30 June 2009

Some Art, Sad but Beautiful

Adaptation of Michelangelo's Pieta by deviantArt artist nit3m

Pieta
by Annibale Carracci, 1560-1609

Pieta, 1499
by Michelangelo, Italian artist

Detail, with totally different lighting, of Michelangelo's Pieta
excellent art website

The First Mourning, by William Bouguereau (1825-1905); "The dead body of Abel lies across Adam's lap. Eve is kneeling by his side crying uncontrollably. Bouguereau had five sons, four of whom died before him. First Mourning was painted directly after the death of his second son." found here.


29 June 2009

Who is Saved?

This past week has brought so many questions about salvation to the forefront of my mind. Will we see Jack again? Is he resting with a whole and healthy body beside still waters, surrounded by all the dogs who went before him, engaging Jesus in discussion and getting satisfactory answers? How big is God and his mercy? Here are a few scriptures that I've had swimming around my head:

John 10:28-29 "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." This scripture is the one that people cling to when they know someone had a "salvation experience" that wasn't followed by a lifetime of growth and spiritual fruit.

Revelation 21:4 "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." This scripture is so powerful for those who lost a loved one who had a lot of suffering or a long illness, I cannot even express it to you.

Mark 8:35 "Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live." If you don't have spiritual fruit, if you don't consistently die to self for the purpose of becoming more like Christ, if you don't attempt to glorify him in all you do, you don't know what it is like to really live free of the deadweights of bitterness, hate, or fear.

2 Chronicles 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." Does this mean those who aren't committed to becoming like him, that those who have believed in his saving power but don't work on sanctification, aren't strengthened by the Lord? That they have a power cord, and a power source, but they never plug it in? That they are saved with "fire insurance" but don't use or don't understand the resources they have in this life?

Hebrews 4:13 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Only God knows a man's heart, and only he knows where his trust lies. We can hypothesize and guess and estimate, but only God knows the real truth of the matter.

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." God has laid out his plan for salvation in the Bible. But there are holes, or bare spots, on topics where we want it spelled out clearly. What happens to those secret tribal people that never heard the name of Jesus? What about the last-minute death-row convict who professes faith? What about the "came-to-Jesus-down-the-center-aisle-signed-the-card-took-the-Bible-faded-to-everyday" person?

Jeremiah 32:17 "Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you!" He is so much greater than we can comprehend. But we are so sinful.

2 Timothy 1:12 "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." Back to the trust issue- can it be enough to say it meaningfully a few times, and never follow through? I know it isn't the ideal, that a 'real' experience would lead to growth, but is that just me sinfully and jealously saying "if I put in the hours at sanctification, you can't get in on justification alone!"

Psalm 94:19 "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." When we are down in the pit, and we cry out, he hears us and comes to us. That real saving feeling frequently leads to a surrender and a trust statement, an intention of life-change. But in the cold light of day, some people don't believe that it was as real as it felt- that it was just their emotions and not God speaking comfort to them.

Romans 8:15 "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship." But this scripture is addressing our tendency to go back in the unlocked cell. Can a person be saved if they stay in there after being freed?

Ephesians 3:16-19 "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." What if they are planted (saved) but then never rooted or established? There are so many ways to hear the gospel now- what if they found him on the web and never got in a local church? What if what if what if?!

Titus 3:3-7 "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Does my whole concern lie on the lack of spiritual fruit? Does it hinge solely on an act of justification? What is the role of sanctification in the doorway to heaven? Can you have justification (salvation) without sanctification (fruit) if there is a big time gap in between?

These aren't even questions I think we can really answer completely to our satisfaction... I pray that those that we wonder about can enjoy the company of our mighty God.

"The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

Zephaniah 3:17

Jack II

We came home this afternoon from San Antonio where we had been spending the last week. My father-in-law, Jack, passed away on Tuesday, June 23rd. He had his stomach removed in April (cancer) and had dropped from 210 lbs to 140 lbs before the doctors decided to give him two kinds of feeding tubes so he could receive nutrition and hydration. Then last Sunday his stomach tube got clogged, and he developed a fever on Monday and died of sepsis (infection) on Tuesday afternoon. His obituary reads:

"His career was centered around caring for people with mental retardation as an employee of the Austin State School and most recently the San Antonio State Hospital in the Competency Training and Development Department. Jack was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed mountain biking, camping, hiking and fishing and had the opportunity to explore many national and state parks and wildernesses throughout the country and most recently Washington State. He enjoyed his daily cup of black Starbucks coffee, watching Sci-Fi and perfecting the tropical garden which surrounded his 8,000 gallon Koi pond. Jack's life touched the lives of thousands and his legacy will be celebrated for years to come."

We totally ditched the kids on my parents and went south to be with my step-mother-in-law, Vickie (I love to call her that because she is so cool and with a title like that it sounds like she shouldn't be). The family drew together and although we cried, we really tried to celebrate Jack's life and accomplishments (think mariachi band).

