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Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Slice o' Family Life: Memories & Memorization

While playing my guitar this morning, I remembered some funny (and great) family videos we got a little over a year ago, felt nostalgic, and wanted to share them here, with you all.

October 2007
Our oldest son sharing Psalm 1 --
it's so sweet to hear the way he talked back then... they really DO grow up so fast.

November 2007
My favorite video-- one of the kiddos all dancing...
our daughter gets nervous when she sees the camera,
but then decides to go on dancing anyway.

December 2007
The boys sharing their memorization of the Beatitudes... this one cracks me up!

I don't always share private things, but I guess I just wanted to share these and remember some precious times "with" you all. Hopefully this will give you a few laughs and a glimpse into our home, and let you share in the joy of our entirely silly and wonderful kiddos.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Feb. 7th Home Sale Postponed

Sorry but circumstances warrant that I postpone the HOME SALE scheduled for February 7th. I will let you know asap when it will be held.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Did God REALLY Say...???"

The Word of God. At various places in the Scripture, it describes itself as:But there are voices at work today, just as in Eden. Voices that question the validity and veracity of God's Word. Voices asking, "Did God really say...?" Voices that seek to shake faith, to rattle the cages of the faithful, and to devour, choke out, or scorch seeds that might otherwise grow. These voices crop up in "Christian" blogs, in homeschool circles, and within the "church" across America.

Interestingly enough, Christians who do so are not novel in their attempt to makeover the Scriptures. Thomas Brooks, writing in 1665 wrote:
"Are there not many among us that turn the whole history of the Bible, into an allegory and that turn Christ, and sin, and death, and the soul, and hell, and heaven, and all into an allegory? Many have and many do miserably pervert the Scriptures by turning them into vain and groundless allegories. ... Oh friends! it is dangerous to bring in allegories where Scripture does not clearly and plainly warrant them, and to take those words figuratively which should be taken properly."
It is not only the modern church that sometimes wants to adapt Scripture for its own purposes and comfort.

Though it's certainly not wrong to ask questions, or to seek to understand, we need to be wary of any voices that press us to doubt God's Word. Our sure foundation is the strong, dependable Word of God. When we allow ourselves to apply portions of it, but write off other parts, we taint all of it.

While even the very intelligent among us can be challenged, strengthened, and taught by Scripture, it was written so that even the most simple among us-- the uneducated man in Uganda, the seven-year-old who is for the first time reading God's Words for himself, the person in the fifteenth century without the internet and a myriad of commentaries at their fingertips, and the illiterate woman in Kyrgyzstan who only hears the Word as read by others-- can/could understand and believe and be saved.

Christ Himself was first revealed to dirty, simple shepherds. He spoke His gospel to the poor, the needy, and the sinful, as well as to the religious and educated. Though we Christian blog writers & frequenters are often of the latter variety, we need to remember that His gospel is meant for all, and indeed was received most heartily by those in the former category.

We must be constantly on our guard against those who seek to delude our trust in God's precious Word. Our enemy loves to steal, kill, and destroy... and just like a predator seeks to peel a baby away from the safety of the pack and its mother, our enemy seeks to peel off the vulnerable and weak among us by causing them to question that which our hope is built upon: Jesus Christ, as revealed in His matchless Word.

Psalm 119: 9-16
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Joy of Having a Young Reader in the House

On any given day at our house now, you're liable to hear conversations that start like this:
"Wow, so I eat a lot of protein, huh, mom?"

"Reepicheep is so brave, isn't he? I mean, he's just a little mouse, but he's braver than the bravest lion..." (stops to think) "... well, not braver than Aslan, but braver than a
normal lion."

"Mom, what does ______ mean?"

Because now we have a young reader at our house!

And it is so much fun... hearing him learning about all kinds of things, getting wrapped up in stories, and go back and re-read books we've read together. His younger siblings love sitting next to him while he reads them stories too.

What an amazing thing it is to see the world open up to him. It also limits Doug & I's ability to talk in code. :)

But on the whole, what a wonderful thing it is to have a young reader in our home! What new accomplishments are you joyfully celebrating in your home?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our Amusements Are Dulling Our Minds

Our pastor back home in Texas has spoken before of the "literal definition of amuse".

"a"-- negative/not (as in "athiest"-- not a theist)
"muse" -- to think or consider

Therefore, the literal definition is that to be amused is to not think. [insert congregation laughing with amusement]

Let's admit it: we are a people who love to be amused. We laugh ourselves silly over comedians like Ferrell and Carell (and we includes me!); we watch TV shows to fill our weeks; we rent movies to fill our weekends. Video games have taken over much of the leisure time in boys' bedrooms and on college campuses around the nation. Internet usage has become a requirement for life. Even in the Christian community, we amuse ourselves ad nauseum. There are Christian comedians, Christian romance novels, Christian fiction... and on and on and on.

It would be shocking for the average American to live in the world of just 20 years ago, without the internet, e-mail, GPS, cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, (and blogs...). And I'm not suggesting that we pitch our laptops off the nearest bridge, so stay with me.

But we need to examine how we use these things. We are in danger of being lulled to sleep, mentally, emotionally, culturally, and SPIRITUALLY-- by our amusements. When our days and nights are filled with technology, news, and fantasy games, and our homes, garages, and storage buildings are filled with toys, electronics, appliances, decorations, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff..., our minds are in danger of being overtaken, not only by our stuff (although I would argue that most Americans are indeed fixated on stuff), and not only by our amusements (although I would argue that most Americans are indeed fixated on amusements), but also by a creeping indifference to the dying, the poor, the uneducated, the spiritually dead people around the world.

