Saturday, December 27, 2008

Phrase for the Week at My House:

"It's on the truck."

Our house was packed up Monday, December 15, so we have been living out of suitcases and not in our own beds for almost two weeks now. It's getting old.

Not really to complain or anything, but, we've been sleeping on an air mattress since last Sunday. Tomorrow is one week. My back hurts. We also have nowhere to sit besides two lawn chairs or the floor. And it has become a running joke around here that when we go to reach for something we need, the very next thought that hits is, "Nope, it's on the truck." I really needed an oven mitt the other day, but I couldn't bring myself to pay $16 for the only one I could find at the store we were in when I had several perfectly good ones sitting, you guessed it, on the truck. I made do with dish towels and now I have a blister on my little finger, but it's okay.

Though we have moved six times in our fifteen years of marriage, some from one town to another and some just across the same town, we have never had a moving company do it for us. We've always moved ourselves. Now that we are experiencing it this way, I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

This time around I did not have to pack everything myself, woo-hoo!, and Drew and I did not have to impose on our friends, neighbors and relations to help us load all the heavy stuff into a truck. Those are definite pluses. BUT, this time around we are at the mercy of the moving truck driver and his timetable, and throwing in Christmas and the driver's very understandable need to be with his family for the holiday, we are twelve days in an unfurnished house trying not to climb the walls and very ready to sleep in a real bed. Counting the two days our stuff was packed up before being loaded on the truck, it will actually have been 14 days since we've felt any semblance of being settled by the time the moving truck shows up on Monday.

Hence the boring blog fare of late. It will get better. I hope. Judging by the sitemeter stats, readership has dropped to rates almost as low as when I first started this blog, and I haven't really been able to read many of my regular stops much lately either.

Very much looking forward to seeing our furniture again, and really, really, looking forward to seeing my washer and dryer again (I never thought I'd say out loud that I was looking forward to doing laundry, but after spending three hours in the creepy basement laundry room with a light that was on a timer and would shut off leaving me in the dark if I forgot to reset it every 15 minutes, I'm very ready to have my own machines in my own basement.), and really, really, really, really looking forward to seeing my own bed again.

Looking very forward to seeing the moving truck on Monday!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Isaiah 7:14
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.'"

Matthew 1:23
"'Behold the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'"

Isaiah 9:6
"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Isaiah 53:4-6

"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

Luke 2:14
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men."

John 1:1-5
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."

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

Hebrews 1:1-4
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."

Philippians 2:9-11
"Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Revelation 5:12
"saying with a loud voice:
'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory
And blessing!"

Jesus, our Wonderful Counslor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Our Messiah, Lord and Savior. He is God with us. Ponder that a moment: God with us. He is not a God afar off, but He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. He came into the world, born to redeem His people from their sin. The shadow of the cross is over the stable, and because He bled on the cross, we can be made free, cleansed of our sin, freed to live a holy life before Him. Rescued from sin and the curse of death. Because He suffered, we can live. Because He was forsaken, we are forgiven who trust in Jesus alone. Hallelujah, what a Savior. More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee! As we ponder the wonder of the Baby in the manger may we also stand in awe of the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and may we fall to our knees in worship and awe of the glorious, risen Lord of Lords and King of Kings. May we focus on Him this Christmas and the hope that is found in Christ alone.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Cold!

Well, my family is reunited again now that the kids and I have joined Drew at our new house in our new city. Long story, but it ended up that Drew did not come down to drive us up to Missouri and his parents very graciously agreed to drive with the kids and me so I wouldn't have to brave that trip alone with three children. I suppose I could have done it alone, but I'm very, very thankful they were willing to help. Drew has already bought their plane ticket to Charlotte, NC to spend Christmas with his brother and pick up their car which we left there on Friday. We left South Carolina on Friday afternoon- a balmy 80 degrees - and stopped at Drew's brother's house in Charlotte, where we spent the night. My brother and his wife came over on Friday evening and visited with us for a few hours, too, and it was great to see them again.

