30 December 2009

Comparison One

James and I camping in CA, 1999,
in the AF, pre-kids, pre-dog,
married maybe a little over a year

I want to begin a series of posts that are comparison stories. A few things have struck me recently that were stark comparisons between my life now and 'before.'

For instance, even 14 years ago, we already knew that one day we would be married to each other. James and I used to go to the grocery store together. Even though we'd just be picking up some stuff for a day at the lake, we'd wink at each other when we passed by the diaper/ baby food aisle, and the dog food aisle, and say "we don't need any of that stuff!" to each other. Now, of course, we have been shopping in the diaper aisle for nearly 9 years (four kids) and the dog food aisle for over 11years (three dogs). So, the winking was short-lived.

Another example is our dates. When we were dating, we used to go to the Wal-Mart toy aisle with a roll or two of pennies. James would drop them while he pretended to shop, and I would linger, watching him, down at the endcap. We would giggle when we heard the scampering of feet rushing toward the sound of money falling on the floor. He would pretend to not notice that he had dropped the pennies and would walk casually away, while unknown delighted children would scoop up the pennies as fast as they could. Now, we tend to use date time to run to Home Depot- if we even have a date. Mostly we spend time together when the kids are all in bed (finally!). We either cook (ok, he cooks) and eat something delicious or curl up and I watch a movie while James snores.

Another example I just thought of is writing. Oh! We used to write to each other! (OK- secret time. I have no less than five 3-ring binders with chronologically stored love letters in page protectors. Three binders for my letters to him, and two for his to me. Labelled as such. I know.) We have poems and "our song" and letters and windshield notes and cards and all of it. Now, it's mostly text messages that quickly get deleted along the lines of "whr r u?" or "whn back?" or "milk asap." *sigh*

Psalm 42:1-4

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long,

"Where is your God?"
These things I remember as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.

It's in the crummy times that we forget the good times... but we should recall them and be thankful for them. Thank you, God, for sustaining me with memories from the past and hope for the future. Teach me to be content in the present. Thank you for being in charge of everything.

I'm honored that you would read New Mercy and
I would love to hear from you through comments!
Teresa (Tracy) Dear

28 December 2009

Psalm 51

Hey dudes, break's over and I'm baa-aack! Here, pull up another window and listen to this song while you read the lyrics. Jars of Clay wrote it, inspired by Psalm 51. It's on their Redemption Songs CD.

God be merciful to me
on Thy grace, I rest my plea
Plenteous in compassion Thou
Blot out my transgressions now

Wash me, make me pure within
Cleanse, oh, cleanse me from my sin

My transgressions I confess
Grief and guilt my soul oppress
I have sinned against Thy grace
And provoked Thee to Thy face

I confess Thy judgment just
Speechless, I, Thy mercy trust

I am evil, born in sin
Thou desirest truth within
Thou alone my Savior art
Teach Thy wisdom to my heart

Make me pure, Thy grace bestow
Wash me whiter than the snow

Gracious God, my heart renew
Make my spirit right and true
Thy salvation's joy impart
Steadfast make my willing heart
Steadfast make my willing heart!

Broken, humbled to the dust
By Thy wrath and judgment just
Let my contrite heart rejoice
And in gladness hear Thy voice

From my sins, oh, hide Thy face
Blot them out in boundless grace.
(ooh don't you love that banjo! I used to take lessons.)

Here's how Psalm 51 looks in the Bible:

A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

I don't necessarily want to apologize for writing so many "just lyrics" or "just scripture" posts lately, but, if you haven't noticed, I'm pretty stressed and distracted. This song/ scripture is SO GOOD at speaking for me because I am so aware of my sin. yuck. Jesus died on the cross for me today. Ok, this weekend. *sigh*

Romans 8:22-27 says

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

How blessed we are to have the very spirit of God living in us! I mean, read it again! "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." The spirit lives within us and knows our thoughts and our hearts. We try to reach out to God but in our humanness can't express ourselves, but God knows what we mean, what we need, because he is within us. And his spirit can "translate" for us... God the Spirit can INTERCEDE for us to himself, God the Father! It blows my mind.

I really understand this passage and I know some of you do too. Up late? Crying in the bathroom? Holding it together in front of the kids? Shocked at the spew coming from your own mouth when you told yourself you weren't going to do it again? I know. He knows. When we can't even put words to our sufferings, he knows. He knows!

Thanks be to God, he forgives me for the sins I committed against him this weekend. I have a new slate to scribble on tomorrow.

I'm honored that you would read New Mercy and
I would love to hear from you through comments!
Teresa (Tracy) Dear

22 December 2009

Taking a Break

I am feeling pretty overwhelmed by stuff so I will be back after the holiday on Monday.

This is my husband's first Christmas without his dad, who passed away in June, and with the bills mounting and his job search essentially being stalled till after the holiday, we're feeling a tad low...

Enjoy your week and your families! I am praying for you and I'm honored that you would read here.

Remember that Jesus was born so that he could die for our sins when he grew up. That's the reason for the season!

21 December 2009

Awe of God

Beth Moore evidentally had a cancer scare and hysterectomy this past week... I'm going to pray for her- what a warrior! From her blog:

"Anyway, by the time I really began to wake up and have clear thoughts, still sick as a dog, a nurse walked into my hospital room and over to the dry erase marker board across from my bed. She grabbed one of the markers and said, "These are your nurses for today." And, to Amanda's and my complete astonishment, this is what she wrote on the board:

Nurse: Grace
Nurse's assistant: Mercy

At that moment, I knew I wasn't just there to meet with an oncologist. I was there to meet with God."

