Friday, November 30, 2007

iRobot Kids

Dr. Albert Mohler hits one out of the ballpark today, as it pertains to one of my own personal favorite parental rants, and I say three cheers for him. He says the same things (with less ranting) that I've been saying for YEARS when he wrote his current blog post called Does a Computer Belong in the Crib?

LET THE RANTING BEGIN...

um... and this is my son, with the hairThe other day I noticed on the front of one of those completely pointless celebrity magazines at the checkout line at the grocery store, a picture of Celine Dion and her son. It's a good thing the caption said "son" because had it not, I would have thought the kid in the picture was a beautiful little girl, with long flowing hair. I mentioned this picture over dinner the other night, and the result was a conversation with my 17 year old who seems to think parents should let little boys have hair like this, if they want it. Now the issue here for me is not hair, nor is it personal choice, but it's the idea that parents are caving into what the kids want, because they want it. When did we become a society that caters to the whims of 6 year olds? When did 6 year olds become so mature and decisive that they even know what's good for them and what's beneficial? Remember now, we're talking about children - you know - those people that still pick their nose in public, wet their pants from time to time, can't eat a meal without getting gravy on their foreheads and have to be told when to get up, when to go to bed, how to do this, that and the other, in the right way. Yes, little children who have the minds of children because they are children.

But little Spiffy wants his hair to his waist, so mommy says okay (does daddy say okay too, or just cave in to mommy? where exactly is daddy in all this, really?). Little Jinky wants a laptop, cell phone and iPod and you better not get her a fake one, and mommy and daddy say okay honey-punkin and fold like a cheap suit and buy her these things for her birthday and Christmas.

Have we lost our minds? Did we forget our roles as parents? Did we, somewhere along the lines, decide that it's more fun to be a "friend" than a parent? Or did we as parents just get so tired of being parents that caving in and giving kids whatever they ask for is a welcome relief from saying no, and being the "bad guy"? Consequently, there's a long term issue here that will most certainly show up when they're 13, 15 or 17. If we're so eager to give in to their desires when they're toddlers and small children, what will they come to expect as their "right" to have when they're moody, rebellious, confused teenagers and have had their brains replaced with oatmeal, as most teenagers do? If we've already established an uber-liberal boundary line when they're little kids, you can only imagine what they're going to come to expect as teenagers and straight into young adulthood. It's hard enough to parent through those teen years when you're doing all you can to do things right, I can't even imagine what kinds of self-indulgent demands these poor kids will become used to expecting, that come from this kind of childrearing tactic. And you better believe it, this all falls back onto the parents.

I really don't know if there is a one size fits all answer to this, but I know that it's become so common to see little children that look and act like adults (or what they think is adult-like behavior), that it even influences my own kids in the things they think they want (they think this because they see other kids with these things) - and I'm one of those bad guy parents that doesn't cave.

Bad Guy Parents (I should form an association, complete with buttons and t-shirts) are parents who:

1. force their kids against their tender wills, to play outside - and like it
2. expect their kids to do their schoolwork, without a calculator
3. have house rules and enforce them
4. say no to whims and frivolous things that don't benefit them - and don't feel the least bit guilty about it
5. make their kids take out the garbage & pick up their own laundry
6. have strict consequences for disobedient conduct

Now that's just the short list. I expect my kids to be able to go outside and play, ride their bikes, climb a tree, build a bike ramp, and do all those things without a techno-gadget telling them how to do it. It's called "using your brain" and it's a most beneficial exercise. When my kids are done playing I don't want to see lethargic little drone-kids with glassy eyed stares and monotone responses when spoken to, I want to see ruddy cheeks from physical exertion, runny noses and a breathless recounting of what they were just doing. I don't want my kids sitting around texting (who are they texting and what in the world are they texting about anyway??), I want to see them active and moving, engaging logic, reason and fun imagination. I want them to know how fix a flat on their own bikes, rather than have the fastest thumbs in town by repeatedly text messaging some other kids who's parents are equally indulgent.

I know I know, there's all kinds of reasons why kids should have cell phones, laptops, iPods and every other high end tech-gizmo that comes along. It's the digital age, you all say. Education these days requires it, they cry. Here's a word for you (look it up at dictionary.com if you like): POPPYCOCK. If you don't fancy that word, try balderdash, hogwash or fiddlesticks.

That's right, I say PFFT to the demand made on parents to plug in their kids like a household appliance. Do you know what an electronic appliance does when the power goes out? Sure you do, it sits there useless and incapable of any other function - just like KIDS that suddenly sense gloom and doom when their digital/electronic gadgets go kaput. They're lost and incapable of productive thought or personal, one on one interaction because they've been plugged in so long, their imaginations and social skills have been seriously stunted. Not to mention the obesity rates in younger and younger children??? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why are kids are fat and can't funtion without a battery operated device telling them what to do and when to do it. I know I'm not the only parent that has noticed these things, and I know I'm not the only parent that has had to deal with the influence of these things in her own house.

I honestly wonder how many of these kids that are plugged in this way, know how to use a real dictionary or an encyclopedia. Do they know how to use an atlas? Some of them do I'm sure, but many will say how much easier it is to pull these things up online. Doesn't that just cater even more though, to this self-indulgent laziness?

I know there are adults who might read this and think "what an old fashioned dolt" I must be, to miss how important these things are. Well, I'm okay with being an old fashioned dolt if it means that my kids learn how to do things manually, before they ever learn how to access the digital world of information, and use it to augment their education and leisure time, rather than depend on it like air and water.

Rant over. I feel loads better.

As you were...


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - right?

For many people, this is a super-fantastic time of year filled with wonderful sights, sounds and smells. No bad memories touch this time of year for them, and visions of sugarplums dance in their heads. I have never actually seen a sugarplum in real life, so I don't really know what one is, or why they dance, but you all get the idea.

For these folks, Christmastime is something to be looked forward to and enjoyed to the fullest. I can honestly say I'm delighted for these folks. I used to be one, and to have nothing but excitement and to be able to fully enjoy this time of year without any painful memories, is truly wonderful.

For others though, it's a little different. Some of us have lost a parent in this past year, or a spouse, a child, a dear friend, or have ourselves been diagnosed with a life threatening illness. This is the first Christmas where everything is different and it hurts a lot, no matter how much you wish it didn't. Some haven't lost anyone this past year, but have lost someone during this time of year, and each Christmas it's nearly impossible not to think of the sadness and loss of that person. Still others are facing yet another Christmas with someone gone that had been a part of our lives for a very long time, and no matter how many Christmas seasons come and go, there's just something not quite the same about it.

It's a difficult thing to see and hear the world get so excited and anxious over the joys of Christmas and all that is good about it, when somewhere in your heart and mind there's a sadness that encroaches on your ability to really have a "Merry Christmas". As much as you may not want to think about it or feel this way at all, it's there all the same and it's painful.

I'd like to offer some suggestions to my readers (and hope that others will contribute in the combox) on ways that you can be a help and a blessing to those around you that may be having a hard time, at this time of the year. These are just off the top of my head so if you have some ideas to add to this list, please do so:


• Make sure the person(s) is on your Christmas card list, and write a note in your card letting them know you're praying for them.
• Call them up and ask them out for lunch, or dinner, or coffee.
• Stop over for a visit if they're up for it
• If they're also hurting financially, see if you can't buy a bag of groceries and take them over. (Or anonymously pay their phone bill or light bill, or something along those lines).
• When you bake that first batch of Christmas cookies, set some aside on a pretty plate and take it over to them.
• If they have children, offer to babysit so they can run errands or just have an afternoon or evening to themselves.
• Have them over for Christmas dinner.



I'm sure there are many more ways you can bless someone this Christmas who is going through a difficult time, so why not add your suggestion to the list? Getting through that first Christmas when your life has been turned upside down, isn't a pleasurable thing to do. If you know someone going through this, you can make it just a little easier.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Music

I've noticed on a few blogs around the neighborhood, posts about favorite Christmas music. We all have our favorites so I'm going to share mine as well.


