Monday, November 30, 2009

On Reading Fiction

When I watch Hallmark movies, my husband rolls his eyes. When I read cheesy, cheesy Christian fiction books, he also rolls his eyes. I am not ashamed that I enjoy both. But, I have found that many movies and books follow a formula that always centers around a romance. I think we all love the ideas that love conquers all, that love is greater than everything else, that love heals all wounds, that the love of a significant other is what will complete people's lives and make them happy and enjoy life. I love a good happy ending--where the conflict gets resolved and peace is found. But, I think we have to be wary and not get caught up in these ideas.

A few years ago, I read a book called Seduction of the Lesser Gods. It was quite a good book and it has come to my mind many times over the years. Basically, anything that we give more importance to than God becomes an idol. Anything can become an idol--friendship, children, jobs, and even love.

There are different kinds of love. If I were to describe God's love--I would turn to I John, and the verse that said (to paraphrase) that if we love one another, then God's love is made complete in us. But, most Christian fiction seems to center around romantic love rather than loving one another--and living out the second greatest commandment. I know C.S. Lewis has written much about the different types of love and to be honest, I haven't read all of it. But, I understand the basic ideas that he was trying to convey. In most Christian fiction, the plot centers around eros, or romantic love. I do really enjoy such books, but I think it can give me a false picture of reality if I read too many and foment discontent when life doesn't have a happy, comfortable ending. Unfortunately, I don't find too many that don't center around it. BUT, the two books I'm going to be reviewing this week don't. I received both as complimentary copies from the publisher--and I am thankful that I did because I really enjoyed them. They are two of the first books in a very long time that I have read that were simply good stories about life.

Today I am posting a review for the first book:
The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson

Betty Kowalski is an widow who's children live far away from her. Her son has married a woman who has a daughter from a previous marriage and only speaks with her on the phone once in a while. Her daughter lives far away with her own family as well. Her dearest friends used to live behind her, but they have now passed away. A young man, Jack, has moved in. He makes a lot of noise and seems (from the outside) to be destroying the house on the inside. This hurts Betty's heart because she loved her friends.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

She is mourning the loss of her friends and feeling very lonely. She is set in her ways--we all do become set in our ways more and more as we get older. So, it is hard for her to adjust to her new neighbor, Jack. Then, a stray dog enters--who she thinks belongs to Jack. It is a source of frustration for her, but then one of comfort in the end. It's hard to describe much of the story without giving away the plot.

One of my dearest mentors is now living at an assisted living home with dementia. I have known her for the past 3 years and it was only in the last few months that her illness took a quick and rapid acceleration. When I read this story about Betty, I pictured her much like my dear friend was before the onset of her illness. She was a dear lady who sometimes repeated herself and dwelled on the same things--but don't we all do that no matter what age we are?

This story warmed my heart with a fondness and respect for people as they get older. Read this book with a love for your grandparents and parents and for life as we get older. Life doesn't stop when we get older. No one is useless or worth less. It grieved me to read about how Betty's children treat her and yet it is something I have witnessed many times as children take for granted that their parents will always be there. It is only when something drastic happens (like my friend's illness) that we often realize that we need to make the most of the time with people that we love and care about.

Sit down with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and a warm blanket and read this sweet story about life. It is true to life--with its downs and its ups. Happy Reading!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Great Christmas Bible StoryBook and DVD!

A few months ago, I received the Read And Share Bible for Autumn and I wrote a review of it that I posted it on this blog. I'm not sure exactly what I wrote--but we have loved this Bible Story Book! It is very biblical and has really caused me to think about what the Bible says and what it doesn't.

I don't have the DVD version of the Bible, but have been curious about it. So, I was very excited to receive a copy of The Christmas Story storybook from Thomas Nelson. It includes a DVD with a sampling of the stories on the Read and Share DVD Bible.

This storybook is a larger sized storybook than the read and share Bible that includes the stories about Zecharias, Elizabeth, and John, as well as the stories about Mary, Joseph, and Jesus' birth. My 6 year old enjoyed the pages at the end which ask you to tell the story with the pictures (which are out of order). The stories on each page tell a story (they don't have to be combined all together and then put in order).

