For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise This our grateful hymn of praise.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Brave


(click above for today's other FMF entries)



"I've never prized safety, Erich, either for myself or my children. I prized courage." Line from an obscure Jimmy Stewart movie.

start...

Being brave is not something I ever really wanted for my kids. Oh, sure, I paid it lip-service. What kind of mom openly hopes her children will be cowards. But isn't this what I wanted? Children who lived lives of middle class comfort. Dressing primly and properly to attend church on Sunday, tithing the requisite 10%, then going on their happy way until next Sunday rolled around. Then, God set in my midst Mr. Great-heart, whom, upon hearing that there were countries where Christians were persecuted and didn't have access to bibles thought that he should just do something about that. He was 4 or 5. I verbally encouraged him, and, yes, I was proud that he'd do such a thing, but inwardly I was probably happy he was the only one of the five who did.

Lately, not so much. Lately I feel this desire to pray that all my boys will be that brave. That they will look at the injustice that the world perpetrates and feel called to do something, regardless the risk. If they do, I must do the thing I really don't want to do...be brave myself. Coz that's what it comes down to for a mom. If her kids are brave, she has to be twice as brave. She has to support them in their battle, and wage her own in her heart and mind. I didn't really want to be brave. I wanted a life of comfort and ease, like everyone around me in our middle class America. I wanted to call what I was living brave, when it really wasn't.

...finish

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Reading List

What's On Your Nightstand

(Click to go to What's on Your Nightstand for the link up)


What?!? You're kidding. It's May? Not possible. Well, I did spend most of April prepping for Braniac's big birthday party so the month went by very quickly. Let's take a look at how I did (I really haven't even had time to look at it yet. lol)

I finished Smooth & Easy Days & downloaded Masterly Inactivity but didn't start it. Maybe I'm getting smarter.

Still working on Smart Moves.

I am going to consider myself "done" with The Power of a Whisper. I don't think I'm "ready to give a thorough review" done, but it's good enough. I do recommend it though. Especially for people who wonder what other Christians are talking about when they say they "heard God." And maybe especially for Christians who think they can't. Hybels does a good job explaining what it is and isn't to hear God's "whisper" as he calls it. And if you don't like the way he's always talking about his church stop talking to me about sports all the time. I'd rather hear about a guy's church than all the ridiculous sports analogies men normally use. (And I like sports. :))

The Fitting Room. You know, every time I think I've made great progress with this book, I look down at the bottom and it doesn't even say 50% done. I think the format confuses me. I'll get use to e-books some day. It is going faster now that I've finished the difficult part. It's a long story, probably best for therapy. Suffice to say legalism wasn't my problem so I had to work through her words when I'd been beat over the head with similar words in defense of what I would consider antinomianism.

Somewhere in April I went from, "I'm going to read To Walk or Stay by Lara G Williams some day," to, "I'm going to read it now with the online book group." So now I've added that. Much more accountability as we post to the group weekly. It's really a very good book. I had put it in my "too read" list originally because my situation doesn't really mirror hers, then I read a quote I guess it was, wish I could remember exactly what the words were, and I realized it would be very beneficial to read it now. I like that it doesn't dwell on the specifics and thereby alienate readers who haven't been through her same experience. In short, we all need to grow in our faith. We all need to stop relying on ourselves and worshiping an ideal...oh, that was it. She said something about  believing Hollywood's lie about what love was and I thought, well, it wasn't Hollywood's lie I fell for (it was a bizarre religious upbringing that basically stated that a woman could not be whole if she was un-wed and without children) but I had a feeling that her book was going to be extremely helpful...and it has been.

I did finish some other books not on my list. One was Abounding Hope (also by Lara G Williams), which I wrote about yesterday. I really recommend this study. I look forward to the next one as well. Really like the NON-running commentary. :D Often it's good to be forced to dig for the truth yourself, makes it stick better. I've noticed, and I'm sure most people have, that I can read a few pages and get to the end and think "What the heck did I read?" When we are simply prompted to by specific Scripture & questions, I have found it sticks in my head better. I hope this one is seared. :)

I think I'll stick with those for now. When the new Hello Mornings session starts this month (Gads! Is it May already? Yes, I know I asked that earlier.) there will be a new study to start and I will want to give time to that daily. Now that my Sunday's are free again (post-AWANA quiz) and I don't have another birthday party until June, I'll have a bit more time to read...oh, yeah, and AWANA will be over which, while I'm sad, will free up more time since I won't have to help the kids with verses until I start a summer plan with them in June. :)

Well, that's my reading life. I know, you're jealous. That's OK. ;)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Abounding Hope


This last term of Hello Mornings we used a study on Job & Joseph created by Lara  G. Williams, called Abounding Hope. The study is simple enough: A collection of different verses to read each day with questions to prompt specific Scriptural thoughts about God, His Promises, Hope, etc. There is no running commentary, but the user is guided to glean truths from God's Word, not the author's mind.

I can't tell you how I felt about studying Job...again...when I saw the topic. I may have rolled my eyes and thought  something negative. I don't really remember, but that sounds like something I would have done way back in January. I hope the thought of studying Job...again...does not deter anyone, though. I found this particular study to be valuable. Lara doesn't get into the debate I grew up with about how Job was probably actually being punished by God for future sins (seriously, I've heard that one so many times it's rote memory now), she doesn't get sidetracked trying to figure out if the Laviathon is a whale or a dinosaur. The entire study seems stayed on one ever important, but, I've learned as I've grown & as I've watched others, difficult topic...You *can* trust God. He *is* faithful, always. He will *never* leave you, even if your outward circumstances look as if He has. He *always* loves you. He isn't a God out to punish you for some secret sin you might not even know about, He is a God out to serve His Great Eternal Purpose in your life for His Glory, which often requires difficulties that incur growth.