I suppose it has everything to do with my rose-colored glasses of childhood innocence, but my all time favorite Christmas music is Bing Crosby singing anything to do with Christmas. If you're in your 40's, you might remember the variety shows & Christmas specials that were on tv when we were kids. Singers, dancers and comedy skits with all of the "famous" people of the day. I always looked forward to seeing Bing Crosby on any of these shows, singing any Christmas song (I didn't care which one, as long as he was singing it). There was just something about his voice that sort of infused that comfy, happy, excited anticipation that comes with Christmas, when you're little. We still listen to Bing even now.


A Christmas with GuitarsSecond only to that, is my other favorite Christmas music and that's this one. There's a bit of a story behind this one.

In 1995, my first Christmas season of being a widow, I was Christmas shopping with a friend. I had very (and I do mean very) little to spend on the girls and I had every dime accounted for, for what was on their lists. We were at Target, and walked past one of those music display deals where you can hear samples of the cds for sale. I love the acoustic guitar so I pushed the button to listen to a sample of this cd, and I loved it immediately. We used to have a tradition of buying a new tape or cd once a year of classic Christmas music, and I really really wanted this one and wanted to carry on that tradition, but as I said every dime was accounted for and I didn't have the money to buy this. I went ahead with my shopping and forgot all about this cd.

On Christmas Eve my friend came over with a little gift and told me I had to open it then, and not wait for morning. I did, and it was this cd! Yay! It was one of the brightest spots of my Christmas that year, and I've loved this cd every Christmas since then. It's been lost a few times, the little cd case insert was lost years ago, but it's still around (sitting right in front of me, in fact) and everyone looks forward to hearing this one in the rotation that plays all day on Christmas eve. It's also quite often the one we pick to play when we're decorating the tree.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tolerating Calvinistic Poison?

FROM THE MAILBAG:

Anyone who denies that they have a part to play in their salvation is not likely saved. To deny free will is to reject what Christ taught. Anyone who rejects what the bible teaches in favor of the heathen philosophies of John Calvin, remains in darkness and has yet to be saved. Calvinist doctrines show us that they are not part of the elect. Calvinism is a deadly poison that must not be tolerated in the church. I will pray that you allow God's truth to be spoken to your heart.
In Christ alone,
Name Withheld



So I read this and think "where shall we start?" The Bible is very clear that we are to be prepared to give an answer to any who ask, for the hope that is within us (1Peter 3:15) - and I believe that applies to fellow believers that may not be clear about particular doctrines, as well as to the unsaved.

There are several issues here to address but I want to start with the issue of God's sovereignty as it specifically applies to the salvation of man, and man's responsibility. Since I don't believe man does "nothing" as it pertains to his own salvation, I'm pretty sure I've never written that here or implied that I do believe it. Man indeed does do something, he responds. As for where the faith comes to believe in the first place, that is a by-product of the inner working of the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:8). Scripture is very clear how this works; it is God that removes the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Eze 36:26), and it is the Holy Spirit that renews us (Titus 3:5). Scripture is also very clear as to why God must be the first cause in our salvation; no man comes to Him on his own, because man is naturally at enmity with God (Romans 3:11, 8:7), therefore man must be changed inwardly and supernaturally first, by God, enabled by God, before he will seek after God. Once this happens, man does indeed respond and seeks after God with his whole heart. It has been described many times like a drowning man gasping for air, or a thirsty man craving water, the way our hearts are changed and the response it generates in us.

The "part" we play in our coming to Christ is the response to regeneration which includes simultaneously our faith, repentance and new desire to live a holy life and place Him in the center of that life and serve Him only. God doesn't have faith for us, or repent for us, we do that on our own because we now see with spiritual eyes and understand that we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior. We see our sin for what it is, grievous to the Lord, and we desire nothing more than to turn from that sin and live righteously.

Much has been written on this very subject of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility (and in a much clearer way than I'm sure I could ever articulate) and there are great resources here on it that I would encourage anyone to read with sharp discernment.

The writer of the email states that denying free will is to reject what Christ taught. This is a subject I have agonized over, and studied hard because I once wrongly believed the same thing. For me there was one simple verse (Christ's very words) that proved to me beyond all doubt that free will simply does not exist. Jesus said:


"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44) and then it is recorded for us again: "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." (John 6:65)

Jesus is saying that it is impossible for man on his own, of his own volition, to come to Him. Man is incapable, left on his own. There is no amount of exercising one's mythological "free will" in making such a decision to follow after Christ. Further Jesus makes it crystal clear that there is only one way man can do this, and that is if it is given to that man to do so, by the Father. Only then will any man, woman or child ever come to Christ and place their faith and trust in Him. For a very eye opening resource on this I would suggest Dr. James White's Drawn by The Father. (I recently referred to this book in another post, and was reminded by Dr. White of the title and told that it is indeed still available).

Calvinism?

So far I haven't said a word about John Calvin, or Calvinism. What I wrote above and where I learned this was from studying what the Scriptures say about God's glorious plan of redemption. Not only did I not learn it from Calvin, I have never studied Calvin or read any of his works in depth. (Which is not to say that this is a bad thing, but it is to say that I don't believe what I believe based on what Calvin taught) I will say however that I am in fact a Calvinist, if what's meant by that is that I believe in the five points of the TULIP as Calvin did. John Calvin however did not dream up total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistable grace or perseverance of the saints - all of these things are taught in Scripture and are teachings that have been staunchly adhered to and taught by faithful believers in various aspects for 2000 years (even if that number was in the minority) - long before Calvin ever entered the landscape of Christianity. Simply put, Calvin taught to the best of his ability, what Paul taught, and what Jesus taught.

What really should be pointed out (instead of Calvinism) is the difference between monergism and synergism. I would say that I am in fact a monergist, in that salvation is purely by God, and that it doesn't take man's cooperation, permission, or assistance (synergism) in any way, to accomplish this. When God saves whom He will, He does not first stop and ask permission. He does not need man to help Him save himself, nor does He require man's cooperation in the process. He saves whom He will, period. (John 5:21, Romans 9:18)

I find it interesting that the writer of this email signed off with "in Christ alone" - one of the hallmarks of the great reformation (Solus Christus) that sought to rediscover and reestablish the absolute sovereignty of God at the very heart of Christian faith. If you scroll all the way to bottom of this blog you'll see this:

"Scripture alone, being our final authority, teaches us that salvation is by His grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone."

These are the Five Solas associated with the reformation. For someone to exalt free will, with a dose of Calvin bashing in the process and then turn around and say "in Christ alone" seems rather inconsistant to me. Our salvation is indeed found in Christ alone, and it is also by grace alone - meaning it is purely by God's grace that we have been regenerated and given faith to believe in the first place. God does not need man's input, to save him.




Sunday, November 25, 2007

Yummy Recipe

Turkey/Bacon Soup
The perfect solution for holiday turkey leftovers

3 10.5 oz cans cond. chicken broth
2 c. water
½ c. chopped green onions
½ c. uncooked rice
8 slices bacon
½ c. margarine
¾ c. flour
½ t. salt
¼ t. poultry seasoning
¼ t. black pepper
2 c. half & half cream
1 ½ c. cooked & diced turkey meat

In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth, water, green onions and rice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer about 35 minutes. In a large skillet cook the bacon, allow to cool then crumble & set aside.

When the rice is tender melt the margarine in a medium saucepan over med-low heat. Stir in flour salt, poultry seasoning and pepper. Cook and stir until smooth and bubbly. Stir in half & half cream and cooked until thickened – about 2 minutes. Stir cream mixture into rice mixture, add turkey and bacon, heath through and serve. Great with warmed, crusty bread.

I'm not sure if I'm coming down with what a couple of others close to me have, or if I'm just exhausted from a week of cleaning and cooking. Either way, that bus that hit me didn't even stop to see if I was okay. Since I'm home from church today and sitting here with no energy to do much of anything, I'll share a bit of miscellanous things on my mind today:

- By random drawing we've chosen a winner in our Reflections Fall Giveaway, and they've been notified via email. In other store news, the current newsletter is now online, filled with neat stuff and some pretty incredible savings/discounts for you.

