Monday, April 16, 2007

Putting First Things First

Well everyone, I have scaled back on my blogging, but still feel stretched. I need to put all my energy and focus on the central things in my life--my relationship to the Lord and my relationship and ministry to my husband and children. I covet your prayers as I am also going through a job transition and preparing to move into the house my husband is remodeling for us (so excited!) Therefore, I am going on an extended break from posting here.

Thank you for your encouragement and giving me feedback on my thoughts and writing. I look forward to having more time to write some time in the future, but until then, many blessings to you. May we all keep Christ first in all and may He be glorified in our lives!

(I am posting at CWO blog today, and will do that occasionally in the coming months.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Lord Builds the House



For Children's Book Monday, I want to tell you about a wonderful book we recently purchased called The Lord Builds the House by Johannah Bluedorn. Johannah is a homeschooled author and illustrator of children's books. Her illustrations remind me of the work of an all-time favorite author/illustrator, Tasha Tudor.

This particular book contains gorgeous, "I can look at over and over again" illustrations to the text of Psalm 127. Not only will you and your children love exploring the details of the pictures, you are teaching them to love the beauty and message of scripture--it really comes alive for them.

You can check out this book and others at triviumpursuit.com. Don't forget to check out other Children's Book Monday selections at A Path Made Straight.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

Please don't miss this powerful photo montage set to one of my favorite songs, "Why" by Nichole Nordeman. We are part of the greatest love story ever told-how amazing is His grace! Blessings this Easter weekend.

Coherent Thoughts


I am so glad to know that some of my thoughts are coherent--some days I feel rather scattered! My friends at One Day More, Home Is Where The Heart Is, For Such A Time is This, and Remain In The Vine have dubbed me a "Thinking Blogger." Cyndi, Jenny, and Deidre are daily reads and some of my favorite thinking bloggers who encourage me to a deeper walk with Christ with their insights. Brenda is a new blog "discovery" for me-I have enjoyed her reflective posts and look forward to visiting her more in the future. Thank you so much ladies! I am grateful that my thoughts have challenged and encouraged you--I give Him the glory, for I myself have nothing to offer you!

Now to the hard part! I have so many blogs that I look forward to reading and learn from. Here are just a few (in addition to the amazing ladies above) that are especially talented writers/thinkers:

Come To The Table-Chris has been such a blessing to me! As a fellow minister's wife with a bit more experience, she has encouraged me greatly with her wisdom. Through her blog and our emailing, I have come to know a woman who is striving to serve the Lord and who is real. ( I think being a mother of five breaks down a lot of pretense!)

A Path Made Straight-Elise is a gem-such wisdom and eloquence in her posts. Elise is a very talented writer that sees our extraordinary God in the ordinary occurrences in everyday life. Her perceptive posts are a blessing to read, and she shares my love of great children's literature (hosting Children's Book Monday).

Embracing My Cup-Erin was one of the first blogs where I thought, "This girl needs to be a writer!" She is another blogger whose reflective posts on being a wife and mom seeking to serve the Lord bring encouragement and challenge.

Snapshot-Jennifer is definitely a thinker. She spits out informative, perceptive, and fun posts right and left. Her blog is one stop shopping for Biblical reflection & challenge, literature reviews, life lessons, and just plain great writing.

Lisa Writes-Lisa is a breath of fresh air with her honest reflections about being a follower of Christ, wife, and mother. Lisa is another blogger with great writing ability. Great writing typically comes from great thinking and reflecting!

If I have tagged you, here are your instructions:

Write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with the link to the post that you wrote.
Blessings!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Masks We Wear

Today I am posting at the CWO team blog, Jehovah Java, about the masks we wear as women. Please join me--I would love to hear your personal comments!


Monday, April 02, 2007

Thinking Outside Our Box

For Children's Book Monday, hosted by Elise at A Path Made Straight, I will highlight two books that you can share with your children about other peoples and cultures around the world. In America, we live rather egocentric lives on the whole. The world can seem to revolve around our culture. As Christians, I believe it is so important to teach our children about people around the world, to pray for those people and the missionaries sent to bring them the gospel of Christ. We want them to "think outside their box." Through this focus on others, we teach to follow Christ's example of compassion and service to others.



All the Children of the World by Karen Mesek Leimert is a book that highlights twelve children from various countries, in addition to the United States. It describes how they live and important cultural distinctions, giving parents a great starting point for discussion. The illustrations are amazing, as well! You may find a new copy at biblio.com or search for a used copy at amazon.com. I found mine at the used book store.


From Abeku to Zapotec by June Hathersmith is a book that we read a part of the Sonlight Curriculum. The subtitle is "a book of Bibleless peoples." From A to Z, it highlights 26 peoples around the world that still do not have the Bible translated into their language, from the Abeku and Zapotec peoples to the Kulango and Safwa peoples. It gives a brief description of the people accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Alice Roder.

Blessings!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

My Banner Will Be Clear

Each year the university where I teach gives students the opportunity to go on missions trips in the US and all over the world--from Tanzania to Thailand to Illinois to Guatemala. This year, over 20 mission teams will be sent out. These are invaluable experiences for our students to learn to serve and share their faith. One comment I hear often upon their return is how much passion and commitment they see in Christians all over the world. Sadly in the US, we have much to distract us from our calling and purpose in Christ.

I do not want to be distracted, but committed passionately to Him. As the song goes, "I want a true and holy passion . . . I want to know and follow hard after Him!"

Below is something many of you might have read before. It is a challenging reminder to pursue Him passionately - may "our banner be clear" when He returns!

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problems recognizing me - my banner will be clear!

(Written by a young African pastor and tacked on the wall of his house.)
Blessings!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Adele & Simon



For Children's Book Monday hosted by Elise at A Path Made Straight, I have chosen to highlight Adele & Simon. I discovered this book as I searched for Christmas books for my children. As soon as I saw this one, I knew my daughter would love it.

It is the story of a Adele and her little brother, Simon, walking home from school. Simon is a curious little boy who loses things along the way--coat, scarf, crayons, hat, etc. On each page, you can search for what he has lost.