We all enjoyed the storybook and then really enjoyed the DVD. I think it's a very tricky thing to do--to bring to life the stories from the Bible without reading into them and adding details that aren't there. But, Thomas Nelson does a great job with the stories that are in this DVD. I highly recommend this book--the storybook and the DVD!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Letting go and Trusting

Letting Go is always hard. Trusting is even harder. They should always go hand in hand, but sometimes they don't. It's easy to turn inward sometimes when we let go of things instead of turning to God and trusting. In our hurts and struggles, we cry out to the Lord, but we can also harden our hearts if we don't choose to trust God. I love Jerry Bridges definition of what that means (in my words) to choose to look to God and glorify Him by trusting His love, His plan, and His goodness instead of giving in to ourselves and our desires to wallow in our struggles and pain.

I come back to the verse in Psalms that God laid on my heart when I had miscarried Hannah before Autumn. It was "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." I find great comfort in God's reminder that He will heal my heart in His timing and in His ways.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Truth about People Pleasers

Maybe I should have just titled it A truth about people pleasers. It's hard being a people pleaser. I am one. It messes with your motivations and why you do things. It also makes you feel horrible when you think someone doesn't like you.

I feel like God is really challenging me in this area right now. I feel like I'm being faced with it right and left. I find myself afraid of what people have said and haven't said.

I talked to my mom about something that someone said to me last week via email. My mom knows my life and what I have to cope with and my mom (who is a people pleaser and loves people a lot! with such a loving heart) told me to let it go. I can ruminate about things, because I just want to please everyone and I know my mom was wise to say this to me.

Yesterday at church, a woman spoke with me about the church nursery at the new church we are attending. Over the past few months, God has been laying it on my heart to submit to authority and love my family well, and also about how I make requests to others--to make them respectfully and be slow to becoming offended. So, I listened as she explained and requested that I begin leaving Eli in the nursery on his own.

We tried leaving Sami when she was this age. I left her with a good friend who knew Sami and she loudly cried the whole time. It just wasn't in her to be able to stay by herself. I see the same thing in Eli. We don't have family around or anyone he stays with regularly. He is an independent fellow, but I am going to wait until he is 2 and then will leave him in Sunday School. I don't think my husband and I would be able to endure leaving him to cry the way Sami did. We have strong willed children. And no one in this nursery knows Eli or has interacted a lot with him--because there's a lot of children in the nursery--I don't fault them for this at all. There isn't anyone there that he knows well enough to feel safe with yet.

I also realized 2 other things. Rather than simply volunteer for nursery duty (which I have done in the past and it really has stressed me), I declined and said I would keep him in the foyer with me then. I was okay with it. But, then I had to think through all of it later.

At our new church, church membership is based upon the approval of the other members. What if this gal has decided she doesn't like me and that would keep us from becoming members of this church? I have to trust that to the Lord. I have to be okay that even at church, not everyone is likely going to like me. I love the Lord and I love people a lot, but conflict is bound to come up at some point--or even just differences in personalities. And that's what it is in this case, I think.

I am thankful for God's reminders to me this morning from my Bible Study about Grace and from Jerry Bridges book about Grace. I am certain there are reasons why these are the books God has given me to read right now =)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sami and Eating

We have come to the place where we have realized that we really need to decrease the stress at our dinner table. So, we're going to give Sami one serving of everything and then not give her another serving when she's done unless she's eaten her vegetables. We both know that means she will likely not eat them, but we're going to stop fighting her on it. I know little kids tastes change and there are lots of things she does eat. It's just vegetables, mainly, that she won't. So, we're going to save up for a Vita-Mix and add vegetable/fruit smoothies to our diets. I think that will be a good thing =) It will get her the nutrients she needs and make life less stressful for us!

Birthday candles and the lights

Autumn told me that I needed to turn off the lights so that they wouldn't blow out the birthday candles...Hee Hee =) She's silly!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Luke and the Synoptic Gospels

When I was in college, I chose to take History of the New Testament. It was taught by a liberal Chaplain who was also a professor at the small college I attended. He looked at the New Testament from a purely historical perspective. When we studied the synoptic Gospels (Mathew, Mark, and Luke), we focused on the discrepancies between the Gospels. The differences were called discrepancies.

Little rabbit trail...
Yesterday on the way to church, my husband cornered me and challenged me to sit through Sunday school. In the process of having and nursing 3 children over the past 5 years, I have gotten out of the habit of being able to focus and sit and listen (without talking) for any period of time. I haven't been able to sit through a church service in a long time without one of my children needing me. And I have seen this in myself, but it took my husband's challenge and encouragement to go and sit through Sunday School.