- Have you ever noticed that as you grow in grace, that from time to time you find your attitude on certain things has changed so drastically that you know without question that it was solely the work of the Holy Spirit? I love it when this happens, even though it does feel a little uncomfortable at first, because it's something "new". It's a good new, all the same. Anytime you're taken out of your comfort zone and made to feel a sense of grace and compassion toward something that you once only felt contempt for, it's a very good thing.

- I recently had one of my bizarre dreams where I had suffered a heart attack and no one would take me seriously and take me to the hospital. Finally I called my friend Darlene and she arrived in her minivan made of logs (yes, like a miniature log cabin on wheels) and took me to the ER. She didn't stay, as she had some sort of function she had to be at since she was in charge of said function, but she assured me she'd call later to check on me. End of dream. I'm sure if I had the interest in analyzing this dream I'd find all sorts of psychological issues that would entertain therapists for years. It just made me laugh. The van was pretty cool, too.

- I promised Candy in the comments of another post that I'd share my fudge pecan pie recipe, and I'll get to that as soon as I find it. If anyone is already sick of turkey sandwiches I also have an amazingly delicious recipe for turkey soup, too. It has bacon in it, and it's SO good even kids who hate soup, like this one.

- Yesterday I noticed that it was WAY too cold in the dining room and couldn't figure out why, until I looked at the window. The frame/border/area/whatever it's called that holds the pane of glass in place on the bottom section of the window, has sunk down inside the window frame about an inch. This means at the very top of the window there is a gap of about 1/2 inch where the cold air is just pouring right in. I wondered the other day why, when the wind was howling across the western field I could hear it so much louder than I could ever rememer hearing it before. Now I know. We have storm windows for this window so we're pulling them out of the basement today, cleaning them up and installing them. This will take care of it until spring when the window itself can be fixed. Howling, icy wind pouring into your dining room is not something you want all winter long.

I could list a bunch more of miscellaneous stuff but I'll spare you more of the same. I hope you have a fantastically wonderful Lord's day. I think I need a piece of fudge.

For medicinal purposes only, of course.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thankful For: Encouraging Friends

Well now that Kevin has opened his presents, I can share the little surprise I had for him.

He has an online wishlist and from that, his mom and sister picked a couple of books for him and sent them out. One of those books was The God Who Justifies by James White. Now you folks all know how much I appreciate this dear brother and Kev certainly does too. It was through Kev that in 1998 (has it really been that long?) I first discovered #prosapologian (the chat channel James and his operators run) and when I was still a baby in my understanding of predestination and election, Kev gave me a little booklet on John 6, written by James. That little book made all the difference in the world. (I don't even know if it's still available, but it should be if it's not).

We've had the opportunity to meet with James twice, and thoroughly enjoyed his speaking and fellowship each time.

When I realized which book he was getting for his birthday, I sure wished I had been able to get James to sign it and write a little note for Kev to encourage him. Since I couldn't do that, I asked him if he'd be willing to write him a short note that I could include with the book. He said he would do that, but what he sent me was even more enjoyable.

He sent 5 notes. They all say the same thing but the first one is in Arabic, the second in Hebrew, third in Greek, fourth in Latin and the fifth one is in English. When Kev opened the book I told him James sent a special gift to go along with it and I handed him the first one and suggested he read it outloud in front of everyone. When he saw the Arabic symbols he just laughed and said "um... I can't read Hebrew!" I said no, it's Arabic - so try this one (and then I handed him the Hebrew one, lol). I did the same with all of them and he stopped at the Greek one and actually started reading it. Funny thing is, it was James that inspired him to study and learn Greek on his own (through Bill Mounce's program). Finally I handed him the English one, and he was able to fluently read that one outloud. To which he replied "now that was very cool". I agree.

He stuck all 5 notes in his book and if I were a betting person, I'd bet that's where they'll stay and be used as book marks, and then remain in the book when he's done. I'll let you know in a later post as I read the book when Kev's done with it.

So thank you to James for making Kev's birthday even more enjoyable, with his notes. I did videotape it but my camera doesn't have a media card and so the video stopped too short and it didn't capture the fun part. Oh well, we all got a kick out of it anyway.

More Miscellaneous

A few things to note today to sort of wrap up the week:



• The Reflections Fall Giveaway is now officially closed, and our winner will be drawn today & notified by email. Thanks to all who entered, it's always a lot of fun to have these giveaways.


• I get things in email all the time telling me about this great deal or that one. Often I just delete them but one came in the other day that caught my attention as a homeschooling mom on a strict budget. The ad copy read something like "find the best deals on what they're asking for!" It was an ad for the toys that are supposed to be on the big "hot" wishlists this year. Usually I take such things with a grain of salt, since most of that sort of thing is just a lot of expensive junk that will be broken and forgotten in a month. This one was a little different though.


This is amazon.com's toy page, but it's the searchability function that really got my attention. You can search by age, brand, style, price and more. You can really refine the search right down to exactly what you're looking for - even if you're just looking for ideas. I found this very helpful and just for fun (and to see the results myself) I clicked on the learning category, and then the arts & crafts and found some really great ideas that I hadn't even thought of. I liked this feature so much I wanted to bring your attention to it as well. You can click here or click the TOY button in the sidebar to see it for yourself. I hope it benefits you.

• Someone, who shall be named later because Kevin reads my blog and I'm not going to ruin the surprise for him (so there Mr. Kevin Sneaky Pants looking for hints!), did a really great thing to help me make Kevin's birthday today a very special thing. I can't tell you what it is (yet) but I hope to be able to do that later, after Kev opens his present.

And with that, I am off to the kitchen to do what mom's do in there to magically transform a bunch of cold stuff into those things that make the house smell amazing and cause everyone to lament about their hunger until you finally bring out the veggie tray to hush them up until dinner is ready.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Almost done...

While the rest of you are recovering from yesterday (and having cold turkey sandwiches today), I'm just gearing up!

The pies are done (1 fudge pecan, 1 pumpkin) the candied walnuts and almond fudge are done... all I have left to do today is make the stuffing. And keep Kevin away from the walnuts. We need a Walnut Cop.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful For: All of It

While all my American friends and family are preparing for a great holiday meal today (even traditional Thanksgiving Pizza, in at least one household), I sit in the land of "What? Thanksgiving was last month!" After ten years of living here, I'm still not used to the idea that turkeys are not on sale in November, and you're hard pressed to find egg nog in stores until after December 1. Although, the egg nog scandal has been improving in recent years, and I do notice it a little earlier each year. It's good to know the Canadian Grocery Folk are getting the big picture. (Big picture = egg nog should be on sale YEAR ROUND!)


In any case, since the Canadian government refuses to recognize today as Thanksgiving and give everyone the day off with pay, we have our big dinner on Saturday. This year, our Saturday Thanksgiving also falls on Kevin's birthday. Not many people get the whole turkey dinner/yummy pie combo on their birthday, but he does. I never bake him a cake, we just sing happy birthday before he eats his pie.


So last night I was in the kitchen doing what I always do at this time of year - baking. If you were a wildlife explorer you might have heard Marlin Perkins narrating his observations of the wild Mom standing at the stove precariously perched on one leg while the other foot rested on top of the other, oven mit covering the hand holding the spoon that was stirring the candy coating mixture that would soon cover the walnuts for her world famous and top secret Maple Candied Walnuts recipe. I didn't see Marlin Perkins hiding behind any bushes observing, but he might have been... those wildlife folks are pretty sneaky.


It's funny how we're such creatures of habit (speaking of wildlife). I do the same thing every year, just like millions of other moms preparing for a holiday meal. I start baking days in advance, I generally wear the same comfy clothes every year while alternating my baking with cleaning & household chores, and can often be heard asking "where did all the tupperware go!?" to no one in particular, and always hearing the same answer from various, disembodied voices in other rooms: "I dunno". It's the same semi-conversation every year. No one ever knows what happened to all the food storage containers, yet they always disappear. We should really have an international task force for this, it's practically become an epidemic.


sorta like this spoonbill...Every year I stand at the stove perched on one leg stirring the candy mixture with the same thought: "I will not get burned this time". Every year, the mixture starts to boil and before long, one drop of it flies out of the pan and lands on my fingernail (it hurts there) or worse, flies up and hits me in the neck (it really hurts there). So then I reach for the oven mit and keep stirring and stand back a little bit, until it reaches soft ball stage. Not softball stage, if that were the case, we'd be having jawbreakers for Thanksgiving. Personal injury notwithstanding, we have Maple Candied Walnuts every year at Thanksgiving and at Christmas. The things I go through, to feed this small army!


