Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Boo and the Vacuum Beast

My daughter hates the vacuum. Truth be told, so do I, but for vastly different reasons I am sure. I think it’s the noise she hates. And she’s such a light sleeper, I can’t wait and vacuum during nap time because she wakes up and doesn’t get a nap and is crabby for the rest of the afternoon. So, I vacuum while she is awake and screaming, feeling like Evil Mom-Lady as I step over her screaming self and try to get the floor clean.

At first I thought it was just that she wanted my attention because when I run the vacuum she follows me around with her arms in the air screaming and wanting to be picked up. I’ve tried stopping and reading to her and snuggling and spending time with her then going back to it, but it doesn’t help. I’ve also tried carrying her around with me, but she’ll be two in a little more than a week and she’s really heavy. The desire for attention isn’t even the problem, turns out, because she can be engrossed in Sesame Street (we’ll discuss my poor mothering practices by bribing with Big Bird some other time, thank you – for the record, before you have children, don’t say things like, “I’ll never use the TV for a baby sitter,” or lots of other ‘nevers’ until you get there. Otherwise, you may eat a lot of your words. Not that I routinely use the TV for a baby sitter, but Big Bird does buy a few minutes of lunch making time, if you know what I mean.)

Anyhoo, she can be playing happily by herself, but once I turn on the loud vacuum beast, she turns into screaming, throw herself in the floor in despair baby. But the floor must be vacuumed sometime!

I suppose one could make the case that her distress over the vacuum beast results from not having enough exposure to it. One would probably want to be careful about saying such a thing out loud in my hearing. I’m just sayin’ is all.

So, the floors are vacuumed once again today and ready to be mopped once I get lunch done and playtime outside and Boo down for nap. But, for the record, we’re both pretty glad the vacuum beast is back in its cave for the moment.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Peek Through the Archives

Lisa has tagged me with a meme that says I need to pick 5 posts from my archives for the categories listed. This was much harder to do than I thought it would be. I had fun looking over old posts, but it was hard to choose specific ones for this meme. I even found quite a few posts still in draft form that will probably stay there. It probably won't surprise anyone who has been reading my blog that I couldn't choose just one post for most of the categories. Brief and concise are not exactly my forte. I tend to be kind of wordy.....

One of the most unexpected niceties that has happened as a result of blogging has been all the people I've gotten to 'meet' through our blogs. Most of us live so far away it isn't possible to be 'real' friends in the sense of knowing each other the way you know your 'face-to-face' friends, but it's so nice to connect with the ever widening blogging community I've come across since starting this little blog in October 2006. There is an encouraging group of sisters and brothers who love Jesus and like sharing their thoughts with us on the internet, and I treasure those 'internet' friends for the encouragement their shared thoughts bring. I have been so encouraged by comments all along the way, and it's nice to know you all are out there!

Here is a little snippet from my virtual front porch:

Family: I wrote a potentially controversial mommy post last year which kind of sums up some of the things I've been thinking about recently, so this is a good time to link to it. I also have to share how much I love my husband. And then there was the post where I explained the goofy nicknames I use for our kids on the blog. And I couldn't leave out a mention of my daring boys, either.

Friends: This one is all about how I hate to say, "Good-bye." My husband is actually my best friend, so here's another post about how thankful I am for him. :^)

Me: The sidebar has some links about me, but I also have one that demonstrated my ineptitude in the kitchen and another that let's everyone know I'm a dork and another where I explore the hypocrite in me, though if I were to write that post today it would be different. I am so very thankful for God's grace and the growing in sanctification He is producing in me. Looking back over the archives was encouraging in that way for me to see what I was thinking and writing about a year or so ago and where I am today.

Something I love: By discussing dinosaurs with the boys I got to post about my passion for reading/studying the Bible and understanding God's wonderful redemption plan from creation to revelation. How exciting it is when I get to see a glimpse of how the Lord is working in my kids' hearts. The amazing and glorious grace of God in sending His Son, Jesus to cleanse us and save us and reconcile us to Him, what blessed hope! May I ever grow to love Him more.

Anything I like: The obligatory Florida Gators mention, a LOST gloat, and an example of goofy poetry, which is actually quite fun to write when the mood strikes (and I like being Mom, too).

Whew. That took a lot longer than I thought it would, but it was fun. I'm continuing my recent habit of dropping of the proverbial meme ball and not naming specific people to tag. Consider yourself tagged if you're reading this - please let me know if you play along!

Friday, April 25, 2008

TEW: Ch. 4 & 5

Because I did not join in the discussion last week for the reading group looking at The Excellent Wife, I’ll briefly mention my impressions following both chapters 4 and 5 today. I’m still recovering from whatever this bug is that has left me so tired this week, so I do intend to be brief (obviously a relative term looking at the length of this post), but I don’t want to neglect it altogether, because this is a very practical, very helpful book. Please join the discussion at Leslie's here.

