Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Awanas and Accountability

I signed the girls up for Awanas this year at a church nearby. I did it, honestly, because I thought it would be an inexpensive way for them to have fun, be social, and get the chance to make some friends. But, I've already found some other blessings.

Today we were working on the activities for Sami's Cubbies book. It encouraged me to pull out the playdough--which I don't do a lot because I dread the mess. But, I did it in a simple way. I just pulled out four cans and nothing else. I was reminded once again that there have been a lot of times when I have wanted my kids to do things before they were ready. Today Autumn made a beautiful flower. A year ago, she couldn't think how to make anything--and she's a pretty creative girl. I think she just needed to grow up a little more and learn how to be creative =) in a different way. Sami tried and she made lily pads and then a frog--complete with eyes, nose (lol), and a tongue. Autumn made a pony of many colors and a mermaid (it didn't look like a mermaid to me, but I loved that she thought it did).

I am realizing that I need accountability for myself--it encourages me to keep up and get things done. I have a chore chart for myself. I have a planner that I check off when we get each of our lessons done. We're memorizing verses because the girls' sunday school class is learning them (and so is Awanas). Today, I am thankful for accountability =) I don't think I'd be a very good unit studies kind of teacher, but I'm thankful for the Awanas activities because they require us (specifically me) to be more artsy =) and fun!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Well-behaved behavior, but not from the heart...

I'm always curious about new parenting books. And I'm especially curious when they mention discipline. The Well-Behaved Child is all about discipline. At first, I was impressed by the author's willingness to go against the grain and say some things that our culture today isn't very fond of. But, as I got into the book more and more I came disagree with the book.

This book focuses almost exclusively on behavior as the problem. Near the very end, the author does mention the heart and scripture, but there are only a few mentions of praying and God in the book. I could readily recommend this book to someone who doesn't believe in God and I think if they were looking for a book about discipline, this would give them some ideas.

But, as a Christian, I don't think I could follow this author's advice. It is missing grace. Our Father has grace for us--shouldn't we also as parents? In Shepherding a Child's Heart, Ted Tripp identifies that there are times for rebuke, times for instruction, times for warning, times for encouragement. As parents, we need to think about how to respond to a child's actions and behavior.

John Rosemond jumps immediately to discipline. I'll be honest. Before I read Tripp's book, I was inclined to do the same! But, I was convicted several years ago that that is my folly--to jump immediately to discipline.

I don't recommend this book. If you're an old school type parent, you may struggle with grace. If you're a co-parenting type of parent, you may find yourself too graceful and justifying your parenting to your child when you have to discipline him/her. This book is on one extreme and so I don't think it is the best book out there to encourage parents on either end of the spectrum. Grace is important--but grace doesn't negate the need for discipline and instruction.

Monday, September 28, 2009


My girls are very sweet, but some reason there's always someone dying in the stories they make up! There's always a bad sister or a bad queen. Yesterday, they explained that the good pony killed the bad queen. My husband commented that he thought it was boys who did stuff like that (cowboys and indians/cops and robbers), but in our case--it's our girls!

I have to tell you, I don't read them stories about people killing other people. So, I can't figure it out! They haven't even watched the Disney Cinderella. Although they did watch Beauty and the Beast at a friend's house one time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I was struck by something last night about thankfulness. I read a story last week about a gal who wanted to enjoy things the way her friends who believed in God did. She noticed that they truly enjoyed seeing a waterfall, or a caterpillar, or a good meal in a way that she didn't. To them the waterfall was God's creation--as was the caterpillar and the good meal a blessing. But, to her, they were simply a waterfall, a caterpillar, and food.

That story struck me because I am thankful that when I look at a waterfall I am filled with wonder and joy at the beauty of it--the beauty of God's creation. I am puzzled and wowed as I watch a caterpillar move. I savor and love a great meal!

But, I realized that in enjoying things there isn't simply an enjoyment of it that comes from God, but there is also a thankfulness that I am truly thankful for. If I thought it was only because of me and my hands or man that these things existed, why would I have to be thankful for them? It is because they are a blessing and I realize that they are from someone else that I do not deserve these things and that they are part of God's grace for me. There's no way I could earn a waterfall or a caterpillar =)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Yesterday, we were sitting doing our grammar lesson from the Well Trained Mind (which I really like) and talking about the state names as proper nouns. Autumn was looking at the map and realized that Washington, where her cousin lives, is very far from where their grandma lives in New York. Autumn asked "How does she get there?" I said, "By going on an airplane." Autumn replied, "Kids can go on airplanes? How do they do that?" Autumn went on a plane when she was 18 months old, but hasn't been on one since and Sami hasn't been on one at all. I realized that they've only seen their Daddy go on airplanes.

