Tuesday, January 31, 2012

High and Holy

Isaiah 57:15 NASB

For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
"I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.


I have been spending a lot if time lately in Chronicles and Kings. The high and holy places often reference the pagan gods and practices, the other religions in Canaan that tempted the Israelites into sin worshiped on the hills under trees.

This verse from Isaiah claims those high and holy places for the One True God. But it doesn't stop there. The low and humble places belong to Him, as well.

God owns the lofty, the best, determined by any standard. But He also owns the rejected and unloved. This applies to our lives in an intimate way. We may be tempted to focus on our 'presentable'' selves when dealing with the Lord. After all, we are instructed to give our first fruits, right?

But He knows and can reign over our whole selves, our whole lives. Offering Him our lowly parts, our weaknesses and failures is the only way to truly exalt Him. He is the God of all! Praise be to the Lord!

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Temptation of Jesus

The Temptation of Jesus Luke 4:1-13 NASB

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.'"

And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'"

And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,' and, 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'"And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is said, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'"

When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.

I have read these passages often enough so that their full impact is often lost for me. As I read them recently, I was reminded of the word 'temptation'. It means something. It isn't just words spoken to another.

I don't like cheese. If someone were to offer me a lifetime of cheese products, I wouldn't be tempted. Likewise, if I were given the opportunity to attend every Super Bowl from now until I'm old, I wouldn't be swayed in the least.
The Bible says Jesus was tempted by Satan, not merely propositioned. With this in mind, I read these passages with new meaning.

The first temptation is to turn the stones to bread. When I think about not eating for forty days, I honestly have just attributed this as more the Son of God part of Jesus than the Son of Man. I haven't even considered fasting for that long! I breeze over that verse as being nearly meaningless. But, Satan tempted Jesus. That means Jesus wanted some food! And He knew this was a possibility to that end.

Next, depending on the gospel, comes the suggestion to worship Satan in return for kingdoms. The Word says this tempted Jesus. I picture Christ, the man who has been wandering the wilderness, knowing the rejection He will face for millennia. He knew He was what He was going to suffer for our sakes.  He also knew that many would decide that it just wasn’t enough.  The sure thing of guaranteed kingdoms being His without all the suffering must have been what appealed to Him.

Finally comes the temptation to jump to a death that would not come. Satan employs Scripture in tempting Christ here. He reminds Jesus of the protective angels charged to guard from all dangers.

Consider this! Jesus is embarking on a ministry that will end with betrayal, beatings that will leave Him unrecognizable, and a most painful, humiliating death. To jump from the wall and NOT meet agony! To be cradled protectively in powerful arms! What a comfort the experience would be in contrast to the impending reality. It would build a memory worth clutching to in the dark days to come.

I have been told so many times that Jesus had been tempted, so He is a good friend to have while facing my own temptations. He's been there. He understands. Blah, blah, blah. I never put much stock in that because I'd always read the 'temptation’ of Christ’ as the ‘propositions of Satan’. I pictured Jesus scoffing at the ridiculous offers of a pesky gnat.

But if I am to take the Word of God as Truth, then Christ was actually tempted. He considered these offers and savored the options. He really can relate to my own temptations personally. He really has a compassion and an escape route for me.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Poor Genghis Kahn

You don’t see those words together often, do you?  That is kind of my point; Genghis Kahn gets no respect.  We studied him last year in school, including reading a biography.  This year, we are revisiting the topic.  Last year I supplemented our school with lots of documentaries.  I sent the Genghis Kahn ones back barely watched.  I was so turned off by the portrayal of him that I just couldn’t sit through the show.

Genghis Kahn’s life seems forever coupled with words like bloodthirsty, ruthless and brutal.  He is portrayed as barely human and beyond savage.  This bothers me mostly because of the contrast between the assessment he gets and the assessment of other conquering rulers.  Look at Alexander.  Who?  Alexander the Great!  Yeah, him.  This guy was a conqueror so hungry for more land that he pushed his own soldiers to the breaking point.  What about King Richard the Lionhearted?  This dude wasn’t out to conquer.  He wasn’t defending his own people or land, either.  He just liked going to war, so he did.  It didn’t matter that he left his people to the non-existent mercies of his depraved brother, John.  Even when Richard was captured, imprisoned, rescued and brought home to see the poverty of his people, he couldn’t wait to abandon his land to go play his war games.  There are several rulers who offered the choice of baptism or death to the newly acquired citizens, and many were sainted by the church for it!  Things just seem a little twisted to me in the way we are evaluating history.

Genghis Kahn was born in Mongolia at a time when there was nothing but tribes connected only through raids, kidnappings, rape and murder.  His chieftain father was poisoned by the leader of another tribe and his own wife was kidnapped, certainly raped and likely impregnated by her captors.  Genghis retrieved his wife and embraced her firstborn as his own.  Then he went to unify Mongolia.  Once he brought all of Mongolia together, they did sweep across Asia and eventually ended up with land that stretched literally from sea to sea—the largest empire the world had ever seen.  And it was safe!  The laws were strict, but that meant if you dropped your coin purse somewhere, you could retrace your steps weeks later and actually find it!