The main thing I took away from chapter 4 and the discussion about a wife’s understanding of relationships is that our fallen human nature tends to be very self-centered. This is something I am growing increasingly aware of and wanting to deal with in my own life. Peace very wisely counsels us that it is very important to be in God’s Word daily. I want to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s conviction as I read His Word, and I want to be more able to recognize when I am following the tendency to live for myself when I really need and want to be living for God’s glory. I do not want to only be a hearer/reader of the Word, but I want what I read to impact how I live. It isn’t good to be content with how much I think I know if I’m not practicing it in how I walk. I want to be thinking more and more about what it means to be living for God’s glory and to obey Him as I walk day to day as a wife and a mom.

Moving on into chapter 5, I was very encouraged by the discussion of ‘mutual sanctification,’ and the idea that husbands and wives are to help and encourage each other grow to be more like Christ. I appreciate the practical advice Peace gives on how to take care of the log in our own eye first, especially.

I am finding as I grow older (marching ever so quickly with only a month left to say I am 36), that the tendency to Pharisee-like self-righteousness can sneak up like an insidious thought in my heart. As I examine my motives and thinking patterns, I find that I really am not liking what I’m finding. I especially look back at my young twenties and realize how na├»ve and wrongfully prideful I really was spiritually speaking while thinking I was wise. I really, truly wanted to be a young woman with a heart for God. But I can see, looking back, that I was really quite worldly while thinking I was in better shape than I really was. By God’s grace, I can see how He preserved me and has caused me to grow so much in my understanding and in recognizing the tendency to clean up the outer vessel while missing inner filth that needs to be addressed. And, praise His merciful grace, I know that when I look back on this season of my life I will one day see how He has grown me even more. Therefore, I want to guard against that insidious thought that I have somehow ‘got it all together’ or to have a complacent attitude toward sanctification. I still have a lot of growing to be done and a lot of things that need pruning away, so I don’t want to become spiritually lazy.

I am not sure if I’m making much sense. I guess what I am trying to say is that I do not want to gloss over the logs that still exist in my own eye. I do not want to have an inflated opinion of my goodness. I am ever and increasingly aware of just how ugly my sin is and how the only righteousness I am capable of is from submission to Christ in me, not of my own ability at all. And I am ever and increasingly aware of just how lavish and amazing and full the love of the Savior is toward me, that He would graciously reveal those things in my life that He is pruning to make me more like Him. And I am also ever and increasingly grateful that He really, truly loves me – that I am accepted in Christ, completely and wholly His. May I be found faithful. May I be a willing servant as I fulfill the calling to be the wife He has called me to be. May I be a blessing to the man He allowed me to marry. And by blessing my husband, may I be an encourager to him to grow to be all Christ means for him to be as the leader of our home. And as we walk with Christ, may we be blessings to our children.

I long to have my chief and greatest desire to be to see God glorified. I want so much to learn how to be less self-focused and more able to overflow with love for my husband and children because I am so overwhelmed with the grace and mercy and love of Christ. I love how Mrs. Peace exhorts us to make our marriage a matter of fervent, faithful prayer, to commit to a biblical course of action, to take personal responsibility for our own failures (not to be defensive but to recognize and repent when there is a sinful way exposed in our thinking and behavior), and to submit to the difficult process of mutual sanctification. She is right that we can’t just muddle along with no plan and expect to be the excellent wife. I need to purpose to do it and plan to do it, I need to take what I read in the Bible and be constantly thinking and asking how I am to apply it to my life.

One thing I’m taking to heart this week is that I am very convicted that I have not made it a habit to pray as passionately and fervently I really ought to. I am learning to set aside time to cry out to God for my marriage and my children, among other things, in a more purposeful and thoughtful way. May I be found faithful. I have more thoughts along similar lines, not totally about this book per se, but I think they will need to be for a future post once I’ve percolated on them a bit more.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm Still Here

Why, I do still have a blog. Goodness, it looks like the front porch here at Sweet Tea With Lemon is getting a bit dusty, looking a little neglected and lonely, needs a good sweeping before we can sit and chat, yes? I haven’t posted anything significant or spent much time reading favorite blogs in over a week. That's like forever in blog time. I must have really needed that blogging break. I’m in a bit of a slump, blog friends. Can anyone relate?

I think I’ll just write a random ‘where I am right now’ sort of post just so Blogger doesn’t think I’ve abandoned my little space here. I just reread what I've written before I post it for the blog world to see. It's probably TMI, way more minutiae than any of you really care to know about my life at the moment. I'm posting it anyway.

First of all, as I mentioned, I seem to be in something of a slump right now. We’ve had a weird sickness run through our house over the past month or so – no fever, but a general tiredness and deep cough with sinus pressure and stuffiness, which eventually resolves once the gunk loosens. Two of the kids have been on antibiotic for infection caused by the gunk not resolving or becoming another ear infection (in Boo’s case – she has had three in the past two months) and Tic Tac is having to go back on breathing treatments for wheezing - something he has not had to do since he was in preschool, we hoped he’d outgrown it. Now I’ve got the cough and I’m so tired it’s hard to just get what has to be done completed. It’s a strange kind of tired, too. I’m not depressed – not sad at all, but the tiredness is the kind of mental malaise that sometimes accompanies that kind of depression. It's like trying to force my way through a solid wall of mental fog just to get the little, have-to things done. But when I force myself to go to, say, my Bible study or to exercise, it is worth it once I get there. I had a wise friend tell me today, after hearing what all I've been trying to balance recently, that I'm trying to do too much. Aren't such friends a blessing! She was right, and I've got to set priorities and say no to some things so I can say, "Yes," to the things I really need to. So, I haven’t blogged in over a week. I’m still here. Lots of thoughts percolating up there in my brain, but getting them out on the blog just hasn’t been happening.