As for writing the name of California, where their other grandma lives. Autumn asked, "Why is it spelled that way?" Good question. =) I always wondered that when I was little.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Timelessly true...

I have to be honest. When I come across something that takes me by surprise, I don't think I can do it justice. That is the case with Focus on the Family's Radio Theater version of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters were a series of letters that C.S. Lewis wrote about Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood--both workers for the Devil about how to effectively lead people to Hell and away from God. They were originally published separately in a magazine and then compiled as a book.

I think the release of this audiodrama is very timely in our culture today. It brings to life C.S. Lewis' book from 60+ years ago. What amazes me so much about it is how true it remains today--even about our culture! I thought beforehand that there would be some very insightful comments made in it, but I had no idea how many!

I have not read the actual book, but it is on our bookshelf so I picked it up after listening to the audiodrama. It is amazingly true to the book. It is not a drastic abridgement as I had expected. The language they use is true to the book and the way Wormwood and Screwtape talk is also true to the book.

There is one particular point that struck me today that I didn't want to forget to mention. It was when Screwtape tells Wormwood that the best road to (Hell) is a very gradual one--not one marked by huge sins. Huge sins make people aware of their need for God. The gradual road (in my words) is like the frog in a pot that comes to a boil gradually--so he doesn't know he's dying.

What most struck me as I listened was that what Screwtape was really talking about is Cynicism. Cynicism is the Devil's best way to turn us away from the Lord. C.S. Lewis used other words, but essentially, that is what he was talking about.

As far as the dramatization goes, it is best to listen to it in daylight--although at night, it might have more of an impact on you. The actors were excellent! I wasn't concerned about the Behind the Scenes DVD because that has never been something I've really watched on movies. On the packaging, there is a warning that it is for ages 12 and up. I would agree with that and I'm glad they placed that age recommendation on the back. I was careful not to play it around my little ones or within their earshot.

I highly recommend this audio drama! It will give you much to ponder. It is definitely giving me much to ponder today. They just made a website for this Audio Drama:

The toothbrush

My pediatrician recommended that I start brushing Eli's teeth at his last checkup. She suggested that I give him a toothbrush and so he could start imitating the girls.

So, he does just that. I give him his toothbrush (with water on it) and then he climbs down the step stool. He stands and chews/sucks on his toothbrush, climbs back up the stool, stands, and does the cutest imitation of a spit into the sink. He's 17 months old now and I love this time.

He is also getting introduced to timeout, though. He, like every other baby I've known, is testing out pushing and hitting his sisters. Not a lot, thankfully, but he thinks it's fun and I have to help him understand that it isn't.

He will sit in timeout on the stairs because he's seen the girls do it many times. When they go in timeout, he goes over, sits next to them, and gives them a hug. It's pretty funny. Little does he know that once he understands, he will never choose willingly to go sit in timeout =)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Drawing Princesses

Autumn has really started to enjoy drawing. But, all she wants to draw is princesses. Yesterday, she drew a card for a friend of mine. I think it had almost 10 princesses on it. Their names were Tolly Lolly, Lolly, Jolly, Molly, Sami, Autumn, Mama, and Miss Liz. This is what she wrote on the card about them.

First graders are so funny--no spaces and Beautiful has a very interesting spelling, but she got the other words right =)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Humble Pie

God has a way of humbling us greatly with our children, I think. A few weeks ago, we had a family over to eat and I was surprised when the little girl went into my refrigerator and took out a drink without asking her mom or me or anyone. I definitely was taken by surprise.

But, then last night, my little Eli proceeded to take the fruit off the cheesecake on the table and then mash a piece to bits with one of the forks in front of my very own eyes and make a mess. And I didn't entirely stop him =( I tried to control it and I asked if it was okay before he started taking the strawberries--I realized that he wanted them. But, I did not realize how much damage he would do!

God definitely has a way of keeping me humble with my kids =) I think He puts us in other's shoes when to help us understand those shoes when we don't.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Irish Twins

A month or so ago, someone called my girls Irish twins. I just thought it meant that they were close in age but looked like twins. People ask me all the time if they're twins, but they're really 2 yr, 2 weeks apart. Anyways, I thought it was a compliment of sorts--just a way to describe them. But, then I looked it up yesterday. In the past, it was a derogatory term! Like Pollock for polish people (which I am). It was used to describe Irish catholic children because people thought they had too many children and had no control--that's what I read when I looked it up. Goodness, I guess I won't be describing my kids as Irish twins anymore. I had no idea!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It was such a surprise after I posted about cards--that I got a card in the mail yesterday! It made me smile and it was such a blessing to hear from my friend in Texas.

