December 27, 2008

The World Between Worlds

I always think the time after Christmas is the world between worlds. You know, from The Magician's Nephew and the woods with the puddles where Digory and Polly land between our world and Narnia. These days always remind me of that because it is so quiet. The parties and preparation are over and a year is ending. This is actually when I do a lot of spring cleaning as we take down the tree, rearrange the furniture, organize all my new presents.

I really love this time of year. It is quiet, peaceful, contemplative. I'm always tempted to postpone the start of school, too, make vacation last a little longer. Isn't that the teacher's perogative? Just today I puttered around the house putting away Christmas dishes, washing linens, redecorating the blog, adding a new widget (thank you, Anna), visiting friends, making turkey soup for dinner tomorrow and coffee cake for our church's after-Christmas brunch. I really like to putter; it's soothing to my soul. I also like to prepare- sometimes more than I like the doing.

One way we prepare for the New Year is to give calendars and new devotional reading plans to everyone in the family. Sometimes we give the calendars on Christmas, like this year, and sometimes on New Year's. And sometimes we also give new devotional Bibles on New Year's. So, as I am in between worlds, I will be posting my 2009 Devotional Reading schedule and sharing what our kids will be doing over the next week. If you're in between worlds or considering new Quiet Time options, come jump in the puddles with me.

December 24, 2008

Santa's Helper

Merry Christmas Eve! This is always my favorite part of Christmas because I love the anticipation. In fact, I think I like anticipating events and remembering them almost more than the events themselves. Probably because nothing quite ever lives up to the anticipation, nothing that is until we reach our heavenly home.
So, if you made it here today, I am assuming that you had a little time on your hands and maybe you have a few more minutes to check out the Shepherd's Press blog. There is a fantastic article on our words with our children using the analogy of being Santa's helper. And if you are here after Christmas, really, this article is for 365 days of the year. Not just for Christmas. So whatever day of the year it is, take some time to hear the wisdom .
And, have yourself a merry little Christmas!

December 22, 2008

The Promise of Spring

I came home from my walk the other day and started some weed-pulling and little bits of clean-up. I looked at my lilac and just saw the dying leaves and sticks. I was so discouraged. This is my second lilac and the first one I ended up killing. I get a little bit nervous about spending all that money only to lose it. But it was my "First Day of Spring" present and so I thought I would at least pull off all the unsightly leaves. Imagine my delight when I got close....
...the promise of new life. And what a sweet picture the Master Gardener and Creator of Gardens had just given me. My life looks like a winter garden- shriveled leaves barely hanging on, sticks poking up from hard ground, old debris littering the ground- but there is a promise of something beautiful to come. It might be just a tight little green bud right now, but it is going to cling steadfastly to its branch during all the rain and frost, the wind and cold, and then come spring when it feels the Son smile brightly upon it, that little bud is going to burst forth into a big, fat, fluffy, lilac sending its sweet fragrance forth like a song praising its Maker. So come on blustery winter, for I have the promise of eternal spring!

December 19, 2008

God's Purpose for Me II

"After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." I Peter 5:10 NASB

or in the words of The Living Bible,

"He 'personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever'." Elyse Fitzpatrick, A Steadfast Heart, (Phillipsburg,N.J.: P&R Publishing,2006), 96.

My purpose? To suffer for a little while, remaining steadfast, and then to be picked up, set firmly in place and made even more steadfast.

God's Purpose for Me I

{Daughter}" beloved by the Lord...God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the spirit and faith in the truth." 2 Thessalonians 2:13
I was "chosen before time began for salvation through His transforming power!"
Elyse Fitzpatrick, A Steadfast Heart, (Phillipsburg,N.J.: P&R Publishing,2006), 96.

December 18, 2008

The Place Where I Am

He brought me here;
It is by His will that I am in this difficult place; that I will rest.
He will keep me here
in His love,
and give me grace in this trial
to behave as His child.
He will make the trial a blessing,
teaching me the lessons
He intends me to learn,
and working in me the grace
He means to bestow.
in His good time He can bring me out again, and when He knows.
So... I am here
by His appointment,
in His keeping,
under His training,
for His time.
Andrew Murray

December 17, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

The Thorn

I stood a mendicant of God

before His royal throne

And begged Him for a priceless gift,

which I could call my own.

