31 July 2009

Let Your Heart be Broken


July 23, 2009

"A clear message was sent that we are concerned about every victim exploited through the crime of human trafficking and that includes hundreds of thousands of American kids – every year.

The congressional briefing was spurred by the National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: America’s Prostituted Children written by Shared Hope International. The report reveals the shocking findings of three years of intensive research on the issue of child sex trafficking in America from ten locations across the U.S. While the research locations ranged from areas as diverse as Salt Lake City, Utah to Clearwater, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada the findings were hauntingly similar – underage American girls are the bulk of victims in commercial sex markets and are too often being arrested rather than rescued. Additionally, nearly every interview revealed that American child sex trafficking victims were being misidentified or not identified at all by Child Protective Services and social service providers who are responsible for providing proper treatment and care. The arrest and lack of specialized services for these children is causing revictimization.

Important key findings:

  • At least 100,000 children are used in prostitution every year in the United States.
  • The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 years old.
  • Prostituted girls are often controlled by a pimp who recruits them into sex trafficking by posing as a boyfriend, caretaker, and protector.
  • The 3 primary manifestations of child sex trafficking in America is: pimp-controlled prostitution, familial prostitution, and/or survival sex.
  • The business of sex trafficking of America’s youth is flourishing as demand for commercial sex with young, innocent girls and boys continues to occur with little and low punishment.
  • Child sexual slavery is fueled by a cultural of tolerance which glorifies pimping and normalizes the sexual exploitation of children.

Domestic minor sex trafficking is a serious problem in the U.S., and one that will not be solved overnight. But the first step is admitting to ourselves that it’s not just foreign kids who are vulnerable- it’s our kids. And this report is the first step to learning to admit that." MORE



30 July 2009


Dear Friends


"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."
Henri J.M. Nouwen

Let's thank God for our friends who help us in our tough times by just being there and being loving.

29 July 2009

Tired?

Read Mark 1:16-32. It's directly after Jesus returns from the 40 days in the wilderness. Then we come to verse 32: it seems like the longest day on earth, when Jesus was going from one task "immediately" to another... and finally, the day comes towards its conclusion... but

"When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there."

Poor Jesus. He was always getting yelled at by the disciples and the Pharisees, and constantly being misunderstood. He would work all day, trying to get people to hear what the Father had to say, while all the while they just wanted him to heal them. He would heal people and cast out demons, and finally just need to rest, and they would chase after him. The disciples tried to rally him as a military leader. They would push him to return to the crowds. It seems like he was pulled in a hundred directions at once. With political intrigue, peer pressure, and celebrity status, it is amazing that he was able to run off. But he made time. Even he, God incarnate, had to spend time alone with his Father.

When we are up and running all day, knocking out tasks left and right, chasing and instructing kids, maintaining our homes, supporting our husband, and watching the status of all the relationships in our circles... not to mention a full or part time job. Parents. Employees. We, too, can feel like our day will never reach it's end. The demands and requirements of life are so many. How can we deal with it all?

Jesus, after his exhausting day, on his human capabilities, chose this: he arose the next morning, while it was still dark, and went off to a secluded place to pray. We can assume he spent the early morning of his never-ending day the same way. Could that be how he made it for so long? Could it be that recharge- that filling up of God's presence each morning- made him capable of handling the frustrations and demands of his life? If we could only do the same, I am sure that our children, husbands and coworkers will see the difference.

28 July 2009

Be like Jesus

Dudes, I had an epiphany on the way north from my in-law's Monday morning. It happened when I heard Todd Agnew on K-LOVE, singing a new version of his song "My Jesus" from his Reflection of Something CD.

"Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Then why do you look so much like the world?
Cause my Jesus bled and died...
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
..."

I thought about the adjectives at the end there: bled, died, battered, scarred. What is the command? "imitate Christ." I think of the"lament"quote that I love so much, that really helped me find my focus for this blog. (It's actually also at the very end of the screen, if you were to scroll a-all the way to the bottom, it's there.)

It's so hard to actually admit that we are flawed. What if someone knew that we live imperfect lives, that crummy things happen to us? If we were unable to keep these things hidden, then we'd have to admit that we weren't doing a great job of things on our own.

OKAY! So where's the problem? For those who follow Christ, who strive to be like him, there should be

joy
at any opportunity to crush our pride,

joy
at the chance to raise up the name of Christ as the way to survive our crummy situations,

and joy at a chance to tell about the holy Spirit as the means for our survival!