While we upgrade our video games and buy the latest software and litter our children's rooms with educational toys (and yet, ironically, our children are less educated than any previous generation), and our teenagers drive cars the likes of which our parents would never have dreamed to have driven, even in adulthood, meanwhile, the world around us is in critical need of a Savior. In need of Bibles in their language. In need of people who will physically tell them. In need of more than the spiritually-bankrupt materialism and sexuality our culture is selling them. In need of Christ!

Oh how desperately they need Him. And though His coming hastens closer every day, our culture woos us, working to dull our minds, our hearts, and our desires (as well as the minds, hearts, and desires of every culture around the world desperately trying to be as wealthy and "happy" as America) to the things of God. Even in our Christian culture and in our churches... we are, all too often, fixating on stuff and on amusements rather than on intentional, prudent, judicious use of the resources God has given us to further HIS Kingdom.

Oh, God, have mercy on us. Save us from ourselves and our common drift into comfort and ease and that which entertains. Help us to do whatever it takes to wake up to the spiritual complacency we've developed in our fixation on amusement. Wake us up to the priorities of YOUR Kingdom!

Does Absence Make The Heart Grow Fonder?

So after what seems like an eternity, I am back and blogging. Since the beginning of the New Year my life has morphed into one that I am still getting accustomed to. I have done two shows,fallen victim to a horrible stomach bug that wouldn't go away, and probably the biggest change of all has been getting used to living alone. No Mr. Pea and I haven't done the big D! Unfortunately the economy finally caught up to our family-owned carpentry biz and we are sadly closing that chapter. So, Mr. Pea has taken a job that involves travel~~something he used to do many moons ago~~and he is currently freezing his buns off in Oklahoma. That leaves me to fend for myself here at home and while I don't miss the snoring the house does feel empty and weird.

Anyhoo, I did want to finally share a few pics of the Renninger's show with you. I can't say it was one of my better ones but I did sell some big pieces and right now I think we have to be grateful for what we can get. Next, I will start to get ready for my HOME SALE which will be on FEBRUARY 7th. After that it will be time to head to Texas! I can't wait!!!!! Until next time, stay safe and keep junkin'!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs: Be Still, My Soul

Here's another favorite... and yes, some of the lyrics are slightly altered from the original translation:

Be still my soul; the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief and pain.
Trust in thy God to order and provide;
Through every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul, thy Best & Heavenly Friend
Through trying times leads to a joyful end.

Be still my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake
What once was mystery shall be bright at last.
Be still my soul; the wind and waves still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below

Be still my soul, when dearest friends depart
And all is darkened by the rain of tears,
Then you will know the love of our Lord’s heart
He’ll come to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fears are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still my soul: when change and tears are past
One day, we’ll meet our Jesus, safe at last.

Amen and amen. I love this song.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Questions to consider...

Have you ever wondered...
  • what life would have been like during your growing up years if 1/5th of the population hadn't been aborted?
  • if one of those aborted people would have been your best friend? A co-worker? A pastor in the church down the road? A plumber in your community? The Mayor? A special-ed teacher?
  • if our economy would be stronger now with 20% more people contributing ideas, work, taxes, and energy, had they not been aborted?
  • how the average Nazi lived with the knowledge that millions were dying in their midst, and then stopped to realize that we're no different?
  • if we might end up like the aborted nations of Russia and almost every European nation, with dwindling populations and the death of our culture and nation around the corner?
What would happen if every Christian...
  • committed to love and serve pregnant women and their children, no matter the circumstance?
  • gave sacrificially of their time and money to support crisis pregnancy clinics and stand as a silent protester and potential counselor for those women walking into baby killing centers?
  • publicly loved and welcomed even "the least of these" (those deemed less desirable because of handicaps, learning difficulties, or family situation)?

Everyone knows it's a baby. Just like the Germans who could smell the smoke near the killing centers in WWII, the murder of our brothers and sisters is unthinkable and yet undeniable.

As I type this, my ten-month old son is grizzling as he falls asleep... and I can't help but weep as I think of those babies who will never exercise their lungs with a good healthy cry. Those who have their skin seared by salt solution, administered by a doctor who swore to protect life. Those who have their limbs ripped from their tender bodies in the one place they ought to be completely safe and protected. Those who could have grown up to be your friends, or mine... those who could have grown up.

As I type this, I think of my friends who have had abortions... and I hurt for them. I don't want to increase their pain, but even more, I want to stop other women from ever feeling the pain of having had an abortion, if it is at all within my power.

As I type this, I want to cry out, "Oh, Christian women, be a light in your community! Find ways to ACT on behalf of the unborn among us!"

And merciful Father, give each of us a burning passion to see your glory reflected in each and every individual created by Your wise and sovereign hand. Give us a desire to love the unborn and their mothers with the love that You have... love that bears all things, is kind, shares the truth, and never fails. Help us to rejoice over life, in every shape and form!

Oh, that we would view each birth and new life with the joy that John Powell describes as he for the first time witnessed a baby being delivered:
It was as if my mind were saying, 'Cannot compute! Cannot compute!" What I was witnessing was too big, too beautiful, too sacred to fit easily into my mind...