I took the gift from out His hand,

but as I would depart,

I cried "But, Lord, this is a thorn

and it has pierced my heart.

This is a strange, a hurtful gift

that Thou hast given me."

He said, "My child, I give good gifts

and give my best to thee."

I took it home and though at first,

the cruel thorn hurt sore;

As long years passed I learned at last

to love it more and more.

I learned He never gives a thorn

without this added grace,

He takes the thorn to pin aside...

the veil which hides His face.

Martha Snell Nicholson

December 16, 2008

The Christmas Bookshelf

Paula from Hopes Fulfilled shares a little bit of her family's Christmas reading:
I love this retelling of the Christmas story. Chuck Swindoll brings insights into all of the characters. It is one of our family favorites. We read a chapter each week - Ch. 1 focuses on Mary, Ch. 2 Joseph and Ch. 3 Gabriel.
I read of one review that read, "Chuck Swindoll gave the most understandable meaning I've ever read of why Jesus was the only way God could offer salvation to a fallen world. It has given me a fresh approach to this Christmas season and I highly recommend it."
It is a little over Bria's (7 years) but fine for Matt (9 years). This is a small book with gorgeous pictures and makes a wonderful gift. Also, I noticed that Insight for Living has a radio theater version of the book. I'm going to check it out!
Thank you for sharing, Paula, and that one looks like a keeper!

December 15, 2008

A Wintery Thought for Monday's Moody Musings

To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.

Artwork by Malcolm

December 12, 2008

A Christmas Verse

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

December 11, 2008

Being Merry

Our friend, worship pastor, and Hannah's piano teacher is also the director for Sonoma County Chamber Singers, thus we have been making every effort to attend his concerts. Last Friday night was a grand kick-off for December. Starting with a processional of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," this musical feast contained several Latin pieces, the "Ave Maria," a beautiful rendition of the "Magnificat," and some rousing pieces about "Good Ale" and "Figgy Pudding." But the lyrics that caught my heart were from "A Virgin Unspotted" by the early American composer, William Billings.
"Then let us be merry, put sorrow away
Our Savior, Christ Jesus, was born on this day."

These days are a fight for joy, a continual conversation with myself reminding me of the glorious God and His grace all around me. It's learning to take delight in every moment, knowing that moment was part of God's bigger design for my life, whether it is
  • the sight of stark black limbs and bright orange fruit of a persimmon tree against a foggy morning walk
  • the sound of bickering brothers
  • the smell of cinnamon and cloves and yeasty yummies baking
  • the comforting touch of a hug
  • the heartache of facing a sin that I've forgotten is no longer my master

Being merry occurs when I choose, by God's grace, to take each moment as a gift, knowing Christ was the ultimate gift, living the life I couldn't, dying a death I won't need to, and conquering sin and offering me free salvation.

Today, I will put sorrow away.

December 10, 2008

Quotable Christmas

For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor- spending and being spent- to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others- and not just their own friends- in whatever way there seems need.
J.I. Packer, Knowing God, "God Incarnate"

December 9, 2008

The Christmas Bookshelf

from Anna at Joy in Every Step "For the last few Christmas' we have gone through The Advent Jesse Tree by Dean Meador Lambert. We have a tree and set of ornaments that go along with the devotions in this book. I will be sharing more about it on my blog next week." Please do go meet Anna and her three adorable little girls. She was my inspiration for getting back into blogging and for favorite Christmas things.

This is the book that I am reading to the kids in the afternoons. I love it! The kids love it! Honestly, it could be read at any time of year because it is an analogy of salvation, wonderful gospel reading, and yet there is something special about reading it now. Starr Meade does a tremendous job of ending chapters with cliffhangers and so we are always left hungering for the next episode. This is not an advent book, but it certainly leads to the Christ of Christmas. As for ages, as an adult I am really enjoying trying to understand the analogy, my teens, 16 and 14 in a few weeks, are also eager to have it read and do not find it too simple, my very young 10 year old son is entranced and I think the story might be helping him understand the gospel. I do not think it is a book for much younger than eight years. But, it's a good read, so add it to the collection, read it, and decide for yourself.