18 December 2009

Let Us Pray

People to Keep in our Prayers

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
President Barack Obama
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Let me offer a long quote from "Just How Pro-Choice is America, Really?" It encapsulates a lot of what is going on, not just in this essay, but in the larger culture. NARAL's Nancy Keenan likes to say that abortion's biggest defenders right now are a "menopausal militia"--a rueful, inspired little joke. These baby-boomers, whose young adulthoods were defined by the fight over the right to choose, will soon be numerically overtaken by a generation of twentysomethings who is more pro-life than any but our senior citizens. As GOP strategists Christopher Blunt and Fred Steeper have pointed out, this group came of age during the partial-birth debate and was the first to grow up with pictures of sonograms on their refrigerators. The major development in reproductive technology during their lifetimes wasn't something that prevented pregnancies but something that created them: IVF. These kids have no idea--none--what it was like to live in a world without abortion rights. ("This generation's knowledge of Roe is like, 'Roe vs. what?'" says Keenan.) And they feel much more strongly about personal responsibility than the generations preceding them: Didn't use birth control? The burden's on you. According to a Gallup poll from July, 60 percent of Americans think abortion should be either illegal or “legal only in a few circumstances.” Only seventeen states pay for the procedure for poor women beyond the standards of the 1977 Hyde Amendment—meaning if the woman’s life is in danger or she’s been the victim of rape or incest. Just two months before the health-care bill’s passage in the House, a Rasmussen poll found that 48 percent of the public didn’t want abortion covered in any government-subsidized health plan, while just 13 percent did."

16 December 2009

My (latest) Favorite Song

Worthy is the
Lamb who was slain
Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song, to Him who sits on
Heaven's Mercy Seat

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty!
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And I will adore You!

Jesus, Your Name is Power
Breath, and Living Water
Such a marvelous mystery

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty!
Who was, and is, and is to come!

Phillips, Craig & Dean - Revelation Song
From the album

I think the songs focusing on God's holiness help me to keep my problems in pespective. God didn't fall off his throne when James lost his job. God knows what we need. God is still in charge of every detail!

Holy Holy is HE! Gotta keep that in mind. What's the quote- complaining is like telling God he doesn't know what he's doing? I think of how God answered the complaints of Job and I don't want to be there! I just focus on his holiness and his awesome power and his creation and I am silenced.

14 December 2009





He is jealous for me

Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy

When all of a sudden-
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by Glory
And I realize just how beautiful you are
and how great your affections are for me...

And oh, how he loves us!
Oh how he loves us-
how he loves us so!

That's a song you probably heard on the radio by the David Crowder Band (I think his video is a little creepy. Here's an awesome one by Kim Walker. She has a delicious raspy voice and when she's not singing, as the music swells, she's praising God while her mic is down. Beautiful.)

Here's an old You Tube video that demonstrates how he loves us. What he takes on himself for us: our sins, our bad choices. We can't get to him! He had to come to us!

11 December 2009

Psalm 16: 5-9

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure.

10 December 2009

Good Comfort

My aunt, a dear Titus 2 woman, read this recently in Beside Still Waters and forwarded it to me today. James was supposed to interview today, but it was mis-scheduled and isn't today after all. *sigh*

God has a motive! His thoughts are working to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11) All things are working together for good for those who are called according to his purposes (rom. 8:28). We see only the beginning. We spell the alphabet --alpha, beta, gamma...but from alpha to omega, God reads all at once. He knows every letter in the Book of providence. He sees not only what He is doing, but also the final results. God sees your present pain and grief. He also sees the future joys and usefulness that will come from this affliction. He observes not only the plow tearing the soil, but also a golden harvest clothing that soil. He sees the consequences of affliction and knows that it will lead to much blessed happiness. Beloved, now are we the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be" (John 3:2) You will never see the Great Artist's masterpiece. You only see the rough marble and mark the chips that fall to the ground. You have felt the edge of his chisel; you know the weight of His hammer. If you could see the glorious image as it will be when He has put the finishing blows to it, you would better understand the chisel, the hammer, and the Artist.

Ouch! With my temporal eyes I see only the plow ripping up the soil, the shards of marble on the floor... so glad that God knows the end product. So thankful for those who point me to His plan instead of my problems.

09 December 2009

WAIT some more

Psalm 130:5-7

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.

When I was in the Air Force I did CQ, which is a lame form of watchman- and on a short field exercise, I did mock watch, and even in those small experiences I know what it feels like to wait for morning- for your shift to end. Even as an employee who waits for the end of the workday, the mom who waits for bedtime, we know how hard we wait for things. It is hard to wait for something, and you especially so when you don't know when your watch is over.

UNFAILING LOVE- what do we all want most of all? Unfailing unconditional, totally committed love. And only with the Lord can we find it.

"Oh the comfort- the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person- having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff & grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take & sift them, keep what is worth keeping & then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away." Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1866)

Redemption- REDEEM-(Websters)

1 a : to buy back : repurchase
b : to get or win back

2 : to free from what distresses or harms: as
a : to free from captivity by payment of ransom
b : to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental
c : to release from blame or debt : clear
d : to free from the consequences of sin

3 : to change for the better : reform

4 :repair, restore

5 a : to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby
b (1) : to remove the obligation of by payment
(2) : to exchange for something of value
c : to make good : fulfill

6 a : to atone for : expiate
b (1) : to offset the bad effect of
(2) : to make worthwhile : retrieve

synonyms see: rescue

07 December 2009

Take Heart!

Psalm 22:14

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has tuned to wax;
it has melted away within me.

Psalm 31:11, 14-17, 19-24

I am the utter contempt of all my neighbors;
I am a dread to my friends-
those who see me on the street flee from me.

But I trust in you, O Lord,
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hands...

Let your face shine on your servant
save me in your unfailing love.
Let me not be put to shame O Lord,
for I have cried out to you...

How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you,
which you bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in you.
In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from the intrigues of men;
in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.

Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed his wonderful love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
In my alarm I said,
"I am cut off from your sight!"
Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.

Love the Lord, all his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful,
but the proud he pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.

05 December 2009

No Reply

Psalm 38:8-11, 14-18, 21, 22

I am feeble and uttlerly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.

All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds
my neighbors stay far away.

I have become like a man who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply!
I wait for you, O Lord,
you will answer, O Lord my God.
For I said, "Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips."

For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin.

O Lord, do not forsake me;
be not far from me, O my God.
Come quickly to help me,
O Lord my Savior.

