Thursday, December 18, 2008
We surprised them last Saturday with a trip into the next state to pick up their Christmas present, an 18 week old Scottie/Cairn Terrier we've named Lorna Doone. (If mom's gonna ascent to a dog, it better well be named after a cookie!) She's a sweet little pup we found through a rescue organization.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Over the last three days I've devoured The Jesus of Suburbia: Have We Tamed the Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyles?, by Mike Erre (which you can pick up for the great price of $4.49 through Amazon).
Erre starts with what was to me an eye-opening overview of the happenings in the Roman world at the time prior to the birth of Christ and throughout his lifetime. He contrasts the titles claimed by Augustus Caesar, including Cosmic Savior and bringer of peace, with the Messiah who truly embodied them, and describes the history behind Herod's extremely paranoid behavior. Jesus was a radical. From his birth to his death he turned everything the Roman world and the Jewish religious establishment saw as good and right on its head and forced people to choose which king they would serve.
The birth of Christ was a humiliating experience: the vastness and greatness of the King of Kings crammed into a helpless baby, born of a sinful woman, and placed in a feeding trough. There is a reason Paul says that Jesus, "Made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." And yet this humble birth was a fitting beginning to the start of his revolution, a revolution not waged with political power, weapons and skillful strategies, but with love, grace, and sacrifice.
Yet this is not the Jesus I've been following. Erre's question hit way too close to home:
So this Christmas season I am rethinking the quaintness of the sweet baby in the manger. It's all just too tame, and there is nothing tame about Jesus. Daily he forces me to choose. I can't have Jesus and any other god, not my stuff, or my family, or my so-called dreams. And when I choose he requires me to trust him and join the revolution.
"Jesus Christ is the most subversive man ever to have walked the earth. This is revolution."
Monday, December 1, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
The folks at Sew Mama Sew have put together a wonderful assortment of tutorials--yes, there's no need to buy a pattern--for everyone on your list, from the baby to the babysitter. Many of their ideas require little previous crafting experience. This is another one of my favorite crafty sites.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Here's what I came up with:
This is all that's left of a corduroy jumper I bought at the thrift hoping I could alter it. (My camera corrupted the "before" picture I took of the whole thing. bummer.)
The shoulders proved to difficult to try to petite, so I cannibalized it to make elastic waist church pants for L.B. I created the pattern by minimizing instructions for adult pajama pants I found in Sew What? Fleece. Great series, by the way, if you're into sewing without patterns.
Sissy is really hard on jeans and I was going to cut the bottoms off her latest victim and add a ruffle to make capris.
Arla suggested I make a skirt instead. I had done this before for myself and followed the same instructions found here. But, of course, I couldn't stop with a simple skirt; I went cowgirl princess! I left the bottom of the denim rather ragged, added some eyelet lace I bought on final clearance when our Walmart closed, and sewed on some cotton flowers I used on the curtains in her nursery. The added length should give her at least a year of wear since the jeans were still a bit large in the waist.
I'm going to try a couple more "safe" projects for myself and then I want to try some of the wilder stuff over at Wardrobe Refashion. Not sure I want to take their pledge, but who knows? I'm feeling some eccentricity coming on...
Monday, November 17, 2008
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
Not so much to be understood as to understand;
Not so much to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we awaken to eternal life.
~The Prayer of St. Francis, taken from a biographical sketch of the life of Francis of Assisi the Lesser Brother in Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Puritan Richard Baxter defined anger as "the rising up in the heart in passionate displacency against an apprehended, evil, which would cross or hinder us of some desired good." This anger may be motivated by my circumstance but is not caused by it. Instead it is a heart reaction directly related to my beliefs about God.
I want to believe that my irritations are justified, but when comparing them to the offenses against and reactions of Christ, I've come to see that they do not qualify as righteous anger.
I'm only three chapters into it, but Uprooting Anger has me shaking in my boots, literally. When I started to feel prickled last night while trying to stretch very uncooperative pizza dough I had to humbly send my kids from the kitchen in order to "help mommy not react sinfully because it was already starting to bubble out of her heart."