December 8, 2008

Contemplating Christmas

My much anticipated Advent book arrived late last week. I was so excited! Fortunately, there are only 22 readings so I wasn't really behind. So what is this little Christmas wonder? Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie. The readings are a compilation of "works and sermons" by men of proven character such as George Whitefield, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, and Augustine. Yet it also includes some of today's men who are faithfully bringing us the gospel: John Piper, Ligon Duncan, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, just to name a few. There are many more and even Joni Earackson Tada makes an appearance (which is good because I have read through her A Christmas Longing for the last two years). I love the variety. Martin Luther's chapter, "The Maiden Mary" was a delightful introduction to the man himself. He is very witty and, for a 16th century author, very concise and readable.
I've tried to incorporate some type of Advent book into my December Bible reading over the last few years, but have found truly meaty ones few and far between. This one not so, as these thoughts from George Whitefield's chapter, "Contemplating Christmas," demonstrate, "And as, my brethren, the time for keeping this festival is approaching, let us consider our duty in the true observation thereof, of the right way for the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls, to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; an event which ought to be had in eternal remembrance" (12).
Whitefield then describes four ways of how we can best celebrate Christmas:
  • Read the Bible, " read that the King of kings and the Lord of lords came from his throne and took upon him the form of the meanest of his servants; and what great things he underwent" (12).
  • Pray, "...these things call for be earnest with God, that you may have an interest in this Redeemer, and that you may put on his righteousness..." (12).
  • Declare, or spend time in profitable conversation. Instead of talking about your clothes, parties, end of year bonuses or lack thereof, "let it be the wonders of redeeming love. O tell, tell to each other what great things the Lord has done for your souls" (13).
  • "Have a particular regard to your behavior...for indeed the eyes of all are upon you" (13). "Use the good things of this life with moderation...instead of running into excess, let that money which you might expend to pamper your own bodies, be given to feed the poor..." (13). Now is when they "commonly require relief" and as "Christ was always willing to relieve the distressed...can you better commemorate the birth of your King, your Savior..." (14)

Whitefield ends the chapter with this plea, " found in the ways of God; let us not disturb our dear Redeemer by any irregular proceedings; and let me beseech you to strive love, honor, and obey him, more than ever you have done yet; let not the devil engross your time, and that dear Savior who came into the world on your accounts have so little" (14).

What soul food this is! Not only good for contemplating Christmas, but truth for contemplating everyday.

December 5, 2008

A Christmas Prayer

O God,
Take me in spirit to the wathcful shepherds, and enlarge my mind;
Let me hear good tidings of great joy, and hearing,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
Place me with
to look with them upon my Redeemer's face
in Him account myself delivered from sin;
Let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart,
embrace Him with undying faith,
exulting that
He is mine
I am His.
In Him Thou has given me so much that heaven can give no more
The Valley of Vision

December 4, 2008

All Decked Out

It's Christmas! Can't you tell. I know, I know, you're wondering why I can't manage to decorate our home but I can get to the blog. Well, there's not rock grit all over the computer that continually has to be vacuumed. So, I'm making effort where I can.
We did something even more decadent today for reading time. Not having been to the grocery store for several days, and being somewhat short on time, but seriously desiring something sweet to accompany our reading we drove to the... The Village Bakery!
  • Hannah- a Bowtie (twisted puff pastry with cinammon sugary filling)
  • Malcolm- a frosted Mint Chocolate Brownie
  • Matthew- a very large Chocolate Cupcake with sprinkles and a candy Gingerbread man
  • Me- a Rasberry-Hazlenut Linzer Cookie

We came home and drank coffee stuff, and ate treaties, and read, and then... we fell asleep. Oh, the sheer bliss and luxury of wintery December days. Isn't God gracious?

December 3, 2008

Getting in the Mood

Yesterday I had everybody open the assignment binders and I slashed away at all the assignments! It was one of the first steps toward "getting in the mood" for Christmas.