I do not personally enjoy reading about military strategies. War really isn’t my thing. But, when we read the biography of Genghis Kahn, I was impressed and even grew excited as we discovered his amazing techniques to bringing together a country. I don’t think Genghis was a teddy bear.  People feared him and his army for good reason.  But, when given the chance, Kahn chose to win entire city-states using psychology rather than brute force.  He won with his reputation and fearsome threats.  He seemed quite content to trick the enemy into surrender, rather than decimate entire populations. 

In our recent reading, it said that Kahn was a bloodthirsty brute who killed thousands of people.  Didn’t the Jews sing about Saul killing thousands and David killing tens of thousands?  Anyone bother to count how many that Great Alexander killed?

Again, I’m not in love with any of these guys.  All were sinners.  All shed blood.  Some may have loved God, others didn’t know Him.  But history books and History channel-type documentaries need to be called on the carpet for such biased reporting, in my opinion.  It seems a blatant example of an ‘us and them’ perspective to glorify our ‘own’ bloodthirsty men and vilify ‘theirs.’  We talk about the land Alexander ruled—but he couldn’t even rule it, and it didn’t last much past his own lifetime.  Genghis Kahn unified a larger piece of land, actually brought it under a civil code, and handed a golden age to his grandson.  It seems only right to be honest and use the same standards to measure a ‘successful’ conqueror.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What a fantastic day!

Yesterday was wonderful!  We started with our now-standard praise music with morning chores, prayer and memory verses (and plenty of dog-snuggles).  Then we moved right into school.  After some great discussions, we finished in time to get a little independent work done, plus cleaning the mess that is school.

For lunch our precious friend brought our favorite lunch—Port of Subs—and we enjoyed each others’ company while we ate.  Then we went on a walk (with our naughty dogs, it seems like more of a wrestle than a real walk.  At least I have good kids.) around the neighborhood while the kids played at the park. 

(Have I mentioned I live in a secret paradise?  We have a park a block away and a sledding hill three blocks away.  The lake is less than 15 minutes up the road. The wind in the pines in our backyard sounds like the ocean.  Plus we seem to be the only local place that is getting snow this winter.)

We came back to the house to thaw our ears and played Just Dance 3 that our friend brought to share.  That was so fun and a great way to warm up!  Then we settled down; the kids took turns on the computer, Madi sewed a pillow and we ladies watched The Help.  Man, I might like that story too much!

I ended my day with a shower and a bubble bath.  Ahhhhh! I fell asleep listening to my kids reading The Scripture Sleuth to one another.  That is a great series about a boy who solves mysteries using the Bible.  The reader learns what happens, finds the verse in the Bible that is the clue and solves the mystery.  Max read the stories while Madi did the sword drill.  At 11:11 I had to tell them lights out.  I love having to tell my kids to stop reading!

Friday, January 27, 2012

that settles it: God does love me!

I wrote about my fabulous birthday earlier.  I got the best gifts and was loved on all day.  I was a little ashamed and never would have admitted that a couple of days later I did think that I had really wanted a waffle iron and would need to hope I got one for my anniversary or something.  So selfish!  I batted the thought away and left it alone.

But then….

A box came!!

I opened it and made some sort of weird noise, I guess, because Madi came running over asking what was wrong.  I angled the box for her to see and had a big smile on my face.  She sighed and rolled her eyes, then complained, “You have too many excited sounds.  You need to have only one, so I know it is excited and not something bad!”  Wow! 

Now my waffle days will not be waffle days!!!  I can make them in a third of the time it takes me normally.  I am so jazzed!

If that weren’t enough, I talked with my sister who sent the gift.  The reason she got it was because she got an email, of all things, saying that there was a waffle iron on sale—the one that just happened to be on my wish list!  The one that is not actually sold by Amazon, so it doesn’t qualify for free two day shipping, but became over half off with free two day shipping!!!  Wow kazow, right?  And, within one day, the sale and the shipping deal were gone.

God totally loves me!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Have you seen these?

I just giggle every time I see this series of photos.  I had just gotten my new phone and was playing with the camera when Brian came upon me—quite literally.







I just adore him!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

School Time!

We are studying the medieval era right now—the times of knights and samurai!  I remember when I was in seventh grade making a sugar cube castle, so I thought it would be fun to let the kids try their hands at the same activity.  Sugar cubes aren’t as easy to find these days, but we ended up with more than enough.

I have some pictures to share from our schooling in our new place.


Madi’s Castle—she says she wants to make another one, too!


Max’s Castle—isn’t it great?  It has a fountain/well inside.


Castle-making with a heater placed to warm cold feet.


Snuggly-reading time.