Then on Saturday, we left my in-laws' car at Drew's brother's house and consolidated six of us into my van with all of our stuff and the things I did not want moved on the moving truck. We had so much stuff strapped on top in our luggage holder that we were joking that we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies driving down the road. All we needed was a rocking chair on top. That van was packed full, too, and when we stopped to weigh it, since the Army will reimburse us for what we moved ourselves, we found that we had added 1300 pounds to the empty weight of the van. Wow.

We spent the night in Nashville, and I worried, a little, that all the stuff in the luggage holder on top of the van might be gone in the morning, but we were so tired at that point and the kids so ready to get out of the car that we didn't worry about it too much. Then on Sunday we finished our journey and when we arrived in town it was a cold, cold 15 degrees, which dropped to 8 degrees when the sun went down. Factoring in the wind, it's really, really, really cold here! We're not on the island anymore!

I could probably write a book, or at least a very long post, about how being cooped up in the car with my in-laws and children for three long days after a very trying week of packing and waiting on the movers and and cleaning our empty house and all that that entailed proved to show how much I still need to grow in sanctification and how it can show up the sin in my heart as tempers get frayed along the way, but I'll suffice it to say that I probably needed that light shined on my heart, but it wasn't pretty all the time. I'm glad we're done driving.

I am very grateful for the hedge of protection and safe travel God granted us along the way. And I have to say a huge, very heartfelt thank you to my mother and father in-law for their willingness to sacrifice and drive with us. I know that it wasn't easy for them, but I am very thankful they shared this burden with me. I'm not sure I could have managed this drive by myself. I also have to brag on my sweet husband. He did an excellent job at making our new house look like a home, even without furniture, which we have learned will not be delivered until the Monday after Christmas because the truck driver needs to be home with his family for Christmas, and how could we complain about that? Drew greeted us yesterday with colored lights all along the outside porch and cute decorations and a cute little Christmas tree with white lights (just the way I like it) and some wrapped presents around the tree. He had even stocked the pantry with a trip to Costco (how we've missed having a Costco close by!), and it was just so good to see him again.

Oh, and I'm typing this on the new laptop Drew bought us. Cool, huh? I'm kind of having a hard time getting used to the keyboard, so kindly ignore my typos, if you please. I have lots more to blog about, but I'll try to get to it soon. Right now, I'm just plain tired. We're going to be having an early Christmas celebration with Drew's parents before they fly out and then a nice time with just us on Christmas day.

One other thing I am also thankful about is that when I was up here a week ago visiting Drew we visited a church together that is just down the street from our house. They were performing their Christmas music program that morning, and it was just so worshipful that Drew and I both sat there with tears falling down our faces. In all the hustle and bustle of this move, as I mentioned in an earlier post, it seemed that the meaningful part of Christmas was so hard to focus on, and that Sunday morning was wonderful. Drew went back to that church yesterday, and, Lord willing, we think we may have already found a church home. What a blessing.

Merry Christmas, everyone. No matter what your circumstances, may you take time to ponder the wonder and hope that is found in our Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fifteen Years

In some ways it doesn't seem like it could possibly have been fifteen years already, while in others it seems like I've known Drew forever, but today we celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. I've often said that I think the best part of my life has been since high school, and Drew is the main reason I feel that way.

We met at church in Gainesville, FL, when I was a junior at the University of Florida and he was a first year graduate student. He says he had to ask me out three times before I realized he really meant it. I don't remember it that way, but, it's been fifteen years, after all. Anyway, once we did start dating, pretty much everyone that knew us at church believed we would eventually get married. Many people told us that after we announced our engagement, and it turns out they were right!

Drew is a truly special and kind man, and I am so blessed and grateful to share my life with him. He understands me in a way no one else does, I think, and even when he doesn't understand, he tries awfully hard to, and that means a lot. He's a great husband, great dad, great provider for our family, and I am so thankful I can really say that my best friend is my husband. God has richly blessed the time we've had together, and I pray I will be the wife he deserves to have.