04 December 2009

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord
for he has been good to me!

Seems Simple...

So in the comments the other day (I loo-ve your comments!) I got this question:


Regina said...
What exactly qualifies a person as a "non-believer?"

December 2, 2009 11:16 AM

After alot of thought, I think it comes down to the sufficiency of Christ's death- if you don't believe in that, then I would say you were a non-believer.

So, you don't put your faith in these things:

1. being a good person
2. being better than people you know
3. attending church regularly
4. baptism as an infant
5. going to a holy land
6. doing what is right
7. saying penance
8. following rules
9. knowing the right people
10. looking like you have it together
11. having a degree, the right car, 2.4 kids...
12. Jesus on a wall or tortilla
13. the latest Mormon prophet
14. knowing a lot about the Bible
15. having grown up in a Christian household

I grew up attending a Catholic Church. I was confirmed as a teen and went on three Catholic missions trips. This is the instructions I recall: Take confession. Take Communion. Go to church. Get the Sacraments. Do your Penance. Mary isn't god, but she goes up to God (he's really busy) and tries to get you an in with your prayer request. Jesus is the dying guy on the cross covered in blood- God's son. Pray to the saint of the left foot when you lose your keys. No, that last one is wrong.

In the Catholic church, I don't remember being taught: that I was sinful. That I should compare myself only to Christ. That you could know Jesus. That the Bible said Christ is the only mediator.
I was trying to pinpoint what makes me a believer. It's not that I go to a church that has a projector screen or that I listen to a Christian music radio station. It's not that I wear a cross instead of a crucifix. It's not so many things, but what it boils down to is that I came to know that when God looks at me, he sees the blood of Christ covering me, and like the Hebrew homes at the first Passover, he recognizes the one with faith in the blood- it doesn't make sense, but you have faith.

Here's a page of wonderful quotes about the fairness of God's exclusivity, far better than I could construct.

30 November 2009

Exciting Possibilities

What a future God must have planned for us! Rejoice with me here today!
James has his first (and wouldn't it be wonderful if he got the job, and it was his last!) interview on Tuesday. It's a company run on Christian principles and we are both excited that he might work there.
The other thing is, that as happens with some regularity at our house, I was talking about foster care. I don't even remember what I was saying, but he expressed a small amount of interest, and I told him that the training was mostly an information gathering, learning experience... that many families went through the training and didn't become active foster parents, but instead served as respite care for other families or just prayed more. He seemed open, so I threw out there that they probably had some training starting up in the new year.
Then, as I thought about what to write today, I went over to the site I frequent, here, and looked for "my" kids. They were still there- the two sibling groups that I fell in love with. And there was 33 pages of teenagers. When I saw that, my eyes just welled up with pain. They were gorgeous! Even the surly ones. Wouldn't it be wonderful if God kept working so clearly in James' life, and one day we were able to offer a home to kids that had none?
My husband is doing so well! He's come to church with us 4 times- and one of those times was an appreciation dinner with silly entertainment that he wouldn't usually like. Lily's Sunday school teachers (a married couple with 4 kids, who homeschools)came and sat with us, and it turned out that they went to grade school together! He's been great with the kids and cooking alot more (yay!) and last night he and a friend and I cleaned and organized and purged the garage.
I spoke with him also about this blog (on our date night!! My MIL came to visit for Thanksgiving and we went on a real restaurant DATE!). He asked his first questions about the blog here (and I started it in MARCH!) and shared his thoughts about what people might think about him because of what I write.... I would love to hear your thoughts on this- be kind and encouraging but honest, please, and tell me how long you've read--
First, I told him no one reads it, anyway, ok maybe 4 people. Then, I told him the one person that reads it for sure, my aunt, is like a Christian cop of respectfulness and good wife behavior, and she said I'm not disrespectful to him. Then I said that I don't talk about our fights or his lack or whatever. I told him I try not to talk even about me- I know I do, but I want it to be about God's hand, God's mercy, God's plan- about GOD. I told him how a few non believers who read it thought it was depressing, and how the believers I asked disagreed, and how discouraging that was. I want to be a witness, but like I said last time, what is foolishness to the world makes perfect sense to God. Thanks for any comments!! I love 'em!

26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's praying that we all have a pleasant and drama-free holiday! Enjoy the time with your family!

25 November 2009


"Today, I watched a freshman fall down the stairs, and then land with an air guitar and a knee slide, and walk away like nothing happened. That kid is going places. MLIA."

Man, I want to be like that. Aren't there benefits of acting like nothing happened? Don't you seem composed and on top of it? Think of the sayings:

Like water off a duck's back, roll with the punches, take it in stride...

Where are the ones commending the people who DON'T do so well? I guess there's the 'heart on her sleeve' one.

I have been struggling with an person who shall remain nameless lately. It's someone who knew me before I became a believer. It seems that this person thinks I was doing better before I came to know the Gospel. I seemed more confident, sure, capable, determined, goal-oriented, and man, I had plans! I was going places! I guess now I seem to be content with too little, door-mat like, unsure, and... and... not unmotivated, but I seem to be a cork on the water of my marriage. I am too undemanding, perhaps.

This does not adhere to the scientific method, of course.

- unmarried
- young and ignorant
- tried to be a "good person"
- life ahead of me
- boyfriend has me on a pedestal
- brought up in feminist and worldly outlook

- married 11+ years, 4 kids
- older, more experienced, lived some
- realize that "but for the grace of God, there go I"
- been there and back in my marriage
- husband has his own struggles
- cultivated a Biblical worldview

1 Corinthians 1:18, 21-25

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

24 November 2009

Civil Disobedience

I'm praying for the unborn and the nation... soon a decision will be made that will tell us whether or not we have to pay for the abortions of neighbors and strangers. What will our choices be?

1. We can pay to participate in the national health care plan that emphasizes death.

2. We can fund death (through fines) and not receive health care through the national plan, and then pay for other care in addition.

3. We can fund death (through fines) and not receive health care through the national plan, and not participate in any other plan either, but set aside money for medical care.