Busy hands for happy ears.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Best Birthday

Man, my family helped me feel so precious this birthday!  Starting before my birthday, my husband and kids made a big deal about wrapping my presents so prettily.  And then they set them out on the coffee table for days—to tempt me!  It was such a pretty scene, I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture. 

101APPLEIMG_1002I woke up on my birthday and heard my girl bustling in the kitchen to make me breakfast.  She came in with our son and they brought me waffles and milk with a card.  So I ate, finished reading my Bible and showered in peace.  When I came out of my room, I was urged to the living room to where my daughter set up a throne of sorts on the couch in front of the presents and adorned me with a crown.101APPLEIMG_1001

I read the terrific cards and opened two beautiful necklaces from my kids.  My son got me my birthstone and my daughter got a Mom locket.  My older sister sent me the most beautiful green turtle earrings (my favorite color and favorite animal).  Then I got to open the gifts from my husband.  He got me The Help movie and a Kitchen Aid!!!  I have been wanting that for ten years!  So COOL!

101APPLEIMG_1003I got to talk with both sisters, watch the awesome movie, shovel the drive way (no white Christmas, but I got a white birthday) and then we went to church.  A friend gave me a cute birthday card and a hug right when we saw each other.  There was an engagement party for a young couple, but many came to say happy birthday to me.  The day before was the birthday of another in the young marrieds group and the church sang to us during the meeting.  I loved having the time with friends!

I felt super loved!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Conundrum or You’re Too Late

When you can’t put on deodorant because your hands are too sweaty to remove the lid.

Circle of life?

When babies are newborn, they cry a lot—countless times a day.  As they gain understanding and communication skills, they tend to cry less often.  They grow further and learn a little about perspective and perseverance (and patience) and a happy couple can go increasing spans of time without any tears.  It is pretty exciting to watch a little one gain maturity; and the fewer spells make for a more peaceful home!

Following this path, one might think that my kids’ grandpa’s assertion that “Big Kids Don’t Cry” is true.  But then again, maybe all the sex-related stereotypes have some grounding in truth.  My tough little girl, who got shots and even her ears pierced without flinching is currently crying about once a day—for what often seems like no reason at all.  Even she is perplexed as she cries, ‘I DON’T KNOW!” to questions regarding the cause of the sudden emotional cloudbursts.

The sad thing is that I can hardly help her seeing as how, depending on what time of the month is it, I am characterized by the exact same behavior!  In fact, there are days where I aspire to crying just once. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

You Say It’s Your Birthday?

Well, it’s my birthday, too!  Happy birthday to you!

I had to choose the Lego version out of deference to my son. Smile

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Feeling like a fool

Man, yesterday morning started out so well.  I shoveled the driveway alongside my husband, washed all the bedding (snow-melt+dogs=muddy beds), had our bed made before he got home from work, schooled the kids butts’ off and even remembered lunch!

I saw that we had a small berm from the street plow, so I ran out to take care of it before Brian got home.  I looked at the house across the street, and their place wasn’t shoveled, so I 10-second-ruled myself over there.  Only after I got started did I see that they actually have three driveways.  I knew there was no point in doing it unless I did it all, so I kicked it into gear, knowing my husband was already on his way home.  I was hoping to finish before running into anyone, even Brian.

Well, by the time I had shoveled over 3/4 of all three driveways the owner of the house came out.  I said hi, he said hi.  I said, ‘how are you?’ Then he looked at me through his brow and asked, ‘who are you?’  I pointed across the street and said that I was his new neighbor.  He said, ‘you really don’t have to do this.  We have a snow plow and I already checked the weather and knew it would all melt off today.  Is this your first time in the snow?’ (I rather sheepishly told him that we have lived here for over 12 years.)

I felt like an idiot.  To make matters fully embarrassing, I was not dressed particularly well, had on no makeup and my bangs were all flooey, made more flooey by the drizzle that had started up while I was working.  My husband had come home while I was shoveling, and just went inside, so I didn’t know what he was doing.  Thankfully, he eventually came out and introduced himself.  After the men chatted a bit, we said goodbye and walked back to the house.  Brian looked at me and said, ‘didn’t you ask?’  When I said that I hadn’t, he said, ‘shouldn’t you ask before you do something like that?  You might offend someone.’

Hearing that sort of sent me into a tailspin because I was thinking exactly that while shoveling.  I was worried about getting caught.  I was nervous that I was doing it wrong somehow.  But I also thought I was doing a good thing.  Then we came into the house and the un-bathed dogs were on the newly made bed.  I couldn’t get to the bathroom fast enough to have a good cry.  Sometimes I am such a girl and my emotions can ruin a perfectly good day.

I was ashamed that I was behaving as I was, because I knew that if the neighbor’s reaction was at all important to me, than my motivation wasn’t as pure as I thought it had been.  I hate being constantly confronted with my pride.  I can’t seem to escape it.  I felt so ugly inside and out.