I am so thankful I did! I left that college class unsettled about the Synoptic Gospels. I chalked it up as one of those things I just didn't understand and likely never would. I struggled with it. It left me unsettled, but I just didn't know what to do with it! But, yesterday during Sunday School, the light went on and I was so blessed to sit and listen as the teacher (who had been called at the last minute and did a great job) explained why the synoptic gospels are different. They are NOT discrepancies, but rather differences in perspective.

Let me back up and explain one more quick thing--one more quick rabbit trail. This summer I had a unique experience that I will never forget. A friend, her granddaughter, and I all saw the same event happen--a little girl fall across the street on the sidewalk--but we all saw different things. My friend saw a little girl hit her head and her granddaughter get upset. The granddaughter saw a little girl she didn't know fall and two adults not run out the door and across the street to help. I saw three little children run to the window to stare and gawk at the little girl who had fallen, but from where I stood, I did not see her hit her head. I only saw her fall on her leg and scrape her knee. I knew the little girl and I knew she was not a little girl who did not like to be stared at. We all saw different things in that moment. We were all eyewitnesses to the same event.

That experience taught me a lot about perspective. It's important to know what everyone else has seen. Sometimes there are things we each miss. Sometimes things look different from different angles. And we all bring different background knowledge to the situation.

Another example...Francis Chan wrote the book Crazy Love from a strongly Southern California perspective--I grew up there, so I think it's okay for me to say that. In Southern California, faith is very black and white. You go to church if you are a believer and you don't go if you're not. His writing style in his second book is very reflective of that. It is very blunt. He makes inflammatory statements and then explains them.

But, back to what I learned yesterday. I am using my notes and the teacher's handouts as my sources.

Matthew, an apostle, was a Jew writing to the Jews about the coming of the King.
Mark, a Jew, was writing to the Gentiles from a Jewish perspective, a concise telling of Christ's mission and work to bring about the salvation of man.
Luke, a Gentile, was the only gentile contributor to the new Testament, was writing to the Gentiles from a Gentile's perspective!

Perspective! They were all retelling what happened. Early writers worked for patrons because they didn't get money for books back then. That often shaped how they retold what had happened. That was why the church fathers took everything that was written and then went about confirming what was scriptural and what was not. Those books then became the canon of scripture in the New Testament. Because they were writing for a patron, the authors writing could end up very biased. Josephus' writings are an example of that. Josephus (AD 37 – c. 100), was a Jewish historian who became a Roman citizen and wrote for Roman patrons. So, he cast the Romans in a good light and the Jews in a bad one.

But, back to Luke. Luke's account was determined to be scriptural.
Luke was a gentile writing to the gentiles. He includes particular details that are unique to a gentile perspective. He will retell what Mark said (which was brief) and then often add details that were very pertinent to Gentiles. An example is the story of Naaman and the Widow of Sidon in Luke 4:25-28. Naaman and the Widow of Sidon were both gentiles themselves. They are not mentioned in Matthew or Mark for that reason! But, to Luke that was important. Luke is also the only one to include Mary's account as a witness. Josephus is known for writing that women's accounts as witnesses are not worth anything.

Luke was writing about the universal kingdom--that Christ is the universal Savior and that he came to establish a universal, not a Jewish, Kingdom. This can also be seen in how he traces the lineage of Christ. He traces it back to Adam. Whereas, Matthew traces the lineage back to Abram.

My mind has now found peace and understanding about the Synoptic Gospels. That is a blessing to me. The differences are not discrepancies--I understand that now. It was just a matter of difference in perspective! I wanted to share this this morning in the hope that it might encourage you if you've ever wondered about it, too!

PS please forgive all of my rabbit trails. I need to get this posted and go get Eli who has now woken up!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Autumn's piano recital

This morning was my eldest daughter's first piano recital. She played after several other people had gone. It was sweet. It never crossed Autumn's mind to be nervous about being on stage---hmmm...what does that mean =) Ms. Kay called Autumn up and said to Autumn, And are you six now? Autumn replies in a clear, confident voice. "Yes, I am already six." Everyone burst out laughing. It was very cute. Autumn played Old MacDonald with no mistakes. Then she smiled and walked back to her seat.

Afterwards, everyone commented on how cute Autumn was but when I spoke with one woman, she told me what her niece said after Autumn's six statement. She said, "Wow! She looks great for being six!" The cute little girl was only 7 herself. She said it the way a young woman would say about an older woman Wow! She looks great for her age!

Such funny things they say...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Spam everywhere...