The pictures by Barbara McClintock (one of my favorite illustrators) are amazing--beautifully rich and detailed with an old-fashioned charm and water color quality. Also, you will get a great lesson about Paris. Adele and Simon's walk home carries them through familiar areas and landmarks of the city with notes in the back about each.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Price of Privilege

Hi friends. I would like to ask for your prayers for my husband's family-his grandmother passed away this week. We will be traveling this weekend to the funeral.

My post for Jehovah Java, titled "The Price of Privilege," will be posted Saturday if you are interested.

Blessings!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Change

I have never been a huge fan of change. I like tradition, consistency, and steadiness. While I do enjoy adventure and new experiences, I prefer them in intermittent, controlled doses--not the upheaval of unexpected, unwelcome change that can often occur in life. I think that is one of the reasons I love to read so much--experiencing different ideas, places, and stories from the comfort of my cozy chair.

Part of this is very much a female thing. In Bringing Up Boys, Dr. James Dobson describes a woman's tendency and preference for stability and a man's inclination toward adventure. To me this is not saying that women don't like new and adventurous experiences--I would be the first to sign up for a back-packing trip across Europe or a safari in Africa. I just want to be able to return to the familiar rhythm of everyday life at home afterwards. It's that nesting instinct that is the "home-making" gene we carry.

I do know, though, that the Lord has used "change" tremendously is my life to grow and teach me. I had to be removed from my comfort zone to prevent me from becoming stagnant.


Change.
We love it. We hate it. It is good. It is bad. It is easy. It is difficult. It makes us vulnerable. It gives us confidence. It shakes our very foundation. It grows our sense of security. It stretches us. It causes us to withdraw. It is frightening. It is refreshing.
Change is challenging. Change brings a creative flow of feelings and experiences that give life more quality. Change brings new perspectives. Change teaches us. Change….
Change is an inevitable part of life.
--Ann Kiemel Anderson

So while change can bring discomfort, anxiety and many other unwelcome feelings, we can take solace in the the fact that God is refining us through these changes and "bringing all things together for good." Change brings a clearer perspective, often times when things we have come to depend on have been stripped away. We are driven to declare our dependence on Him alone. I can now look back with gratitude at these times of change.

*******

In relation to parenting, I believe that this is so important to model to our children--dealing with change. In working with college students, I encounter many that have no ability to deal with change. If they are not in control or having their circumstances controlled by their parents, many can't cope with dealing with life and the many changes that they are experiencing or will experience. They seem to either spiral out of control or shut down.

My husband and I strive to respond in obedience and faith to the changes that God brings into our lives, and pray that our children will see that change is inevitable, but that we do have a stability and security in Christ. There is no need to fear change--He is in control, thankfully not us!

So the next time you are facing a big change in life, be challenged to ask God what He might be desiring for you to learn from it. Meet change with obedience and faith!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Fourteen Bears


Children's Book Monday is official now! Elise at A Path Made Straight has put up a Mr. Linky so that we all can join in and visit each other on Mondays. So come share your favorites--I've already discovered new books to share with my children.

This week I am sharing a book that I discovered and bought my daughter this past Christmas. It has quickly moved up our list of favorites! The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter by Evelyn Scott is a book back in print after being out of print for decades. It is the sweet story of a father and mother bear and their twelve bear cubs. It is full of detailed, colorful illustrations that are so fun to "explore" with your kids. Your children will even learn a few nature lessons along the way. Just a charming book!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Putting on Armor

Finally, Be strong in the Lord and the in the strength of His Might.
Lord, I feel so weak, I so desperately need your strength. May you be glorified in my weakness-the days where I am not patient or kind.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Lord, I need your guidance and protection. My enemies overwhelm me--pride, selfishness, busyness, frustration, instant gratification. May I have courage to fight this spiritual war.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Lord, I will clothe myself in your grace and love that I be able to stand for you even when the world seeks to move me. May I persevere until the end.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,
May no gossip or false words cross my lips. May honesty and sincerity gird my efforts.
and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
May the righteousness of Christ strengthen my heart.
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the
gospel of peace.
May I abound in the knowledge of the gospel which inspires obedience, even during struggles.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
When Satan attacks and tempts me, I seek shelter behind the shield of your grace and place my hope in the sacrifice and redemption through my Savior Jesus Christ.
and take the helmet of salvation,
I will not believe the lies of the enemy for we are more than conquerors through Christ
who is victorious over sin.
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
I strive for diligence in hiding your word in my heart, the word is a weapon that can slay the lies and deceptions of the enemy through skillful knowledge and use.
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
May I pray boldly in the Spirit for personal strength, but also for fellow believers.

--from Ephesians 6:10-20 and my heart

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spend Yourself




Today I am posting at the CWO team blog, Jehovah Java. So come visit as I share about "spending yourself."

Firecracker Daughters



I have an adorable, energetic daughter. As she was growing up through the toddler and preschool years, more than one family member said- "Boy, she's a firecracker." My husband and I could not have agreed more! She was in sharp contrast to her calmer, more reserved older brother. While we continue to help her learn to channel her spunk, she has grown so much in the past few years. My children's book selection this week has been one of her favorites since she was two--she could quote it while I read! I think she saw a bit of herself in Mad Maddie Maxwell.

Mad Maddie Maxwell is the story of a preschooler who learns her lesson about getting angry and jumping to conclusions. The story is told in rhyming verse and lots of repetition, making it perfect for the under 5 crowd. Good lessons on self-control, selfishness, and forgiveness.

Check out Elise at A Path Made Straight for more Children's Book Monday.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ordinary Days

I just had a few minutes to read a couple of nights ago, and picked up a book on my 2007 reading list called Ordinary Days: Family Life in a Farmhouse, a collection of stories about family life by Dorcas Smucker, a fellow blogger. I could not put it down over the past two days--I have not enjoyed a book this much in a while. In the introduction, Dorcas writes:

My relatives were wonderful storytellers. Fertsayluh they called it in Pennsylvania German-the art of spinning tales and of seeing the quirky and unusual in the most ordinary events. . . This book is a collection of stories about our lives, telling the simple blessings and ordinary days. . . I hope they will echo in your own life, reminding you of family times, lessons learned, and God's loving touch on all of us.