The very first step was to start off the season reading chapter five of Knowing God by J.I. Packer. Why chapter five? Because it is "God Incarnate" and just the kind of soul food I needed. This chapter helps me "see and savor" (Piperism) the Savior of the Season.

My goal? To finish school by noonish on Tuesday and Wednesday and to have Christmas school (translate crafts, goodies, and movies) on Friday. So today school was done, I made hot chocolate, exploded it with whip cream, popped corn, and we sat down to read Keeping Holiday by Starr Meade. We made it through chapter one and I had to finish making the rolls for dinner. Imagine my pleasure at Malcolm's displeasure that we weren't reading another chapter! Rolls rising, we started chapter two!

December 2, 2008

Truths for a Tuesday

Instead of posting a new Scripture, I'm just going to share a quick truth about Psalm 119:75-77. I have this notation in my Bible because at one point I wanted to know what afflicted meant. According to Strong's, afflicted literally means to depress. Truly, look it up- #6031. That's why I'm keeping the verse for another week because it is promising me that God is being faithful to me. Regardless of my sorrow: remodeling, loss of cat, PMS (that's pre and post), seasonal, lack of sleep, discipline- God's steadfast love will comfort me.

December 1, 2008

Monday's Moody Musings

December 1st and I am not ready. Not decorated, not a single present bought, my new advent book has not arrived and honestly, I am not in the mood. I told a friend my eyes are like dams with the floodgates about to break. I am very much in the mood for Christ's birth, for a month of delighting in the idea that Christ lovingly became flesh and blood to live the life I couldn't. I'm just not in the mood for Christmas. I couldn't tell you why. Yes, I've been dealing with pervasive sorrow, maybe that's it. We're also doing some minor remodeling- removing a fireplace, replacing a wall, new paint, new carpet, new woodstove. So where is the Christmas tree supposed to go? And all the decorations are going to be covered up with plastic. Is it any wonder I'm not in the mood.? But the thing is, I do have three children and they are in the mood. They are so eagerly anticipating Christmas. And I want them to anticipate. I want them to have eyes of wonder. Thus my challenge is to start getting ready and to start thinking creatively of the things I can do amidst the rubble. I did pose the idea of individual, miniature trees and got booed for that. And it's ok that I'm not keeping up with the Joneses, because we are the Moody's and God knows what He wants this season to be like for us. I just need to be faithful each day to obey and teach my kiddos the wonder of the season that is God.

My friend, Anna, at Joy in Every Step had a wonderful post about Christmas music and it was so delightful responding to her request for favorite Christmas albums. Being an avid reader, I thought I would ask for favorite books of the season. So, I'll start it off with a couple of my favorites and then I would love to get suggestions from all of you who stop by!

Several years ago, my mom purchased three different copies of Joe Wheeler's Christmas in My Heart. Each year we were to read our copy and then mail it the next year along with the Christmas presents. It was such a delight to read my sister's comments and see the tear stains for these are sentimentality at it's best.
Another beauty is The Advent Book. This one features a fantastical door that you get to open like a pop-up book; behind the door is a bit of the Advent story. The year we used this one, we just repeated all the prior bits of the story every night and by Christmas Eve the kids had it memorized. This is a very sturdy book and will last through the grandchildren! We love exploring the intricately decorated doors.
So what will you be reading this Christmas?

November 28, 2008

Goodbye, Little Buddy

One kitten. Eighteen years ago. It was Eric's wedding gift to me. We'd only been married two weeks. Enough time to honeymoon, unwrap presents, pack them up in our Jeep, put a double mattress on top, and leave California for Washington. Pulling into the little town of Gig Harbor, we dutifully asked every apartment manager, "Do you take cats?" The answer was generally an emphatic "No!" Never mind that we didn't even have the little beast yet, I was not going to be deterred. Finally, at the top of the world's largest hill, with a view of the Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier on a clear day, we found it: a log cabin. We quickly called the number on the For Rent sign and asked the owner the only question that mattered, "Do you take cats?" What young married fools we were. But the owner was just as young, just as foolish, and fortunately for us, just as much of an animal lover.