After a shower, prayer, time with my mah-velous man and a little rest, I felt better.  I know I obeyed God.  It didn’t turn out how I expected, but we did meet a neighbor.  He might think I am stupid, but at least we didn’t meet because of naughty dogs or something!

Friday, January 20, 2012

First Snow! Finally!

In moving to this area, we moved up in elevation enough to make a significant difference in the amount of snow we can anticipate.  In fact, that seems to be what this little area is known for, judging from the singular reaction we get when we tell people where we live.  We know that we don’t know what we are getting into—another perk to renting!  If we hate it, we aren’t committed to this forever.

So, moving the week before Christmas, we figured we’d get a taste of winter soon after moving in—we had even seen predictions of snow for the day of our move.  Not a flake!  And in spite of continued predictions, we haven’t seen a flake the month we have been here.

But yesterday morning we woke to beautiful snow!  What a glorious way to school, snuggled on the couch, looking at snow falling through tall pines!  It’s good for the soul, I tell you.  We didn’t get so much that I was prevented from going to Bible study, thanks to a girl friend who picked me up and her husband who drove me home.  We were even able to host a visit from friends who hadn’t yet seen our new place.

It continued to snow through the night, so I got up with Brian to shovel him out for work this morning.  That is probably one of my favorite forms of exercise, so that is a terrific way to begin the day.  I came in after finishing and seeing Brian off to read my Bible.  Now we begin another glorious day!

Be blessed! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Good Morning

For years, we have started our school day with the Bible memory verse of the week in song.  I play the music a couple of times while we eat and finish morning chores.  Well, right now, the kids are memorizing a long(ish) poem instead of a passage of Scripture.  This left a gap in our morning routine.

So, I ran through my iTunes and made a playlist of just praise music and hymns.  Now that is what we listen to—in fact, it is often on as the kids come out of their rooms until we begin our prayer time.

It has been a real blessing to begin the day in this new way.  I have a wide variety of tempos and artists to keep things dynamic, so we might be dancing through our breakfast prep, and then having a deep discussion on the character of God the next. I am so thankful that there are so many ways to sing praises to Him!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It’s a Girl-Day

Today we have ballet class and Frontier Girls!  Whoohoo!  It is good to celebrate girlhood every now and then. Smile

Monday, January 16, 2012

No Pressure

We were driving to church last night and having a good time teasing one another.  Out of the blue, Brian asks Max, “How do you plan to control your wife?”  What?  I totally deserve gifts for holding my tongue after that one!  My husband sometimes positively delights in mischief.  I was so focused on keeping myself quiet, it took me a moment to realize how quiet Max was being.

We drove several blocks until he finally answered, “I’m still twelve, right?”  After laughing at his attempt to dodge the question, Brian started a slightly more serious conversation with him, asking if he has thought at all about what type of woman he wants to marry and how they will get along.  Max was still a little uncomfortable being nailed down on specifics.

To his mercy his sister finally jumped in with, ‘He has eight more years to think about this.’  That settled us all down and we joined in assuring Max that there was plenty of time. 

Then, quietly, Madi added almost under her breath, “and five days, 26 minutes and …5 seconds.”  That is pretty specific!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Redemption is always there

A lifetime ago I did a Bible study that emphasized four elements that are found in any section of the Bible (and life): Creation, Sin, Judgment and Redemption.  The training must have been effective, because it has always stuck with me.  I have enjoyed opening the eyes of my children to these elements recently.

First, let me explain each point.  Please know this is my interpretation, and the actual study is more thorough, exact and eloquent.  The first is Creation.  This refers to the world, story or situation as it is.  God’s creation is perfect.  Since sin entered, it is less so.  Keeping that in mind, creation is the ‘once upon a time’ part of life.  It sets the scene.

Next comes Sin—of course!  As long as we are here, won’t sin always follow creation?  As we look at things in story form, this is the part where things go wrong; literarily speaking, it is the conflict.

I would say that Judgment is the most difficult element to pinpoint.  I remember in the Bible study, this was defined as the part that ‘brings you up short.’  I guess because that phrase never really resonated with me, I struggled identifying judgment when we hear life stories or studied a particular Bible passage.  My less-than description that helps me is to see the judgment as the consequences, or the ‘new normal’ that the Sin brings about.

Finally comes Redemption.  Praise Him and Hallelujah!  This is the Gospel that is written into every element of the Word and our lives.  Even when God decrees the harshest punishments and sin seems to destroy so completely, redemption is there; a remnant is spared.  Hope is never extinguished.  The element of Redemption is everything; it is the new creation. 

Perfectly clear pictures of each element are easily identified in the flood and Sodom and Gomorrah.  God created a world with free will, families, provision and prosperity.  We sinned by turning our backs to God and seeking our own measurement of righteousness.  God’s judgment was to wash it all clean with water and fire, respectively.  The redemption is Noah and Lot.  God set aside a family for preservation to live on with another chance and hope for a new life.