As I drove north today, I was thankful that we were able to spend that time there- that my parents, who live a few miles away, were able to step up like that; that we had seen Jack the week before; that Vickie's church supported her in the hours before the family arrived; that Jack was so fondly remembered by so many; that we were able to stay a day later than everyone and sort of ease the transition, a little, to the emptier house. We're getting together again this weekend to celebrate Jack's mother's 86th birthday, and Claire's 8th (the same day). Vickie's 2 other daughter-in-laws are both expecting babies soon- a girl in July and a boy in October (Jack's birthday month), so she will have some beautiful and welcome distractions. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend time with a huge extended family and that James has such excellent employers. His company sent a huge edible fruit arrangement to the house in San Antonio!

Jack. Such an Eeyore sometimes! Loved Battlestar Gallactica. Would get Starbucks coffee refills by bringing in his paper cup from earlier. Loved his Dalmation. Called me "James' wife" and never really accepted the idea that his son, fifth generation Texan, married a Yankee. Gonna miss him.

26 June 2009

Mourning?



This is the first time that I have been involved in mourning... The first time I have been a part of a family grieving together in the first days after a loss. It has been a dichotomy- fine, sad, fine, crying, laughing, sad, quiet, fine... back and forth we go. Striking the balance between ok and not ok ways to treat people when you or they are grieving. What do you excuse and where do you draw the line? It has been complex.

And from what I have seen, this modern way (American way?) of handling death is very detached. I read a lot of historical fiction where the death of a loved one, or anyone for that matter, is treated very differently than I have seen this week. We as a nation are very separated, protected, from images of death and what death and dying is like. I guess in a country with physical beauty as the end-all be-all death and dying isn't very attractive.

It makes me think about my own passing one day and what I want to do now to ease it for my kids, what I want to put in writing so there's no fighting or worrying about what I'd want. And I'm totally writing my own obit or at least listing what I think is the crucial information that I want in it.

Sigh. So much to think about, but the number one thing that's been on my mind: after. I simply cannot imagine what it must be like for people who have no hope for the afterlife. Or people who are utterly terrified about what is to come. That makes me unbelievably sad. And I want to make sure that everyone I love, and those that I don't even know, have a hope and a future and an assurance of what is to come. But you can't push it on people. You can't force anyone to believe, so you just have to try to live in such a way that you and your hope is so appealing that those watching you are intrigued enough to ask "what is it that you have?"

(by the way, the answer is Jesus)

Margaret Sanger




Check this out: Why don't people know this?
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked how she could have said in a speech to Planned Parenthood that she was "in awe of Margaret Sanger." The Secretary said that "Margaret Sanger's life and leadership was one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race and that Sanger's work both here and abroad was not done."

I pointed out that Sanger's legacy was indeed transformational, but not for the better if one happens to be poor, disenfranchised, weak, disabled, a person of color, an unborn child, or among the many so-called undesirables, that Sanger would exclude and exterminate from the human race.

Sanger's prolific writings drip with contempt for those she considered unfit to live. I have actually read many of Sanger's articles and books. She was an unapologetic eugenicist and a racist who said, "The most merciful thing a family does for one of its infant members is to kill it."

She also said on another occasion, "Eugenics is…the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems."

In Sanger's book, "The Pivot of Civilization," chapter five is entitled, "The Cruelty of Charity." In that chapter, she makes a shockingly inhumane case for the systematic denial of prenatal and maternal health care for poor pregnant women.

Sanger said, and I quote in pertinent part, "Such benevolence is not merely superficial and nearsighted. It conceals a stupid cruelty…" and leads to "deterioration in the human stock" and "the perpetuation of defectives, delinquents and dependents."

I told Secretary Clinton that it was extraordinarily difficult to understand how anyone could be in awe of Margaret Sanger, a person who made no secret whatsoever of views that were antithetical to protecting fundamental human rights of the weakest and the most vulnerable, and could suggest that Sanger's work remains undone around the world. "

By Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)

23 June 2009

Jack




Jack Dear
October 29, 1950-
June 23, 2009








I am so sorry to say that I will be gone for a few days. My father-in-law died this afternoon and James and I will be busy with family affairs. How fast life can just disappear. I'm thankful that James and I, Claire, Jackson, and Jack's parents were all able to see him this past weekend. Please pray for James and his family. Please keep Vickie, his wife, in your thoughts.

22 June 2009

Deception

I got one of those viral, get-to-know-your-friends emails today that included the question "what do you dislike the most in people?" or something. I answered, Deception. And look what was in my inbox this evening, but Desiring God by John Piper:

"John 4:17-18: “The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right [or well] in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

I find that very strange at first glance. What is he doing? Sandwiched between “You are right” in verse 17 and “What you have said is true” in verse 18 is a statement that is devious. She is using the truth to hide something. “I have no husband.” Jesus says, “You have spoken well in saying you have no husband. You’ve had five. And you are right, you don’t have a husband, but you are living with a man, and he is not your husband.” You really know how to use the truth to mislead people.

