Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A little break

I was hoping to set up a cache of blog posts to last through the trip I am planning out of town for a long weekend.  Illness, however, has changed my plans.  So, there will be a break in posts for about a week.


I pray you all stay healthy and joyful, and I ask prayers for my own family for health, safe traveling, and healing for my brother-in-law.  My hero-husband is turning 40, so prayers and thanksgiving for him are also welcome!

God bless and see you in February!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wishing for Wisdom

Want to know what I wished for when I blew out my candle on my birthday?  I remembered one of the lessons from school and I first thanked God for all my blessings, then I asked for wisdom!

We are reading 1 Kings in school right now and our last reading was about God coming to Solomon and offering to give him whatever he wanted.  Solomon knew his responsibility to God’s people was more than he could fulfill alone and he took the job quite seriously.  So he asked that the Lord would give him wisdom.  God granted that and more.

I can’t count the number of times I have said that God is not a genie.  And yet, here is one instance where God chooses to put Himself in that role.  Anything you want!  Name it!  It is yours!  Can you imagine??  And this isn’t some genie, but GOD.  God is asking you what your greatest desire is and He will bring it forth.  Just like that.  Wow! 

Solomon could have asked for riches—you know, so that he could better serve and protect the people.  He could have asked for long life—you know, so that he would be serving and protecting the people for as long as possible.  He could have asked for anything!  But he asked for wisdom.

What a wise request!  How often I have asked for thing that might have brought me harm.  I am fully aware that the Lord has protecting me from things known and unknown throughout my life.  So, who am I to ask for something??  I will just screw it up, making a decision with my limited knowledge and many flaws.  But to ask for wisdom…  That is brilliant!

Lord, help me to know what to want.  Help me to shed what is not good for me.  Help me to act and speak with your wisdom, your eternal knowledge and perspective.  Help me to be more and more like You!

Monday, January 24, 2011


I live a life of privilege. I am a white, middle class American living in the 21st century. I am privileged. I will admit that I feel a little revolted by writing that.  But denying it is insulting—especially to those who are not privileged. Rejecting it is masochistic, and quite ungrateful to my forefathers who gave their own blood sweat and tears to get me here.

I have witnessed people choose to shed the opportunities a parent offered for the hard road from some overdeveloped and romanticized awe for the ‘bootstraps.’ I am not referring to those who go to help the needy as missionaries or with one of the charitable organizations like the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity or Doctors without Borders.  I am talking about kids who reject college for a life nearer ‘the street.’  The motive is not to help, but to be tough and independent.  This is a choice which I find to be so ungrateful.

Because of the privileges I have, my life is different.  I get to make our house a home and educate my kids in it.  So much of my life is about choice. I set my schedule, I choose the curriculum, the activities for my kids and family, and just about everything else.  My husband doesn't have this luxury. Who wants to spend sixteen hours around the worst criminals California has to offer? He works and has little choice in the matter.

But I do have a choice. Why do things that aren't fun? Why choose to engage in artificial drama?  My husband’s life is stressful enough.  I owe it to him to be someone of peace.  He should have to come home and deal with heartache that is so needless. 

This is why I try to not obligate myself to too much out there.  The truth is that there is so very little that I absolutely must do.  Creating obligations that would merely put pressure on our lives is forsaking the privilege and opportunities I have been given.  I just can’t justify that.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A great birthday

So, yesterday was my birthday.  I love birthdays.  Too much, I am sure.  I go for the whole ‘princess-for-a-day’ idea.  Not that that is how things work out, though if I had my way, I would have thousands of dollars to spend on the birthdays of people in my life each month.  Nowadays I am only allowed to send eCards.  Lame to my overly-grand way of thinking.

Back to my own birthday.  My darling husband is turning 40 on the first of February.  That is far more significant than my own 37.  He is also planning a trip to visit with his brother for a couple of weeks, which costs money.  I am going to my sister’s, and then hosting my niece and nephew for a couple of days.  Doubling the number of kids in the house more than doubles the amount of food consumed.  And we are all fighting illnesses of one degree or another. 

