Monday, August 31, 2009

Blessed Is The Man....

I have always enjoyed memorizing scripture, probably because it was one thing that I was quite good at and was rewarded by candy and treats, as well as just regarded a "spiritual".

Memorizing scripture alone doesn't make one spiritual but no matter what the motivation can be a good thing. I am now stuck with literally dozens of verses and even whole chapters of scriptures memorized and it's good. It actually is important and of value to everyday life. The biggest drawback is that unless I have the whole chapter memorized I often forget the reference of where the verse came from. Another downfall: All the scripture I have memorized is in the NIV and these days i typically read the ESV and sometimes the NLT which can make it a bit confusing.

Psalm 1 I memorized while being a camp counselor for a christian camp in high school. Every day my little group of campers would have to memorize a verse. I don't think I could forget this passage if I tried and it always brings to mind my little camper's faces and what we learned together.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

The drawback to scripture memorization is that it can become mechanical and lose it's impact. I know for me I oftentimes don't really look at the words; I just recite them but even in this simple Psalm I am challenged:

Do I delight in the law of the Lord? Are we even under the law since we now have grace? Do I meditate day and night on scripture? Or do I only read my bible out of duty instead of delight? Am I memorizing and meditating on scripture I haven't already memorized or am I just relying on past knowledge? Or past experience? Is my God active in my life today or am I just reliving the glory days when He seemed more real, more close to me?

What is your favorite verses you have memorized? Do you think scripture memorization is important?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Less Than

I'm about to get very personal.

Like most people, I love music. The thing is that I don't love to announce to the world what type of music or what bands I love. I just keep it private. For me to voluntarily share my musical interests is something I typically don't do. One of the reasons is because I truly love most genres of music. I have an appreciation for many types of music. (though my least favorite is country, never got into that type)

I began playing flute in third grade with a hand me down instrument that was used when my Aunt Ginny played it in elementary school. I'm sure it's not the greatest of flutes but I adored it even though I believe it's nickel plated instead of the usual silver plated type.

It just so happened that I was very good at flute. Learning to read music and playing flute just came to me effortlessly and I truly loved practicing. I'd practice to much my mom would tell me to stop! In jr. high I attended a small christian school that did not have band so I took private lessons and when I went to high school competed for a spot in the Symphonic band (rather than the beginning band that freshmen automatically went in) and won not only a spot there but also was granted the option of playing piccolo. There was something so compelling about playing the very smallest instrument and I really did enjoy it though I was quite a timid person so solos and being the shrillest instrument did not come easy for me!

My high school band travelled fairly extensively and competed often. Such a wonderful experience! We traveled with the jazz band so I was exposed to Jazz music and I secretly really enjoy that style. Being a "bleacher Kreature" (meaning being in the band that played at football games) my school's fight song, Peter Gunn and Birdland are forever etched in my memory. (well, at least the piccolo parts to them!)

Basically I state all this to simply say that I love music. I love classical, jazz, folk, pop, simply a huge variety of music. I listen to musicians no one else has probably heard of as well as certain popular groups as well.

My favorite band is U2. It's been U2 since jr. high. I've seen them in concert several times and back in April I was among the many that called and logged on to buy tickets to their 360 tour. The fact that it's in Pasadena did not deter me: I simply thought it'd be an excuse for a road trip reminiscent of high school, indeed I am going with my fellow U2 addict friend that has accompanied me on most if not all the U2 concerts I've been to. (she's such an addict she's flying to Chicago to see their first US performance)

This show sold out the first day tickets were available and is now selling for more than the face value of the ticket. The opening act is The Black Eyed Peas and I've read that it takes 2 days to prepare and dismantle "The Claw" and stage. My friend is still holding out hope for a Northern California tour but there's been no announcements yet. (if they do decide to come to CA in 2010 then I guess I'll just have to see it AGAIN!)

Less than 2 months away......

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Explorers Are We



Last night I went on a date with my husband. I oftentimes think such a phrase is so silly: Date night when one is married but with small kids to contend with I think I just might look forward to "date night" more now than I did before I married! It's definitely different: before marriage there was such an excitement of the unknown and the pain and joy of really beginning to know the other person. A sort or risk taking and surprise and giddiness.

After we were married we moved away to Seattle and explored the region together as we figured things out together, learned to rely and trust each other deeply. We felt like explorers and this part of a poem from Calvin and Hobbes sums it up quite well:

"Explorers are we, intrepid and bold,
Out in the wild, amongst wonders untold.
Equipped with our wits, a map, and a snack,
We're searching for fun and we're on the right track!"

In a way it perhaps was our mantra. Everything was a "first": First apartment together, first time living out of state together, finding a new church together, buying our first house together, making meals together, camping, friendships, we did everything together! We'd explore new restaurants together, new parts of town. Truly it was all an adventure



Things are definitely settled now and nothing seems to be a "first" and it's one of the reasons that this year we've taken a few trips together without kids (and loved it) and we enjoy and look forward to our nights to go out without kids. Sometimes we do explore but we tend to stick to the "tried and true" restaurants that we know we enjoy and I suppose I truly am a creature of habit because I typically order the same entree every time!

To make this a bit shorter: We took out the sportscar that hardly ventures out of the garage. It was a beautiful night and we had the top off and really enjoyed the short drive to our destination. While traveling there David pointed out the tiny little fingerprints on the side mirror from our kids. So cute. I asked if that bothered him and he said it makes him smile. Arrived and even found a parking spot. (a rarity) Was told there was a 30 to 45 minute wait and were handed a pager so we wandered a bit down the street. The outside tequila bar was packed and we could hear the live music emanating from it. We ventured into Peet's and talked and read for about 10 minutes when our pager went off (annoyingly) informing us our table was ready. We walked back and were led to the outdoor patio to dine. Now, here is where I could totally bore you going into a critique of the restaurant. I no longer do restaurant reviews but after over 3 years I still mentally go through the checklist and our service was quite good; we received water and our trio of salsas and fresh tortillas within 2 minutes of being seated, we were asked if we'd like to order drinks and certain ones were suggested, appetizers suggested. All perfect.

Then I realized that my iphone was out of battery power. I know, it's a date: I don't need an iphone! (or a book) but I really enjoy twitter and I love taking photos of the food and in a way "documenting" the evening. Instead I have to focus on other things which is all really good. And it was. After dinner, which was served within 10 minutes of ordering, we paid and walked around venturing into a book store where David went to the magazines, primarily film making magazines, sports, triathlon etc. I looked at books but I rarely buy books at full price so it was just fun to browse and smell them.

We thought about going to a movie but I was stuffed and tired so we just went home. A fun evening. I'll see if I can post a picture from my iphone of the steering wheel of our car.

Lost and Found



I admit; I gave up trying to find the book on Christian history that I lost. I was not like the widow in Luke 15 with the lost coin that she searched until it was found. I went to the schoolyard, checked the playground, the lost and found. Searched ever possible place I would have put it down at home, I even looked in Conor's bookshelf in case he mistakenly put my book in his room. (the book he's currently reading's cover is a similar color scheme) I did not give up easily but I eventually did face the fact would most likely never see this book again. I consoled myself with buying a better, larger book on Christian history. Still, being a book person I mourned the fact that I lost this book. I have a hard time with lost books and am just now realizing that I don't need to keep every book I read if I don't love it.

I found my book! Well, technically my husband found it. I forgot I brought it outside to read while watching the kids and David found it when he was done with his run and cooling off outside. I'm pretty excited to have it back but I started another book already that is not about history.

So just an update for all those wondering the fate of my book. What once was lost is now found and I'm quite happy. I'm posting some photos so you can see how mangled this book is! And yes there's even HIGHLIGHTING in it. Something I rarely if ever do to my beloved books. (I'm a purist)

Articulation


My 9 year old loves to talk, has a very expressive vocabulary and has ever since he could talk. He uses words that he hears in books and conversations that most 9 year old boys don't use. Yesterday was a very hot day and as my neighbor friend and my kids and I were walking home from school Conor remarked that it was a sweltering day. My neighbor turned to me and laughed as I informed Conor that in other areas this weather would be considered mild. Still, he persisted to use the word "sweltering". He's been impressive in speech since he was 4 years old which is pretty good since he did not even really start talking until he was three and a half!

I, on the other hand, am not articulate and most times don't quite annunciate my words quite right. (I suppose 6 years of speech therapy was not enough!) Ironically there must have been a time that I could speak clearly because I was very involved in drama in my church, school and community. But these days it's almost hopeless.

