Saturday, February 28, 2009

The old woman....

I overheard a man talking at Grant's hockey game the other night about his "old woman."

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn't know what to do..." (I can relate to this old gal!)

In the Bible, Titus 2:3-5 talks about the older women and the younger women: "Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior."

And it hit me....I AM THE OLDER WOMAN!!! (I'm not sure when this happened or even how, but it is true!) I have to I living a life of reverence not gossiping (or being drunk)? Am I a model of goodness? Even more importantly, am I being an example to the younger women on how to love their husbands and children? Can the younger women learn to be virtuous and pure from me? Can they see how to keep a good house and be a good wife?

That is a tough act to follow. But it is exactly what the Bible tells us old women that we are to be aware of. I definitely don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of my poor behavior.

"Father God, your love and goodness and purity are so awesome; help me to be a witness to Your character. Show me how to love my husband and children the way You love them. May my house be kept in such a way as to reflect you. Daily remind me of the responsibility I have to the younger women around me. I ask all this in Your Holy name. Amen."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm not Catholic and I don't play one on TV

Yes, I'm Protestant--and a pretty contemporary one at that. I attend an awesome church (Metro Community Church) and I love our worship there! But I have learned something from my Catholic friends. Their appreciation for liturgy and their use of ritual, although sometimes dragging and possibly legalistic, can be a wonderful tool to draw one closer to God.

All my life it has seemed that as Protestant Christians, we wait until the day of or possibly the week before Easter to focus on Christ and His Resurrection. Sometimes it has seemed to me that we have gotten so wrapped up in other festivities that we have forgotten to really think about, reflect on, and thank God for His Marvelous Plan of salvation. We talk about it all year long; we know it is the foundation of our faith; yet during this season, it seems we so often don't really take time out for the significance of Easter.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I did not go to confession nor did I wear ashes on my forehead. I don't need to! I'm a born-again Christ-follower! He is my priest! However, I AM observing the Lenten season--the 40 days plus Sundays that lead up to Easter Sunday. I want to encourage all my Christian friends to consider doing this as well. I'm not suggesting that you give up chocolate or sweets or soda or anything like that.

For the next 40+ days, take time each day to read Scripture that focuses on Christ, read through the Gospel of John maybe, or focus on becoming more humble and Christ-like. Take the time you spend now in reflection and prayer, then up it a bit. Do something this season to increase your time with God. (I found a good resource with daily Scripture readings for Lent; you can find it here:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I caved...

Yes, I did it...I finally gave in...I couldn't take the pressure any longer... Everyone one is doing it...I couldn't resist...

I joined Facebook...I'm still not sure I'm going to like it...or sure I really have time...but I've joined the cult.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Trials or Temptations?

What is the difference between a trial and a temptation? This question was raised tonight at our small group study. Since tempations can't come from God (according to James 1:13: "He (God) Himself does not tempt anyone."), we agreed that tempation comes from Satan, involves sin, and turns us from God.

But what about trials? If tempations are of Satan, then are trials from God? All trials? Does God bring all trials our way? Or does He allow things to happen and then turn that situation into something good? Are trials a punishment for our sins?

Does God cause the newborn baby to die? Does He cause the single mom to lose her job? Does He give cancer to the wife and mother who has lived a nearly flawless life? Does He cause a husband to leave his wife and children for another woman seemingly without looking back? Does He cause the drunk driver to hit another car killing all the passengers in it? Does He CAUSE these things to happen? Or does He ALLOW them to happen? I realize these are questions we may never have answered this side of Heaven.

Isaiah 55: 8 says, " 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD." So God does things for different reasons and in a different manner than we would choose to do them. We see in the here and now. God sees in eternity. What seems horrible, questionable, not understandable to us now; He sees in light of all things. We see the picture in a frame; God sees the entire movie--and knows the ending.