How do we love people well? Back to that question =)

I was reading in James this morning in Chapter 4: (ESV)
15Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast in your arrogance." All such boasting is evil. 17" So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

I was doing my Bible study and the questions pointed me to trusting God and it asked what is the "right" thing to do. I'm not a theologian, but the answer I wrote down was things that fall into the two categories of -- Loving the Lord above all else and Loving your neighbor as yourself.

Last night, I went to a book sale. My friend really wanted to go, but it was going to be too late. I wondered if I should stay and not go. I went. I felt torn. It's ironic, because I still got there late =) With book sales, you have to get there when the doors open, because the Book Sellers swoop in and grab every book worth reselling in the blink of an eye (an exaggeration, but they do do it very quickly and in a matter of minutes). It's a hard thing actually, because it encourages in me to be a hoarder and try and be the way they are and snatch up books I want quickly (not good). But, I'm trying to fight that feeling. Anyways, I picked up a few books for gifts. I love to give books. There was a young family about my age there (I still think I'm not old, yet) and it was the wife's first time. So, I started explaining the book sales to her. I gave her a bunch of books that I'd picked out and her son took one from my pile (but I didn't say anything) and I could feel God stretching me. It felt good. I was glad to share them with her.

I want to be wise and save what I need to, but I don't want that to become a worry and keep me from loving people today. So, that's what's on my mind today and I think that's the lesson that he's trying to teach me.

So, I started another blog today. I'm still going to do this one, but I'm going to write on the other one when I find ways to save money and make things stretch =) It's called

So, that's me for this morning. I hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My new favorite book...

I have known of Jerry Bridges as an author for many years. I remember having a book of his during college (13+ years ago), but I never got around to reading it. I wish I had--although I don't think I would have resonated with it then, as a baby Christian. I didn't know then what I know now and I had a lot of things to learn.

This summer, I have made my way through Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. It is probably my most favorite book (non-fiction) right now. Trusting God has been updated this year and been published with a new cover (which I really like).

Trusting God delves into the sovereignty of God and how God is in control and why we can trust him, why we should trust him, and what that looks like. It sounds like it would be a very simple book--but it's not. It's filled with such truths that I will know I will be coming back to over and over. Honestly, I don't even feel that I can do it justice in this entry. It has so deeply encouraged me as we have walked through several trials this summer and as I've struggled.

I wish I could buy a copy for each one of my friends =) I love it that much, but sadly I can't. All I can do is share with you that it has been such a blessing to me and I hope that you will read it if you get a chance!

Loving People

I was about to write an entry about something that is burdening my heart, but knowing that I am still struggling with it, I realized it wouldn't be wise.

But, I will instead talk about loving people. What does it mean to be "there" for someone when they need you?

A few years ago, my husband's father died. We received so many sympathy cards from his coworkers. I was amazed. They were comforting--because it meant so much to know that they cared. His boss' boss' boss even sent a card. But, we didn't get any cards from anyone at church.

We talk a lot in the church about believers and nonbelievers and how they are different. Sometimes nonbelievers are much better than loving people than we, as believers are.

Now, whenever I know someone who has had a family member pass away, I send a card as soon as I can--because I know how much it meant to me.

I learned the same lessons with thank you notes. In the course of a conversation when we lived in the South, I realized that my friend was expecting a thank you note. I sent wedding notes after our wedding years ago, but I wasn't in a regular habit of sending thank you notes. I made sure that that day, I wrote one out to her and got it in the mail. Ever since then, I've made sure that I write thank you notes. I do it because I want people to know how much I appreciated their gift--or how much the kids did if it was for them. I want people to know that I care.

I'm going to keep pondering this question of "how can we be "there" for people?" But, really a better question is "how can we show people that we love them?"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Being a Christian

It's interesting to me how we as Christians find ways to rationalize and justify doing what we want to. Ultimately, it seems like if we are a) defensive or b) finding ways to justify what we want to do, then c) something's probably not right.

Another interesting thing to me is the idea that it's okay to compartmentalize God by saying that if I have freedom in Christ--then that means that God knows my heart and that I have the freedom to do whatever I want, because God has grace for me.

And a last interesting thing to me is that we when we cry "legalism" that's not really the whole truth-- that cry comes often comes from a rebelliousness against authority--whether it is the authority of the church that you have agreed to submit to as a member of the body or whether it is God.

So, I think that if we are a) justifying and defensive b) claiming our "freedom in Christ" as a license to sin or c) crying legalism, I think it's wise for us to look at our hearts and look closely to see why we're doing these things, because they're really all masks for our own sins.