So we have a lot working against any hope of a grand birthday, and I am ok with that.  As much as I like something fabulous, I am enough of a church girl to know I should be ashamed of such greed.

But I will tell you, I can’t have asked for more.  The night before my birthday, my older sister and I talked and she gave me a gift card for my FAVORITE type of chocolate.  My girl made me breakfast in bed and got a big box and filled it with all sorts of things.  She made me a little pillow, gave me some of her jewelry, lip gloss and barrettes.  She tried to give me money, but I convinced her to take that back.  She was so please with my opening and going through all she gave me.  My heart was touched by her excitement over giving.

After that, I snuggled with the kids a while, then we started the day pretty late.  I got to chat a long time with my little sister, then my dear hero came home.  No overtime on my birthday!  We played a game, ate some ice cream—I am not a real fan of cake, so he even surprised me with a pumpkin pie.  We watched National Treasure and my gal put lotion on my feet!!  I am loved and pampered every day.  I guess I don’t need one day to remind me I am loved.  I am spoiled.  I just need to be sure I don’t get rotten!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It’s my birthday!

I am enjoying a down day with my kiddos. Smile  Hope your day is equally blessed!


My daughter brought me breakfast in bed and had a big box full of stuff for me to open.  She is a lovely young lady who loves with her whole self.  Since I don’t remember my own, I told each kid his and her birth stories.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I live in a beautiful area.  We are surrounded by gorgeous mountains and a sky beyond belief.  Check out the view from my back door at sunset.



Madi's creations, sunset 003

Madi's creations, sunset 004











Madi's creations, sunset 005

Madi's creations, sunset 006










Madi's creations, sunset 008Not bad, eh??

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Creative Girl

During school the other day, my girl got the clay out and made a couple of yummy-looking creations while I was reading.  Check them out!

Madi's creations, sunset 001  Ice cream…

Madi's creations, sunset 002  And cookies!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Brother Jeff

My brother-in-law is facing a possible life change that will be pretty substantial.  He is blind in one eye already, and the ‘good’ eye is not doing so well.  In October the retina tore.  The doctor thought he had been able to exact a fix on it, but the scar tissue forming around the procedure is causing the entire eye to sort of bunch up, rendering his vision pretty poor again.  On February 3rd, he is going in for surgery to cut the eye and fill in the spaces where the scarring was so as to maintain the shape of the eye.  It is considered a last-ditch effort to save his vision and the procedure itself, especially on his fragile retinas, is far from a guaranteed fix.

He is pretty down about his future, and does not acknowledge the existence of God or his need for a Savior.  We have been praying for him to be at peace and for healing.  We also pray that no matter what happens to his physical eyes, that his spiritual eyes are opened to see His glorious Creator so that he will run to Him.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cry time?

My girl had a sweet friend spend the night last night, and they stayed up SO late.  Now she is more than just a little prickly.  Knowing this, I sent her to bed and told her to read a while.  My secret plan/hope was that she would fall asleep.  Instead she cried because she wants more Barbies.  ? 

She came out after a while and let me know that she had been crying ‘a long time’ over a ‘silly thing.’  When she told me that she was crying over Barbie, I agreed that it was a little silly.  Then she said that she had to cry because she had been crying over such a silly thing.  *sigh*  Why must this cycle of self-berating begin so young??

Monday, January 17, 2011


We have taken another step forward in our trek through the Eastern Hemisphere and have entered the country with such a long history: China!  My kids saw, way back on Box Day, my kids saw the beautiful China Treasure Chests, but were not allowed to peek inside.  On our first day of studying China, we opened them!  What excitement!  They sure packed a lot into those little boxes and my kids oohed and ahhed all over them. 

Now we have something neat to anticipate each week as we use each piece of treasure.  We will decorate a traditional fan, build a section of the great wall, use a traditional calligraphy brush and ink stone, work with a beautiful map…  So cool!