Yesterday we were studying Luke 8 and 9 for school.  At the end of chapter 8 is the story of the man who is possessed by a Legion of demons.  Jesus frees the man.  The people living nearby are frightened by such power and beg Jesus to leave.  This is the sin—people quite literally telling Jesus that he is not wanted or welcome in their lives.  You can’t get any clearer than that!  The judgment—often the saddest part—is when Jesus complies.  What a tragedy it is when He gives us exactly what we ask! 

As Jesus makes His departure, the delivered man wants to go with Jesus.  Here is the awesome redemption that Jesus never neglects.  He tells the man no.  Why?  I imagine how confused and sad he must have been!  But Jesus’ answer didn’t have anything to do with the man who was healed and already saved.  It had everything to do with the lost town that sent Jesus from their midst.

Maybe the people aren’t ready to accept Christ, but this man living in their presence, exited to tell his story can serve as a constant reminder to Truth.  So, the people are left with hope, a chance to change their minds as seeds are planted by the life of a healed man.

I love to see these redemptions, these ever-present testimonies to God’s compassion and grace in the face of our stubbornness and defiance.  What a mighty God we serve!  I also appreciate the extra lesson that sometimes the answer ‘no’ isn’t about me.  I might be told no for the sake of someone else!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Somebody Come and Play!

Isn’t Sesame Street great?  I love how there is a song for just about every situation.  (I will resist a YouTube Sesame Street binge!!)  As we have been getting settled in our new house, we have not had a lot of time to explore the neighborhood.

Yesterday we finally got the opportunity—and the will—to go on a walk with the kids.  Really, I was feeling a little down and didn’t have mess of chores to keep me busy, so Brian suggested we get out of the house to lift my spirits.  He didn’t actually say any of that, but he knows me so well and I know him!

We discovered that there is a park right down the street!  It is a little embarrassing to have had all sorts of kids over the last four weeks and to not have even known that there was this fun little playground a hop, skip and a jump away.

So the kids have gone to it yesterday and today.  They have had a blast coming and going on their own—a first for them!  There is also a basketball court across from the park.  I am loving our new home!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lessons we must remember

Last night before bed, I discovered that my son’s closet was full of clothes—dirty, clean and still unpacked from our move four weeks ago!  All mingled with wet towels from a week’s worth of showering.  I was rendered speechless.  What do I say?  On the one hand, he’s a boy.  Why should I expect anything different?  On the other, why are my daily requests for dirty clothes falling on deaf ears?

I told him things needed to be fixed tomorrow, but for now to just go to bed.  I walked out, shaking my head.  By the time I got to my own bedroom door, I stopped.  I went back to my son.  I sat on his bed and told him that this really doesn’t matter.  I want him to be responsible and honest, but in the big scheme of things, keeping up his room is just not that important.  I told him that when he lives on his own and wants to do laundry only when he has nothing clean to wear, or buy new clothes when the clean ones run out, it won’t even be my business.  You know what his response was?  Tears. 

Max shared with me that he gets overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy.  He said he sometimes feels he is a mistake.  My heart broke.  Just a week ago I was crying myself to sleep, sobbing these same sentiments to my husband.  I have really been struggling these last couple of weeks with the magnitude of my weaknesses.  My mouth gets me into such trouble.  And as a family-woman, this doesn’t just affect me.  I bring pain and loss to my husband and kids whenever my mouth holds more feet than I have at the end of my legs.  The pressure to hold my tongue and control myself is sometimes more than I can bear.  To be perfectly honest, when I assess myself, the single word that sums me up is wretched.

While self-flagellation is so simple to mire me, seeing my precious son flooded me with truth, praise be to God!  I let Max know the gist of my night last week.  Then I asked if he knew of anyone else struggled with feelings of frustration and failure.  Paul!  You know, the one who wrote a substantial amount of the New Testament?  He knew what was right and did wrong.  He wanted to do good, and chose bad.  So, we know we are in fairly good company.

We discussed the value of sitting together speaking these types of negative things about others.  I repeated the sentences he’d said about himself, but substituted his name for another’s.  His eyebrows shot up.  It is so obvious that that kind of talk is unacceptable.  How can we justify thinking it about ourselves?

I reminded him that Jesus saw us at our worst and judged us as worth dying for while we were in that state.  It is a special kind of pride to decide that my badness is bigger than His goodness.  If He chooses to love me, how can I not?

Finally, we talked about the insidious trap Satan uses when a fluttering of realization hits a believer.  When we see how and where we have fallen, instead of getting up to move forward, we sit and scold ourselves, tally our failures, cry and slap our faces.  It seems the right thing to do—maybe under the heading of confession or repentance?  But, really, we are still just sitting, not doing the thing He has called us to do—because I am sure none of us is called to hate ourselves!