Looking back through my notes on this study I can see that it became apparent by the end of week one what God was trying to say: I can trust Him. This may seem like a no-brainer to some people. A lot of Christians sometimes think this sort of thing just comes natural. It doesn't. I won't get into the specifics of why I have spent a lifetime in the church without being able to trust God. It makes most people uncomfortable to hear about my childhood of growing up in the church but having an entirely un-biblical upbringing at home. Suffice to say that I was taught from an early age that God hated His people, that He was "out to get them," to use the vernacular & that the better Christian you were the more he was. That He was just waiting for you to mess up one bit, then He'd jump on the occasion to attack you with some sort of cruel punishment.

Two December's ago, when Christ lifted me out of the darkness of sin and unbelief, I began to see things differently. I made my first few timid steps in trusting God, but, honestly, I believe that in the back of my mind, those thoughts were still there. This study dragged them all out into the open where God & I could deal with them once and for all.

It was a long session this round of the Hello Mornings Challenge. One thing after another came to the members of our group. As most people around the country know, it was a winter filled with illness after illness, on top of that there were so many other things going on that I couldn't enumerate them all in this entry. In my own life things were pretty bad. So many things going on personally that threatened to drag me down into a deep depression. In fact, in the old days they would have. I won't say that I didn't get depressed, some of the stuff was so overwhelming that it was bound to make me sad. But through these terrible times, as I wrestled with God in my study, I was finally able to see that these things as they were, temporal problems (OK, most of them are very long, temporal problems) that God will use for His Glory...and I can be a part of bringing that Glory to Him IF I trust Him. Of course, it's all gonna bring Him Glory whether I do or not, but do I want it to bring Him Glory *in spite of* my faith, or as a result of it?

As I look back over the past few months, I don't really see that a single one of the problems has changed. Some of them have actually become worse. What *has* changed is my perspective. I no longer look up and wonder "why?" the moment something bad happens. I look ahead, to the end, whenever that end may be...even if it won't be until I'm long gone from this earth...to the Glory that God will bring Himself as a result of this trial.

Here is a thought from my notes way back in Week 5 of the study: Trust God. He is all powerful and all knowing. He is in control of your circumstances.

And, of course, if you know me at all, you know that this makes me think of a song. Unfortunately Blogger cannot communicate with YouTube while using Chrome (yes, that is an indictment of Google who owns all three) so here's the link: While I'm Waiting by John Waller.

And with that phobia overcome, I will now attempt to work on my other biggie...fear of all pastors and other Christian leaders. Anybody have a good study on that one? :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Is a Gift?

James 1:2-4 The Message Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

I was raised to think of hardship as a bad thing, or even more, as a punishment from a god who had it in for us, who was just waiting for us to cross that line, then he would strike us down. I use that as an example sometimes when talking to my kids on the importance of knowledge of Scripture. Pure Scripture, not just someone's interpretation of Scripture.

As we enter into possibly another trial, this one centered around Babycakes and whatever it is that is causing his delays and possibly even seizures, I have been comforted by these verses. I was led to them yesterday in my study on Joseph in Abounding Hope. I've been trying to read them in different translations. They all come out saying what it basically says here in The Message. God does not give us these things because he is out to knock us around for our sins. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. As a recent convert to true & living faith (I attended church my whole life) I find all these truths of Scripture to be a beacon to lead me to trust in God. Between His Word and His Spirit I have been able to realize that God really does love His children. That just because this is happening again (and I can say again coz all my kids have had something) it is not because of some vendetta God has against me. He doesn't hate me and have a terrible plan for my life. Unless that's what He had for Joseph.

These verses are major "stop whining" verses. It's hard to complain when you read that these trials are to help show your "true colors." I've been thinking about that a lot. What are my true colors? How strong is my faith, really? I know it's been getting stronger, but I still seem to trip over the simplest things.

And, of course, I want out of this. I don't want this. In fact, when we go to the specialist I think I will tell him or her, "I don't want you to find anything wrong with my "baby." I want you to tell me he's perfectly normal and I am over-reacting." :) But we are not to try to get out of anything prematurely. We are to allow these trials to work in us so we become mature and well-developed. As I read through Scripture this certainly seems to be a big theme: You can't gain maturity without trials. The bigger the trials, the more mature you become.

These things cause us to change. I know, my life has been one trial after another. Becoming a Christian hasn't changed that at all. But since coming to Christ I can see that the trials really do what these verses say. It's really been amazing. I can't see why it just isn't more popular. ;) Seriously, though, when you face trials with Christ, you don't have to be a complainer or a hater. You also don't have to be a stoic or a, well, whatever that type of person is that says, "que sera' sera'." With Christ you know that each of these trials holds a purpose and though you don't really want them, especially when they affect your children (come on, God, can't it just be something with me? why my little kids? please?), you can know that through it all something beautiful will come from it.

I don't know what's going on with BC. I don't know what the medical outcome will be. I don't know what any of this will mean for the long term, but I know that God has given it to me because He loves me enough to want me to grow in Him and closer to Him. And because He wants me to be His witness in this world. Who knows how many people I will meet as a result of this trial? How many of them might never have heard the Gospel? How many of them might be as miserable as I was before God saved me?

There is a reason for everything. God is working to bring all things together for the good of those who love Him. And I pray that through all this I will be faithful, like Joseph, and that I will bring Him glory and honor.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

April Reading List

What's On Your Nightstand




(It's April so I thought pink was appropriate. :))

So, I learned a lot about my reading habits last month as a result of writing down the books I meant to read.