So I was thinking- if to imitate Christ is our assignment, and if he was "battered and scarred," then shouldn't that lead us to ask how he got that way, so that we can too? I see that he was battered and scarred during his passion ordeal, the method God used to make a way for us.

Isaiah 53: 4-6
4
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

When you suffer the hardships of life without worldly complaint, when you aren't hateful and vindictive, when you pray for your persecutor, you are a strange sight to the world. When life is crummy, you are "deemed afflicted." The world expects you to be angry and almost demands that you get payback.

If instead we endure suffering, if we persevere with a modicum of grace, we garner attention. What is it that she has? the world asks. We are sustained by Christ during our battering, then we reflect our Save-er (savior) to the world.

*The key, crucial part to this working is two-fold: the suffering must be for his glory, and we must be sustained by Christ through it. There is a difference between martyrdom and suffering. Suffering for the sake of Christ is not senseless. When you must summon up all your strength to bite your tongue and you do it to make God proud of you, that is for his glory. When you exert superhuman patience with your moody, irritable toddler, and you teach your older child how God has patience with our own learning curve, you are suffering for his glory.

When I was 8 months pregnant with my firstborn, I stubbed my toe really hard and with some drama fell to the floor muttering and crying. My husband just stared at me with no pity and said "and you expect to have this baby naturally?!" And I yelled- "There's no point in stubbing your toe! Its stupid! When you have a baby you get a great prize at the end of it!"

That is what I mean. Suffering is just trauma when it happens and there is no reason. But if you suffer with one eye on the God who has you in his grasp, and the other on what the world is thinking of your "so-called sustaining God" when you need him, then it is for his glory that you make it through.

Do nothing to tarnish the gospel- if He can't carry you through the hard times, what good is He to the skeptic and the hurting who don't know him?



27 July 2009

World Vision 15 X Gift!

Amina, a Sudanese child, doesn't know where her father is, or even if he's still alive.

Millions of children in her conflict-torn country of Sudan share Amina's story of desperation and bewilderment. Like her, they are often without one or both parents and are hungry, thirsty and sick. They need our help — today.

Amina's father has been missing since the conflict drove the family from their home. With her mother's health deteriorating, 15-year-old Amina has been thrust into the role of parent and breadwinner for her seven siblings. "They are always asking me for food," Amina says.

But even when Amina's lucky enough to find work, she earns just $1 a day. Sometimes the family must go for days with little to nothing to eat.

"The food [from World Vision] has kept us alive," says Amina. "[But] the food is never enough."

Right now, using government grants and donated goods World Vision receives we can multiply your gift of $30, $50, $75 or more 15 X its face value for incredible impact on a child and his or her family. Hunger and need

Please take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to make the difference between life and death for a child.

mama4x says: Even a $5 gift becomes $75!

Wives, Women

Ok, I don't know how my brain works. But as soon as I saw this image, I thought of myself. So I'm not that old yet, and we don't even own a motorcycle, but this woman reminded me of me.

My eleventh anniversary was yesterday, and I spent the day in San Antonio, at my MIL's with the kids... it wasn't a bad day, just totally normal... Sometimes I don't know if I have no self-esteem or if I have great boundaries, or what. It really didn't bother me that we didn't run away to Mexico or whatever to celebrate. But then I post this picture. So?

24 July 2009

Actualizing

Well, it took a while, but I finally started my counselor coursework. I've only watched the DVDs and not done the paperwork yet, but it's a start. The first lesson was by Beth Moore, a favorite of mine... never disappoints. She is so eager for us to love the Lord and avoid any hard lessons. She inspires me, but probably it's the Holy Spirit shining through her, tantalizing us. The second lesson was about health and taking care of yourself. Inspired me to take extra effort planning the kids' dinner. I need to join a class or something at the Y that will get the blood going! Drink more water, especially with all these 100 degree days.

My mom always taught me to write down goals. I think it makes a big difference in how we tackle things. If plans are just in our heads, it's a lot easier to let them slip away. If we write it down, we can immediately start to edit and fine-tune it, and begin realizing it as an actual attainable thing. If we tell someone our plans and dreams, it's even harder to just let them go. When I get things really plotted out in my mind, and start writing things down, you can bet I'm going to start talking about them next. You know I'm getting serious when I start talking about my plans, but I still need the accountability to help with the follow-through.