You know it's a very funny thing that spam is the word used for junk that we don't want sent to our email accounts. I think Spam would also apply to totally irrelevant comments on a blog =) My last entry got the most bizarre comment (the second comment). I had gotten one very random post before from a guy named Mike to a gal named Barbara--so funny!--my name is definitely not Barbara. =) Anyways, I am activating the comment moderation on my blog--just to avoid "viagra" spam like someone or some computer program posted on this blog today.

Anyways, I just thought I'd explain... =)

Birthday meals

A few weeks ago, when I asked Autumn what she wanted to eat on her birthday this is what she wanted:
Breakfast: Golden Grahams
Lunch: Macaroni and Cheese and grapes
Dinner: Chicken Fingers and sweet potatoes

This morning I asked Sami because her birthday is on Sunday and this is what she said (this cracked me up)
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Cereal
Dinner: Eggs and Biscuits
She is my little breakfast eater. She is a horrible dinner eater--but if she could have breakfast all the time, she'd be as happy as a clam! =)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Convicting, Yet Encouraging Book

I just finished Respectable Sins. I included a quote from this book a few days ago while I was in the process of reading it. It was a thoroughly good book to the end. Over the past few years, I have found a few authors that I resonate with--who seem understandable, knowledgeable, and biblical in their counsel. I find myself at peace when I read their books because I know I can take it to the Word and not find that the Word contradicts what they have written. And I know that what they have written is grounded in the Word. I also have found myself more and more drawn to authors who rely more on translations than paraphrased versions of the Bible for the scriptures they site and talk about in their books. Paraphrased versions already have been interpreted by the authors who wrote them. I appreciate Paraphrases at times, but when I am looking to do a Bible Study, encouragement, or counsel, I prefer that to come from a Translation. Before this summer, I had never read a book by Jerry Bridges. The pastor of a church we used to attend had recommended his books, though.

I think that Jerry Bridges has quite possibly become one of my very favorite authors. His books are straightforward, coherant, and both thoughtful and thought-provoking. In Respectable Sins, he quotes scripture primarily from the ESV and secondarily from the NIV.

The premise of Respectable Sins is to talk about 1) what sins we tolerate in the church and in our own lives and 2) how to tackle and address those sins in a practical way. His answers for #2 are not pat answers. They are to keep perspective of the gospel and God's grace, to repent, to pray, to go to the Word, and to seek accountability. He urges the reader to seek God in humility and lay our hearts before Him. For God knows what is in our hearts.

Bridges addresses Anger, Pride, Impatience and Irritability, Worldliness and Idolatry, and Ungodliness among the respectable sins that he talks about. I appreciated his definitions of what each of these are. So often we use words and take for granted what they mean instead of really knowing what they mean and defining them. Here is an example:

"Ungodliness may be defined as living one's everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God's will, or of God's glory, of one's dependence on God."

But, there were several other quotes that I especially enjoyed and this is one of them...

"Our spiritual life may be compared to the motor of an electric appliance. The
motor does the actual work, but it is constantly dependent upon the external power source of the electricity to enable it to work. Therefore, we should cultivate an attitude of continual dependence on the Holy Spirit."

I love that picture of the motor and electricity. The motor doesn't run by itself, but it doesn't just wait for the electricity to make everything happen. It needs the electricity--it can't run without it.

This book is very good and I would highly recommend it--it is convicting, yet encouraging at the very same time. Bridges is not condemning in what he says. He is gracious in his tone as he writes--and I think that is one of the thingsthat makes his books so easy for me to read--He speaks the truth in love.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So glad to have well kids...

I think one of the hardest things about having sick kids is that they just don't act like themselves. For a week and a half, Eli was mostly cranky, sour mouthed, and crying. Yesterday, I watched him giggle when I tickled him, sign "please" for his milk, smile and laugh, wave good bye to a dog at the park, light up at the sight of all of the squirrels at the park, and just generally be in a good mood. What a blessing! And it helped my patience with everything else a lot too =)

Sami is getting over her cough still so I think it will take her a few more days. But, with her it's different--her tears. On one hand, older siblings help children grow up and then on the other, younger siblings keep them young. Sami so often acts like Autumn, but then so often acts like Eli too.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crazy Love and Lukewarm Christians

The other day I was talking to a fellow from our small group about the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I have the second book he wrote called Forgotten God, but for some reason just haven't picked it up yet. I believe the premise of the book is a call by Chan urging Christians to realize what it really mean to love God wholeheartedly.

