Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Prayer

Brrr! It's finally cold here and yet, I know this is a relative word and it's not truly cold yet. It will get colder, even though "cold" our standards may not match what you think when someone says it's cold. I think it's 65 degrees in my house right now. I just checked; it's 66. Last week it was in the 90's outside in the daytime and now it's definitely "sweater weather"..... at least it was yesterday and will be so today. October is a crazy month here; we traditionally get a mixture of fall type weather and hot summer weather. Several times it's too hot for my kids to wear their full costumes trick or treating! I also grew up in California BUT where I was we always had to layer with turtlenecks, thick tights, etc. under our costumes.

My point? It's not to talk about the weather, not to talk about relativism or further think about perspective. Nope. I probably should though, as it would be a more meaningful post.

I'm sitting here and it's 5:45. I don't want to be up. I attend prayer with several from church on Wednesday morning. I've been doing this for the past year or so. I do it because I really love it. When I first started out it was so obvious that it made my day
"better". Not sure if it was my focus being more in tune to God and loving his people or if it was truly God. As a reformed person the answer is of course that it's always God and I know this but I'm still a skeptic in certain things! It's not an easy place to be in, trust me.

I do go because I enjoy it and it still impacts my day. I love the others that I pray with. We're all very different and it's funny that I like it that way. At least, I find that funny because I believe there is absolute truth and we need to agree on absolute truth and I want that nailed down and be communicated to all and instead I have surrounded people in my life that all offer a different perspective on things. I thought I'd hate it but instead I enjoy it. It makes me think. I like to think. It challenges me and my own beliefs and long held assumptions. I need that.

But typically in prayer all we truly do is gather, unified despite we're all a bit different, and pray. We pray for lots of things, our church, people in our church, people outside our churches. our community, other churches, other countries, our leaders. Sometimes it's a word; like patience that we pray for. Whatever it is, I love my Wednesdays.

So, this post is about how I did not want to get up this morning! Yes, the struggle of knowing that one SHOULD get up and simply having no desire to do so yet know that once up it will be good and if I did not get up I'd regret it. My husband feels similar at times when he doesn't want to work out. You do, and you don't. You know you should; know you'll love it once there, it's the process of getting there that is difficult.

Monday night into Tuesday I did not go to sleep until 3. Last night I went to bed when David went to bed because he encouraged me to do so. (he was a bit impressed my "in a minute" was actually a minute as a shut down my mac) That was probably at 10:30 so I've had plenty of sleep and yet i did not want to get up. Even right now, I'm ready to go for prayer but have decided that I don't want to ride my bike! Normally I can't ride my bike because I have to get home as soon as I can but today I have no such time constrictions and I don't want to ride. I'm cold. My tummy is rumbling and I'm happy to just be awake and going to prayer!

I know that once I'm there I'll love it. Love being with the others and joining unified in prayer. It's funny because to some the act of getting up so early to go to prayer makes me a "prayer warrior" or at least someone who loves prayer. I'm not either of those things. I do pray of course but it's a constant reminder to pray throughout the day. I don't pray well and I don't even pray out loud on these mornings with the prayer team. I'm just an average person that has discovered that I love joining with others to pray. Even when I don't feel like getting up. I've run into so many that think more highly of me when they find out I go to prayer. I usually joke that I'm surprised more stay -at-home moms don't go! It's great; Daddy gets to feed the kids, make sure they are dressed (though there's been plenty of times I've gotten home and none of those tasks have yet been accomplished!) I get a small bike ride in, which always makes me happy, and I get to join in prayer with people from my church that I don't talk to very often. And then, of course there is prayer. Praying and being with God. It's truly a blessing that I' have this opportunity and a husband that is supportive of me going. I'm thankful. I'm thankful to live in a country where I can own a Bible and pray with others without the fear of persecution.

So yeah, when I don't want to get up in a cold house when it's dark outside I remind myself that I'll love it when I'm there. Of Who I am going to speak to and be with. (God!) and how thankful I am that my Church provides this opportunity and the fact that I simply CAN attend. Not all my friends can come to prayer due to work conflicts. Not all Christians can gather safely to pray. (yet they still do too) I'm just so thankful. So I get up.

It's time for prayer now. Tell me about your prayer life. Is it important to you? Are you a morning person?

Monday, September 28, 2009

C is for Carrots


Anyone else grow up with Sesame Street on television? Or have a child that loves that show? My kids never got into Sesame Street very much. When Conor was little we did not have "real" television so he watched nothing, not even Dora the Explorer. Believe it or not, there is definitely a Toddler Culture and my baby was definitely left out! Happily, he doesn't seem to be too impaired by it., although even now his favorite programs most likely are from the Discovery Channel or the Science Channel. We did break down and get "real" television (meaning cable TV... or is it dish?) so the other 2 had plenty of opportunities to watch Sesame Street but preferred Dora the Explorer or Go Diego Go. (luckily we did not get into Yo Gabba Gabba)

My point? This post has no point. I just wanted to share the cute carrots my kids got at the Farmer's Market on Saturday, and to do so I had to think of a clever title. "Carrot" in a title is a pretty wide open, so I thought I'd ask for YOUR title suggestions

As mentioned, my contribution hails from Cookie Monster's song, "C is for Cookie" (that's good enough to eat!) Supposedly, in the many years since I've "graduated" from Sesame Street I've heard that now Cookie Monster is being forced to eat healthy and be a good role model.


So, can I blame my bad eating choices on growing up with the 'Street?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

To Market, To Market


To market, to market, to buy a fat pig;
Home again, home again, dancing a jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.

My kindergartner is learning Mother Goose. Words set her off into whole rhymes. Don't mention "pumpkin" or she'll start reciting

"Peter Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife and couldn't keep her!
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well!



Really. This has been going on for a few weeks now. It's cute, except, I'm not sure how to explain the Peter Pumpkin Eater rhyme? Any thoughts? Interpretations?

Friday I went to the Apple Farm with my middle child. I have photos. Lots of photos. I'll probably blog about it. On Saturday I was reading my twitter and another person mentioned he was going to the Farmer's Market and I realized that there's a farmer's market maybe a quarter mile from our house, yet we've never explored it! So, I excitedly jumped up and said "guess what?" and my husband said "we should go to the farmer's market." I was puzzled; yes.... but how did you know that I was going to say that? How interesting! So we got out our bicycles and rode over to the market. It was a beautiful day. Despite it technically being Fall it was easily already nearing the 90's. I gave each of my kids the opportunity to buy something that they wanted with the warning that they'd have to eat it. Katie immediately chose the strawberries. No surprise there. Conor delighted in looking at more things, and sampling a bit of everything. He finally chose a pound of grapes. The red ones. He insisted they tasted better than the black ones. David also got into the exploration, and chose 4 large peaches, as well as quite a few artichokes. Reid is my picky eater; he likes nothing. No fruit. No vegetables. He doesn't even like corn. What child doesn't like corn? So, he chose a carrot. He doesn't exactly like carrots either; I guess a "lesser evil" to him.



By now it was getting warm. I was having a great time simply taking photos of all the colorful produce. A person noticed me with my camera and said they'd have the market through October. When he discovered I had kids, encouraged me to go over and spin the wheel for a chance at winning. So, we did.



Conor went first, spinning the wheel recklessly! It landed on a question of how many sea turtles were found with plastic inside them. The number was very high, and very sad. I quickly clued into the fact that the answer was always the shockingly high statistic. Even though Conor got the question wrong, he was still " a winner" and got to choose a prize. He chose broccoli and a nectarine. Next was Reid. In stunning contrast to his older brother, he spun the wheel methodically and gently. Too gently so he had to spin it again. His question was also about sea turtles so he had to spin again. I helped him with the answer and he "won" and chose a bunch of carrots. These were very unorthodox looking carrots! My husband jokes they have "carrot-ture".. Get it? Character? (Yes, he's a corny sense of humor) Then it finally was Katie's turn. I helped her with her question too. It was how many plastic bags a person uses in a year. The answer? 300 to 500! Wow. Definitely a sobering number. Since she's so cute he said she could have 3 items. She chose an ear of corn, a tomato and zucchini. Triumphantly she skipped back to daddy and we gently put away all the wonderful goodies in our bike trailer and headed home. By this time it was really heating up and we were happy to be back on our bikes feeling the apparent wind on our faces.