This is hard stuff. I want to think I've got a reason to gripe and I don't like facing my own ugliness. I want it to be someone else's problem! But I know God in His mercy is trying to teach me something that's out there beyond my own selfishness. However, right now I have the feeling in my spirit that I had in my arms and legs when I first started working out again. I hardly have the strength to get out of the chair, let alone down the stairs!
So here's to exercise!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise." Daniel 2:20-23a
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Yes, candy corn. It's delicious, it's nutritious, (it's made with honey, right?), and it's one-hundred percent fat-free. Wards off the afternoon energy slump and the PMS grouchies. When the kids are crabby, grab a handful. When the husband wonders why dinner's not on the table, grab one for him, too. But act now: don't wait, for after the bewitching hour it will all be gone!
Use only as directed. Side affects include but are not limited to headache, tooth decay, and stomach pudge. Please consult your doctor before taking this or any other snake oil potion to see if candy corn is right for you. Substance has been found to be highly addictive in
laboratory rats, er, homeschool students. Do not administer to children.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Because you need it.
I mean it!
I "met" Carolyn via the internet back in February. She had posted about her book which was in the works, and I emailed her a curiosity question about her cover: I used to work for her publisher and thought I recognized the company that did the artwork. One thing led to another and I had the tremendous privilege of being on her editing team.
Carolyn's thoroughness and scholarship are top-notch. She articulates the errors found within the extreme thinking of the feminist movement without discounting the wrongs righted and honor due some brave women who refused to be quieted in the face of injustice, always reminding the reader that truth resides within the Word of God alone. Reading her findings challenged my thinking and encouraged me to examine my identity in Christ and my place in the created order. In taking me back to the early days of political feminism, and even further back to the dawn of history, Carolyn helped me to see not just why we do what we do, but whose idea it was in the first place, and how it all stacks up next to God's plan for His people. In my slightly biased opinion, this is the best book on the subject available today.
For a wonderful four-minute video overview, go to the Radical Womanhood website.
Thanks, Carolyn, for putting in all those long hours and giving us this great resource. You have blessed me immensely, and I'm sure many others will say the same.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The trouble I'm having is with fat, and not just the fat on my hips. Through tracking with Sparkpeople I've realized that while my daily caloric intake is within the acceptable range, most of them come from fat, and I'm low on carbs, fiber and protein. (Guess I need to lay off the Cheetos. Darn.)
So I've been looking for recipes and I picked up the Hungry Girl book at the library yesterday.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I posted a couple months ago about my friend Molly and the return of her symptoms that had prompted brain surgery last summer for her Chiari Malformation. Well she's scheduled next Friday for a second round. You can read the details on her husband Steve's blog.
Please pray for them. Pray for surgery success and a healthy recovery. Pray for grace and mercy in their family while mom's out of commission. Pray for the relief of fears and anxieties. And pray that in all of this God would be glorified.
"The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."
Kid's Quest is a great program that teaches children both the doctrines of the faith outlined in the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the biblical reasons for them. The program includes wonderful songs, activities and stories about faithful servants of Christ to go along with the Bible lessons. Like AWANA there are incentives for learning the catechism questions and answers and weekly Scripture verses.
We've been working on various parts of the catechism at our house ever since Starr Meade's Training Hearts, Teaching Minds hit the shelves, but have found that often times other memory work required by AWANA or Sunday school has pushed it to the background and we haven't progressed passed question 40. Well no longer! In the course of one year our clubbers will learn the entire 150 questions of the First Catechism, a children's version of the WSC. And I'm sure we parents will learn a lot about doctrine through our kids' weekly memory work!
It is my hope that this program will help the parents of our fellowship to both train our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), and equip them to be prepared to make a defense for a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15).
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I found other links for Malt-O-Meal Cereals at pinching your pennies if you want to try this deal multiple times.
And if you're heading over there between Thursday and Saturday, pick up eggs for $.99 (limit 4) and Grands! Biscuits on sale for $.88 (limit 4). There were coupons for $.30/2 in a recent newspaper insert, making them $.73 each. Not bad for canned biscuits.
JT's cousin Sheaffer welcomed baby Carter into the family last week. The fact that he's a "he" is momentous on that side of the fam: we have the only other boys. So congratulations, Sheaffer and Chris, and welcome Carter. Our boys are breathing a sigh of relief that they're no longer the only ones!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Dave Dravecky, When You Can't Come Back
Monday, September 15, 2008
It was recommended by Kate, a missionary we pray for, so I picked it up at my library and dove in while waiting for my kids at piano lessons.