Ask anyone who has been to my house- they'll tell you that when I moved in, I had a million projects going (I think I was "nesting" during the end of Nathan's pregnancy). I had one friend who would drop off her daughter infrequently. She was my "marker" to tell me I needed to get my butt under me and finish the wallpaper in the foyer. For some reason, she'd always ask about it, and finally I knew she was coming so I got it done!

Fall seems to be approaching fast this year- They already have school supply signs up at the stores. My kids are so rambunctious that I think we need to go back to school early to settle them down! If we want to accomplish the things we want to, we need to be living "on purpose" so that it won't just be talk or nice daydreams. We need to book time with our husbands, we need to get up a little earlier than our families to spend time with God, we need to set some time aside for ourselves (even if you have to lock the bathroom door!).

So, if I do the "homework" for Lesson 2, I'm going to have to go out and buy myself some nice shave gel for my legs and some scented hand lotion for the car. Or something... What's your favorite quick pampering treat?

23 July 2009

Facebook...

I met two homeschoolers who attend my "new" church. (How did it take so long? Oh, that's right, I got involved.) I asked them for contact info and they said they do all their plan-making through Facebook. There. I didn't make a link to it cause you're probably on.

So I said I would not join. I don't want to even be tempted to spend any more time on the computer. But it percolated in my head that I would miss out on social activities for Jackson, so I did it. I made a profile page. *SIGH* I asked a bunch of people I knew to be my friend again. Who knew this was going to be so stressful? And they are all liberal wackos now. No, no, I'm joking. They were like that then. (So I don't think I'll get any new readers from this.)

Can I really be anti-Facebook and still use it? I think it is a lame way to "communicate" because you aren't actually interacting with anyone. There's no facial/emotional/inflection anything... My friend said it best... she said she internet-spies on people. She looks at their new pictures and their updates and leaves again, just getting the news and not interacting. Its a license to be voyeuristic. No wonder so many people have no social skills.

I have to let you watch this excellent hilarious video by two guys named Rhett and Link. They are awesome; I found them through a short homeschool song they did. Watch the one about Facebook... scroll down, it's next. Later, if you have time watch their other coolest video: "Profanity and Unicorns" (no profanity). I didn't want my other blog to miss out on Rhett and Link!

Rhett and Link

22 July 2009

Provoke Thoughts?

Anyone involved in a local homeless assistance program with their kids? It doesn't have to be an organization, just outreach methods you use or heard of.

21 July 2009

105 Posts!

Yay us! This post marks my 105th post! Thanks for being here to read it!

The Lord does turn our darkness into light. There is no darkness in him, so our darkness (from our bad choices, and the broken world) is dissipated when we draw near to Him.

Psalm 104:2 "He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent."

Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."

We can get rid of the darkness in our lives by drawing close to the Holy God we love. In addition to being in his presence we need to seal his word in our hearts and minds. When we commit scripture to memory, it helps us as a powerful tool for keeping darkness from our lives in the first place. It encourages us to be in the right place, to make the right choice, to reflect Christ to those who may not know him.

20 July 2009

Know Your Story?

How quickly and succinctly can you tell someone how you came to know Christ? If you're in the grocery store line, and you get that familiar and sometimes dreaded nudge by the Holy Spirit to tell someone about Jesus, can you do it before the checker is done with your groceries? I found an article about how to "pitch yourself" if you find yourself suddenly in a quiet elevator with someone who could hire you- but of course, you only have the small window of time till the doors open. I immediately thought of trying to coherently tell someone, in a short time frame, why I believe. Check it out.

Wha?

"30 CE: A young man whose name in Greek is Jesus has created a following of his own, while recognizing there is none greater than his former leader, John the Baptist. This year, give or take a year or two, he goes to Jerusalem for Passover and there creates a disturbance. He is executed - by stoning if convicted of blasphemy and by crucifixion for some other offense."

Are people so entrenched in their worldview that they can't research for themselves the claims of Christianity? I was looking at a timeline website to see if it was valuable and informative enough to bookmark for homeschool purposes. I checked the rollover from BC/AD and found the quote above.

I think I do a good job checking both sides of an argument; I think I try to learn and understand what the other side is thinking, how they come to their decision... A quote from someone like this is just baffling to me. (Although I'm sure there are people out there who say Christians are blind to the obvious truth.)

It frustrates me when my Dad won't read the latest research and findings about Intelligent Design; he isn't interested in reading anything that attempts to refute evolution and the gabillion year old earth theory. I am confident that many who actually research what they think is outrageous will find themselves surprised with what they find. Needless to say, I didn't bookmark the timeline site.