1) I am far more scattered these days than I thought. I'm more focused than I have been in the past, but I still need to work on it.

2) I should probably write down the books I'm reading on a piece of paper or some place I will be reminded. Unlike the old days when you could put a stack of books next to your bed, e-books are far more easily forgotten. I was almost through the month before I remembered that I was reading one or two of the books. :/

I finished Education Is...by Sonya Shafer. It was a nice, brief encouragement that encouraged creating an environment of learning for your child.  So far Smooth and Easy Days has been similar, but with more specific information on forming habits.

So the list will stay essentially the same. But there were some add-ons so I'm going to list it in order I would like to finish...

Smart Moves by Carla Hannaford. The violin teacher loaned this (and a few others) to me so I would like to finish and return it at least. This book has a lot of good things to say about child development that I think will be helpful for BC, and is making me reconsider some things I thought I'd do regarding his education.

The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels. This book came along after I made my list and did cut into my list quite a bit. But our church was doing a series on it so I started. Now I find that I really do want to finish it. Been very eye opening, maybe even therapeutic.

Smooth and Easy Days by Sonya Shafer. I'm almost done so it will be a boost to my mood to have one (hopefully) finished so soon. :)

The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter. I'm struggling through this. It's a good book but the part I'm in now really dredges up some negative , to put it lightly, feelings about something that I can't really explain here both because I'm not ready to discuss it in public and because I just don't know how to write it down in a way that will make sense. Anyway, I will attempt to push through this slough of reader's despond. ;)

I'm going to put the Sanger book "on the shelf" for this month. That will probably encourage me to read it more. :D Yes, I rebel against myself.

The other three are the same studies/devotionals.

Well, here's to actually finishing two this month. :)

PS Does it bug you that I cut off the top of the book in this picture? Coz it's annoying the heck out of me. :)

PPS Linking up with What's on Your Nightstand? at 5minutesforbooks.com.

PPPS I forgot to say that I *did* finish a few more books, but they were not on this list. I really do have a hard time staying on task. :D

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Five Minute Friday--Broken



I wasn't going to do the FMF today, or yesterday either. ;D Each prompt since "Rest" has prompted me to think of something that I felt deserved more time than 5 min. But when I turned over the calendar this morning to March 30, the verse was too right. The following is a bit of what I've been thinking about writing more about.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him. Psalm 18:20 The Message

Broken could certainly be used to describe how I felt by that fateful night in December of 2011. Maybe crushed, smashed, ground up and turned to dust would even be better because that is exactly how my soul felt. After a lifetime of abusive relationships, afflicted and afflicting, I had come to the end. There was nothing left. I lived in constant fear, though I couldn't have told you of what. I dreaded every single day, and every single night. I was in shambles. After 42 years, 3 mos, and 8 days (give or take a day) my entire world was about to come crashing down and shatter the lives of everyone around me as well. My children, my friends. And then, in one instant, it was over. In one instant I was made whole. In one instant the death in me was gone and I breathed for the very first time. It's hard to describe to people who have lived their lives as Christians or who are not Christians what conversion is like. I don't know if people can understand who have never gone from utter darkness into complete light. How can you explain what it's like to have every part of you fixed in one instantaneous moment. Oh, sure, there are still issues, but I am no longer broken. I am no longer in pieces. I placed all the pieces, the powder as it were, before Him, and He INSTANTANEOUSLY made me complete.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Home

(click for this weeks entries)


Home. I want to go there. The older I get the more I feel this desire to return. I left with the best of intentions, but without knowledge. I was young and full of my own ideas. I had no idea that one day I'd miss it even more than I did then. I want to breathe in the sweet mountain air. I want to wave at each of my neighbors, and strangers, as we drive past each other on the road. I want to feel the friendliness of the people in town. I want to leave the pettiness of the city behind. Each day brings more longing. And with it a struggle to remain content with where God has placed me at this time.

I can't help but wonder if this is just a precursor to how I will feel in another 40 years...even if I do make it home. A longing that will grow day by day as my body grows older and older. A desire to go to the Place I will forever call Home.

Both require a waiting on the Lord. The one, I do not know His plans. Will I ever return to my earthly home? The other I do know and have full trust that one day, when the work He has for me on this earth is finished, I *will* go Home.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

March 2, 2013, The Day upon Which nothing Went quite As planned

So, when my alarm went off at 4:30 I wondered a couple things. 1) Why on earth did I leave it on? 2) How can a person have a cold on only one half of their face.



But, life goes on. Today, life should have included Braniac participating in the city's once a year Track & Field program, and Spock and Mr. Great-heart attending ballet class. At some point, if we had a minute or two, we'd stop into the farm and see how the berry bushes and pomegranate trees were coming along.



Not quite.



Got to the park with Braniac and, as we walked to the area where the Track & Field events should be, I saw a large soccer game. Not that I have anything against the sport (no, that's a lie, I hate it :D) but this was a bit disconcerting. My immediate thought was that I had, yet again, misread information. But I swore I'd read that flier 20 times because it was just such a weird park to have the meet at. There's just not enough parking. So I had dh call over to the CC there and find out what was happening while I drove to the park where I thought it might be. He got a hold of me while I was on the freeway and told me that it had been cancelled at the last minute. Um, great. Thanks a lot City of Ontario. *sigh* So I told Braniac (who probably does not understand that by "cancelled" I mean he will never get to do it again...this was his last year) and I said, "Let's go to the farm."