All kidding aside, I love our family traditions. Everyone has them, and they become tradition for a reason: those who participate in them love them. It's simply what we do, what's expected, and what we all look forward to at certain times of year. Some people spend today eating at other folk's places - others have pizza - some have ham, others have turkey and some don't celebrate today at all. Those might be people that had a traumatic stuffing incident at a young age and have blocked it from their memories. They should come here for my stuffing, it's really good.

In any event, today I do more baking & pre-preparing for Saturday's big dinner. I'll pause from time to time and watch the snow fall outside like snowglobe snow and enjoy the way that looks, then I'll go back to daily household chores, baking & asking someone who clearly doesn't know, what happened to all the tupperware. They won't know, and I'll know they won't know, but I'll ask anyway because it's what I do. I'll drag out the boxes of Christmas decorations today, and between putting more wood on the fire and hearing the oven timer go off multiple times, I'll finish setting up my miniature Christmas village and finally get it ready to be plugged in. One new thing that we're going to add to our tradition this year, is this idea here of a Thankful Box, that Kim at Hireath linked to recently. I read that and thought "what a GREAT idea!" It will surely put the focus on the reason we celebrate in the first place, and I really like that.

All this rambling to say, I personally have a lot to be thankful for this year, and have been encouraged this month to really consider that. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving today, and have plenty of egg nog for all. Now I have stuff to do, so I'd better get to it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thankful For: The God of Peace

The first time I ever heard anything about "blogging", it wasn't called that. There was a platform at the time called something like Online Diary or Open Diary, and folks did there the same thing folks do now, when blogging. This was maybe 5 or 6 years ago and I don't even know if that platform is still around. I suppose I could google it but I'm too lazy to do that this morning.

In any case, I knew a couple of people who were using the open journaling format and I would read their journals from time to time. One of them posted frequently on items in the secular & church news and how our godless society makes it so incredibly difficult to live a Christian life and raise up kids to be honorable members of society. That journal really got my attention as I'd sit and read, nodding the whole time. The other journal (pre-blogger days, remember) posted much more personal things, and in-depth struggles they had with things that would come along. They also posted inspiring and encouraging things so it was a good balance and good look into the reality of a genuine Christian life, even though it was rather personal and often made me cringe at the private things being revealed. I remember thinking of the second journal, how I hoped unsaved people were reading it so they'd be able to see what Christianity lived, is really like (as opposed to say, Osteenanity, or TBNness).

Eventually journaling gave way to blogging via Blogspot, Wordpress and various other platforms and the whole approach has been defined, redefine, observed, assessed and given rules and expected codes of conduct, etc. It's only been in the last year or so that I have personally come to terms with the word "blogging" as it sounds like such a silly word. I suppose it's been easier to accept the word as it becomes more commonplace in society and even newscasters and newsmagazine shows often use the word and in many cases use their own blogs.

It was quite likely those two early open journals that set the tone for my own style of public journaling, or blogging. For anyone that has read this blog for any length of time, you know that I do a little of this and a little of that - generally - whatever is on my mind at the time, is what I write about.

Sometimes though, whatever is on my mind is exactly what I do not write about. There are days when struggles are so raw, trials are so painful, that it can feel like I'm choking on the difficulty of it all. It's those times that I purposely choose to set my sights elsewhere and in a sense, minister to myself by writing about things that I hope also encourage others. We all know the message of the following passage but I'm going to repeat it all the same:



Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:and the God of peace shall be with you. (Phil. 4:4-9)


It takes intentional, deliberate and careful thought to notice this, but did you know that no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how bad, how painful, how difficult, there is a reason to rejoice in the Lord? In fact, the more you think about how merciful and gracious He really is, and the more you examine your own life, the more you will notice just how merciful and gracious He has been, and continues to be. You see it right here in this passage that we are not to worry, but with prayer and supplication and with a thankful heart, let our requests be made known to God, and that in so doing, the peace that can only come from God, will keep (protect) our hearts and minds. I know we all know this passage but there's something I wanted to focus directly on that I think many of us (I know I do) all miss.

It has to be deliberate. We have to purposely not spend too much time dwelling on trials or painful circumstances but instead go out of our way (and out of our own desire to focus on the bad) to focus on good things, such as are listed in this passage. This clearly says that in doing this, the God of peace shall be with us.

This doesn't mean we ignore the bad stuff going on, nor does it mean we pretend it's not going on - we simply give it all to God in prayer. Just hand it over without worry or hesitation and in return He grants us peace of both heart and mind. I've experienced this peace, and I'd be willing to say so has every other Christian. It's much preferred over the anguish and turmoil that can flood our hearts and minds when we choose to spend too much time dwelling on painful things. As women who are more emotional by design, I think we especially have to be very diligent when it comes to this sort of thing because we do have a tendency to over-think things and let ourselves get caught in the trap of depression and a sense of despondency as we dwell on the bad things.

I've written about this before, and likely said the same thing then as I'm saying now. Some things just bear repeating. In a brief chat with a friend last night a comment was made about counselling one's own self as if you were giving counsel to someone else who might come to you with a particular set of problems (the very problems you have). In other words, what would you say to someone else needing sound Biblical direction, compassion and guidance? Those words you would use to minister to someone else's hurting heart and troubled mind, are the very same words you should be using to remind yourself of God's astounding mercy and grace.

So this is why I said above that sometimes, the very thing on my mind is the very thing I do not write about. Currently, and for the last several months our family has been going through some pretty intense trials. I wont share the cringe-worthy details but I will say it often seems like it's truly one thing after another, and often more than one thing going on all at the same time. Yesterday some really good things happened and I was feeling great, and then some more bad news came along and almost literally knocked the wind out of my sails. It replaced the great feeling with one of "here we go again" despondency and discouragement. I tried hard not to let it make me feel that way, but it did anyway. This is when I was reminded of this passage in Philippians and why I wanted to share it again here today. It ministered greatly to me and I only hope it serves to minister to you as well.

Life is often hard, but our God is so good to us. We have to deliberately focus on that, and remember it during the hard times - and then we have reason to 'Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice'.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thankful For: Singing Kids

Our church had a hymn sing on Sunday night and Rachel (8) and Samuel (7) contributed with their acapella version of O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing. I videotaped them but somewhere between taping and converting, the file went pfffft and became corrupted. They did a really good job and we were so proud to see them stand in front of the church and sing out one of the greatest old hymns.


I had them sing it one more time so I could tape them again today, and it worked. You can see them here. They looked a lot more "formal" Sunday night, but here they are in their everyday duds and in our messy classroom/game room.


I'm thankful that they enjoy singing and learning the old hymns. Thankful that when they heard about the hymn sing they really wanted to be part of it. Thankful that it blessed the folks in my church to hear them. It was a really wonderful time, even though Kev was sick and had to step out for the last half of the program. I'm really hoping we have another one very soon. Ruth wants to sing next time.

Slow Down

I don't really have time this morning to explore this but I had a thought last night and found it interesting how applicable it is to spiritual things.

As most of my readers know, I have DaiLup disorder. For that reason, the ISP I have comes with an accelerator that is supposed to compress graphics to make pages load faster. When it works, it works pretty well. When it doesn't work (which is about 50% of the time) it crashes IE7 and I lose whatever I'm working on. The conflict is between the accelerator itself, and Windows Vista (which I'd probably love to pieces, if I were using it with high speed access).

So, for the last week or so I've been using my ISP without turning the accelerator on and IE7 hasn't crashed once, and I haven't lost anything. It makes online time much slower, but the quality is much better.