Please don't think that I am pointing out the speck in anyone else's eye without taking a look at my own heart. It was by looking at my defensive spirit that I saw the root of it in myself. I never claimed freedom in Christ that way, but I struggled through the idea of it and came to an understanding of why it isn't okay to do that. It was seeing that rebellious spirit towards authority and being confronted by my husband about it several years ago, that planted the seed that has been watered, so I now understand what that rebellious spirit can translate into in my life if I don't guard against it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A good Saturday

What a treat! My husband took care of the kids this morning--all of them and I got to go garage saling with my friend by myself! It was amazing to see how much easier and how many more garage sales we were able to go to. But, we also lost each other and we never do that when we are keeping track of the kids, too.

It was nice just to be me for 3 hours. I love my kids, but I haven't been away from them by myself for a very long time. And it was fun to find treasures to get to bring home to them while I was gone!

Friday, September 11, 2009

My testimony continued...

After camp and surrendering control, I was driving home with a friend and I prayed and prayed. I told God that I would stand up and tell my dad what I believed if he asked what happened this summer. I got home and my dad asked 3 times and by the third time, I knew I had to tell him. So, I told him I had surrendered my life to Christ. He responded by telling me that I had driven a stake through his heart. Jesus said that he did came "not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” Matthew 10:34-35 I had to walk in obedience to the Lord and stand up for what I believed.

I went back to college that fall and God helped me heal a lot of broken fences--I learned that while my feelings had been hurt during the first three years, they were not hurt intentionally by the people involved.

After that year, I took a medicine that my doctor prescribed and it through me into a depression. I told God I would move anywhere as long as I had a job. Just as I was going to move back to LA, God gave me 3 interviews with a company that moved me to Colorado. Literally, I felt God save me.

Over the years since then, there have been other markers that I have written on my heart so that I would remember God's work in my life and never forget. Among them are my marriage, the miscarriage I had 6 years ago, the ways I've seen God use me to love other people I meet, and the times when I have seen God work when there was nothing I could do to fix things. I try not to forget these markers in my life and the answers to my prayers.

But, these markers aren't the only reasons I believe in God--and not just God, but the Bible, and that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. There have been times in my life when I have not felt the presence of God and have struggled with not feeling like He is guiding me. I read a book many years ago called Disappointment with God by Phillip Yancey and it made sense to me. He talked about how there are times when we don't feel God. He wants to know that we love Him no matter what--not for what we get from Him or want to get from Him. He is always there, even when we do not feel Him. I love the picture from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indiana steps onto the walk. The bridge was there all the time and yet he had to take a leap of faith. Now, one might think they could pray and that God will answer their prayer and if He doesn't the way they expect, then He's not answering. God doesn't always work the way we want Him to. I think that's one thing I've come to understand--that He knows more than I do and He knows whats best for me even when I don't. Romans 8:28 "For God works in all things for the good of those who love him."

But, back to why I believe. I believe because of the things that God has done in my life and His love that I've seen in my life--how I've seen things work together for His glory and my best when I didn't understand in the process--like my miscarriage.

That is one last story I will interject. My miscarriage still brings tears to my eyes even as I write this. I know my husband knows I have shared this with many people because it is our testimony. We had only been married a year and I was older when I got married. I wanted to start having kids. But, my husband wasn't ready. I pressured him. And I did get pregnant. I had a miscarried at 10 1/2 weeks. After my miscarriage, I grieved. It took 6 months for my heart to heal. After 6 months, I cried out to God and he laid this verse on my heart. "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3 God healed my heart, laid the name Hannah on my heart for my little girl now in heaven and I got pregnant again. This time my husband and I were both ready. Each of my pregnancies--I've had 3 children has been frought with daily challenges to trust the Lord and realize that I'm not in control. As much as we like to believe we are--we really aren't. I had complications with my first delivery, but Autumn was born just fine. And Sami and Eli as well. While pregnant with Sami, we moved twice, I was in a car accident, and I fell down some stairs. With Eli--well God just simply protects him every day of his life. He's a climber!

God used my miscarriage to give me compassion and soften my heart. I cry every time I hear someone has miscarried. My heart goes out to them. My miscarriage makes me ever thankful for my children--who now compel me to trust God every day as I watch them and love them. My heart changed willingly because of these experiences.

I also believe because of the things He's done in my heart against my wishes. Yesterday was a perfect example. We are going through a time of adversity and it has been a hard couple of weeks for our family. But, last night, God healed my heart and took away the hard and hurt feelings that were in my heart. It wasn't something that happened because I chose for it to--it simply happened. God controlled the heart of the King and He controls my heart too when He wishes too. (I know that gets into the areas of predestination and free will that I believe both exist, but is something I will never fully grasp because I'm not God).

Another time I remember God's work in my heart was when I needed to forgive someone. I was very angry and didn't want to. I wanted to hold onto it and stay in my yucky place. But, as I talked to the person who had offended and hurt me, I experienced God's peace in my heart and I had forgiven the person. My heart was freed from my own anger.