I'm only half way through but it's really messing with me in a good way, I think. For some reason God's got me reading things that would never make the mega church reading list and He's really shaking up my understanding of "normal" gleaned from spending my entire life within the middle class American Christian subculture. I'm not sure I track with the author on all of his arguments, but it's a challenge none the less.
What in the world is God calling me to? Living as an Ordinary Radical? Honestly, I'm getting rather nervous....
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
1.5 t0 2.5 lbs. of stew beef (I usually buy pot roast on sale and cut it up myself), seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika
2 cans tomato soup with 1 can of water
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, thickly sliced
3 ribs celery, thickly sliced
5 or 6 medium peeled potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. basil
Brown seasoned beef in a skillet over medium high heat. Pour into crock pot. Add onions and spices and stir well. Cover with soup and water and stir again. Add carrots, celery, and potatoes. Stir stew and cook on high for 5 hours. If sauce needs thickening, combine 1-2 tablespoons of flour with 3/4 cup of cold water and stir into stew about 15 minutes before serving.
(makes 1 dozen)
1-1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. corn meal
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 egg, beaten
Heat oven to 400. Grease muffin pan. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing only until moistened. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Sis decided she was too old for a character cake and chose my favorite, grasshopper pie, as her birthday dessert.
Each girl went home with a new skill, a project to work on, and a bag full of candy jewelery. Little girl life is sweet.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
How long were your labors?
Child #1-- about 34 hours of the hot place on wheels. Sorry, Mr. Bradley, but there is no such thing as a pain-free and drug-free labor.
Child #2-- 12 hours but we barely made it to the hospital. See here for the story.
Child #3-- 8 hours, and only because I wouldn't let her break my water and be done with it. I told my midwife I didn't want to have a baby that night--I needed some rest because I'd just had a houseful of guests over for dinner.
How did you know you were in labor?
I had the standard symptoms of crampy back and methodical contractions. All my labors started very slowly and I could continue with my normal life with only a small pause to contract. But once I got going, watch out! Once my water broke I was pretty much done. My first child was born in 3 pushes, the second in 2, and the third was barely a grunt. These hips were made for labor!
Where did you deliver?
Three different hospitals. I'm also not a home-birther; after all that work I figured I'd let someone else clean up the mess and make me some dinner.
Child #1--Epidural with Pitocin after about 24 hours of labor. I got the drugs and went to sleep until they woke me up to push. I can honestly say I didn't feel a thing, but then again, I didn't feel a thing for about 4 hours after the delivery, either.
Child #1--doctor, and I swore never again
Child #2--the most wonderful midwife in the world
Child #3--same terrific midwife
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
She truly is our "song of joy" and brings color to our lives far beyond her blue eyes and blond hair. Compassionate and kind, she makes friends wherever she goes. And today I can add brave to the list; notice the cute little earrings adorning her lobes. Way to go, girly!
May you grow in beauty this year as you learn to love God and people. May you be both strong and merciful, graceful and wise.
I love you,
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I think I laughed so loud it almost shook her over the side.
I guess this is an even exchange for the time she got a view of my then three-year-old child (who shall remain nameless) pulling down drawers to squat in our yard.
Friday, August 22, 2008
(makes 50-70 depending on how big ya like your blob)
(Thanks, Marilyn, for the recipe!)
I've been pondering a lot of stuff I once considered scandalous like White Washed Feminists and True Womanhood and am trying to get into the minds of some folks I'm sure I don't completely agree with. I've pulled away from the exclusivity of the patriocentric/prairie muffin sector of Christianity while at the same time yearning after their smiling, girly girl, formula-for-everything lifestyle. I've scrutinized the pitfalls in the extremes of shunning the world or fully embracing it, sensing the call of God to the middle to be His hands and feet by actually loving the folks who live in it with a comrade embracing love instead of a patronizing arm's length love. But most of all I've come to see how desperately I need Christ and how He truly longs to rob me of my sin.