You probably already see where I'm going here but it was hard not to notice a spiritual application of trying to rush through things and only getting to the goal part of the time, and the other part of the time, crashing (always with consequences and losing something in the process) and having to start over. We can't accelerate prayer, Bible study, sitting under sound teaching, raising kids with grace and consistancy, or any of the other disciplines of Christian life. We have to turn off the temptation to speed things up so that we don't crash. Sure it's much slower, but the quality is much better, as well.

Someday I'll learn how to apply this much more often.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Good List Stuff

Well then, now that our cat-astrophic excitement is all over, I can get back to things that matter.

One of those things, is awesome gift giving. 'Tis the season and all that, so if you're looking for a few unique and terrific gift ideas, look no further. Well, you could look further but you'd be hard pressed to find better stuff:


Amazing Grace AMAZING GRACE

Most Christian parents know full well how hard it is to find good entertainment choices that the whole family can watch. This movie almost fits the bill. The only downside is that it might be a little involved for younger children. Other than that, it's an excellent movie based on a genuine historical figure and it will leave you feeling incredibly inspired. Be prepared to wipe a few tears away in a couple of places, as well.

Regardless of the very few historical inaccuracies it's been reported to show (remember, it's Hollywood after all) this would make a great kick-off movie to get your younger kids (or you!) interested in church history, and history in general.

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges RESPECTABLE SINS

I've been hearing about this book for months, and in the last few days I've heard about it several times. Two people that I know who were at the Sola Scriptura conference this past weekend in Cambridge, Ontario bought it, and beginning in January our pastor is prepared to begin a series of sermons based on this book. From the publisher:

As Christians, we believe that all sins are considered equal in God's eyes. Yet while evangelicals continue to decry the Big Ones---such as abortion, adultery, and violence---we often overlook more deceptive sins. It seems we've created a sliding scale where gossip, jealousy, and selfishness comfortably exist within the church. In short, some sins have simply become acceptable.

Bridges, bestselling author of The Pursuit of Holiness, believes that just as culture has lost the concept of sin, the church faces the same danger. Jerry writes not from a sense of achievement, but from the trenches of his own personal battles. Drawing from scriptural truth, he sheds light on subtle behaviors that can derail our spiritual growth. Throughout, Jerry encourages a victory over personal sin through the gospel's transforming power, the perfect release for those who desire to thoughtfully examine their lives and discover a deeper walk with God.

A Very Mylo Christmas A VERY MYLO CHRISTMAS

You can order now for post-Thanksgiving release (ships in time for Christmas!) or you can download singles or the whole cd, right online. This is the absolute perfect gift for the farmer in your life (doesn't everyone have one of those?), or just about anyone that enjoys a great sense of humor.

Be sure to listen to the clips offered as well (Mylo & Emma, as well as Clyde and Janet), we just know you're going to LOVE this cd!! I want one for Christmas (the kids love Mylo) so if you were wondering what to get me, there ya go.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Prayer Need - Monday Update

UPDATED BELOW

This might sound like a trivial prayer request but for our family is sure isn't.

Last night my cat Pyro was outside and something scared him so he ran up a tree. A very tall tree, without low branches - about 30-40 feet up. We tried to coax him down last night and again this morning, but nothing doing. After church I called the fire department to see if they'd come help and the answer was "we don't do that". The dispatch operater was compassionate as she's a cat owner too, but that was the answer.

Kev has parked the van under the tree so that if he tries to jump down he can land on that, since there are no low branches for him to jump to. Pyro is a good cat and we just want him to come down and be okay. It was about 25 degrees last night and it's supposed to be about the same tonight.

Maybe if the Lord lays it on your heart you might pray that He'd take care of Pyro for us?
========
11:30 PM SUNDAY 11/18

Pyro is still in the tree and it's now past 24 hours. We're going to see if any of the barn workers might be able to come up with something to help get him down, in the morning. We're also going to call the local vet & human society to see if they can help. The kids are all upset (and I am too, he's MY cat) so focusing on school tomorrow will not be expected. I do appreciate all your comments and your prayers and I will let the kids read those in the morning.

Yeah, he's just a cat. But he's our cat, and we love him and he's suffering. That just stinks.

========

2:45 PM MONDAY 11/19

I called the local animal control first thing this morning and the woman that answered didn't find our situation all that serious. She laughed, in fact, and said "he'll come down when he's hungry, he's not going to DIE up there". Then she said "I can't help you". Nice lady, eh? (ugh!)

Anyway...

Jessica got the emergency ladder off our balcony, and even though I was 100% certain it wasn't tall enough to reach the lowest branch of the tree, she put it up there anyway. It really wasn't tall enough but since all my kids are part monkey, she shimmied her way up the tree from the top of the ladder to where he was located. It's handy to be part monkey!

Here are the results (click either for a larger view):

help is on the way, Pyro!

The red arrow indicates where Pyro was located when Jessica climbed up to him.

Pyro is rescued!!

The upper red arrow shows where Jessica dropped him from, and the bottom red arrow shows Pyro being caught in the sheet by our group of amature animal rescue folks!

Prince Pyro, safe at home

After a full can of wet food and lots of pets & hugs, he is currently purring like a well oiled machine, and enjoying being back inside.

YAY!!

Thank you all for your kind words and your prayers that the Lord would take care of our goofy cat. I sure appreciate that, and so do the kids! They're my heros. (Pyro's too!)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A little of this, and some of that

Yesterday during school, the country of Scotland was mentioned. Below was the conversation between Rachel (8) and Samuel (7) that followed:

Samuel: Scotland is cool, I'm moving there when I grow up!

Rachel: Samuel, if you live in Scotland you have to learn how to play bagpipes and all the men wear skirts.

Clearly Rachel's Scottish heritage was sleeping yesterday during this brief conversation. For the record, she was corrected on the "skirt" issue. The part about learning how the bagpipes is absolutely true - all Scots can play them, and play them well.

In other news...

• For some of the most breathtaking photos, be sure to stop by Badia Masterpieces. This is my friend Chuck, and his eye for light/shadow angle/depth is simply incredible.


• Only one week left to enter to win in the Fall Giveaway - get your entry in now or someone else is going to win your prize! (Double your entry by linking to the giveaway on your blog. Go here for all the details)

• Our store newsletter for this week is now online - be sure to check out the & savings for your Christmas shopping. (Limited FREE SHIPPING offer, plus various discount coupon codes located in the sidebar)

• My Sovereign Grace book blog has been updated as well (be sure to check out the savings code there too)


And just in passing... I changed the header graphic earlier this week and no one has said a word about it. Apparently everyone has camel-phobia.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bible Promises: Truth

(From the Bible Promises series)

Truth is non-negotiableTruth is fluid... truth is unknowable... man cannot possess any kind of absolute truth... what's true for you may not be true for me, truth is this, truth is that.

There is a lot of talk about truth these days, and ironically enough, not a lot of Biblical wisdom to go with it. One of the more doctrinally divisive and theologically damaging trends to come along in a very long time, the "emerging church" movement, which is emerged in a lot of postmodern philosphies and ideas of fallen men, is in a large part, responsible for the blurring of the truth and the doubts & clouded thinking of many evangelicals, when it comes to grasping truth. Thankfully, there are at least some dedicated brothers in Christ that you're probably all familiar with, who desire nothing more than to know the truth, live the truth, defend the truth and are convinced it's their duty (and joy) to share that same truth.

Pastor John MacArthur has answered back to this battle against truth with his book, The Truth War. The description of the book reads this way:


"Right now, Truth is under attack, and much is at stake. In a postmodern culture, Christians are caught in the crossfire of alternative Christian histories, emerging faulty texts, and a cultural push to eliminate absolute Truth altogether. As a result, many churches and Christians have been deceived. Worse still, they propagate the deception that poses itself as Truth! In The Truth War, John MacArthur reclaims the unwavering certainty of God's Truth and anchors Christians in the eternal, immovable promises found in His Word." (source)


There will be a gathering of evangelical bloggers at next year's Together for the Gospel conference called the Band of Bloggers. Men's names you all recognize that will be present to speak for that event will be Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, Thabiti Anyabwile and Mark Lauterbach. Their ever-timely theme this year: The Gospel Trust. From their website:


"The second Band of Bloggers fellowship is slated to take place in 2008, again in concert with the Together for the Gospel Conference. This year’s theme, “The Gospel Trust,” focuses on what it means to be entrusted as servants of God and stewards of His glorious gospel. During the period of time leading up to the 2008 Band of Bloggers fellowship, we will endeavor to fuel a greater passion for the gospel of the glory of Christ through resources, articles, and media (including podcasts)."