The final reason I believe is because of what I see every day when I walk out the door. I am amazed at the beauty of God's creation. Yesterday, I saw the first praying mantis I've ever seen. I grew up in LA--we didn't have bugs or butterflies--I think it's because of all the smog. I took a picture that I'm going to post here:

I looked at this bug and his little (big) green eyes stared right back at me. I find more and more that I am able to see the world through the wonder of my children and see its beauty. This bug was amazing! Over the past few weeks, we've seen many butterflies come to feed on these flowers. They've unrolled their tongues and sat there enjoying the flowers. I've never had the privilege to watch such a thing in my own yard before.

When I look at the world we live in, I do believe that science helps us realize not how much we do understand, but rather how much we don't--and how much, I believe, we will never be able to understand. Honestly, I can't do this point justice and explain it well. In his book, Notes from a Tilt A Whirl-ND Wilson does an amazing job of talking about the world we live in and God's creation. It is a book that is part stories, part art, part philosophy, and just a great joy to read. It's stream of consciousness writing at its finest.

So, I think that in a very big nutshell is why I believe. Thanks for letting me share it with you!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Commercial Break...

I'm going to continue on with my testimony tomorrow, but I had to interrupt and simply praise God! Why do I believe? Because He does so much more than I could ever imagine or fathom or hope for in the hearts of men.

I am reading Trusting God by Jerry Bridges (forgive me for repeating that part) and I was just reminded for a moment how God controlled the heart of the King and he works in the hearts of the people in our lives--and in our own hearts at times against our will(!).

Today, we were anxious and apprehensive about how we would feel as we went to sleep knowing what meetings were ahead. My husband had two meetings today. I hoped at the most for an amicable, peaceful ending to both. Instead, God brought us healing and hope! HOPE! My heart rejoices! And the hard feelings that were in my heart have been erased--not by my own doing, but by God's. It is in my human nature to want to hold onto them. But, when I was about to lay down, I realized they were gone!

That is part of why I have faith in God.

Why I believe

Someone asked me why I believe in God? I realized that it isn't a short answer--it's an answer that is rooted in a lot of little stories. I'd like to share them and answer that question, if that's okay.

I grew up going to a liberal Quaker Church. I didn't know it was liberal at the time (as opposed to evangelical), but I liked my church. I went there for 13 years until I was 16 years old. I learned a lot about God and Quaker history, but I don't remember learning a lot about a personal relationship with Jesus. You see, Quakers believe in that of God in every man, and spiritual communion with God. In high school, I went to a camp at Hume Lake where the speaker said that if you didn't take communion, you weren't a Christian. I almost walked out. I believed in God. I had lots of doubts, but I was afraid of asking them and being judged.

But, there's something else that was going on while I was in high school and that was the way my dad was raising me--to hold grudges. I had a lot of bitterness and anger that was beginning to brew in my heart. I could feel it and I tried and tried to get rid of it, but I couldn't.

So, I went to college. New hurts, new wounds, new grudges. I worked at an evangelical Quaker camp the summer after my freshman year and then a second time after the summer of my junior year. The second time someone came and shared his testimony at the camp one week. Basically, he'd always gone to church and knew all the right answers (just like me) to the questions, but didn't have a personal relationship with the Lord. And then he came to know the Lord. I was in the kitchen working during his talk, but I heard about it through the grapevine. I talked to him just as he was leaving camp. He wrote me a letter a week later and said that God had laid me on his heart to pray for--that he was afraid for me because he knew I had all the right answers just as he had. I was amazed that God would bring me to someone's mind to pray for. That was one thing I always felt--that I just wasn't important enough to God for him to send someone for me to talk to--that my doubts didn't matter, and that essentially I didn't matter that much. I really thought everyone else mattered a lot more to him than me.

God brought Aaron back up to camp 2 weeks later and we talked every morning for a week. By the 3rd morning, he explained to me that God's heart hurt with me every time I was hurt, and that He wanted me to surrender to Him. I knew I had a choice to make and a morning later, I sat on my favorite big rock looking out over the big Sequoias and surrendered my life to the Lord. In that moment, He washed all of the anger and bitterness from my heart. I had been trying for years to do that and I'd never been able to.

For me, that was the first memory marker in my life--my first altar--that rock. I realized that I had been trying to fix myself and I couldn't. But, God could. There's more to the story, but that's the beginning. At the time when I surrendered, God gave Aaron this song...

Tear Down these walls

O Lord, I come to you with empty hands
My heart is broken and I have no strength left to stand
My face is left tear stained by things I don’t understand O Lord
and yet I will trust you for my name is written on your blood stained hands

And I will let down these walls I’ve built up for so many years
And I’ll pour out my heart will you wipe away my tears?
In your presence Lord I will surrender I will submit to your almighty hand
And I’ll boast in my weakness saved by the strength of Christ’s blood I will stand.