So, the question is not to ask "Why is this happening?" Instead, we should ask, "God, what are you doing in me in order to accomplish something through me?" We need to "consider it joy when we encounter trials" because we can know that the testing develops character which causes us to mature which in turn causes us to be more Christlike (James 1:2-4). At church this weekend, our pastor called these trials--these hard times--"pivotal circumstances." So when we go through trials, we are really experiencing "pivotal circumstances" because those circumstances have the power to change our direction in life, to change our focus, to change our character; they have the power to bring us closer to God Himself.

BUT the key is in how we choose to look at the circumstance. James says to "consider it all joy." Is this to say we should be happy that bad things happen? No. Joy doesn't imply that at all; instead joy is an acknowledgement in your heart that God is in control. So to consider it all joy simply means to weigh it out and realize that God knows what is happening and He is in control of our situation.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The trees cry out

Today was no exception to our adventures! We gathered our drill, a jug, a Bic pen, and some rope and headed to the farm. Once there, we went for a hike out to the "sugarbush," identified the maple trees, and tapped them to collect the maple sap.

It was great to watch the children pair up with the other kids and work together to successfully drill into the trees and install our homemade tree taps (the Bic pens). It was rewarding to watch the clear, sweet sap begin dripping into the collection jugs.

In a couple weeks, when the weather gets too warm for the sap to flow, we will take what we gathered and have a day of syruping--where we will cook the sap down to make maple syrup.

I'm amazed at how awesome God is! And isn't it incredibly ignorant that man can look at nature--in all its complexity---and think that any of this could have "just happened"? It is just crazy! Really.

The Bible tells us that all creation testifies of the Creator! Nature cries out and so many times we are too blind, too prideful, too busy to see for ourselves the wonder of the Creator--OUR Creator.

Today, the trees cried out to us. I heard. They sang of a God who is amazingly creative and yet resourceful. They sang of a God who loves beauty. They sang of a God who is the Perfect Engineer of all things created.

Fridays=farm days!

Today, just like most Friday afternoons, we went to "the farm." Nearly every Friday, we hop in the car around noon to drive to the Trover Farm in Lebanon, IL. We participate in a program called Outdoor Adventure where we do just that--have an adventure outdoors.

Since 2002 (the first year we homeschooled), at the beginning of each school year, I have said that we would spend a portion of each week going out and exploring God's marvelous, beautiful, mysterious, breathtaking, inspiring creation! But, when left to my own doing, I found that although my intentions were good, life often got in the way, excuses were easy to make, my creativity was lacking, and quite honestly, we'd hardly ever make it outdoors past the back deck.

Then last summer, I discovered Outdoor Adventure(OA)! It was exactly what I wanted the kids to experience. The Trover Farm is over 200 acres of fields, woodlands, wetlands, creeks, levies, and pastures for us to explore. The farm caretaker is Alison Lewis--a former Air Force cargo pilot, equestrian, self-educated naturalist, and homeschool mom. She runs a not-for-profit organization called Roam on the Range (ROTR) for homeschoolers to come out and enjoy the benefits of the farm. ROTR also offers a horse co-op, organic gardening, archery, and a few other opportunities in addition to OA. Alison comes up with great activities for us each week!

This school year we've identified trees, birds, animal tracks, unusual insects, and snakes. We've spent afternoons swinging on grape vines, trapping crawfish, and hunting tadpoles. We've gone swimming in the duck pond, canoeing in semi-frozen water, digging for edible tubers, and picking persimmons. We spent an afternoon in a field testing the aerodynamics of various boomerang-type toys. In the fall, we waded through thigh-deep waters to explore the wetlands; and then this winter, we had afternoons of ice play on those same wetlands after they had frozen up.

We've learned that poisonous snakes tend to have diamond-shaped heads and fatter tails than non-venomous ones. We can identify a woodpecker by its flight pattern. We now know the difference between a possom track and a raccoon track. We can identify Jerusalem artichoke and have even eaten it. And we have seen a rare water scorpion.