(click to see the hawk)


In the midst of planting blackberry bushes I get a call from dh saying that the ballet bags, with the slippers in them, are apparently in the trunk of the car I was driving. *double-sigh* So he could take Mr. Great-heart if he came and and picked them up, but there was no way he could get Spock there in time. They drove down and came over to the blackberry planting, and that's when MG decided he'd rather plant bushes & trees than dance today thank-you-very-much.



Um...



So, Spock, MG, and I ended up spending the whole day at the farm (with a break for lunch) because one of the other volunteers brought her step-son who is Spock's age and the three of them played whole-heartedly together all morning and afternoon, with a brief break for MG to plant a tree.



Well, no matter, I still got a sunburn and a bit of dehydration. :)


Friday, March 1, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

(click for other entries)



Ordinary. I don't think it exists. I think it's a word used by people trying to sell us their products. You are ordinary but if you buy our shampoo you'll be extraordinary. You are ordinary, but if you drive our car you'll be exceptional. Conversely, if you don't, you're a loser. The world wishes to relegate all things except the most extreme to ordinary. Death. Birth. Unless something exciting happens, they are ordinary. But nothing is really ordinary. Everything really is extraordinary. People are all really exceptional. If we believe everything and everyone was intricately created by a God who essentially runs the entire universe, we can't believe in ordinary. That we are here, that we have been given 24 hrs a day, that we live where we live, etc., it's all extraordinary. There is nothing mundane in God's creation. If we really believe He is the Creator, we cannot believe that mundane exists. Each moment we breathe, each new dawn, brings new opportunities to draw closer to Him by serving Him in whatever He has called us to do. And there is nothing ordinary about that.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

March Reading List

OK, I was inspired by this post recommended to me by my friend at Raising Sticky Hands to Heaven (arguably the coolest mom-blog title ever). I can't guarantee I'll get the regular books done this month, but I plan to make a dent. Most of these books I've already started so this is just a push for me to get them finished.

Regular
Education Is...by Sonya Shafer. This book is free at Simply Charlotte Mason.
Smooth and Easy Days by Sonya Shafer (also free at SCM)
The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter No, this isn't my normal type of book. I mean, I hate any discussion about clothes, but she has me hooked by acknowledgement that some of us raised in the church weren't really raised by Deacon material, iykwim. :D
The Pivot of Civilization by Margaret Sanger From the horses mouth. This has taken me a while to get through. She has such hatred and works hard to mask it in compassion. She was a really awesome politician. BTW, this is free at Amazon.
Multiply by Francis Chan


Bible Study & Devotional
Abounding Hope by Lara Williams & Katie Orr This is the quasi-official study for Hello Mornings this term. This "simple" study (only simple in that there are not a lot of words) has been so incredibly helpful. I have blogged on it a few times. I plan to next week as well. So I'll just leave it at that. :)
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young Oh. My. Goodness. I picked this up today at the Scholastic Book Fair at the Middles school, not on a whim as several friends have recommended it, and tonight Spock stayed home from AWANA due to stress so I told him we could read our new books. I opened mine to today's devotional and was pretty much blown away at how it described both our situations so perfectly. I might pick him up a copy tomorrow. :)

Well, come back in a month and see how I did. :D

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five Minute Friday: What Momma Did...


Preface: OK, I will be honest, I wasn't going to write this one today. The prompt prompted me to groan and sag my head. I wanted to write about something beautiful. Something that would make people feel good. Writing about this subject is just depressing. Then, I thought, maybe not, and maybe I wasn't the only one who clicked over to the FMF page this morning and felt exactly the same way, coz, even though abuse is more often than not left unspoken of in Christian circles, I can't be the only one.

Go:

What who did?!? You don't want to know. I've talked about it a little but I'm done. It's too depressing to think about. In fact, I've noticed the more I think about it, the more it impedes my spiritual growth. So I'm done.

Well, there is one thing I'd like to say, especially to all the moms out there who had moms like mine. It's not the end. You don't have to be like that. I used to think I was eternally doomed to repeat all of my mother's failures and sins. The more I tried not to be like her, the more I became like her. Then, last year, something changed. If you're not a Christian, you won't get this. But Christ came in, shook out the old, and began to rebuild the new. The imitation of Him, not the desperate plea not to be  her. His Spirit, not the anger of the past always present in my mind. Him, the God who sent His one and only Son to die for my sins, the sin of trying to not be her instead of turning from the past and walking toward God.

We are not bound by our past. Christ comes and sets us free. He is greater than anything we have to overcome. And when we stumble and take a step or two back HE IS THERE to pick us up, brush us off, and bring us back to where He wants us. When He chooses us, He is not content to leave us where He found us. He will move us to where we ought to be. We do not have to stay slaves to what we were raised to be, Christ has a better plan.

END




Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Job Study Week 4

When I finished my study (Abounding Hope) this morning I turned on the radio to K-LOVE (OK, it was the online radio) and the first song they played was Worn, by Tenth Avenue North. I thought of Job, and all his sufferings.  I thought of knowing what to say and when. His friends got a big FAIL in that department. Good ole Bildad even went so far to say, in Ch 8, that Job's kids basically got what they deserved (vs.4). Wow! I was pretty blown away when I read it. Now there's a guy who could have used a lesson in when to keep your mouth shut.

As always, my mind went to people I know who believe that every bad thing that happens to us is because of some sin, secret or otherwise, in our lives. That God is always looking for ways to punish us. I try hard not to think about these people, coz it just depresses me, but this time it was useful. I thought, you know, when bad stuff happens, I already know that I should never, ever tell those people. I then realized that when we are talking with people by the way, just in general conversation, nothing serious, we lay out for them whether or not they can trust us with the big stuff. By our reaction to others problems, to certain news reports, etc., people get a general idea of how we will react to them in their hour of need. If we verbalize condemnation of people at every turn, even for little things, others will know that, even if not openly to their face, somewhere we will condemn them.