I think this is irony. “Well said. You are a real truth-teller.” What is being exposed here is something that almost always goes hand in hand with secret sin, namely, a devious, subtle, manipulation of language to conceal the truth by saying true things. Devious people don’t usually lie. It’s too risky. They deceive by the way they use the truth.

Deviousness in Our Day

This is incredibly prevalent in our own day. Some people know they are doing it, and others are so conformed to the spirit of the age that they don’t they are doing it—and may not even know there is such a thing as a use of language that has integrity (2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:2). People that don’t have a deep, secure, satisfied, rest of soul in the living water of Jesus’ holy fellowship tend to slide toward subtle uses of language designed to cloud truth with words, even true words."

Mom Goes Nutso

I have one (at least one) of those kids that just makes you crazy; makes you question everything about yourself. Two things happened today that illustrate this:

1. I was peeling a carrot for my three-year-old, Lily (aka Cactus Flower). I missed a stroke and said "Whew! I nearly peeled my finger there! That was a close one!" and my daughter sucked in her breath real hard and said "Watch out mom! I don't want you to cut your finger!" And my heart swelled up with this unusual display of love. I should have left it at that, but no, I said "Do you love mommy?" "No."

2. I told everyone to get into pajamas and pick up their bedroom floors. After a few minutes, nothing was done, so I announced "No ice cream then!" and had to explain that no announcement was necessary to reward people; I shouldn't have to pay my children to obey; that I could just reward them for listening. Then Lily (aka Cactus Flower) came into my room and while I helped her get pajamas on, she explained how she was a listener and how I said put on pajamas and how that's what she was doing, and how she should get ice cream. So I said, "Yes, you are a listener, you may have ice cream." And I carried this prickly pear into the kitchen, we determined by taste-test if she would prefer strawberry or mint, and then gave her a big spoonful and put the lid on and put it back in the fridge. (a spoonful of ice cream is standard portion for us when we just want a taste or no bowls are clean- this wasn't a strange thing) Then, instead of "Thanks, mom, so glad I was the only one to get ice cream, what a nice moment we shared there on the counter" there was a 20-minute melt down (pardon the pun)... screaming, clutching door jambs, clenching teeth, bucking... the whole nine yards.

CJ Mahaney says in his book Humility: True Greatness "...if you're a parent, be assured that parenting is something God has called you to and that He has personally assigned your children to you both for their good and for your sanctification." Well, gee, thanks! I think on days/nights like this.

Lily make me question myself- makes me question my abilities- make me doubt myself and my motives. I am constantly assessing if I am reacting to Lily or to what I think Lily will do. Am I seeing her actions, or am I coloring them to match her past actions? As I see those things listed in front of me in type, they don't look like bad things. They look like careful and good things. But in the moment, in the evening sometimes, when she is crying and I don't go try and fail to comfort her -again!- I think that they are the mark of a bad parent. Why don't I do this constant assessing and guilt-carrying with the other three? Is there any hope for our future? I think of hormones and the frustrations of the next 15 years and if what I've seen for the past 2 years with this little girl is a harbinger, I may run screaming into the street!

Be Where You Should Be


"In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman..."
2 Samuel 11:1-2

I think most of us know how the story ends-- the man after God's own heart sleeps with the woman, kills her husband to hide it, and is responsible for the death of the baby. Not to mention the associated sins of lying, deception, pride and abuse of power.

And how did these sins all come about? What was the first step? David didn't go off to war in the spring. He sent someone else to accomplish his job while he relaxed on his laurels. Most likely, he felt like he "had earned it."

This lesson applies to all of us. God's word is still applicable today, and not just to the person that fits David's profile (male, king, etc). The first population this reminds me of is teenagers, who allow themselves to be at the wrong place at the right time for disaster. Alone in cars on deserted side streets... at a friends house with no parents... on a school trip. Just like David and Bathsheba, this can result in lies and pregnancy.

What about fathers and husbands? They are out and about in the world most of the day. They need our prayers to surround them. They need to be in the Word to strengthen them. They need to ensure that they are where they are supposed to be. Some people scoff at the thought of a 'grown man' watching that he is not alone staying late with women to work... going out after work... but the Bible teaches us that there "must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity" (Eph. 5:3). This is not to prevent us from having fun or to lock us up, but to protect us.

This even applies to moms like you and I may be. If you work outside the home, much of what
I said about husbands applies to you; women are especially susceptible to emotional affairs. But even in the home arena we must be careful to be where we are supposed to be. I just met a single father, dad to one of Claire's ballet friends. You know how the first time a friend comes over, the parent stays for a minute to 'scope out the place?' I arranged to have a 'chaperon' for the time window that he was going to drop off his daughter. Everyone in my neighborhood knows I stay home all day; I don't want there to be even a suggestion that I was home alone with a man other than my husband. But we also need to make sure we aren't on the computer when we should be playing with our kids; that we aren't texting on our phones when we should be watching the soccer game, that we aren't doing the dishes when we should be talking to our daughters.

18 June 2009

Seek Him, Even When He's Silent

Psalm 63:1-8

O God, You are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.

Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands,
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night,
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

This Psalm and Psalm 77 have something in common. Like times when I have been sad in my marriage, I (and the psalmist) reflect and remember back "to the good 'ol days." We may feel a dry spot now, but we know that it used to be great together. We remember when God came through for us (the way WE wanted him to!) and we reflect on how he has cared for us in the past when it seems quiet now. We need to be patient in times of quiet, and use them to study up for the next time of testing. I'm trying to think of this as a time of rest, a valley before the next rollercoaster ride of faith.

16 June 2009

When God is Silent

I wanted to share with you a gem from Psalms. I found it this morning... I have been through struggles, and been through loss, but what I am going through now is very different. Now is a different kind of struggle called... silence. I hear nothing. No music is speaking to me.

And I read Psalm 77...

I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered songs in the night.
My heart mused and my spirit inquired:

"Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"

Then I thought, "To this I will appeal:
the years of the right hand of the Most High."
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes I will remember your miracles of long ago.

I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.

*Sigh* This is comforting on so many levels! How I love the Word.

God's Comfort

Check this out, isn't this just perfect re yesterday's post!

Psalm 68:5-6
a Father to the fatherless
a defender of widows
God sets the lonely in families

15 June 2009

Internal Callings

What is it, when you feel a deep-seated desire, even need, to do a certain thing, or kind of thing?

Why is it, that sometimes you can't do that thing?

What does it mean, when where you are or who you're with or what you lack stands in the way of doing it?

Does it mean, that like a girl who got unexpectedly pregnant, that you can have forgiveness but you still have consequences?

The thought that I may never do the things which make my heart ache makes me utterly quiet. Beth Moore said something along the lines of "If there is something that you can't let go of, some idea or task, that you never outgrow, and it is totally impossible for you to do, then it might be from God. If the task is too great for you, then it's perfect for God, because when he enables you to do it, HE gets the glory." Teachings like that make me think that there could be a chance that I will one day get to do the desires of my heart, that I can one day answer the unceasing calling.

Can I tell you the desires of my heart? When I was little I read quite a few books about orphans and I always wanted to 'run' an orphanage. I grew up and realized there weren't really any around anymore. Then I heard about foster care and how no one really wants the older kids and how siblings are always broken up. The baby gets adopted, but the older child who called the police or CPS or whoever, who is the most damaged by the neglect or abuse, is just ditched into the foster system. Then, to top that off, they age out of foster care at 17 and have no one to go home to on holidays, no one to call to ask questions about child rearing or mortgages or which kind of soap to buy, no one to sit on their side of the church when they marry. Then there's the 8 and 10 and 12 year olds who still have time to learn about their personal worth, to learn that they don't have to dress, talk and act like every other girl out there. Who need encouragement to stick it through the tough days when no one seems to think like they do.

Then, there is the whole human trafficking thing- children... children sold as prostitutes to men... men who have these sick desires, who make a demand for such a horrific supply. Women stolen and forced to live terrible lives until they are used up. Read more here. I saw a thing on the news that if you see one of those XXX 'clubs' and it has a barred door, and barred windows, it may be for security from whatever seedy place they are in, but more likely it is because the women there are forced to stay. In Texas, frequently they are illegal immigrants who were brought to the country and are "working off" the exorbitant fee charged to bring them into the country. Here is a page of short news clips and awareness videos. The third one rips my heart up, the girl talks about how the man tells her she's beautiful, tells her he can be her Daddy. How satan uses something designed to be beautiful and protective and he twists it to be sick and ugly! Click here to see how to become more aware of human trafficking.

Have you seen Taken? At the end of that movie I said... "You know what? Every parent wants to go and save their child like that. But no parent has those skills, the only reason Liam Neeson's character could even have the oppportunity to use his skills was that he happened to be on the phone with her at the time. All those kids are just lost. Gone."

And I almost forgot the unborn, killed every day in multiple different ways. I made a box in the right-hand side sidebar of "choose life" links. There is a website out there, Priests for Life, whose mission seems to be to show people these horrific sad little bodies and body parts so people will realize how awful abortion is. Do some people really, on no level, not get it?! I'm exhausted just thinking about the committees and rallies and prayer groups that I want to start and run and recruit.

How does a woman like me do anything about things like this? Elizabeth George would say "Pray." Why doesn't that seem like enough? On one level I know nothing could be more powerful, but on another... I want to be on the front battle lines. I want to give a million dollars a year to all sorts of organizations. I want to change a life. I don't know how to reconcile my stay-at-home, hand-to-mouth, homeschooling American Christian life to the calling of my breaking heart.

14 June 2009

Just Puzzled

I just have a few questions tonight--

1. Why is all new stuff seen as progress? I'm reading some books about how dating has fallen aside and hooking up is the norm... First of all , I'm so glad that I wasn't on the scene when this was started... second, I'm appalled at what my kids are going to have to wade through... third, I'm saddened by what kids are having to deal with in this fallen world.