I have been keeping up with reading The Excellent Wife, though. I hope to blog about it tomorrow.

Speaking of saying, "Yes," to things, I signed up to help with VBS this summer. It will be the first time I get to at our new church. I am very excited. We're doing Amazon Expedition. I had already been thinking I would sign up to help, and then I read this announcement in the bulletin last Sunday under the Children's Ministry heading: "Want to help teach kids how to defend their faith? Join us this summer as we travel on a journey through history from the very beginning of creation until the very end of this present world. Our VBS this year is designed to answer the key questions that cause so many young people to question the truth of the Bible. Adults and teens grade 7 & up may sign up today as we begin this journey learning the 7 C's of history with our children in Vacation Bible School." I sort of skimmed that and saw the 'defend their faith' and 'history from the very beginning of creation until the very end of this present world' and '7 C's of history' parts, somehow missing the VBS part and thought, hey, that's my passion, to help kids understand the big picture of God's redemption plan not just taught disconnected Bible stories with moral lessons devoid of the comprehensive spiritual significance, that's what I want to do! How do I get to be part of that? (Remember, the malaise is lingering and I'd been waffling about signing up for VBS) Then I looked closer. VBS! So, I filled out the form and I'm already praying for this summer and that I'll be ready and energetic.

My husband appreciates it when I give him what he calls a 'whip-lash warning' when I make abrupt subject changes in the midst of my stream-of-conciousness type speaking. Consider this your warning. Drew bought me an iPod Shuffle. Way out of my technological learning curve at the moment, but if I can figure out how to load what I want on it, it will be great for my time on the treadmill while oldest son swims each afternoon. This thing is tiny and it holds tons of songs and podcasts. I’ve got some preaching I want to listen to and some music, too. I tried it out yesterday, and it made the treadmill time much more fun. I was even able to run for a tiny portion of my time. Hoping to build that particular discipline. I’ve never been much of a runner. By the way, I found out the hard way that spending 45 minutes on the treadmill is not a very good thing to do when in the midst of a serious sinus headache. I did that the first Monday of J's swim practice and thought I was going to pass out once I finished, the pain was so bad in my head. When I got home I asked my husband if there was a weather front coming through or something, and sure enough, there was a big one. I can usually tell - I get these horrendous headaches in conjunction with them.

Speaking of the afternoons, we are falling into a nice routine of meeting Drew’s mom and leaving Tic Tac and Boo with her while I take Monk to the YMCA for his swimming and I get to use that time to exercise. The first week I took Boo and Tic Tac with me, but Tic Tac hated the ‘Fun Club’ and Boo tends to get sick whenever I leave her in the nursery there (see the malaise paragraph above). So, I only got to workout one day last week. This week, however, we’ve been moving along with the new plan and I got to workout Mon, Tues and Wed. I’m tired. I have to confess, I almost didn’t take my exercise clothes yesterday due to the fact that doing anything requiring planning or extra effort is just mentally taxing this week, but I pushed through and did it anyway. Then took a shower there and met Drew, his parents and the kids for dinner and then on to church last night. Did I mention I’m tired?

Speaking of church last night, boy, am I glad we went! Marquis Laughlin was our guest and he gave a dramatic recital of the first nine chapters of Acts that was just incredible. It is amazing how speaking the words of scripture with inflection and emotion really makes it come alive somehow. The way he recites or reads the scriptures really remind you that these were real people saying and doing the things you’re reading about, and you find yourself on the edge of the seat listening, even if you’ve read the passage lots of times before. He said in his little talk afterward that he is always amazed that people will come out to hear the word of God. He also mentioned that involving the sense of hearing and speaking the words out loud will really enhance how much you understand and retain as you read. I’ve found that to be true, because when I’m reading the Bible, especially early in the morning, if I’m having a hard time getting my mind to focus and not wander as I read I will read out loud. It does make it much easier to pay attention to what I’m reading. What a unique use of his acting talent, to memorize scripture and say it in a way that will get people to hear it. We bought his reading of the New Testament, and I put the first CD in the car this morning, thinking that I would listen to Matthew as I went around doing errands this morning. Well, when we got to school, J wanted me to let them sit in the car and listen, but we were running late and didn’t have time. Then both boys begged me to pause the CD because they wanted to hear what came next. I was astounded. The boys were as excited about listening to the Bible being read as they are some of the ‘Between the Lions’ or ‘Adventures in Odyssey’ story CDs we have. I was planning to listen to the CD myself during the day, but I said, “Okay, I’ll pause it and wait until you guys are in the car again to listen to more.” How exciting is that?

Speaking of this morning, I had Community Bible Study today. I am so very glad I started that, and I can’t believe it is almost over for this year. I’ve already signed up for next year – we’ll be studying Genesis! I’m excited about that, too.