The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God

The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus

17 July 2009

Sale at mama4x on Etsy!

Hello my readers! (Ha ha, I had a typo and backed up too far, and it said "reader" for a second, but we all know there are at least two of you!)

I am using my new "Sale!" avatar to let the world know I have a sale on all the blankets at my Etsy- baby blankets and doll blankets! If you have a baby entering your life or in your circle of friends, take a look! Of course all the cards in the cool clear envelope are there too!

Modern Slavery?

Yes, unfortunately, modern slavery is very real in today's world. "While there are varying estimates as to the number of persons affected by trafficking (estimates range from 12 million to more than 30 million), what is known is that there are now more slaves in the world today than during all three centuries of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade combined. Human trafficking, especially trafficking of children under 18, constitutes a modern slave trade, as in the case of Khamta. It takes on many guises and occurs within countries and across borders. Some examples include:

  • Children abducted to fight as child soldiers;
  • One person sold to another to serve as a slave or bonded laborer;
  • Impoverished girls from rural areas sold or stolen away from their families to serve as sex slaves in brothels." ( from World Vision)
On a different topic:
Would you be interested in a free book that is about missions to India, by Indians themselves? It looks striking, and when you hit enter, there is a conscience-stirring, goosebumps rising, soul-touching portion of a sermon by one of the men involved. Click HERE.

15 July 2009

Laura Ling & Euna lee

We all should be in prayer for two women who were arrested at the border of North Korea and China in March. They are American journalists named Euna Lee and Laura Ling. They were, as I understand, investigating human trafficking and crossed a border into North Korea illegally in the course of their interviewing of Korean refugees in China.

The last I read, they had been sentenced to 12 years hard labor at a notoriously terrible North Korean labor camp. However, I read today that they are actually being kept at a "guesthouse" in the city of Pyongyang! This is certainly a blessing for the women and the families who love them, as it is much better than the sentence they were officially given.

The article from the Austin-American Statesman said this: "North Korea wants the US to show remorse for the actions of two American journalists convicted of illegally entering the country, and it might free the women if Washington does so..."

The reason I am writing about this is because of my recent post about taqiyya. My first thought when reading the apologetic yet reserved quotes from US Secretary of State Clinton was "why don't they just grovel a bit and get the women free, and then say what they want later, when the women are safe?" Then I recalled the sanctioned deception for devout followers of Islam, and how we don't trust countries that practice that. Of course I want America to be trustworthy, an example to the rest of the world. When I was in basic training, and we learned about the Geneva Conventions (rules of war):

"1.) Persons who can no longer take part in the hostilities are entitled to respect for their life. Such persons must in all circumstances be protected and treated with humanity.

2.) It is forbidden to kill or wound an adversary who surrenders or who can no longer take part in the fighting.

3.) The wounded and sick must be collected and cared for by the party to the conflict which has them in its power. Medical personnel and medical establishments, transports and equipment must be spared. The red cross or red crescent on a white background is the sign protecting such persons and objects and must be respected.

4.) Captured combatants and civilians who find themselves under the authority of the adverse party are entitled to respect for their life, their dignity, their personal rights and their political, religious and other convictions.

5.)Everyone must enjoy basic judicial guarantees and no one may be held responsible for an act he has not committed. No one may be subjected to physical or mental torture or to cruel or degrading corporal punishment or other treatment.

6.) It is forbidden to use weapons or methods of warfare that are likely to cause unnecessary losses or excessive suffering.

7.) The parties to a conflict must at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants in order to spare the civilian population and civilian property. Attacks may be made solely against military objectives."

I think Americans in general have a standard of honor that we try to uphold; I know there are exceptions and mistakes, but on the whole we are a respectable armed force and do not indiscriminately kill people and make them suffer. There is so much done in the name of pride in North Korea... they want us to bow and scrape so that they will look powerful over us.

What is my point? I don't know. We should pray for the women to be freed. We should pray that pride has no power over our own lives. We need to pray that the Gospel will be preached in North Korea, for safety and courage for Christians over there. We need to pray for our servicemen and women to make the right choices in hard times. Prayer is something any and all of us can do, wherever we are.

14 July 2009

Cultural or Religious Training?