I am thankful for last night.  Like I said, I have really been living in a funk the last few weeks.  Seeing someone else in that state shook me out of it.  It is so easy to fall back to it, especially when I face consequences for another offence my ‘mouth’ caused.  I just spiral back to that circular thought.  The motivation to stay on track for the sake of this precious young man is just what I needed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh, no! Here comes the soapbox!

I have been seeing lots of chatter about the book The Help.  It is exciting to share something new and cool, so I have been enjoying the reactions to the book from the people I love.   I have, however, read a few things on Facebook that are a little cringe-worthy, in my opinion.

The one that keeps repeating on me—like a bad meal—is the sentiment that goes something like this: Can you believe that people used to really think like this?  And there are still people like this today?? 

I love how the author is so authentic to the time and place of her book, but I don’t think there is even an implied invitation to scorn the mentality of racism.  Racism is something I see as a literary device to The Help, NOT the subject in and of itself.  Far more interesting to me is the deeper portrait of individuals and how they fit into an unforgivingly stringent society.  If this is so, then the comment, ‘Can you believe…?’ is one that smacks of blindness.  It would be comical if it weren’t so very sad.

I see how relevant this world of The Help is to me, in my little life.  I can imagine it is relevant to just about anyone.  As people, we like boxes and we box other human beings up in ways that help us feel safe and in control.  We categorize, incorporate and marginalize all as a matter of course.  The social mores of any group become more closely followed than anything as trivial as law.  You sped on your way to the party?  Who cares!  You burp your way through a cocktail line?  You might want to think about moving.

The protagonists in The Help do their part to defy the mores of their world.  They take a risk and hope that eyes will be opened to the truth.  Dehumanizing humans is wrong, whether you do it to exclude or even to include.  Skeeter was ‘in.’  Her best friends were ‘in.’  But to stay ‘in,’ she had to stop being herself, just as much as a maid was required to leave her personality, hopes and dreams at home before coming to work.

This is something that begins in school, and only becomes more subtle once all the parties become so-called adults.  Social pressures to perform as expected are profound for all the players.  While we imagine that those lower on the totem pole are most interested in changing the scene, we overlook those at the top who are just as trapped by the rigidity of the roles we institute.

Of course the maids in the book risked their lives by talking with Skeeter.  But so did Skeeter.  She lost everything, too.  The beautiful reality for her, though, was the loss turned into an unexpected freedom.  Discovering she’d been replaced among her friends by the next cardboard cut-out wasn’t nearly as profound as the discovery that she no longer wanted to be there.  She no longer had to toe the line to maintain approval. 

The maids also lost things in exchange for new freedoms.  But I think the biggest thing many of them lost was fear.  Christ tells us to not fear those who can kill us because all they can do is kill us.  That verse always makes me chuckle.  What a profound thought!  One worth internalizing.  Once we lose that fear of others, we realize how dead we had been before.  And we were dead supposedly so that we could live!

So, I really don’t think this is a book about race, a nation’s shamefully slow recovering from slavery or the South.  I believe it is about life.  I saw it as a call to live for truth without fear.  We can stand in defiance of the Hillys and do the right thing.  Or we can choose to be blind and fearful, unaware even when a book is written all about us and our friends.  We can get rid of all reminders of truth, let hateful people make our choices for us and go through it all over again the next time God offers the opportunity of life.  For me, I’m letting the Hillys of my life go. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Funny Story

My sister lives on 20 acres in the woods.  Our five kids love running around on it as adventurous explorers.  A summer or two ago my sister herded the kids from the woods to her truck to take them somewhere.  The fact that she seems to always have a stick of deodorant in the car shows this wasn’t the first time she had unwittingly trapped herself with playful pubescent children in a confined space.

The story goes like this: Aunt Katie announced that they all stunk and tossed the deodorant to the back.  The kids took turns, passing it around (please no comments on hygiene. I wasn’t there and I can’t care).  When my son got it, he took the lid off the deodorant and began rubbing the stick all over his thighs.  His cousin looked at him and said, ‘DUDE!  It goes under your arms!’  So, my boy obediently redirected his thorough application and passed it on.

This story cracks me up every time I think about it.  My favorite thing about it is that my son tells it as often as anyone else.  He just shakes his head laughing at himself.  It seems never once was he embarrassed or had his feelings hurt by the retelling of the story from different perspectives.  He did something silly.  So funny, really.  But no one made him feel shamed for it.  It just tickles me that we have such a super family where laughter rings, but the love reigns. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The title?

This post can have a few different titles.  The Ugly Truth, The Truth Hurts, Ignorance is Bliss or Math Sucks!shock

In earlier posts, you may have read my raving about our Young Marrieds group.  The people in our group are terrific.  I just love them and enjoy their company immensely. 

Now, we are a little older than the other members.  We knew this going in, considering the nature of the group.  We have had fun with joking over pop culture references that some of us get, and others don’t. 

Well, tonight I did a little math….  I realized that my darling husband is old enough to be our youngest member’s FATHER!!!  And she is closer in age to our son than she is to US!  Holy molasses.