2. Have things really gotten so bad, or did we not hear about it before 24/7/365 news broadcasting? I know bad things have happened since forever, but when people were in small towns and only knew each other, and just read the paper or met at the store, dangerous and damaging fads couldn't spread throughout the whole nation as fast as they do now. People didn't get evil ideas from other people, and replicate it.

3. Are y'all praying for the kids your kids may marry one day? Are you praying for the parents of the kids your kids may marry one day? It takes alot to stand against the tide of today's 'normal' nasty behavior.

4. We need to pray for our own parenting skills and create parent supporters who think like you think. Strength in numbers! It's powerful when your kids hear some other adult teach and preach the same/similar thing that you do.

Here is a prayer that I cut out of a K-LOVE devotional from last year:

"Lord, help me to give my children the best- not of things, but of myself, cherishing them on good days and bad, theirs and mine. Teach me to accept them for who they are, not just for what they do; to listen to what they say, if only so they'll listen to me; to encourage their goals, not mine. Let me give them a home where respect and integrity are the cornerstones, and there's enough happiness to raise the rood. May I give them the courage to be true to themselves; the independence to take care of themselves, and the faith to believe in You. May I didscipline them without demeaning them, demad good manners without forgetting my own, and let them know they have limitless love ni matter what they do. Let me feed them properly, clothe them adequately, and have enough to give them small allowances - not for the work they do, but the pleasure they bring. Let me be moderate in all these things, so that the joy of getting will help them discover the joy of giving. See that their responsibilities are real but not burdensome, that my expectations are high but not overwhelming, and that my praise is thoughtful and given when it's due. Help me to teach them that excellence is work's real reward. And when it comes- let me revel in each honor, however small, without once pretending that it's mine- my children are glories enough. Above all, let me ground them so well in Your truth taht I can let them go. In Jesus' name, Amen!"

Improvements at mama4x!


ISN'T THIS JUST THE CUTEST THING?!

Remember I told you about a week ago that I had tried to get my shop looking a little more professional by purchasing a banner and avatar, but had trouble with theseller? Well- I ordered a new banner from a new seller, and I am so pleased with it. It has a lot more personality than the first one I ordered, and the Etsy seller was just easy to work with. SO, if you haven't already seen my 'new line' of gift tags, my 'new line' of card collections, or my 'studio tour,' then you should stop by more shop at www.mama4x.etsy.com !

12 June 2009

Apathy:

"Truth is about what we believe is the right thing and love is about what we are doing about it. If you have love without truth, it's misguided love. If you have truth without love, what good is truth?

I say within World Vision, if we offer bread but don't offer the Bread of Life, if we offer water but don't offer Living Water, then we are no better than the ones that we might criticize who offer only words." by World Vision president Richard Stearns, who says "The sin of my parents' generation in the United States was racism. The greatest sin of our generation is apathy."

"There's that Stalin quote: "One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic." And he understood that so well as he exterminated millions. But we have to see the one death as a tragedy. And we have to say, I can prevent maybe one tragedy, maybe two, maybe five. If I can prevent five tragedies, my life will have been worth living."" Read the entire article here.

I was struck when I read that the notable, generation-wide sin for my generation could be apathy. It didn't sound like something I wanted to be, but I wasn't totally clear in the details of the definition, so I looked it up:

ap.a.thy: (noun) 1. lack of feeling or interest, impassive. 2. lack of interest or concern, indifferent.

Yikes. Not something I want to see next to my name in the Book of Life when I get there. We had a little boy from Bolivia and a little girl from Guatemala who we sponsored through World Vision from 2001-2005. It was really a supremely hard decision to stop sponsorship when our life fell apart in 2005. It is such a weight of responsibility, and I felt like such a failure when we had to let them go. I learned today that World Vision serves in 8 US locations.

Its something to think about, that when we get to heaven, we sit with God and he goes over the rewards we have earned, and the rewards we could have earned. We all have opportunities to serve the poor and needy, which is a commandment like the Great Commission. I have heard a few similar things which give me pause;

that if you have the money enough to buy a book, and the education to read it,

or

if you have change in a little dish on your dresser and a job,

or

if you have a roof over your head with real walls around you, and you don't fear that your child will starve,

then you are richer than some crazy high percentage of people in the world.

I mean, really, we are so blessed that even people like me are wealthier than most of the world! How can we sit here, with high speed internet and AC and say we can't afford to help feed someone maybe the only meal they will get that day?!



11 June 2009

Being Self Righteous

"It’s not just cookie abstainers versus cookie eaters.
It’s tea drinkers who feel morally superior to coffee drinkers,
and coffee drinkers who believe drinking it black is
morally superior to adding cream and sugar."

from "We All is Self-Righteous" by Nancy Kennedy

Wow. I fit some of those categories... and as much as I don't like finding that I identify with any of those judgmental attitudes, I really don't like the idea of someone assigning one to me. You know how people say, "I can complain about my mother, but don't you complain about my mother!"

Here are a few comparisons from my circles. Any sound familiar?

-Starbucks vs home-brewed coffee
-Classical education vs unschooling
-breastfeeding vs bottle feeding
-homeschool vs public school
-stay-at-home vs working
-minivan vs SUV
-SUV vs hybrid
-conventional vs organic
-this is too easy, I could go on!

