island wilderness??? (still working on a post about that, by the way)
2. Sanibel Island
3. Disney World because the kids haven’t ever been, but October would be my preferred time of year to do so – not quite as hot and hopefully not as crowded (ha! ha! ha!)
4. I used to think I wanted to go back to Brandon, FL, but I’m finally realizing that going back probably wouldn’t be the same as when we lived there before, so maybe not….

1. Boo is turning 2 (Well, not really looking forward to it, but it's happening anyway - how in the world is time going so fast?? I am not ready for her to leave babyhood!!!!!!)
2. Taking the kids to the beach this summer, which I never got around to last summer with Boo being so little and Drew being gone so much
3. Spring! Surely it will be here soon, in fact the weather has been so crazy it kind of feels like spring already……(by the way, my husband ordered some tulips that will arrive when it is time to plant them – we live too far south to plant them before winter like normal people do – wasn’t that nice of him?)
4. Getting more involved at our new church and enjoying, and wanting to faithfully apply, the wonderful, solid Bible teaching we are hearing week after week!

I am also supposed to tag 4 people to continue this, but I really don’t know who to tag, so if you want to play along, please let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Memorizing Scripture

I saw that Leslie is working on memorizing Psalm 103 in an effort to combat a bad attitude. I think this is a wonderful idea, and I am joining her. I think it will be good to meditate on what it means to bless the Lord with all that is within me as I hide His word in my heart. For the month of February I'll be working on memorizing this passage, too.

Psalm 103

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits;

3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,

4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The LORD executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

12 And as far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.

14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.

17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And He righteousness to children's children,

18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

19 The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.

21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.

22 Bless the LORD, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Random Monday Thoughts

-Saw this one at Heather's blog and am using it for basically the same reason: it's Monday:

You Are a Cappuccino

You're fun, outgoing, and you love to try anything new.
However, you tend to have strong opinions on what you like.
You are a total girly girly at heart - and prefer your coffee with good conversation.
You're the type that seems complex to outsiders, but in reality, you are easy to please

I don't think I have ever tried a cappuccino (shocking, I know), not sure how outgoing I really am (go ahead and laugh right now, those of you who know me in real life), and I'm not really all that adventurous when it comes to new things, but the rest is pretty accurate, I think.

-I noticed from sitemeter that I'm still getting hits about that James Dobson e-mail hoax. Don't you wish people would stop sending mindless e-mail forwards? I know I do.

-I also noticed that someone found my blog by Googling "listen to good preaching online." I don't know if they found what they were looking for but, here's my favorites! John MacArthur (Grace to You) and Alistair Begg (Truth for Life). I am grateful for the radio ministries of both of these men, because I have learned so much by listening for the past several years. Especially during my wilderness time here, I have so appreciated them as a needed resource for biblical preaching when I have felt so dry. (Things are getting better here on that front, though - I might blog about that later).

-The vultures are back. They must like to be here in January. They really are grotesque. Even my oldest son is creeped out by them. He told me the other day they could pick up him or his brother and sister and carry them off if they wanted to. I told him I believe they only eat dead things. Eww.

-Why is it that scraps of paper that have no value at all (like ticket stubs or phone numbers with no name attached so that I've forgotten who will answer if I dial them or Publix receipts, etc.) seem to survive my every attempt at purging the paper mess that is my desk and will live here for long periods of time - sometimes even returning after I am sure I have thrown them away, but important things like the envelope we're supposed to mail back our Blockbuster online movie has managed to disappear? I know I did not throw it away, so, where is it, I ask? On a side note, do you think if my husband just walks the naked disc in to the local Blockbuster without the slip or envelope, they will take it and give it a new envelope and mail it back in for us? Or will they give him a hard time when he does just that today?

And now I must stop randomly thinking and go wake Boo up from her nap so I can go to M's class and help with a craft project like his teacher asked me to do. That will be fun. I hope Boo thinks so, too.


Guess what Boo enjoyed for lunch today:

Spaghetti is her favorite. I don't know if you can see it in these pictures, but she even has sauce in her hair. This is how it got there:

Sometimes lunch is so good, you just have to lick the plate.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I Will Bless the LORD at All Times

So, it’s been a week around here. The reading of When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy by John Piper is a little slow going for me right now. I’m only on page 40 (Chapter 3), and I started it a while ago, got sidetracked and am now back to it. It is slow going because it is hard reading – takes a lot of thinking. And I picked it back up at an interesting time, personally speaking.

I think January is probably my least favorite month. I also think I do not share the boys’ wish that it snowed here, because for all that I really like the first snow of the year and how beautiful it is coming down on a quiet wintry night, I do not like the many long, gray, dreary, drab, dark depressing days of winter that are the trade off of experiencing snow. I also do not like driving in snow and dealing with it on and on after that first snow. I like sunshine and light and lots of it and often. So, I feel for you all who live in those snowy places. Truly I do. Because just a day or two of those gray dark days are enough for me to go into a real slump. Hence last week’s blog break. It has been cold and dreary and I had no energy and was just mentally tired. And here we are today, and it is bright and sunny and in the upper sixties and I was loving it outside this afternoon. There are benefits to living here after all.