That is just horrifying.  Why on earth do they want to hang out with old fogies?  And how on earth did WE ever become old fogies??  Tell me!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Writer’s Block

I guess anyone who does any amount of writing experiences some level of writer’s block.  My son is an excellent and prolific writer.  He has written several short stories and has started ten times more than those that are complete.  He may, in time, return to those ideas to bring them to full fruition.  He may not. 

I understand writer’s block.  I also understand that one great story has 10 failed ones behind it.  The problem is when the writer is also my son and my student.  When do I allow for the artist to be an artist, and when do I push lessons that have nothing to do with grammar or story lines? 

One of my fears is that my children will live their lives with great potential.  At some point the young grow up and all that potential is just sad.  I feel I am guilty of failing to follow through with some of my own dreams.  I haven’t always pushed against the resistance (sometimes substantial, other times merely my own laziness) to complete projects.  There are few things that make me feel more lousy than seeing my bad traits and poor habits manifested in my kids.  Ugh!  The guilt!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I have spent the last several months reading Chronicles and Kings.  These books and the era from which they come would never really make any ‘favorite’ list of mine, but in the various devotionals and in schooling the kids, these books keep (KEEP) coming up.  I actually added a read-the-Gospels-in-a-month program to my morning time just for something new.

In all that reading, though, I noticed something.  Each king of Israel or Judah is evaluated.  “He did good in the sight of the Lord.”  Often there is an attribution of influence.  Jeroboam was the first king not in David’s line who led Israel after the Kingdom split.  He led the people to worship other gods and many of the kings who followed him were said to have done evil, just as Jeroboam did.  The kingdom of Judah was lead by kings from the line of David.  There were some who followed God, and others who didn’t.  As they were assessed, they were deemed to have done good in the sight of the Lord or to have done evil. 

What is interesting to me is in the attribution.  Some kings ‘chose well,’ to borrow from Indiana Jones.  When they did, it is written that they followed a good king.  The converse is true when one did not choose well.  But the actual degrees of separation is not observed in these attributions.  One king may have had an evil father, but a good grandfather.  When that was the case, the Scripture says he did good, just as his father, (name), did.  Some even had David as father, which is clearly inaccurate.

This tells me that genealogy didn’t seem as important (and if we read the Word, we know how important it is), as something more—a moral or spiritual lineage. 

I realize this plays out in a grand way with Christ.  We are adopted into the family of God, through His unfailing grace.  We no longer are assessed so calculatingly, Praise be to Him!  Our Father is God in heaven, perfect and eternal.

Even so, in a human sense, this is pretty interesting to me.  I had a terrific grandpa.  His name was Stanley Muncy.  He loved the Lord, loved his wife, loved his four boys and all the grandbabies.  He recently passed away and it was a wonderful thing to see this broken family come together in a unity of love for this one man. 

My grandpa’s sons have made their own choices in life—some good, some bad.  There has been a lot of heartache because of that generation; and it has spilled to the next.  But I wonder if we have forgotten something very important.  We have choice, too.  We don’t need to carry the schisms caused by our dads.  We can choose good, like our dad, Stanley. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Some days just don’t deserve 24 hours

Our first day of school…Why do I ever think we can have a good first day of school?  Isn’t there some sort of saying about repeating the same action and expecting a different result?  Well, I was certainly feeling crazy!  Things started well enough—I prayed, read my devotions, finished my chores, got the kids up in a timely matter.  We gathered after breakfast to discuss the new year, the new schedule and get situated.  We prayed together, did science….  Then everything went horribly wrong.  I can’t even put my finger on what the problem was.

I ended up putting myself in timeout for a shower just to cool off.  I couldn’t help but wonder who I thought I was fooling.  I’m no good at this!  I can’t do this!!  I felt so lousy about myself I just wanted to start the day over—NO!  I surely didn’t want to REPEAT the day…I know.  I just want the day to be done.  Who ever said that every single day ever HAS to have a whole 24 hours?  That is just a silly rule!


Praise the Lord for Day Number Two.  If I didn’t hold out for Day Number Two, there would have been only one Day One!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Help

Have y’all read this book yet?  Oh!  I highly recommend it!  I could hardly put it down and I am kicking myself for lending my copy out because I think I want to read it again!  It was so very well written, capturing accents, attitudes and the time period to perfection.  The author does a superb job of sprinkling elements from the sixties throughout the story to really ground the reader in the time.

The reflections of the characters in the last third or so of the book are so realistic and poignant.  They do a daring thing, and the consequences begin to play out.  As each woman wonders if her decisions were right, my heart was touched in such a personal way.  The women evaluated the losses they sustained and one in particular realizes that she didn’t really lose anything.  She was set free.