I think that when preparing yourself for real-world interaction, you need to consider two things. One, what people are trained to do/ think; the other what the average person in that profile will probably do/ think. For instance, I grew up Catholic. We were a typical Catholic family: went to mass on Sunday, ate fish on Friday during Lent, went to confession every quarter or so... Then there are more devout, orthodox Catholics who actually don't use birth control, go to mass on the saint's days; know what the Pope says about stuff, really believe that the bread and wine turn into flesh and blood... and actually (try to) work their way into heaven by doing what real Catholic law says you have to do.

That difference is what I'm mentioning here: The difference between the average Muslim and the more religiously devout Muslim. I read an intriguing article in World magazine about the Muslim principle of taqiyya ("sanctified hypocrisy," or "guard, as in guarding oneself against unbelievers, which can include lying to them or deceiving them.")

Read the whole article, by Mindy Belz, HERE.

One thought I had was to wonder if this is so ingrained as a cultural element, instead of a religious element... Have you ever been in a foreign country and spotted another American? We walk like we own the street. Even if they aren't wearing floral jams, black socks, sandals, with a fanny pack, baseball cap, and a camera, they don't fit in because they walk so confidently. As if their culture told them "anyone can be president in America" their entire life. So read the article, and tell me what your thoughts are.

13 July 2009

Pioneer Stock?

Oh, to be free on the range after a long day homesteading- skirts shushing through the tall grass, as I walk from the well to the barn, the dog bounding after every rabbit trail. The sun is setting and it is getting cooler...

I read a lot. I really like historical fiction. I like especially to read women's diaries from long ago. I thought I would be the successful pioneer woman, not the "easterner" who wanted a fancy parlor room and couldn't hack it when winter was hard.

My church is having "Kids Clubs" this week- sort of like VBS. They're held at local parks, and different parks have different times. I volunteered to teach the parents who stayed. They had an early time- "Nah, I don't want to get the kids all up and out that early" I thought. They had an evening time- "Nah, I don't want to take them at the end of the day when they could be all tired" I thought to myself. So I did the middle-of-the-day camp. Yeah, and I just realized today that it's been over 100 degrees 40/50 days here in central Texas. So I was weeding the garden at our house from 10-11 and then at camp from 11:30 to 2:15. Hottest part of the day. I came home and just wilted. I cannot imagine wearing wool dresses, petticoats, long sleeves, undershirts, leather boots, having no AC or fans, and having to beat my clothes clean, churn butter, etc. Fabric diapers with no rubber pants! Yikes. Maybe I wouldv'e stayed on the Eastern seaboard, with it's cool ocean breezes and an ice delivery boy.

Well, the Lord was kind to me. I went to camp this morning fully expecting a table of Spanish-speaking women staring at me. There was one nice girl, 22 years old, expecting her firt baby in September, the week after her husband was due to deploy with the Army National Guard to Iraq. So. I was able to talk to her about being a military wife, pregnancy, and living with your parents and trying to balance having your own family but still respecting their authority (because you live there). We went through the lesson (the same lesson the kids covered, but on an adult level) and talked about salvation. She called me "ma'am." So God was merciful to me.

One thing I learned: just because someone attends a mega-church that teaches Biblical truths does not mean they actually know Christ or anything about him. We were eating our lunch and another volunteer asked the girl if she attended a local church, and she named a big non-denominational church nearby, but said she didn't like it because they asked for money all the time- for missions, for the building fund, for the electricity. Part of me sort of had a sigh of relief- I thought, if I screw up this Bible study, at least she attends there and someone else will 'catch her.' Then, we started going over the lesson. She didn't know the word parable. She didn't know the Jews followed the law, that that was how they got to heaven. She had never heard John 3:16, I asked her if it was familiar and she said no.

So if you talk to someone and they say they go to a church that you have heard teaches the word, don't think you don't need to tell them the gospel. I think we just want to leave the work to someone, anyone else. We don't want to risk rejection or embarrasment, or scorn, or anything uncomfortable. But how much do you have to hate someone to NOT tell them about eternal life?!

The Names of God

Is it my fascination with languages that makes me love the many names of God? Like an Eskimo who has so many words at his disposal to describe the many kinds of snow, I like to have names for the Lord which reflect one of his attributes at a time. Here are a few of my favorites:

-Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will Provide (Gen. 22:1)

-Jehovah Kabodhi – The Lord My Glory (Psalm 3:3)

-Jehovah Mephalti – The Lord My Deliverer (Psalm 18:2)

-Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is There (Ezekiel 48:35)

-Jehovah Tsori – The Lord My Strength (Psalm 19:14)

-Jehovah Yasha – The Lord Your Savior (Isaiah 49:26; 60:16)

How do y'all feel about Christians relating to their (spiritual) Jewish roots, and celebrating the festivals and such? I bought a small booklet, The Seven Feasts of Israel, that explains them more to the average ignorant Christian like myself.

