Saturday, September 19, 2009

Heart Music

Philippians 2:3-4
“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.”

This is a principle I am constantly trying to teach my children. While in the trenches of the tyranny of the every day, there are lots of times when I find myself discouraged and wondering if they will ever get it. Some mornings I feel more like referee than mom, and there have been times I’ve been reduced to tears, wondering if I am a colossal failure as a parent. I want to train them up in the way they should go and I want to be a faithful woman who does not lose her temper sinfully, but many days, I fail and fail largely. I have to confess and apologize often.

But there are blessed times, too, when I am given a glimpse into their hearts and I am amazed at the kindness they can show to each other. They are getting it, and I thank God for the times He allows me to see it. At those times I thank my Lord that He is more than able to overcome my failings and teach their hearts by His grace and mercy.

As I was sitting here at the computer, I was listening to all three kids playing downstairs. Boo got frustrated about the toy she was playing with and tears and wailing were beginning to ensue. She is three and giving up her afternoon nap. Frustration is a daily, yea, momentary state with her these days. This time when she began to wail, however, I heard her brother, M, gently say, “Here, R….., let me help you,” and she calmed down. When she became frustrated again only a moment later, he again stopped what he was doing and gently helped her.

This set off a symphony of thankfulness and wonder in my heart as I listened to my son so tenderly look out for his little sister, with no prompting or intervention from me or his dad. He just showed her love.

Thank You, Lord, for this glimpse that he is learning it!

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

For years I have had a recurring dream, nightmare, whatever you want to call it. I am in a house, it is not always the same house in every dream, but it always an interesting house where I want to be and want to feel safe. In this house there is always a large window or door that, for some reason, I cannot properly close or manage to lock, and there is some undefined danger ‘out there’ that makes me sure I very much need that door or window to be locked. I spend the whole dream working on locking the door or window while the sense of unease and danger mounts and I become more and more frantic about getting that thing closed and locked until I finally wake up and find myself safe in the real world again.

Do you remember the book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from the Chronicles of Narnia? Do you remember the island where dreams come true? People thought they wanted to go there, because when you think about a place where dreams come true you are thinking about your personal wishes and deepest desires being fulfilled. This island, however, is not like that. This island is the place where your REAL dreams come true, the creatures and emotions that inhabit your nightmares come to life. It is not a place where you would want to find yourself marooned.

Today, I think I have found myself on my own island of dreams. This morning when I went to let Roscoe out, I went out the back sliding glass door because I was still in my pajamas since we were out really late at the home of some friends last night and we slept in this morning, but the dog still needed to attend to his morning business, so I just thought I’d slip out back where the chances of being seen in my pajamas were slim to none. Anyway, when I undid the three locks on that sliding glass door, essentially a large window, and tried to slide it open, it began falling toward me. The top of this door that is essentially a large window (notice it combines both elements of my dream just so I cannot possibly miss the connection) is off the track and I don’t know how to fix it, and it’s heavy. I leaned it over and let Roscoe out and realized I have entered the heart of darkness of my own imagining. I feel like there ought to be eerie music and an ominous voice over saying, “…You’ve just crossed over into….the Twilight Zone.”

My son sleeps downstairs, and I started wondering if this door has been unsafe since the last time it was opened, and that bothers me a lot. My Facebook friends may remember the day I mentioned that there were policemen out back several times and how nervous I was when one asked if I’d seen someone walking back there who looked like they didn't belong. You may also remember the refrigerator door incident.

I am not loving this apartment. The office will be receiving a call this morning, and I am glad Drew got home yesterday and can probably reset the door until the maintenance people can get here to look at it.

Somebody pinch me so I can wake up….

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Good Word from Al Mohler

This is a good article from Al Mohler about the school speech controversy. Nice to see a reasoned response when so many tend to knee-jerk. To be fair, however, this administration brings the knee-jerk response upon itself with its tendency to secrecy and seeming unwillingness to listen to those who do not agree. Dr. Mohler makes some excellent points about the cult of personality that has been built up around this president, and why that fuels much of distrust. Again I say that I really believe most of the hooplah and concern over this speech really shows how many of us just do not trust our president. He, frankly, frightens us. But, I am thankful for Dr. Mohler's willingness to look into the issues and controversies and try to have a reasoned response. I read the text of the speech online yesterday, and if that is truly the speech that will be given, I don't really have a problem with it. However, I do NOT like the "I Pledge" video that is mentioned in Dr. Mohler's article.

Thank you Dr. Mohler, for being willing to help us think through the things that are in the news and culture.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Goodness

I am so thankful for my church family. Our pastor faithfully opens God’s word and preaches truth to us week in and week out. Sometimes what he shares is hard truth, hard to hear, but God grants him the faithfulness to teach it straight. Today’s sermon pierced my heart. May I take it to heart as I live out the weeks to come and not just leave it there in the pew.