As soon as we were home Katie dove in on the basket of strawberries. We took them away to be washed and then set the whole basket on the table to be enjoyed by all, as well as our turkey sandwiches, fresh pressed apple juice from the apple farm excursion the day before and a few crackers to round out lunch. Katie couldn't get enough strawberries. They kept talking about the experience and how much fun they had and how they couldn't wait to eat their new fruits and vegetables. It was a fun, cheap, healthy outing that they can't wait to do again.



The best part? Since they were a part of the picking and choosing and buying the produce, they are more excited to eat it!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Balancing Act

I wonder about much. One hears complete opposites about things sometimes and this year I realized that I want absolutes. I want absolute truths. I've brought this up so much and the answer always is: Some things are absolute and others are not, of course with no detailed explanation of WHAT is relative and what is absolute. But perhaps I have my own list of "absolutes" but if my list of "absolute truth" and someone else's list of absolutes is different, doesn't that make it personal, relative truth?

Yeah. I'm great fun at parties. Invite me over sometime. ;-)

The other week I went running/wheezing/jogging with my friend Kris. She's good. I'm not, but she's encouraging and kind to me. We're on the track and realize that a woman had taken off her shirt and was just wearing her bra. It wasn't a sports bra. It wasn't a pretty bra. And she was a pretty large lady.

I was kinda put off by it. (I have already admitted that I'm judgmental in this blog of mine) I'd NEVER do something like that! (but that's a whole different post) I couldn't believe that she'd be on a public track in a park, where jr. high kids were running, as the park shared space with the school, be overweight and only in a regular, ugly bra? No no no! No matter what I looked like I'd never take off my shirt and run around in a bra. I will make an exception for sports bras, but you still won't see ME in one of them.

Later, as I was in conversation it was pointed out to me that who cares? It's a bra. Big deal. I protested that it did not look pretty; she did not look pretty in only her bra. (yes, me.... the "pretty" police.... I know; I make NO SENSE!) To that it was pointed out to me that even more so; it was probably hard for her to get up and go for a walk or run. She'd probably rather be at home, not out exercising yet here she was. She should be applauded and encouraged, not judged or chastised for taking off her shirt because she was hot. (and this was pointed out to me by a guy!)

Ouch. What a drastically different perspective!

Of course, I still have questions. Questions on modesty and stumbling blocks, questions on what is our role in that? The whole "we are free by grace" to do whatever we want and yet.... is that really true? Are we still held accountable? Is there any stipulation or caveat to our freedom? (I do have an opinion on this and some verses to quote)

The sobering part for me is if this freedom or is this law that Im upholding so important that Christ had to die on a cross for it? To purchase or release, am I truly fighting the right battles? Did He purchase my salvation so I could enjoy freedom and eat and drink or wear whatever I want? Or the law side: Am I going to fight over this? is it worth fighting over something like keeping the Sabbath holy while the "grace" camp insists we're not under the law and to enjoy the party and dance in this freedom?

Was this why Christ died? I grew up thinking that he died because he loved me and to atone for my sins. (a "me" thing) But Lately I've been realizing that though it's true.... He did die for me out of love, He really endured the cross to glorify the Father.

So the real question in the grace vs. law debate: Is this giving glory to Him or just creating division?

Soli Deo gloria!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Inward Bound


Lately I've been realizing that other people are right. This is hard for me to accept because I'm a firstborn girl; I'm usually right. I like to be correct and like others to be correct and my first inclination is to correct them BUT this is annoying and I realize that I make a lot of (small, little) mistakes too so I try not to correct spelling or things of that nature. I do prefer things to be perfect in that realm but it's not that important, is it?

So... I read a book once and need to read it again. It's a hard book to read. It's called Emotional Intelligence. I think another book I read was called Blink. I don't own Blink so I can't quote from it but there was a section in it that asserts that others are more aware and see us more clearly than we see ourselves. Even strangers. after spending minimal time observing a person can correctly describe them with uncanny accuracy. I pretty much refused to believe this because if true... if true it means that I'm intense, unadventurous, stubborn (well, okay; I'm most definitely stubborn!) like (certain) things perfect, am law oriented rather than grace oriented (this one, sadly is true as well) and am intense and difficult. Oh, and I'm melancholy in temperament.

I don't like being melancholy in temperament! I'm not sure I like being an introvert either. No one wants their child to be shy or an introvert. According to Please Understand Me only 25% of the population identified themselves as introverts, and that was in 1964. I wonder if that figure is even lower now, now? Is it because we DESIRE and push ourselves to be considered extroverts instead of introverts? But I digress. My point is that I'm all these traits: Introverted, melancholy, stubborn, intense, have high expectations of self and others, am judgmental ungracious, controlled and difficult. Did I mention intense? That comes up a lot too.

I suppose they are right; I am all these things, sad to say. I wonder at times why this is all people see. Am I even or have I ever been how the inside of me feels and thinks of me? Because even though I'm most definitely an introvert I do enjoy people. (people drain me but I like them) I have a whimsical, fun and playful side to me. I love to do the unexpected but perhaps don't wish to be surprised when it comes to me! I love to get lost in a book and though I don't read a ton of fiction, my imagination inwardly, vividly paints the scene in my mind to a point that rivals or even exceeds anything Hollywood could produce. I love music and the beauty of it. There's a part of me that deems art too subjective and poetry too vague and I prefer to know with certainty that author's viewpoint and reason behind the art but there's also a part of me that is thrilled by this space, this unknowing and undefined space. I'm scared to bring my own interpretation to it because I don't wish to be wrong; but at times I wonder if that's the purpose; an invitation to one's own reflection and being. It's a tug-o-war in my mind; to want to know with absolute truth what the "message" or meaning is; and the other side just enjoys this unknown. But after a bit of reflection I want to know the truth. I want to know what is right.

So, inwardly my life, my feelings are different than what others see and I wonder who is right? The observer or me? One that sees the outward me or me that sees the inward me? How can I be wrong about my very self?

Or is it that I just don't share my inner self?

I'm intense and I don't wish to be so intense. I want to be loving and forgiving and not so rigid. I want to be soft and accepting. I want to laugh and enjoy things.

Yesterday Katie was talking to me; I was scarcely listening to her. (she likes to talk..... a lot!) Finally I realized she was saying "look at me! I have green teeth!" and so I did. And we laughed. i asked to take her picture and she happily obliged. I don't want to be so intense that I lose the love, laughter, grace and humor in life.

So what about you? Do you think how you think and feel inwardly translate to how others perceive you? Do they "match"? Or is it different like me. Who do you think is correct? Who is the real you? Real me? My inner thoughts or my outer actions?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Burst Forth

I don't know about you but oftentimes I read and fill my mind with too much. I have a very good memory and can remember much but there are times when I read too many books in one week that I forget where I read or heard that from. This week I've read 4 books, listened to 2 podcast sermons of a preacher that is out of state, read numerous blogs and did my bible study homework. The odd part? Many/most of these things interconnect; it's almost eerie and makes for a very confused Victoria. I mean, which book, podcast, blog, etc. did I hear that in? Read that in? I can close my eyes and mentally see where the words are on the page but I can't recall which cover; which book or which blog!

Trust me, it's very frustrating. So, it's after 1am. I have bad allergies so I took a shower and it seems all these thoughts pop into my head when I take a shower. And as I struggled with making sense of my day and all the stuff I've been learning a thought came into my head: If you are doing the work it'll show. And I struggled to figure out where that came from? A book? Which Book? A blog? A podcast? A song?