I am so glad we discovered "the farm"! It has enriched our lives! We have met new friends and learned new things! We have experienced part of God's creativity and wonder!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Junky room

My dear, loving, kind husband (remember yesterday's post) stepped into the school room/study this evening and asked if I was happy with it. I switched the school room and dining room back in November and I am so GLAD I did! This room (the former dining room--now school room) is more open; it is right off the kitchen so it is more centrally located in the house; I think it's bigger than the old school room (now dining room).

But there was something in the way he asked that I knew he wasn't just checking on my satisfaction with the decision. So I asked him back if HE liked it. With slight hesitation, he replied that no, he didn't. He went on to tell me the room looks junky.

Junky????? Did he really say junky? It is our school room. I spend the majority of my at-home hours in this room; I've never noticed it being junky. I took a look a round. Okay, so we do have two hamster cages along one wall (with hamster shavings spilling out onto the floor). Next to the cages is my big oak desk which is covered in books and papers and files and the computer monitor and a cup of tea from earlier this morning; flag hanging off the top of it. Next to the desk is my oak file cabinet which has a stack of books, a stack of printer paper and the printer on it. Across the room is the guinea pig cage then a book shelf and the kids' curriculum cubby--which are both overflowing with books and things. In another corner is a small shelf with miscellaneous items on it and on the floor are two library baskets full of library books . Then in front of the window is the kids' work table which is covered in papers, markers, pencils, craft projects, a few DVD's that someone loaned to us, and the laptop. And next to that is a music stand and a violin setting on the floor.

Okay, so maybe it is a LITTLE junky. But, this is the room where we learn, where we enjoy our furry little critters, where we practice music. It's were we paint and cut and glue. This is the room where I grade, and communicate with friends, and work, and (yes) blog.

And I LOVE it!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Marriage Retreats...I HATE 'EM...I LOVE 'EM!

I hate doing things that seem cliche'. (Like holding hands while walking along the beach...or going to marriage retreats with 100 other couples....I always resist. I don't know why.) I hate being asked to step out of my comfort zone. I hate learning about something only to realize that I haven't been doing it correctly. And I hate having to admit it. I hate banquet food. I hate getting up early. Those are the reasons I hate (well not really hate, but dislike, anyway) marriage retreats.

BUT, I love my husband and HE loves going to retreats. I love having the time alone with him without interruptions. I love sitting in our hotel room chatting about our life together. I love making plans for the upcoming year together. I love discussing the session we just listened to and then going over what we've done right and what we need to improve on. I love laying in bed staying up late talking about our love for one another. I LOVE being married to Mark!!! And those are the reasons I love marriage retreats!

Ephesians 5:25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." I melt inside when I think about how much Mark loves me. God in His Grace paired me up with this wonderful man who I in no way deserved. It is amazing to me to think that 18 years ago, God--in His infinite wisdom--KNEW that I needed Mark in my life.
It is through Mark's faithfulness that I am drawn closer to God. It is through his tenderness that I see God. It is through his forgiveness that I experience God.

And I shudder to think where my life would have turned had I not met and married Mark. When we first met, on Feb. 2, 1991, my "dating pre-requisite" list (yes, I've always been a list maker) was simple; I wanted a man who was smart, had a good job, was close to his family, was Protestant, and didn't use tobacco of any kind. If I had a date who failed to meet all of those criteria, I didn't go out with him again. That was that. As goodas my list was, I certainly wasn't looking for a God-fearing, Christ-following man. But God had different better plans for my life...and I'm so glad he did. Not only did Mark meet all MY criteria, God knew that Mark would draw me closer to Him. I praise him for that!

And on that note, I'm going to go love on my husband a bit..........

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Vicks to the rescue!