I bring all this up to ask a simple question: What is the gospel message? If someone were to ask you why they should believe in God what would you say? I had an interesting conversation a few months ago with a friend about this.

So, tell me: Why should your friends become Christ followers? Let's articulate what it means to be a Christ follower and why a sane, reasonable person should become a Christian?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Diet of Worms

It sounds so mysterious and icky: Diet of Worms. Martin Luther. I have been reading a book by Mark Noll titled Turning Points: Decisive Moments in Christian History. Started in the beginning and it was all quite interesting, council of Nicaea, council of Chalcedon, the Benedictine Monks, Charlemagne, the crusades, rise of Islam, and I finally started the chapter on Martin Luther, his 95 theses and the Diet of Worms. Who can resist such a chapter? So I am at where Luther is called to reaffirm or recant his writings, and he basically apologized for his harshness but would not recant his writings unless he could be shown through Scripture he was wrong.

And then I lost my book. It's gone. I've dragged this book along with me everywhere; to lunch dates, as I walk to pick up my kids, Carried to every room in the house, cooked dinner while reading it, read it while eating dinner, I've taken this thing everywhere.

Now normally I am quite careful with my books; I do like to keep them nearly perfect and usually this is easy to do because I read things very quickly so I don't have to cart the book with me for a long period of time.... but this book I bought used, in just okay condition. I could not make it look worse if I tried! So this has been my take anywhere book and it's not the most easy to read books but it's quite interesting, especially now that I've finally come to Martin Luther. What a cliffhanger!

So of course I'm still searching for this book. I either left it at the schoolyard or it's somewhere in my house. I'm so desperate I have even contemplated purchasing it again but it wasn't as in depth as I'd have liked so I did what any logical, desperate person would do: I sent out a tweet asking for recommendations. My pastor friend Charlie who is married to my friend Denise that I've known since jr. high and is my "sister", replied with a suggestion so now that book which is over 1500 pages long is on order through half.com and on its way to me.

I know I'm crazy but to me it just started getting really interesting! Another friend sent a direct message tweet to my request for a book recommendation and simply said "The Bible, perhaps" to which I replied that the Bible isn't going to tell me about the Diet of Worms and he replied that he "hadn't had a need for such knowledge". I'm not sure I have a NEED; I just find it fascinating and reading about this stuff in many ways puts me in awe at how things transpired and realizing that God truly is sovereign.

Plus, I do love biographies and do find it interesting that these people who loved God so wholeheartedly still got certain things "wrong" ..... still struggled with life. Still had to choose to pick up their cross daily and were imperfect in that. Yet God uses the imperfect. I was even chatting wit a friend the other day who does not hold Luther as a man in high regard and it was an interesting discussion. I can see her viewpoint but I'd urge her to read more about him. Yes; he had failings as we all but what he did was quite extraordinary and he Loved God and did much in word and deed.

Am I rambling? I suppose I am. All this to say I miss my book! It's even harder because I just don't like to lose books. I'm grateful it was one of my own instead of someone else's! Oh, just a tidbit of information: Did you know you can download several books by John Piper, Martin Luther, Charles Wesley and several more for your iphone at http://www.olivetree.com/

Still, I am on a mission to find that book! I guess I'll wait until the mail brings me my new, different 1500 page volume of church history 1500 to the present.

In closing, here's the words to Martin Luther's most famous hymn, oft called the "battle hymn of the reformation". Enjoy!

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

WDJD: What Did Jesus Do?

Oh the joy of having three children! There's always some type of discussion and since one is almost 5 and the other is 6, peppered with the know-it-all almost 10 year old, the discussions are always intriguing if not exasperating at times.

This morning alone Katie asked why I hadn't fixed her project during the night. She had created a cute pig on a popsicle stick and it fell off the stick and needed taping. So, I apologize for forgetting to fix it and promptly do this. To which Katie says that pigs are important and Reid disagrees because pigs only give us meat like bacon, and I, their wonderful mother, never cooks bacon. Katie is now defending pigs usefulness and contribution to society with "they roll in the mud!" Yes. An important contribution. David, my husband, and I just laughed. And the two went on about pigs which turned into a conversation about farms which in turn switched to chickens, which led back to pigs and to swine flu (H1N1) . It's always a lively discussion around our house about some pretty mundane topics, or topics that should be mundane but to a 4 year old and a 6 year old are decidedly of interest.

There is one discussion that I really wish I could end. It's completely nonsense and it's intent is only to antagonize the other sibling. It's really ridiculous and yet as much as I try to give them tools to deal with it, it never sinks in.

Here's the scenario: One child (usually the older) says something that is utterly untrue about the younger child, just to upset them. It's a silly statement, completely untrue and yet they come to me complaining in tears that the other said that she's a baby or that her bow was blue when it was green. I try to tell them that it doesn't matter what someone says, what matters is the truth and the truth is that she's not a baby or that her bow color was the color it was and not what her brother said.

Pretty straightforward, pretty simple, right? NO! This is an ongoing conversation.

Supposedly when I was younger, even though I was the oldest, my brother also loved to bug me in this way and would tell me that my eyes were brown. (they're blue; my whole family's eyes were blue) This would cause me much tears and I always would believe him and be upset.

This all seems so very silly but I wonder at times if I still am prone to such things. I take in other's expectations and demands and what others say and expect of me. I think I'm not thin enough or intelligent enough or good enough in a variety of ways. Even in church there can be a subtle undertone of "not enough".

The truth is I'm not good enough, will never BE good enough and that's the reason for the Gospel. I'm reading a book right now by Elyse Fitzpatrick called Counsel From the Cross. It's been interesting as I find a certain parallel in my kids insistence that what their siblings say is true and my own insistence that what the outside is telling me is truth. I forget often what the Gospel message is and how it relates to me and impacts my daily life; not just when I first believed or when I die but daily. To realize that I am nothing but through Christ I gain everything. To realize that yes, I'm unworthy but through Him I am of infinite worth. To be forgiven so I can in turn live a life of forgiving others. To realize what Christ did on the cross, truly realize it in more than words and more than Christmas or Easter stories.

If I am truly forgiven and realize the Gospel message, would that impact how I view my God? How I view myself? And others? If I really got a glimpse of the love that God poured out for me, for you, would it change my daily life?

The reality is that this is truth and yet I listen to the other stuff instead of relying on what is truth. Over the summer I read Jerry Bridges' book The Discipline of Grace in which it exhorts us to "Preach the Gospel" to ourselves daily and I glossed over that. In church we've been discussing the gospel and what it means and yet I still haven't exactly grasped it.

Nineteenth-century Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield wrote: There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ's sake. or we cannot ever be accepted at all...This is not of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we believe. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It's always on His "blood and righteousness" alone that we can rest. "

As much as I know that my worth is in Christ I still listen to the world's taunting. I still doubt, I still wonder and I still don't rest in His love and who He is and his infinite love for His children.

In the book Counsel from the Cross, Elyse (I can call her that; I've had dinner with her once) asks how the work of the cross, Christ's atoning sacrifice and ascension, impacts life today? Is it relevant to our daily life? Our struggles and our joys?

Something to think about.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Resolutions

I don't know where this came from. I did not compile it but thought it was good, especially in light of the fact that I'll be studying James in my women's bible study at church.

The book of James has at least 20 Resolutions that need to be part of the Christian's convenat with God about how the believer is going to employ the tongue and lips, and master the heart in such a way that the beauty of Jesus is expressed:

1. I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to him. (1:5)

2. I resolve to boast only in the exultation I receive in Jesus Christ and also in the humiliation I receive for Jesus Christ. (1:9-10)

3. I resolve to set a watch over my mouth. (1:13)

4. I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak. (1:19)

5. I resolve to learn the gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor. (2:1-4)

6. I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment (2:12)

7. I resolve never to stand on anyone's face with the words I employ. (2:16)

8. I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I do not truly experience. (3:14)

9. I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidence of a a bad heart that needs to be mortified. (4:1)

10. I resolve never to speak decided evil against another out of a heart of antagonism. (4:11)

11. I resolve never to boast in any thing but what I will accomplish. (4:13)

12. I resolve to speak as one subject to the providences of God. (4:15)

13. I resolve never to grumble. The judge is set at the door. (5:9)

14. I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say. (5:12)

15. I resolve to speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer. (5:13)

16. I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I'm cheerful. (5:14)

17. I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I'm in need. (5:14)

18. I resolve to confess it whenever I have failed. (5:15)

19. I resolve to pray with others for one another whenever I am together with them. (5:15)

20. I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander. (5:19)

Okay, maybe I don't like James! Definitely not a feel good book! As I wrote out this list of resolutions I wonder: Who can keep these perfectly?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Falling For Fall