It was reality tv. I hate to admit that I watch nearly any TV but as I play on my computer I like to watch some TV. Tonight it was So You Think You Can Dance. (actually, lots of social issues come up on that show and it'd be fun to discuss them) But what stuck in my mind was a young hip hop style dancer. (mind you, I wasn't paying 100% attention) From what I gathered he's tried out before but did not make it as far as he'd hope and vowed to get some "real" training in more of the classic disciplines of dance: Contemporary, ballet, and all that jazz. (pun intended) His audition was good and entertaining but the judges wanted more from him. One asked if he'd been studying the classic disciplines of other dance styles like he was supposed to. He said yes and the judge gave him a bad time about it; Because if he had spent time in those disciplines, it would show in his performance and he couldn't see it.

Likewise we are called to show forth evidence of our faith. This can seen so often in Scripture. Johnn 15:8 says By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. We are told that if we love God we will love others. and that if our faith is real it will be evident in our works; our lives. We will be doers of the Word not hearers only.

So, I guess my challenge to myself is: Is God evident in my life? Does He shine through? Am I enveloped in the spiritual disciplines? Am i loving and am I a doer rather than just a hearer of the Word? If He is in me, how can my life not reflect it?

PS. Picture to come. It's late. Have to wait for good lighting to get a photo.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Holy Spirit

"The Spirit of God always come in surprising ways - "The wind bloweth where it listeth... so is every one that is born of the Spirit." No creed or school of thought or experience can monopolise the Spirit of God. The great snare of some aspects of presenting The Gospel is that everything is put in the head, everything must be rational and logical, no room is left for the great power of life which shows itself in surprising ways."

Oswald Chambers, Biblical Ethics

Called To Worship -Book Review


I recently finished a good sized book titled Called to Worship by Vernon M. Whaley. It's subtitle is "The Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God's Call" I found this book to be quite thorough, as it addressed the meaning of worship, different style of worship, and if our response to worship truly Biblical. In this book he uses scripture in nearly every book of the Bible to back up his assertions!

I enjoyed this book but at times found his conclusions a bit forced. Still it was an interesting overview of an important subject matter and despite it's thoroughness it was interesting and entertaining to read. At times it made me re-think certain parts of scripture and I enjoy that. I'm not sure this is a book a casual reader would pick up unless they had quite an interest in the subject of worship, but even if they did I think they'd find it intriguing and a worthy book to read.

Sugar and Spice...



I've never been a typical girl. I never had a dance recital, did not play with dolls or barbies, I prefer technology over jewelry, David KNOWS never to buy me roses for Valentine's day, I never wore dresses every day like my own daughter insists on. Fashion (obviously!) has never interested me. I love having a daughter but I know absolutely nothing about doing her hair or even parting it straight. A friend of mine can do wonderful french braids and all kinds of neat things but I can't even do that on a doll's hair. Thus, my daughter's hair is always cut short.

I mean, I did things almost "girly". I played flute and piccolo, how girly of an instrument can one get? I even was the ingenue in The Importance of Being Earnest. I had a perm at least once and even went to 3 proms in High School. Possibly the most ultimate "girl" thing I've done (besides give birth, ha!) was being a cheerleader in college. But even there I was the most anti girl cheerleader that existed, not to mention seriously athletically impaired but I was top of the pyramid, solely on the basis of my size. (ah, to be a size 2 again!)

Some women can do everything. They're just amazing. Others excel at something that makes me say "I wish I could do that." I go to craft night and am in awe of the creativity and painstaking detail of some of the crafts, or the design savvy of some of the scrapbookers. Some women can cook or bake the most amazing meals or confections! I read others blogs like my friend Maxine and marvel at her patience, dedication and wisdom in cultivating the best in her kindergartener. Others I admire for a myriad of different traits; their ability to lead, or teach, their gentleness or dedication, their hospitality, encouragement, discernment, patience, I could go on and on.

In a previous "Bible study" I was in (Captivating by Stasi Eldredge) it extolled the virtues of being a woman. I think I already quoted in a different post that we are the "crown" of creation..... the universe would not be complete without me! (don't ask me what I think of that) But she asserted that every women longed for 3 things: To be romanced, play an irreplaceable role in a grand adventure, and to unveil beauty. In a way, I think it's cruel to generalize that "all" women want these things; I already felt a bit left out and this reaffirmed it. Some just chided I was in denial but I'm not sure that's true. Does every girl truly dream of being a princess? Around the same time my couples/marriage group was broken into groups to list what we thought was most important for men/women.

I just did not seem to identify with much of what we came up with. I half-seriously mentioned that what women really want is WiFi. (this is before I had my own iPhone) People laughed.

Really though, I don't identify with any of the "core longings" Stasi addresses in her Captivating "study". I hadn't even watched 25% of the movies listed and used to further her illustrations. (there were over 100 mentioned in the book I believe) I complained and the answer I got was "maybe I should watch them". NO!!!!! See the point is, I'm not a chick flick person. I'm odd. I'm strange. I don't fit in. I'm not saying Chick Flicks are bad; if you love them, that's great. That's actually my point: I don't belong. I don't buy a ton of shoes, don't change my outfit 3 times before going out, I don't spend more than 20 minutes on my hair and make-up EVER. (I know; what make-up? It's non existent too) I've never been to a spa and have only gotten a manicure once in my life and that was for my wedding.

I know that we're all different and that's a wonderful, beautiful thing, but is it beautiful? Do other women view this as wonderful? Or just odd? Because I usually just feel odd. There's supposed to be a bond of sisterhood, it's glorified in books and movies and I just don't get it. But books and movies aren't real life so perhaps I'm assuming that there's some semblance of utopia out there for all the "normal" women that I'm not privy to. But perhaps all the "normal" and "amazing" women also feel a bit left out, a bit isolated and something of a misfit as well.

So perhaps I have more in common than I realize?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Immersed In Questions



I came to Christ as a very young child in my Grandma's old baptist church. (prayed the prayer every week because it was so important to me that I have this best friend Jesus that loved me and was all powerful) One can say that a child's conversion isn't true but it meant something to me; I can recall praying in bed with the covers tight around me, scarcely breathing in fear or dread as I listened to my parents fight in the other room. The comfort I felt that I could pray to my best friend Jesus that could make everything better.

I decided to be baptized because it was the "next step" and I attended the class as a 7 year old and knew what I was doing. Knew what it meant, could answer all the questions. It's funny now because last week I was listening to some friends (perhaps a Catholic background?) and their child wanted to get baptized but the baptism was a week away so she wasn't allowed to; why? Because that wasn't enough time to get a party ready! Baptism is a big deal and everyone has a party after it. My brother and I did not get a party but we did go out to lunch with family. I wonder if others view this as important enough to have a party. Perhaps I have a wrong view of baptism, or just clueless parents. Still, my mom was proud. My brother and I were baptized (by immersion, of course!) in that little church on Mother's Day. My mom thought it was a perfect Mother's day.

I think it's interesting; we are exhorted to have the "faith of a child" but when children profess faith or wish to make big decisions we seem to deem they don't know what they are doing.

Of course, faith is a journey, not a one time decision or baptism so regardless of age, be it a child or adult, the more one spends with Jesus and matures the more their faith deepens, understanding expands and love for God grows. If one were to wait until they fully understood the magnitude of God's love, grace and what He desires for us, would we ever be baptized? Plus, I've always found it interesting that in the Bible people believed, repented and were baptized. No quiz. No class. No waiting until he knew exactly what that meant or I've already shared in a previous post my thoughts and questions of reading Acts 16. The jailer believed and was baptized... at once! (this confuses me, as I grew up thinking baptism was a public profession of faith.... and this, the jailer's (and his entire household) conversion and baptism was done seemingly at night, so who else was there to make it a public profession of faith?)

Okay; I know this is a tangent but it does perplex me that baptism today is different than it was in Biblical times. It is now a party or a quiz or a "seal" that you are saved when I never thought it was a condition of salvation.

Is it a condition of salvation?