Box Day 2010 001Box Day 2010 005Box day!  We got the supplies to this year’s school back in June.  We had to finish up the year we were doing before we could being this new adventure—which we did in October.  Now we are in week 11 and exploring China!


China Treasure Chest 2011 004China Treasure Chest 2011 002Each child has his and her own treasure chest, so they will be able to use all the contents to the fullest, infusing each activity with their own unique style and personality.  Have I mentioned that I am LOVING this school year?  (I could drop kick the stinking workbook and encyclopedia, now more than ever, and wish there were a better way to attain the vital information regarding each country, but every rose has its thorn, yes?)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I will not apologize

I praise the Lord that we were able to get someone out here to look at our washer—my hands and arms are the most thankful, no longer needing to desperately wring out clothes and towels from the non-drained washing machine.  What a sweet, sweet sound is the the spinning and trickling of water through the pipes!  Praise Him!!

I called the guy out when the overtime check came in (Praise Him for that, too!).  I was excited he arrived before my husband came home (well, sort of), so that all would be well when he walked in after a long day’s work.  All that was needed was a clearing of an obscure filter.  He showed me the contents (STINKY!) and I set them aside.  As I was paying he said, ‘there were sure some interesting things in that filter!’  I just sort of laughed and sent him on his way. 

What was I supposed to say?  I didn’t look too closely at what came out of the filter because the smell was truly odious, but I am sure there were hair bows and Lego pieces.  His comment reminded me of when plumber came in to clear our kitchen sink.  There were some interesting things in those pipes, as well, including a paint brush.  That guy, also stood looking at me as though waiting for something.

What?  An apology for having kids? Nope.  We bought this house.  We pay the mortgage—when we can.  I will gum up the pipes with builders, paint, crayons and hair bows all I want!  I am not suggesting that I am purposely destructive or neglectful, but come on!  We’ve lived here for ten years.  There is going to be a paint brush or two in our remains!  And I will even be a little bit proud.  Smile

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A New Endeavor

I recently got my hands on a reading the Bible in a year program coupled with a devotion/journaling method.  I have never been faithful enough to finish all the way to the end a Bible-in-a-year plan, nor to journal with any consistency. 

But I don’t want to give up just because I haven’t ever done it before.  the only method that has been of relative success is this blogging.  SO, I have started a new blog for my devotion!  I pray it offers the same incentive to faithfulness that this blog has.

If you’d like to join me in the readings and share your own comments, I would be doubly blessed.  The blog’s title is SOAP-Bible.  The SOAP is an acronym for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer.

I don’t do well with playing catch-up, so I am just starting right where I am: Jan 10.  If (when?) I fall behind, I will just pick up where I left off.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Prayer time

I have been working to beef up our prayer time as a family.  I noticed a while ago that my own prayer life has dwindled to the cursory.  I also noticed—I am a little slow on the uptake—that my kids’ prayer life has always been relatively cursory.
So, I have been purposely introducing my kids to longer prayer time.  We have switched our prayer list to something more visual.  We took all our Christmas cards and cut them to size.  There is a dry erase board on which we add the photos and written names. 
There are times I fear I might just be boring the kids.  This causes me more concern in regard to prayer than it would if the boredom were due to something like reading a school book or increasing the chore list.  Prayer is a conversation of love between God and ourselves.  I don’t want to make prayer something the kids dread. 
But today I was blessed to overflowing—my eyes overflowed, to be exact.  My daughter and I were watching a really lousy movie with a philandering guy and she asked me to pause it to ‘discuss’ something with me.  She asked how would she know if a guy is a jerk.  It began a great conversation.
I still wonder at how we got from there to the most beautiful prayer I have been honored to hear my gal pray for her youngest cousin.  The conversation started with trusting parents’ perceptions when dating a guy because the parents won’t be full of hormones.  Then we talked about how important it is to be with a guy in all sorts of situations to see them handle stress, victory, women, crowds, and whatever else comes our way in real life. 
She said something that was so sweet.  “A man might want to marry me because I am pretty.  You are always saying I am beautiful, and a man might only like me for that.  But then I could get lots of wrinkles or have a baby who cries all the time and he will just leave because it would be hard.”  She nailed that, didn’t she?
I told her that it happens all the time.  When people marry for fun, it doesn’t last, since nothing in life is fun all the time.  And when there are kids involved, the damage can only be healed by Christ.  When children are left by their dads, there are many who wonder who can love them if even their dads can’t.
This brought us to our beloved boy, my nephew and my daughter’s cousin.  He hasn’t always been the easiest for her to get along with, but when she heard that his daddy had left him, her heart almost visibly swelled.  We continued to talk about how important it is for babies to have their needs met, how important it is for all of us to know we are loved.  When we don’t, we end up with problems.
She began brainstorming ways to help her cousin know how special he is.  I told her that she has great ideas, but this isn’t a problem she could solve with her own creativity or strength.  We needed Jesus to touch him and heal him.  Her lovely hands shot out before I finished my sentence.
Her prayer…goodness!  She is so articulate, so passionate and so insightful.  Her love is tangible and her faith is large.  She speaks with confidence that she is heard. 
I don’t know that our kids aren’t bored each time we pray together, but I think something is touching their hearts in spite of it.  Or Someone.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Freedom as god