Dorcas Smucker truly carries on the family tradition of wonderful storytelling. Her keen eye of observation to the moments and happenings of life is beautifully translated through her writing. This was such an enjoyable read! It challenged me to slow down and savor the flow of everyday life--we pass up so many opportunities for God to bless and reveal himself to us because we are so busy.

A few of my favorite stories:

  • "Just Like Mom"-beautiful reflections on the connections between mothers and daughters over generations.

  • "Christmas Memories"-that memories will just happen as we are focusing on the message of the love and redemption brought through Christ--maybe we don't need to try so hard.

  • "An Irrelevant Generation"-how we must be careful not to make the older generation feel "irrelevant" and miss out on the priceless treasures they have to offer us and our children.

Don't miss out on these stories. I felt like I was sitting at the kitchen table or on the front porch listening to a friend share. There is such power in a story, making us often see things more clearly in our lives. I think this is why Jesus used stories to teach. Through the parables, He taught many profound truths, helping us understand and relate. May we slow down and pay attention to the blessings and lessons of "ordinary life"--which when following Christ, are nothing less than extraordinary.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Prioritizing

At certain times in our lives, we must take a step back and make sure our priorities are where they need to be. While I love sharing my thoughts through blogging, it seems to be eating up more time than I can sacrifice during this time in my life. I have a lot on my plate and need to put more focus other places.

Therefore over the next few months I will be cutting back on my posting. I still plan to continue posting "Children's Book Monday," as well as posting once or twice a week additionally. So if you are a daily visitor, just check in weekly with me instead. I hope you guys stick with me!

I will also be blogging twice a month at Jehovah Java, the CWO team blog--I will be there the 12th and 24th of this month.

Blessings!

The Charm of Maple Hill Farm

If you have not already visited the world of Maple Hill Farm, you are in for a treat. Two books we have particularly enjoyed around our house have been The Year at Maple Hill Farm and Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm by the Caldecott-winning of Martina and Alice Provenson. These books are wonderful stories with beautiful, detailed illustrations.


The Year at Maple Hill Farm follows the goings-on at Maple Hill Farm for each month of the year, providing a great introduction to farm life and seasons. You have to pay close attention to the illustrations for lots of fun detail that could be missed.

Our Animal Friends goes into more detail with each different type of farm animal and how they are cared for, and so on. There are lots of great learning points and more great pictures. So don't miss out on the wonderful charm of Maple Hill Farm!



Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What Do You See in the Mirror?-part 2

It seems that this issue really hits a chord with women. I am so glad that many of you were encouraged by my summary of Chip Ingram's study on this topic. I will finish up where I left on last week.

*******
But just knowing the truth about how God sees us isn’t enough and doesn’t change your life.


We must BELIEVE GOD’S VIEW IS TRUE

Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of
what we do not see.”

Can you imagine what would happen if you believe it is true?

Three things to help us believe:


1) Faith is built on God’s word

Hebrews 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

When you expose yourself to the Word of God, faith grows.

2) Faith grows when you renew your mind.

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We must be conscious of how we spend our time. We can waste so much time on worldly endeavors. Instead, spend that time learning God’s view of you through Bible study and memorizing scripture and you’ll be transformed.

There are 168 hours in every week.
1 hour of church vs 167 hours of the world’s impact
Which is going to influence you more?

Develop a plan to remove the distorted mirrors in your life and replace them with the mirrors of God’s word. Affirmations from God’s Word & praying God’s Word.


Ways we can celebrate the unique person God has made us to be:
1) Unwrap your spiritual gift
I Corinthians 12:4-10
Every believer has at least one. It is incredible to see what happens when God uses those gifts to touch lives.

2) Use Your God-given Talents
Exodus 31:3
“I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts, to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in a all kinds of craftsmanship.

Different talents
- Many of you bury them.
- Sometimes you don’t see it as a talent, but it is unique and somebody needs it.
- Just make them available.

3) Leverage Your Past Experience
Romans 8:28
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Parenting. Divorce. Cancer. Sexual abuse. Miscarriage. Etc.
God doesn’t waste pain.

II Corinthians 1: 26-31 -- The comfort and grace God gave you through your pain,
He wants you to use that for others.

God usually works in our weaknesses. Do we most often respond to someone who says, “Hey, I can’t help you with this” or someone who has experienced it and shares from personal experience?

Let’s move beyond our gates of safety and give it away. Get focused on others. Ministry is how God makes what’s true of us, true in us.

Loving others is the key.
Gallop poll:
Only 10% of laymen in churches are using their gifts in church.
50% have no interest in doing so.

So in brief review:
Your plan:
1) Refuse to believe you are inferior.
2) Fill your mind with how God sees you (Scripture).
3) Jump in and give to others.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Miss Suzy Has Captured Our Hearts

I am joining Elise at A Path Made Straight again today for Children's Book Monday. My Mondays will be easy to fill for a long time to come--there are so many wonderful books out there to talk about!

One of my favorite, most memorable books growing up was Miss Suzy by Miriam Young and illustrated by Arnold Lobel of "Frog and Toad" fame. This charming book was written over 40 years ago, and was out of print for awhile. It was re-published in 2004 and I snatched it up as fast as I could!


Miss Suzy is the story of an adorable brown squirrel driven from her simple, but cozy tree home by a group of bully squirrels. She seeks refuge in the attic of a nearby house and makes a new home in a dollhouse there, while also making some new friends. Even so, she still longs for her tree home. The ending of the tale brings in themes of friendship, bravery, and contentment.

This book now is one of my children's favorites--its appeal seems to reach across generations. This is one of the most requested books in our home, and I certainly love to read it, since it is one of my favorites. Don't miss out on this simple story with beautiful illustrations!




Friday, February 23, 2007

What Do You See in the Mirror?

Our culture is obsessed with appearances-of all kinds. Image seems to be all that matters, and it is so frustrating for parents seeking to teach daughters (and sons) about the true source of their worth. It has gotten so bad that even secular studies are showing the harm that these images cause girls.

Lately, my five-year-old daughter has become increasingly aware of what she looks like and what she wears. She has become concerned at points on what other people will say about her appearance. I can't believe she is already starting to think about those things. At five, I was clueless--of course, most of the clothing sold for girls now would have alarmed most parents when I was a child. Inch by inch, standards have eroded, and over time the effect on young girls growing up has been devastating. Parenting and teaching in this area must be very purposeful to help our daughters fight these terrible lies that Satan uses to debilitate women.