Thank you for a wonderful 15 years, Drew, and I look forward to however long the Lord grants us together. And thank you for putting up with my stressy self during this move. Once we're all done, I so look forward to having you home more. I love you, Drew!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Move is On

Well, the packers came yesterday and the house is all boxed up waiting for the truck to come tomorrow to load it all and move it across the country. Things have been kind of stressed here, but it won't be long now. I got to see our new house last weekend when I went to visit Drew, and he did good! I like it, and I know the kids will, too. I have a lot of blog posts percolating, but they will just have to wait until we get moved in and settled a bit. So, the blog will be quiet for a bit, except for one I have autoposting on Thursday, and I'll see ya'll later! Please pray for our family as we travel this weekend and try to get settled in our new place.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Boo. Hoo.

I hate to bump my last post with this, but I read this and I just had to say: Do you blame her? I think I'd steer clear, very clear, very very very clear, too. Oprah. UGH. I don't even watch her show (can you say colossal waste of time and I have no desire to fill my head with her weird spirituality) - I think if I ever had the misfortune to be famous enough to be asked I hope I'd decline to be on it, too. And yes, I meant to say misfortune. I relish my obscurity, thankyouverymuch.

Taking Time to Ponder

There are so many things I love about Christmas. I do not love the shopping and the pressure to buy, buy, buy that is pushed at us from the commercials and the hype at all the stores starting the day after Halloween. I’ve already written about how I do not love the whole Santa thing. But I do love Christmas itself.

I like the glitter and shine of the decorations and lights, and I like the smell of the Christmas tree when we get it up. I don’t so much like the decorating, mind you, but I do so like the decorations. It’s fun to pull out old favorites and remember Christmases past as we decorate the tree and to put up the Nativity set each year. I don’t so much like the mess of all the boxes that have to be put away once the decorating is accomplished, but I love the way the house looks once it’s all decorated. I love to sit by the tree in the evening when it is quiet and watch the lights and think about what Christmas really means.

Once the day is over, however, I want the decorations down. I’m talking December 26, I’m ready to pack it all away. Enough is enough. It’s depressing to me to leave the tree up past New Year’s.

But this year I find that it is even more depressing to not put up a tree at all. Given that the movers are coming Monday (Monday I say!) to pack up the house, we did not put up Christmas decorations. I think Drew and I will do something small at the new house this weekend when I go up to visit him so we can surprise the kids when we bring them up in a couple of weeks and there will be some semblance of Christmas cheer and celebration, even though our furniture may not actually be delivered until after Christmas. Things are a little up in the air right now, and you all know how much I hate that, control nut that I still am. By the way, I noticed a gray hair this morning – right up front. Sigh. I hate to forego all the glitter altogether this year, what with it being the first year Boo is really interested in the lights and talking about Christmas every time we pass some house or store with decked halls, but this is how it is this year for the Sweet Tea family.

With our lives in the midst of the upheaval of moving house during the Advent and Christmas season this year, I’m finding it harder to sit still and take the time to ponder the wonder of the Incarnation, which, for me, is the most wonderful part of Christmas. I grew up as a Southern Baptist, and as such, we didn’t do much with ‘Advent.’ In fact, I had never even heard of it until I met my husband and went up north (to Indiana) and saw Advent wreaths in some of the churches. I think we missed something in ignoring that. I like the idea of taking the four weeks before Christmas to think about the prophecies that foretold the coming of the Messiah and thinking about how He fulfills them all perfectly. One of my very favorite Advent/Christmas carols is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. It is hauntingly beautiful in its minor key as it speaks of the hope of Israel, Jesus, the Son of God, who is “God With Us,” Emmanuel. I love the poetic language speaking of Israel mourning in lonely exile until the Son of God appear, He who is our Dayspring, our Sunrise, who dispels the gloomy darkness and brings us His light, the Light of the World. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