I believe that baptism is "transferable" among denominations. I don't think that because I was baptized in a Baptist church I have to do it again..... and yet....it's true that I know more now and my relationship with God is quite different than it was when I was 7. I can't say my relationship is more "meaningful" now than when I was 7 or 10, as it's relative. In fact, if anything my faith was perhaps more vibrant then because my family was struggling with my brother's cancer and, just like when I was a child, praying and talking to God when my parents fought at night, I spent many, many nights and days pouring out my heart and all it's sorrows, joys, jealousies, and frustrations to Him. As I write this out, the skeptic part of me is melting away and I can see that I needed God. I don't know how this difficult time would have been without my Church community and Jesus that loved me unconditionally.

Is baptism more than a public profession of faith? Is it necessary to be a "true" Christian, or is it an act of obedience? Why is it that when someone comes to Christ today we don't encourage them to be baptized but wait until they "know" more or have "proven" themselves?Is the Holy Spirit in us present before we are baptized? Or is that a necessary component? (which doesn't seem to make sense)

I am a person that does question much. Though it seems I had much faith as a child and young adult, I have become quite a (believing) skeptic since. Perhaps it's cynicism. But I come to a place now where I want more than I have, question if what I ever had was valid, and if I'm missing some important piece that I need to be a "real" Christian.

So what do you think about baptism? Care to answer some of my questions? I know there's a lot! Today it's just a random thought day. Why do you think Baptism is so important in today's church and in our lives?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bee Happy


My daughter got stung by a bee yesterday in the neighbor's yard. Her rescuer was the dad. He scooped her up, took out the stinger and put meat tenderizer on her wound, then brought her over, absolutely screaming in his arms, over the fence into my yard. He felt so badly, and I smiled, tried to calm her down, thanked him and brought her inside, where I quickly got out some ice, and turned on the TV. I firmly believe in distraction and she was very upset to even hear my words. Of course I hugged her, tried to help her but nothing worked. Except Dora the Explorer on TV. Of course, right when she's calming down (and I have no doubt it really hurt; she's a tough girl, can handle a lot of bumps, scrapes and bruises but this really got her riled up) her brother Reid would come in and ask what happened. To which she'd scream out, renewing her tears, "A BEE! A DEAD BEE STUNG ME AND IT HURTS! A DEAD BEE!" (lots of tears) Reid, being the ever so compassionate , encouraging brother then said "Where is it?" (meaning the bee) and she's crying. So i made Reid leave the room. Every five minutes he'd come back after she'd calmed down and ask, "Does it hurt?" Oh my! Again, the tears would commence. I'm not sure it was delight in seeing Katie hurt and upset or just a fascination with a bee sting. (I don't think Reid has ever been stung) He wanted detailed information of how it happened, what if felt like and where this dead bee was so he could see it himself.

So much for brotherly love.



After 20 minutes of this cycle, Katie finally insisted that the only way to make it feel better was a band-aid. (I am a firm believer that band-aids are magic and what would a mom do without them?) My first child did not even know what a band-aid was until he was 3 because when he was hurt, hugs and a kiss to the affected spot were magic, but then I introduced band-aids and the other 2 grew up on the magic of band-aids which may be a good thing because I'm not sure I'd want to kiss Katie's foot.

I do think that distractions can be useful tools in life. I now realize that for me while running it's easier to endure if I'm talking (wheezing) with a friend or listening to my ipod, concentrating on the music instead of my own discomfort.

I know this was only a bee sting and I think I was right in what I did. To try to reason wither a 4 year old is rarely a good idea and she was smart enough to know: she hurt! She had reason to be screaming! To console her too much would just draw attention to the injustice of the bee sting. I don't want her to hate bees or be afraid of them. To explain that's just what sometimes happen, assure she'll be okay and facilitate in making her feel better by the ice, the tv, and the band-aid made sense. I'm not sure I'd do that in every situation but this warranted it. (plus, I am not as compassionate as most because it's true: this stuff happens. To everyone. And most people that aren't allergic to bee stings are going to be just fine.)

So what are your thoughts on life's hurts? Do band-aids heal or conceal? To never let them heal by dwelling exclusively on them? Or to be distracted by a myriad of things? Does it matter what things we distract ourselves with? I know for me I feel that certain distractions are unhealthy, such as drugs or alcohol or excessive eating. But what about other distractions that seem okay? shopping, (oh wait; I guess that one's not deemed as okay!) exercise, cleaning and organizing? Can those things also be unhealthy distractions? Sometimes I wonder what is true healing and what encourages it? Not to run away, not to numb the pain, not to reopen the wound to the world, complaining constantly but doing nothing to help it, not to let it fester and get worse under the band-aid of distraction. It's so easy to say "allow God to heal you" but what exactly IS that?

BTW: Yes, I was within 2 inches of the bees to take these pictures. Perhaps photography is MY distraction..... hmmmmm....Or perhaps it's reading.... or writing... or this very blog.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Inexcusable

" Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it."

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."

C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Running To Stand Still


I know; my title is from U2 but my post subject is quite different from the song! (and that's a good thing)

This afternoon my whole family went running with me. Of course, I don't actually run but was determined to try and so I did. My boys ran ahead of me, way ahead of me! David, my husband actually mostly ran behind me, just a bit, let me run as I turned my ipod up really loud and just ran, and ran and ran until I was ready to collapse. (which was about 3 quarters of a mile) Then David stepped in with encouragement and a few tips. I wanted to stop, he really wouldn't let me stop. Instead he said to keep running at a very slow pace, and began doing so. I retorted that I could walk at that speed! He agreed but said I needed to run; as I am training my body to relax and to take deep controlled breaths. Speed did not matter as much as controlling the breathing and relaxing my body.

For those that don't know me; I'm rarely ever relaxed! It's near impossible. I find myself often gripping the steering wheel with such force that my hands later hurt. I don't even realize it. When I do, I try to relax but it's not easy! David jokes that a glass of wine would help but i don't like the taste and I don't even like the feeling; it's like my body is fighting it and it hurts. So, you can perhaps imagine how much thought and energy it took to focus on controlled breathing and relaxing!

I know and respect my husband greatly; I know he's a good athlete and is quite knowledgeable and a perfect person to listen to. Luckily I was in a good mood and took all his tips and suggestions in the way he intended: To help, not to torture. (this could all change next week) So, I ran at a snail's pace, still thinking I'd pass out. My oldest child caught up to us, (he had already lapped me at least once) and said that he could walk faster than I was running. I just smiled at David who reminded me that it was about slow breathing and relaxing. And so I trudged on, trying to do as he said. It was a lot of work.

I admit; it's getting a bit easier. The first day was really quite awful and lately it's been much more tolerable, but I wonder if this tidbit of information, this reminder to relax can be something that is good in other areas of my life. I suppose I already know that answer! But it's amazing how much work it takes to relax!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crumbs....


I readily admit I'm a strange person and I have a unique train of thought. I feel the need to preface this post with this disclaimer! Basically, it's all connected it's just that it's hard to see the connection but really it's there. It just takes a while to get there.

Try to keep up... ;-)

This past Sunday my pastor's message in church was about 1. And he continually used the number 1 instead of "one". This actually bugs me and I'm dealing with it.... but I don't like seeing it stated as 1ness and 1 instead of one. My husband just laughs at me, because it doesn't bother him at all but he can see why it bothers me, as I read very quickly and supposedly speed readers don't read every letter; they basically just glance at the first few letters, put it in context and guess at the actual words. This makes sense I guess; so by putting 1 in a sentence really messes me up and slows me down! (not to mention I find it annoying!) Yes; it's quite trivial. I know this and that is why even though it truly does bother me, I see the humor in it as well.

So,1 annoys me and I've told at least four others of this little pet peeve of mine. They all think I'm silly and strange and both my husband and my friend Lisa have pointed out that my favorite band is U2.... which has a number and a letter in it's name. I insist THAT doesn't bother me and I have a pretty irrational excuse why it doesn't bother me but the main reason is because they are U2; they'll always be alright. (it's alright, it's alright, it's alright....) Besides, they have a song called "One" and they don't have the audacity to shorten it to "1". Nope. They wrote it out..... "One".... the way it ought to be!