I was reminded of a study I participated by Chip Ingram on self-image, and thought I would share some great application for this topic.

*********
It is important to realize that self-image, how we view ourselves, is important. A study of 5- and 6-yr-olds showed how they viewed themselves was a higher determinant of success than IQ. How each of us views ourselves is pivotal in the quality of our lives and the quality of of our ability to serve the Lord. We all struggle with questions such as:
Who I am?
Where do I belong?
Am I significant?
Am I ok?
What do people think of me?

Chip points out that many times we see ourselves as if we are looking through those distorted mirrors at carnivals and county fairs. Three specific distorted mirrors he describes are:
1. APPEARANCE MIRROR
“my value depends on how I look”
2. PERFORMANCE MIRROR
“my value depends on what I can do”
3. STATUS MIRROR
“my value depends on what people think of me”


Until we see ourselves as God sees us, we are destined to feel inferior.

Until we can get away from basing our value on how we look, how good we are, and what others think of us, we are destined to feel inferior. We must see myself as God sees us. We don’t have to be in bondage to the distorted mirrors of our world. Chip describes how we can learn to see ourselves through God's eyes.

How do we see ourselves in the way God sees us?

1. KNOWLEDGE
See God’s view of you- His perspective.

a. You are UNIQUE!
Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image

Psalm 139:13-14 “For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb, I praise you because I am
Fearfully and wonderfully made.”

You one in 6 billion
Your DNA is different from everyone else on this earth
Unique

An artist paints an original piece of art and then prints are made.
God didn’t make prints.
You are an original!

b. You are LOVED!

Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness”.

I have to accept God’s love all the time, knowing that He knows everything about me and still loves me

No one can make me accept it; it is a step of faith.

c. You are VALUABLE!

1 Corinthians 6:20 “ you are not you own; you were bought with a price”

We are all slaves—slaves to sin-- destined to eternity without God
But were bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ

d. You are SECURE!

Ephesians 1:13 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, your were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we can be secure for eternity if we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

When buying a house, you have to put down “earnest money” or a deposit to secure the house-
Jesus was our earnest money for all eternity.

e. You are INDISPENSABLE!

Ephesians 4: 11-13 (different gifts)

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.”

God has a plan to touch people in this world and YOU are the one to do it!

You are important and have a special assignment on this earth-and it doesn’t depend on how smart or how beautiful you are.


But just knowing the truth isn’t enough and doesn’t change your life.
I will continue these thoughts next time, as this post is getting rather long!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Never

I have been tagged by Kim at Mercy Days for this unique meme. Please feel free to join in and learn some little known facts about your blog friends!

1. Which dramatic role have I never had?
a. Rumpelstiltskin, title role, 4th grade skit
b. Amaryllis, piano lesson girl in "The Music Man", 6th grade, community musical
c Fairy in "Dance of the Swan" , 3rd grade ballet
d. Emily in "Our Town," high school

Well, I have never had any of these roles, but was quite involved in community theater from the ages of 10-16, in plays like Annie, Sound of Music, and The Wizard of Oz. I developed this dramatic interest after being cast in The River, a movie with Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek, when I was in the fifth grade.


2. On which athletic team did I never compete?
a. softball
b. field hockey
c. tennis
d. swimming

I have never competed in field hockey (we don't do field hockey in the south) or swimming, and just softball and tennis recreationally. I played volleyball and basketball growing up and went on to play volleyball in college. I love volleyball!

3. What kind of lessons have I never taken?
a. piano
b. riding
c. tap dance
d. etiquette

I have never taken riding lessons, but need to. I always seem to get the wild horses on trail rides!

4. Which type of vehicle have I never driven?
a. stick shift car
b. dirt bike
c. pickup truck
d. ATV

I have never ridden a dirt bike, but am guessing that is in my future. My husband grew up riding them and is itching to buy one for our son (and himself!)

5. What is my favorite genre of literature?
a. historical fiction
b. science fiction
c. romantic fiction
d. nonfiction

This is tough! I would say it is a close call between historical fiction and nonfiction. Since college, I have read a lot more nonfiction, but am re-discovering the enjoyment of great fiction.

Have a wonderful weekend ladies!

The Sandpaper Strategy

Do you have those people in your life that are just tough to love and deal with? I certainly do! I struggle at times ministering to many of the college students that I work with, and even at times, my family and friends. It is hard to practice patience and kindness to those challenging people in our lives. It can be easy to try to insulate ourselves from these people and surround ourselves with people we enjoy - usually people that make us feel good.

In my study this week in Living Beyond Yourself, God really challenged me through one of my favorite passages of scripture in James 1. God's word teaches us that trials and difficulties refine us and produce steadfastness or patience which helps complete what is lacking in us.

Beth Moore describes those tough relationships like sandpaper rubbing together. It is uncomfortable and rough, but with time and consistent contact, will smooth out. God uses that friction in our lives to grow us. My first reaction is to avoid that discomfort, but God is revealing to me that I am called to connect with those frustrating people He places in my path for their growth, as well as mine.

Join me in applying God's "sandpaper strategy" to your life. Can you think of that person God has placed in your life that is a big challenge for you? Do not run from this opportunity for you to be "made complete, lacking nothing."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Genius of Peter Spier

Following the lead from my new blog friend, Elise at A Path Made Straight, I will be posting on one of my favorite children's books each Monday. When I saw this on Elise's blog, I just loved the idea--and immediately asked if she would mind if I joined in. If you book lovers out there would like to join us, please do! I love discovering new books to share with my children, and enjoy myself! If you post, please let us know so we can visit.



****************




My first Children's Book Monday selection comes from one of my *favorite* illustrators, Peter Spier. You can truly get lost in his pictures with the exquisite detail he is known for. The majority of his books are wordless--you can tell the story yourself, and I promise you will find new things you never noticed before each time you "read" his books

Noah's Ark won the 1978 Caldecott Medal, and it is easy to see why. I was lucky to find this book in hardback at an outlet store shortly after my son was born. It is been one of our favorites, especially since my son has been a huge animal fan since he was tiny. He pored over this book and loved using this book to draw his own animal pictures. It is also great because it remains faithful to scripture.