God had waited from all eternity for that moment of birth. And now, He would show His little boy the adoring face of the mother that had carried him so lovingly. He would show that little boy the magnificent stars He had strung in the sky. He would introduce him to the music of lullabies and the softness of his mother's arms, the gentleness of his father's hands. The "I" of God had been saying to the "Thou" of that small baby: "With an everlasting love I have loved you. This is why with lovingkindness I created you" (from the prophecy of Jeremiah, 31:3).

Cannot compute. Cannot compute. The miracle of life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Orange Trees

Orange TreeJanuary 10, 2009This time of year there isn't much to report for gardening on the homefront. We are under a heavy blanket of snow making those new seed catalogues look all the more enticing. We just returned from our winter vacation in the sunny south. We stayed in the Lakeland area where local strawberries were in season and the orange trees were laden with fruit. You can read

Random Thoughts on History & Homeschooling

Why yes, that picture of me to the right IS with an actual Sidonian sarcophagus, obviously influenced by Egyptians, with heiroglyphics (that you, sadly, can't see in this picture) all over the body. Yes indeedy. And yes, I (or Silas) could have reached out and touched it, since there was no separating glass or little beeping lasers to tip anyone off if I had. But , you'll be pleased to learn that I acted like an adult and restrained myself, opting instead to just marvel and take it in.

One of the thing I have learned as a homeschool mom is that the way I learned history in school was absolutely THE most boring way one could learn about our world.
  • Disjointed- with no "spine" for understanding where the stuff fit in... a large amount of Texas history, a little US history, even less Western history and no complete "world" history ... and you end up with a jumbled and incomplete view of how things fit together, and no real sense of the progression of world events.
  • Dull- Year after year was spent reading paragraphs jam-packed with dates and so politically corrected that it effectively eliminates the real story. It was often presented in a way that treated every side of a battle as equally admirable (unless you're studying the nazis). Studying history this way, even the amazing heroes and heroines of the past become just names and dates to memorize. It all blurs together and dulls the mind.
  • Taught by people who had seemingly no real interest in it. Is it OK to say this out loud? Nearly every one of my history teachers in school was a coach who took more interest in baseball, track, football, tennis, you name it, than they did in history. Dull, dull, dull. If you can imagine a full year of monotone memorization, that pretty much sums up my history courses-- particularly the high school ones. (I actually DID enjoy Texas history in Jr. High, but come on-- what Texan doesn't love Texas, yaknowwhatImean?) :)
I'm not trying to set it up so that homeschooling then becomes "The Answer" for this problem, but I'm telling you, I love the way that Sonlight brings history alive. For example, because of a book we read last year, our oldest son has begun to have a context for understanding WWII at an age-appropriate level, grasping how it affected the average people in France on an emotional level as well as informational level.

The curriculum that we've begun using as our "spine" for history this year, The Mystery of History, brings world history and biblical history together into a comprehensive, understandable whole. It has been refreshing to approach history in a logical way, rather than starting in the middle somewhere. It may not be everyone's preference, but we enjoy it... and we have such a greater awareness of the world that biblical characters lived in, by knowing the other things going on in the world at roughly the same time.

I love the way that homeschooling affords us the time and freedom to explore interesting things in real life that enrich our understanding of the world and its history. Here are some pictures of recent explorations we've done here... (sorry in advance-- some of the pictures are blurry from those times when we couldn't use flash).

Our oldest son and I enjoying the centuries-old tile work in the harem portion of the oldest surviving palace in the world.

Doug & the kids in front of an 8th-century B.C. Hittite lion.
(It amazes me that this is only about 150-200 years after King David.)

The boys inspecting an Egyptian-type sarcophagus found in Lebanon.

Studying a Greek-style sarcophagus up close. (The exhibit we saw was from a "city of the dead" that was discovered by a Turkish farmer as he worked his land in the early 20th century. It included an astounding number of Greco-Roman and Egyptian style sarcophagus' and burial chambers.)

They also had the opportunity to climb up into a kid-sized example of the Trojan horse.

Just hanging out in Ephesus about month ago.

The boys had an incredible time exploring the ampitheater at Ephesus.
(Yes, I was calling out, "be careful! Don't get to close to the edge of the steps!")
Just over 2,000 years old, Ephesus is sometimes named as the best preserved city of that time period.

They had a blast pretending to be Roman soldiers and strong gladiators as they stood under the ruins of the archway that led into the Ephesian gymnasium.

Because we live overseas, we obviously have different opportunities than you do if you are in the States, but there are things there that we would also love to see. (For example, the King Tut exhibit.) Mainly, I just wanted to share some of the things we've gotten to do and express my gratitude for the freedom and opportunities we have as we study history in our homeschool.

(Please note that you can click on any of the above pictures to see a much larger picture.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Biblical Descriptions of Women

Here's a fairly exhaustive study of the word "woman" in the Bible, with all of its uses and descriptions (from the ESV version, so I may have missed some mentioned in other versions). I thought it would be helpful for us to see how women are described in the Bible, positively and negatively, as we strive to be godly women.

Not all of them will apply in each of our lives, and some are situation-specific... but perhaps one or many of these will catch your eye and inspire you in a particular area of your life... and we'll come back and examine these a little at the end of the list.