So, then I began thinking of the song "One'..... and I read my pastor's blog post and I'd link it here but am unaware of the etiquette involved in linking things without notifying the person (though I did so to Maxine....;-) Oh, it's kinda fun!) So, my Pastor's blog brought up a call to common unity, and that we are the body of Christ; comprised of many different yet valuable parts buts still one. (1) This got me thinking about U2's song "One" and how we "carry each other" and my mind wandered to what true community really looks like and I thought of the early church which leads me to a passage in Acts 2:

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need . And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

You may think that the U2 song I am going to write the lyrics to are from their song "One" but this passage just triggered a different song in my head, because of the words "signs and wonders"; the words to this song are beautiful and meaning haunting. I'm truly a strange person because I like things fully understood; no room for mystery and yet Bono is actually a poet; often not fully explaining his thoughts and yet it's beautiful. My friend thinks he's a bit too ambiguous but I think he's a master of words; Bono has the heart of a poet. Being a person of too many words I am in awe of those who can use a spare amount of perfectly chosen words to create atmosphere and understanding. It's truly art. It's beautiful, thought-provoking and meaningful to all who hear.

All this to say: Here's the lyrics.

Crumbs From Your Table

From the brightest star
Comes the blackest hole
You had so much to offer
Why did you offer your soul?
I was there for you baby
When you needed my help
Would you deny for others
What you demand for yourself?

Cool down mama, cool off
Cool down mama, cool off

You speak of signs and wonders
I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I'm waiting on the crumbs from your table

You were pretty as a picture
It was all there to see
Then your face caught up with your psychology
With a mouth full of teeth
You ate all your friends
And you broke every heart thinking every heart mends

You speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I'm waiting on the crumbs from your table

Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die
Three to a bed
Sister Ann, she said
Dignity passes by

And you speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
I'm waiting on the crumbs from your table

- U2

So, what does every1 else think? Does the number 1 bother you in sentences? Do you ever 1der why any1 would choose to do this? And what do you think of U2's Crumbs song or even my bizarre train of thought? It's okay; I know I'm strange. What is your favorite U2 song?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WARNING!!!


Warnings. I think we see this word so much we are immune to it. It's supposed to remind us of danger, of an imminent possible consequence and yet since we see it all the time with little or no consequences, we ignore it. It's lost it's impact. It seems that legally people and companies have to communicate the bad things so we hear these warnings all the time: side effects, imprisonment, fines, health risks, etc.

I tend to be a rule follower but it's hard when there are so many rules; so many warnings. Which ones to heed? Which ones can I not listen to? How many of us have taken more advil than is stated on the bottle? And been just fine?

I think the lines have been a bit blurred and I don't think we realize what is wrong. Is it okay to put music to a slideshow without paying royalties? Is it okay to put music on your website without asking the artist's permission? Is it okay to put a clip on you tube that one altered the words to or added a slideshow or made a video with someone's song without permission? I'm sure there are warnings out there but "everyone does it" with little or no consequences. Plus, it's just exposure for the artist, right? I can think of lots of reasons to justify my actions and choices.

We live in a world of warnings, licensing agreements and a bunch of other stuff we don't even bother to read but agree to, and if we go by the actions of others then it seems that actually everything seems permissible. Everyone clicks on a photo to copy it without the owner's permission. Everyone copies music or puts music to their slideshows. If it's personal use it seemingly doesn't matter, but does it? Does it really matter?

So, what are the warnings you don't heed? Do you copy a CD? Do you use music for a personal slideshow? On your blog? Do you copy photos? Do you think it's okay to do so and that these warnings are designed for a different purpose? Does our actions hurt anyone else? I'd love to know your thoughts because I really wonder about all this stuff. Technically, there's a warning in the opening pages about copyright infringement and I do ponder why it would be wrong to quote a book, author or song. I'm hoping there's another law I'm not aware of that makes it permissible to do so! That is definitely one area I don't heed. What about you?

Achtung, baby!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bonus Question


Earlier I posted about the boy who became a dragon and Aslan had to assist him in tearing off all that stubborn dragon skin, as he could not on his own do so.... and how it hurt deeply but also exposed such joy and freedom.

So, my bonus question for my C.S. Lewis fans:

What was the boy's FULL name and did he deserve such a name? In your opinion; not the author's.

Oh, and NO GOOGLING IT! However, if you happen to own the book feel free to use it but let me know if it was just off the top of your head or if you asked or looked it up in the book.

Enjoy. I'd offer a prize but this one's way too easy.

A Child's Story?



My husband has read my kids all the Chronicles of Narnia stories over the past couple of years, as my brother in law has done with his boys. I think I got more out of the stories than they do.

I admit; I love a good children's story with layers and substance that provokes thought in kids and adults. I love this passage in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I hope you will too.

"So at last we came to the top of a mountain I'd never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden-trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it was a well. I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it: but it was a lot bigger than most wells-like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not."
"I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snakey sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that is what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and the scales started coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe."
"But just as I was going to put my foot into the water I looked down and saw that it was all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means that I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe."
"Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, however many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew that it had been no good."
"Then the lion said-but I don't know if it spoke-You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay down flat on my back and let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off; it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know-if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place it hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away."
"I know exactly what you mean," said Edmund.
"Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off-just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt-and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as soft and smooth as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me-I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on-and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phony if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them. After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me-"
"Dressed you. With his paws?"
"Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes-the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. "

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Santa and God


I suppose Christmas is always on the minds of young children. Today my middle child just raced into the room where I was in, waving a catalog exclaiming "this is what I really want!" It was a skateboard ramp. This way, he said, he doesn't have to go to the skateboard park. He's quite excited. Asked when we could go to the mall to see Santa so he could ask Santa for this gift. To that my youngest, the four year old pipes up "I want everything. I've asked God for everything!"

Hmmmm, so interesting that God and Santa are nearly synonymous to my kids. I wonder what I've done wrong!

It's actually quite interesting because Reid supposedly told Katie that there was no Santa and the guy at the mall wasn't really santa. So a few days ago Katie told me she wanted to go sit on the pretend Santa's lap and ask for a toy and then on Christmas there's no sleigh and Santa's not real so the fake Santa, who is dressed in a red suit just like the real Santa, will show up in a car and use the door to come in, set the presents by the tree and leave. Because there is no real Santa.

It's so easy to forget God until I really need Him, but as I went about my day today, thinking about the good things that are happening I realized often I don't show any gratitude for it. I consider these things my doing instead of God's doing. I am inclined to only go to Him when I need to; when things seem beyond my control.

So, I'm reminded to not just treat God like a benevolent Santa that I go to only when I want or need something. He's so much more than that! To realize everything I am and have are from Him puts it all in a completely different perspective. To realize who I am and who He is... it just brings me to a place of awe.

As for my kids, I'm happy that God is a daily part of Katie's life. I'm happy she can go to bed, praying to Him, bringing her requests, simple and trite as they are; I'm happy she knows He loves her and that all good gifts come from Him. But there's so much more, and I'm excited for her to learn that someday. I'm excited as I learn that myself right now.

And you? Do you ever view God as a benevolent Santa, magic 8 ball or gumball machine?

Seeing Stars

A few of my friend know about my delight in blue stars. For those that are thinking I'm really strange, let me explain.

A few months ago Apple's Safari web browser had a little nifty update. I have a little thumbnail view of "top sites." It picked the most viewed web pages I visited and display a small thumbnail of it so it's easy for me to click on it and brings up that page. It's quite nice, and I can edit it a bit and choose the sites I prefer to have on that easy access page. Of course, I have my email and FB but all the rest are blogs, and when a blog is updated..... in the right hand corner there's a blue star to alert me that something new has been posted. I LOVE THIS!

Lately I've branched out in my blog reading and have happily found some east coast and midwest bloggers. This is a wonderful thing because of the time difference: by the time I wake up in the morning, many of these blogs have updated with a new post! So.... I see blue stars pretty much every morning! I also bug a few friends weekly to update their blog when I'm a bit bored and want to know what they are up to. (Maxine.....I'm waiting for a blue star!)