12 July 2009

Me Time as Mama?


I follow a really nice blog called Raising Arrows. A recent post is just beautiful, yet it strikes a chord of familiarity within me. I see improvements in my own fight for "me-time" but I have so far to go. I think of all the times that Jesus was tired on earth and yet he still served 12 bumbling, erring disciples. Every time he tried to escape the crowds or go to a quiet place alone, and was followed by hordes of people needing him right now!

How can I get better at something and still be so lacking? Sometimes, I still slack on the weekends when I think James is around and he should "pitch in." We all suffer in a house that isn't kept up, and then the workweek is behind, and I set a poor example for the kids. "Raising Arrows" is exactly right when she says its just my own selfishness, nothing more.

We have to be very careful about what we find ourselves acting on (me time) even if we intellectually don't buy it (I can only enjoy myself or be myself when I'm alone and free to do whatever I want). If we act on faulty ideas like this, we are going to pass them on to the next generation.

10 July 2009

What the World Says

You know what's funny? How you see yourself vs how others see you. I am helping my mom with her website dedicated to her second career as a massage therapist. She insists on putting me on her site as a "webmaster." Here's the bio she put, straight off my resume(thankfully not with this picture, circa 1999):

"Tracy is a graduate of Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, where she received Russian linguist training. She spent her Air Force career at Fort Meade, MD, with the National Security Agency updating existing data bases vital to the center's efforts, and analyzing complex intelligence information to support the Defense Intelligence Agency, CIA, National Imaging & Mapping Agency, State Department, and the White House. More recently, Tracy is also the owner of Ephemera, a unique small business specializing in the development and marketing of personalized greeting cards."

The funny part is that this very day, I edited the bio page for Ezine articles. I write articles (expanded posts) for Ezine as a way to get people to come over here and read more. The bio I wrote of myself reads like this:

"Teresa Dear has been married for eleven years. She homeschools her four young children using the Classical education method. Formerly an Air Force Russian linguist, she much prefers raising her children and supporting her husband to maintaining national security. She now divides her time among the education of her children, making her home comfortable and colorful, engaging in Biblical studies and stocking her Etsy storefront with handmade greeting cards and vintage ephemera. She is presently occupied doing market research and writing a business plan so the family can begin their next adventure: a self-sustaining organic farm that focuses on encouraging and educating the public about growing their own food."

This is my mom, who told Claire earlier this week that "you won't be a stay-at-home mom," But I know from where my value comes.

Where We Find our Worth

When we are in Christ, we should look to him to find our self-worth. He created us, and loves us, and we should need no other proof than His son's death and resurrection to believe that. But sometimes we forget what we are worth.

Last weekend the kids and I drove to Brownwood in a separate car from our navigator, James. We had directions, and the plan was to call my brother-in-law and get the final instructions to his actual home when we got there. Trouble was, my cell had no reception at all, my directions had come to their end, and it was beginning to get dark. I stopped at a fireworks stand (do they have those outside the Republic of Texas?) and bought some sparklers and asked the guy if I could use his phone.

He was "yes, ma'am" "no, ma'am" the entire time. At first I was "how old do I look?!" but as he continued doing it, I started to think, he thinks I'm worthy of his respect. Why would that be? What does he know about me? That my phone doesn't have reception? Is it that I am a customer? For being a woman? For being a mother?

And immediately on top of this ego boost was my BIL. I called him, and the phone only rang once and he snatched it up. The first ring! He was waiting for my call! He was concerned for my safety (and navigation skills, probably)! It made me feel so good to get these clues that I was important to not just someone, but two someones.

Then I got in the car and continued down the darkening, lonely Texas highway. As the 'basking in the sun' feeling began to dissipate, I began to question myself. What on earth was wrong with me if I so soaked up a little sign of respect or favor? Have I been so neglected and battered that I need it that bad, that any little inkling of positive display made me react this way? I know that mothering is a thankless job, interspersed with hugs, art projects, and sleepy "I love you, mommy." I know my husband is going through hard times when he doesn't value himself, much less those around him, or has a distorted perception that clouds his view of things.