  • made by God (Gen 2:22)
  • taken out of man (Gen 2: 23, 1 Cor 11:9)
  • "beautiful in appearance" (Sarai-- Gen 12, Rebekah-- Gen 12, Bathsheba--2 Sam 11:2, Tamar-- 2 Sam 14:27, 1 Ki 1:3-4)
  • "pregnant" (Exod. 21:22, Is 26:17, and many, many more)
  • "skillful" (Exod. 35:25)
  • "tender" (Deut 28:56)
  • "refined" (Deut 28:56)
  • "delicate" (Deut. 28:56)
  • "loved" (Jud 16:4)
  • "worthy" (Ruth 3:14)
  • not worthless (1 Sam 1:16)
  • "discerning" (1 Sam 25:3)
  • "wise" (2 Sam 14:2, 2 Sam 20:16, Prov 31:26)
  • "wealthy" (2 Ki 4:8-- the Shunammite woman who cared for Elisha)
  • "barren, childless" given a home and children (Ps 113:9)
  • "gracious" (Prov 11:16)
  • receives honor (Prov 11:16)
  • precious (Prov 31:10)
  • trustworthy (Prov 31:11)
  • interested in doing good for and pleasing her husband (Prov 31:12, Prov 31:23, 1 Cor 7:34)
  • a willing worker (Prov 31:13, 19)
  • prudent (Prov 31:16, 18)
  • "strong" (Prov 31:17)
  • diligent (Prov 31:18-22, Prov 31:27, Luke 15:8)
  • generous (Prov 31:20)
  • teaches kindness (Prov 31:26)
  • "excellent" (Prov 31:29)
  • "woman who fears the Lord" (Prov 31:30-- worthy of praise)
  • great in faith (Matthew 15:20-28)
  • worshipful, sacrificial, worthy of remembrance (Matt. 26:6-13)
  • "saved" by faith (Luke 8:40)
  • freed from disability (Luke 13:12)
  • bearer of a faithful testimony that led many to believe (John 4:39)
  • uncondemned by God (John 8:10-11)
  • "believer" (Acts 16:1)
  • "seller of purple goods" (Acts 16:4)
  • "worshiper of God" with an open, attentive heart (Acts 16:4)
  • unmarried/betrothed are interested in holiness & "the things of the Lord" (1 Cor 7:34)
  • "glory of man" (1 Cor 11:7)
  • not independent of man (1 Cor 11:11)
  • "quiet" learner (1 Tim 2:11, 12)
  • "submissive" (1 Tim 2:11)
  • "weaker vessel" (1 Pet 3:7)
  • "drunken" (1 Sam 1:13-- Eli was mistaken when he thought this about Hannah)
  • "perverse, rebellious" (1 Sam 20:30-- spoken by Saul to Jonathan about his mother in order to shame him)
  • "desolate" (Tamar-- 2 Sam 13:20, because she was defiled)
  • "cursed" (2 Ki 9:34-- Jezebel)
  • "wicked" (2 Chr 24:7-- idolatrous woman)
  • "barren, childless" (Job 24:21)
  • "forbidden woman" (Prov 2:16, 5:3, 5:20, 7:5-- the adulteress)
  • "evil" (Prov 6:24-- the adulteress)
  • wily of heart (Prov 7:10-- a woman dressed as a prostitute)
  • "a beautiful woman without discretion" is like a gold ring in a pig's snout (Prov 11:22)
  • "quarrelsome" & fretful (Prov 21:19-- living with this kind of woman is worse than living in a desert)
  • heart of snares & nets (Eccl 7:26-- godly men escape her)
  • deceived transgressor (1 Tim 2:14)
There's a lot here, but I think it may be helpful to look at this both in a micro- and macro- way.

Generally, the biblical woman is discerning, gracious, generous, and kind. Generally, women are given a role defined by family and the home. Rather than seeking to control or manipulate men, the biblical woman is focused on the Lord, and her husband, children, and home (if married). A godly woman passes her faith on to others (specifically including her children and those who know her testimony) and is willing to sit at the feet of Jesus and love and worship Him.

Starting with what she is not... she is not quarrelsome or worrisome. She does not seek to ensnare, capture, or deceive men. She does not dress seductively. She doesn't act thoughtlessly or imprudently.

She works hard in order to serve her household, the poor, and widows. She worships God. She tells others what Christ has done for her. She learns with a quiet spirit, willing to submit to what is taught.

She is protected by the men in her family when she is a virgin (there were many instances of this, but these were not necessarily descriptive passages so I did not include them in the list), and focused on her family and home once married. She serves her husband and is faithful to him. She seeks to make him known as an honorable man. She raises children, teaching them kindness and faith. If unmarried, she is single-mindedly focused on serving Christ and being holy for Him. She fearfully, faithfully, and attentively serves a gracious, forgiving, and healing Creator God by serving, loving, and giving to the people around her.

This is encouraging and challenging stuff, huh? Any thoughts you'd like to add or other things you see in these descriptions?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Private Prayer

It probably seems contradictory to write a public post about private prayer, but I'm reading a Puritan classic by Thomas Brooks (called "The Secret Key to Heaven: The Vital Importance of Private Prayer") that is teaching me so very much in this area and I want to share some of the highlights here. Brooks lays out a phenomenal case for not only the necessity but the blessing of spending time in one's closet, engaged in private prayer with the Father.