Autumn. I know it's still summer and typically here in California we have summer weather well into October, but this week it's started off foggy in the mornings. I was able to dress Katie in a long sleeved shirt, plaid skirt, knee highs and a jacket on her first day of school. I was actually secretly happy to have her wear her fall wardrobe already. Usually all the fall muted colors and schoolgirl plaid hardly gets worn before winter arrives and I pull out the fun winter themed attire. (and yes, it's all about a theme)

I really do enjoy fall. I look forward to the time change and the crisper weather. I enjoy the different types of food such as soups and stews, pumpkin pies and etc. On an aesthetic level, I love the colors and lighting of autumn. The overcast days provides wonderful diffused lighting, the colors are just so warm and provokes a certain feel to me. I love taking photos of the pumpkin patch with the kids...... all those round, orange pumpkins, the delight on my kids faces as they carefully scour the pumpkin patch looking for the perfect pumpkin. I love the dressing up in costumes. I like Thanksgiving with family, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, the drizzle of rain, the first time my kids don their new rain jackets and rain boots to go puddle stomping,
I like going for hikes to find fire belly newts and going to to beach to watch the larger waves and David surfing on them!

For a person that likes the familiar and routine, it's funny how I actually look forward to change, and yet the things I am looking forward to are actually the familiar and staples of the season. Is it even possible to look forward to something that is absolutely unknown? Even then aren't we looking forward to it out of our expectations and aren't are expectations based on something that is known?

What are the things you are looking forward to in this beautiful season of Autumn?

Monday, August 24, 2009

A New Year


I know, I know! It's not really the New Year and yet for those in school or with kids in school THIS is it. More important and more of a milestone than January 1st.

It's the beginning of a new school year and this means endless possibilities, a true new start and a new backpack and lunch box too! Conor went to school this morning with a backpack brimming with 4 newly sharpened, cedar scented pencils that were my favorite as a child. (they simply write better) 24 colored pencils, crayons, scissors, erasable pens, a binder, paper, etc. Reid was asked to bring even more supplies but they were to be shared with the entire class. Taking a cue from his brother, he also simply had to have a binder, as this was the mark of a true "older' student. Katie was required to bring nothing. (yet) Im sure that will change.

My kids are excited by the possibilities of a new school year. New friends, teachers, opportunities and challenges. It's perhaps even more special this year as several people from our street are also in kindergarten and 2 of them are in Katie's class so we are able to play on the playground with them and walk home with them.

As we were walking home Katie's little friend Andrew noticed that Katie was dragging her backpack and offered to carry it for her. Andrew's mommy and I just laughed. It's really sweet to see their friendship. and I'm so thankful to have good neighborhood friends my kids enjoy playing with.

It's going to be a great school year!

Kicking and Screaming

Today was the first day of Kindergarten for my final child. It was a hard morning. My kids were all awake, dressed and fed before 7am and counting down the minutes until we could finally walk to school. It seemed to take forever but once at school the time went too quickly to even begin to savor.

All went very smoothly; all 3 kids were smiling, David and I were smiling. But as the last child (not mine) entered the kindergarten classroom, it was evident it was going to be a long day for the kindergarten teacher: Kicking, screaming, clawing, escaping..... I began to cry as I thought of my precious little girl and how I had done so much to prepare her and confidently reassure her that she'd be fine. So much trust she had in me to go into the classroom alone and then this one child was so very upset! As the teacher tried to contain this little boy and calm him, several kids went to the doorway, looking for one more assurance from mom or dad that everything was indeed fine. Then the door closed but we could still hear the screaming and I said a silent prayer for the child, parents and teacher, as well as the kids. I then began to cry and my neighbor hugged me and said how can you be crying? But I was. I was fine until the kicking and screaming kid.

I wonder..... perhaps the kid was right to be kicking and screaming. Can you imagine being 4 years old, out of your routine and safety of home with a loving mom and dad and siblings and everything familiar that you know and love and be forced to come to a new place with new routines and rules that you don't even understand? Add to that this little boy's parents spoke a completely different language while consoling him. Can you imagine what it would be like? Being only four there's such a limited understanding and a desire for safety and familiarity.

In a way, it's logical. In fact the strange thing is that sometimes the logical things are not the best things or decisions. Logically it would be safer to keep my kids with me. Logically one would seek to minimize risks, hurts and unfairness. Yet the more one is exposed to these things the more learns from this and growth occurs. Building block upon building blocks of trust and experience. Even through failure one gains valuable insight that prepares them for yet more risk and hurt and true growth. I was reading the other day that working out and exercise actually is breaking the body down and it is through the recovery/repair phase that is building the body back up, better and stronger than before. I think life is a bit like that too...... to engage in things that are a stretch, or a struggle. To be uncomfortable and it's in that uncomfortableness that true growth occurs, if it is followed by a rest or recovery time to further absorb the "training".

I don't know. Lately I've been faced with multiple choices, and trying to wade into the muck to figure out which path is correct. Instinct tells me one thing: self preservation and safety yet these things that once brought security and safety haven't been working.... but the alternative seems much more risky and counter-intuitive. Logically, rationally, it simply makes little sense. Paradox. Last shall be first. Lose your life to gain it.

I don't know. In conclusion I have no answers except to say that there are many times I'm inwardly kicking and screaming too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Enquiry

"As our blessed Lord has required to pray that his kingdom may come, and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven, it becomes us not only to express our desires of that event by words, but to use every lawful method to spread the knowledge of his name....We are exhorted "to lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal." It is also declared that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." These Scriptures teach us that the enjoyments of the life to come, bear a near revelation to that which now is; a relation similar to that of the harvest, and the seed. It is true all the reward is of mere grace, but it is nevertheless encouraging; what a "treasure," what an "harvest" much await such characters as PAUL, and ELLIOT, and BRAINERD [missionaries to North American Indians John Elliot and David Brainerd], and others, who have given themselves wholly to the work of the Lord. What a heaven will it be to see the many myriads of poor heathens, of Britons amongst the rest, who by their labours have been brought into the knowledge o God. Surely a "crown of rejoicing"" like this is worth aspiring to. Surely it is worth while to lay ourselves out with all our might, in promoting the cause, and kingdom of Christ."- William Carey

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Too Late For Such Questions

In full disclosure I have had 3 diet cokes since 9pm and even a bit of sugar so of course I can't sleep and my mind is going in circles.

First of all, I make no sense. I am a skeptic of much, in deep thought about the things I hear and read in the Bible and yet there are many things that make little sense that I simply find myself believing. Like Jonah being swallowed by a big fish for three days. I believe that happened. I believe that Christ did many miracles and rose from the dead.

I remember a book that was very popular several years ago titled Don't Sweat The Small Stuff. Well, I suppose I do sweat the small stuff.

I was reading tonight in Acts 16. The familiar story of Paul and Silas in prison, praying and singing hymns to God and they were freed by a great earthquake. Wouldn't one immediately think that God had come to their rescue? That He wanted them to flee and be released? Yet Paul and the prisoners stayed so they could share the gospel with the prison guard, a prison guard who no doubt heard their prayers and hymns and fully believed that their God provided an earthquake for their release. He asks "What must I do to be saved?" The answer? "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household." They spoke the Gospel to him and his family (somehow they managed to be there too) and the guard washed their wounds and was baptized at once, and all his family..... and he took them to his home, fed them and "rejoiced along with his entire household that he believed in God."

This entire account (and more that I haven't mentioned) completely baffles me. First: the slave girl that had the demon in her, she spoke the truth...... "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation." Yet Paul was annoyed and cast out her demon...... a demon that spoke truth! I never think of demons that speak truth.

Of course, this is the reason that Paul and Silas were beaten and put into jail: Because they took away the owner of the slave girl's income since she was of value to them through her fortune-telling. It seems in the book of Acts to profit from something often works against the gospel message. I find this interesting because Christianity today has become an industry of great profit. And this causes me so many more questions.

Last fall I went through a study of James and it brings up testing of one's faith and to consider it joy when facing trials of many kinds. Likewise, 1 Peter brings up twice enduring sorrows while suffering unjustly and again admonishes us to rejoice in suffering and sharing in Christ's sufferings. I wonder if it wasn't just the earthquake and the fact that Paul and Silas remained in the jail when by all accounts they could and should of have left, but combined with the witness of their singing and praying to God that caused the jailer to believe in God. Words plus the action of obedience in the joy they expressed when one would expect only the absence of joy and then the fact that thy did not escape the jail.