4. We could refuse to pay for the plan in any way- not paying for the care or the fines.

5. We can choose apathy... merely allow ourselves to be signed up and authorize payment from automatic withdrawal from our paychecks, and never think about it or what we're participating in.

Biblical Instructions When Considering Civil Disobedience

Titus 3:1 says Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good

1 Peter 2:13-14 says Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

Romans 13:1-2 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.


see Exodus 1:15-21:

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?" The midwives answered Pharaoh, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive." So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Daniel 3:1-28 says

But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up." Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.

What about the Magi, who were ordered to return to Herod and tell him of the infant King they sought? They disobeyed his orders and instead followed the instructions of the angelic messenger. And Rahab was explicitly instructed by the King of Jericho to reveal the spies, and she disobeyed, and was saved- and begat the ancestor of Jesus!

I find it interesting that of these examples of people disobeying authorites over them, half concern saving infants.

"These and other biblical cases of justified civil disobedience seem to have the following factors in common:

(1) the state commands the believer to do something contrary to the Word of God;

(2) the command is disobeyed; and

(3) there is explicit or implicit divine approval of the refusal to obey the state."

This quote is from an interesting website that records a debate about breaking laws to physically prevent women from getting abortions at a given clinic- they seemed to end with the summary that such behavior is not beneficial to the pro-life cause, and I agree. The same website says "They [early Christians] were even to pay their taxes — taxes that were most certainly used in ways not in keeping with Christian morality."

Which is what I discuss today. You know how all this started? I received, mysteriously, a copy of Tortured for Christ in the mail yesterday. It is the autobiographical story of the 14 years spent in Communist prisons of Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of Voice of the Martyrs. An excellent ministry!

He was writing about how willing he was to suffer under the Communists if only one or two of his guards could come to know Jesus (many did). How willing he was to return to jail, to be starved and drugged and beaten and degraded, if that was the price of the Gospel for his fellow Romanians.

!!! And I am discussing the potential consequences of not participating in a health care plan that contributes to someone else's abortion being paid for. How fitting that in this affluent society the "cost" of standing for life because of the Gospel we know is only monetary.

I would love to start a thread on this if any of you have any thoughts.

20 November 2009


Well, I was looking over my posts here at New Mercy since the week before Halloween. Eh.

I was cleaning out under the coffee table- all the magazines- and I was going through my Christianity Today's and Christian Counseling Today's and they were all marked up for the first half and then none of the articles even looked familiar, and were unmarked and unfolded... I hadn't finished them. My parents were out of town for three weeks and so I missed my "Writing Tuesdays." (my mom usually takes the kids so I can write) Then this week all my bathroom and dining room walls were getting retextured, and new light fixtures installed... the house was nuts, totally taken apart (white walls! NO!). Then my husband was fired on the 6th of November...

Anyway I wanted to say sorry for being so distracted and bringing poor content lately. I'll try to do better and get back on focus soon. As the holidays approach. *sigh*

18 November 2009

Goofy Joy

SO, on the 6th my husband was laid off.

He had to return his work cell phone and his laptop and his truck, and we're sharing my cell and the van.

We have had a blast.

A few days later, we were laying in bed (fully clothed. daytime.) and laughing our butts off. I had my face in his neck and I was like "why haven't we laughed like this in so long?" Hahhh... the sigh you do after laughing so hard. "dunno."

Don't tell him this, but the first Sunday (OH. PRAISE. GOD!) he came to church with us. Got up and going and out the door to the first service with us. I had my dad's car for some reason, and he drove the van and I followed in my dad's car. He passed right by the church driveway! I had a split second to run in before him and tell the family pastor that he was there! Coming! (Everyone on the prayer team has been praying FOR him but probably couldn't pick him out of a crowd.)

I bolted up the stairs and stood by my kind co-teacher (actually he leads and I throw in some analogies) as he listened to one of our fourth and fifth graders read. Twitching. (me, not the other teacher!)

Only the Sunday before he had asked me, "So, does your husband serve somewhere this hour?" and I answered, for maybe the second time in my life, with nary a tear nor grimace, "No, he doesn't come at all right now." Then, the very next week, I'm standing there and the kid stops reading and he looks up at me- there was an empty chair for me right there, and I was standing- and I'm all "MY HUSBAND IS HERE CAN I GO SIT WITH HIM?!" And he was excited and I just ran out.

The pastor smiled at me as James and I walked into the service. I'm sure I had a mrph face on, you know, the one you give when you are purely willing the person to read your mind. He did a little double take and barely missed a beat and came and said Hi real quick to James. Then later one of the elders said "I was wondering if that was your husband" and I was just praising God that he was there. I just mentioned that he lost his job that Friday and their faces fell, and I was like, gleeful, and said "whatever it takes!" I'm sure I was goofy.

I know they are praying for so many. I know they love to hear of praises and good news. I know it is discouraging to pray for a long time and it seems like nothing is happening. So I was thrilled to encourage them by letting them know HE HAD COME! That Sunday. That was a good day.

16 November 2009

Jantsen's Gift Giveaway

And our winner is... Renee! Congratulations, come on down... and since she's local, she could. I hear coffee perking!

Renee and I started a Contenders club for our sons, and the first meeting is this Wednesday. It's a boys club and ours is open to area homeschoolers. We're excited to get started. Our first lesson features my mother teaching the boys how to carve. They are starting out using a nail file on a bar of Ivory soap. If you have any ideas on manly activities for us to do, tell me.

13 November 2009

More Stuff.

So this morning is your last chance to leave a comment to enter the drawing for this awesome book. Today I wanted to leave you a jewel that the author, Pam Cope, found while her family adjusted their standard of living to reflect what they found most important:

"What changed was our idea of what was essential to us and what was not. I, like many of us, had bought in to the idea that more is better. But after trying to live more simply, I've come to believe that's not the case. More is tiring. Everything you acquire is one more thing to take care of. This decision was one of the most liberating I've ever made."

Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness. -John Rushkin

This weekend I'm at a craft show. Keep an eye on my Etsy shop if you want to send someone a nice Thanksgiving card. If you only have a few Christmas cards to send out, you might consider buying them handmade! Free shipping!

11 November 2009


I was totally struck on page 55 of Jantsen's Gift: A True Story of Grief, Rescue, and Grace because it could have been written by me- this is practically verbatim the story of how I came to know that God was a real personality, alive today, and interested in me personally. I was 17 years old.

"...I went straight to my bedroom and locked the door. The anger and hopelessness welled inside me, so brawny and muscular it felt like my insides were being beaten to a pulp... The emotions were suffocating... I felt exhausted... I CANNOT LIVE THIS LIFE. I CANNOT FORGE A LIFE OF MEANING FROM THIS SORROW. PLEASE... I WANT TO FEEL SOME PEACE. PLEASE. And immediately a response came... which felt like it was emanating not so much from the sky as from my own heart, was generous and clear, and just like that, it happened. All the rage and sadness were gone, mid-sob. The feeling was so unequivocal, it was as if I could physically sense the panic exiting my body, atom by miserable atom. I took a breath, a long one, and it felt like the first breath I had ever taken in my life. I felt a thousand pounds lighter. I felt released... But the anger and hopelessness had lost its fight."

Phillipians 4:7 says "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." and I know it is not only possible, it is true, because it happened to me, and to Pam Cope.

09 November 2009

Jantsen's Gift by Pam Cope

Jantsen's Gift: A True Story of Grief, Rescue, and Grace, by Pam Cope and Aimmee Molloy is a therapeutic, deeply personal story. However, it's also a greatly inspiring, soul-stirring, question-asking tale that makes its readers inspect their value system to see how it stands when their world is shaken to its core.

Pam Cope had her world toppled when her son died at the age of 15. What she thought was important- stacks of beautiful throw pillows on the couches, her children's new clothes, serving at church, all seems trivial and empty of meaning. She suffered, incapacitated by the most simple of tasks, for months, asking her pre-teen daughter to even do the shopping. Pam resisted the urge to wrap her daughter in her arms and infuse her with love, because she was afraid if she loved her daughter, how could she survive if something happened to her also

This is a story of the power of service to take our eyes off of our own suffering. From start to finish, Pam tells us to look outside of ourselves. Relieving the pain of others lessons our own pain.

Essentially, the purpose of Pam's life unfolds as she and her husband try to determine what to do with the $25,000 that they recieved in lieu of flowers at their teenage son's funeral. A neighborhood playground? New baseball uniforms for his team? Nothing seemed right or lasting.

Pam was totally and completely depleted by the mere thought of Thanksgiving with her family who seemed to expect her to move on with her life-- hadn't it been a few months already?! They had just approached a friend about giving the fund money to their work in VietNam, who suggested they first come to VietNam in person to see the work in person before they donated it. From her book:

"Vietnam? I knew nothing about the place, other than old stories about the war. It seeeign. It seemed like the farthest place in the world from Neosho, Missouri, and Thanksgiving dinner and birthday celebrations and family expectations... I accepted immediately."
"As I packed our bags and told Crista's school we were pulling her out for two weeks, I couldn't help but wonder if the decision had been too impulsive. But then I'd run to the store for something we needed and get home and realize that not only had I managed to get there and back without collapsing, but I was even feeling a strangely unfamiliar emotion under the sadness: excitement. I know I should have welcomed it after how hopeless I'd been, but I had grown so accustomed to feeling bad that a moment of excitement made me feel a little guilty, like I was being unfaithful to my grief... It was such a relief to be somewhere this mysterious and colorful and new, where Jansten's absence didn't seem as obvious."

After her heart is pricked for the lost, orphaned, unloved and trafficked children of Asia and Africa, she dives headfirst into a new world of visa applications, donated surgeon skills, diptheria shots, fundraising and international travel. Throughout the book are excerpts from letters she wrote to her son, telling him how he has helped her on this journey.

This book had me crying over a dozen times in the first 150 pages. It rocketed up to the top 20 books on my mental list of favorites. If you wish you could do something for the kingdom of God, for the hurting of the world, but don't know how, this book could be the first step. I'm going to write more about it on Wednesday and Friday. There will be a drawing on Friday afternoon to see who recieves a hardcover copy of Jantsen's Gift, valued at $25. So stay tuned for 2 more posts about it! Leave a comment to qualify- if you comment on each of the 3 posts, you get 3 chances. To learn more about this book, to read excerpts, or to join a book group about it with others who have enjoyed it, go to the publisher's website linked below.

This is a review for Mama Buzz. You can see their button in my left sidebar. I recieved 2 free copies of this book (one for me, one for a reader) by Hachette Book Group. I hope you found this review informative!

Christmas Gifts

Here is a video from my new favorite non-profit, Gospel for Asia. Hopefully you find it interesting. The couple in it (the Americans) seem straight out of my part of the country. It's exciting that normal people in America who probably shop at Wal-Mart and have chicken-fried steak with their grandkids can impact the world for Christ. I'm hoping my son's new scout group is going to earn money in the next six weeks to purchase something from this catalog.

06 November 2009

My Mind

Ooh just a jumble of thoughts today.

-Didn't have my coffee until 10:30 today and only a twinge of a headache. Ever since a good friend of mine told me she had given up coffee for a season (her husband identified it as an idol for her), I have been watchful of how much I enjoy it. But I think it is a blessing and it's mornings like today, when I don't have any and hardly notice, that I am reminded of it.

-I was reading today about some czar in D.C. who thought that trees should be legally allowed to sue people or organizations (I assume some kindly person would do the paperwork on its behalf). What?! I don't let the kids carve in tree trunks, because it can kill the tree. I don't let them rip wings off bugs or whatever... I don't buy dogfood at PetCo because they get puppies from puppy mills. I got 2 of my dogs from a rescue center, one off of Craigslist. I am pretty much a financial vegetarian, and I think that animals for food should be raised in a humane way. I'm horrified by what the chickens and cows are eating (mainly because then I'm supposed to eat it). So although I'm not an animal rights activist I definitely think that animals deserve our respect and we should care for them as God instructed Adam.
But for pete's sake, some people go too far! With the amount of kids and adults going to sleep hungry every night in the world, and the orphans near and foreign, how can anyone even be so concerned? Is it just America? I know in the catalogs you can buy a litter of guinea pigs or rabbits that people in Asia raise for food, so it's not totally the same other places. Anyway.