Just as worshipping trees or stars is a step short of truth, so is the worship of freedom. I must look deeper, look higher, to the Source and Creator of trees, stars, freedom and all else to find One worthy of worship.

I wouldn't ask a two year old to drive you anywhere.  That is because no matter how great, how sweet, how beautiful or how smart, that child is simply not up to the task. Expecting anything or anyone to know all and be all is to worship it, and only God is lives up to the hype.

Some think freedom means a life without any ties at all.  This sort of freedom as a god actually binds a person to isolation.  Remember the ‘freedom’ the Prodigal Son gained?  When one doesn’t choose to drop anchor anywhere, then one drifts oneself to a scurvy death!

To do anything less than living for God is bondage--a surprising irony for those who live for almighty freedom. To worship anything short of God is to dedicate myself and to obey something or someone who does not or cannot love me fully. How foolish!  How disastrous!

So, the bondage comes from loving something that does not love me.  Worshipping freedom for the sake of freedom is believing a lie. God gave me free will. It is something which many a man has tried to either control or eradicate. Freedom scares many. But the reason God gave us freedom in the first place is so that we might choose. In fact, calling it just ‘freedom’ doesn’t tell the whole story.  We probably ought call it ‘freedom to choose.’

A choice needs to be made. Even not making a choice is a choice. I choose God or I don't.  Sitting within the realm of freedom is an impossibility.  I’ve made a choice: and it isn’t God.

What can be discovered is that freedom exists in truth only when I commit to serving the Lord.  As I said, we all must choose to serve something.  Stars, Trees, Freedom, Self, Ambition, Family, Money, Pleasure, God.  I will serve something.  But serving anything but God binds me to something that will let me down.

When I choose to serve the Lord, I give the gift He gave me—my life—back to Him in trusting and dedicating service.  It is really quite a reasonable decision.  Who else but the Best to run the show, after all?  The One Who knows how it ends, Who sees the big picture, Who loves me better than I can love myself…I can’t imagine a better Captain at the wheel!

So, I give up my freedom to be a willing servant to the Most High.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

At the Beach

When we arrive, we barely dip our toes in.  We prefer the safety of the sand and momma.  For some, the relationship with the water ends there. But we are a little bolder and we stand in the water.  It laps at our ankles and we shout with pride, “look at me!!”  Next we venture to our knees.  I still remember my own daughter standing with a floatie around her middle, the water nowhere near it, and her declaring, “I am swimming!” 

For some, this is it.  It’s fun and safe to get in the water to their knees.  They can splash and run, go back and forth between sand and water.  They are in control, but still enjoying the company of the swimmers.  It is perfect middle ground.