O Lord, Lord I’ll sit here in this secret place O Lord
In the stillness underneath your wings wrapped in my Fathers tight embrace
Destruction has come against my soul O Lord
in your presence will you heal my heart make it strong and make me whole?

And child I’ll tear down those walls you’ve built up for so many years.
And if you’ll pour out your heart I’ll surely wipe away your tears.
In My presence child if you will surrender, if you’ll submit to my all loving hand
I’ll be the strength in your weakness and by my sons blood you will stand
I’ll be the strength in your weakness and by my sons blood; my child you will stand
You will stand…..if you’ll but trust me my child you will stand.

I still struggle with anger and bitterness. God washed me clean that day, but I continue to struggle and to feel God's grace. It has given me compassion and a sensitivity to that in others in my life. Bitterness truly will eat away at you and destroy you from the inside out. It did for me. I tried to hide it from others, but I knew I couldn't. After I surrendered, I remember a friend who told me she had never been able to put her finger on what was wrong, but after I surrendered, she could feel the peace in my heart.

So, the first part of my answer to "Why do I believe?" Is that God did something that I couldn't do and had been trying to for years--He took away my anger and bitterness.

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Seeking God and trusting Him...

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn, wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10

Isn't resisting the devil hard? It is hard for me. My sins are not usually the conspicuous ones, but one I struggle with at times is trusting God. I keep coming back to the quote by Jerry Bridges in Trusting God that--"our first priority in adversity is to honor and glorify God by trusting Him. We tend to make our first priority the gaining of relief from our feelings of heartache or disappointment or frustration." I've paraphrased this in my mind, that we have to choose to trust rather than give in to despair.

So, how do I do this? I haven't been doing a good job. I have been choosing to think about the things that grieve me and it has been consuming. Rather, I need to choose to focus on the things the Lord has set before me. I feel all off kilter and I can understand why.

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 22:36-40

Have I been doing this? No, I've forgotten all about it. In grieving and my heartache that stems from other heartache, I have chosen to feel yucky. Is this what God wants for me to do? No. I know that. So, back to the question of how do I do this? I make choices moment by moment. In the same way that we can choose friends that are good for us or friends that are bad for us. I need to surround myself with the things that I need to think about. I need to write the verses at the beginning of this entry on my heart. I need to remember them, say them to myself, I need to sing, I need to listen to music that points me back to the Lord. I need to remember Who made me and Who is sovereign.

An acquaintance just came to my mind and I realized that in struggling, we have another choice. We can try to think through it on our own and come to the conclusion that we are able to reason through everything--that we are in control of our lives. But, as it says in Hebrews 11:1, "1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." I do have faith and I know that God is sovereign. I can see that one among many reasons for this adversity is that God is using this adversity to help me see that my faith needs to be in HIM alone--not dependent on other people.

As for trying to reason through it--I think one of the things that the devil tries to tell us--that we are in control. I remember at one moment yesterday, I felt like Eve faced with the decision to take a bite of the apple or not. I didn't bite. But, I recognized it. There are many times in my life when I have bitten and God has forgiven me. I have humbled myself and come before him and repented. I heard a wonderful quote once that science isn't meant to teach us that we can understand everything, but rather to help us realize how much we will truly never be able to understand and how truly great God is. There's two ways of looking at it.

One last and much lighter note, I told my husband last night that I'd like to go be a hermit. He said to me that he didn't think I'd be a very good hermit. He told me I'd be a hermit like the hermits in a Monty Python skit that are all sitting in the same cave talking about how they decorated their caves with moss and chatting away--together. I think that's the kind of hermit I'd be--not a very good one.

In the midst of trials and struggles, there is an impulse inside of me to simply run away--but I'd be a very bad hermit when it comes down to it--and I don't think God wants me to be a hermit. Hermit crabs are an interesting thing to contemplate in light of that, aren't they? They crawl into their shells the moment they get scared. They run and hide from everything in the world. It's a strong impulse--but not the one I believe God would want for us. For hermit crabs--it's the way they were made. God didn't give us big shells to carry around. Something to think about...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fear in our lives...

When I got this book in the mail, I thought to myself, "I'm not afraid." But, this book was very timely in my life. As my husband and I have walked through a trial this past few weeks, I have been struggled with fear many times. And I continue to each day.

Max Lucado tackles fear from several directions in this book. It is easy to read, comforting, yet challenging, and full of wisdom. There are several quotes in his book that I think I'll always remember. I've quoted this book to others at least 10 times over the past 2 weeks since I've read it. I don't want to include them here, because they are worth reading in context. I'm sure I will quote them down the road in my blog.