-I'm thinking about getting another tattoo in December with a woman from church. I can't decide on which one. So I made a poll to get your opinions. (If you were in any of my Yahoo! groups you would cringe right there.) So vote in my poll in the top right sidebar. Did you see my first tattoo? Guess and see if you can figure out what it is, then click here. Were you right?!

-On the 10th of November I'm reviewing a book called Jantsen's Gift: A True Story of Grief, Rescue, and Grace. I quoted it briefly here. *I'm also giving away a copy of the hardcover book.* So think about it, and get excited about reading more. You know I love comments. Gotta get 'em somehow

-I called Gospel for Asia, which I wrote about here. I have been giving them $10 and $20 here and there through online billpay. They kept sending me receipts and I called to tell them to quit it. I'm not giving that much, and I don't want all of my donation paying for them to mail me a receipt! They are an AWESOME organization and they want to give you a free book. Get it!

-On a related note, I was totally bummed when Stop Child Trafficking NOW paid $2 to mail me the wrong size t-shirt. I qualified for a free t-shirt at the recent fundraising walk we participated in. They only had big shirts there, so I chose to have them mail me the right size because I really wanted to wear it out and about. They mailed me one so big I can't even sleep in it. Darn! And I didn't want them pay another $2 to mail me the right size, so now I have none.

04 November 2009

Girl Talk by Gigi Garner

Girl Talk: Celebrities and Other Extraordinary Women Share Their Secrets is a compilation of advice from women of all walks of life. It was collected and contributed to by Gigi Garner, (daughter of James Garner) who evidently had many contacts and was friendly with all kinds of women.

Initially upon looking at the semi- sensual woman on the book's cover, and reading the title (including the words extraordinary! and secrets!) I expected something dazzling or on the verge of scandalous, if not just juicy celebrity advice. Then on the back I was very confused by a long passage of what seemed like an ad for an African multi-purpose fabric called a kanga (?). What I found inside was just the completely normal, coffee-klatch, Woman's Day magazine kind of girl talk, and I practically expected one of the ladies to recommend a certain brand of diapers or soap!

The entire book, after a short introduction, is women giving advice. Some quotes stand alone, while others are short anecdotes from someone's life ending in a word of advice, almost like a moral. These women are eager to share what they've learned, and reflect not just celebrities but also the women who support them- the dog trainer, the hair stylist, the friend. Maybe my age is showing, but very few of the names were familiar to me. The book is broken down into sections in which the advice follows a predictable theme such as beauty, children, etc.

Some of the advice is from another era- "use a knee sock as a hair band" (?) and some was timeless- let the kids play in the cardboard box your appliance came in. Peppered with black and white publicity photos of the women who impart their life experience, this is a book ideal for the car or the bathroom, where you can pick it up when you have a minute, and put it back down to come back to later.

I did this product review for Mama Buzz (see my button to their site in the left sidebar). I received this book for free from Five Star Publications. I hope you found this review informative!

02 November 2009

Comment Hog

So, I may have mentioned (eee NY Times!) that I was writing a book... It will be a 90-day devotional aimed at women who are struggling through a separation or who feel alone in their marriage. I went to a writer's conference a few weekends ago and thought of a lot of things... and then when I posted a simple post about my temporal joys I got a bunch (for me and my lonely blog) of kind and interesting comments. So in the interest of writing for my book and getting more interaction and followers, I am going to post more of "my story." Before I get going, if there were any requests, leave your idea.

I wrote a while back about a well-timed chicken salad. So today I wanted to post a little story about a well-timed grilled-cheese sandwich. What? On a blog about growing spiritually? Yes. (although I'm starting to think my love language is food.)

When I was pregnant with my third child, I was just beginning this crummy walk of faith, and I was still in the "Lord, take this cup away from me! Change HIM and make my life easy and fun!" phase (I did that for a year).

I was struggling with the hours my husband was keeping and our finances and living in a no A/C, cockroach and rat-inhabited house. I was only eating five things during that pregnancy: broccoli, cookie dough, Tricuits and cheddar, soymilk, or turkey sandwiches with lots of baby greens. To make this story make sense, I have to divulge a little idiosyncrasy about myself: I like symmetrical food. If I get a sandwich or a burger, even an omelette or something, I rearrange it so that it's symmetrical. That means I have mustard and beef and lettuce and tomato in each bite, and not too much bread in comparison. I actually use the word ratio when James asks me why I leave things out. I know. We all have our quirks, ok?

One night he was home early and the kids were in bed and the house was quiet, and I was tired. He asked me if I wanted anything to eat. He was listing off the foods he could make me from what we had available in the fridge and pantry... I was melancholy, rejecting them one after the other. He said, "I could make you a grilled-cheese sandwich." I perked up a little, but faded as I explained "I like it a certain way..." and he goes "I know how you like it." I expressed some doubt and he listed off, instantly and correctly, just how I like it (It's a lot of detail and symmetry, ok?).

Right away I welled up with grateful tears. He knew? He knew! Hiding in this stranger was a man I used to know. A man who knew me. It gave me a lift of hope that we would find our way to friends again.

30 October 2009

My Playlist

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

I wanted to post something... I'm actually not going out of town, and (!) James left me his laptop to use and we are making a plan to figure something out with the desktop this week.

I made a playlist of the songs which pierce my heart... here it is... If you buy one from iTunes, go thru my site and I get a nickle or something (you can do that for any music you buy if you're an iPOD person).

I follow a few blogs of women who have had the course of their lives changed by losing a child. I found this playlist widget through one of them. The song by Watermark is so powerful for families who have lost a child. The blogs are:

The Pipers

Tonya Talk

Raising Arrows

29 October 2009


My computer crashed so I was unable to write. I'm also going out of town this weekend and I won't be back till Monday, so I'll be here Wednesday!