Oh, and my inlaws watched the kids last Thursday so Drew and I could go to Savannah to pick up the new TV he got for us since ours was dying, and they cracked the whip and made/helped Tic Tac get his room organized. That was a huge, blessing, let me tell you. He has done an outstanding job keeping it clean all week, too. Now I just need to get the rest of the house in order. I’ve done some while on break, but not as much as I should – true confession time, I’m afraid.

And another fun thing: The bulbs Drew ordered for me a while back came a couple of weeks ago and we planted them out front and put pine straw in the beds and have been doing some yard work out front. The bulbs are beginning to sprout. I can’t wait to see all the pretty flowers! Hopefully I’ll be able to put pictures of them up on the blog in a few weeks. And the hanging baskets we bought for the front porch add just the right homey touch out front. I always wanted a house with a front porch and hanging flower baskets. I guess there are things I like about living here, after all! (Actually, things have gotten much, much better in that area. I can finally say this town is beginning to feel like home, and I thank God for answering my prayers in the way He has and is, in His perfect time.)

Well, I could probably go on with some more boring details, but I’ll stop now. I hope to get a post written about The Excellent Wife for tomorrow, but we’ll just see how that goes. Hopefully back to better blogging shortly. I’ve been missing it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Blog May Be Quiet for a While

I need to take a blogging break for a bit. Things have gotten quite busy around here. Spring has sprung, and with it my older son has started swimming - every afternoon - and my younger son's room seems to have exploded. I've got to devote much time to getting the house in some semblance of order and cleanliness and adjust to our new schedule with swimming and some other things. I hope to be back soon.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Put Off, Put On

We are discussing Chapter 3 of The Excellent Wife today, titled, “The Wife’s Understanding of Sin: God’s Provision.” Click here to see Leslie’s post and to join the others who are discussing this book with us. I always start out meaning to write a short post on these reading group discussions, but my posts always turn out too long as I cannot seem to keep them short. This one is no exception.

Right up front in this discussion of a proper understanding of sin, Mrs. Peace lays the foundation of being sure that her readers understand salvation biblically. The story she told of the woman she was counseling was a very interesting illustration of not understanding sin properly. She said that this woman was committing adultery and had also stated that she was a Christian, and at some point Mrs. Peace asked this woman on what basis God should let her into Heaven. The woman’s response? “Because I’ve been so kind.” (p. 19, The Excellent Wife, Chapter 3).

As I was reading that, I thought, how does she reconcile the fact that she’s committing adultery with her idea that she is kind? She’s not being very kind to her husband! Point being, that we are all sinners, and the woman obviously did not understand salvation. First of all, “being kind” does not make us right with God. Trust in Jesus Christ, believing on Him alone for salvation, is the only way to the Father, and we cannot, must not trust in anything else.

Second of all, as the woman in the story demonstrated, we tend not to understand or acknowledge the real, full, depth of the offensiveness of our sin, nor the pitiful inadequacy of what we would say are our good works. Our “good works” cannot earn His favor. We are all sinners and fall short of God’s glory, and we are all prone, in our sinfulness, to try to white wash or justify our sin in our own minds, just as the woman in the story did. Sure, she was committing adultery, but she was so kind! So, I very much appreciated how carefully Mrs. Peace spelled out a right understanding of salvation, and she does not mince words but calls sin what it is, not a mistake, but sin. Sometimes you read books like this that assume their audience are all Christians or give too shallow a discussion of salvation, but I like that she does not make that assumption but spells it out clearly. Because what follows must be built upon a solid foundation. We cannot really be an Excellent Wife in the way she is talking about without having a relationship through saving faith in Jesus Christ. This is truly the foundation.

Following that was a short discussion of dealing with the consequences of past sin, which was also very good, pointing out that once we are saved those sins are forgiven and we have been declared righteous before God. However, as a Christian, after having biblically dealt with past sin, we are aware that we still sin, and this is where she spends the rest of the chapter, dealing with present sin and what it means to repent.

While discussing the diligence of repentance, Peace says:

“Not all sin is as devastating to a marriage relationship as the previous example of immorality, but any sin will erode the oneness that God intends for Christian couples to have. All Christians bring into marriage old sinful habit patterns of thinking and responding that hurt their marriage and grieve their Lord. Repentance is a process that usually involves more than just confessing to God and your spouse. It may take work and time. That’s why we are instructed in Scripture to “…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7, emphasis added).” (p. 23)

I really liked how she points out that repentance is more than just initially confessing the sin. Sometimes it takes training and exercise, much like an athlete who diligently works over and over to perfect his sport. In the same way, we need to diligently, over and over, work out putting off the wrong thinking and behavior and put on the new, through God’s grace and His help. I think sometimes I’ve felt defeated over things in my own life when I’ve confessed and confessed and seem to find myself doing the same things over and over. Confession is only the beginning of repentance. Putting on new thinking and new responses takes a lot of work and discipline, which God is so gracious to help us to do.

