Thursday, November 30, 2006

Amen, brother!

This is such a thoughtful and wise article. A great and much-needed reminder.

A Riddle Wrapped in a Enigma

Sunday, November 19, 2006

real men eat cheerios

Joe two and a half weeks before his first birthday:

thanksgiving thoughts

Ahhh... This is the week to fight the crowds at the grocery store and clean house for those family gatherings....But I do love this holiday.

This morning at church, as we were beginning to sing, I felt flat. I felt distracted. It was hard to get my focus on the Lord and praise Him from my heart. I began to wonder if God wants our heartfelt praises most in those moments. When it is a sacrifice. When you have had an argument with your spouse on the way to church, or when you are on the brink of financial ruin. In those times, you may not "feel" the excitement or joy in your words of praise to God, but it isn't about our feelings, is it? Whatever good or bad circumstances we experience, God is good, and faithful, and steadfast. He deserves praise and thanks all the time.

Rowan's Sunday School craft today was a little foam tree with stuck-on leaves noting things to thank God for. So cute. But what if the leaves said 'sickness' or 'battles with overeating' or 'failing business'? Do we still thank God for those things? My honest answer is "How can we?", but God's answer is "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It really takes a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to do this in our hearts, don't you think? It is so contrary to our natural inclination to set aside our feelings and trust God with the bigger picture.

I do have SO many good things to thank God for, and my heart overflows with thankfulness to Him for all those undeserved blessings. But I want Him to teach me how to thank him in the sufferings, big or small. The bible teaches something quite different from the 'focus on the positive' mantra. Focus on it all, and Give Thanks.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Path to Genius? It Begins With a Four Letter Word...

Drinking Orange Juice for God's Glory?

I thought this was a great reminder. Boy, as Christians we really need to constantly seek God's help to keep perspective and focus! This is so hard!

A Man in Need

Someone sent this email to me today. It's a good reminder:
"Try to imagine yourself in this man's shoes, being verbally assaulted with hatred and venom on a daily basis at his job.

Try to imagine if you did the very best you knew how to do, and STILL, you were despised and hated without reason. How would you feel? How would you be able to function on a daily basis at your job? How would you feel every time you went out in public, knowing that people despised you and there was nothing you could do to change their minds?"

Monday, November 13, 2006

Kids Say the Darndest Things

A couple of weeks ago Kevin and I enjoyed a wonderful long weekend together sans kids. Don't get me wrong, we don't always long to get rid of our kids for a few days of respite.... but, we do sometimes. Our church was offering a marriage conference on Friday evening and part of Saturday and we really wanted to go, so my wonderful (and brave) Mother-in-law offered to meet us in Oklahoma City to get all five of the kids for the weekend. I know: how lucky am I?

While the kids were in North Richland Hills staying at Kevin's sister Mandy's house, Keely was bitten by the entreprenurial bug. She and my six-year-old niece Faith decided to make assorted "crafts" and sell them. Our church supports a missionary who works with children in Thailand, so Keely thought this was a worthy cause to bestow all her earnings on. In Thailand, when a woman is sentenced to jail time and has young children at home, they actually go to jail with her. These kids literally sit in a cell with their moms, without any programs or accomodation for their needs, other than the physical ones. So Keely has spent lots of time hearing about and praying for these women and their children through her Wednesday night "Kids' Prayer" class.

My sister-in-law went out to check on the girls and their set-up in the driveway, when she noticed Keely's large sign. In marker, it said, "Mom's in Jail. Need Money." Of course, you can see her logic: The moms are in jail--we need money to help them! But don't you think this succinct appeal is more heart-wrenching?

Mandy thanked me for giving the neighbors so much to talk about.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Keely's Song

As Candice and I were talking this morning in the kitchen, Keely sat at the breakfast table and wrote a song. I knew she was listening to us, because ever so often she'd pause and look around without making eye contact, but I had no idea just how much she was listening...

We tend to forget that our kids are like sponges. Even when it appears that they're not observing us, they are. I'm often deceived in thinking that they'll just do as I say and not as I do. I'm shocked at times at their responses to me or others, but then God allows me to see that they're just doing what they've been taught. Ouch! On the other hand, it's exciting to know that you can have a profound impact on your kids for good.

I'll never forget the exposition of Proverbs 22:6a by Greg Harris: "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." He said that the etymology of the phrase 'train-up' could be understood as 'touching the palate'. In the Jewish culture parents would supplement their infants diet with food from their own table. They would chew-up their food until it was mush and then give it to their babies. He explained that this would create a 'taste', a predisposition in their children for the foods that they would eat for the rest of their lives. The faith lesson is simple: we want to the 'touch the palate' of our children, with biblical truth and its practical application, so as to create a desire in them for the things of God.

Candice and I both understand that it is God who saves and he alone (cf. Rom. 9:16). We know that we cannot produce in our kids a desire for God, but we want to 'prime the pump' so that when God does save them they're ready to make an impact for his kingdom. Our oldest, Keely, is an example of God's faithfulness in spite of us. Here's the song she wrote:

Lord You Are in Me

Lord you are in me
You fill me with joy in your presence
You made the heavens and the earth
You came into my heart
You are purer than anything on earth
Jesus, you made miracles
You will open doors
You move people place to place
You can do whatever you want
You will choose pastors and teach them what to do
You made the ten commandments
It's not about money, it's about God
You can't love money and God
You show missionarys where to go
You love the little children
You are more precious than gold

Friday, November 03, 2006

Iron Sharpens Iron

It's really mind-boggling to think that Romans 8:28 is true for each of the billions of believers who were and are and will be. Only our awesome God could work all things together in such a way. Kevin and I are so blessed to have some wonderful friends who we really enjoy, and most importantly, are like-minded with. It is so encouraging to me to have great conversations about 'ultimate' kinds of things and hear others' wisdom and opinions. Franck and Andi, friends who we 'coincidentally' met at our neighborhood pool several years ago, are a great example. They so earnestly desire to teach and model Christ to their children and to the world, and are bold about where they are coming from. And then there's Boyd and Michelle , who 'happen' to live on our street and 'happen' to home school their 3 kids. Michelle has been a friend to talk to about all the frustrations and triumphs of homeschooling, and is an amazing example of gentleness and patience with her kids, among other qualities that I admire. I actually ask God sometimes to make me more like her! (But I know that comparisons do get one in trouble...) So I just am so thankful to my Great God for yet another ingredient He's added to this abundant life.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Candy overload

Isn't there some mathematic equation that states that the amount of Halloween candy you give out is directly propotionate to the amount your child recieves? How on earth did we end up with five, yes, five, HUGE bowls of sugar in all its known forms? And Joseph didn't even have a bag... Of course, the kids think this is reason to celebrate. They have informed me that they think this is a record amount of candy ever housed under our roof. Candy, anyone?