28 October 2009

What God Wants

When I get frustrated with waiting on God, with waiting on my husband, with waiting in general (see an awesome poem about women waiting), I readily forget one concept that is the answer to probably the majority of the "wait" or "no" responses that we get from God:

RELATIONSHIP. God is a God of relationships. Beth Moore says in her *excellent* book, Praying God's Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds these sobering thoughts:

"...the ultimate goal God has for us is not power but personal intimacy with Him. Yes, God wants to bring us healing, but more than anything, He wants us to know our Healer. Yes, He wants to give us resurrection life, but more than that, He wants us to know the Resurrection and the Life.

We can and should pray for an individual's willingness to let God set him free. We can and should pray for the enemy to be withheld and for the individual's eyes to be opened to truth, but freedom rarely comes to a person who does not get intimately involved with God for himself. You see, God is far more interested in our getting to know the Deliverer than our being delivered. Remember, freedom comes through taking thoughts captive to Christ. We cannot take another person's thoughts captive."

Are you as stunned and as speechless as I?! How many times have I read these words?! They are all marked up in my book! Yet for some reason I have not heard them with this clarity until this week.

I keep praying for things to change for mainly these reasons:

- things would be better; marriage, kids, life.
- it's the right way to live- less stressful and more stable
- it's a better example to those who don't yet believe
- I want the kids and I to be led spiritually
- I want to feel loved and cherished
- I want the kids to grow up seeing beauty, not a 'don't' version of marriage
- I'm tired and I want people to stop looking at me like that.

I should be praying totally differently. (I, I, I, I!) What does Beth say we can pray when praying for others?

-individual's willingness to let God set him free
-for the enemy to be withheld
-for the individual's eyes to be opened to truth

That's it! I go on and on about what I can and can't control... yet here... I'm not looking at my husband like God sees him. God surely sees the late hours and the neglect; but He really wants James to know him and trust him and believe him so that new behaviors can follow out of a heart for obedience. I want all that too, but my prayers don't reflect that.

26 October 2009

Typical Day

So, a few announcements before I give you my sob story for today:

1. Got a new profile picture- whaddaya think?

2. Added a "meet mama4x" introduction box in the sidebar so new readers can know what on earth I'm talking about... maybe keep the wave of comments up!

3. I opened a Cafe Press store, called mama4x (of course) that has a few New Mercy t-shirts and such. A work in progress for a while as I tweak and perfect it.

4. I added Fall/ Thanksgiving and Winter/ Christmas cards in my Etsy shop, also called mama4x.

Well I wanted to tell you about a typical day for me... I was thinking about a new way to introduce myself to people, what are your thoughts?

"I am either blessed to be a single mother of four who has all her bills taken care of, or unfortunate enough to be in a marriage frozen in one dysfunctional holding pattern."

At 5:30 my husband's alarm goes off and we spoon until he absolutely must get out of bed at 6:05. Then I go make him coffee just the way he likes it as he gets dressed. He races off to work. Then, I stay up and pray and read my Bible, or I get back into bed with the toddler.

Everyone is up and moving around and eating at 8 a.m. and we do our homeschool tasks until lunch. Then we are free unless we have scouts, soccer, Lego club, or swimming. During the day I might get a text message or a call, but not usually. If I call him, I better speak fast, cause he's really busy. As evening approaches, I search for food for four hungry and irritable children and try not to lose patience completely, although if my children's actions and habits are a reflection of me (yes) then I do a poor job of it.

They are free for a while and I write or clean (my main pastimes). Then we search out PJs, get teeth cleaned and I ping-pong back and forth down the hall until everyone is satisfied and content and ready to sleep. I always complain that putting my kids to bed is like playing a long game of whack-a-mole.

I go to bed around 11 p.m. and sometime between 12-1 a.m. and 5 a.m. my husband comes home from what I call his 'adventures.' It's always something, you know? Work, fell asleep, truck trouble, helping a friend. Whatever. This morning it was 2:10.

It's gotten to the point that if he really needs to know something, I forward his email the info. I don't even consider what he's doing when we make plans, I know he won't be a part of them. I don't try to come home early; I know he won't be there. The kids see his truck in the driveway so infrequently that all heck breaks loose if we drive down our street and they spot it.

I know. I know! Everything you're thinking, I have heard. Why do I "stand for it," what about his example to the kids, what is he really doing, etc etc.

It's coming to a head for me. I am thinking about all the absent father stuff out there. I am guilty of unbelief- I lost faith that God could change my husband. But when I recognize that, I see that have been tricked into thinking I am waiting on James, not on GOD.

My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:6

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13

but then again, I think...

A hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

but, again, God answers...

The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit
. Psalm 34:18

23 October 2009

New Blog Button!

I am soooo in love with my new blog button! And I am also in love with y'alls comments this week! I feel like I pour my heart into this blog, and don't get very many comments... but you sure like to hear about down comforters! Thanks readers!

Tender Hearted

I don't know what God is doing in me right now, but he has got my heart in a vise and is squishing it. I have the most shredded heart I know. I can't do or read or see anything without the lost and hurting somehow crowding into my brain and laying there, taking up all of my attention and drilling holes into my heart. It is hard to see people as God does! For a few hours today I read a book I had been mailed by a stay-at-home mother of 4 named Pam Cope, to review for my other blog. It's called Jantsen's Gift: A True Story of Grief, Rescue, and Grace and I've read 150 pages and cried probably 12 times.