The reaction to the attack on the truth, currently taking place among particular evangelical leaders, pastors, bloggers and speakers is unmistakably urgent.

I chose to name my own book Guarding the Trust, for no other reason than I am convinced it is in fact every Christian's duty to do so. Whether man or woman, boy or girl, once we have been spiritually awakened to the truth, it is our duty and should be our joy and our passion to be able to not only defend the truth but to declare the truth at every opportunity that He provides us. Before we can ever do that however, we have to know the truth, and be so familiar with it, that it literally becomes a part of us. I believe that for women especially, to be grounded in truth, is so critical a measure to counteract our natural inclination to be led away by emotion or experiential reasoning. I realize that is for many of us, a lot easier said, than done.

So we have a parakatatheke to guard. That's the Greek word, but I haven't a clue how to properly pronounce it. I know that what it means is an item placed in your care for you to treasure and protect - something you are expected to faithfully keep. As a mother, its impossible for me not to immediately think of how a precious newborn baby fits that description very well. In the context of the gospel and sound Biblical doctrine however, it means we're to also hold to it firmly and deliver it to others.

STAND FIRM/HOLD FASTLast Christmas a friend sent me this little silicone wrist band that I wear every day. It's a wee bit too big so it sort of dangles more than it should, which makes it a little more noticable. It says STAND FIRM/HOLD FAST on the one side. On the reverse it says the same thing in Greek (which I also can't pronounce). It is a reminder to me to do that very thing, each and every day. Moment by moment, hour by hour... because there is never a shortage of opportunities for me to get sidetracked by the moment or by circumstances, and veer off the straight and narrow path. It's also a great little conversation starter and has in fact prompted several questions from different folks.

I cannot encourage anyone strongly enough, to study the Scriptures and lay hold of truth. I hope these selected verses stir you up to do that very thing:


• [God] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:4)


• Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)


• Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)


• Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (1Cor. 13:6)


• For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. (2Cor. 13:8)


• But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth (2Thes. 2:13)


• And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. (1John 3:19)


• Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:6-16)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mathematical Genius

I've heard it said that you age 5 years for every child you have. In addition, it's been said you can add another 5 years on top of that, for every teenager you've raised into adulthood.

So let's do the math to find out how old I really am:

Kid #1 (age 24) 5+5 10
Kid #2 (age 21) 5+5 = 10
Kid #3 (age 17) 5+2.5 = 7.5
Kid #4 (age 10) 5
Kid #5 (age 8) 5
Kid #6 (age 7) 5
Kid #7 (age 4) 5

Total advanced aging years: 47.5 years
Actual age (as of 12/12) 43 years

This makes me 90.5 years old.

I sure wish I had the wisdom that should go with being that old.

Thankful For: God's Critters

I'm not a dog person, but we have two and the rest of the family love them both. Once, when our old lady dog was hit by a truck, the only person she would let near her, was me. She was in a tremendous amount of pain immediately after the accident and so I held her and actually prayed for her. Yes I prayed for a dog. I asked the Lord to be merciful on His creation and take her pain from her. He answered that prayer and she recovered in time, with a slight limp but nothing broken and nothing too serious.


Yesterday Jessica took my camera and did a photoshoot with some of our critters:


Dougal MacCree - farm dog extraordinairre


This is Dougal (our old lady) lounging on the deck. She wont be out there lounging too much longer, since we have our first significant snowfall forecast for tonight. I suppose today would be a good day to bring in the Sponge Bob Chair Pants chair you can see, sitting in the background.

Rusty

Here is Rusty, Kevin's Zebra Finch. We've had Rusty for five years now, and about a year ago the spot where his little leg was banded became irritated and before we even realized it, the leg from the band down had actually fallen off. Yes, Rusty is a Peg Leg Finch. I'd like to get him a wee little Pirate to sit on his shoulder, but I can't think of a way to keep it attached. He gets around pretty good for a one-legged bird.

Prince Pyro

Last but certainly not least, ever, is my goon of a cat, Pyro. Shown here in one of his more attractive moments, we call this the "love me, you know you want to" pose. Pyro is a great people-cat. I could tell you cute & funny stories about Pyro but "cat blogging" is this boy's deal, and I would never cut in on his territory.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

For Hannah

Have you heard of Hannah Overton? I can honestly say that I hadn't, until today. Today I read her story, her pastor's words about her, her own words, and various other media sources (like this one). I sit here and type this in a state of semi-stunned disbelief.


Her story will be discussed on Iron Sharpens Iron today at 3pm eastern time. (Download the mp3 of the show). Whatever you do, pray for this woman and her family.

This hits awfully close to home, for us Christian, homeschooling moms. I can't even begin to imagine what this family is and has been going through. At the FAQ at the freehannah.com site, to the question "what can I do to help?" is this answer:

"Let others know about this injustice and get them to visit this web site. Our prayer is that national leaders will take a personal interest in this cause. "

I can say if this were me in Hannah's shoes, I'd hope and pray that fellow believers would do exactly that. I don't know this woman and I don't know any more than what's on the website, but I know she professes to love our Lord and her family has been shattered by this. That's enough for me.

Thankful For: Good Parenting Counsel

Today I was once again reminded of something very important. As a parent, and as a Christian parent, I find that I need to be reminded (often daily) of the important things. Go read this, to see what I mean. (Read this one too, it's very very helpful to parents of younger children)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

DrOHardyHarHar...

This came through my bloglines a little bit ago:


Today on The Dividing Line
Went just a little long today to get our last caller in on apologetic methodology. Before that, Frank from Dallas had some thoughts on the issue of apostasy and Rome. Prior to that, we discussed a number of issues, including Rome's view of the gospel, Mormon/Christian dialogues, etc.

Here's the program (free/high quality).



And just before the show, everyone's favorite apologist took the time to once again tease me about having the dreaded, mostly terminal... DaiLup Disorder. It's true... listen for yourself at the link above.

/me whines incessantly (for fellow channel rats)

Thankful For: Inspiration

This past Sunday our church had a chili potluck lunch. You probably all know the drill, a sign up sheet posted in the foyer for a certain number of pots of chili, plus rolls/tortillas, salads and desserts. I signed up for a pot of chili and a dessert (and brought papaya fruit salad for dessert).


On the way to church Kev mentioned that the reason he wore his dark sweater was "just in case" there were any unfortunate chili spills at lunch. We joked around about needing official "chili eatin' shirts" and... an idea was born.


Chili Eatin' Gear Available in both men and womens and kids, and in dark colors too!

These make the perfect gift item for your favorite chili-lover. Plus, you'll save an innocent shirt in the process, if they have their official chili eatin' shirt on!

See the whole line here.

I know what Kev is getting for Christmas.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thankful For: Hymns

Recently when the kids learned that we were going to have a Hymn Sing at church, and that there would be a sign up sheet for anyone who wanted to sing a special hymn, their reaction absolutely blessed my heart. We asked them if they wanted to sign up and it was a unanimous YES, from all four of the youngest kids. After some deliberation we thought it was best that all four of them not be on stage at once, so we made the decision to only have two of them sign up, rather than all four. Maybe when they're all a wee bit older, having all four of them sing on stage at once would be good.

In any event, we asked them what hymn they'd like to sing, and reminded them that it had to be one they knew well, and really enjoyed singing. They picked O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, and so they have been practicing each morning at school and each night after devotion, for the last week. When I told them yesterday that we will need to arrive early next Sunday night for the sound check, you could see the nervousness/anticipation in their expressions as they realized probably for the first time that this means they'll be standing in front of people singing. They've both been on stage before in plays and skits, but this is different since it will just be the two of them. Being 7 and 8 years old, this is a huge deal.