I admit, I haven't always been into reading other's blogs. I did not like the name. "Blogs" to me doesn't sound so appealing. "Weblog" is still a bit lacking but regardless of the name the fun thing about blogs is they are all so very different. Some make me laugh, some give me tips, some make me think and form a ton of questions, and others gives me encouragement and inspiration Some recommend books, some challenge my perception of culture or gives deeper insight to culture. Some I read just because I enjoy keeping up to date with my friends.

I think it perhaps is true; what is most personal is most universal and so I've found that by others sharing their questions, concerns, struggles and joys it has been valuable to me. Some blogs I am just inspired by their stories of restoration and faith in a difficult time. Some are so honest but I believe everyone can relate to what she writes. Others I just see joy in the midst of situations I don't think I'd find joy in. It's amazing and beautiful to read these blogs. Then there are the more "academic" blogs that dissect theology, culture and wrestle with answers. I love them all; love how they challenge, encourage me or just make me smile.

A big thank you to all the bloggers out there that bring your unique perspective and story, wisdom and silliness to the blogosphere, and thank you for those that read this and other blogs. I don't consider myself a "real" blogger but I have discovered how fun and valuable it is to blog and to be heard. Thank you for hearing me, and if you are a blogger yourself that I follow or just read regularly, thanks for all those blue stars!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Disturb Me Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

-Sir Francis Drake

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Sign?



I'm guilty by association. It wasn't MY Idea to make the signs but since I have 3 kids the duty fell to me. This morning I went and bought poster board, yardsticks, tape and pens. I'm sure it looked like I was all set to picket but that is not my intention.

It's a long story but there are a few people that are a part of the church I go to that are doing a triathlon tomorrow and the signs are just words of encouragement. It wasn't my idea, especially the wording on one of the signs but my kids were happy to help create them and can't wait to cheer Daddy and friends on in the race. Of course, one of the signs reads "Looking Good, Almost There" and is more of a ribbing than encouragement. It's kinda an inside joke and it'd take too long to explain it on my blog but those who attend my church will "get it". Oh, and did I mention it's plastered with glued on gummy bears? Another inside joke. (my kids LOVED eating the leftover gummy bears)

This is just a fun race; David did not get to train as hard and consistently as he'd have liked to; somehow painting the house, work demands, family fun and just LIFE got in the way, but it'll be great. I have only been to one of his triathlons and it was...well, it was an experience! I missed every photo opportunity of him! I joke that he's just too fast and it's really, really difficult to be prepared ! Add to that 3 little distractions I have with me and taking photos is more difficult than it looks! (but somehow I managed to get photos of a few of our friends pretty easily) So this time I'm ready. He'll be competing in the yellow FCA-E jersey so perhaps that will help him stick out to me. I hope so! I want some good photos!

But photos or not, it'll be fun. And we're ready. I have snacks packed, signs waiting, extra clothes, warmer clothes (one can never tell what it'll be like at the coast) my iPod, camera and LOTS of memory, my laptop, and a good book. David's getting his stuff ready as we speak: wetsuit, bike, clothing, food, strange tri food, strange mixture stuff to drink, a bag with all the stuff he needs for "transition".... a bright towel to lay out his stuff, Gu packets, shoes, socks, bike shoes, and whatever else he seems to need that I don't remember.


This sport could possibly be worse than surfing. We have to be out of the house by 4:30 to get there on time since David did not yet pick up his race number and registration packet. I'm not looking forward to that part but I'm still excited. It's rather adventurous. Plus, I'm not the one racing.

I think I'll bring a few lawn chairs and sip iced tea with an umbrella in it as I watch from the sidelines and cheer them on. Way to Go! Looking Good! Almost There!

Before and After

When I think of "before and after" I think of radical transformation; like a person who lost a ton of weight or a hair and make-up or clothing make over. Maybe even something new out of something old, like the show "Extreme Home Makeover". Regardless, I generally tend to view the "after" picture better than the "before" photo. We always want something better; something newer and improved.

I also find it interesting that when one sees the advertisements for weight loss supplements or to sell exercise equipment, the "before" photo is always an unedited "snapshot" in which the person is wearing no make up, hair messy or at least not styled. The lighting of the photo is dim and off, with shadows and just a harsh look to it. Usually the person is wearing unflattering clothes.... but in the "after" shot, hair and make up are professionally done, the person is now wearing stylish clothing, smiling, better posture, better lighting, and of course, they are transformed to the image is being sold. David, my husband, constantly laughs at infomercials where the really fit guy or gal with lots of muscles says that "just 20 minutes of day" will produce this body. Ummmm..... no. They may have used that equipment for 20 minutes a day but they surely also ran many miles, modified their diet and did a bunch of other exercise to achieve the look they are purporting to have achieved by that diet or that exercise regime or machine alone.... and at 20 minutes a day too!

Now here you may wonder if I'm going to use an analogy of this to our spiritual life of expecting us to know and love God while only doing five minutes of prayer or scripture reading a day. Nope. I'm going in a different direction.

BEFORE

Three years ago I did not own my Macintosh laptop. Nope; we just had a very old PC that's hard drive had given up twice, loosing all my not backed up data. (the 2nd time we did retrieve most of it) I spent a few hours at most on the computer mostly just organizing, downloading and editing photos. Email was designed to inform me of things, not to carry on a conversation. We owned one desktop and it was shared by all. I checked my email maybe twice a day and rarely if ever bought things online.

AFTER

Today as I was driving to a park to run with my friend Kris. (for me "run" is a code word for "walk") I realized I had not brought my iphone. Not a big deal, right? But I missed it. As I drove to the park I kept noticing this urge, more like a slow twitch to keep glancing at my hand, where my iPhone usually is. As I drove I realized I could not check my email. I could not look up blog posts, I just really missed it. Not even a year ago I had an old phone, with a black and white screen that cold only do phone calls and texting (but I never texted) and displayed the time. Now my options are nearly endless.
This is my after: even on my phone I can order a book online through Amazon with just a click of the touch screen. I can read a whole book that I downloaded for free. It organizes and schedules my life, reminds me of things, tells me the weather, I can look up any bible verse in any language and any translation! Check my facebook, blogs, get directions, listen to music, twitter, GPS,... I can do so much with this phone; an extension of my computer at home. I once spent maybe 2 hours online or on my computer "before" and now I have access to it at stoplights, the grocery store, the park. Anywhere. Instant communication; instant knowledge. I love it.

Now, perhaps this is not a better "after" image. Perhaps I had more free time before I was enslaved and had so many options available to me, but would I have filled my life with such stuff anyways?

When I was younger I hated being bored. I'd carry around a backpack that was my life. It did not matter how much it weighed; the though of being without it and the potential of boredom was not something I wanted to face. I had to have a notebook and a pencil or pen. Had to carry at least one book with me. I enjoyed markers and crayons. I'd bring maybe a dozen CD's with me and my portable CD player with me everywhere. In many regards, this is what I carry with me now, only in a much more compact and better format.

I can blame this all on technology, and there's great things as well as bad things to technology. I hear often that people are finding it "good" and therapeutic to unplug now and then and set aside dedicated time to NOT engage in things online. I am trying to understand that, but in the end I am responsible for my choices. Even if I "unplug" what am I plugging in to? If I choose to not read a book or a blog online, am I reading a paper book instead? If I'm not shopping online, am I at the mall? If I'm not instant chatting with a friend, am I on the phone instead? Is one method inferior to the other or just easier to be distracted in front of a computer screen?

I do love my life "after" with my wonderful computer and iPhone. But is it better because I have dressed it up to look better? Is it more alike than I'd care to admit? Do I waste more time or save more time by this wonderful technology addiction? Has it facilitated relationships in a better way than my "before" life and methods of interaction? Is email the same as regular mail?

Is that old quote the more things remain the same the more they change or the more things change to more they remain the same? Plus c'est la meme chose, plus ca change? What do you think?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

God Be The Glory!

By now you may think I'm a hymn nut. I'm not! But I have sweet small-child memories of growing up in a musty, old baptist church with fond memories of my Grandma... and for some reason, I can't get rid of these hymns in my mind! But they are beautiful. Some of them are rich in theology; some are a bit off but still well regarded. (Can you name a few hymns that purport a doctrine or theology you disagree with?)