So, today, I’m taking a (short) break from preparing for the movers to ponder again the wonder of Christmas, the majesty of the Incarnation, the glory of the announcement of the angels to lowly, ceremonially unclean shepherds that the Great Shepherd has come. And I’m taking time to remember that it does not end at the manger. The Baby grew to become the Man who took our sin and shame and bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, bruised for our iniquities, wounded for our transgressions, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. No longer in lonely exile, but reconciled to Holy God. And His light has been shown even to the Gentiles, that this poor sinner could be cleansed to sing His praise for all eternity. I am no longer blind and lost in sin, but clothed in His righteousness as He is seated at the right hand of the Father, ever interceding for His sheep, who hear His voice and whose names He knows and has written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Hallelujah, what a Savior! May I live in the light of His grace today, growing in the knowledge and grace of my Lord, Jesus Christ.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Celebrating God's Grace

Sunday was a day of celebration for our family. M was baptized Sunday morning. He had made a public profession of his faith in Christ over the summer and talked with the pastor, who usually likes to have children as young as he is (7 years old) wait a few months just to make sure he really understands, and M truly does seem to and had been waiting for Sunday with much patience. It was such a joy to watch him make his confession public yesterday by baptism.

We are so grateful that God has granted salvation to both J and M and that both boys have made this important step of faith and obedience, and I pray daily that they will continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and that Drew and I will have the wisdom and grace to teach them well, by example and with words. I stumble so often at this important calling, and I am praying for God’s mercy and grace as I, too, continue to grow in grace, and I am trusting Him to complete what He has begun in me and in our children and I know that He is faithful to do it. And we continue to pray God will grant saving faith to little Boo in His time.

It is such a blessing to see our children come to saving faith at young ages. We are grateful. May we be consistently faithful in our calling to parent them and train them well.

Matthew 28:18-20
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Phrase for Today:


I just couldn't resist.....

Friday, December 05, 2008


I have my alarm clock set to the Christian radio station, and I usually catch the tail end of a through-the-night kind of program that plays music and has little devotional thoughts throughout. Drew and I have a running joke about the man who hosts that program – I used to call him ‘creepy man’ because he has this deep, soothing voice and when the radio comes on and it’s just him talking, sometimes it can be a little creepy sounding, just this sleepy man’s voice droning on in my room as I move into wakefulness. Drew and his boss call him ‘sleepy man’ because of the droning quality of his voice as they would hear him while driving in to run before work.

The other day when Sleepy Man came on he was in the middle of his parting devotional thought, so I only caught the tail end of it. I tell you that to admit that maybe I took him out of context, something I’m about to accuse him of doing with Scripture, so I’m aware that I may have missed something. I’m not sure what he was saying at first because I was just waking up, but I think it was something about looking out for others or not being selfish or caring about others or something along those lines, and as I listened he quoted the first part of Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way;” and he emphasized “to his own way,” and said something about looking out for others. I don’t remember his exact words, but at that point I bolted more fully awake and said, out loud, “That’s not what that verse means!” I talk to the man on the radio. I talk to people on TV and movies, too, but that’s a whole other post. I also kept waiting for him to finish the verse: “And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

The reason I even bring this up is that I really hate it when people take a verse of scripture out of context and try to make it say something it isn’t saying to make the point they want to make. Especially in devotionals where we aren’t doing in depth teaching should we be careful about this. And even if the point they are making is, in fact, a biblically accurate point, I have a problem with ripping a verse out of context and forcing it to say something it isn’t saying in context. Why not go to a passage of Scripture that actually is making the point you want to make? Seems to me that would be a more responsible handling of the Word. Again, I was half asleep during most of what the man was saying so I may have completely missed his point, and if so, I apologize. But the reason that particular scripture and misapplication of it jumped out at me is because I have been working to memorize Isaiah 53 and I’ve been thinking about that chapter a lot recently. And there are plenty of scriptures that illustrate the point that we should not be self-centered and should look to the needs of others if that was the point he was trying to make.