But I also know that I am so valued by God that he sent his son to die so that he could be with me in heaven. That he so valued me that he made me in his image. That he so loves me, that he makes sure I have air to breathe and clothes to wear and food to eat. That he put me in a beautiful place to enjoy his creation- including the fruit of the coffee plant. That he loved me so much that he gave me the Holy Spirit to always be available to help me and comfort me and enable me.

09 July 2009

Christian Carnival

I submitted "Who is Saved" from June 29th to a Christian Carnival. I like to submit to these at least once or twice a month to get some new traffic. I would love to hear from you if you found New Mercy at a carnival and have come back for more! This one is hosted at Parableman.

08 July 2009

Importance of Dad


Last night was Claire's sleepover birthday party. Two of the guests were a pair of sisters over who didn't realize it was a sleepover. Dad (single parent) said he would bring them all their stuff later. So, later, the other girls all got in PJs and these 2 borrowed. Then they called Dad and the decision was made that the older sister would get a crucial stuffed animal and her toothbrush, and the younger sister would go home with Dad, who said he was on his way. I read books to the girls and everyone started to settle down, except for the two girls. The older one waited at the front door like a lost puppy, the younger one put on her shoes and clutched her clothes to her chest. They were so silly and at the same time so quintessentially girl. Read this poem from Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West, a book my father got me for my birthday last year.

Waiting to Dance
by Diane Kesey

Woman in waiting
Waiting in threes
Faceless on stoops
On steps, women waiting
Beside gates, beside the road
In anterooms, waiting rooms

Beside sickbeds, on beds of labor.
Waiting women, in windows
On kitchen chairs, waiting tables
Waiting by creeks, rivers, quays, queues.
Women waiting in line to see God
Women waiting in line to speak to God.
Women waiting in line to laugh.
Standing on their knees to beg.

Faceless women waiting by wheelbarrows
Waiting on their backs, on one leg, two.
Waiting with nose to the wind.
Waiting in court, waiting on horses
Against walls, waiting like
Buds on tender branches.
Like flowers drooping with thirst.
Waiting under willows.
Women waiting in the sun for the garden
Waiting for spring... the red tulip
Waiting to laugh too loud
Waiting for the sweet, piping music
Waiting for the dance to begin.

Faceless women in the camps
Waiting for dried milk
Women waiting for the ac to fall.
For the wolf at the door
Waiting for praise, blame, credit.
Waiting for hell to freeze over
Waiting for ice skates.
Waiting for their milk to come down
For their blood to flow red.
Women waiting for the hard rain
Waiting to dance, to sing.
Women waiting for the right train
Waiting until they've all gone by.


Yikes. Part of me even began this internal dialogue last night because of the time I have spent waiting. Waiting for babies to be born, for those same babies to stop nursing. Waiting for James to come home, waiting for him to go to work again. Waiting for the sound of the car. Waiting for the phone. Waiting for 'I'm sorry.' It seems like women spend so much of our lives in thought, watching for signs that something is happening, something is changing, something is occurring.

Those girls watching for their dad made me so sad. They are at the beginning of their lives, and there they are, waiting and watching. He let them down. They fell asleep waiting for him. He didn't come. The little one fell asleep on the couch with her shoes on. And I know I should cut him some slack, that no parent is perfect, that I don't know the details of his situation. But it pains me when I think of the disappointments my own kids have faced, and how painful it is for them, how no excuse or reason seems good enough.

How I thank God when I look around the blogosphere and read about these great Christian fathers. How I thank God for the man my husband wants to become. I am thankful he isn't content where he is, and that he is always hatching plans for improvement.

07 July 2009

Vaccine Information- Sick.


Let me give you a quote from this article and you decide if you want to read it.

""The safety of injecting our children with aborted human fetal DNA has been debated for over 40 years, but has never been studied," SCPI said. "

Link

Google Results "post abortive tissue in vaccines"

I am speechless in anger that this happens, much less is given to us without our knowledge.

05 July 2009

Today's Country Music

Man, oh, man, now I remember why I don' t listen to 'regular' radio anymore. I came home and sent my $40 to K-LOVE right away! In case you don't know, it's a Christian radio station, no commercials, (listener supported, hence my $40) in cities nation-wide.

We were driving back from Brownwood, Texas (yee-haw! I was a little surprised that they are on-line!) to see my brother-in-law and his wife, who are the cooks for Lake Brownwood Christian Retreat. My MIL took the three older kids (bless her!) home with her (yes!) and just Nathan and I (eee!) drove home together.