The biggest change this has made is in my approach to parenting. I used to cling desperately to the "spare the rod, spoil the child" mantra, believing that I had been given the task of manipulating my children's behavior to best suit what other Christians called "good." I memorized the sayings in Proverbs about parents and children, plastered them onto Ephesians 6:1, and put them all to work on my kids. Then thing is, in doing so I forgot Jesus. I forgot that He is a Gentle Shepherd. I forgot that He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. I forgot that it was His kindness that led me to repentance. I became the head of the Pharisees meeting out punishment in the name of God on my trainees instead of a broken sinner leading other little sinners to the place of divine deliverance.
Instead of simply taking for granted what someone taught me in a parenting class--which, by the way, contained a lot of out of context Scripture applied to child rearing--I've had to lay aside what I've always "known" in order to take a fresh look at God Himself, how He loves His own, How He parents them, and how He offers sinners so much more grace than He does punishment if they will only accept it. Don't misunderstand me, I still believe strongly in discipline (and spanking), but not the dictatorial, bolster my parenting pride kind. Not the kind that forgets that even parents need to adhere to the greatest commandments to love God and love others and to do unto other as they would have done to them. I want to be a minister of grace, leading my children to the cross because Jesus is able where they are not. I want to commiserate with them that I, too, can't stop sinning and be perfect. I want to share with them that Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. And I'm no longer convinced that can be properly conveyed with the carte blanche "Do it or I'll spank you" attitude.
My husband preached on Psalm 139 last Sunday, and for years I've seen this as a God-as-big-brother type passage. Watch out, He's gonna get you for that! But if you look deeper you can see that David knows that God knows that he's wretched, yet he rejoices in the fact that God sticks so close. Why? Look at Psalm 135 and 138. God's steadfast love does not leave him. This is the knowledge is too wonderful for him! Paul picks this fact up at the end of Romans 8. This is what I want my kids to know.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Mom sniffs boy. Mom asks Boy, "Did you use soap?"
Boy responds, "Well..."
Mom sends Boy into kids' bathroom for second washing, saying, "Use soap."
After retrieving Boy's towel from other bathroom, Mom enters bathroom to catch Boy squeezing conditioner onto his hand to wash with. Mom says, "that's not soap, it's conditioner for Sissy's hair," to which Boy responds, "It says 'body and volume' on it."
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I've always been a bit of a "Just do it" person. For years my attitude about living the Christian life included no room for Spirit infused power but was a matter-of-fact, "Read the Book; do what it says." I believed that all anyone needed was a good dose of willpower to live a godly life, and if that didn't produce the desired outcome a heaping spoonful of guilt would do the trick.
But recently God's been bringing issues and situations into my life that have shown me how wrong my assertions were. He's shown me how much I need His Spirit's work in my life; I can't do it on my own. Yet until now He'd never put me in a place of complete failure, a pit that I could not muster enough chutzpah to claw myself out of.
I've been struggling a lot with God's commands to minister healing and bring comfort to the weary, the very reason we chose to bring children of families in crisis into our home. God loves me so I love others. Simple, right? I had that sting of compassion in my heart for children who needed a home away from their own. And yet the reality of having them in ours is terribly difficult. It's not that the kids are outrageously unruly and difficult. But for some reason when they're here I feel an almost painful yearning toward my own brood and find myself tense to the point of clenching my teeth at night. We've got the extra bed and extra chair at the table. We've got the means to feed one more mouth, but do we have what it takes to baby-sit another woman's child 24 hours a day for an undetermined amount of time? And does wanting to be able to have what it takes make it so?
I'm coming to the conclusion that wanting to be a compassionate, cool-with-it, easy going foster mom will not make me one anymore than wanting to be nine inches taller and blue eyed will make me Liv Tyler. It just ain't gonna happen. There's just more to it than want to.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Who kept all his cash in a bucket
His daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man--
And, as for the bucket, Nantucket
Pa followed the pair to Pawtucket
(The man and the girl with the bucket)
And he said to the man,
"You're welcome to Nan",
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket
Then the pair followed Pa to Manhasset
Where he still held the cash as an asset
And Nan and the man
Stole the money and ran
And as for the bucket, Manhasset
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Yes, you are my strong-willed child. And I love you today with an even bigger love than I had that first day I met you. You are so bright, so talented, and so tenacious. And to think my boss used to call me a bull dog! Honey, you've got me beat and you're only 10!