And I very much liked how Mrs. Peace used Ephesians 4:22-32 and charted it into sections titled “Put Off” and “Put On.” I have to quote her again here because, for me, this was the heart of this chapter and the thing that spoke to me the most this week:

“Overt sin begins in your heart with what you desire. What you want, in part, determines how you talk to yourself. A person may be somewhat successful at modifying outward behavior, but the only real way to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ is to think according to His Word (Romans 12:2).” (p.24)

And she followed this with a chart showing examples of how a wife might think (be saying to herself) wrong, sinful thoughts and contrasted it with the kind of right, godly thoughts she could train herself to replace them with. This was very helpful to me. I have found while reading this book that I have become much more aware of times when I am outwardly doing okay, but inwardly grumbling or thinking the wrong, sinful kinds of thoughts. Ultimately, I need to learn to think right so that I can act right unreservedly. Ultimately, my reason for doing so is to be obedient to my Savior and bring glory to Him.

I liked the practical nature of this chapter. I think sometimes I fail to recognize when my thinking is ungodly or unbiblical, and this was a practical reminder to learn to recognize those thoughts that are not honoring to Christ, nor helpful to growing in grace as a godly wife, and not only as a wife but in all areas of my life. Just recently I realized that I had been operating under wrong thinking for years in a certain area, and it was like a light went on when the Lord graciously revealed to me a pattern of thinking I had not really realized I was buying in to. It was something I knew intellectually, but somehow I had not internalized and fully understood how I was not correctly applying what I knew. I wasn’t truly thinking biblically because I had not learned to retrain the lies that played over and over in my mind on that particular issue. I cherish those times when God graciously reveals the disconnect that exists when I have not been properly applying a truth I actually knew, painful as they sometimes can be. But even when they are painful, it is so freeing to put off the wrong thinking and finally have that light come on and to remember the next time the wrong thinking begins to play in my mental tape recorder and to be able to say to myself, “Stop. This is not the right way to think about this. Here is what I know is true, think on this instead.” And, yes, I actually do have those kinds of conversations with myself at times. And I usually stop right then and pray that God would please help me to think right in that area. I have been thinking a lot about the “put on, put off” principle in this chapter and the reminder to think biblically - find scripture to combat the wrong thinking, and I am very glad that God’s grace is sufficient to help me to learn to examine my thinking patterns and to put off what is sinful and harmful and to put on what is right.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

His Hands

Hands which healed the sick and lame
While others would raise up stones and lay down blame
His hands wrote in sand, and His spoken word laid bare
The sin in which they all took share
Hands which held and blessed the children
Hands which never committed sin

Hands dirty with clay placed on a blind man’s eyes
Compassion on a father’s cries
Hands which raised little girl from her bed
Where parents had wept and seen her dead
His voice which with authority called out,
“Lazarus, come forth,” and Lazarus, from the grave came out
A house of prayer He said the temple was to be
Not the den of thieves they’d caused it to be
His hands cleansed the temple with righteous anger and holy zeal
And then the blind and lame came to the temple for Him to heal.

Hands which washed disciples’ feet
Hands which served the last meal with them He’d eat
Hands which broke the bread and passed the cup
At the Passover meal before He was delivered up
Hands which healed a servant’s ear
While in the Garden His betrayer had drawn near

Hands which bled from nails on a cross
While disciples mourned what they feared was loss
Blood that was shed to atone my sin
And the ransom for my soul to win

Hands which bear those scars today
As our risen Lord has washed our sin away
At the right hand of God He intercedes for His sheep
And His covenant we can be confident He will keep
The scars, His wounds, forever on His feet and hands
For those who believe on Him, as our advocate He stands
And God’s justice is satisfied to look on Him who died
And pardon us and cause us in Him to abide
Because He rose again and forever He stands
I know, I know I am safe in His hands
His hands and feet were scarred so we
Could be made whole and given eyes to see
His glory forever and always
May our lips never cease to sing His praise.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Pay Back?

When I was pregnant with Boo, I used to tease Tic Tac, who was four at the time, because when I would push him on the swing his feet would often kick me in the belly when he’d swing back – especially as that belly grew and I could hardly stand back far enough for him to miss me and still reach him to push the swing. Anyway, one time I told him, jokingly, that if he kept on kicking his little sister like that she would remember it one day. He thought that was funny.

Well, what is ironic these days is that often when Tic Tac comes near Boo, she yells and waves her hands at him like she’s telling him to go away. We can’t figure out why she’s doing that. In the morning when she wakes up, if he comes in and says cheerfully, “Good morning, R….,” she does the same thing. Poor Tic Tac, he loves his little sister, but she seems to get irritated with him easily. Of course, it may have to do with the fact that Tic Tac is a very tactile kid and loves to hug – even if the hug recipient doesn’t want to be hugged right then, so maybe Boo just gets tired of the close attention from her brother at times. But it’s funny that she doesn’t yell at Monk the same way, or at least not as often. Funny, but a little sad for Tic Tac I think, because he’s such a sweet kid and just wants to love on her.

I told him this morning I think she’s paying him back for the swing incident. He laughed. He had forgotten about that. Poor Tic Tac. But Boo makes up for it when she walks up to him and says, “Mmm-ah, mmm-ah,” and gives him little toddler kisses.