Anyways, as I was writing yesterday's post this hymn came in my mind. To God be the Glory! Written in the 1800s by a woman named Fanny Crosby It's said that she wrote 8,000 hymns! That's incredible! But more incredible (to me) is he story. She's blind because of a treatment given as an infant that left her permanently blind. When she was around a year old, her father died and she was raised by her mother and grandmother. Her caregivers, determined that Fanny be self sufficient, had her memorize long passages of scripture (some accounts say the entire Bible) to exercise her mind.

According to Wickipedia, she wrote (or rather, dictated) these words when she was 8 years old:

Oh what a happy soul I am,
Although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy,
That other people don't;
To weep and sigh because I'm blind,
I cannot, and I won't."

She's also quoted to be thankful for her blindness, counting it a blessing and a gift since it enabled her to see the beauty of God rather than distracted by other earthly beauty. She also is credited of saying, " when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!"

Other familiar (to me) hymns written by her include: Blessed Assurance, Near the Cross, Safe in the Arms of Jesus, among many others.

To God Be The Glory!

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
(Refrain)

Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
(Refrain)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Soli Deo Gloria


I put this on my facebook the other day and told my friend Maxine that I was going to convert her into the "dark side of Calvinism". I was teasing; If I really wanted to convert her to Calvinism I'd school her in TULIP.

Soli Deo gloria is part of the five solas that are latin terms used in the time of the Protestant Reformation. The complete list is:

1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
2 Sola fide ("by faith alone")
3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
4 Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone")
5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")

Some of you that are friends may know that I have a lot of questions and I seek a lot of answers but very seldom are the answers I get satisfactory. Many feel that I should not waste my time contemplating things; what matters is loving God and loving others. Some are fine with my quest for answers but remind me that God is infinite and we are finite; God is mysterious and we can't comprehend Him. I agree; and yet doesn't He want to be known? Doesn't He reveal Himself through scripture? Doesn't He want us to seek Him and know Him? But of course, it's true: God is too big to contain, too big to understand and any understanding I'd even achieve comes through Him and His grace; not by my own endeavors.

So why do I question?

I've been thinking a lot about a series of questions, trying to figure out why and how things happen. I've wrestled so much and so long and finally am coming to the conclusion that I should have come to many, many months ago: God is sovereign and everything that exists and transpires is all to bring glory to Him.

In this "Me" centered world, that's a tough concept but to me, it's the only thing that makes sense. Even in bad things, things that we can't fathom why, could the answer be that even in bad things God is glorified? When bad things happen they can point us to God.... and He is glorified. When good things happen; to God be the glory! I was reading a blog this morning of a new blogger frieind going through a bad time and she kept repeating this phrase: Praise Him! In her joys, Praise Him! In her sorrow: Praise Him! Why? Simply because He is worthy of our praise.

Soli Deo gloria. For the Glory of God alone.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Painful Discoveries

I'm sitting here, tired and hurt. Oh, I hurt! Every time I get up I want to pass out! I'm sitting here waiting for my husband to get home. I have already phoned him to whine and complain and all he had to say was "that's great!"

That's GREAT? I'm in pain, I'm hurting.... I'm literally sick! All from a mere one hour of running/walking (mostly walking) The advice he gives: Take some advil and be sure to go for a bike ride tomorrow. A BIKE RIDE? Didn't he hear me? I'm sore! I'm tired! I'll be even more sore tomorrow and he thinks I should go for a bike ride!

It figures. Meet my Husband. For whatever ails you, exercise is the answer. Have a cold? A run will help clean out the congestion. Hurt muscles? A run or ride will stretch and strengthen it. Stressed, anxious or sad? Again: The answer is EXERCISE. Tired? EXERCISE Grrrrr...

So now he's home and chuckling at me. I'm angry: he has no idea how much pain I'm in and he insists he's been there but I don't believe him.

See, my husband is AMAZING. He's one of those naturally gifted athletes. One always hears that "anyone can do it" but I'm really unconvinced. I read blogs about people that set out to do marathons or other physical endeavors and I really believe that they are special. I KNOW my husband is special. He's will say it's still determination and hard work. He'll say that there are days he doesn't FEEL like working out but he's still DIFFERENT. First of all, he's always in good shape. He is over 6 feet tall and I don't believe he's weighed over 168 pounds in his life. He was an gifted soccer player in his youth, well rated long distance track and field runner in high school, rowed stroke in college on a very fast crew boat with men that were "heavyweights" and had a lot of power.... strength-to-weight ratio he was amazing. Great surfer that picked up the sport effortlessly, impressive waterskier even though he rarely skis, agile rock climber, skilled snow skier, windsurfer.... basically he can do any and every sport relatively well without much effort. Add a bit of effort and his capability and possibility is amazing! Plus, he LOVES this stuff! (I don't love any physical exercise!) He'd rather bike to work than take his car, he loves to ride his bike. In fact, as I type this (and he has no idea what I'm writing) he just randomly informed me that he rode his bike 22 miles today and ran 6 miles. See? He's crazy. And happy.

He always comes home stress free thanks to his bike rides and lunchtime runs. But I still don't believe that he suffers like I suffered today, and I still maintain that some people are just "special". I do think it's easier for some of us than others, and David is one of the special ones: Gifted with incredible vision, focus, pain tolerance. determination, and the ability to push himself. I have to admit, I'm in awe of my husband. And he's happy that I went on a 2 mile run that I mostly walked on and had a heart rate of 194. He's HAPPY I'm in pain right now.

And I still love him.

Ready To Die

A few days ago I posted about weight. I generally don't like exercise so I simply avoid it but a friend of mine posted on facebook she was going to start running and I said I'd like to join her. That was 3 weeks ago. I got the running shoes but they stayed in a box. At church we finally made a date to "run" together. (she's been running for the past 3 weeks because she's amazing)

I don't know who was more excited this morning. Actually, I think I do know that because I was definitely NOT excited about running this morning but my husband was excited for me. I'm sure he thought I'd find an excuse to not go. Eagerly he pulled out his Garmin Forerunner GPS/heart rate monitor for me so I could keep track of my pace, distance and heart rate. I protested but he thought it'd be so helpful so I agreed to wear it.

I dropped my kids off at school and hopped in the car to meet my friend Kris. She was already running when I got there and we walked and chatted for a bit before running. I have never been a runner. I have perhaps only run in High School and I am pretty sure I managed to weasel my way out of it most of the time. I simply can't run. But we did. She explained that I needed to set short goals and then reevaluate once there. Okay. I can do that. I put on my headphones, listening to U2's Zoo station and when it got to the lyric "ready to dive" I thought for sure it said "ready to die". Indeed, I think I was ready to die. But I trudged on, then walked, then attempted to run again. I'm sure I did more walking than running! Looked at my recorded heart rate and it said I as at 193 beats per minute. Hmmmmmm.... David said I should keep it under 150 but I was over 150 just by walking fast! Kris mentioned that her heart rate also runs high so we continued on. I really had a hard time but Kris was quite encouraging saying that she was similar 3 weeks ago but now is doing better and in a few weeks I'd be able to do more as well.

I hope so. A group of us are doing a (small) run at the beginning of October. Not sure I'll be ready then but I hope too! If nothing else, at least I made my husband happy for the day.

I'm looking for music that is good to run to. Any suggestions?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Giddy

Giddy. Isn't it a funny word? It's interesting how words can have multiple meanings. Since I have children my first thought of the word "giddy" is in context to a play stick horse and imaginative play. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary "giddy" can mean dizzy, causing dizziness, whirling rapidly, or lighthearted, silly, frivolous, joyfully elated: euphoric.

Well, I'm not talking about being dizzy or foolish or frivolous; I'm talking about being joyfully elated or euphoric. Why you may ask am I elated? The short answers is BOOKS!