But for us it feels dangerous and daring to go out until our bellies are wet.  We are excited and can’t resist the call of the water.  The deeper water is cold and we reflexively breathe in sharply when a wave hits higher than expected.  We didn’t like that.  In fact, we get a little angry at the water for slapping our chests and we move to shallower waters.  But now it is really cold.  The wind blows against our wet bodies mercilessly and we realize we would be warmer if we went a just little deeper.

Some will end here.  They discover that they can go in to just below their bellies and occasionally sit.  It is really quite ingenious.  They sit when the wind gets high, but can stand when the water gets rough.  Perfect!

But we venture on!  Soon chest level water is comfortable.  Basically our entire body is immersed; but we keep our heads.  The water is warm and we even dare to pick up our feet sometimes.  It is indescribably wonderful to feel ourselves float and be carried by the movement of the water.  But we don’t let it go for too long.  We soon reach out our toes to feel for solid ground.  It would be foolish to give up complete control.  Our heads may get wet!

A big wave comes from nowhere.  We go all the way under and it feels like we will never resurface.  Our lungs burn and we panic.  Our arms and legs thrash as we fight the water for survival.  The truth is that it only lasts a moment, but we come up sputtering, scared and, once again, angry.  We were sure we had figured this swimming thing out.  We never agreed to unexpected waves!  We move once again to shallow waters.

There are plenty of people heading in both directions in the water now.  We are all welcomed with awe—after all, we had gone all the way out there.  Some find old friends who had chosen to stay in the shallows. It feels good to be admired, and they haven’t quite gotten over that dunking, so they find a niche and settle in.

But we still feel the call.  We can’t get the Moment out of our minds.  We wonder, what really happened? It had all been so fast, we can’t resist exploring the deep again to get some answers.  We go out.  And out.  There is no way we can touch the earth now.  We are carried by the water.  Sometimes a wave hits, but we learn to ride it, to trust it.  We are surprised when we discover we can anticipate some of the waves and have fun even when we come up sputtering. 

We look back to the shore and we are surprised at how far it is.  How did that happen?  We realize from the shore the view is so limited.  From here, there is a vastness unimaginable.  We wonder why we couldn’t see it from the shallows.  But now we know, we will never go back.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

He breathes in me

Ok, this is my last post on tongues—for now.

Obviously, this has been on my heart.  I have been poring over my Bible and praying in fervency, and for both of these I am eternally grateful.  How I love a challenge that causes my feet to sift down past the sand to the solid rock!

I have submitted, prayed and outright begged my Lord to give me the gift of tongues.  He has not seen fit to do that for me.  I used to believe the teaching that this was somehow a result of my failing.  And I accepting that I had not yet been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

I reject this teaching now.  I do not reject the possibility that I may one day be gifted with tongues.  But I accept with humility that I am not for now and that it has no bearing on my closeness with the Holy Spirit. 

I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.  I have been washed over and through by His healing and empowering Self.  I have been given words to pray when I had none, but they were in English.  I have been filled to overflowing with his love and blessings.  No one can cause me to believe differently.  These are now simple facts.

And yet, in my frail human form, I do question.  I wonder.  Maybe I haven’t striven enough to speak in tongues.  Maybe I am fearful?  Listen to me.  I can’t even write that as a statement.  I just don’t believe it.

I prayed tonight before writing this once again that He grant me this coveted gift—isn’t that a loaded phrase for us who should fly from covetousness, even of gifts from His Spirit.  I prayed, I was still, I listened. 

And you know what happened?  Without even realizing it at first, I felt and saw the wave hit the beach.  It came again, sweeping me into its motion and carrying me far from the shore.  I went under the water and found I could breathe and see in vibrant color.  I was light and lithe and I danced.  I came to the surface for a water-spraying leap and dove ever deeper to the wondrous depths.

It all happened so quickly, so naturally.  I took a breath and leaned back in my chair.  I opened my eyes and sighed out all my air.  I was at peace.  How could I have forgotten?  He gives me visions.  That is how He speaks to me.  He has always giving me visions.  I praise Him!