I am constantly amazed as I watch these boys who can take every little slight from each other and turn it into a new version of World War III, but put up with all kinds of irritation from little Boo and just laugh it off. They are surprisingly gentle with her. I think the age difference helps, but it also gives me lots of hope that deep down under the brotherly warfare and endless refereeing from me and their dad they are, indeed, learning empathy and kindness somewhere among the training we’re seeking to give them. The biggest hope for them I have is that they will internalize the things we are hoping to teach them at home, kindness, yes, but even more importantly the things we are teaching them about Christ Jesus and how He forgives our sin. I find it so encouraging and such a mercy when the Lord lets me see a glimpse that they are getting the message, through things they say or do.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


**Updated: The video I had on this post earlier had an advertisement for a book at the end which I did not actually mean to be endorsing. I had just posted the video because it had some clips of Oprah that illustrated what is of concern to me about her teaching. I should have looked for another video or put a disclaimer that I wasn't endorsing the book earlier, since I didn't really mean to be endorsing a book or author I do not know. It seems that portions of that book may have been plagiarized, so I have changed the video, since the advertised book wasn't the reason for my posting the video anyway, and I do not want to seem to be endorsing it. *** (HT: Slice of Laodicea)

1 Timothy 3:1-7
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

I tend not to blog much about overly controversial or pop culture kinds of things, but the general topic of the so-called ‘New Spirituality’ or whatever its various names and forms (Contemplative prayer, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and so many other things) has been of concern to me for a long time now, and the particular thing I’m going to blog about today has been something I’ve been praying about and debating about blogging for a few days now, but I think it is important enough I need to say something.

Let me back up for a minute and mention something I read in Chapter 2 of The Excellent Wife that I didn’t really hit on in my last post. In the final section of that chapter Martha Peace talks about why women (well, she’s specifically talking about wives because that is the focus of her book, but I’m broadening it to women for the sake of this post because it fits) need protection. The three reasons she lists are: 1.) The influence the world has on her. (1 John 2:16) 2.) The devil. (Ephesians 6:10-11, 13) 3.) Women are more easily deceived. (1 Timothy 2:12-14)

These are things that modern women have a hard time hearing. They are considered controversial and counter-cultural. But I think Mrs. Peace is right to point these out. As a woman, I can testify that it is very easy to be drawn into thinking like the world when I spend time reading the ‘women’s magazines’ and watching daytime TV which is geared toward women. Really, most of that stuff is garbage, spiritually speaking. The advice offered in most of the women’s magazines and talk shows is horrendous and fosters a self-centered, worldly, unbiblical mindset. Which you would expect from things written and produced by unbelievers – I’m not so much criticizing the people who write and produce the stuff because they are just writing what they know, we expect worldly people to offer worldly advice, and I’m sure most of them mean well by it. I’m not questioning anyone’s motives, but I am saying that a Christian woman really needs to be careful what she fills her mind with and what advice she seeks for how to live. The advice and worldview offered in those magazines and TV shows are not biblical. It really isn’t wise to open myself up to deception by focusing on them. How much better if I fill my mind with God’s Word and learn what He has said for how a woman is to live.

What better way for deception to creep into the homes of women than through the television? I’ve been wary for a long time of much of so-called Christian television which mostly seems to promote health/wealth prosperity false teaching and other false teaching. But also, the daytime television shows are deceptive because they are not presented as religious or spiritual at all. But you better believe there are worldview assumptions behind the things being said, and a constant steady diet of those shows will have an impact on how we think. I turned off the TV during the day back when my oldest son was just little. First of all, my home is much more peaceful without the constant chatter. But, also, I see a difference in my attitudes and how I look at things the less time I spend with the faulty reasoning many of those chatterers espouse.

Now, to the point of this post. There is one daytime TV host who has way more influence than all the others. I think we need to pray for Oprah and for the millions of people who swallow whatever she recommends hook, line and sinker. I’m concerned that Oprah is deceived and is taking many people along the road with her. There are a lot of people writing about this, and I found some information following links here and here if you want to see for yourself the kinds of things she is being much more open about teaching these days. And something to think about is that this is not new for Oprah. She’s been participating in this stuff for a long time, by her own words on some of the stuff I’ve read and heard, but she’s just recently bringing it more into the forefront of her influence. I have never really understood Oprah’s appeal to people, because I was put off by things she was saying even back in the 90’s when I was a young wife and mom at home. Even then I wasn’t comfortable with the spirituality she espoused, and, to be honest, I have not seen her show for years. But apparently these days she is being much more open about the false teaching she has embraced.

So, be alert. Be sober minded. Test the spirits and know the Word of God so that you can better recognize when what someone is teaching is not right. Pray for Oprah, but don’t heed the false teaching she’s making so popular. This is a video with some clips of what Oprah is saying these days:

I think it is easy to just ‘pooh-pooh’ the concerns some of us have about the whole ‘New Age/New Spirituality’ and etc. movement. It’s easy to think that it’s just kooky and on the fringe and not that important or that it’s harmless, that it isn’t as dangerous as some of us think. The thing is, very subtly, the worldview and teachings of this movement are being mainstreamed, and it isn’t innocent or harmless. In fact, I had to, very politely, go and talk to a teacher at my sons’ school not too long ago to find out why my son had come home talking about some things that sent red flags up in my mind. Turns out I was not the first to come in, and she was ending the section on the intro to yoga and tai chi that she’d been using in their P.E. class since so many parents were not happy about it, and we were able to use the experience to have a great discussion with our boys about this topic and about what it is that concerned us about it and about worldviews. Her justification to me was that she wasn’t using meditation, but just the stretches. Fine. Do stretches, but I really don’t want my first grader learning about chi while he stretches. When I had looked up the author of the “innocent” video she was using, I found that he does have a desire to teach children how to meditate and do all the other stuff that is left off this video. That video was his entry to get into what he really wanted to teach. The boys' teacher, however, was just trying to find something to use to get the kids moving. She wasn’t actually trying to draw them in, and I didn’t expect her to really understand my concerns from a spiritual standpoint. After all, she told me she had nixed another video which did have the kids meditate because she knew that wouldn’t be acceptable. So, when I went in, I did not go in there with figurative guns drawn and angry words. I politely asked to see what she was teaching, what video she was using and voiced my concerns in a rational way. But, my point is, these things are becoming so mainstreamed that people don’t realize there is more to it than the surface intro demos present. There is more to it than “just exercise.” They are rooted in the deeper religious and altered consciousness teachings, even if what the kids were exposed to didn’t go that far. But it opens the door to deception later on. That’s the danger.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, watch and pray. Be alert and sober minded. Know the Word of God, spend time in His Word. Seek godly counsel, not the false hope the world offers.

Friday, April 04, 2008

God's Protective Authority

Please go here to see Leslie's post for this week and to join the other ladies in the discussion group.

I find it interesting that I have heard two teachings this week about how important it is to have a proper understanding of God. One was in our homework for the Bible study I participate in on Thursdays. We have just completed Matthew 25, and the parable of the three servants and the talents found in that chapter deals with having a right understanding of God and in serving Him faithfully as we wait for Christ’s return. Our understanding of God is also the major focus in Chapter 2 of The Excellent Wife, “A Wife’s Understanding of God: God’s Protective Authority.” When I hear something this important from two totally different sources in the same week, I think I’d better sit up and listen. I have to confess that this chapter was hard for me for some reason.

So, I’ve been searching my heart to see where my understanding of God’s character may be lacking. A few years ago, when I first began wrestling with what it means that God is sovereign, I can see now that I did not, at that time, have a proper understanding of God’s goodness and compassion. It was frightening to me to think that He could ask anything of me that He chose. I wasn’t guaranteed a life without suffering. The fear came from not properly understanding that God is also gracious, righteous and compassionate, and He is not capricious. He has a purpose in all He does. Even if suffering comes into my life, I do not have to fear, because God is with me. He is our Comforter and Savior and Friend, and I do not have to fear in that way. In fact, that kind of fear is actually sin because it shows a very wrong understanding of God’s character and of my relationship to Him in Christ. Jesus died and rose again to free me from sin, I can completely trust His love and care for me as one who believes on Him. It is a lie to think that I can trust Him for salvation but somehow be afraid that He will not sustain me in the everyday things of this life. His love is demonstrated toward us in that while we were still sinners He endured the cross for the joy set before Him, therefore I can and must trust Him completely. I also realized that anything that I could lose that would cause me to doubt God’s care for me is ultimately an idol, because I’m trusting that thing or person more than I am trusting God. It was difficult to realize that my thinking was so far off base. But over the years I have come to understand that I can trust Him to be good and gracious and righteous and compassionate in His sovereignty, and that is a joyful and freeing thought.

That’s why the discussion in this chapter about how a wife does not have to fear was very meaningful to me. This section begins with 1 Peter 3:16,” Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

Let me quote Martha Peace’s words in this section:

“God is the determiner of what is right. He has clearly revealed right and wrong throughout His Word. So, why might you or any Christian wife be afraid to do the right thing? Perhaps you are afraid that you will be hurt, disappointed, embarrassed, or “taken advantage of.” Perhaps you may be unsure of what is right. However, the most likely reason that you may be afraid to do what God wants is that you are afraid you won’t have your own way. There are all kinds of wrong reasons why you might use your means to try to accomplish your end.”

I didn’t continue the quote to use her example, because, honestly I couldn’t relate to it, but I did understand her main argument, and the bold is my emphasis of the part that jumped out at me. I think this is probably the root of the resistance I find myself battling when I hear teaching about submission. This is also why it is so important that her very next point of discussion is that the focus of the Christian wife is to be on God rather than herself. Amen. This is true of everyone, married or single, but it does have huge significance when I begin taking a serious look at my attitude toward my husband and my role in marriage and how well I am seeking to obey and honor God in that relationship and how detrimental selfishness is to a healthy marriage.

Another thing that was pointed out earlier in the chapter when discussing the works God has prepared for the Christian wife to do was that even our attitude and motivation matters. Mrs. Peace mentions that it “will help you to have the right attitude if you focus on what you are supposed to be doing, not on what your husband is supposed to be doing. Certainly, it is easy to get caught up in seeing whether other people (especially your husband) are doing their jobs right. However, the issue for the Christian wife is ‘am I doing the good works God intended for me?’” These are difficult words, especially when we have been steeped in the feminism and self-centered thinking that surrounds us daily.