Honestly, I can't remember how many days later, I don't even know if we unpacked, but we made our way over to the Tacoma pound. Yep, pound. The kind where animals don't last long. Noisy, smelly, cement floors, rows and rows of cats in cages, a person who adopted here really would feel like a hero. They had two cages of kittens-males and females- and there she was. Furry bundle of sassy black and white meow with emerald green eyes. The littlest package, she sat in my hand. My first baby, I named her Toulouse, forever a favorite name of mine and one I knew no offspring would ever appreciate. But there was Eric, no kitten for him. And there in the neighboring cage sat Toulouse's litter mate-the same black and white, the same emerald green eyes, but where she was a ball of fluff, he was sleek silk. No sass for him, he was sweet, gentle love. It made sense; we didn't have brand new his and her towels, but we could have matching kitties. We had wedding gift money to burn. He was my husband's Gilligan, and so we brought home Toulouse and Little Buddy.

Not having a television, the cats became our entertainment. We took pictures galore. They nestled in our bed and found all sorts of hidey holes in that cabin. Unfortunately, being young and foolish and in love, and having wanted cats more than reasonable rent, the cabin didn't last long. That's when we started to learn that while maybe some people would take one cat for a ridiculous fee, two cats- no way! It became a yearly search, for that's about how often we moved those first few years of marraige. But Toulouse and Little Buddy always went with us. They were co-conspirators the first Thanksgiving my parents visited. So proud of our first BBQ'ed turkey, we left it on the counter to rest. The cats loved their turkey dinner that year.

Hannah soon joined us and Little Buddy loved her warm little body. She was a great snuggler. We made our final move in Washington, unbeknownst to us. This time, the cats paid the high price: they had to be declawed. But they came.

Four years later, we moved back to California. I drove with Hannah, not yet two, the cats, not in cages, and plenty of Benadryl. But we made it back and have never moved since. A year later, Malcolm made his appearance and, as usual, the cats adjusted. Little Buddy always was a "lover, not a fighter" and after some initial timidity would welcome any new little being. And they came- guinea pigs, rabbits, stray kittens, even more cats. Finally, the worst nightmare- a bouncing, barking Jack Russell, a little Jack who wanted to be best friends with these long tailed, hissing, spitting, running litter mates. And Little Bud acquiesed. He even put up with the dog. We added to the cat collection. As the kids turned ten, we would troop off to the local animal shelter (far cries from that first hell-hole, these were life-oriented shelters) and pick out a new little bundle of fur. Boo, pure black, a Halloween baby, and Ares, a chubby white male with a Zorro mask and a tail dipped in black ink. We still had other stray cats, but the kids figured it out: if they weren't black and white, they didn't last long in our home. Leukemia usually took them away or some disease. It was our pound kitties that loved and lasted. Eventually, we brought Matthew home from VietNam. The Jack was a bit boisterous for this shell-shocked little guy, but Little Buddy's gentle bonkings on the forehead won him over. Two years ago, another stray found us, and she was black and white. Maybe we kept her because she reminded us of our Little Bud and his heart had already been failing for awhile. In fact, as she grew, in the right light, you couldn't tell them apart. Like all the kittens, he welcomed her in and she nestled next to his slumbering form. Old and young.

Toulouse never liked another animal. Always intolerant of everyone but her brother, she would refuse to share my lap with anyone but him. And that's where those two have spent many mornings for the last eighteen years. I'd feed them, make the coffee, and sit down with my Bible. Then they would come. I'd have to reorganize everything to fit them on my lap. That's where I'd wonder what did they reveal about God? For they are His creation and so must reflect something about Him. I know I'm a crazy, cat loving fool, but I also have a God who cares about falling sparrows, so I know He cares for these two.

But today came. Little Buddy had been melting away over the last few years. His heart was failing, his kidneys ruined, yet he was still happy. Still loved basking in sunshine, his breakfast in the morning, and climbing on my lap. He didn't walk so well and he smelled bad. His once silken coat was matted and dull and would even fall out in tufts. But today he was in pain. Today he came to breakfast, but didn't eat. Today, we needed to let him go.