Long ago I had the vision/analogy that God was an ocean.  Our spiritual lives mirror the physical encounters we have with large bodies of water.  I will post that vision here tomorrow.  I feel that tonight the Lord reminded me of that vision and of the depths of Him that He will allow me to reach.

Monday, January 10, 2011

He is Lord

Continuing the conversation on tongues, I find it a little frustrating that it has such a focus among some Christians.  Paul clearly puts the gift of tongues in it proper place in 1 Corinthians 14.  I believe it is a blessed gift, one that solidifies faith, one that would be good to use by all who have it for however long they have it. 

But there are other gifts.  Paul says that if he wishes we had any one gift, it would be prophesy.  Why didn’t the churches who emphasize gifts get this particular message?  Paul is incontrovertibly straightforward about a couple of things. 

One, if you speak in tongues in public, you better have a translator.  If not, be quiet.  No real way to misunderstand that.  I believe it also implies what we see demonstrated in the Word time and again about the personhood of the Holy Spirit; He is a gentleman.  He doesn’t overtake us.  We are still in control; we have the ability to receive a word in a tongue we have not learned and NOT speak it.  In fact, we are commanded to not speak it until we have confirmed there will be a translation.  If that doesn’t indicate we have time and control, I don’t know what does.

The other point on which Paul does not equivocate is that tongues does not edify the church.  Our church meetings are all about building up the members of the church.  So, without translation, there is no place for tongues.

But there is a place for the other gifts that are included in the list that seems too often forgotten when some Christians discuss gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Helps, Words of Wisdom, Teaching and Prophesy are a few.  These actually work in building the body of Christ.  We know that not everyone will have each gift.  In fact, it is by design that we do not.  We must come together, lean on one another, depend, trust, relent, submit and cooperate in order to function.  We are parts of a whole.  When one is missing, we are not whole. 

This focus, obsession, with a single gift leads to a blindness, I believe. And really, it is putting God in a box.  It commands that all those who are TRULY baptized will speak in tongues—it allows us to dictate to whom, what and how the Holy Spirit gives gifts.  A no-no in the Bible.  It also allows us to judge one another as worthy or not!  Ah ha!  There’s the rub, isn’t it?  It is an easy, check-the-box means by which we can judge who is ‘in’ and who is not.

But God will not be put in a box.  We cannot judge the heart.  And the Holy Spirit will give gifts as He sees fit, in the timing of His own perfection, to fit His will for His creations.

One of the scary things about the fervor regarding the gift of tongues that I have seen is—I am sure—an inadvertent temptation to those young in the faith to sin.  It is upon those young in the faith that the zealous Christians must persuade.  Those who have some maturity and knowledge of the Word can resist lovingly.  But those who do not are met with an overwhelming choice: speak in tongues to prove your salvation or be treated as one encumbered by fear, faithlessness and disobedience. 

This is most distressing when I see churches pressure children.  “By the end of camp, you will receive your prayer language!”  Failure is not an option.  How many of these earnest babes will knowingly or unknowingly lie in order to please and submit to the pressure of their elders?  It is unconscionable to me, in my opinion, to even risk such a thing.

We must have faith in the Holy Spirit!  That means allowing Him to work in His timing.  It means allowing Him to say no and not blaming anyone for it.  It means letting Him be God.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why must we go to extremes?

This is a controversial subject among many Christians.  I was recently challenged on the topic again.  One of the things I struggle with—as is so often the case—is not the matter at hand, but at the peripheral issues.

I am talking about the Spiritual gift of speaking in tongues.  I don’t have any problems with people speaking in tongues (and I haven’t any problem with people who don’t speak in tongues).  In fact, my parents were removed from the church sponsoring their missionary trip just six months after arriving in South Korea for not renouncing the gift.  My mom has spoken in tongues and so does my older sister.  I have no problems with tongues.