Pointing to Matt. 6:6, he writes:
In the text, "But thou, when thou prayest", He does not say, when you [plural] pray, but thou, as speaking not so much of a joint duty of many praying together, as of a duty which each person is to do alone. The command in the text sends us to the closet [as well as] to the church. He is a real hypocrite that chooses the one and neglects the other; for thereby he tells the world that he cares for neither. He that puts on a religious habit abroad to gain himself a great name among men, and at the same time lives like an atheist at home, shall at the last be uncovered by God, and presented before all the world for a most outrageous hypocrite.
Heavy stuff, that.

Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus stealing away for private moments with His Father. Brooks points to Christ as an example for us in spending much time in private prayer:
Christ is a pattern of patterns; His example should be to us instead of a thousand examples. It is not only our liberty, but our duty and glory, to follow Christ... Other patterns are imperfect and defective, but Christ is a perfect pattern; and of all His children, they are the happiest that come nearest to this perfect pattern.
Brooks lays out a point-by-point case for why Christians should be utterly dependent upon and defined by their closet prayer time with the Father. Some of the reasons that he offers that really resonate with me and motivate me are these:
#4- Secret prayer lets us unbosom ourselves before God. In secret we may more freely and fully, and safely unbosom ours souls to God than we can in the presence of many or a few. ... In secret, a Christian may descend into such particulars, as in public or before others he will not, he may not, he ought not, to mention. Ah! how many Christians are there who would blush and be ashamed to walk in the streets, and to converse with sinners or saints, should but those infirmities, enormities, and wickednesses be written in their foreheads or known to others, which they freely and fully lay open to God in secret.

#6- God most manifests Himself in secret. [Brooks lays out many examples from Scripture and then writes:] Private prayer is a golden key to unlock the mysteries of the Word to us. The knowledge of many choice and blessed truths is but the outcome of private prayer. ... Certainly that Christian or that minister that in private prayer lies most at the feet of Jesus Christ, he shall understand most...

... A husband imparts his mind most freely and fully to his wife when she is alone... Wise men give their best, their choicest, and their richest gifts in secret; and so does Christ give to his the best of the best, when they are in a corner, when they are all alone.

... But as for such as cannot spare time to seek God in a closet, to serve Him in secret, they sufficiently show that they have little fellowship or friendship with God, whom they so seldom come to.
That last sentence is so convicting and illuminating, isn't it? I confess that I am guilty as charged... I have not consistently made private fellowship with my Heavenly Father and Friend a priority as it ought to have been. I am striving to be more faithful to spend time in closet prayer to the Father, as I have been convicted by Brooks' words, and even more by his right division of God's Word as he presents his case.

I have more to share, and I will do so soon, but wanted to get these thoughts out this morning. Hopefully it will challenge and convict others as it has done and is doing in my own heart.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Years Diversions... (January's Mega Show & Tell Post)

Two women in the same newspaper... which has the greater legacy, and which should we be striving for?
"One is a public figure who grasps at power and prestige like a drowning man to a life preserver, who is admired because she can shoulder her way in a world once deemed to belong only to men. She seeks dominance, perhaps for its own sake. And then there is a modest country woman whose success can be measured in the productive lives of her many descendents and the remembrance by hundreds of her steady and consistent virtue passed on to generations. They were both in the same newspaper. Which one has the real power?" Read the whole article here.

  • Take the picture while you can.
  • You can make your own baby food-- it's better, cheaper, and extremely easy!
  • Interesting thoughts about praising your kids.
  • Breastfeeding moms: GET PLENTY OF IRON! (I didn't, and began having slight fainting spells a couple weeks ago. Once I began taking my iron supplements again, they went away.)
  • Married women: Just Say "Yes"! My good friend Kelly just started this blog for encouraging married women... let me tell you, she is one inspiring lady in this area of blessing your husband with a fulfilling intimate life. So check out her blog, and consider adding it to your bloglines account!
  • Sheila shares an interesting thought about why many women don't enjoy sex... and a way to rightly "awaken love". Perhaps this could help you?
Happy reading!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stopping Too Soon!

Our culture struggles with sticking it out. We have difficulty keeping commitments. Difficulty persevering. Difficult times in a marriage often lead to divorce... difficult times in family relationships lead to cutting people out... difficult times in training and teaching our children lead many to seek a newer, flashier parenting method... difficult times in a job means it's time to get a new one.

Life has not always been so very disposable. People stuck it out. Perhaps it was because they knew that even though bad times come, good times will come again. This is part of the curse of easy mobility, and of living in a non-communal society. It is also a result of having so very many options from which to choose. Sometimes, too, I feel like we (generally speaking) stop things before we give ourselves a chance to get good at them and develop endurance and skill in the tasks/roles we're being asked to carry out.

All marriages go through times of difficulty, no matter how strong the initial feelings of being "in love" are... the ones that stick it out aren't those that are perfect, but rather, those that make it are those that don't quit. All parents go through seasons of difficulty with their children-- whether it's personality conflicts, difficulty in understanding a particular age/season, disobedience, physical disabilities, just the daily needs, or other struggles. All workers go through times of disliking their job.

All mothers face times of realizing that their own strength and wisdom is not enough to get them through... but instead of turning to God in those moments of weakness, fury, or desperation, children get abused. Or abandoned. Or left to, essentially, raise themselves. Or left to be raised by culture. Even by Christian parents.