Another thing that stuck out to me in this chapter and that I appreciated was her discussion of God’s protective authority. She talks about how our husband’s authority is limited by God, meaning that the husband is not the absolute authority over the wife, God is her ultimate authority. She obeys God first, and she must trust God as she places herself under the authority of her husband.

This really stuck out to me and I’m still thinking it over:
“Even though God’s authority is protective, this does not guarantee that your husband will always do the wisest or most godly thing. It does mean, however, that regardless of what he does, God is working in your life to ‘conform (you) to the image of His Son’ (Romans 8:29) and God can be glorified.” That takes some chewing on. I’m still thinking this through, so I won’t discuss it here more than to say that I think this is a hard teaching.

Like Leslie shared in her discussion of this chapter, I have heard so often that God has a ministry for me, and I have spent so much energy and tears and heartache struggling to find what that big thing for me to do is. I don’t think I have ever truly thought about how, as a wife, my ministry to my husband is my primary ministry, and as I minister to him I also minister to my family. I remember sitting in a women’s retreat as a young woman and young wife praying for God to show me what He wanted me to do for Him. I remember wishing I could find the big thing I could do for Him with my life, wishing He would somehow make it plainly obvious to me what I could do that would have eternal importance. I didn’t realize then that my calling to be a godly wife is significant in itself, it is eternally important. I didn’t really think about what an impact my being that kind of faithful wife would have on my children, either, as I was a joyful helpmate to their dad. I never really thought about how being faithful in the little, everyday things that He has given me to do is a big thing. In looking for the handwriting on the wall that would point me to some big thing out there to do, I have often neglected the understanding that I already have a ministry right here in my home. I must not neglect my husband and children to find some big, important something else.

Day by day, moment by moment, may I be faithful to do what God has given me to do well. Not that He necessarily won’t ever call me to something ‘big,’ but that I should not lose sight of my primary calling, and should not neglect that primary calling in a constant search for something ‘bigger.’ In other words, I need to learn to be content to minister to my husband and not feed my discontent by constantly wishing for something with 'meaning' according to the world’s standards. When I do what God has called me to do, it does have eternal value, no matter what the world might think.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Well, I Tried

My little Tic Tac, scatter-brained, funny, dress up king extraordinare, is turning seven tomorrow. Seven! How is this possible? I told him we’re just going to skip April 2 this year and he can stay six one more year. That was a big, “No go,” from my growing-up-too-quickly middle son. So, time is marching ever onward and he will be seven tomorrow. Seven! How is this possible? Clearly I am having a hard time with the relentless march of time today.

So, anyway, I went to the grocery store this morning and bought two cake mixes so I could make cupcakes for sweet Tic Tac to take to share with his class at school tomorrow and a cake for tonight to share with Drew’s cousin and her family and all the other people that are coming over for dinner tonight. It’s going to be something like 15 people, I think. It’s kind of nice that their vacation to the beach ended up the same week as Tic Tac’s birthday – kind of makes it seem like he really had a party or something. We took him to Savannah on Friday afternoon for his birthday dinner at The Pirate’s House and a visit to The Mad Hatter to buy a new crazy hat. This was his request for his birthday this year instead of having a birthday party. Woo hoo! I was just as glad not to do a birthday party. Anyone else think kids’ birthday parties are getting to be way over the top in extravagance these days? We’re just saying, “No,” to huge parties every year and the expensive party pack supplies that are offered in those catalogues which come in the mail which I have never been able to figure out how they found us anyway. Anyone else get those catalogues?

Back to the point of this post (there was a point?). I got the cupcakes baked and they will be frosted momentarily (soon as I get done blogging) and ready for transport to school in the morning. However. Ahem. Have I mentioned before that I do not like to bake? Well, I baked Tic Tac’s birthday cake in two round pans and, apparently I did not let the first layer cool in the pan long enough because when I went to turn it out onto the cooling rack, it disintegrated. Half left the pan and crumbled and half stayed in the pan. Now I’m trying to decide what to do to salvage the situation because he really wants a birthday cake and I do not have time to try again because I still have to fold the laundry and mop the floor and get the house ready for 15 people (fifteen!). As a little aside, when I got home from the grocery store, there was a message on the machine from my father-in-law saying that they had miscalculated and there was another family who had come south with the cousins who would be coming to dinner tonight, too, so it would be 28 people. I felt the blood drain from my face as I calculated how I had not bought enough for that many people when I was at the store and immediately called their house. When my mother-in-law answered, I said, in a very small voice, “Twenty-eight?” She laughed and said, “April Fool, Rebekah.” To which I whispered, “Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou,” and we hung up. My father-in-law thinks he’s very funny, ha, ha.

Here’s what I was thinking. The second layer came out only marginally better. I thought maybe I could put the puzzle pieces of the bottom layer together, frost it, and then crumble the top layer over it and make a crumbly mess cake. That didn’t work. I just talked to my mother-in-law on the phone. She’s going to stop at the store and get a little cake for him. I was trying to avoid buying the expensive bakery cake. Now he’s getting an expensive bakery cake, albeit a small one since we also have banana pudding to feed the 15 (!) people for dessert tonight. You get what you pay for.

My poor children do not have Super Mom. But they do have lots of love. And that matters. A lot.