But I myself have never spoken in tongues.  This is a problem for many Christians who attend churches with the charismatic slant.  I find myself on the other side of the argument, though that analogy isn’t quite correct.  My parents refused to denounce tongues and were kicked out.  I refuse to agree that one must speak in tongues to evidence one's salvation and/or baptism of the Holy Spirit and because of that, I am met with authoritative opposition.

Why must we go to extremes?  Why must we, as brothers and sisters, as parts of a single body, tear at one another?  The devil may lay idle while we do his filthy work in destroying ourselves and our testimonies.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

We have finished our first quarter!

The first quarter is done with school.  I have to say that in my…oh, nine years or so of homeschooling, that this has been one of the best that I can remember—certainly the best in the last few years!  I am excited for what is coming ‘round the bend in the next few weeks.

We just finished the Book called The Kite Fighters.  We enjoyed that to pieces.  We are still reading Tales from (of?) a Korean Grandmother.  The coolest thing is how the stories reinforce one another.  We feel like automatic experts as one tradition or holiday is demonstrated first in one story, then the other.

I have to say that our Mondays are still a little tough to get off the ground and it is tempting to just waste away the day doing errands or chores.  But how blessed we are to shut out the noise so we may come together to learn and explore this wonderful creation together!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Free Will

When people realize their freedom, there are several possible reactions.  One is to freely, joyfully commit to life and community, giving of oneself from motivations absent of fear.  This is a lovely thing—a godly thing.  The Lord made us for relationship, family and friends living together as helpers and encouragers.

Others revel so deeply in the freedom newly received that they detach entirely.  Fear of becoming burdened actually becomes a new law.  Freedom becomes a new god. 

This can lead to a life that is lonely and even frantic.  It isn’t easy living this life as an island.  Separating from all obligations and commitments to long-term community in the name of freedom leads to this island-style life. While commitment does mean there are times that the priority is no longer ‘me and mine,’ the simple fact is that when life is led looking out for number one, there is no freedom.

The big lie is that living without commitment means you aren’t obligated to anyone else.  The truth is that now you are the only one handling all of your problems!  You may not ever have to sacrifice for others, but your life will be defined by taking care of yourself.  Every trial, every triumph and every boring day is all yours.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Salvation through Legislation

I just recently heard this phrase.  How often do we do that, try to make things right by using rules?  We certainly aren’t the first.  We can learn from biblical history that the Jews established hedge laws after returning from exile.  They were afraid they may sin again and be exiled once more.  In order to avoid that, they made up new laws that they hoped would keep them getting anywhere near the Mosaic laws.  The result?  I believe Jesus’ words tell it all: brood of vipers, white-washed tombs, hypocrites.  Yikes!

The Lord knew this was no way to live.  We simply cannot save ourselves by just trying to be good.  We can’t.  He, in his mercy, redeemed and restored us to God.  Paul taught that the laws served the purpose of showing us how short we fall in attaining salvation through our own strength.  He also warns that if we continue to choose to make it on our own, we must live by each and every law.  After all, how can you claim to live by the law if you are picking and choosing which to follow?

Even now, both the Church and secular societies strive for salvation through legislation.  We instate rituals, mores and laws designed to control, to save.  But it doesn’t work.

The first problem is the denial of free will.  If we try to control to the point that we eliminate free will, then life is pointless.  We are merely Lego pieces on a child’s table.  Our actions are not our own, life is absent.

If we manage to not squash free will with over-legislation, we will still have problems.  The core problem is that the free will rebels.  People stop being a united community or society.  There is no one to trust, because anyone might rat you out for breaking some rule.  And all of your time is spent holding on to what you have got and looking for loopholes to get more.  Every man or family becomes an island unto itself.  We become animal-like, community dies, life is absent.

We just can’t legislate morality; we can’t save ourselves through law.  God only sees the heart, so controlling behavior with no regard to the heart always results in a death.  There really is no other way.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


The first task I gave both kids in cleaning their rooms was to try on every scrap of clothing they had.  We made the typical "keep," "give-away" and "throw-away" piles.  