Something else I really hate about myself is how sensitive I seem to be to hormone fluctuations. Combine dreary days and hormones and, well, sometimes it isn’t pretty. I can be going along fine and then, wham, I’m struggling not to let unfounded depression flood in. I hate how when that happens, I tend to have a very quick fuse and if I don’t guard my tongue, my tone can get to be nasty before I even think about it on my poor unsuspecting family. I do not want to be one of those women who blames her own lack of self-control and sinful selfishness on you-know-what, however. I am really embarrassed to even mention that particular struggle because it seems so silly to be slumping when there is just no external reason for it. But I will say that it is at times like those that I have to be much more diligent to guard my heart, tone, and behavior. When the feelings I cannot control threaten to overwhelm, it is imperative to fight to turn my eyes off of me and fix them firmly on Jesus. It is precisely those times when I don’t feel like reading the Word that I must get in there and keep on and hide His word in my heart and prayerfully ponder and apply what I am reading, for this is how I know Him. It is at times like these that the fight for joy seems even more real, even more necessary.

When slumps like this come around and my energy level suddenly seems to be about zero and it is all I can do to get up and do what has to be done with little emotional zip left for anything else, it seems that it is at those times, too, that I start to feel like a huge hypocrite. I had several posts I was working on writing about the great hope I have in Christ, and I just felt I was fighting this huge battle with my emotions, knowing that I truly believe in that hope and am holding on to it in spite of feeling like a real wretch and feeling like I had no right to be writing such things when just that morning I had demonstrated spectacularly how not patient, how not kind, how not slow to anger I can be sometimes. I hate how once the emotions get involved I can hear myself saying things that need to be said, but, oh, not in the way I’m saying them, and it is so hard to ratchet back the volume. I hate it, hate it, hate it. Oh, to guard my sharp tongue!

I think part of what I’m struggling with in reading Piper’s book is an insufficient understanding of joy. I struggled with this when reading Desiring God, too. At first, I was struggling with the idea that if I did not feel happy all the time that I must not be obeying the command to rejoice in the Lord. After thinking on this a bit, I see that this is not really what Piper is teaching. At least I don’t think he is. Here is what I’m coming to understand and believe: It isn’t that we’re always going to necessarily feel like dancing and celebrating, but that deep down, in spite of circumstances, in spite of hormone wackiness, in spite of anything else, to know and love and obey and worship Jesus is my greatest desire. And even when I do not feel particularly joyful, I will wait on the Lord. No matter what lies my hormone addled emotions lead me to feel, I know that I am in Christ, and in Him I am righteous, accepted by God. It is amazing to me that He knows what a wretch I really am. He knows all the embarrassing things about me I don’t share on my blog. He knows my sinful, fickle, selfish heart. He knows that on my own I cannot even love Him as He deserves to be loved. He knows that even on my best day all I have to offer is filthy rags. He knows it all, and He died so that those sins would be nailed to the cross. I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me. (Gal. 2:20) He grants me the will and desire and faith and strength to live and walk in newness of life. That will take your breath away if you really think about it!

That joy is what motivates the decisions I make. That joy is what leads me to want to control my tongue and guard my actions carefully when physically and emotionally I am tempted to just give in and lash out, because I do want Christ to be glorified in me, I do want to be a joyful witness of His wonderful grace. That joy is why I am so ashamed when I let the flesh dictate my behavior and I find myself having to apologize to my family and repent for words and tone I hate having used. It is in learning to desire Christ more than anything else and learning to trust Him in the midst of every situation. It is learning not to let anyone, anything, or any circumstance take the place in my affection that rightfully belongs to God alone. It is learning not to be controlled by my disappointments and struggles and burdens and hormones and circumstances, but to lay all of that at His feet and trust Him with it all. It is seeing Him for who He is - His beauty and His righteousness and His awesome wonderfulness. It is recognizing that apart from Him I am nothing – and recognizing that I have no desire to be anything but what He would have me be, whatever the cost – and that is such a hard thing to say. It is having a taste for Christ and His way that is growing as He sanctifies me. It is learning what it means to love the Lord my God with ALL my heart, with ALL my soul, and with ALL my mind. It is not easy. In fact, it is impossible apart from His Holy Spirit working in me.

I am beginning to understand why there is so much discussion in this first part of the book where I’ve been stuck for a week or so about fighting for joy. It doesn’t come naturally to the flesh, and too often I try to fill up my joy with things that cannot satisfy. Only in Christ Himself can my thirst be sated. When I first began reading this concept that Piper calls Christian Hedonism, I was unnerved. I knew that I don’t love God as He deserves to be loved. I knew that I fail daily to truly live like He is first in my affections. And it frightened me. But I have come to realize that I cannot do this in my own strength. And I have come to realize that, though I have a long way to go still, God has graciously given me the taste for Him and His way. It is growing as I soak my heart and mind in His word and learn to fight for that joy. That is what this fight is about – learning to know and desire God. Sanctification is the life-long process of growing toward that maturity which causes me to lay aside every weight which so easily entangles that I may run the race with endurance. The weights are anything which would try to steal my affections and attentions away from the prize, which is Jesus Himself. As I look back over my life I can see how He is working in me to produce that consuming love for Christ. I can see how things that used to matter so much to me no longer even have any appeal – the things of this world are growing strangely dim as I learn to fix my eyes on Jesus.

May I live a life worthy of Him. May my affections be tuned to His will. May I truly be able to say with all my heart that this one thing I seek, to dwell with the Lord and seek Him and know Him and worship Him.

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

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