Like I mentioned before, I am baffled by the fact that Paul and company remained in jail after it seemed God clearly was releasing them. Yet even though God was releasing them, Paul remained and was able to share the good news with the jailer. I don't understand this one bit. How often have I been in situations where I think that by the circumstances that God had clearly intervened and because of such I had a clear answer of what I was to do. I don't know. When I was in high school I performed in a a production my church put on about the story of Joseph. I believe it was called "Dreamer" Interestingly, I remember and can recite most of the songs and even dialogue in the musical. In it there's a song called He Opens A Window. Basically, the saying of when God closes a door he opens a window. To me, this earthquake was a sign of an open door, right? A miraculous sign that if it was me, I'd think that God wanted me to flee and yet Paul stays to share Christ with the jailer. How'd he know? Was there another motive for staying? I actually think there was: The Church in Philippi. I wonder if it was for the sake of the Gospel and the Church that he did not wish to run and be considered a lawbreaker and make the gospel message more difficult. I find this very interesting too. I have no answers.

Back to the jailer: He believed. He brought his whole household and they believed and were immediately baptized. I don't understand baptism. I was baptized when I was 9 or 10 and I know that I accepted Christ (when I was 4) and I knew what baptism meant and I was baptized in a baptist church so of course baptism is a large part of their belief system, but in the church I attended in Jr. High through college, the portable baptismal was filled maybe 4 times a year for baptisms. Since being married I have attended churches for the past 15 years and have yet to witness a single baptism in the 4 churches I attended and I wonder: Is baptism mandatory? (or is there just less conversions?) Is it a part of the salvation process or is it the public declaration and not necessary or as important as just a private decision to believe and follow God? Ironically, before I even was reminded of this passage while lying in bed tonight, I was at church with a group of scrapbooking ladies and the subject actually came up about baptism and how in the early church people believed and were baptized right away. So why is that something that we don't do anymore? I don't think I believe that baptism is required for salvation, but..... well, I'm confused. Anyone care to explain?

And the next musing: Again in Acts, the phrase: "you and your household" or "the entire household" believed in the Lord and was saved. Again, tonight we were talking about Catholicism and infant baptism and all that and I knew there are reasons and verses that certain denominations use for upholding that belief and I wonder if these verses are it? I don't know. Just a thought and for the record, I don't believe in infant baptism. I wonder if the phrase is used so heavily in Acts because it was a given; the gospel fully lived out, will be shared in a household by those closest to the person that has been transformed. I don't know exactly because then there's the thought that not all are chosen to be Christ followers. But that's another discussion.

The jailer heard Paul singing and praying even though Paul and Silas had been treated unfairly and beaten. He witnessed a miracle of God. Paul then stayed (and saved his life, spiritually and physically) to witness to him and his whole family believed and was baptized at once. The jailer washed their wounds, took them home and fed them... and rejoiced because he he believed in God. Paul was released privately in the morning and that wasn't enough: Paul demanded (again, for the sake of the gospel and Church?) to be publicly released and the leaders even apologized to them.

This Gospel is powerful and yet I am a skeptic. Tonight I meant to just randomly list the top 50 questions going through my head. I was going to start with the earthquake and Paul and Silas' obedience in staying in jail even when it seemed so clear God was providing for them. As I read the chapter I realized I had many more questions than just this one. So I now ask what your thoughts are. How does one know what God's will is? Wasn't this clearly an open door? What about baptism? Is it still mandated today? Why are there so few baptism? Why are they relegated to twice a year or less? Are there any conversions? What about the truth speaking demon in the slave girl? What about a whole household being saved? What about infant baptism? What about joy in suffering? What about profitable Christianity and Christianity as an industry?

Friday, August 21, 2009

The List



Today The List is posted.

What? Don't know what I'm talking about? Ahhh, you don't have a child starting school then! The classroom assignments are being posted today at most schools in my district. Today the kindergarten was posted at 9am and there was a little orientation as well followed by refreshments provided by the PTA. (and all the sign up lists to volunteer as well!)

I was barely on the school campus when someone I don't even know comes up to me, verifies who I am and then asks if I'm going to head up the Reflections contest this year. (Reflections is an art competition) I said yes, mostly because I love this program and know that if I declined it would not be done. It's one of those "non-essential" things that is easy to not do.

Finally made my way to The List but did not even need to get close enough to read it when a friend comes over to me and states the teacher Katie got. I'm fine with it. I'd be fine with any of the Kindergarten teachers and this teacher is really very sweet and nice and I know that Katie will do wonderfully in her class.

So I finish chatting with other moms (one of the great things about having older kids at the school; I guess I know a lot of moms!) and go into the classroom. I instruct Katie to sit at the tables. She refuses. Odd, as she is usually obedient and compliant and I realize as she's clinging to my leg that she's a bit scared! (Yeah, I guess I'm not the most intuitive mom) This is a first. My boys had no problem happily getting used to kindergarten and my little girl is fairly outgoing, loud, and rarely shy, especially around kids. I continue to (nicely) encourage her to sit down and meet some other little girls. She's disappointed her neighbor friend is not in her class.

She does well, still clingy and meets her teacher, who recognizes her as "Reid's sister". She hides behind my pant leg. I mention to enjoy the silence now because in a week she wont' be this quiet! Out of all my kids, Katie will most likely be the one that gets in trouble for talking with others in class. (but she's a girl, it's expected, right?)

Turns out that Katie is in the same class as 2 others on her street. I know one slightly and the other I did not even know she lived near us until I asked. Turns out they live across the street! Ouch! They have the sweetest little girl and 2 high school boys..... and I have never ventured across the street to meet them.

All that is changing. I'm so excited by this school year and really feel it's a great opportunity to meet my neighbors more. (One lives directly across the street, the other one door down) And of course, our behind our house fence neighbor. (but her son's in a different class) I was able to introduce my fence neighbor to a great many moms since so many had kids in the class her son was in.

On the playground my kids loved connecting with the other kids, new friends and old. I was asked to be in charge of yearbook for the school year. Yikes! That's quite an endeavor but I'll just have to be more structured and disciplined. I can do it, right? And reflections and volunteering in 3 classrooms, and.......

I am at heart an introvert and yet I really do love interacting with others. It was wonderful meeting my neighbors and allowing my kids to play. There was such excitement and anticipation, by the adults and the kids, heightened by the fact that this is Kindergarten; many moms are sending their first child to school! Other moms like me are old pros but somehow, with this being my last, I find myself perhaps more emotional than they are! It's simply hard to look into a cute 4 year old face that is so full of hope and yet a bit timid and say goodbye to her and not be allowed to be part of her day!

But I'm happy. The List is posted. I love her teacher, love the fact that all the kindergarteners on our street are in the same class (though I'm the only SAHM) I'm looking forward to being forced into true community with my neighbors, I'm even looking forward to yearbook. It's a new school year afresh with all sorts of possibilities and challenges. And I'm ready.

It's going to be a great year. Oh wait, maybe I should wait until the boys' List is posted tonight before I say that!

3 Is A Magic Number

Okay, so maybe my title is a bit of an exaggeration! I guess my title in a way is telling of my age: Yes I grew up with Schoolhouse Rock and a wonderful friend of mine gave me the complete DVD of all the songs and cartoon "videos".

What's your favorite?

So back to 3. I have three kids and I generally am happy with that. I have been told that after the third you can just add a few more and it's about the same amount of work, but I'm a bit leery of that! For me, 2 kids seemed not enough and yet 3 kids seemed a bit too much! Plus most of my friends have 3 kids so they must also be a little suspicious of those that claim that 5 or 6 kids is the same amount of work and hardship as 3

In a way, I suppose it is. By the third child a mom is pretty relaxed and feels (erroneously) that there's nothing the 3rd could do that the other 2 hadn't already done: Getting into the syrup and flour at the same time, eating chocolate chips at 3am, high fevers and trips to the ER, cuts, scrapes, moms are generally relaxed and even-keeled when it comes to the 3rd child, so it stands to reason that a mom would feel the same with kids after that: I'm still unconvinced and that perhaps is because my youngest is very creative when it comes to getting into things. (I often wonder: What was she thinking?) Add a few more like her and..... I just don't know! But for the most part, I'm a fairly relaxed mom and I don't think I would have reached that if it wasn't for the fact that I have 3 kids.