I had never really thought of it that way before. When I was younger (like 41 or less) I trusted almost every I knew, carte blanche. But in the middle of my 41st year I learned a very hard lesson, namely, that not everyone, and especially not everyone bearing the name Christian, can be trusted. As what I thought was my world was pulled out from under me like a rug, I learned that there are people who care for those in pain, and people who hate you, even if you are in pain.

In hindsight, I probably already knew that. There were huge things in my life that I shared with no one, because I knew no one who could be trusted with them. I had apparently been listening to others enough that I just knew I could not tell them what was going on. Eventually there were a few I did trust, but not like I trusted with other things.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, how many friends we have is no judge of how godly we are, or even how nice we are, but how many friends we have whose first thought when their world crashes is "I can call <insert your name here>. She'll pray/help/not judge" says more about us than anything else in our lives.

Are we that kind of person? Are we watching our conversation with our friends? Do they think we can be there for them? Will they be comfortable sharing even their darkest moments with us? When they are "worn," and when they think, "I know I need to lift my eyes up, but I'm too weak..." will they know they can turn to us? That they can count on us to strengthen their faith and point them to Christ? Maybe that's what the lesson is in these past two years, (Or at least, it might be one of them.) to learn the importance of knowing what to say & when to say it *before* the hard times.

On Sunday the preacher was talking about something that I probably could remember if I thought hard enough, but he had these three steps: Pray, Prepare, Practice. I think I'll steal borrow it for my purposes. When we are regularly in prayer so we are in open communication with God; when we prepare by reading God's Word so we know what is good and what is bad, and how God wants us to treat others; when we practice by using the kinds of speech  God has commanded (Col 4:6; 1 Tim 4:12 eg) in our everyday conversations, then we will let people know that we are ready to truly be their friend.

Ironically, my day ended Worn as well...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thoughts on Job 1

(Studying Job with Abounding Hope for this term's HelloMornings Challenge).



Why?

This used to be my first response to anything bad that came along, from a red light when I was late to Spock's birth defect. But I cannot honestly now think of a more dangerous question to ask God, and this for several reasons. The first reason should be enough to keep us from asking it: namely, we might get an answer. I don't know about you, but the older I get, the less I really want to know about the inner workings of God's plan. I am perfectly happy to never be a prophet, to remain in truly blissful ignorance. Of course, there are several things I could ask and have asked "why" about over the years, but what if the answer is that it is merely preparation for something more difficult? Do I really want to know? No thanks. Sufficient for today is the evil thereof. (Matt 25:34)

The second reason is that when we start asking "why" we start coming to our own extra-biblical conclusions. Take Job's "friends." Please, he'd really like you to. :/ Entire false teachings have been built up around this idea that simply because something bad happened to someone, they are being punished. In Acts 28:4, Paul is bit by a snake and the Maltans immediately assume he is a murderer, because that is the conclusion they have drawn from asking "why." We Christians become a nasty bunch when we start judging others who are suffering, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. How cruel is it for a woman to lose a child and have people tell her that it is because of some secret sin in her life? Really? I'm fairly certain that, if this were true, Christians would all be the poorest of the poor, we'd all be eating out of garbage tins, that is if we lived longer than a few years after our conversion. The bible seems pretty plain that if we say we are without sin we are liars and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8) (emph mine)

Thirdly, and this is the lesson I've been learning only lately, is "why" our first response? If so, maybe we need to reexamine our faith. I was struck by what is written of Job, after he has, in only a matter of minutes, lost every single possession AND all ten of his children (take a moment and really try to fathom that)...Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped. (Job 1:20) I have five sons, a couple of cars, a house, a nice chunk of property (by SoCal standards), a job I love, etc. I think I could stand to lose all the possessions. Shoot, in mid-life you start thinking of just chucking them and starting over. :D But my kids? If they all died, and all at the same time...I really don't know if I could even function, ever again. And, honestly, the idea of worshipping God at that moment, well, I just can't see myself doing it. :/

But Job was ready for it. He had prepared himself his entire life. Job 1:1 says Job was blameless & upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. His daily life was one of honoring God, of prayer, of self-discipline...trust me, it takes a lot of self-discipline to turn away from evil, especially these days when we are intentionally blurring the lines so much. He was one who prayed, even that God would forgive the sins of his children. "Thus Job did continually." (Job 1:5b) (emph mine)

I was  recently listening to a Francis Chan sermon where he started by talking about a funeral for his wife's grandmother, then talked about her life. He said he'd never known anyone more in love with Jesus than her. One thing that struck me was a story he told about how she went with them to a play. It was a nice play, no bad things, nothing offensive.  At intermission he asked her how she liked it and she told him she didn't want to be there. She was thinking that she would rather be doing something like serving others if Christ came back right then. He said he spent the second act in prayer for everyone he knew, just in case Grandma had the inside scoop on something. :) Grandma was like Job. She was ready, and she was always desiring to be ready.

In my life, the question "why" to God has never gotten me anywhere, except bitter and angry. The people I know who are constantly asking "why" are all bitter and angry. "Why" just simply doesn't prepare us for the evil of today, or tomorrow. We do not know when it will come. AW Pink, pretty much my fave author (just in case you're looking for something to get me), said that if the only growth a Christian knows occurs during trials, he should probably question his Christianity. I was confused the first time I read that, but now I see that we need to grow before the trials, then we will be strong during them Yes, we will grow in the trials also, but if we use all our so-called "down-time" in nothing but frivolity and worldliness, we should definitely question where our loyalties lay.