It is my prayer that your heart would be as pliable as your determination is firm and that God would use these traits to make a mighty man of God out of you, warrior boy.
I love you, Bubba. Happy tenth birthday.
Monday, August 4, 2008
We've had a tiring week. Nothing tragic, just a few bites and slaps and a lot of toddler defiance. Nothing we can't handle with grace and relative ease. But instead of basking in the strides we're making, my sinful nature automatically focuses on the difficulty of having someone else's child in the house and how he'd be different if he'd been born here. We've gone from "NO!" and temper tantrums to "Yes, please," and "Thank you." We're communicating in sentences and no longer putting little feet on the dinner table. Those are successes! And yet I get bogged down in the size 5 diapers--why isn't this child potty trained?--and the stench emanating from his mouth--he's on public aid: why hasn't he seen a dentist?
Where others may see my outward kindness, God and I can clearly see the proud and impatient toddler-like woman I am below the surface. I like things my way, and right now normal is out of whack. My spirit is irritable. But I don't believe this gives me the right to give up or even to pout. Grown-ups need to Do the Hard Things, too.
I think my coat needs some mending.
Monday, July 28, 2008
He came to us filthy, his only possessions dirty clothes and a diaper that had obviously not been changed in quite a while. Without words or smile, his wide-eyed stare said it all.
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." Isaiah 53:2-3
In a moment of panic his mother had sought refuge for him from the harshness of the city streets. She needed time to get back on her feet and away from a boyfriend situation that was less than pleasant.
"In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us." Ephesians 1:5-8
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Why, if Jesus gives peace, do I live in fear? Why do I think I need to (or am even able to) control the circumstances of my life and the lives of my children in order to bring about a positive and peaceful outcome?
I've been thinking a lot about these questions in light of the statements Jesus made before He returned to heaven. He knew the plan. He knew that it included some wretched things for him, for those to whom he was speaking, and for us as 21st century believers. And yet the thing He leaves is peace, not as the world gives or expects where the livin' is easy, but a rocky, painful, rip your heart out of your chest type of peace.
I've equated peace with safe, hence we not only wear our bike helmets and avoid trans fats, but we've steered clear of those things that could possibly exert a spiritually corrupting influence on our children, encasing them in what Tim Kimmel refers to as a "hermetically sealed Christian environment." But Christianity is not safe. It's more like a motorcycle ride at 100 mph. Down a country road. At night. With no windshield. And no helmet. Danger, discomfort, lack of vision, bugs in the teeth, and pain are all possible and even probable, but the thing is, Jesus is steering.
Jesus' point was not that we huddle together and make ourselves comfortable until He returns. He sent us out into a terribly dangerous world with a clear understanding that things are going to be messy. There will be pain, misery, and heartache. We're called to experience it as well as clean it up. Yet we have the assurance of knowing that He sees, He cares, and He's got it all under control.
I'm not sure how all of this is going to play out in our family's life. We've spent a lot of time in the land of potluck and ladies' nights and Bible clubs. But I do know we need to step out of our safe Christian bubble in order to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world around us.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
If your kids participate in a program that's teaching them "the good stuff" and sending them back to you ready to "walk it, and talk it," would you mind sharing about it? Thanks!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I've spent years consuming a truckload of parenting methods that promise success if followed perfectly. When I failed at one I picked up another, looking for the one that would fix us. I've spent most of my life as a parent vacillating between self-righteous pride when my kids performed or self-defeating humiliation when they didn't. I want to be done with that.
The children of Israel were dismal failures when it came to making their Parent look good. And He could have wiped them off the face of the earth--and threatened to do so at least once. But they had a Father Who was "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness" (Psalm 103:8). I'm so glad He's my Daddy, too. And what's more, I'm glad that He set the example in parenting: an example that displayed redemption rather than self-attained perfection.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five
I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
(From Now We are Six, by A. A. Milne)
My baby boy is six years old. (Wow. It's hard to believe my youngest child is six!) Starting with fireworks on the night you were born, you've filled our life with joy and excitement--along with a few scares! You are truly a gift from the Lord. It is our prayer that you will grow to love Jesus with all your heart, mind and strength.