The good thing about 3? There's always someone to play with. The bad thing? Well, I just won't go there or it'll sound like excessive complaining and the overall reality is I love my 3 kids. There is a bit of chaos and laundry seems never ending and my house is never clean and sometimes I don't feed them the healthiest of dinners but I love them and our family of five. I do think it's a magic number but whatever the number you have, that's magic.

In case you just had to see the lyrics:

Three is a magic number,
Yes it is, it's a magic number.
Somewhere in the ancient, mystic trinity
You get three as a magic number.

The past and the present and the future.
Faith and Hope and Charity,
The heart and the brain and the body
Give you three as a magic number.

It takes three legs to make a tri-pod
Or to make a table stand.
It takes three wheels to make a ve-hicle
Called a tricycle.

Every triangle has three corners,
Every triangle has three sides,
No more, no less.
You don't have to guess.
When it's three you can see
It's a magic number.

A man and a woman had a little baby,
Yes, they did.
They had three in the family,
And that's a magic number.

3-6-9, 12-15-18, 21-24-27, 30.
3-6-9, 12-15-18, 21-24-27, 30.
Multiply backwards from three times ten:

Three time ten is (30), three times nine is (27),
Three times eight is (24), three times seven is (21),
Three times six is (18), three times five is (15),
Three times four is twelve,
And three times three is nine, and three times two is six,
And three times one is three of course.

Now take the pattern once more:
Three! . . .3-6-9
Twelve! . . .12-15-18
Twenty-one!. . .21-24-27. . .30

Now multiply from 10 backwards:
Three time ten is (30 - Keep going), three times nine is (27),
Three times eight is (24), three times seven is (21),
Three times six is (18), three times five is (15),
Three times four is twelve,
And three times three is nine, and three times two is six,
And three times one...
What is it?!
Three!
Yeah, That's a magic number.

A man and a woman had a little baby.
Yes, they did.
They had three in the family.
That's a magic number.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thoroughly Modern

David took a week off and painted the house. We've lived here almost 8 years and finally agreed that we simply HAD to paint the house! The big question: What color? At first we thought it'd be simpler to stay with the blue-gray that we currently had, and yet I really wanted a change! In the past 15 years of marriage we have owned 2 houses and one condo. Both houses have been a very similar blue-gray! So I really wanted a change. But then I did not. But then I did. I kept changing my mind! I decided either would be fine but IF we went brown, I wanted it a darker brown than just beige; lots of the houses on my street are a nondescript generic beige. (not that it's a bad color; it's just that it's so similar to everyone on our street)

We went to Kelly Moore and just stared at the samples they had prominently displayed on an easel in their parking lot; it was nearly closing time and we're just standing in the parking lot! So the guy comes out asking if he could help us and we just laugh. I don't think anyone could help us!

A friend of David's had painted his house "chadwick and malibu beige." It was nice; too light for my taste. Long story short: we came home with samples for both Chadwick and another darker color. Put them up and both David and I realized we did not like either; one was beige and the other the color of cardboard! So this time David went to return the samples and choose a color. He came home with 10 gallons of it. I guess it was "it". We did not even test it out. Turns out i don't think we could have picked a better color! It's a nice, warm brown with "swiss coffee" trim. (Translation: White!) The accent color that was recommended is a red and we're still deciding if we'll do anything with that.

Of course I probably don't need to tell you about the actual days of painting! We were fortunate to have my brother in law give up his time to help and a friend came on Sunday. Of course it took longer and more paint than anticipated. Of course things went wrong and our paint sprayer broke and all that but by Sunday night it looked good. It's still not perfect; David's still painting the eves, the garage door and some of the corners and touch up work but if you stand across the street it looks really good! All our neighbors really love it. As one put it; it's quite a modern color; makes our house look completely different and not quite the 70's stucco ranch style it is. (that's a good thing!)

I'm happy. Now to begin painting and remodeling the inside. It's never ending. There's a part of me that would love a new, better, larger house but I know I should be happy. Actually, I miss our first house: a 1920's bungalow in Seattle with a total of one bedroom upstairs and a half finished basement with another (larger) bedroom: this truly was a postage stamp house and I loved it.. but that's another story.

As for now, we have a freshly painted "modern" (at least in paint choice) house. Now we just need a new microwave, dining room table, bedroom set, drawers for the kids, an addition,...... should I go on?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Than Words

Ironic that a few days ago I posted about how I love words. I do love words and I love to write. Writing is an outlet for me and I'm quite glad that I started this blog a few months ago: I need it!

It has been suggested that I have a head knowledge faith and I've struggled with that but wonder if it's true. I read many books, love to figure things out but how good am I at applying what I learn or believe? It's not enough to think and figure things out and write about it; it must be lived out and unfortunately, I have failed in this area. I desire to serve and have a servant's heart but when it actually is tested I have failed.

It hurts to fail. It hurts to figure out how to move on when one feels there is no place to go.

I desire my faith to be more than words. I have in some ways hid behind my questions as a way to focus on that instead of living my faith out. My words which really help me in some ways have become a hindrance to me.

I struggle with what to do and how to respond because I want to instantly make things better but the reality is I can't do that: Only time can prove that I'm working to make things better. Only time can prove it's more than words.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

James: Anything But Sweet!

I'm so excited! For my readers who don't know me, I'm a book snob. I am just now finally getting to where I can read a book I don't agree with and find some redeeming qualities in it. I've been forced to as there are few books that I agree with 100%.

But there are a few books I really have a hard time with! One such book happened to be the choice my church's Bible Study decided on and went through last spring: Captivating by Stasi Eldredge. (and I feel I have to admit, it was a good study to get to know each other better and become open and transparent) Oh, I behaved badly and dissected it, underlining every little thing I had the tiniest problem with; her word choices, her assertion that us women are the crown of creation,.... "Creation reached it's zenith in me!" Just because we were created last did not mean that women are God's piece de resistance. Plus it bothered me that it portrayed God as a needy God who pines away for us and is incomplete without us. I do believe that God wants to be known and desires to be in relationship with us but not sure it's because He needs us or is incomplete without us.... but I do believe the Bible shows that He desires a relationship with us.... because He is God, the Great I AM, worthy of our praises and the Creator of all!

But I digress, My point is James! Beautiful, difficult, hard hitting James! This fall, it seems that the wonderful Women's Ministry leaders have chosen James to study this Fall. I have recently studied James and I'm excited! What a truly convicting, difficult book to go through! (I know; why does this excite me?)

So, the big question: It's the same study I finished last fall. (18 weeks) Do I sign up with this group of friends and go through it again? The good thing is that I won't need to buy a new book! (and already have the answers!)

But the real reason I feel I have to be a part of this study? First of all, the community and connection with friends. Secondly, this was the best study I've ever done! And I haven't mastered a single thing that James teaches. I fail miserably when it comes to "taming my tongue", considering things joy in trials, judging others, dealing with conflict, patiently enduring, favoritism, and hearing and living my faith out, plus I struggle all the time with the concept of Faith vs. Works, or as my friend puts it in her study: Justified By Faith That Works. (James 2:20-26)

I could probably review James for the rest of my life and still struggle with the magnitude of issues it addresses! So excited! If you attend our church, you won't want to miss out in this study! James: Real Faith.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Words


I love words. I love to write words. I love to read words. Words are my friends.

It is through words I can express my thoughts, the deepest part of what I feel and experience. I find great comfort as I try to find words that adequately capture my thoughts or feelings. I usually choose words that will provide clarity and understanding so I can share accurately what I want to get across.

It is through words that I can comfort others and find comfort in others, and yet it is through words that I can deeply wound people or cause a chasm that perhaps will never be bridged.

Words are powerful, more powerful than most realize and so often I use them without thinking. Words can be used to build up or tear down, and how easily it is to tear down! In a similar vein, James says that no human being can tame the tongue and describes it as "a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell." James 3:6

Written words are my sanctuary and solace often, as I love to read. I find such comfort through words and as I write I realize I am in a way entrusting you, my reader, to understand my words correctly. Whenever I write something I am trusting that they will be read the way I intended and yet I have little control over how they might come across.

It's a risk but I love words, and will always love words. At times I carefully craft them, other times I am callously careless with them. I take them at face value but oftentimes search words for deeper meanings. It does not escape me the choice of words people use and too often I think why they chose them? Sometimes a person can come across in agreement but a careful look at the words reveal that they really did not say much of anything! Like the apology that wasn't acutally an apology; a carefully crafted sentence can reveal or conceal.

I love that my God is a God of words. The use of "word" is mentioned in the Bible over 1000 times.