Their "debut" is less than a week away now, and regardless of the fact that they both know this hymn, I fully expect them to mess up at least a little bit once they're up there singing in front of people. But that's okay, it's the fact that they were eager to sing a hymn in church, that made me so glad. I'm going to attempt to videotape via my little camera but I wont promise it's going to turn out very well. If it works, I'll share it here next week.

Here are the verses they'll be singing:


O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The church in earth and heaven.

Amen!

Ask Anything?

(This was originally posted over the weekend, then pulled for various reasons. I'm reposting with the comments closed. The purpose of this post is to draw attention to the difference between our modern pastors, and reverent, Godly leaders. )


I've considered hashing out my thoughts on this since I first heard about it maybe a couple/few weeks ago, but I've just had more important things to do. "Ask Anything" is a book/sermon/interactive blog project created by the evangelebrity (new word, I just made it up and yes you're free to use it anytime) Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

When I first heard about it, I honestly thought it was a joke. I thought it was a parody or a spoof of some of the more lamebrained-seeker-friendly-pragmatic-programmy-slick-marketing-type junk that the mega-churches are known for doing. As it turns out, it was no joke at all. So the more I thought about it, the more ironic it seemed that it was real.

Here is a man who has for years, generated his own controversy among the evangelical/emergent/emerging/resurgent/ing world by his off-color language and his involement/non-involvement in the whole emerging church trainwreck. He takes all this attention, confusion and controversy and runs with it with this idea. What better way to let folks find out what he really believes!? Right? What's more exciting than seeing your question in the top 9, is the idea that it's also going to be in the book! Right!?

Well, it might be a good way to answer some pressing questions if the whole thing didn't sound so game-show. You too can post the next doctrinal question on The Pulpit's Mic! I know it's probably just me and my uber-critical nature, but where I come from men of God don't use the pulpit to further their own ends & make a few bucks off of book sales. They're supposed to be approaching that high calling and sacred desk, with a reverance and fear that they rightly divide the word to bring glory to God and exhort His people, and hopefully convict a few unregenerated hearts. Like I said, it's probably just me. In fact, in my routine blog surfing over the last couple weeks I haven't seen a word of criticism about it (it may exist, I just haven't seen it), but have seen several who are simply gaga over the whole idea.

The thing is...

I watched the intro video where Driscoll explains what he's doing. I heard the condscending, insulting (he was just joking I'm sure which is why question [currently #7] is there - this is the sort of thing Driscoll does) way he described the folks who have questions about what he's all about. A friend listened to last Sunday's sermon* where apparently he did the same thing all over again - but surely he was just joking around and doesn't really think that lowly and mockingly of the people who have questions about him or his ministry, and who have posted at his Ask Anything site. He probably doesn't really believe that about anyone who posted a question. Right?

*(I've tried to download the sermon it several times, but the server times out every time and so I finally just gave up. If Driscoll didn't actually mock the questioners then someone will surely be along shortly to correct me on that).

Some people who are big fans of Driscoll think this is a wonderful idea.

Well, I disagree, for what it's worth. The problem that I see with this is that this is about Mark Driscoll riding his own wave of controversy and selling books, in the process. Sure he's going to preach some sermons (he does it every week anyway), and sure the answers might be good ones - they might even be great ones (unless of course we're talking about [currently] question #46 ). But is this really what a pastor is supposed to be doing? I mean really, when you think of the solid men of God in your own life who you have the utmost respect and admiration for, for the way they defend the faith, preach and teach the word, and equip those around them - is this the sort of thing they're doing? If not, why not and what are they so busy doing that they don't have time to be so savvy in our modern era?

Now I realize that Mark Driscoll is so techno-cutting-edge the rest of us look like cave trolls compared to him, and I realize that some even think he's a marketing genius. I'll leave that latter one alone for now, but it's this whole idea of being Mr. Cutting Edge Pastor that I wonder if a lot of folks are overly-dazzled by. I have to type it outloud and wonder if anyone who is so smitten by all this would have the same opinion if someone like Hybels or Warren or Osteen did the same thing. Or... would they be under massive criticism because their answers wouldn't be "orthodox" in the first place? I'm not even sure this is a fair comparison, but I have a hunch there'd be plenty of solid folks out there ripping them up for such a game-show type of thing, all the same. Yet, it's okay if Driscoll does it because... well because I don't know why. I guess if you're in "our camp" (read: call yourself Calvinistic/reformed, even if you deny limited atonement) you get a free pass? I don't know, it's all messed up as far as I can tell.

I do know that I'm glad my own pastor doesn't stir up controversy to begin with, nor does he have an audience demanding to know what in the world he really thinks/believes/preaches on certain topics.


I'm really glad he just preaches the word of God.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thankful For: Godly Leaders

In keeping with my Thankful Theme for the month, and since I didn't post one yesterday, I have a double shot for today.


First, I'm thankful that Michael Haykin admits he's a heretic. If this brilliant brother can admit this, then the rest of us are in real fine company. Now before you get all up in arms, let me explain. Many years ago when I was attending this brother's church, he made a comment one Sunday morning from the pulpit that if you hadn't read Pilgrim's Progress, he questioned your salvation. Of course he was kidding, but there were a few folks there that knew I hadn't read it, and they looked at me with that suspicious-one-eyebrow-askew look as if to say "there she is, burn her now!" They were kidding as well but it became sort of a running theme for a few years whenever it came up, that I was the resident heretic. Incidentally enough, years after this I met a brother online from Texas, and he said exactly the same thing when Pilgrim's Progress was mentioned. He laughed when I told him my own pastor said the same thing. (I did finally read it the summer I was pregnant with my youngest, so I am no longer a heretic, thankfully).


Secondly, and on a more serious note, I'm quite thankful for my Sunday school teacher Ben. Today our lesson was on Jeremiah chapter 23 and more specifically the call for faithful leaders. Ben pointed out that there are three clear characteristics of solid, godly leaders:


[1] Knowing and doing God's will
[2] Being an example by their life
[3] Able to give godly counsel to those they are in leadership over


He went into more detail on each point, and reminded us all to be thankful and to be praying for such leaders in our lives (our pastor first, but other leaders that influence our lives as well, such as our children's Sunday school teachers, community leaders and political leaders as well). I would add to that the various evangelical leaders, speakers, authors and pastors that we're all influenced by, both online and offline. Men such as Michael Haykin, John Piper, John MacArthur and James White immediately come to mind. This list will of course be a little different for everyone, but praying for and being thankful for these men is a good thing to be doing, especially in our modern time of truth being questioned and godly reverance being a thing to simply toss out the window as we "contextualize" our message right into oblivion.


Ben also pointed out that in our own lives as well, in some context or another, we are also leaders and having an influence over someone else. Whether that is with our children, at work, at church, at school, in the community, or whatever place the Lord has put us to be in leadership over someone; we should also be displaying the 3 characteristics of godly leadership.


It was a convicting message and I was grateful to hear it. Usually I have a bit of a hard time struggling to stay focused in Sunday school because I'm so tired. Even today I did pass a note (yes, I pass notes in church, it's a girl thing) to Kev that said "I'm sleepy!" but I sure payed attention to this message.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thankful For: Work

Do you believe the principle given here:
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.(2Thes. 3:10)

I sure do. I also believe the one here:

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.(Proverbs 20:4)

And here:

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise (Proverbs 6:6)

I'm sure there could be more than a few applications for these verses, but when I read them I see "work ethic" all over them. In layman's terms "get off your lazy hiney and do what needs doing and later enjoy the benefits of your work".