But, I will mention the chapter that encouraged me the most. It was the chapter about the fear of not mattering. Why do I blog? Why do I write reviews on Amazon? Why do I talk on the phone? Why do I do Facebook? Why do I email? Technology can be both a curse and a blessing. I realized that there was a part of me that wanted to feel like I have something worthy of saying--and worthy of being heard. I had to step back and pray and take these fears to the Lord--my fear that I don't matter--that I'm not liked or loved or worthy of being liked or loved.

Though you may not think you live with fear in your life--you may be surprised. I think it's likely more present than you think! At least it was for me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thoughts about Life

It is strange to realize that it was 7 years ago this past July when I had a miscarriage and Hannah went to be with the Lord. Even now, my heart cries in sadness when I hear about friends who have miscarried.

As a mom of 3 now, I often lose sight of the wonderful gifts each of my children are. I get caught up in the busyness and stress of everything that needs to get done. I want to enjoy them and love them well!

I wanted to read Letters to Darcy, a new book that will be coming out in December in the hope that it would remind me how much I love my children and remind me to cherish each one of them each day.

Letters to Darcy is a book that is the collection of blog entries (a diary of sorts) that Tracy Ramos wrote to her daughter, Darcy, when she was in her womb and during her short life. Her daughter had Trisomy 18.

I think I was expecting a book that would be written to adults, but that is not what this book is. Step inside the shoes of a 6 or 7 year old and imagine your mother speaking to you. That is how Tracy Ramos wrote in her entries--her entries are simple in language and description, because that is how as a mom I speak to my children--in words they can understand.

About 6 months after my miscarriage, I read a wonderful book called Empty Arms by Pam Vredvelt. God used it to encourage me and help me heal the pain in my heart. This is a similar sort of book, but it is different. Empty Arms is a practical, Biblical book aimed at helping women understand the truth about their miscarriages, infertility, and losses. Letters to Darcy is one mom's story of her journey through a hard pregnancy, fearful days, and the life of her family. I think it is so important to know that we are not alone! That God will help us through the pain we are going through. And I think that Tracy Ramos and her husband's example through her writing will be (and have already been) an encouragement to others. They personally struggled in their marriage. It is hard on both husband's and wives to go through the loss of a child, though it affects them differently.

To me, this is not a book about why one should or should not be pro-life or why one should or should not trust God. This book is the story of one mom's journey through the joy and pain of loving a child--and it is an important one for moms who are on a similar journey to hear. They are not alone and God will get them through this.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
--Psalm 23, NIV

Poirot and the Jesus Storybook Bible

A few years ago, I got hooked on the Poirot movies. I watched all of the ones that were out on DVD. I got very used to David Suchet's voice as Poirot.

The Deluxe Jesus Storybook Bible is going to be coming out in October, I believe. The difference between this edition and the current one in publication is that the deluxe version comes with audio cds with the stories on them.

And guess who is reading them? David Suchet. I wasn't sure what I would think, but I listened to a sample (at ). I liked it.

I'll be honest that I'm not always sure what I think about Christian book publishers and the marketing of books and such. But, I know also that there is a place for it and often my family has been very blessed by the things we've discovered through word of mouth marketing. So, that's what this blog entry is. Do you like the audio samples?

Electronic Books

My brother asserted to me several months ago that print books will become obsolete in a very short time and that everyone he knows reads electronic books. I, on the other hand, don't know anyone that reads electronic books. I don't agree with him--I'm in the other camp. I like to read blogs and periodical articles online, but not books.

I am in the process of reading my first electronic book. I have to say--I just don't like it. I can't write in it or underline anything that is impressed upon my heart or mind. I can't go back to pick it up and immediately flip to a page that I've dogeared because it was my favorite page.

No, I'm a book in my hand type of person and I think I'd like to stay that way. =)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Two Types of People

Race Horses and Plow Horses.

I've always thought of myself as a racehorse. I push, push, push till the race is done. And then I stop.

Plow Horses go at a slower pace, but they keep going till the job is done. They rest for less time, perhaps.

But, then am I a race horse or the energizer bunny--there are times when I keep going, going, going... ?