So today, Little Buddy lies under the redwood tree where a sunbeam resides in the spring and summer. Ares and Princess love to play under that tree and we can see it from the kitchen window while we wash the dishes.

Goodbye, Little Buddy

October 1990-November 2008

November 27, 2008

Thank You

Thank You, my precious Holy Father,

for this beautiful life. For choosing me before the world began and setting in place a plan to make me your forever daughter and heir. Thank You, my Savior, for perfectly living the life I can't, for facing the same trials and sorrows and joys and pleasures and for never once giving into sin like I do. Holy Spirit, You've washed me with regeneration and You open my eyes to the Glory of God; You guide me, convict me, comfort me, all the while sealing me.

Not only all this, which is so much more then I deserve, for all I deserve is Your wrath and eternal white hot burning fire and damnation, forever separated from You, but then You have given me life abundant:

tears and laughter, both gut-wrenching

sorrow and joy, over sin, over weaknesses, over triumph and victory

days when adrenaline and caffeine run through my veins- I can do it all

nights when sleeps flees, tears are my only companion, dripping onto Your Word as I realize I can't do anything without You

a husband who has covenanted in companionship with me, a lover and friend, faithful father, a true noble man, one of God's primary means of conforming me to the image of Christ

three precious children, beautiful in form, growing in character, full of the newness and awe of life, three more means of sanctification

America- God bless her!

Obama- God bless him and use him to grow us

Philadelphia, city of brotherly love and you welcomed us, plus cheesesteaks come from there

New York City, only 24 hours there, but what a memory of family laughter

Sebastopol, more like Sodom but still where God has me and mine and this place keeps me on my knees

Sonoma County, the vineyards are glorious reflections of God's beauty, I gasp in awe

oceans that thunder under our boogie boards

snow and rain, fog and drizzle

blazing bright sun

hot chocolate, whip cream and marshmallows

the morning smell of coffee

garlic roasting

my mother who is my biggest fan, my step-father who I'm learning to honor, my earthly dad long gone to his heavenly home, waiting while a place is prepared for me

books, books, and more books

the freedom to homeschool

mornings I don't have to hop out of bed at five a.m. and I get to linger amidst sweet husband and cats and dog

mornings I hop out of bed at five a.m. and have such quiet, peaceful times with my Savior, interceding for those still asleep

cold morning walks

hot afternoon swims

life...joyous, pain-filled, heart-wrenching, exhausting, exhilarating, temporary journey for now, eternal kingdom forever

Thank You, God

November 26, 2008

A Pictorial Thanksgiving

Calendar Quote of the Day

One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunies for a different kind of work, but do just the things we 'find to do' day by day.
Charles Spurgeon


Lord of Immortality,
Before whom angels bow and archangels veil their faces,
enable me to serve Thee with reverence and godly fear.
Thou who art Spirit and requirest truth in the inward parts,
help me to worship Thee in spirit and in truth.
Thou who art righteous,
let me not harbor sin in my heart,
or indulge a worldly temper,
or seek satisfaction in things that perish.
I hasten towards an hour when earthly pursuits and possessions will appear vain,
when it will be indifferent whether I have been
rich or poor,
successful or disappointed {as a mother and as a wife},
admired or despised {by my church, by my neighbors, by my friends, or the people I meet}.
But it will be of eternal moment that I have
mourned for sin {even though sometimes, my Christ, I have forgotten Your resurrection and only bow under the grief of how I have crucified You},
hungered and thirsted after righteousness,
loved the Lord in sincerity,
gloried in His cross.
May these objects engross my chief solicitude!
Produce in me those principles and dispositions that make Thy service perfect freedom.
Expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame,
so that with firmness and courage I may confess the Redeemer before men,
go forth with Him bearing His reproach,
be zealous with His knowledge,
be filled with His wisdom,
walk with His circumspection,
ask counsel of Him in all things,
repair to the Scriptures for His orders,
stay my mind on His peace,
knowing that nothing can befall me
without His permission, appointment, and administration.
The Valley of Vision

November 25, 2008

Truths for a Tuesday

I know, O Lord, that Your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant.
Let Your mercy come to me, that I may live;
For Your law is my delight.