He was sleeping, so I scanned the radio dial for K-LOVE but didn't find it. So I found a country music station... first a song about a girl who was hit by a car on prom night and learned to walk again-- down the aisle at her wedding. Then a disgusting one about band members playing a certain song well for the express purpose of lusting after a girl (it was her favorite song) who danced in super tight jeans. Then a terrible one about a guy who was dumped on a sunny day at a red light. Then, an upbeat one about a girl who runs off against her mom's advice, lives with a guy and then runs off from him, leaving him alone on the front porch. On and On. It was awful.

But it reminded me how broken and sad our world is. These lyrics on the country station are reinforcing to the listeners that life sucks and there is no hope. Even the prom night car wreck song, which had a happy ending, was depressing and regretful (if only he hadn't let her out of the car!). The lustful one-- totally upbeat and easy to sing, and you hardly notice that you're singing the phrase "slap your grandma" and "you can look but don't touch."

One song in particular I have lyric-searched and searched, and have come up with nothing. If you know this song I would love an artist name or album or song title. It was so heartbreaking that I was going to type it all out for you. It was supposed to be about a woman who finds solace at her husband's side... but it was really a tragic song about a woman who bought the feminist platform and felt cheated when it wasn't as advertised. The part I remember starts by describing a woman unloading groceries. A bag rips open and spills everywhere, and her husband helps her pick cans out of the gutter. She collapses on the porch swing beside him and says

"I've gophered and chauffered,
been the chairman and copier repairman
made coffee and
danced backward in high heels all day
but here on this porch I'm
glad to be your woman with you."

Does that speak to the heart of a woman or what?
"You can have it all"
"You can do whatever he does"
"Your kids will be fine"
"You will be happy when you achieve X"
You buy into and spend your whole life on a twisted lie. (Genesis 3:13 says "Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate.")

I don't know if I seem like a culture Nazi or what, but I just can't listen to it anymore. It started when Lily (now 3 1/2) was sick in the hospital as a newborn. I was racing from the hospital to see the older kids for a minute and a song came on with the lyrics "I'm dying inside, and nobody knows it but me" and I was just mush. I had heard of Christian radio before, but that night, after that song, I've never really 'gone back' to regular music, except for little forays like today.

You know, the music is true on both sides of the street. One is what we live and feel, and the other is our hope and assurance. John Piper says "Stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself!"

03 July 2009

Fourth of July


“The framers of our Constitution meant we were to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.” Billy Graham


Thanks to God that we live in the country that we do, with all its flaws I think it's the best. Happy Birthday to the United States of America, and to my Claire too, who will be eight tomorrow.

02 July 2009

Continuing Education

Guess what I received in the mail last month? My "distance learning, 5 part, 30 lesson training program designed to educate and equip a community of helpers within the church to offer careful, Biblical encouragement, direction, hope, and personal growth to women in a complex world." It's through the American Association of Christian Counselors, called Extraordinary Women. I'm excited to get started next week- Beth Moore is the instructor of the first class!

Check out the tantalizing list of curriculum HERE.

01 July 2009

Justification? Santification?


Here is discussion from N.T. Wright, from his book, Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision

"God justifies (declares righteous) all those who are "in Christ," so that the vindication of Jesus upon his resurrection becomes the vindication of all those who trust in him... Present justification is the announcement issued on the basis of faith and faith alone of who is part of the covenant family of God. The present verdict gives the assurance that the verdict announced on the Last Day will match it; the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life that the believer has then lived."

Here is a response from the respected John Piper, from his book, The Future of Justification: A Response to NT Wright

"Christ alone is the basis of our justification, and the faith that unites us to him is the means or instrument of our justification. Trusting in Christ as Savior, Lord and Supreme Treasure of our lives produces the fruit of love, or it is dead. Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone... future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ."

I got these quotes from my new magazine subscription, Christianity Today, the June issue. The article, "The Justification Debate: A Primer" begins with what looks like my post from after the funeral, "Who is Saved?":

"Which is more scandalous? The multitudes of Christians who think they need to earn their salvation by being good? Or the throng of Christians who think that holy living doesn't matter so long as they have prayed the sinner's prayer?"

There are some differences to the quotes above by Piper and Wright, but they are subtle. I hadn't heard of "future justification" before, I think it is referring to when we stand before the Lord and his book? I just don't know; I would love some discussion on this one!