Words brings:

Condemnation
Reconciliation
Conviction
Understanding
Judgement
Revelation
Hope
Obedience
Guidance
Love
Joy
Sorrow
Encouragement
Destruction
Comfort
Pain
Acceptance
Reassurance
Eternal Life
Forgiveness

Jesus was the Word.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tradition or Technology?


A few days ago I was excited about a new application on my iPhone that has 16 english translations of the Bible, and then more in other languages as well. (if you don't have an iPhone you can still use this on your computer.... http://www.youversion.com/)

I'm really excited about this and so I begin thinking: With 16 translations to choose from, do I even need to bring my "real" Bible to church on Sunday mornings? 16 translations! From my favorite ESV to the one that my pastor usually uses on Sunday morning, the NLT. This has the Amplified, KJV, NKJV, NASB, The Message, NIV, NET.... need I go on?

I was taught to bring a Bible to church with me. Always. Before I could even read I brought a Bible to church, so it's just one of those things that I do without thinking much. I suppose for many it's not as important these days to bring a Bible because the Scripture at our church is prominently displayed for us on the screens in the same translation that the Pastor is teaching from. Last week we had a guest speaker who preached from Jeremiah and did not use the screens to put up the Scripture he was preaching from and I heard a sound I don't usually hear: Pages rustling. I looked around and was realized that in almost every row there was at least one person looking up the verses in their Bible. (in my row, there were 3 Bibles being opened) I loved the sound.

I am incredibly partial to "real" books and "real" Bibles. I love the feel of actual paper pages, to me it's more than a book. Plus, I enjoy being able to freely lend my books to others and love seeing all my beloved titles on my bookshelf. I love the idea of a Kindle or E-books because it's a lot easier and less cumbersome to go on vacation with ebooks loaded on a kindle instead of stowing 5 or 6 heavy books in my suitcase! But I simply still prefer "real" books. I know, this could change someday but I'm not sure.... I really love my books.

And yet... (two of my favorite words, dreaded words for others) and yet, I am really tempted to simply bring an iPhone to church and access The Word in digital medium. Why not? But I'm hesitant. First, I already am given a bad time about having my iPhone with me in church. People don't know if I'm playing a game, checking email or facebook or tweeting. The reality is that it's quite possible I could be taking notes on my iPhone or reading my Bible. But why would I even need to "turn to Colossians" in my Bible or iPhone if it's already on the church's screen anyways? Could it be I just bring a Bible out of tradition? So, if that is true, I guess, out of "tradition" I'd want to bring my trusted "real" Bible, the one that's encased in leather. (or fake leather)

I'm really wrestling with all this. (I know it's silly) First, when I have brought out my iPhone, it's a bit annoying. My church usually is pretty dimly lit in the auditorium/sanctuary. Actually, it's probably easier to read the Bible on my iPhone than in book form, but to do so creates a "glow"..... it's a bit distracting for others. Perhaps in a few years (or months) when everyone has a phone that can do everything but open a bottle of beer people won't feel it's so distracting to be reading the Bible on their phone. Until then, I am trying to be considerate. (and yes, I admit, I'd be tempted to check my email.

So, I still haven't addressed the use of twitter during church. Not sure I'm up for that one yet. :-) After all, if most of my friends take issue with me reading the Bible on my iPhone and taking notes on my iPhone, I perhaps don't wish to know what they'd think of twitter!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Love Costco



I love Costco, but when I first knew of it's existence it was called Price Club and my youth pastor would take a few of us there for lunch, his treat. (yes, those 1.50 hot dogs and soda were quite a draw!)

I now love Costco for so many different reasons! First, even though in a previous post I said I love information and the more information the better, one of the biggest draw for me is the fact that there aren't as many choices as there are in other stores! Plus, I can look at a wide range of products all at once. I love it. There's a bit of trust that Costco has decided for me which products are better and "worthy" of it's shelf space. (might not be quite true but it's a feeling) I feel fairly confident that their everyday price is as cheap or perhaps cheaper than a store's sale price, and I just enjoy the atmosphere. Strange, I know.

But my favorite thing to do, my favorite indulgence, is the book section. I'm not sure why because I don't read a ton of fiction and rarely buy books on the NY Times bestseller list. (I read them, just don't typically buy them) Sometimes it is hard to resist buying a book..... 5.99 or 6.99 seems so easy to plunk down for instant satisfaction of reading as soon as I get home!

Today my whole family went to Costco to buy some of the basics. We enjoyed the time together, eating in the food court for under 10 dollars, perusing the furniture and dreaming of how our house should look like. (again, there is beauty in having very few choices at times) We bought beer, chicken, salad, fruit, cereal, cheese, milk, diet coke, etc.

Then I reached the books. Glanced over the cookbooks; I really don't cook and already own at least 20 that I never use but somehow firmly think that by owning a colorful, hip, amazing cookbook that I'll magically be transformed to a great chef. Well, that hasn't happened yet and I no longer believe it will happen. So I only spend about 45 seconds looking at the cookbooks. I moved on to the children's books. Saw a series title that was, dare I say it, a NY Times bestseller and picked it up, thinking Conor might like it. Couldn't resist getting a beginner reader series for Reid. (what can I say? I'm a sucker for books) then skipped over the audio selections into the fiction area. Here are the cheap, fun, easy to finish in one night type books that I all too often succumb to and then wonder what I am going to do with the book now that I finished? So, knowing this, I really did not seriously look until I reached a stack in the middle of the table. Ernest Hemmngway's Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth. F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. All titles I haven't read since high school at a nice price of 8.99. But I could not decide, plus, I know I own at least one of these titles but could not remember which one. So, as hard as it was, I put back all 4 books. (thus saving 36 dollars)

I saw a Joel Osteen book but I did not even read it's title; I'm just not a fan I suppose of attaining my best life now. I saw The Shack. I've seen that title at Costco for over a year now! Wow. But I am not interested in owning The Shack; borrowing it was quite enough for me.... again, I'm not a fan. Then I saw it....... could it be? A simple, white paperback book by one of my favorite authors? At COSTCO? How could I have an author I love that is so mainstream his books are offered alongside Osteen's and William P. Young's? But yes, it was the paperback version of a book I have on my bookshelf by Timothy Keller called The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism .... and I could only locate 2 copies! I hope all the others have been sold and they order more and more. I'd like to say it's a great book because I'm sure it is, but I actually haven't read it yet. (but I have read The Prodigal God and Ministries of Mercy, both are truly wonderful books.)

Then I saw another book I was surprised to see: Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. This book is over 1000 pages. Funny, I don't recall it being quite that large when I was in school. I was a happy, happy girl. David just looked at me like I was crazy, when would I have time to read such a book? I should be doing other things. But I was determined to own this book. So now I do.

I love Costco. I love the stuff, the prices, the samples, and the surprises. One never knows what they may find there. Like a 1000 page Atlas Shrugged book or Timothy Keller's The Reason for God. (go to Costco now and buy it; I believe it was 8.99 or 9.99)

I have to stop writing now; I have to finish a different book about the history of Christianity before I can open Atlas Shrugged. I wonder if I'll enjoy reading it today as much as I did in high school? I wonder if I'll still have the same thoughts and conclusions about her philosophy?

Beautiful or Ugly?




My husband and his brother are prepping our house for painting. While they were at it they tore out a bush that always looks really awful yet never actually dies.

We must've disturbed this big guy's home.



He's a Green June Bug, according to one internet site. He's big, about 2 inches, and flies, but can't maneuver well so he bumps into EVERYTHING. At first I really did not like him, but as I looked more closely I saw that he's beautiful. The pictures don't do him justice; he's metallic green! Simply gorgeous. He makes a loud sound while flying. As you can see he fell on his back and had a hard time getting back to flying position. I had the perfect opportunity to squash him (like a bug!) but chose to let him live.



He's green after all. And pretty. At least in my opinion. Just don't ask me to touch him or let him inside the house!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Getting the Message Out



I turned off my laptop today. It was actually not too horrible. Of course, I still had my iPhone with me the whole time so I could check email, twitter, and even read a few blogs.

As much as I love my iPhone and wouldn't know what to do without it, my biggest comfort, joy and satisfaction is my cute macbook pro laptop. Really, it is something I don't think I could live without. That and WiFi. I could easily give up television, my favorite food, and many other things but not my laptop.

There's so much I can do with a laptop and WiFi. I can connect with people via twitter, Facebook, and email. I can watch videos. I can listen to a podcast or videocast. I can listen to sermons from churches all over the world. I can read blogs and I can give money to organizations. I can buy anything I desire on the internet. I can do research, study the Bible, and even read e-books online.