One of the strongest chapters, so I've been told and have read in reviews, is the fourth chapter about Lukewarm Christians. From what I've gathered, Chan asserts that the scripture in Revelation 3:16 "So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." that there are no lukewarm Christians--such people are not saved.

The day after I had this conversation, I was reading Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges and the chapter I was ready was about the respectable sin of ungodliness, which Bridges describes as "an ungodly attitude toward God." later, in the chapter in more detail-- "Ungodliness may be defined as living one's everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God's will, or of God's glory, or of one's dependence on God." (p.54) It was interesting to me that I would read this chapter right after the discussion about Chan's book. The ideas seemed similar yet very different.

Last night, I took these thoughts to my husband and we had a great discussion. I asked him what he'd thought about Forgotten God, the book. I'd seen him pick it up several times. He said that he didn't feel he could really be a wise judge of its theology because he hasn't read it from cover to cover, but that he could tell the author says things differently than he would.

So, we started talking about the idea of Lukewarm Christians. I grew up in LA and spent the first 22 years of my life on the west coast, then spent 5 in the midwest/west, 4 in the south, and now 4 around the Mason Dixon Line. Christians are viewed differently in each place, culturally. In the south, everyone goes to church on Sunday--it's what you do whether or not you're a strong believer. But, BUT, in the West, you go to church if you're a follower of Christ. And if you're not, you don't. That's where Chan lives--specifically he lives and is a pastor in So. Cal. where I grew up. When we lived in the south, I started to see that there are a lot of "gray" Christians--everything isn't so black and white like it is on the West Coast. It's a funny thing about us as Americans, sometimes we think that if something is a certain way in one part of the country, then it must be that way all across the U.S. But, that's not true. There are so many regional differences in the U.S.

Aside from the cultural views of Christians, though there is another way to think about Chan's point, which my husband talked with me about. In Revelation, the churches are being reprimanded. But, they are not being discarded. Paul says that we are saved by grace not by works in Romans. So, if one was to assert that one could lose their salvation by being a lukewarm Christian, that would be toeing the line and asserting that someone could lose their salvation by backsliding or being "lukewarm". The Word does say that God will discipline those he loves. Being spit out would be pretty harsh to me, but wouldn't that be discipline? Weren't the churches being encouraged to get back on track--by hearing that the consequences of their behavior and actions were not desirable?

I do believe we are saved by grace, through faith, not of ourselves or anything we have done. God's grace is something I have never deserved, and I know it. I am thankful every day for it. And I am also thankful for the security of God's love that I can never do anything to lose God's love and that He will not abandon me.

Just a few thoughts. =) I am really enjoying Respectable Sins--wow! It is so challenging. What a blessing it is to read a great book that challenges my heart and mind!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just finished...

I just finished this Bible Study, but my thoughts are a bit jumbled. So, please be patient with me as I sort them out...

I think I'll back up first. A few years ago, I read an amazing book called Seeing Through Cynicism by Dick Keyes. It hit me hard--like a brick! And so many lights went on for me. I was able to see that my struggle with many mainstream Christian books stemmed from growing feelings of cynicism about the "church", mass popular Christianity, and mega churches. It was as if there were books that gathered cultish like followings (which always makes me think of brainwashing) and mega churches that were/are about checking in on Sunday and putting in your time without any accountability and personal relationships--with God or others. See? Can't you just hear my cynicism in those few thoughts? I saw it and didn't know what to do about it. My cynicism was beginning to permeate my entire world view--which is deadly! I read the book by Dick Keyes and it really helped me see what was going on in my head and my heart.

The book also really helped me think about how to tackle it. One of the ways I found that was wise to do that was to stay out of Christian bookstores. I know that may sound funny, but the advertising and displays had begun to make me uncomfortable. I remember walking into Lifeway in Georgia and seeing a display for The Purpose Driven Life that said "Why wait until your 75 to have the life you want? Have it now." or something very similar to that affect. That's not biblical at all! Sanctification is a process and we can't choose to rush it--God works in all things in His timing, not ours. At least that's what I believe from what I've read in the Word. It's our culture that tells us we should be able to have everything we want now, not the Bible.