Our Sunday School class began The Truth Project today, and, wow. It is going to be a great study. I am so excited. I’ve wanted to go through this study ever since I heard about it over a year ago. We are having to take 24 weeks rather than the 12 it should take because we do not have a long enough time in the Sunday School hour to give it what it needs, but it will be worth the time spent. We watch the video one week and discuss it the next. I am excited to review what we learned and pondered today and think about it this week to prepare for the discussion next week. Good stuff. May I apply it well.

On Tuesday we get to start our women’s Bible study, looking at Becoming a Woman of Excellence by Cynthia Heald. I am so excited to meet with the ladies who have decided to join us. May it be a precious time of studying from God’s word what it means to be a woman of excellence. I really pray that each lady involved will come to a deeper understanding of God and develop a deeper love for learning and studying and applying His word. May it be so, Lord!

When God tells us in His word not to forsake the gathering together of believers, He is telling us something that is for our very good. The encouragement to grow in faith is so strong on Sunday and the time to worship God together with other believers is sweet, a mere glimpse of the glory Heaven must be with the throngs of the redeemed worshiping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How thankful I am that God allowed us to quickly find this gathering of believers when we moved here. We needed the balm to our souls that these dear brothers and sisters bring. I pray we are a blessing as well, and that we will learn to step out of our comfort zone and be blessings to others, in the power of the resurrected Christ in us – Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Drew and I were talking about how hard it will be to leave here next summer. For now, I want to be faithful where we are and trust God to lead us to the right place when it is time to go. For now, I am really loving the joy of fellowshipping with our family here.

About School...

Every year when it’s time for school to start up again, I’ve noticed I start hearing and reading lots of discussion about homeschool or not all over the place. Especially this year with “Our Beloved Leader” (surely those of you who read this blog somewhat regularly can hear the sarcasm there, I hope) planning a somewhat secretive address to public school students, I’ve been hearing and reading rather stringent words about how all conservative Christians must surely now see that it is time to pull our children out of the public schools. I didn’t intend to blog about this this year, but I’m just so tired of some of the things being said that I believe I will state my opinion for a minute on my own blog, and stay out of the discussion anywhere else.

If God has called you to homeschool and you are faithfully following Him in this, bless you! And I say that sincerely. I applaud you for being obedient. I recognize that it was a decision you most likely made with much prayer and are truly committed to doing it faithfully. I have lots of friends who homeschool and do it well and find much joy in doing so.

However, please watch your rhetoric and assumptions when talking to your Christian brothers and sisters who do not homeschool. We do love our children, are concerned for our children, want the best for our children, and want to see them develop a biblical worldview also. I am not sinning by having my children in public school. I did not blindly hand them over to the government schools to allow them to be indoctrinated, as I have heard from so many, many, many committed Christian homeschoolers. My husband and I do prayerfully consider how best to educate our children. We also spend a lot of time sitting down with them and discussing worldview issues, how to think them through, how to deal with things the world believes and how to think about it biblically. We don’t blindly hand them over. We talk to them. We have dinner together as a family every night, which, by the way, means we sacrifice some of the other activities that could eat up our time as a family. We help them with their homework and we listen to them and talk to them. We also do not leave their discipleship solely up to the church to do.

We know that parenting is a high calling, and we take it seriously. Are we perfect? Absolutely not. Are there areas we need to be doing better? I know there are, and we are working toward that end. Are we making mistakes along the way? I have no doubt we are. But is our God bigger than our mistakes? Absolutely. If He changes our hearts and calls us to homeschool, I pray we will do so faithfully. If we see things happening in our local district that we believe warrant us pulling them out, may we have wisdom and discernment to do so. But, please, allow us the courtesy not to assume that we do what we do blindly. You may disagree with us and our reading of the situation, and you may disagree heartily, but please don’t assume that all of us are ignorant or unaware or sinning or blind.

I do not want to parent out of fear. I know homeschooling is the best option for a lot of families. I also know that it is an emotional hot button in Christian circles these days, and I really have no intention to debate the pros and cons here. Please don’t assume, however, that because you are completely convinced that it is right for you that there can be NO other way for all Christian families. Please don’t assume that we are lazy or that we do not care or that we are not obedient to our Lord if we do not believe it is the best option for our families at this time.