I really love all this stuff.

I have heard it said that too much information is actually unhelpful; Our brains don't want to be faced with 100 different choices daily about mundane stuff like which cereal to choose.... but I love information; I can't get enough information. (This is not a good trait.)

Today I was introduced to an iPhone application that includes multiple translations of the Bible and even offers them in a wide variety of languages. At prayer time this morning my pastor closed by reading Psalm 65. I was struck by the beauty it described and at first I thought he'd memorized it as I did not see a Bible in his hands. (yes, I peeked) When he was said "Amen" he cited the Psalm and added it was read from The Message....he had that translation as well as several others on his iPhone that he'd gotten for free. It's an application called Youversion and it's so cool. (It's now on my iPhone too) You can download it on itunes and I also saw it advertised at lifechurch.tv There's even daily Bible readings.

I don't normally read Scripture from The Message. I grew up believing that such a paraphrase was "cheating". ...... it was someone else's interpretation of the Bible and ideally a "good christian" should study and come to their own interpretation carefully and prayerfully. (of course, to do so I did use commentaries and relied heavily on other's opinions anyways) Several months ago I actually bought my own The Message hardcover book. It seemed strange but I thought it was a good "tool" in Bible study, much like a commentary or even listening to a preacher's interpretation via a sermon.

Today I thought the Psalm read in The message was "alive" to me and beautiful, yet I still struggle with reading it. It's strange, I know. I have talked to many others that prefer this translation The simpler the better, right? I am not one that believes the Bible is only accurate in the 1611 King James. I actually prefer a newer version, the English Standard Version but I do like and use several others. I have lots of scripture memorized and it's all in the NIV translation.

All this to say, what's your favorite version? Do you have one? Do you have four? What do you think of paraphrase Bibles like The Message? Would you memorize scripture in that translation?

Oh, and today (thursday) I just downloaded for free the kindle version on my iPhone of Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by Justin Taylor and John Piper. All you have to do is download Amazon's Kindle for iPhone (free) and then you can read many titles on your iPhone. I love technology!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Twitterpated with Twitter

In 1942 Walt Disney produced an animated film called "Bambi".... is it necessary to remind anyone of the plot and characters of this beloved animated classic? Actually, I haven't let my kids see this movie yet, as I have sensitive kids and it would really hurt them to see Bambi's mom killed. I know, I know... that's just how life is but it would hurt my youngest, or perhaps I'm just projecting my own grief and emotion I felt as a child onto her!

Regardless, I've always loved Thumper's word Twitterpated to describe falling in love. In High School my best friend and I would constantly used the word; it's just such a fun word to say. Whimsical, different, and amusing. It helped that both my friend and I were Disney fans and knew nearly every Disney animated film produced. (my friend even more so than I)

I'm in love with Twitter. Twitterpated, even. It started out innocently enough. I was given an iPhone as a Christmas gift by my wonderful husband. I still joke that he's an "enabler" and is encouraging my internet addiction. This would be funny if it wasn't so true. In an online conversation someone has suggested Twitter and I was trying to figure out what exactly it was. He attempted to explain it and it was obvious he loved it though his explanation did not do much to inform or excite me, but I joined. He had encouraged me to go through his contact list and pick a few people that looked interesting and follow them. This to me seemed so bizarre; isn't that like stalking? Why would others want a total strange to follow them? Why would I wish to follow them?

At the beginning I kept all my information private; people had to request and be approved to follow me. There were times I'd change the setting to public and inevitably I'd attract a few half naked women "following" me, but it's easy enough to block them. I've been faithfully tweeting now for about 8 months. I could not tell you why I was addicted to twitter; Twitter was just an extension of my Facebook and for me, Facebook was the main attraction, only I chose to update it via twitter, and update I did!

I found myself addicted to twitter without even understanding it's draw. I loved to tweet every little thing I was doing, what I was reading, what my kids were doing, what I was eating. But I got to wonder, why does anyone care? I'm not saying anything meaningful here. Why would a stranger wish to know I went grocery shopping or am stuck in traffic? The life of a SAHM is pretty mundane in 140 characters or less. Plus, I hardly had any twitter followers and the ones I did have were all on my Facebook page so why Twitter?

This past month I am beginning to understand twitter and it really is addicting. I just might like it more than facebook. There's a beautiful simplicity to twitter. Although my facebook friends are primarily people I know, lately twitter has been comprised of people I don't know. It boggles my mind why these strangers who seem really cool, interesting, and intelligent would choose to follow me. The funny thing is that this latest group seem to all know each other. It's been fun in itself following their tweets. I have chosen to follow them as well and even have checked out their blog and they truly are amazing people that I'd never have "known" otherwise. I guess they don't exactly know me. But does it matter?

Twitter and social networking are ways of connection, and though I just follow their tweets right now I don't feel comfortable contacting them, be it by @replies or direct messages, but I have commented on their blogs, and feel that they bring a smile to my face, though I'm sure they'll never know it. This group of people (they're all from Tennessee) interact often on twitter and in real life too. I'm actually envious.

So, my friends who are IRL friends, please join twitter. I want a community like they have: a community online that spills out into my everyday life. A community that shares the mundane stuff like standing in line at a store or their choice of dinner, as well as the prayer requests and impromptu coffee or meals together. I want to share life, all of life, with my friends.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Storehouse

I've changed my mind on my opinion of points or rewards in Church. At the age my kids are, perhaps it's a good thing to fill their minds with the things of God with any means possible.

Looking back, I'm blessed to have memorized so much scripture. The truths I've learned are so deeply ingrained in my mind, I can't escape them if I tried.

So I no longer care if my kids are doing things for the candy, recognition, etc. This week all 3 of them requested to bring Bibles to the VBS program.... for the points. They wanted to bring friends..... for the candy. ("The Claw-ful of candy) They paid attention and answered questions correctly for the chance to be chosen to participate in games. All good things.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Points

Points. What does that word mean to you? As I typed this I thought of many things: Points scored in a game like basketball or soccer, weight watcher points that I fail miserably at. (I'm eating a brownie as I type this... and a diet coke too!) Points on a test or SAT score, brownie points, etc. In fact, looking it up in the dictionary there's like over 35 definitions of the word "point". From knitting needles to mathematics!

Yesterday I put my kids in another church's VBS program. It's a wonderfully well done program that is a true outreach to their community. They do it out of a local elementary school and it's friendly, organized and they had over 100 kids signed up! I received a CD of songs they'd be singing and my kids had a great time yesterday.

So by now, you may be wondering what my Point is. I do have one. Lately I've been really thinking about motivation and why I make the choices I do. Is it to fit in? Be "accepted"? Is it to be highly regarded? I blogged about Project Restoration and still wonder if I attended out of love for the people and Christ or because I enjoy being a good church person and stuff like that is expected? I am naturally drawn to doing things out of duty and command. I've been told that without love these things are worthless (the infamous 1 Cor 13 love chapter) so it has really caused me to pause and take note: Why do I do what I do?

I grew up in church, strived to be a perfect church girl and was widely thought that I was. I did EVERYTHING and loved it. I won the Pioneer Girl highest honor award, won many awards in the christian school I attended, including perfect attendance, and just really strived for stuff like that. The strange thing is that as much as I crave acknowledgment, when it's bestowed upon me I don't know what to do with it and it really isn't as fulfilling as I thought it'd be.

Sorry, I guess I did say I had a point so here it is: In the VBS program my kids attended yesterday, I got a paper encouraging them to bring in a backpack filled with school supplies for a needy local child that could not afford it. I thought that was a wonderful idea and that perhaps next year my church could do the same: I love getting my kids excited about helping out other kids and this, a backpack with school supplies, is something I can really get them to help me with: Shopping and picking out the supplies, maybe writing a little note or drawing in it, loading it all up, etc.

But Reid was mostly excited that he'd get five bonus points for bringing it in. Not a big deal, right? And yet, it has caused me to think: I grew up in a church that rewarded everything. I won a Thompson Chain Study Bible through perfect attendance and scripture memorization. I won several trips to Disneyland by bringing the most people to visit the youth group and through other things like bringing my bible, scripture memorization, etc. In fact, the pastor even at one time offered his car, a vintage Karmann Ghia until it ended up causing more trouble, fighting, and lack of unity that was not it's purpose so the prize changed. The awards I got were all based on my performance. To a huge degree, my worth was built on what I did and it was never enough. I may have won the prize but was it really fulfilling?