In context, that verse is saying that all of us have gone our own way as opposed to God’s way, not that we are merely ignoring our neighbor or not looking out for others, but that we are antagonistic toward our Creator. I’ll grant that a huge facet of our sin nature is the fact that we are extremely self-centered, but the point of Isaiah 53:6 isn’t that we’re ignoring the needs of others, but that we are in rebellion to God and in need of a Savior. I can think of lots of verses that would have illustrated the need to look out for the interests of others, for example, Philippians 2:3-4, which says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

But Isaiah 53:6 isn’t saying that. Isaiah 53 is all about the Suffering Servant (Jesus) who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Isaiah 53:6 is all about how all of our iniquity (sin) was laid on Him. The fact that we have all turned to our own way is in the same way that the people of Israel in the book of Judges were doing what was right in their own eyes. They did what was right in their own eyes, as opposed to what God says is right. We have turned to our own way as opposed to God’s way. This is the iniquity that is laid on Him, this is why the chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed. (Is. 53:5) Hallelujah! What a Savior! Meditating on Isaiah 53 has been very meaningful, making me so incredibly grateful for the salvation Christ attained for us in the Cross and His resurrection. The fact that I am clothed in His righteousness, that He went to the cross to atone for my sin and reconcile me to God, granting me peace with God!

So, while part of the going our own way very well may include not looking out for the interests of others, it isn’t the totality of it.

Then again, maybe I just ripped Sleepy Man’s words out of context, too. I was half asleep, after all. I hope so. But that hasn’t been the only instance I’ve found myself arguing with him as I try to wake up in the morning, either, though for the most part what he has to say is okay most mornings. But sometimes I sort of wish it was just music at that hour.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Word for the Day: Procrastination

What do you do when it is only 13 days until the movers come to start packing up the house and there are several things that must be done before then that will require time and energy to complete?

Well, I don't know about you, but I spent the whole day bubble wrapping my Precious Moments and other special things that the movers will not be packing, getting my hair cut as a means of getting out of the house while our realtor brought someone to look at the house who ended up deciding they aren't ready to buy anything right now, (Well, I really did need the haircut, too, it wasn't just a ploy to get out of the house but that worked out pretty well, and it was the last time I'll have it cut while living "on the island" so I had to say good-bye to the sweet lady who has cut my hair for the past five years), writing my Christmas letter (yes, I am one of those annoying people who writes a Christmas letter almost every year), skimming a few blogs, playing with and reading to Boo in the hopes she would take a nap (she did for a little while), playing around with formatting the Christmas letter to try to get it all on one page with two pictures (managed it, barely), addressing Christmas cards while boys did homework, going to McDonald's for dinner with the kids (not my favorite, but grandparents invited and were buying), addressing more Christmas cards, getting Boo to bed for the night, finshing reading The Hobbit with the boys, saying good night to the boys, addressing the last of the Christmas cards, and blogging about addressing Christmas cards.

All in all, aside from the bubble wrapping this morning, not much that needs to happen before the movers arrive on my doorstep in less than two weeks!!!!! got finished today. I procrastinated.

But I got my Christmas letter written and cards addressed. Now I just have to buy stamps, make copies of the letter and wait until Drew can get into the apartment next week and get the phone turned on so I'll have a phone number to put in the Christmas letter along with our new address.

And the sad thing is I'm ready to do the dance of joy because I'm actually managing to get Christmas cards and a letter out this year. Maybe. They aren't completely finished yet. But the end is in sight. Impressive, huh?

Monday, December 01, 2008

And the Winner Is......

Thelma has won the drawing for Just Enough Grace!

I used the oh-so-scientific method of putting the names of those who entered on slips of paper and shaking them all together in a straw hat and my assistant, my seven-year-old son, drew out Thelma's name. Thelma, please e-mail me at with an address for me to send your book and I'll get it in the mail to you.

Thank you to all of you who entered, and now I'll make another shameless plug for Heather's book. Please visit here for more information about the book and how to order a copy.