Over the last 2 years or so our whole family has tried hard to adapt/adjust to Kev's new rotating schedule at work. Some genius in human resources (there's the first problem right off the bat) decided to switch the whole plant over to 3 rotating shifts. Two weeks of days, two weeks of afternoons, two weeks of midnights, then back to 2 weeks of days. Everything I've ever read about human beings and sleep (I once had insomnia for 2+years so I did a lot of reading), tells me that this is THE dumbest idea for a work schedule, that anyone might come up with. As much as you try, your body just does not get used to the idea of being asleep/awake at rotating times of the day/night like this. Human beings were not created to be awake when the sky is dark - this is why our brains start telling us it's time to yawn, and why our energy level naturally decreases, the later in the day it gets. Granted, there are some people that can work a midnight shift and sleep during the daytime, and do fine with that, but they are the exception to the rule. Most people can't do it. Most people can't juggle a 3 set rotating shift like this either. Most of the people at Kev's plant can't handle it, and now human resources is in a quandry as to why the accident level has spiked since the shift change. Duh... folks are tired! I should get a job as a human resources director. First order of business would be to fire everyone with dumb ideas, and the next in line would be to put everyone back on day shift.

So, over the last (almost) 2 years, Kev has been on this schedule, and as a family we've all had to adapt to it. The reports are in folks, and they're not good. The result of this is that he's constantly exhausted when he's home, and we're constantly stressed to either stay quiet so he can sleep (ever try keeping 5 kids quiet all day long while they're stuck inside for days on end during a winter storm?) Add to this mix, is the fact that my own sleep schedule is completely out of whack and I can't seem to get it back to any kind of normalcy. In some ways I've adapted, but in other ways things have suffered as a result. Due to the fact that I can't sleep when he's not here at night, I'm also dog-tired exhausted during the day when I have to be awake - because he's sleeping and someone has to teach these kids and get the household chores done. On more than one occaision I have stayed home from church on a Sunday so I could sleep - and slept right through people knocking on the door, the alarm going off, and the dogs trying to get it (or out). When you're that tired, a freight train rumbling through the room wouldn't bother you one bit. Thankfully, the flexibility of homeschooling allows us the opportunity to do such things like take (verbal) spelling pre-tests during dinner time! I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart, that we still have the freedom to homeschool.

Some of the other things that have changed around our house as a result of this, is that I'm the one that does the majority of the inside and outside chores. I don't mind doing this, and thankfully I know how to mow the lawn, haul wood, clean a pond pump and that sort of thing. I don't mind at all being a help to Kevin this way, but at the same time I don't have the energy to get it all done, the way it used to all get done when he was on a normal schedule and we both did inside and outside chores. The result of that, is that the old homestead doesn't look as orderly and tidy as it used to. It's a bit annoying, but it's really not that big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things. If one of us were to die tomorrow I can't imagine someone saying "no, I don't think I can go their funeral, they had a messy yard and their laundry was never all done".

The reason I posted those verses above, is because Kev and I both have a rather militant sense of work ethic. I suspect that came for both of us as a result of being raised by single moms who had to work to put food on the table. Kids live what they learn - there are no two ways about that. We've tried hard to instill this in our kids and so far, the oldest two seem to both have this same drive when it comes to getting things done. I see glimpses of it in the other 5, but at their ages they're all in different maturity levels so I don't expect them to be little workhorses. Kids need to be kids and do kid stuff - it's the only time in their life when they can (because if they jump on the beds and sneak cinnamon toast when they're adults, they'll be locked in a home for the mentally wonkified).

While everyone needs a lazy day once in a while to regroup mentally and physically, being a sluggard (sloth, lazy) as a way of life is something that would never fly around here. A good look around the yard might make someone think that it does, but that's only because of this wretched work schedule, not because we want it to look this way.

go to the ant...Because I'm on a Thankful Theme this month, as I thought about all of this last night and this morning, I have to say that even with the sense of being stretched far too thin, I am thankful for the opportunity and the ability to work. Whether that means getting all the laundry done, or cleaning the yard, hauling wood inside, or just doing a full day of lessons with all five kids. Sometimes it means working online with my store, updating the church's website, working on my faerie story sequel, or going over our household budget to make sure all the bills are squared away and there's enough left for an industrial strenth sized bag of cheetos and dvd rentals for movie night twice a month. In whatever capacity work manifests itself, I'm thankful for the opportunity to do it, and to have that sense of accomplishment when it's done.

The Treasury of Scripture knowledge says this about the ant in Proverbs 6:6:

"The ant has been famous in all ages for its social habits, foresight, economy and industry. Collecting their food at the proper seasons, they bite off the ends of the grain to prevent it from germinating, and lay it up in cells till needed."

I'm okay with being an ant, even if I'm a really tired ant, most of the time.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thankful For: Lots O Stuff

I had several things on my mind this morning to blog about in the thankful category, and I couldn't settle on one. Therefore, I'll post them all. In no particular order:

Junior Mints"Junior Mints... they're very refreshing" - Cosmo Kramer

Don't act like you don't know who Cosmo is!

Okay, on to more important things:

Modern conveniences. We have a portable dishwasher - her name is Jessica. We also have A/C, and we call it "fan". We might not have a lot of the more modern conveniences, but we do have such things as a washer & dryer, fridge, stove, microwave & internet. We've lived so long with these things that it's hard to imagine life without them (yet the vast majority of the world's population does it every day). Most of the summer and fall last year I did go without a dryer, and while that was definitely no fun, I did adapt and we got by just fine. I'm just really glad when I don't have to adapt.

Opportunities to create. I'm working on a new project that I'm enjoying very much (aside from the videos I've been creating). I'm not sure what would happen if I were unable to create. I might spontaneously combust, or wake up one morning looking like Richard Nixon. I think I'd prefer the former over the latter.

Off the wall compliments. See here:


cash advance

The way this is an off the wall compliment is in the fact that I never even finished highschool - and yet I'm the one writing the alleged college (postgrad) material at this blog. I don't know what the criteria is that these folks use to determine all this business, but I'll take it! Highschool for me was a bad scene, so I bailed out after week 2 of my senior year and went to the community college for GED classes. Took the classes for 2 months, took my 5 tests a week before my 18th birthday and passed with flying colors. So, there ya go.

Brothers in Christ who are also leaders in their local churches who have a genuine reverance for our Heavenly Father, know how to rightly divide the word and defend the faith against false teaching. For more info on that, don't miss THIS.

Last but not least: naps. I'd snap if I didn't get my afternoon break each day. No one wants that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Store Stuff: Attention All Shoppers!

These coupon deals expire before the weekly newsletter goes out on Friday so I thought posting here would be a good idea:



Save $20 off $75 Use the code HOLIDAYVIP at checkout
Expires 11/8 *excludes buttons and magnets



Save $10 off $50 Use the code HOLI2007 at checkout
Expires 11/9 *excludes buttons and magnets



Here's a sneak peek at what's new and/or newly redesigned this week:


mom likes me best Just Add Chocolate


BLOGGEAR Whiner's Fee


And in other coupon news, there's a new coupon available for saving 10% of $35.00 or more, when you shop through Sovereign Grace Books.

I don't know about you, but where I come from, saving money is always a great thing. Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Thankful for: Giggling

Rebecca (and all the ladies participating) has done a wonderful thing for the Christian blogging community. She's reminded us daily (and will continue through the rest of the month) that we're to be consistantly thankful. For me personally it's been a real blessing to think this way since I normally don't. Normally, I have a tendency to simply go with the flow and respond to circumstances as they happen - since life is so busy. I much prefer to slow down and be thoughtful and be thankful.


As I thought about this today, the one thing that stood out to me that I am incredibly thankful for in my life, are people that make me laugh. The Lord was pleased to put me into a family that all have a great sense of humor, and being raised up that way I suppose I simply gravitate toward people who likewise love to laugh. Going on day 8 of feeling miserably under the weather now, there aren't many things to laugh at, yet last night I read something from a friend that made me laugh so hard I almost dropped my powdered donut. (Donuts are medicinal, you know?) I have said many times before that you simply have not had a good day unless you've laughed so hard your cheeks ache, and you can't speak. When you laugh that hard, you can't help but feel better, even when you feel downright gacky.

Here's the short list of folks that bless me with their humor:

Kim, Jen, Libbie, Chris, James, Eddie, Steve, David and Neil. Some of these folks might not even realize how funny they really are, but they sure make a difference in my life. Even if it does mean choking on my cheetos from time to time, or dropping a donut in a fit of laughter.