Let me share an excerpt with you: "Both of them had been working as prostitutes for several years, and the night before we met, they each had been with ten different men. For each client, they were paid the equivalent of about $3, half of which they had to give to the brothel owner. The rest they sent home to their families. These young women were so scared and emotionally spent, and the years of trauma they had endured in their work showed on their faces. The older girl was also addicted to heroin-- which is not unusual. Many brothel owners purposefully hook their employees on drugs as a way of keeping them dependent on the work. Hearing the stories of their lives was heartbreaking. The girls could not always convince their clients to wear a condom, and both were too scared to get tested for HIV. They cried openly when discussing how degraded and shamed they felt every morning, yet when we offered to take them immediately to a safe house for prostitutes, they both refused. The older one didn't want to go because she knew she couldn't get drugs there; she panicked at the idea of it. The younger said her family would starve were it not for the money she sent home each week. I understand the impulse to simply judge these girls as "Asian prostitutes" beyond help, but that's not who they were to me. They were scared, broken girls who could not see any hope."

Money goes so far in other countries where atrocious things happen every day! What I pay for my mortgage for two months funds "food, shelter, tuition, clothing and medical needs for 15 children, and a salary for the houseparent... for one year [in Viet Nam]."

I am overwhelmed. I don't want to be one of those people who looks at every person holding a cup of Starbucks coffee and preaches about the cost of feeding an African child. I am in the process of changing my spending habits and the amount of stuff I own and what I do with my money so that it can line up with my mouth.

"Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness" -John Rushkin

21 October 2009

Joyful Things!

First of all, I wanted to lay off of the spiritual things for a day and mention a few of my temporal joys. Here is a pair of Frye's boots, that I desperately want to own. I think I covet them. However, I went to try them on once, and they are all individual. You can't just order a pair online and it'll be good. You have to keep going in to a local Frye's seller and keep trying them on until you get a pair that fit your feet well. So, no idea when I'll be in a season of life when I can do that. Not to mention that in person they are $225. So yeah. On to the real joys...

When I went to Switzerland in high school I was fully prepared to abandon everything in my bag and take home the pillows and bedding instead. The joy of a feather mattress topper, a down quilt, and feather pillows! Add to that a nice set of sheets- a baby or small dog... aah. I need to go to bed.

Now by no means forget coffee, but for real depth and variety, a cup of tea is just a wonderful experience. Wait for the water to boil... choose what flavor... listen to the water pour... wait for the steep... sugar? lemon? cream? The possibilities are endless. What a blessing.

I find myself constantly daydreaming about the perfect laundry room. It doesn't even include a front-loading washer. I have an excellent set of lockers (the 12 inch by 12 inch kind) in a 6 row by 6 row set-up, that I would wash down and spray paint and put in the laundry room. I really want a utility sink, and a counter to fold clothes on. I don't need a clothes pole; I would like an open shelf for the soap over the washer. I also want to spray paint my washer and dryer some bright color with metal paint. They're just the basic energy-sucking kind. Ideally, I'd like to fill the washer from a rainwater collection reservoir, and have a clothesline right outside the laundry room door. But most of all I don't want it to be a tiny square room with 3 doors in it.

One thing that is pretty easy and brings me a lot of joy is PAINT. I feel cold and boring in an all-white house and paint is so quick to bring character and emotion and setting to a room. We used to have a deep blue dining room and a brick red living room, then we changed the dining room to a lion-yellow and kept the red in the living room. Right now my living space is based off of my favorite coffee cup. One wall in the living room is kelly green and the area rug is orange. The dining room has one orange wall and 2 yellow walls, and the carpet and curtains are kelly green. It's an energetic and cheerful space.

I cannot get enough bookshelves. I have them in every room, even if it's just the end table. Aren't bookshelves over doors just the best? My dream house has a 10 foot wide hallway with doors coming off, and little nooks for comfy chairs with a focused light for reading, and every wall, in between doors- every one- would be bookshelves. It would be my library. I am pretty organized with my books. They aren't Dewey decimal or anything, but they are definitely categorized.

19 October 2009


Is this not the best picture EVER?!

How do you measure your growth? Now that you've got all your big-kid teeth, and aren't getting new shoes every season change, and (hopefully) people have stopped saying "You're so much bigger than I saw you last!" how do you know when you've grown?

Spiritually, one way you can tell that you have matured is by your reactions. When confronted with a familiar situation, is your reaction more Christ-like than it used to be? But don't be content that you're 'doing better.' We must always look to Jesus as our golden standard, not others and not our former selves.

16 October 2009


My friend and I were discussing happiness on Facebook. She said, after much back-and-forth, "But life isn't meant to be miserable. While people have their trials and tribulations, how can you inspire people to follow a Christian life if they see you and you aren't happy? People don't want to emulate people that do not seem happy."

I don't know if my rebuttal was adequate:

"I hope the inspiration to follow Christ (not a Christian life)comes from my lack of panic and the trust in the whole picture/plan and the ability to get through each day as it comes. Look at the people that inspire a following- it's not the "happy" people on spring break having fun for the moment; it's those who overcome struggles... the Olympian has triumph on the pedestal after years of determination, struggle, pain, and perseverance. The veteran walks again after war, disfigurement, rehab, practice, and determination. The runner hits the crossing line after months of training and pain and perseverance and making the choice each day to go practice. Do I seem so miserable? What have I said/written that makes me seem so miserable? Then I gave these Scriptures as evidence:

Hebrews 12:1-3 let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Romans 5:2-5 we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

2 Thessalonians 1:4 among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

James 5:11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

What do my readers think?

14 October 2009

Choose Life

This is a child who was adopted, and not aborted.

Well, yesterday I was mentioned in the NY Times. Maybe I have it on the brain... today I got a email from the NRL with a link to a compelling story. Here's the article- don't click on the pictures if your kids are in the room- the comments were riveting. I didn't read all 225 comments, but numbers 62, 71, 98 and especially 119 were excellent.

Let our hearts break for whatever breaks God's heart! How are you serving the needs of women in tough circumstances? How are you pointing them to the cross- Jesus' sacrifice on their behalf- so they can comprehend a sacrifice of their own? Crisis pregnancy centers need volunteers. Are your kids in school? Can you volunteer a half-day a week? Where are your maternity clothes? In the closet? Could you pick up a pack of nice wipes or diaper ointment when you get a new bottle of shampoo? For pete's sake, you can mail a check- you could email your congressman- you could go to a pro-life function. We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this broken world!