If you enjoy this book, don't stop there--check out his other books at amazon.com. Some are out of print, but you can find a used book seller to purchase from. I have bought three Peter Spier books this way.

Other selections we enjoy include:

Christmas
We The People

There are others I have not gotten, but they are on my wish list! So enjoy your Monday and make sure a curl up with your children and a good book.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Thirteenth Tale

Last week I finished The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, a book that has received comparisons to the writings of the Bronte sisters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! For me a good fiction book brings me inside its pages so that when I put it down, I am a bit disoriented as to where I am after being so absorbed in the story. Also, a great book by my definition brings reflection. The Thirteenth Tale would definitely qualify on these points. I am no literary critic, but will share some reflections on this intriguing tale.

The story revolves around two women and their stories. Vida Winter is a world famous British author who has never revealed her true personal story, always chooses to tell a story when interviewed over the years. As she is growing older and failing in her health, she chooses an obscure biographer named Margaret Lea to pen her biography. Margaret lives and works in a small, bookstore specializing in old books, run by her father. Margaret is an avid, passionate reader, living a rather isolated existence with only her father and books to keep her company. I will not go into any more details--you need to read it for yourself! What follows, though, is the story of the growth of Vida and Margaret's relationship as Vida shares her haunting, often disturbing story. Both women have pasts they confront and truths they finally acknowledge.

My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a good story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.
--Vida Winter

"The Thirteenth Tale" came to represent to me Vida's truth--her true story. As stated in the quote above, Vida avoided the painful truth and chose instead to live in a world of stories that could be fashioned as she wished. The reality of this path is she could not change the truth of her past, it remained the same and was always with her. Crafted personal stories can bring a soothing comfort in the midst of pain, which may be beneficial at times. As a substitute for the truth, though, stories do not suffice.

This book made me think, "What will be my thirteenth tale, my true story?" At the end of my life, how will my story read? Am I living in truth, embracing my past, present, and future in the light of God's sovereignty in my life? I am striving to live in truth and without regrets. I pray that my thirteenth tale will be one of joy, in the struggles, as well as the blessings.

This book also reminded me of the deep pain that is suffered by so many people and how that scars and impacts their lives. I felt deeply convicted that I do not seek to minister to those people as I believe I am called to do. As Christians, we must not shrink from the ugliness that is in our world, but try to shine the healing light of Christ in those very difficult situations.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Palms Down or Palms Up

I don't know about everyone else, but I like to hold on to things. I like to have control over my life. I like stability and avoid uncertainty. I have found this to be true of most women--we tend to be nest-makers, while our men tend to be adventure-seekers. I believe that these desires are part of God's design, but like so many things can be manipulated by Satan to bring defeat into our lives.

I am reading The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges, which is proving to be an instrument that God is using to refine me and challenge me. I have been uniquely impacted by the concept of training in godliness. Coming from a rich athletic background, I have always been drawn to illustrations of physical training and how the same concepts apply to spiritual growth and training.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
--Hebrews 12:1-2
I want to run with endurance the race set before me, but I must first lay aside those things hold me back. This is so hard sometimes, letting go. Jerry Bridges states that one of the principles of training is the cost of commitment. He writes:

There is a price to godliness, and godliness is never on sale. It never comes cheaply or easily. The verb "train," which Paul deliberately chose, implies persevering, painstaking, diligent effort. He was well aware of the total commitment those young athletes made to win a crown that would not last. And as he thought of the crown that would last-the godliness that has value for all things, both in the present life and the life to some-he urged Timothy, and he urges us today, to make the kind of commitment necessary to train ourselves to be godly.

God is challenging me that I must make the choice, the commitment, to give up those things in my life that prevent me from running with endurance. I would take this a step further, to use the word surrender. With surrender there is a complete release or letting go. When we hold things palms up, we can always take them back. If you let go of something with palms down, once it is released, you can not hold on to it. This type of complete surrender is what is required of us. Are your palms facing up or down? Is there anything God is calling you to let go of, so that you may run with endurance the race He has set before you?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I Am

I recently posted Where I Am From and have enjoyed reading as several of you have posted your own version. Owlhaven has posted a new writing template that is similar called, "I Am." Once again I would love for you to let me know if you decide to post so I can read yours. It is such a creative way to express yourself and learn about each other.


I Am
I am the baby born in Kentucky to a seminary student
and high school teacher & coach
Who almost lost me to pneumonia at age two.
I am the child who played Wonder Woman, detective, sports, and dolls.
Who loved to put on shows with my brother and cousins
and loved to run through sprinklers and make mudpies-for real!
Who stored notes from my brother in my treasure box.
Who dreamed of being an ice skater like Dorothy Hamill
and never thought she would actually get to be in a movie.
I am the teenager who liked hanging out with my family.
Who wore parachute pants and jelly shoes and
loved my youth group and hated cliques in school.
Who dreamed of making an impact and knew she would be in ministry.
I am the woman who loved the college experience, playing volleyball,
and building relationships of depth.
Who loves my Savior and my family
and my ministry to college students.
I am the mother who loves reading to my kids and
whose moments of perfect bliss come when I get to cuddle
with my kids after their bath with freshly shampooed hair.
I am the teacher who loves schedules and
avoids (okay- procrastinates) things that bore me.
I am the woman who reflects and plans and obsesses, at times.
I am the person who desires change and growth
and then encounters frustrating bumps along the way.
I am the woman who still loves autumn days & summer evenings,
staring at the ocean, and the smell of rain and books.
Who still longs to learn at the feet of my Savior.
I am the person who dreams of walking on the beach with my husband
on our 50 year anniversary and living with purpose and without regret.
I am grateful for my spiritual heritage and grace.
And I am the woman who hopes that her children
will rise up and call her blessed.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Cold Within

The Cold Within
by James Patrick Kinney
Six humans trapped by happenstance
in black and bitter cold
Each possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story's told.
Their dying fire in need of logs,
the first woman held hers back.
For on the faces around the fire
She noticed one was black.
The next man looking 'cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn't bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes
He gave his coat a hitch,
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man's face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.
And the last man of this forlorn group
Did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death's stilled hands
Was proof of human sin,
They didn't die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within.