The second thing that I began to do was to read books by people I trusted--who's theology I knew I could trust. I had found that it seemed like a lot of authors were asking me to interpret the Bible and read into it--read things into it that weren't there. Asking me to imagine how people were feeling. I understand there was a purpose to this, but it didn't feel right and this is why... about 5 or so years ago, I read Francine Rivers series of books on women in the Bible. She wrote a story about each of these 5 women and then at the end had a short Bible study about the verses actually in the Word. I was astonished to realize how much I had read into the story about Bathsheba and how much wasn't there that I thought was! It made me realize that I needed to be careful to take what I read back to the Word and make sure that it is biblical. Much of the fallacies that I had thought came from inferring about the feelings of the people in the stories. In doing this over the years, I saw that this put the focus of the stories on the people and not on God. So, after all of this, and much pondering, I arrived at the conclusion that it was wise to read books by authors that I trusted and to be careful about inferring/reading into the Bible.

My second coping strategy has run into a few little bumps as I've participated in the blog book review programs because I've had the opportunity to read a lot of books by authors that I haven't known, but for the most part, I have really been pleased with the books that I've read and the few that I haven't, made me go back to the Word and really search out the truth. This summer I read these books published by NavPress: Money Strategies for Tough Times by Matt Bell, Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, and Paul Miller's new book about prayer. All three were excellent and I am so thankful that I had the chance to read them!

An Undivided Heart is also published by NavPress and it is the first that I haven't been so crazy about. This study, An Undivided Heart, is an 8 week study (though it took me about 4 weeks) about drawing closer to the heart of God with "an undivided heart", loving Him, and letting Him love us. I have never read a book by this author, Rita J. Platt before. The chapters were short and very doable to do one a week even if you're pretty busy. I just did a few questions each day. The format of the book is fine, though I longed for lines to write on when there were questions instead of blank space. But, that's really just a matter of personal preference.

As I got into this book, I noticed that the author often asked me, as the reader, to imagine or infer what was happening in a given scene in the book. I know that there is a place for this, but I'm not really keen about doing that. And she asks the reader to do that a lot.

But, there was another thing that made me unsettled as I went through this study--because it is what has helped me fight my cynicism and struggles to trust and listen to what authors have to say. The authors and people that she references are people I don't know, with the exception of Henri Nouwen. She even referenced the movie Nights in Rodanthe and how the main character describes love. I stayed away from that movie because it is about a woman who falls in love with another man while separated from her husband and who finds that she needs to do what she should do to be happy ( I know I have a limited scope of knowledge and there are many authors I don't know about, but when I tried to find one of the people online that she quoted, I couldn't.

I do believe that God had a purpose for this book in my life--whether it was to challenge me to look for the truth in the Word or whether it was to make me realize that I need to draw closer to Jesus. And I have seen both of those things because of doing this study. But, is it one I would recommend? No. I think there are other studies I would recommend first. But, is it okay? Yes. And I could tell that the author loves the Lord dearly.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Festival and Sickness

This has been a hard weekend. Eli likely has the swine flu and Autumn either has a cold or a milder version of the flu. I'm hoping it's a milder version of the flu so she'll be done with it.

One thing that meant for us was that the girls couldn't go to the Fall Festival at the church where they attend Awanas yesterday. They've been looking forward to it for weeks. I prepared them on Friday and explained that we would try to have several surprises for them the next day. I felt bad for them, but knew there was nothing I could do to change that Autumn and Eli are/were sick.

I was talking on the phone yesterday morning and the friend asked if the girls were really disappointed and how they were doing. I told her they were okay. And thankfully, they really seemed to be. I'm sure they were disappointed but I am so thankful that they still enjoyed their day. I got out the puppet theater in the morning and made coffee cake for breakfast. After breakfast, they got dressed up in their fancy dresses and found the new shoes I surprised them with (I have to exchange Sami's though because they were the wrong size). Then, they played with Autumn's new ponyville toy and cash register through the morning. Eli was cranky through most of it, but the girls were okay. After lunch and a nap, I got out a big roll of princess coloring pages I had found for them and they were excited to get to color. They did that for quite a long time and then we had dinner. After dinner, I made popcorn and we watched Wallace and Gromit in A grand day out. Then Bible stories and bed time.

I am very thankful for the hearts and joy that the Lord has given my children. I know they could have whined all day and complained, but they didn't. One thing about our house is that what mom and dad says goes. I think that we both see in ourselves (especially me) a resistance to authority, so we want to teach our children how to submit with a joyful heart to the authorities over you. In their case, it's God and mom and dad. This doesn't mean that I won't teach them when to stand up to people and how to speak up--not at all. But, God continues to work on my heart and a submissive attitude and I desire for my children to live in joy and not bitterness as I have struggled with.

This is actually an issue for a long discussion and I need to run and get things ready for my family to wake up, but hopefully soon I'll be able to write more...