Judging from what I've seen growing up in the church, this isn't the popular way to live, but it looks far less painful to have that peace that passes all understanding when the trials come suddenly, like they did for Job.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Trust

Been thinking a lot about this issue since writing on my fear Friday. I don't know if I've written about trust before, or just thought about it a lot. It seems that it is an issue at the forefront of my mind this year. Maybe it's the shock that coming out of last year, the one thing I was surprised to lose was my trust. I really used to be pretty trusting. That probably has a lot to do with being a positive person, always trying to find the best in everything and everyone, and some to do with probably not being the brightest bulb in the box. :D

Now, I don't ask "why" really anymore. It is a pointless question, and I plan to write about that on Monday. But maybe there is an answer to the "why" of the past two years, as we come on to that anniversary next week. Maybe, no, definitely, my trust was always in man. Not intentionally, but naturally, I trusted people, I believed them. But they are just fallen creatures like me. They are going to mess up. Of course, if they are abusive I don't believe that we need to subject ourselves and our children to that continuous abuse (that is just my way of assuring those reading that I have no intention of returning to that from whence I have come ;)). Maybe that is where the saying "hold onto this world loosely" comes in handy. It's OK to like people, but our trust cannot really be in them coz they are going to mess up...sometimes they are going to do perfectly evil things. If our trust is in them, if their "goodness" is what we base our faith in God on, then we will fall far when they fail us, when they turn on us.

Our trust is to be in Christ only. I know, you're thinking, I've got this down, you're not telling me anything I don't know, but I think that this problem of putting our trust in things apart from Christ is more pernicious than we realize. It's kind of like pride. It's there, but we just can't see it coz it is too much a part of us. As I finished up The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment last week I was surprised to realize just how much even now my trust is in others, not necessarily in the same way, but still dependent on them for my feelings of peace or happiness. It's not an easy thing to break. And, like pride, the moment we think we have, we really haven't at all. It seems to be an ongoing process, slowly peeling the world off our skin so that we can fully and confidently, completely rest in Christ.

Somewhere there is a balance. There is a spot where we can trust people, but not "in" them. I'll let you know if I find it. ;)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Afraid


(It's Five Minute Friday time again. Click here for more.)


I am afraid of God. It's an irrational fear, or maybe not, if you consider how purposefully the enemy has worked to create this fear. The years of being told that God delighted in being cruel to "good" people. That He was forever making life difficult. That He was unkind, mean, uncaring. I learned all these early in life from the mouths of people whom others don't like me to speak poorly of so they will both go unnamed. But the damage is done. It was further done as I grew, still believing this, and fell into a situation where the Christian leadership was cruel as well. Where I was taught that it didn't matter how the pastor treated you, you stayed in the church as long as it espoused certain beliefs, even if it only paid lip-service to those beliefs. Ultimately, that cruelty would lead me to fear pastors, elders, etc. But lately, God has been working on me. Slowly healing old wounds both done to me and by me. Lately, as I've been deliberately studying His Word, one theme seems to be recurring...God can be trusted. He is faithful. He will never leave nor forsake. Though all around me fail, pastors, relatives  friends, God will never fail, He will be the same as His word promises, and His word promises great things. Maybe life here won't be perfect, there will be trials, that is also a promise, but He is with us through each one. He lifts us up. He alone truly cares for us and meets each of our needs.

Visual Aid: OK, so this doesn't exactly do it justice but making God's love for us contingent on how "perfect" our lives are is just unrealistic. (And it's the 40th anniversary year of this song...or so someone said in the comments. :D)



Wednesday, January 23, 2013



The ORIGINAL Throwback Survey!

The Basics:
What is your Name? Sara
What is the Name of your blog? Which one? :D This one's For the Beauty of the Earth. My photo blogs are in links on the side and I also have a Homestead blog...I like to compartmentalize my life.
What is your blog’s web address? http://joyouslyredeemed.blogspot.com/