I am studying the Fruit of the Spirit through the Living Beyond Yourself study by Beth Moore. This past week I learned so much about joy. One aspect of joy that really hit me was that God wants us to experience joy through the body of Christ--to minister to and be ministered to brings joy! So many times I allow my busyness or selfishness get in the way of being a joy to those around me.

Sadly we can see this disconnect everywhere in our culture. We need those connections, we are designed for relationship. If you stop and look, people are dying inside all around us from "the cold within." May we strive to reach out to bring joy to the body of Christ and to those searching desperately for connection and love.



You have given me a great joy and encouragement, because you, brother (or sister), have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
--Philemon 7

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Amazing Grace

Here is the movie trailer of the upcoming movie "Amazing Grace" to be released February 23rd. It is the story of William Wilberforce, an Evangelical Christian converted under the ministry of John Wesley in England, who was largely responsible for the campaign to abolish slavery in Britain in 1807. This action led ultimately to the United States looking at this shameful issue. The movie takes the title from the hymn written by John Newton, a friend and mentor of William Wilberforce.

In an age where so many people attack Christianity, it is wonderful to see the story of a hero of the faith depicted in a movie. While I have not seen the movie, it is getting endorsements from groups such as Focus on the Family and the Association for Christian Colleges and Universities. Visit the movie website at amazinggracemovie.com to see if it is coming to a city near you. These are the heroes that I want my children to learn and read about.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Do Not Be Deceived-This Applies to You & Me

Last year I read a book by Shaunti Feldhahn called For Women Only: What You need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. This was quite an eye-opening book that presented ideas based on a survey of 400 men. My husband and I talk very openly about issues in our marriage and in life, so I thought I had a pretty good handle on this topic, but I learned several new things. My husband read the book, as well, and was amazed how much insight the author had. He said every woman should read this book. Interestingly, I read where a church in Georgia purchased and gave every woman a copy.

One concept that was particularly powerful for me was the idea that men have a visual Rolodex of images. The author states that men literally store images in their mind--once it has been stored, can pop up at any time, even when a man does not want it. Eighty-seven percent of the men polled said that these "pop-ups" happen to them. Therefore, men are constantly put in the position to choose to look at the image or close it down, if you will. This has to be exhausting! Most women do not understand this--we do not store images in this way. And they certainly don't just "pop up" uninvited.

Given this idea, you can totally understand the problem our country has with pornography and the danger it presents to the men in our life. They are bombarded with images from every side and angle, and our lack of understanding on this issue makes it worse. My new blog friend, Kelly at Party of Five, shared about a series her church is doing called Pure Sex. This post along with an article on Clay Crosse, Christian recording artist who struggled with pornography, in the current Home Life magazine really got me thinking about the problem of pornography in our culture. Here are some startling statistics on pornography.

    • Pornography industry grosses $12 billion in the US, and $57 billion worldwide (more than Microsoft)
    • There are 800 million adult videos and DVDs rented each year.
    • 72 million Internet users visit pornographic web sites each year.
    • 80% of 15- to 17-year-olds have had multiple exposures to hard-core pornography.
    • The average age of first exposure to pornography is eleven!
    • The largest consumer of Internet porn is the 12-to17-year-old age group.
    • 90% of 8-16 year-olds have viewed porn online.
    • 53% of Promise Keeper men viewed porn in the last week.
    • There are 25 children's character names (like Pokeman) that are linked to porn sites.
Whew! If that doesn't scare you, I don't know what will. I realize that this is not the world's problem. Do not be deceived, this is an issue that Christians must take seriously--it is an area Satan is using to gain a foothold and defeat us. Some statistics also showed that 51% of ministers have taken "just a look" at pornography, while 37% state they have a more serious problem. We do not like to hear these facts, but we can not ignore them.

As Christian women, I believe that we must take action. We must pray diligently for the men in our lives for the strength to resist Satan as he so aggressively seeks to destroy them in this area. I have been praying this already for my 8-year-old son, as well. In addition, we must not forget to pray for our church leaders. No one is "above susceptibility" on this issue. As a minister's wide, I covet the prayers of others for my husband as he serves the church.

Not only must we pray, but we must take this knowledge and make more conscious choices about the media that we consume. It is not just pornographic material that Satan uses, but images on television and movies. For goodness sake, it is a minefield for men to go through the check-out at the grocery store.

We must realize the importance of dressing modestly and teaching our daughters the importance, as well. We do not want to be a stumbling block for those around us. This is hard with many of the clothing choices out there. We desire to be fashionable and feel good about how we look, but must balance that with a modest approach.

A couple of other courses of action pertain to technology available. First, having a good filter on your computer is a must. Another resource comes from XXXchurch, a Christian online site seeking to help people break out of the bondage of pornography. They have a service that you can sign up for with other accountability partners. At the end of the week, a list of the websites you accessed is sent to your partner(s) to hold you accountable to what you are viewing.

In closing, I will mention that trends are showing more and more women falling prey to pornography. In the past couple of years, I have had an increasing number of the female college students I work with share about their struggles in this area, often through chat rooms. So we must stay on guard personally and pray also for our daughters and friends in this area, as well.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

To Make You Think

Here are some thoughts from Beth Moore that have been "simmering" in my mind over the past week or so:
  • Part of spiritual maturity is ceasing to equate hard with bad. . . Just because it is easy, does not make it good.
  • Sometimes we don't have a knowledge problem, we have an obedience problem.
  • Nothing sin can give us can be worth what it takes from us.
  • If we are full of ourselves, we cannot be full of the Holy Spirit.

Just wanted to share these for reflection. Please pray for my spunky 5-year-old daughter who has been running a low fever for a couple of days. Our house is strangely quiet without her usually ever-present, precious singing and talking.

Blessings!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Where I'm From

This is something I originally saw at Mississippi Girl and included in one of my first blog entries. I would love to "tag" anyone who wishes to join in. I thought it was a lot of fun. Just click here for the template and leave me a comment if you do, so I can come read yours!