Psalm 119:75-77 ESV

November 21, 2008

Five Favorites for a Friday

  1. Thanksgiving is fast approaching, less than a week, and Simple Pleasures just tickled my soul. It's the equivalent of an adult Thanksgiving tree. What is most beautiful about it are the comments- take time to peruse the gracious and humble thoughts of the simple pleasures in life.
  2. As four-fifths of our family is involved in Facebook, Thinking Biblically About Facebook, caught my eye and I appreciated what I read. Good food for thought! I also didn't realize FB was practically next door to us- do I feel a field trip coming on or what? It was also my first visit to Buzzard Blog and I think I might have to return. HT: Justin Taylor
  3. I also loved Janelle Bradshaw's "Jelly Toast" story. Her humility and her perseverance caught at my soul, simultaneously encouraging and exhorting me in my own parenting. But that's why Girl Talk is on my top ten!
  4. Have you ever made the comment "I'm so busy," in response to the generic "How ya' doin' "? Then C.J. Mahaney's series on busyness is for you. I think I will get back to this one eventually because busyness is a personal pet peeve for me.
  5. And the last is actually a whole blog site that caught my eye, Making Home. I noticed that it made the blog roll for Titus2Talk and decided to quickly peruse it. I suggest giving it a quick gander.

Calendar Quote of the Day

Earth should be a temple filled with the songs of grateful saints, and every day should be a censer smoking with the sweet incense of thanksgiving. Charles Spurgeon

November 20, 2008

Bored? Nothing to Do?

For Matthew’s Bible we are doing what I have academically entitled “Old Testament Survey.” Actually, it is not that daunting. Using The Victor Journey Through the Bible, we read a chapter of the Bible, read the commentary in …Journey… and color maps and stuff. As we started “Exodus”, the author, V. Gilbert Beers, discussed the difference between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. “Music and the arts were popular entertainment among Egyptians, but the Hebrews enjoyed gathering in their tents to talk and eat.” What a powerful thought to stop and consider this major difference between the pagans and God’s chosen ones. What an even more powerful thought to stop and consider whom we might resemble more? The truth I see revealed in our family makes me shudder. I do not hate entertainment; I love it! After an exhausting day, I revel in getting Lost on some island, wonder what kind of super Hero power I would like, or maybe just delight in seeing somebody else’s Life. Disengagement. It is easier than pulling out a game board, reading aloud, or- why not get really radical- family Bible study and giving “my time” to another who needs it. Yet, this type of disengagement is precisely what leads to apathy, a “deadness of soul,” both far more appropriate synonyms for the innocuous sounding “boredom.” I honestly do not think I had ever considered this word or thought of all the sin that it covers until I read Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment. Who knows what caught me? Culture? Entertainment? Or the subtitle: Rediscovering Passion and Wonder? All buzzwords guaranteed to prick my ears. It was advertised in Shepherd’s Press so if the Tripp brothers were recommending it, I would read it.
It opened my eyes to what I call Biblical language- using Biblical terms to define worldly language such as calling naughtiness sin, whining and fussing are grumbling and complaining, not sharing is selfishness, a tattle-tale is a tale-bearer, not listening is disobedience, and boredom becomes idleness, laziness, apathy, and discontent. In fact, after the historical study of boredom that Richard Winter, the author, presents, we learn that the early church fathers considered it a spiritual disorder, “the monks had lost interest in and passion for the very thing that previously motivated their choices and lifestyle: the pursuit of God and a holy life.” OUCH! Winter helps us to understand the basics of boredom, the two types, how our beloved entertainment industry exacerbates boredom, even how advertising affects it, how certain personalities are prone to it- having two boys and several gaming systems shows me that. He also presents the worldviews that influence boredom and the painful consequences such as sexual addiction and aggression. Yet in God’s grace, Mr. Winter also shares the antidote: and it is just that- God’s grace. A proper, high view of God. A delight in God. A life of love-filled gratitude for God.
I know in my pursuit to engage the culture, I am tempted to be engaged by it or to disengage. And I know that when I consider Biblical language, “taking every thought captive”, “run the race with diligence- as to win”, “pursue”, “ throw off all that hinders”, I am reminded to be “an effectual doer” and Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment exhorts me to that call.