The Survey:
1. What state do you currently reside? California
2. What color is your natural hair? Same color it is now, brown with small wisps of grey (I earned that grey so I don't plan on covering it up).
3. How tall are you? 5'4"
4. What is your favorite food? Seafood
5. What color shirt are you wearing right now? Purple.
6. What are three cosmetic items that you wear every single day? Um, deodorant, um, toothpaste?, um, uh, glasses? :D I'm a tomboy. Never wear makeup except on rare occasions. My boys dance classical ballet so I joke that they own more make-up than I do.
7. What is your denomination? Gee, that's kinda complicated. In fact, it's almost soap opera-esque. Let's just say that I'm a Calvinist taking refuge in a former American Baptist Church...and very, very happy about it.
8. Describe your testimony? That's even more complicated. In short...I was a 42 year old pew warmer who finally "found" a church that proclaimed the gospel every single Sunday and found it hard to remain a false professor in light of the Truth of God's Word.
9. How did you meet your husband? At a church college group.
10. What is your favorite beverage? Coffee
11. How many kids do you have? 5...to quote Bill Cosby, "[We] have five children because we do. not. want. six." :D Took me five kids to finally get that joke.
12. Have you ever experienced an earthquake? Note my current residence.
13. What is your favorite TV show? Scarecrow & Mrs. King. Seriously, I do not watch TV anymore.
14. What was the last movie you saw? Battleship. And the last time I saw it as a movie, as opposed to a DVD, was ON the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego. Yeah, it was pretty awesome.
15. Who is your favorite Bible character? Hmm, another complicated question...or answer, rather. Should I answer in a way that will make people comfortable, or should I tell the painfully honest truth? Leah, wife of Jacob. One day I'll write a book about it. (You can guess for yourself if this is comfortable or truthful.)
16. What color are your eyes? Brown--they were more hazel when I was a kid.
17. Are you a working mother, stay at home wife, or stay at home mom? Well, I'm kind of a SAHM with a volunteer job at a farm, so I feel more like a working mom, but I get paid in carrots and onions and such. :D
18. Do you homeschool? Gosh, why all these complicated questions? :D I sort of homeschool my oldest son, though we are calling it unschooling right now. I did homeschool my middle kids until this last fall. And I part time homeschool my youngest.
19. Did/do you attend University? If so, where. University of Montana
20. If you could change one thing in your life what would it be? That I would be more faithful each day to Christ.
21. Who is your favorite Christian singer or band? Casting Crowns
22. What is your absolute favorite color? Purple.
23. Think about something from the ocean and write it down: (yes, random…I know) Well, since I live in SoCal, when I think of the ocean I think of stinky air and sticky sand that takes three weeks to wash off your body.
24. Where is your favorite place to dine out? Well, in the old days, before we had kids, it was a restaurant at the top of the Bonaventure in Downtown LA. It revolves. It's pretty cool.
25.  Did you attend church camp? Just once. You can bet I'm making sure my kids get to it more than once now that we attend a church that doesn't have a hang-up about such things. 
26. Name a blog friend who’s name starts with the same letter as your name: Sherrey
27. Do you have a Facebook Account for your blog? No. Just personal.
28. Do you have a Twitter Account for your blog? No. Just personal.
29. Name someone you miss right now: My grandparents who raised me.
30. What is your happiest childhood memory? My grandparents raising me. :)
31. Name one thing you can cook better than your husband’s mother: (if you’re not married, then your own mother.) Hmmm, is this safe to post in such a public space? ;)
32. Would you consider yourself stubborn? Yep. And don't even bother to argue with me on this. I will win or die trying. :D
33. Do you feel like you are a good writer? Only when I'm delusional. Then I will post something interesting or write something interesting and all the grammarians will come out of the the woodwork and point out that there should have been a comma there. Is there a question as to whether I am opposed to grammarians? :)
34. Do you pin? If so, list your Pinterest screen name. Yes, homesteadstuff.
35. How many hours do you spend on Pinterest per day? <1
36. Do you use WordPress, Blogger, Drupal, or Typepad? (or another?) WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr.
37. Where do you stand on wearing socks with sandals? My feet wherever I am. :P If your toes are cold, but you want to wear sandals, knock yourself out. Nobody questions when women where stockings with their sandals. :)
38. Did you design your own blog, or hire a graphic designer? A what? WYSIWYG is my way of designing. (That's point-and-click, if I remember correctly.)
39. What is your favorite widget/gadget? Anything that enables people to see pictures of my kids.
40. If you had to choose only one, would you have a clean bathroom or a clean kitchen? Kitchen. I spend more time in there.
41. Where did you honeymoon? Tahoe
42. Did you elope? No
43. Do you have a favorite sports team? I used to but I don't have time for that anymore. Now my fave sports team is whatever T-Ball team Braniac is playing on this coming spring. :D
44. What is your favorite praise & worship song? Beautiful Things. 
45. Were you raised in church? Yes. What's that old saying, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than going into a garage makes you a car." Weak analogy, scary truth. 
46. When did you start blogging? A long time ago, in a galaxy...oh, wait, wrong movie.
47. What are your favorite blogs? I'm sort of in flux right now. Traditionally I read a lot of homeschool blogs and while I still read them, I obviously don't get the same thing out of them anymore. I like a few organization blogs like I Heart Organizing and I've been reading mostly homestead blogs lately, like The Walden Effect.
48. Have you ever lived in another country? Nope.
49. Have you done missions? If so, where & when. Short-term. Guatemala. In the previous century.
50. What version of the Bible do you prefer? I'm old. Still like the KJV. Sings better. ;)
51. What’s the story behind your blog name? Hmm, I should write on that one. It's part of my testimony. In short, after giving birth to Babycakes, God began a work in my heart to bring me to Salvation. It started with a new attitude toward Him and others. Basically, I was a happier person. I wasn't nearly as angry. And I was beginning to see the good things God gives to me on a daily basis. The song fit my feelings.
52. Describe the ultimate hands down best date on a $20 budget. I guess Panda Express. We don't date much and that's usually the only place I can get my dh to go to.
53. Will you tell one blogger about this survey? If so, then who? (optional: include their web address) Well, I'll Tweet about it. Does that count?
54. What is your favorite scripture? 2 Cor 3: 16,18 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed...And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Face of Abortion

Yep, it's Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and you're thinking, "Gosh, didn't she just write about this last year?" OK, maybe that's not what you're thinking but I have to say that there does seem to be an extreme passivity about abortion in Christian circles these days. Not quite as bad as our view of prayer, but getting there. Maybe it's because we're not in the news anymore. Maybe we're just like all the other people in the country who are looking for our 10 second sound-byte on the nightly and now that we can't have it we'll move on to other things.

Or maybe it's coz we don't think we've made a difference. We look at the numbers and they are terribly staggering. 56,000,000 children murdered in the US since Roe v Wade 40 years ago. It seems strange to us to consider the saving of 26 lives during one prayer campaign a victory. And, I guess it is, unless you're one of the 26.

Anyway, if you are offended by what I've just written prepare to be more so. I was too ethereal last year and apparently people don't get it so I'm gonna be frank. The following pictures are of the type of children murdered by abortion every. single. day. in the so-called "land of the free."