WHERE I'M FROM

I am from the mountains of East Tennessee, from meadows and creeks, from fireflies and playing barefoot past dark.
I am from honeysuckle, from big oak trees with tire swings.
I am from family dinners and volleyball, I am from ministers, teachers, and farmers, from laughter and loyalty.
From making mudpies and putting on shows with my brother and cousins, from family celebrations, beach trips, from acres of land, from acting in plays and family devotions.
I am from a family of Christian ministry, not perfect but marked by struggle and perseverance, from Baptist hymns, cover dish suppers, and mission trips. I am from a wise and loving father who played with me before reading the paper at night and from an incredibly creative and talented mother who inspires me. From growing up with a brother who was my best friend and is now one of my heroes.
I am from the South, sweet tea and biscuits.
From moving five times before the age of 8, from the athletic grandmother I never knew, from singing with my brother, and from boardgames.
I am from being tucked in, believed in, and shown grace. I am from a place that has lovingly prepared me for where I am going. I am from a place of blessing that I did not deserve and am grateful for every day.




Friday, January 26, 2007

A Kind of Magic

One of the books I am presently reading is a novel by Diane Setterfield called "The Thirteenth Tale." I am really enjoying it and will share my thoughts on the book as a whole when I finish. I have noted quite a few passages along the way that have provoked some reflection on my part. This is the first:


People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in books they write, they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.


Of course, as Christians, we have an eternal perspective and know that we do not "disappear" when we die, but in every earthly way, we do. We cease to exist and impact this world. As generations pass and our direct influence on those around us is gone, in a sense, we disappear. I do believe that through our actions and the way we influence that we create a heritage of faith that reverberates over time, but this passage caused me to reflect on the power of the written word.

I guess this struck a chord with me because I do enjoy reading so much. I think there is something to note in the fact that God chose to share with us through the written word. It is concrete, yet abstract in many ways. At different times in our lives, it comes to mean different things to us. Passages once empty for us, become alive with meaning. People from long ago impact us, becoming real and living through what we read.

Also, a book freezes in time the author's thoughts and reflections, giving us clues about them. A novel written at one time in an author's life might never have come into existence at another time in their life, because in many ways, we are products of our experiences. Of course autobiographies, biographies, and personal journals give us a very direct glimpse into someone's life, but fiction and other non-fiction sources also reflect a part of the author. I think that is why so many of us feel a connection with certain authors--we feel as though we know them. I know many of us have authors we feel that way about--from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Elisabeth Elliot to Jane Austen.

My favorite line from this passage is - "They can alter you." This has been so true in my life. Authors, through their written words, have altered me. Their personal thoughts have influenced and changed me. I will never forget reading "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom or "The Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster, among many others that have impacted me. God used those books to grow me in numerous ways--I was altered.

Even more so, I have been altered by Scripture. God has breathed His truth into me through the words written by men, but inspired by Him. Amazing! It is truly a kind of magic.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What I Love About the South

I was born and raised in the South. I count this a blessing. I get a bit irritated at the stereotypes that are portrayed in the media at times. Every part of the country has its positive and negative qualities but I wanted to take a moment to share some of the things that I love about the South. By no means are the things listed below exclusive to the South, but just reflect my personal experience. Also, the South itself is diverse, so some might not apply to all areas or states.




1) Sweet tea!

2) Rocking chairs and front porches - and the long, summer evenings spent there.

3) Grits - I about fell out of my chair when a classmate in grad school said she had never eaten grits (she was from New York).

4) SEC football

5) Southern hospitality - it is for real!

6) Picking out pumpkins at the pumpkin patch.

7) Farmer's Market - my kids love going on Saturday mornings in the summer.

8) Church-wide cover dish suppers

9) Heritage of gospel, bluegrass, and country music

10) Manners - I just heard today a newscaster say how he loves how kids in the South still say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" in the South.

11) Honeysuckle and fireflies (or lightning bugs, as we called them)

12) the Southern accent, which comes in many forms - Y'all know what I'm talkin' about

13) Barbecue, pinto beans, cornbread, homemade apple pie & banana pudding

These are just a few, and I would love to hear from you southern girls what you love most about living in or growing up in the South.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Entanglements

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
--Hebrews 12:1-2

We can be entangled by so many things. I attended a women's conference this past weekend that focused on this piece of scripture. We were challenged to identify those things that entangle us--and throw them off! We carry our sin around like heavy shopping bags, weighing us down, burdening us. This is not what Christ died for--for us to live in bondage, but rather to live victory through His resurrection power. Our speaker stressed that we must repent and submit to Him and claim the promises of forgiveness, cleansing, and healing (2 Chronicles 7:14; I John 1:9).

My prayer is that we ladies will get rid of the excess baggage and live in victory! I have been examining myself over the past few days to identify those burdens that I must throw off. Here is a list we were given to get us thinking about potential entanglements. Some are tough but necessary to answer for ourselves.

Feelings of inferiority?
Fear of failure?
Do not give God the glory?
Fail to be a witness for Christ?
Complain?
Argue?
Find fault?
Critical spirit?
Angry with self . . . or others?
Careless with your body?
Attend worship in body only?
Neglect own personal time with the Lord?
Exaggerate - don't tell things as they really are?
Have a lustful eye toward the opposite sex?
Fill mind with things of the world - not on things above?
Secretly pleased at the misfortunes of others?
Jealous of others' successes?
Have you not forgiven someone?
Do you waste time?
Are you "money" hungry?
Are you a "fake"?
Enjoy listening to gossip?
Do you pass gossip on?
Do you believe rumors or partial truths?
Do you neglect to thank God for all things?
Throw these things off! Live in victory!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Finger Prayers


Just thought I would pass on this simple way to pray for others. Great to use with young children--gives them an illustration and guide for their prayers.


  • Your thumb is the digit nearest to your heart, so pray first for those
    who are closest to you. Members of your family, friends, neighbors and your own needs as well.

  • The second finger is the one used for pointing. Pray for those who point you toward the truth, whether at church or school. Pray for your teachers, mentors, pastors, and those who inspire your faith.

  • The third finger is the tallest. Let it stand for the leaders in every sphere of life. Pray for those in authority-both within the body of Christ and those who hold offices in various areas of government.

  • The fourth finger is the weakest, as every pianist knows. Let it stand for those who are in trouble and pain-the sick, injured, abused, wounded, or hurt.