November 19, 2008

Calendar Quote of the Day

Our churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love.
Charles Spurgeon

Truths for a Tuesday

When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul!

Psalm 94:19

Thinking Humbly

If you would enter into full fellowship with Christ in His death, and know the full deliverance from self, humble yourself. This is your duty. Place yourself before God in your helplessness; consent to the fact that you are powerless to slay yourself; give yourself in patient and trustful surrender to God. Accept every humiliation; look upon every person who tries or troubles you as a means of grace to humble you.
Andrew Murray, Humility

November 18, 2008

Truths for a Tuesday

I am collecting verses to remind me of who God is and how He deals with me. I write them on index cards and keep them as my bookmark in the Psalms. I don't read them daily, more like every other day. On particularly tough days, I have been known to keep them in my hand and refer to them frequently. Some are quite crumpled and tear-stained but my heart does stay true when I cling to these precious words. I call these paper declarations "statements of confidence."

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul. Psalm 54:4

November 17, 2008

A Mom's Monday Morning Musings

Ok, so it's not Monday morning any longer but the alliteration was just too corny to pass up. It could be because my day started at 4:30 this morning when our Jack Russell leapt upon my husband's sleeping head in a frantic attempt to kill the raccoon intruder straddling the fence outside our bedroom window. Welcome to Monday!
Why is it that temptation has to start at 4:30 a.m. on a Monday? "Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to selfish gain," I pray. Sure, I get up in 30 minutes anyway, but it is really easy to rationalize every moment of lost sleep and my Mondays are a tad bit daunting to me for they involve lots of driving here and there and even worse: precise timing. You know what I mean, drop eldest daughter off at work, run home, get some quality educating in, run to the grocery store on the way to dropping middle son off at piano, then back to pick up the eldest from work, pick up middle from piano, rush home to get dinner for eldest prior to rushing her to babysitting job while middle son dashes off to karate, all the while toting youngest brother. Whew! But on this day- and it is the only day we live like that- I desperately need to spend time with God, to make Him my priority in all that I do, to provide bits of Scripture for meditation and prayer during all that driving and rushing. And God is good, He answers me.

Calendar Quote for the Day

The Lord is my portion. Not His grace merely, nor His love, nor His covenant, but Jehovah Himself. He has chosen us for His portion, and we have chosed Him for ours. Charles Spurgeon

November 15, 2008

What's Cooking

Tonight is Malcolm's first kenpo-karate tournament. He's simultaneously excited and nervous. The whole event is a potluck and he requested Holiday Meatballs, a recipe from our dear friend, Jodie Williams.

This is a really easy recipe. I've converted it to the crockpot and use frozen meatballs from Costco to make it even easier. I actually will make meatballs

  • when hamburger is on sale and I can buy a lot
  • when I have a few hours to keep popping batches in the oven. Then I just pack them in plastic bags and freeze!
  • Voila! Instant homemade meatballs.

Holiday Meatballs

  • Meatballs- figure 3-5 per person. Bake if you are using the frozen kind or use your own recipe and cook.
  • 1- 16 oz. can cranberry sauce, jellied or whole, I use one of each.
  • 1- 12 oz. bottle of chile sauce
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. lemon juice

After you've baked the meatballs, place them in a crockpot - or they can go in a warming server, electric skillet, or pot on the stove.

Heat the sauces, sugar and lemon juice just until boiling, stirring to combine and dissolve the sugar.

Pour the sauce over the meatballs, turn the crockpot on low and let it go until you are ready to serve. I generally double the sauce because I do let it simmer for several hours and the longer it cooks, the more sauce the meatballs absorb.

My kids like these over rice for a complete dinner but I often just take them as is to potlucks and people always rave!

November 14, 2008

The Valley Where I Live

God's Glory, God's Promise

November 12, 2008

The Road I Travel

This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness,
Not health but healing,
Not being but becoming,
Not rest but exercise,
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it;
The process is not yet finished but it is going on;
This is not the end but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.
Martin Luther

November 11, 2008

What Do You See?

Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, Book 7