Whether any of our children, homeschooled, private schooled, or public schooled come to understand and love and know God through a right relationship with Jesus Christ by faith in Him alone is a matter of grace, God’s amazing grace. Homeschooling or not is not a guarantee that our children will personalize the faith we teach them, or that they will not ever adopt the fallacies that the world teaches and believes. We all must humbly pray and seek God’s gracious favor in this. We are called to teach our children God’s precepts when we rise up, when we sit down, and when we walk along the way. Amen. All of us Christian parents have a high calling to take this seriously. More important to me than where they are schooled, however, is how well we are teaching them how the Bible is relevant to everything: anthropology, geology, origin of life, astronomy, how to live life, how to be right with God, what is truth, what is right and what is wrong, etc. Drew and I firmly believe we need to be showing them that God’s word is the ultimate standard for all truth, the ultimate standard for how to view the world and everything in it. Sure, the fact that our kids are in public school means we sometimes have to take extra measures to teach them this and to be creative, but it has also opened up great opportunities to discuss with them what we believe and why we believe it and how so many people in the world are still in bondage to the blindness of sin and not understanding the ultimate standard. It has also given us opportunities to rub shoulders with our neighbors and to meet people outside our church and Christian circle we might not have met otherwise and to hopefully be a light along the way.

And even with this thing Obama may or may not be doing, no, I don’t like it. But you’d better believe we’ll be talking to the boys about it, and, for the record, it looks like our school district has opted not to show it on Tuesday and to let parents discuss with their children and let teachers have the option of showing it later on if they think it may fit with a social studies lesson along the way. Sure the propaganda usage by this administration galls me to no end. I think all the backlash that is happening about this school message shows just how many of us fundamentally do not trust this president, and that his beliefs and policies terrify us. Absolutely we are paying attention and should the time come, I hope we’ll continue to do whatever the Lord leads us to do – if it’s to pull them out, so be it, if it is not, then may we continue to be faithful to talk to our children and listen and be aware.

So, please, understand that to broad brush us public school families as necessarily less faithful somehow or blind or….whatever, please don’t.

Thank you.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Status Report September 2009

Sitting…in my dining room, listening to my 3-year-old scream and pitch a royal fit while she sits in her room where she has been banished until she can calm herself down. She wanted apple juice, but she did not want her daddy to get it for her, she wanted mommy to drop what she was doing to get it. Daddy got her a perfectly good cup of apple juice, but she is screaming that she wants a different apple juice. Not gonna happen….

Wondering….how long until she just gives it up and cries herself to sleep. She really needs a nap.

Smelling…the Cincinnati style chili that is simmering on the stove for dinner with some friends who are coming over tonight.

Enjoying….the cooler weather that signals that fall is on the way. Love the Fall!! I do not love Halloween and am really hoping we can get through October this year without having to do costumes. I really do not love having to do costumes. But I do love the fall.

Also listening…to the rain which has been going since the middle of the night sometime. Makes it a little hard to motivate for the house cleaning I still need to do. It would be a really nice day to curl up with a good book, if a certain little person would get over her fixation with having another apple juice and give in to the yawning and go to sleep already.

WatchedBen Hur last night with my husband and our boys. I liked it. Due to the fact that my son did not realize the disc had a side A and side B, however, we ended up watching the second half of the movie first and wondering why we had no idea what the characters were talking about. I kept thinking, “Well, they are certainly using a lot of ‘show, don’t tell’ here and I’m really having to read between the lines.” Then, when the movie was ending barely an hour and a half after starting, Drew and I looked at each other and realized we must have missed something, because we knew it was a really long movie. Then we realized poor J had put it on the wrong side. So, we watched the first half after the second half, and we kept saying, “Oh, so that’s what that meant!” Anyway, I liked it a lot. I’ll probably like it even better if I ever watch it in the right order.

Enjoyed…playing Frisbee and catch with the boys yesterday evening when it was still nice out, before the rain came. Boo sat in the grass and read a little book while we played over her head. Followed by movie night, it was a fun family evening.

Finished…reading the Inkheart trilogy. Finally. I enjoyed it. The ending was okay. A little bit of a let down, but happy and satisfactory over all. I had a different ending in mind, though. But, overall, I enjoyed the series. It was a little weird, but interesting.

Excited…that our ladies’ Bible study starts Tuesday. We are going through the book, “Becoming a Woman of Excellence” by Cynthia Heald. We have a small group signed up, and I think it will be a good group. May God bless our time in His word and our time discussing it together!

Amazed…at how determined my daughter can be. She’s still going….

Pondering…a small blogging break. I’ve kind of been taking one already, it seems. I don’t know why I feel guilty about not blogging, but I do. Whether I take a formal break or not, I’ll just mention here that I’m probably going to slow down a little. Maybe. Unless the ideas start flowing again, then I’ll write more. The problem isn’t so much lack of ideas, but not being able to take the time to write or being too tired to think through a good blog post when I get the time lately. I have a lot going on at the moment, none of which is major in itself, but all together leads to busyness.

Needing…to end this post and get back to vacuuming and laundry.

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Listening and Thinking

Dr. Albert Mohler had an interesting discussion about the health care reform debate from a Christian perspective on a recent radio broadcast. You can find a link to that broadcast here.