But just because something is HARD does not mean we need to stop it. If we all followed that logic, no one would ever run a marathon. Or build a skyscraper. Or manage a business. Or make it to a "golden anniversary" of fifty years married to the same person. Or get a doctorate. Or raise a child without bailing on him/her before they are raised.

We as Christians need to be aware of the draw of this mentality and not run away when things get tough. Our Lord warned us-- "in this life you will have troubles". There are some things in life we can count on, and that is one of them. So instead of just thinking, "MAKE IT STOP!" whenever we face struggles, let's yield to the pressure of our maker, knowing that the Potter doesn't make mistakes... when He puts us into difficult situations, He has purposes in them.

Sometimes the solution may include looking for a new job, or finding ways to "solve" the problem. But, generally, I think we as a people (me included!) need to learn more about perseverance... sticking it out when the going gets tough. What say you?

Renninger's Extravaganza This Weekend

Hey everyone~~don't forget this Friday the 16th thru Sunday the 18th is the January Extravaganza at Renninger's in Mt. Dora FL!! I will be setting up in the outdoor pavilion that I was in in November and just a couple of spaces down. Hope to see you there! Be sure and dress warm cause we're getting a huge cold front as I type and it's always colder in Mt. Dora!!

Renninger's Antique Extravaganza
Highway 441
Mt. Dora FL
Friday Jan. 16~~Sunday Jan. 18th 2009
Booth P518

Monday, January 12, 2009

Root and Wine Cellar

Call me crazy but when we first did a walk through of our future house-to-be, I fell in love with the basement. It's a large daylight basement with nice concrete floors, several old windows, a laundry room, a workshop with two large antique work benches, a back door leading up old concrete stairs AND the most adorable old-fashioned root cellar.

Having lived in Maine for my entire twenties, I became well acquainted with basements and their practical beauty. And I thought one day, one day, I will have a house with a basement and in that basement, I will have myself a root cellar.

Well we expanded on that idea and over the past weekend, we finally set up our root and wine cellar.

Where the canning will be stored.

Where the wine will be stored.
These racks are fabulous examples of old-fashioned practicality. The tall long rack is an old Bass shoe rack from Maine. A wonderful organic wine shop I use to frequent in Maine used these racks to display wine and I thought it was such a wonderful revitalization of beautiful craftsmanship.
The green rack is an old bread rack. Again, I just love making use of something that was so tenderly used for something completely different.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

ANSWERS & ADVICE: Homeschoolers & The Real World

Recently got this question from another homeschooling mom:
Q: "Making home a priority is so important. What do I say to those people (Christians) who say, "Get off of your island!"; "You are so shielded from the real world."; "Your children will never know how to act in the real world - you are crippling them."; "You need to let other people invest in the lives of your children." Seriously - people say this stuff to me. I never know how to respond."
A: I do not know the age of the mother asking this question... and that certainly affects my reply. But here are my thoughts in response to her question; please feel free to add your response in the comments section.

I think receiving these comments when one's children are young is, frankly, absurd. But to the homeschooling community in general, there is a tendency for some of these things to be true about our children if we are not careful to get them to a point where they can wisely, safely and healthily live IN the world by the time they are adults. Ours is a society with transgender kindergarteners and porn addictions, teen pregnancies and same-sex marriage. Just using google can Pretending like these things don't exist is not a choice that will serve our children well.

I've proposed my thoughts about that in an article called "Thoughts on Sheltering". Michael Pearl has also put out a series of articles called "The Cloistered Homeschooler Syndrome" that I would recommend to every homeschooler. I absolutely would recommend a process of prayerfully and carefully talking through real life issues, and slowly but surely and intentionally releasing our children so that they can wisely live in the world.

I say all of that because I don't know how old your children are. If they are older, I'd encourage you to read the above mentioned articles and prayerfully consider ways that you can release your children into adulthood in the real world in a meaningful & intentional way. But if they are younger, I'd just either not say anything, or if I was really being challenged (more than just an occasional comment), I'd reference Deut. 6, Proverbs, and other places that show that parents are to be the primary teachers and "input" into their children's lives, particularly when they are young.

One other random thought-- I was interested to note that the very first mention of motherhood in the bible is when GOD says "a man shall leave his mother" in reference to Adam & Eve's union... from the very beginning-- before there were even children, LEAVING was the whole point. I think we as moms need to remember that, particularly as our children grow older.

But to moms of young children, these concerns are ridiculous. I don't want other first graders "socializing" my son when he ought to be learning. I can do a much better job socializing my son about real world things he'll encounter as an adult rather than having him exist in a microcosm where Bratz and Wii games are the most important things, thankyouverymuch. :) Additionally, God instructs me to be teaching my children diligently. So, that's what I'm doing. The time for outside input will come later.

But for now, I get the opportunity to pour in as much of the Lord, His Word, and His wisdom into my children, and I don't want to squander that.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs: Fairest Lord Jesus

There is something about the depth of truth and theology found in many old hymns that is severely lacking in most modern-day Christian songs. I'm not an anti-praise & worship gal but am now revisiting the lyrics of many old hymns. I grew up singing old hymns but (like many evangelicals) transitioned to praise & worship in the mid-90's, and am often delighted at the solid foundation of truth I find in the old songs of faith.