This morning was just one of those Energizer Bunny/Race Horse type of mornings. I got up late at 6:30 am because we went to bed late. I let Molly outside. Then, I started in on the dishes and getting my husband's lunch ready and the coffee. Then I wanted to bake the hashbrowns from the freezer. Ah, that was the glitch! I couldn't open the freezer, the condensation was so bad that once I finally got it opened, I couldn't close the freezer portion or the fridget door. So, I had to get the kids their breakfast (while Eli and Autumn have colds and Eli's nose is running), finish up the coffee, vacuum upstairs and get ready to mop (my chore for Friday mornings), put water on the stove and the microwave to help defrost the 30 year old mini fridge's freezer compartment. I think I started at about 6:30 am and finished up with the freezer and mopping at 9:30 a.m. Then I finally sat down and drank my coffee, but Eli saw my hashbrown and wanted one too. So, I got him a cooked one that cold so that it wouldn't burn his fingers. Then, I remembered that I'm supposed to waterproof the deck. I let Molly in and put her in the crate so her feet could dry off and not get the clean floor all dirty. Then, I moved the chairs off the deck and contemplated the sky just for a minute. I went back inside, got Eli and we are now downstairs homeschooling.

I am really glad I load up the front of the week, because by Friday, I'm tired and we don't have a lot we have to do! Yay!

Isn't life busy, sometimes? =)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reading Fiction

There are a lot of reasons I like to read fiction books. I love Honey for A Woman's Heart by Gladys Hunt, because she talks about all the reasons women should read. She talks about reading to feel life, to feel pleasure, and to learn.
This book is one of those that I read simply to feel pleasure--to enjoy and escape the struggles of life.

Lonestar Secrets is the story of Shannon and her daughter Kylie who return to the town she lived in as a teen and where she got pregnant and had her daughter. In the beginning of the story, she realizes that the twin of her daughter is not dead, but still living. And the story unfolds from there...

It is a good story. I wanted to know how it ended and I forgot about the worries on my plate right now. Colleen Coble's writing is much like Karen Kingsbury's and although this is part of a series, you could read to the end and feel like you had reached the end. I do not like the Beverly Lewis novels that leave you hanging at the end. I want to know that things work out in the end. But, Mrs. Coble's writing is not at the same level as Francine Rivers or Angela Hunt. Both are better writers, but they also write a different kind of fiction story--with a message in mind. The writing in this book is not for any purpose other than enjoyment, I believe.

This book is a good book to pick up after the week is done on a Friday night with a cup of tea and curl up on the sofa with. At maybe 1 or 2 am you'll put it down, got to sleep, then wake up the next morning and finish it off. At least that's what I did last night--except that while my kids were taking their nap today, I finished reading the end.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The tongue

In James, it says that the tongue is like the spark that can start a forest fire. It guides our whole body. It's like the bit that tells the horse where to go.


When I take that scripture and apply it to myself, it is so gravely humbling to realize the gravity and importance of self control. I have made many mistakes over the years and said things I shouldn't have said--and wish truly that I hadn't. I get tied up in knots and tears when I realize I have opened my mouth and put my foot in it!

But, at this moment, I have thought of this scripture and a person that I know and am concerned for. The realization that his tongue is guiding his actions, his heart, and essentially who is--make his actions look different somehow. Tonight I am grieving for this and the consequences of this and praying.

Over the past month, I have come to realize--I'm not sure if I've written about this--many reasons why Jesus tells us to take the plank out of our own eye before trying to take the speck out of our brothers. One reason I discovered this month is that in taking out the plank first, we develop compassion for our brother/sister in Christ with the speck in their eye. And when we go to try and take that speck out, we go humbly being fully aware of our own frailties.

Our Morning Banana

This was our banana that the kids shared for breakfast this morning. I really am bummed that I don't know how to turn the flash off on my digital camera.
I have never seen a banana like this before in all my 35 years of life! It was a double banana in one skin. It was so big you couldn't actually take a bit of it at one time all across the top. It truly was a 2 in one, because there were two centers in the banana! Pretty funny!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The purpose of church

My husband and I have been pondering lately what the purpose of church is. It hasn't been an easy question to answer. But, I found this on the web and I thought it very succinctly answered the question of what the purpose of the church is...

Autumn loves to tell this joke...

Autumn asked, "Did Satan tell them they had to eat the chicken bone?"

Yes, it makes no sense at all, but to watch her say it and then start giggling all over and then Sami chiming in and then Eli because his sisters are laughing makes it just completely rediculously funny =)

Sami is convinced that Satan is always a snake--when Autumn asked us to explain Satan at dinner one time, Sami said "I know. He's a snake!" We said, "Well, not all the time..." And then she responded adamantly, "Yes, he is!"

Such cuties.

Sami's PreK Curriculum

Basics: Slow and Steady Get Me Ready

Bible: Awanas Cubbies Activity book

Math: Earlybird Math Stds Edition by Singapore (K Math) and Developing Number Concepts by Kathy Richardson Bk 1

My Body: health themes by Evan-Moor

Reading List: Honey for a Child's Heart

Reading: Teach your Child to read in 100 Easy Lessons, Bob Books, Now I'm Reading Readers, and Hooked on Phonics PreK

Singapore Science: Child's Play