This afternoon I attended a dear friend's BBQ swim party. I always enjoy this special friend's company but when she has small or large parties it is really special because she invites people that I love but normally don't spend a lot of time with. I'm not sure WHY I don't spend a lot of time with them, but I don't. It's interesting also because they all attend her church except my family. Actually now that I think about it, it's pretty neat she invites me at all, though most of these folks I also know since we went to the same church several years ago.

So, as much as I enjoyed being with this fun group of friends, what has made me giddy is that one of my friends loaned me several books on church history and Martin Luther. I can't wait to dive into them but I was good and resisted the urge to be anti-social and read at this party. My friend also brought me her photos of her trip to Europe: Wittenburg's Castle Church, Wartburg Castle, etc. She recounted some of the places she visited on a reformation tour; obviously this friend of mine knows quite a bit of church history. Actually, she's quite brilliant; when I traveled to the Christian Book Expo in Texas back in March I had purchased a children's book of famous people that did great things for God. Actually, some of them (in my opinion) were not that famous. At the end of the book was a quiz on each person. Without reading about the person she was able to answer nearly all the questions! Here's a sample based on the chapter on Susannah Spurgeon: What did Susannah send to ministers who earned less than L150 a year? or What presents did Susannah ask Charles to get her one day? " Amazingly, from her own reading prior she's know all the answers. It was fun and a bit uncanny the tidbits of little details she could remember. So... this wonderful, knowledgeable friend loaned me 8 books on Christian history, the reformation, Martin Luther, etc.
THAT is why I'm so giddy! Titles include:

The Legacy of Sovereign Joy by John Piper
The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation by William Cunningham
The God Who Justifies by James R. White
Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther
Pages From Church History by Stephen J. Nichols
The Reformation for Armchair Theologians by Glenn S. Sunshine
Luther for Armchair Theologians by Steven Paulson
Table Talk by Martin Luther

Oooooh, all I can say is thank you, Friend, for loaning me your books!

Yep. I'm definitely giddy!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Heart of a Child



A few weeks ago my church gave us the wonderful opportunity to sponsor a child through Compassion International. I suspected that there would not be enough children to satisfy the demand so I chose to wait. Sure enough, all 25 children were quickly sponsored. I wasn't too worried, as I knew I could sponsor a child online or wait until the church received more profiles of children who were needing sponsorship.

I luckily was asked to help with the Compassion International table this morning. I was quite excited about it. Not sure exactly why. On a basic level I just like having something to do. On a deeper level, I do care for a ministry such as this one. On a more superficial level, I'd probably do anything this friend of mine asked, just to help her or the church out.

My wonderful friend thought it'd be a great idea to separate them into boys and girls and even put them in order of age. I scoffed at her (in jest) and later she laughed at me when so many came up wanting a specific aged child! I suppose she was right in the extra effort it took to group them by age and gender.

As I was putting them in order I realized that this was a great opportunity to choose a child for my family. I picked out two girls that were about Katie's age for her to choose from. I wanted them to be similar to Katie and they were: Kindergarteners who enjoyed helping out their mom and dad with chores, loved playing with dolls, and the most important thing: She had to be wearing a dress. Katie has quite a penchant for dresses. (and the frillier the better!)

In my mind, I thought she'd choose a little girl named Sara who wore a blue dress with a flower on it, but instead she chose a little girl in a more traditional dress. They both were beautiful girls. After she chose little Ayoko she wanted to hold her picture, and went all around church showing everyone her new friend. I thought it was really sweet.

Then we went to lunch with some friends. Katie did not want to let go of Ayoko's photo. She asked if she could go to Ayoko's house to play. I tried to explain to her that Ayoko lived in a different country, far away from her. She still did not get it and asked if she'd see Ayoko at church. Again, I patiently tried to explain the whole concept of living very far away, but we could write to her and maybe send her stickers and a photo of our family. Excitement once again shone in her face as she tried to think what type of princess sticker Ayoko would like best: Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty (a.k.a. Princess Aurora or Briar Rose..... surely you know Sleeping Beauty's real names!)

At dinner tonight Katie wanted to pray. (She always wants to pray aloud at meals) She used to pray long prayers thanking God for everything in sight as well as the things she holds near and dear to her: Ladybugs, turtles, flowers, etc. Ever since my church's KSK (VBS) program she's a bit more focused in her prayers and she ALWAYS thanks Him for the day, herself/ourself, Her family, food, the Bible, the day, and tonight she thanked God for her new friend Ayoko. (though she couldn't quite pronounce it well)

I love the simplicity, gratitude and joy that my kids have for God. There is such a limited understanding and yet it doesn't matter; they somehow trust that their God is a great and kind God. One that loves them. it's fun to listen to their "theological" conversations of how God can be everywhere and why God wants them to obey parents. (really; it's all quite cute) Katie delights in God's creation. They know that God is the Creator and it's pretty funny that they believe that God made EVERYTHING: Cars, their Bible, toys, etc. Reid asked me the other day how God made his Bible and we had quite an interesting discussion about the BIble.

It's official: According to Katie, Ayoko is now one of our family; her sister and friend. It doesn't seem to phase her that Ayoko and her look nothing alike. It's really cool how none of my kids have ever seemed to even notice differences in skin tones or race. Of course, I'm sure it's that way since they are familiar with diversity and cultures. It really makes me smile the love they have for others and just the simplicity and love found in the heart of a child.

Ayoko, I hope you like princess stickers!

PS. I did not feel right posting Ayoko's photo so instead here's Katie dressed up as a princess. The first one is her pretending to be The Little Mermaid. (Ariel) The 2nd is just a fun one of her in princess garb. Her lip looks funny because she had stitches in it.

In My Way



A few weeks ago my Pastor used this phrase from the 2002 movie The Four Feathers: "God put you in my way." Not only did he use the phrase he showed a clip of the aforementioned movie. I'm not a fan of movie clips used in church but this one worked well and everyone laughed. I even tweeted it.

It made me think of the people that are placed in my life. Could it be possible that they are "placed" there by God? Am I supposed to help them? Am I obligated to help them? To love them?

When I was in High School I looked for people that were weary and hurting to be placed in my path, and I had several friends that I eagerly anticipated them to confide in me. I had some friends that were really hurting with alcohol addiction, sexual abuse, serious medical issues, death of a friend, cutting and attempts at suicide. I wanted to help them; spent hours on the phone with them, thinking I was being so sacrificially loving towards them.

The reality is I wasn't so loving. I don't think I wanted them to heal or be transformed by God as much as I enjoyed this role as "helping" them. I looked forward to their phone calls, I looked forward to encouraging them.... until I entered college and realized that I was not helping them. My friend, after 3 years, was still struggling and I could not "fix" her. Oh, I still tried, until she began insisting that I was just ignoring my own problems. (what problems? And how would she even know?)

The thing is that I know I'm imperfect; I can list well over 100 areas where I fall short of being anywhere near perfect, and yet I suppose I always felt I wasn't "as bad" as my friends. I needed nothing. I did not even need God. I mean, of course, I needed God; I can quote scripture that states we all need a Saviour; but I lived like I did not NEED God. I had Him; He was with me but I did not live like I relied on Him because indeed, there was nothing THAT WRONG in my life that really required Him. Or so I thought.

There is a friend now in my life that is challenging me in a good way and I'm so resistant. I don't want to be an obstacle that is in her path that she's forced to deal with because God "put me in her path." I don't wish to frustrate her and I don't want to need her. I don't want to need anyone, and yet I look forward to her words of wisdom, and sometimes I'm even softened enough to really just want to cry, knowing what she says is truth, God's truth and then I quickly become prideful, not wanting to need anyone, not wanting to be in this position where she's helping me. I have always been the HELPER, not the one that needs help. It's hard for me to acknowledge that I need her help. To this, I'm sure she'd say that I don't need her help; I need God's help.... He's just put her in my path to facilitate that help. The question is if I'll push God away or yield to Him?

Does God put people in your path? Do you struggle with submission like I do? Do you wish to help others while you remain autonomous? Are your relationships with others a reciprocal relationship or is it all one sided? Do your friends really know you?