So, on Sundays every now and then (if you've been around, you know I'm not one to vow to an ever-faithful once-a-week posting on a particular topic, etc...), I'd like to post the lyrics to a hymn or song that I'm finding particularly meaningful. I'll bold the lyrics that I find especially penetrating, challenging, or encouraging. Perhaps you'll enjoy it, perhaps not, but it will give me the opportunity to further mull and meditate on these lyrics I have now sung for decades.

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
~Ephesians 5:19

The first lyrics I'll share are from one of my favorites:

Fairest Lord Jesus! Ruler of all nature!
O Thou of God and man the Son!
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown!

Fair are the meadows, Fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, Fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels heav’n can boast.

Beautiful Saviour! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, Praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine!


When I was an R.A. in college, I used to steal away into the dorm stairwell at times when I knew most people were out of the dorms and sing hymns and revel in the rich echo found there. This was the one hymn that I always, always sang in those private stairwell sings. I am so thankful for Jesus... who He is, what He did, and how He still intercedes and loves me. He is a treasure, and so worthy of glory, honor, praise, and adoration.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Psychobabble Parenting #2

Wanted to share another "Christian parenting tip" of the modern sort that really chaps my hide. (Here's the first installment, if you missed it.) I have heard this particular comment at least a handful of times in the last few months, and honestly, I am astounded at the poor logic. The advice goes something like this:
"The Bible tells children to obey their parents. It doesn't tell parents to make their children obey them."

I wish I was joking. Words like "hogwash", "rotten advice", "nonsense", and "obtuse" come to mind, although I know that because I've admitted it, I'll get e-mails and nasty comments. Still, I feel the need to call a spade a spade.

Honestly, don't we all know what happens to a child who is not disciplined? I could point to a few places online that give very clear evidence of what I'm talking about, but I'll restrain myself. I believe this commentary can stand without pointing fingers, for those parents who have open ears and eyes.

Children who are not well-disciplined hit, bite, kick, yell at, and/or defy their parents. Not once, but many times, consistently. Screaming, whining, and meltdowns are normative. They don't want to take a nap, so they don't. They don't want to eat this, that, or the other, so they won't. They hit, bite, kick, and yell at other children without correction. Nothing satisfies them. Their anger knows no bounds. Their "gimmes" know no bounds. Their mothers are often bewildered and full of bitterness, both towards their children and towards anyone who dares to imply that there is a problem, which often includes their husbands. And these are just in the first few years; there are more long-term effects as well.

There are sweet children, I'm sure, that will generally go along and get along and do OK just out of a desire to please or some other motivation... but the majority of children will end up as demanding and self-interested as a character from the Lord of the Flies if left undisciplined.

And if that child-- one who defies, whines, hits, and argues with his parents-- is left to himself, why in the world would he suddenly one day wake up and think, "Oh goodness, what have I been thinking these last six years? The Bible tells me to obey my parents. I'd better shape up and start obeying God!"? The truth is, more often than not, he won't. He will continue to spiral more deeply downwards into degenerate behavior and egocentric attitudes.

If we-- as Christian adults-- struggle with self-discipline and respect for the God-given authorities over us, why would anyone think that an unregenerate child would naturally come to this obedience and respect that God intends for children to have?

And even if, by sheer grace, God draws that child to himself and works such a miracle in his young heart that he fervently wants to obey God's Word, his flesh has already had such long season of full reign over his sinful heart that it will be a difficult, uphill climb for him to learn to choose obedience and respect towards his parents.

The Bible makes it clear:
"A child left to himself brings shame to his mother."
God gives children parents in order that they might be trained, taught, and disciplined. Yes, children are to obey. But not because they suddenly arrive at some miraculous level of self-control and maturity. Rather, it is because their parents consistently, continually, over the course of their formative years, expect it and teach them to obey.

Have you come across this same supposedly Christian advice? How do you handle it when these sort of tips are dispensed? Do you confront it? Ignore it? What say you?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who We Are in Christ & Some Things to Pray For: Ephesians 1

In my first week or so in the book of Ephesians, I've listened to the entire book at least half a dozen times (sometimes while doing things around the house and sometimes just sitting and listening). One of the reasons I do this is because, particularly with the letters, these would have been read out to the believers they were written to all at once. And I believe that hearing the whole thing will guard us against error-- we will be less likely to take one verse and twist it to mean something unintended if we have the full picture and context in which it was written.

So, now that I have more of the "big picture" of the book in my head, I'm beginning to read through each chapter more methodically and in a more deliberative way.

Chapter 1 is so rich and describes what we have and who we are in Christ. Beth Moore did an excellent job of examining this section of Ephesians in her study, "Believing God". As she points out, in verses 3-14, there are six things that are laid out as descriptions of Christians... that we are:
Blessed (vs. 3, 6),
Chosen (vs. 4),
Redeemed (vs. 7),
Forgiven (vs. 7),
Heirs of an inheritance (vs. 11),
Sealed by the Spirit (vs. 13).
I may have that last one wrong; I'm going off of my memory. Regardless, that portion of Scripture (Ephesians 1: 3-14) is very meaningful for any Christian who struggles with guilt/shame, worthlessness, or confusion about what we have been given in Christ.