Does it matter if a person goes to a community outreach for the fellowship more than a desire to help? Does it matter why a child memorizes scripture, be it for a candy or because they know that the Bible is important? Do motives matter?

I've no answers; it's just something on my mind. It just seems that we live in a society that embraces brownie points, appearance's sake, and things are done for what one can get in return: Like five bonus points. Things are valuable not because they have value in themselves but because of the instant gratification or recognition that accompanies it.

That being said, though I feel that I do struggle with doing thing out of brownie points instead of love for God, i am also thankful for the the good things I've done and learned because it was required or rewarded. I have chapters of scripture I have memorized from Jr. High that I still have deeply ingrained in memory and find it valuable because scripture memorization is valuable even after the recognition or prize fades away.

So perhaps I don't know what my point is. What do you think? Do motives matter? Is it right or wrong to use treats to reward behaviour? Is it good to reward deeds and action no matter what the motivations are?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Restoration




This past Saturday my church teamed with 12 other churches in the area, over 500 volunteers, to descend on an area of the city with a high percentage of foreclosures. The goal was to weed, mow, clean, haul away trash and junk and just improve the area. My church was assigned a 2 block section that was in good condition already so we just worked on making it look even better.

A few days before we were sent an email detailing the plan of the day and some safety guidelines. While reading the email, which cautioned against picking up glass and needles and other hazards and wearing gloves if possible, I started wondering if this truly was an event that I felt good bringing my kids to! But we'd already discussed it as a family and my kids were so excited to go and deep down I wanted to go as a family; I felt it was important.

The Day: We arrived LATE. I don't like being late to anything so I was already in a bad mood now. The parking lot we were supposed to park in was full and the attendant told us to go "take a right"..... well, a right took us out to Capitol again! We finally kept making rights and arrived back at the side entrance to the high school we were supposed to park at. Knowing my kids and not knowing what to expect of the day, I had packed a few sandwiches and snacks as well as five bottles of water. In hindsight, I'd not have taken so much! It's a lot to lug around as well as my 18 pound backpack of camera gear. (ouch) Since I'm a bit compulsive about never being bored I also brought a book with me that I only read for five minutes while waiting for the bus. I'm happy it was only a paperback.

So, we arrive and I'm still having a bad attitude when I learn that the city requires a written consent form for every member of the family. That's five forms! I must've sounded really annoyed because a nice person I hardly know (even though she goes to my church and is the sweetest person ever) offered to help me fill out the forms. At this I realize that my attitude and annoyance has to change. I look over at my husband and he's happily chatting away. He's so easygoing and I love the trait in him. Sometimes. This was not one of those times as he encouraged me to "let it go" and have some fun and enjoy the day. Why am I in such a hurry? But I was because we were now well over 40 minutes late and had to wait for the bus.

By the time the bus arrived and delivered us to our assigned street I felt better. I hated to admit it but my husband was right. (he's usually right) My kids immediately started to work: Katie picked up every tiny piece of trash and cigarette butt on that street. (yes, I did cringe a bit) Conor was enjoying an attempt at raking and the middle child was.... well, being a stereotypical middle child. He at times just can't let things go, so incredibly stubborn. No; I have no idea where he got that from! Actually growing up I was the compliant chid. He's definitely not compliant. So David talked to him; I talked to him. Trying to reason with a crying 6 year old only results in frustration. So, I told him he had to take a walk with me. He did not want to but knew I meant business so off we went, he was still crying away. Passed a few church people that just looked at me quizzically and I just smiled..... 1 out of 3 being upset isn't too bad, right? The other 2 were beyond happy picking up trash, pulling weeds (well, in Katie's mind that equals picking dandelions and playing with them)



So, Reid and I went walking. Within 3 minutes he's calmed down; I suppose it's best to treat him like a 2 year old: Remove from the situation and distract. Hey, it worked and it was great to talk with the other volunteers, take some photos and I even connected with a friend I'd not seen in over 3 years that attends the local church we were partnering with. By the time we got back from our walk Reid was like a different kid: happy, fun, quiet and helpful. I really don't understand him.

So here's the thing I don't get: I loved spending the day with others but really did not do much physical work. Instead I do what I love to do: take pictures and felt like I was cheating the whole time! Granted, I was also tending to my kids but I enjoyed taking photos, even though it was bright sun and I'm not accomplished at bright sun photography. (Okay, I'm not accomplished at ANY type of photography! but I do enjoy it)

At the end of the day we were hot but happy to be out there. I really did nothing but there was such an energy. I can't describe it but say it was a very special, worthwhile day. As we all gathered up our stuff, I noticed a group of neighbor kids bringing out lemonade to the workers. It was really touching and my own kids really enjoyed interacting with the kids. I felt we were well received and know that Project Restoration did a huge amount of work that day and loaded so many dumpsters, and the block looked better, but I wonder if I came away feeling more blessed than the neighbors did? Of course, to this I readily admit to really doing nothing! I took photos. I'm always happy if I'm behind the lens of a camera.




I read and had thought that the post-work celebration wouldn't begin until 2 and it was only 12 so I never anticipated staying for the party but as the bus rolled up to the church, my kids instantly spotted the bright, large bounce house and inflatable slide. Yeah, had to at least play in that for a bit. As we neared the area we discovered that food was ready: Hotdogs, hamburgers, chips and my favorite: ICE COLD DIET COKE! I think I consumed 3 in 20 minutes. (I hope it wasn't one per person!) My kids were excited to discover that they also had cotton candy and sno cones! Everyone was so very nice, I was really touched by how nice the people helping with the food were. I was a bad mommy and allowed my kids to have multiple sno cones and cotton candy. (well, only one kid had a 2nd helping of cotton candy...... to my knowledge) It was a wonderful end to a Beautiful Day.

We left and within minutes my sugar filled children were asleep in the car. Later that day my four year old said she really enjoyed helping people. (she had a lot of fun with a little neighbor boy named Alex; they played ball together, climbed trees and colored in coloring books on the sidewalk) I think it meant more having my whole family there and I'm glad that nothing frightened me away from sharing this experience with them.

Backpack, Backpack!


How can this be? My youngest who won't even turn five until nearly November, is going to be entering kindergarten in just a few short weeks.

How could the summer go by so fast?

How could my daughter already be going to kindergarten? As I write this she's trying on her new backpack I just bought her for school. She needs no school clothes, has way too many clothes already but I did buy her a cute plaid skirt and matching top that just screams "schoolgirl". She's so excited; why am I so sad?

When Conor started Kindergarten there was a lump in my throat. It was difficult to leave him the first day. I did not cry but it was a hard first day. The good thing was I had 2 other young kids to tend to and distract me.

Last year, Reid entered kindergarten and I just happily said goodbye to him. He was so READY and has always been the type of kid who seemed wise and capable beyond his short years. In fact, from the moment he was born he looked like an old man and then I had Katie when he was just 16 months old so he had to grow up a bit more quickly, he never really was the baby. When I dropped him off i was actually annoyed by the weeping, clinging mothers that were doing more harm than good, doting and crying over their children as the kids were led into their classroom. No mommies allowed.

I thought i was so advanced, so mature that i wasn't one of "those" parents.

But today when Katie put on her backpack it hit me: She's going to Kindergarten! She's my baby, my little friend who's been at my side for the past 4 years most days. She's been changing lately: growing tall, confident. She's acutely aware of rules these days and tattles on her brother. She exasperates me so much and yet I'm going to miss her! What am I thinking? I want her to stay with me.

But she's excited. Excited to be "big". Excited to meet new friends and new challenges. I'm excited for her too but I think she's so precious, so special. What if others don't notice she's so special? What if her teacher doesn't appreciate her? What if the other kids don't love her? She's funny and sweet and giving. She's also a tough little girl that speaks her mind and knows how to fight. (2 older brothers has shaped her personality: She needs to be loud to be heard) She's an interesting mix: loves the girly stuff of matching hair bows and shoes, yet plays cars and tag with the boys. She's fun. She's still into her fantasy world of baby dolls and Dora the Explorer and I'm not ready to have her exposed to "the real world." I don't wish to shelter her from life or culture but I want her to be a child as long as possible; to delight in the small things and be enthralled with sunshine and rainbows, frogs and ladybugs. it is so fun seeing the world through the eyes of a small, loving child and a huge part of me wants to preserve that.

But I can't. I have to let go, send her out among the others. Let her take risks and figure things out and have her own opinion and preferences. I want to shield her from every hurt and ache, the kind that can't be made better by a band-aid and a kiss from mommy.