So, in case you don't know, that top pic is of my 3.5yo, known online as Babycakes, and that bottom pic is my 11yo, known as Spock. Each day women walk into clinics and "doctors" take (no, that's not the word I want to use, but I'm trying to be nice) their children like BC and Spock and throw them in a garbage bag. Now, I understand that there are many different reasons that women allow this to be done to them.

1) They've been taught that we are all nothing more than a mass of cells worth all of, what was the last estimate, $36?

2) They are pressured by their husbands, boyfriends, parents, friends, to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy (you know, I thought feminism was opposed to that but except FFL & NWF, I can't find a lot of feminist's who are concerned).

3) They are pressured by their doctors and medical experts to terminate their less-than-perfect unborn child coz it's really "what's best for everyone involved."

Now, of course, you'll say my decisions were easy. Of course, you really don't know me at all so you can say that. You can judge me and stick me into a box of your own making. But, if you knew me you'd know that I had just as much right to end the lives of my children as those who do. As do all the other women out there, religious or not, who choose not to kill their unborn children even though society accepts this act as perfectly normal.

I think the real problem is not what I've stated in the first three reasons, I think the real problem is that we've bought a bill of goods stating that we have a right to a "perfect" life. The idea of perfection being our ever fluctuating wants. I don't "want" the stress of a less than perfect baby. I don't want to have to go through all that time in the NICU and all that time taking a child to therapy just so he can learn to walk and eat. I don't want to have to spend my life possibly taking care of a less than perfect child, one who might need his diaper changed not just for two years, but forever. One who might never say, "I love you," or, "Thank you" for all our hard work and sacrifices.

I don't "want" a baby at my age. It wasn't like I planned to get pregnant. I already have enough kids. The cost of raising another child will put too much strain on us. It's a less than ideal time in our lives to have a baby. There are too many other things we have to deal with right now, a baby will only add to our problems. I have PPD really bad and don't want to go through that again.

I keep trying to figure out where we get the idea that we have this sort of "right." Why do we think this way? I know I grew up being told that I had a right to be happy and that I should do anything that made me happy. It was surely modeled by my parents and, unfortunately, even my grandparents. Society around me encouraged this thought. Why be miserable in a relationship when you can chuck it and try again? Why be miserable with a less than perfect or unwanted child when you can chuck it and try again (or not, as the case may be)?

In a nation obsessed with outward appearances and keeping up with the Joneses, imperfect, unwanted children are an easily disposed of inconvenience with neither the baby nor the mother of the child cared for because both are an inconvenience to our lives of ease.

So, tomorrow, just like today, about 3,000 more children like BC 



and Spock 



will be removed from our society violently and permanently.

And that's all I have to say about it today. You may now return to your life of ease.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas Break in Review

The kids are going back to school today. *sniff* Four months into this new way of life and I haven't yet figured out why parents complain about school holidays. I enjoyed ours and look forward to the next...in less than two weeks. Though that will only be a four day weekend.

At any rate, here's some pics from our break.


The last day of school was free dress, and a half-day. The kids love free dress...well, except Spock. He finds free dress days, um, illogical. He ended up wearing most of his uniform, he just had a different shirt on...which you can't see coz it's under his school jacket here. :D

So, after just a few hours, we were off for the holidays...almost. We had a few things to take care of first. Like Santa.



Yeah, I let it go down to the wire this year. Never again. Though it worked just fine, I still don't want to be standing in line outside BassPro on Saturday morning before Christmas.


After Santa, and lunch, we were off to the theater for three more shows of Nutcracker.

In between, Braniac got to sing at church, which always makes him happy. He's looking forward to first grade when he can be in the children's choir. B is on the front row, right, second one in, red sweater vest, yawning, puts the blanket over his head...


And then it was time to get ready for Christmas. Made pie this year. We've never found a gluten-free pre-made crust that we all like so I made mine from scratch. Turned out pretty good. Now Braniac wants me to make him a chocolate pie. :)


6am, Christmas Eve morning, where were you? I was at Toys R Us, in the rain, with Mr. Great-heart who was spending his birthday and Christmas money on his brothers. Yeah, he's that awesome. He also always buys people gifts with his AWANA bucks and his Space Rewards (Sunday School) money. You wish you had a kid this awesome. ;)

Christmas Eve also happens to be Mr. Great-heart's birthday. He wanted to ride a train so we loaded our cupcakes and were off to the train station to wait...and boy did we wait.


When people ask why public transportation isn't more popular, unreliability is probably a great answer. Almost 45 minutes late. We missed our return connection. But it all worked out for the best...no, actually, it didn't. Due to us having to take a later train, Babycakes didn't vomit on the carpet at home, he vomited all over me in the train. I think Metrolink should give me a free pass for making sure he only puked on me instead of their seats. :D












Christmas Eve.


Writing our thank you to Santa.



5am Christmas morning. Well, at least they don't come in and jump all over the bed. :)


Last year of going overboard. Next year we have a limit. 


But at least they know what's important. :)


We took it easy most of the time. Recovering from Nutcracker and our first four months of going to school. I took the kids to the farm a few times. Here's Braniac's first day. (I didn't tell him what those nice cattle we fed the weeds to were for...he'd probably never go back.)



On NYD we went out to San Pedro to see the USS Iowa. Very impressive. We'll have to go back in about five years to see how far along they've come in making their museum.









The Teenager turned 16. No pics, he's allergic to the camera. But here's the food we ate.







For the closing ceremonies we had a nice rainstorm. This had been a double rainbow but by the time I found my camera and got out front this was all that was left.