It is the second half of the first chapter which struck me as particularly meaningful this morning as I read through it. Paul is praying for the believers in Ephesus, asking the Father to give them certain things:
  • a spirit of wisdom & revelation in the knowledge of God (vs. 17)
  • a heart that sees clearly (vs. 18)
  • an understanding of HOPE that God calls us to (vs. 18)
  • an awareness of the wealthy inheritance He has given us in the saints (vs. 18)
  • a wider view of the great power He wields towards us (vs. 19)
Many times, I have blazed through these things... but in light of verse 1, "To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus", what Paul is saying is that it is entirely possible for faithful Christians to miss out on these things.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to lack a spirit of wisdom.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to not possess knowledge of God.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to have undiscerning, clouded, dimly-lit hearts that do not see things clearly.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to not "get" that they are called to be people of hope.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to completely overlook the gifts He has already given us.
  • It is possible for faithful Christians to not understand God's great power.

These are all things that I want... but do not always have. Particularly, I am not often a woman who walks in hope. I do underestimate God's power and forget to pray with that in mind-- not only in my requests-- but in the way that I address Him. I do forget the rich inheritance He has given to me.

Paul was wisely praying for these Ephesian believers... that they would get it, that they would mature, that they would SEE things as they really are, and that they would be discerning. Today, I am asking for these things for myself-- and for you:

Glorious Father, give us a spirit of wisdom and teach us to truly know You. Open our eyes and give us discernment, that we may see things clearly and as they really are. Teach us what it means to walk as people of hope. Give us a richer understanding of the inheritance and gifts You have given us. And show us more of (and give us eyes to see!) your great power through which you work out "all things" (Eph. 1:11) according to your will. In the name of Christ which is "above every name that is named, not only in this age, but in the age to come," Amen.

*** All pictures taken during our recent family trip to Ephesus, 12/27/08. ***
Click on photos to enlarge.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Early Homeschooling: Infancy to Toddlerhood

A young mom recently wrote in with a question:
Q: I noticed that you homeschool, and wondered what you did with your children before they were old enough to begin traditional a traditional curriculum. I am a new mom to a sweet, beautiful 5.5 month old girl, and am wondering what I can be doing now to prepare her for home-school. I have checked out a few books on baby games and infant development from our local library, but wondered if you had any suggestions or resources that you used.

Here is my answer to her (and to anyone else who's interested):
A: Congratulations on your daughter. What a sweet gift.

As far as what to do with infants... read together, crawl together, interact! No TV, except for rare, careful occasions, if you must. Snuggle, talk, giggle, tickle. Talk to her in an adult voice unless you're just playing a game. Don't babytalk; use normal words. As she gets older (closer towards 2), you can play drama/expression games...
"make a sad face, now an excited face, now let's pretend to be surprised, now happy, etc." And, "let's talk like cowboys, like giants, like little babies, like ladies, in a whisper, in loud voices", etc. Tell lots of Bible stories and act them out as she gets older. Teach simple Bible verses ("children, obey your parents", "When I am afraid, I will trust in You.", "trust in the Lord with all your heart", "the Lord is our Shepherd"), and talk about what they mean and how they apply in day-to-day life (at night when we're scared, when we don't want to obey, when we need to be cared for, etc.).

As they get older, teach them to make circles and lines. Put out small toys for them to draw like a still life artist would do. Talk about numbers, sing the ABC song, count lots and lots, name colors as you see them "The green trees, that red truck, your yellow shirt, my purple socks," etc. Do puzzles together and talk about how and why certain pieces fit together and others don't. Let her sit up next to you and "read" for 30 minutes or more. Let her see that books are important in YOUR life. Let her sit up next to you as you read the Bible (she can "read" hers too... simply Bible story books, etc.), so that she sees YOUR dependence on the Word.

Teach things like height, weight, and volume in terms of real-world objects (height: trees, buildings, cars, people, babies, flowers; weight: penny, book, cat, full laundry basket, daddy, car; volume: medicine dropper, cup, trash can, tanker truck, swimming pool, etc.). Around 3 or 4, she'll be interested in writing her name. So teach her how. Teach her the sounds that the letters make (rather than only calling it an "p", make the sound it makes-- "puh" so she hears the sound too... this will help later with reading. Side note-- emphasize the consonant sound-- and minimize any vowel sound you use... like above, instead of PUUUUUH, keep it short: Puh.).

Let her stack bowls/cups on the floor of the kitchen while you throw dinner together. Let her join you in cooking as she is able... counting "cups"... showing what "half" means, etc. When putting on shoes, talk about pairs, and how a pair means two, "see? one, two shoes. That makes one pair." You can use hands and feet to introduce the concept of counting in fives. Talk about money and debt in terms of the grocery store bill, or as you fill up your gas tank. Use the real world to teach her as much as possible.

These sorts of things are the best ways to "homeschool" from the very beginning. I highly recommend a book called "Home Grown Kids" that talks about this very thing in much greater detail... it's written by Raymond & Dorothy Moore, some of the early proponents (in this generation) for homeschooling.

Many blessings-- what a neat time you are in-- enjoy every day and make sweet memories with your daughter!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Year's Day Blessing

We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the New Year than with a walk down to see the horses. As a special treat, we brought some apples to help celebrate.

This is an action shot - of me walking.

This is Abby's first bite of her New Year's Day apple.

She kindly ate half...chewed, and was ready for more.
You can't be afraid of a little horse drool. 

I love Abby. 

Here are some of our other stable friends...

She loves her braids.

They are so snuggly soft with their winter coats.

If she were mine, I'd call her Kindness.

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