The difficulty with judgment is that it comes from us thinking we are in a position to judge. We can't compare ourselves to each other; we have to compare ourselves to Christ. We have to take our attitudes and actions and the thoughts of our heart, and see how they compare to his. If we could only have God's heart for the people we are judging, it would be so easy to love them instead of casting judgements on them.

Another thing I learned was that if we pray for something that is in God's will, we will receive it. We know that God hates pride; we know that God loves the humble; we know he is the only one who is perfect and even able to judge the hearts of men. So if we pray and request for our pride to be crushed, for humility to grow; if we pray to see men and judge men like He does... we know that these things are in his will for us. So we will receive them. And isn't that the best thing to do.

10 June 2009

In Christ Alone


2 Corinthians 4:16-17

"Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."

John Piper teaches that 'momentary' means our short lifetimes in comparison to eternity. Heard the one about how this 80 or 90 years that we may get here on Earth is just the title page of our life? That eternity is the real story? Sometimes I think my life is so hard, how can I bear to do this for another 50 years. But what is it really? Psalm 39:5 says "the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath." James 4:14 says "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

Piper teaches that the word 'slight' refers to the suffering we may experience compared to the weight of joy in the presence of God. The weight of our suffering is light compared to the weight, the amount of joy we will feel in heaven with our God and Father.

So we really need to make sure that we've got the real deal set up. If you rip out the title page of a book, it's ok; the book can still be enjoyed. But if you have two covers and a title page-- and no story-- what is it? It's just going to be thrown away. So don't throw your life away, be sure that you've got eternity settled. And its not "I'm not a bad person, I never killed anybody" (my words, circa 1996) or being the lady they call when something needs done at church.

"Through Christ alone, I place my trust, and find my glory in the power of the cross!"
-Brian Littrell

08 June 2009

Psalm 116:15


"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints"
Ps. 116:15

Why should we offer that to the Lord which cost us nothing?
-Matthew Henry Commentary

Hmmm. I am just stirring some sugar into a amber cup of hot, hot tea. I enjoyed tea long before I enjoyed coffee. Green tea with jasmine or mint, Constant Comment, black tea with lemon (like tonight), hibiscus tea, mint... all delicious. And Earl Grey! You should try Earl Grey with sugar, cream, and a slice of orange. Put that disc of orange on top and then pour the cream, and watch it fall off the side and sink to the bottom.

Anywho... the lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice, who we are to imitate. How did Jesus be a sacrifice? He gave up (sacrificed) his life so that we could come to the Father. A sacrifice has to be something of great value, or it is just given, donated, cast aside. We are to sacrifice because Jesus was our example.

So this scripture from Psalm 116. What is more precious to you, as a mother, than watching one of your children sacrifice for another? Even if it is a crayon or the last french fry, you are proud of their sacrifice. The Lord finds it precious when we die to our selves. "The death of his saints" to me means when we override our desires and wants and sometimes, our needs to glorify God. It has to be for his Glory... or it is just cast aside. We can't be the suffering martyr of the family. We have to acquiesce gracefully that which we may prefer so that we can serve the demands of advancing God's kingdom.

Sometimes it is a real and difficult sacrifice for me to just keep my mouth shut. It is frequently a sacrifice of pride for me to calm down and take a new tack when disciplining my kids. It is a painful sacrifice to give up how I prefer to respond when attacked. Then world tells me I am a doormat or a codependent. But Jesus said, turn the other cheek. He said, in this world you will have trouble. He said that he won me over with cords of loving kindness, not cords of imprisonment. He has overcome the world. Through his spirit, we can die to our self and better bring Him glory.

07 June 2009

Let's Give More Thanks!

EEEE-AAAAAAAH!! That's how I'm feeling this weekend. So... why? Well, my hubby is doing well. Today, he made chicken salad and brought me a gorgeous sandwich-- not just a sandwich, but a "Chicken Salad Sandwich a la James." He is an excellent chef-- worked with food since I met him. Always been food or plants with this guy. I was happily reading my book, when I was presented with a plate- Imagine if you will, a piece of toast sliced in half. On each half was a tiny materpiece of culinary art. Topped with maybe a third of a cup of chicken salad (delicious in its own right) was 2 circles of red tomato, topped with 3 arches of avocado, drizzled with salad dressing and sprinkled with romano cheese shavings. Ah! Pure bliss, not because of the taste combinations, but because it was his gift to me. He stood at the counter assembling it for me while I obliviousl read my book. It was beautiful. (I'll tell you about the grilled cheese sandwich I cried over some other day.)

More excellent news:
1. My husband served my neighbors who are out of town. Yes! This happened today. They had recently installed new landscaping (taking most of his suggestions, he told me proudly) and it was really hot here today, the 90's James said, and he was concerned that the plants might get tired. Or whatever, die... wilt... He's so picky (unlike me with my pathological failure to notice wilting plants on the verge of death). So he watered all of their new landscaping in front and then went into their backyard oasis and watered their veggie crops too.