  • The little finger is the smallest. Let is stand for those who often go unnoticed, including those who suffer abuse and deprivation.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Multiplicity of Patches

In the past few years I have become fascinated with quilts. The heritage of of quilt-making in our nation is rich. Before scrapbooking, stamping, and other popular craft hobbies of today, there was quilting, sewing, needlepoint, knitting, and so on. Initially these "hobbies" were necessary diversions, not just a creative outlet. Women of past generations clothed their families and decorated their homes through these "hobbies"--there was no Pottery Barn, Target, or Pier 1 (ouch!)

I am not saying that I wish to go back to those days, but I do long for a greater connection to simplicity of life of that era-not that is was easy at all, just less cluttered. I love to look in antique shops at old quilts and marvel at the creativity that is displayed. Many are patchwork quilts made from pieces of fabric left over from a multitude of other projects, artfully put together to make something not only useful, but beautiful.

I took a quilt class about a year and a half ago--this was quite an experience for someone who had NEVER sewed in her life. I learned so much and was pleased with the baby quilt that I was able to make for my niece. What I probably enjoyed the most was getting to know other ladies in the class and the ladies who worked at the quilt shop. I was the "young 'un" of the group. It made me think of how women used to get together for quilting bees--what a time of fellowship, a place for women of all ages to connect. Although we have ladies' groups in churches and communities, it seems we have lost the need to depend on one another like they seemed to years ago. We are more isolated. I think maybe that is why so many of us enjoy blogging--a way to connect. This is a God-given, built-in desire for us. God created us to be in relationship with Him and with each other.


ON A SIDE NOTE . . .

Some great children's books on quilting are Rag Coat by Lauren Mills and The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons.



IN ANOTHER DIRECTION . . .

I also love the stories that many quilts tell and the metaphors that can be derived from quilting. One of my favorite movies, How to Make an American Quilt based on the book by Whitney Otto, interweaves the story of a group of friends and their lives as they make a wedding quilt together. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

Young lovers seek perfection. Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together and seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches.
Isn't that so true? When we are young, we seek perfection in everything, most often for prideful reasons. As we get older, we learn to be content with where we are in life. I am not saying that we shouldn't strive for excellence, but we should also see the beauty in where God has placed us. I once read, "Contentment is destroyed by comparison." I desire to be satisfied with what God has given me and see the beauty in a "multiplicity of patches."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My Rights

"What about my rights?" This is such a common cry we hear these days-even as Christians. We can get all bent out of shape when we feel our rights have been violated. While there are times of valid concern in this area, this prevalent attitude seems to stem from the self-focused nature of our society. This proves to be a seductive problem for many Christians today--for me! By allowing myself to shift focus onto what I am entitled to, I take them off of Christ and His desire for my life.

God is really teaching me that the reality of the Chrisitan life demands that we forego our rights. I am currently doing the study Living Beyond Yourself, and Beth Moore points out that foregoing our rights is a characteristic of the crucified life.


I have been crucifed with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)


Christ is my example for this. He could have "called ten thousand angels" or spoken in His own defense, but made the decision to forego His rights to be the ultimate sacrifice for us. God is speaking to me that I must surrender as Christ did.


You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. (I Corinthians 6:20)


Even when I want to claim my rights, as a Christian, the truth is that I cannot. I am not my own, but bought with a price. While the world might see this as bondage--it is actually freedom! Below are the lyrics to a song by Ginny Owens that capture much of what is in my heart.



Got a stack of books so I could learn how to live;
Many are left half-read covered by the cobwebs on my shelf.
And I got a list of laws growing longer everyday;
If I keep pluggin' away, maybe one day I'll perfect myself.
Oh, but all of my labor seems to be in vain;
And all of my laws just cause me more pain;
So I fall before You in all of my shame;
Ready and willing to be changed

Own me, take all that I am,
and heal me with the blood of the Lamb.
Mold me with Your gracious hand;
Break me till I'm only Yours-
Own me

You call me Daughter,
And You take my blame;
And You run to meet me,
When I cry out Your name,
So I fall before You in all of my shame,
Lord, I am willing to be changed

Own me, take all that I am,
and heal me with the blood of the Lamb.
Mold me with Your gracious hand;
Break me till I'm only Yours-
Own me

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

5 Great Lessons

Enjoy these 5 stories that illustrate lessons that life teaches us. I wish I could note where I got this--it has been in my files for ages since my mom shared it with me. These are great!

First Important Lesson ~ Everyone is significant.
During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school? Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'." "I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Second Important Lesson~ Pickup in the Rain
One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."
Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole

Third Important Lesson ~Always remember those who serve you.
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it." Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.
"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied." The little boy again counted his coins.
"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies – You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

Fourth Important Lesson ~ The Obstacle in Our Path
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way. Then a peasant
came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

Fifth Important Lesson ~ Giving When it Counts
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save her.." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her. You see understanding and attitude, after all, is everything.

"Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt,
Dance like you do when you think no one is watching."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Sphere of Influence

How do you use the fearful gift of influence? At its best, it teaches, nurtures, encourages, exhorts, evangelizes, and disciples. At worst, it cripples and kills. The line between influence and manipulation is extremely fine. Influence is so easy to use, it's frightening. Maybe it's the reason God exhorts us to "gentle and quiet" spirits. We need to think before we speak and act.

God has really gotten a hold of me this week through two Bible studies that I am doing. The question posed by Beth Moore in Living Beyond Yourself above--"How do you use the fearful gift of influence?" brought some reflection in my heart.

Beth points out that women have been given a "most wonderful and terrible" gift--the power of influence. This is so true--all the way back to Eve! As wives and mothers, we have a special sphere of influence with our family. Our words and actions often dictate the tone of our home. We can choose to use our influence to build up and point to Christ or to manipulate for selfish gain. There is a very deceptive and thin line distinguishing the two.

I have felt especially convicted this week to recommit myself to a "gentle and quiet" spirit--to think carefully and purposefully about using my influence to make our home a place where Christ is reflected and glorified.

Be encouraged, my bloggy friends, in your high calling to influence your home for the Kingdom. Amidst dirty diapers, piles of laundry, and grey hairs is a precious sphere of influence that belongs to you alone.