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.)

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.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


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.

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


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.


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!