2. My husband had all of our irrigation updated, including fancy-pants swirling sprinkler-heads. We are renting this house from my parents and it would have been really expensive if they had to pay for it, but it is a perk from James' landscaping company.

3. My husband is approaching his year anniversary at his job, which he still loves, at which they still love him.

"So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work"
Ecc. 3:22

"When God enables him to accept his lot and be happy in his work—
this is a gift of God." Ecc. 5:18

4. My husband assembled his monster of a drafting table in our office and put his drawing supplies in there. That means when he has design work to do, he can stay at home to work for part of the day. The office is in the back of the house and is buffered from the sounds of four kids being homeschooled. We have wireless internet for his work laptop.

5. My husband has mowed the lawn three times in three weeks. He's taking an active role in the yard since he's been coming home earlier lately (praises for that!)

6. He cleared the kitchen counters today. I almost fell over, it was so beautiful.


Ok, here's a reader challange: I will tell you the story about when I cried over the grilled cheese sandwich IF I get at least 5 comments on this post. GO! If you are having trouble posting a comment, email me at dearmama4x@gmail.com. Thanks!


COMMENT #1:

Totally not because I want to hear the grilled cheese story. ( OK, well, a little........)

I love reading your blog and would do so even if you weren't "my cool Christian homeschooling neighbor with the tattoo and nose ring." Definitely not denim and khaki, and I mean that in the best way!

Your words capture the essence of Christian womanhood, and make me think.

Really think. I think about what's really important. Who is really important. How I should live. Would I be able to forgive and love unconditionally and sacrificially , as she has and does? How do I measure up? Do I have what it takes? Could I weather the storm? Would I lose my grip or would I delight in him and the gorgeous chicken salad sandwich he prepared for me ?

Your writing provokes thought and challenges me to seek Him in all things and in all circumstances. This post speaks volumes , to me at least, on many levels. Funny.......I needed to hear this today. I think I'll go spend some time with Him. And I will pray that I can be the woman who is thankful for and praises Him for chicken salad.

05 June 2009

My Etsy Update

Today I am excited to announce I bought a promo spot on Etsy's 'paper goods' front page! We'll see how it goes. I only have to sell 2 cards to break even. I am hopeful some new shoppers will come to my storefront. Even if they don't buy anything, maybe they'll make my shop a 'favorite' and come back again later. I was supposed to have a new banner and avatar installed for the occasion, but it came with a different font than advertised. And, I'm very sad to say, I'm being ignored by the girl I bought it from. I didn't want to put it up with the wrong font on it. I added gift tags to my shop recently too. And I posted a 'tour through my workspace' on there so people can see how I make cards. All exciting news. Have a great weekend!


6/8/09 UPDATE: I sold NINE cards! Yay- thank you!

Gosselins Marriage and Pride Issues


I was reading some interesting articles in Christianity Today about Jon and Kate Gosselin. (I know, sorry, but infrequently I get a desire to read up on whatever person is helping us have 'news' 24/7/365 in this country.)

First: "So what’s the answer to these very familiar marital disputes? The intervening grace of God’s Word and his redemptive work in our lives. Usually this is only found within the contexts of relationships with other believers who have access to our hearts to help us see where God’s truth intersects with our daily lives. Only Christ can change our hearts so radically that we are able to die to our wants, our needs, our desires, and live for something greater than ourselves."

Second: "It is time that we practice forgiveness and the healing of broken relationships and call fellow Christians to do the same. It is time that we take our own marriage vows seriously and hold our brothers and sisters to be true to their commitments as well. Most importantly, it is time that we develop a view of faith and life that is capable of asking deep questions and courageous enough to embody real answers."

I have a few thoughts. First, it saddens me to think of any marriage that could be saved that very well may be tossed aside because it's just too difficult to do anything else. I have said before how unusual it is for someone to encourage you to stay in a difficult marriage. I myself was only told to persevere by two ladies during my time of separation from my husband. It is very hard to continue on a path that is laced with thorns when you aren't accompanied by constant encouragement.

Second, I hesitate to say anything at all. God knows I haven't had 8 kids and been on tv for years. Who are we to comment on someone else's lives and the ways they cope? God alone will judge correctly. We don't know the conversations of their bed at night. We don't know anything that a finely edited tv crew hasn't let us seen.

Third, I think we are unwilling to do the radical thing when it's very neccesary. When you have cancer, you allow someone to cut your body open and take it out. When your child runs into the street, you scream and run even if your'e in a public setting. When your son dies at war, you fall to the ground. Sometimes you do things that aren't very 'socially accepted' or carefully considered. Sometimes life calls for radical action. I think the Gosselins are in a place where they need to take radical action. They need to drop the book tour, hire a counselor, and meet every other day. I guess they are in a contract with the tv station, but the only drama they should offer the veiwers is real relational repair, not trips to the store or vacations or parties.