It is funny how they tackled this task so differently.  My son disappeared into his room for twenty minutes, came out a couple of times to ask how one would know if shorts are too small (my rule of thumb was if your belly, ankles or wrists show when stretching it was too small) and was done.  I went in and found a couple of things in the keep pile that were too small, one thing that belonged in the throw-away pile and I needed to resort some of the choices in the give-away and throw-away piles.  Not too bad for working on his own.  As I folded and cleaned up, I had cause to wonder just how much attention this task received.  Imagine my surprise at finding my husband's underwear in the keep pile!!

My daughter has to try on everything while serenading herself.  She has to stop and dance in a new style with each ‘outfit.’ She also had me approving EVERY SINGLE article of clothing.  She has at least twice the number of clothes that my son has, so this first step takes hours.  I had to laugh at one point, though.  As I was sorting through my boy's stuff, she came in wearing a TIGHT pair of brown cords.  The fly wouldn't even go up.  I laughed and said, 'a little tight, huh?'  She laughed, too and asked if she could show her brother before she took them off.  At what age do we NOT care to announce that our pants won't zip??

Madi 007She took so long going through clothes that we needed to take a lunch break.  When she resumed her duties she came out to me laughing so hard she could hardly walk.  First my eyes fell to what she was wearing as pants and couldn’t figure out what was going on.  Was she wearing my body shaper?  My husband’s underwear?  She was laughing so hard that she couldn’t tell me what was going on.  I finally let my eyes roam up to her face and only then realize she has pants on her arms and panties on her head!  That is when I figured out she had a shirt on her bottom.  What a nut!

Postscript: I just showed her the picture and let her know I sent it to family and was putting it on the blog like she asked me to do.  Her response: ‘I didn’t know I looked that silly.  I am a little embarrassed.”  She’s a keeper!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Denial and I can be pretty good friends sometimes.  Most often when it comes to the need to do some deep cleaning.  The problem is not that I am a slob.  I don't even mind the work or time it takes to get things in order.  I just resent it the NEED for it.  I always feel that it wasn't that long ago that I did a deep clean and if we would all just work to maintain it, then a deep clean will never be needed again (again…again…again…).  Have I introduced you to my friend, Denial?

I have been warning the kids that their rooms are just not cutting it.  Up until the last big clean, they were each allowed only one toy in their room.  Since the last purge, however, I have let them keep all of their things in their rooms--more to meet the needs of my darling husband's image of a proper garage than anything.  But it is just not working.

My son has a legitimate excuse.  His toys tend to be of the contraptions-constructed-from-tiny-parts variety so he has a model of a T-Rex, a city building, a K'Nex roller coaster and countless Lego creations.  Seriously, WHERE do you put all that?  He needs a room of giant display shelves. 

My daughter, on the other hand, is just as creative but has plenty of storage.  The girl has 15 drawers in her room, plus two desks and a bookshelf, with plenty of floor space besides.  Her problems are that she is a pack rat and that her creations tend to be either on paper or of the paperweight persuasion.  So scraps and scraps of art, picture frames and knick-knacks literally litter her room.

It is time.  *sigh*  I must send my dear friend packing and tackle the house again.  It pains me.  Even if Denial moves out, we still keep in touch and I just can't believe that I have to purge and clean so freakin' often!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gift Day

We opened gifts last night!  It was so fun!  I wish my camera clicked faster, because I couldn’t capture all the moments.  Add to that the inevitable battery change in the middle of the action, and I feel I missed a lot.

Other than that, we had so much fun watching the kids open their gifts.  Both our kids are expressive and grateful, so there is nothing so fun as watching them them experience the surprise of opening something they have wanted.


The morning after: total satisfaction.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It took a couple of days…

But it was well worth the sense of accomplishment!  My dad gave this K’Nex roller coaster kit to my son for Christmas.  My son worked a few days to get it together, and the fragility of the connections were a little frustrating to him, but he did it!

opening gifts 2010 003opening gifts 2010 004






opening gifts 2010 005

opening gifts 2010 006







opening gifts 2010 010