I have the worst cold I've had in years....I haven't slept in three nights due to my constant hacking cough....My husband is in Houston on business and won't be back until late tomorrow night...the kids were going stir crazy because I haven't felt like getting out---except to go to the health food store to pick up meds.
Maybe I have the, I can't; I don't have a fever. I would hate to have the flu; not because it is so miserable, but because I have bragged for several years that I DO NOT "believe in" the flu shot. I NEVER get one! Say what you will, but I know too many people who suffered through having the flu right after they received the vaccination. So, live vaccine or not, I'm not buying it--er, uh, getting it. I figure I'm a healthy, middle-aged (ooh, that hurts to say) woman. My immune system is not compromised in any way; I don't need the vaccine. (I did stock up on homeopathic flu meds though just in case.) Anyway, I'm pretty sure this is just the common cold....Mark had it a few months ago, Gavin has had something like this on and off for a couple months, Elaine came down with it last week...and now I have it.
Either way, I'm armed and out viral bugs! I have my Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Slippery Elm, a host of homeopathic meds, AND now my VICS VAPO-RUB!
My cousin in France called this morning and shared that I should rub Vicks on the bottom of my feet (then put on socks) before bed to relieve my cough. So, I ran out again tonight to get my Vicks. I think I'm getting a little obsessed with feeling better.....
Well we'll find out in a few hours if it works or not... for now, I'm going to go play a game with the kids before they head to bed.
*cough* *cough* *cough*

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My baby girl turns 10!

Today my baby girl is 10 years old. She awoke me this morning by coming into my room and announcing "I'm TEN!" I pried my eyes open to see her beaming face and outstretched arms; then I held out my arm for her to jump in which she did without hesitation. She let me hug and love on her for several minutes as we lay there together....she is still my baby girl!

Those who know me well know that I am not a big party planner; well actually, I don't mind the planning. It's the decorating and cutesy stuff I don't do. I'm not into fluff. I don't do themed parties with matching plates, napkins, and cups. I don't have special party games themed to match the party. To me it seems such a waste. I guess I'm too pragmatic--I hate to spend money on such things. Honestly, I don't think the kids really care either. But a "10-year-old" birthday is a "party birthday" in our home; so this year, I had to plan a party.

Yes, we had her party this evening--during the Super Bowl. (Wasn't that brilliant?) While millions of people were tuning into the biggest game of the year, I was here with eight 9-and 10-year-old girls painting wooden sea horses and making bead bracelets. After that, the girls made dinner which they were very happy to do and proud of themselves for doing it as well. They made tacos and did it ALL themselves--browned the meat, cut the tomatoes and black olives, shredded the cheese and lettuce, put it all into bowls--all of it. (I was only there to hand them utensils or things they needed) They worked very well together.

(By the way, this is something you can do with 10-year-old girls. You could never, however, even consider doing this with 10-year-old boys!!)

The girls were wonderful to have in our home! They giggled and encouraged one another. They chased each other with a Barbie stamper. They cleaned up after themselves (again something that does not happen with 10-yo boys). They watched excitedly as Elaine opened each present.
And at the end of the evening, Elaine was exhausted. It was a fun, special day for her!

Throughout my life, on MY birthday, my mom would (at some point) re-tell the story of my birth.... "Thirteen years ago today...Twenty-one years ago today...Forty years ago today, I was in the hospital holding the most beautiful, perfect baby I'd ever seen. It had been the hottest week of the entire summer. I'd sit in front of the window air conditioner reading my book to keep cool....When it came time to for me to go to the hospital, I thought your dad was going to have a wreck...." And on and on. She still does it. Honestly, she'll probably continue telling that story every year for the rest of her life. And honestly, I hope she does. It was good hearing those stories as a kid. I think it gave my siblings and myself a sense of belonging--a sense of specialness.

Now, I find myself doing the same thing with my children. So tonight as I tucked my "big-double-digit-girl" into bed, it was my turn to crawl into bed with her. As I did, I found myself saying, "Ten years ago tonight, I was laying in a hospital bed holding the most beautiful, perfect baby girl....."

Happy Birthday, Big Girl!