But who am I to comment. Its crummy to do all that in front of the entire world. It was bad enough to do it in front of the 100 or so people I lived near. For Scriptures on judging others- sometimes forbidden, other times encouraged, see Scriptures like Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:36-45; Romans 14:9-13; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13; James 4:11 and 2:12-13.

Reasons I am Thankful Today

We have so much to be thankful for, even if sometimes we don't look at the blessings. We are so focused on being happy and comfortable, to our detriment. I have had the most growth and most learned from the crummiest times. So I was thinking about what I am thankful for today:

-kids are all healthy
-husband home early all week
-yard looking great
-food to eat
-Eli's (dog) ear is healed
-all bills paid!
-Cactus Flower said she loved me
-my neighbor also homeschools
-car is running (and vacuumed!)
-all appliances working
-attend a great church
-dogs come back when they get loose
-husband has a job he loves (Praise God all who hear!)
-friends to call in time of need
-had a Starbucks Caramel Machiatto(!) Monday for the 1st time in a lo-oong time!

Pray Without Ceasing, 4

God, I know the blessings you are storing up for my husband- peace, joy, life- and that his obedience to your Word is the key to receiving them. Lord, plant in him an unquenchable desire to live in obedience to your ways. Reveal and uproot and burn up anything he willingly gives place to that is not pleasing to you. Help him, strengthen him, enable him to bring every thought and action under Your control. Teach him, Father, to embrace the stretching pain of your discipline and discipleship. Reward him, Father, reward him and encourage him when he moves toward you in obedience or listens to your voice. Lead him kindly, Lord, in your truth, show him your ways and teach him your straight and joyful paths. Make him a praising person who longs to do your will and create in him a heart that listens for your instructions and eagerly obeys you. Let him long to obey you and acknowledge you as his rightful master and creator.

03 June 2009

Pray Without Ceasing, 3

Lord, let your goodness and mercy draw my husband to you. Cause remorse for any of his sinful choices to overwhelm him so that he will come humbly to you and repent of his ways. Let your kindness and mercy incessantly call him to you- remind him that you don't want him to perish or even suffer, but only to come to repentance and follow his savior Jesus. Lord, remind him that he cannot hide from you nor cover his actions from your sight. Lord forgive him of his pride and his sins, teach him to depend on you and confess quickly, turning to you for help and let him to always try to do what is pleasing to you. Open his eyes Lord to see your truth and your path. Uncover and unplug his ears so he can hear the calling of the Holy Spirit and the Christians who try to reach him in love. Father, take away all of his pride that would cause him to deny or ignore his faults and please create in him a soul of humility so he can receive the blessings and honor you hold in store for him. Lord know his heart and his secret anxieties, lead him to follow you ways which lead to righteousness. Thank you Father. I know you hear me and you want him to walk beside you.

Scary Freedom Infringements

From the Home School Legal Defense Association email update 6/2/09:

"ParentalRights.org has prepared a Father’s Day “bulletin insert” for use at your local church, synagogue or other religious assembly the weekend of June 21. (mama4x here: but it is really good reading, very informative and quite surprising.) Help preserve the freedom to direct your children’s religious upbringing by informing others about the dangers of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Download the bulletin >>"

Here is a webpage with alot of information. Please Read It!

Learn about the HSLDA here.

Pray without Ceasing, 2

It is a gift from you, God, that a man enjoys his work and the fruit of his labor. Teach my husband that the road of the lazy leads to destruction. Bless him with fulfillment and energy to take care of his family. Shine on him with your truths about his work. Take away any selfishness, lack of confidence, fear, or depression that can cause immobility. Give him strength and health and confidence in the knowledge and abilities that you have blessed him with. Bless his hands to bring success and work that is in your will for him. Open doors of opportunity that no man can close. Place work in his path so he can provide for his family and develop his skills and build a godly reputation. Father, provide established, secure, steady, satisfying, and financially rewarding work for all his days. Bless him so he can return his income to advance your kingdom. Train him to be a good steward of what you bless him with-- not just his money but how to best use each day, each word, each action and thought to glorify you and further your kingdom. Take away anxiety about finances and lead him to seek your kingdom first so that as he does that, we will have all we need.

01 June 2009

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord, I pray that the spirit of fear will loose its grip on my husband. I pray that, as his father, you would strengthen the sound mind you gave him. Remind him again and again that you have given him power and love and not fear. Let your word reach into every fiber of his being, convincing him that your love for him is far greater than anything he faces and nothing can separate him from your love. I pray in the name of Jesus that fear will not rule over him. Deliver him from fear that destroys and replace it, Lord, with a Godly fear. Let him acknowledge you as a father whose love is unfailing, whose strength is without equal, an in whose presence there is nothing to fear. Teach him your ways Lord! Call him to your side to walk with you daily, hourly, moment by moment. I pray that he will be strong and not fear- to know that you, God, will save him, that he will be established in righteousness and far from oppression, that he has no cause to fear. Father God, uphold him with your mighty right hand, help him and strengthen him. Remind him to seek you and comfort him when he does. Lord hear him when he calls and deliver him so that he will glorify you! Thank you, Jesus.