It is interesting to me how we hold onto things in our lives so tightly that cause us harm.  We fight with ferocious tenacity to maintain the status quo, even if it is killing our spirits.  I think of the dark secrets of abuse and addiction and how it drains life from everyone who is touched by it—and yet the resistance to change is a strength that challenges the rawest forces in nature.

What freedom we abandon when we hold on to things that bring us harm.  This book does a beautiful job of showing how courage is available to speak truth and to be free!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Welcome Back, School!

It is our first day of school for the new year.  We begin the second semester of our year.  I love schooling.  It interrupts the Garbage-in-Garbage-out formula of what we do without the infusion of purposeful days that school supplies for this family. 

New books, new ideas, new projects—all in a new home with its very own school room!  Exciting day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


When we first moved to this little isolated town, we left everyone we knew and came to a place where we knew not a soul.  Our first year had some lonely stretches.  But it could have been much worse if it hadn’t been for all the friends and family who made the trip to visit us and our new home. 

Our town is so small that you can get from anywhere to anywhere in five minutes or less.  I am not kidding.  This is so ingrained in our thinking that the little ‘suburb’ communities on the outskirts that are four miles away are called ‘out of town.’  And people living out there consolidate their trips ‘into town’ to save on gas.  Those living into town balk about having to drive ‘all that way’ to visit the out-of-towners.  It is a little silly.  I’m guilty of adopting this mentality myself.  In fact, I would often go to the more expensive grocery store because I didn’t want to drive all the way over to the other one—you know, the one that was 2.5 miles from my house.

I have watched many of my friends find homes out of town, and move right back into town the first chance they got because they were slipping into depressions because of isolation!  I am not talking about one or two people.  In my twelve years here, I have seen it over and over again. 

So, here we are, moving ‘out of town.’  I wondered how it would all play out.  The reactions we have received have been pretty predictable.  Raised eyebrows, open mouths…’Oh!  You’re moving up there? Wow!’  I looked it up: my house is 6.8 miles from the furthest side of town. In city talk, we’re neighbors with that far-away grocery store!  But facts don’t trump impressions, and the general impression among the townies is that we now live in Timbuktu (metaphorically speaking, of course, and not to be confused with the very in-town street.)

But God trumps even impressions, praise be!  Here we have completed our second week in our new place and we have had visitors well over half of our days here.  And this week is scheduled to fullness with friends to warm our hearts and home.  God is so good!  I know it won’t always be like this.  We start back to school on Thursday, and a routine will settle around us.  But, I think I can say with relative confidence that we won’t be horribly isolated.  Our friends are just the best!  We couldn’t ask for more!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Our New Year Celebration

How did you celebrate the New Year?  We went to our church for some great family fellowship.  We had dinner and games and good company.  It is wonderful to see church as family, loving on one another, catching up and helping each other out.  So FUN!

Since Brian had to go to work the next morning, we left before midnight.  We got home and spent some time together as a family and let Brian go to bed.  Then the kids and I had a wonderful hour and a half discussing the last year and our prayers for 2012.  It was a fantastic bit of conversation about how God works in our lives. 

One of the metaphors that came up was being in a boat.  As we travel, we get tossed from side to side, jostled, bumped and bruised.  We wonder why God would allow us such sufferings.  But then we look back and see these dangers that our paths missed.  How did we not see those?!  Now we can understand why we felt jerked around—we were being precisely navigated around whirlpools, storms and predators.


When midnight finally came, we went outside to celebrate with little poppers that the kids got in their stockings.  Since this is our first New Year in this house, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the neighborhood.  I went out cautiously, not wanting to be too loud.  But then we heard fireworks—fireworks in the forest!  So I figured we we were good to set off a few Dollar Tree poppers. 

The celebration in the neighborhood continued, and I realized that I was no longer hearing fireworks.  Those were gunshots!  Holy Moly, says the city girl.  I had joked about moving up here with mountain lions and having nothing to fear because we would be the ONLY household without firearms.  I hadn’t realized that the fact would be on full display New Year’s midnight!

Once we were done, we hugged and all went to bed.  Only when I was lying down did I become nearly panicked at the thought that I let my kids and dogs run around our backyard while an unknown number of guns were firing randomly into the air!  I had to do some fervent praying to still my heart!  What was I thinking?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Family Fun

We have found a new game!  In our new family room, that is all laminate flooring and very little furniture, we can lay perpendicular to one wall and shoot ourselves across the floor.  It is like racing in a swimming pool and so much fun!   Each of us has a favorite technique and the dogs seem to enjoy making themselves obstacles.  Sliding on a blanket can add to one’s advantage, depending on the blanket.  I can’t win to save my life, and I am sure I look ridiculous, but we have such a blast I can’t let myself think about that for too long.

new house 001

If you are looking for a way to spend an evening, drop by here and we will see how far YOU can slide!  (I’ve GOT to find somebody to beat!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Our little girl has had the hardest time with the move.  My older sister has been a true source of comfort to her.  In one of their frequent phone conversations, my sister told Madi that she would write a poem for her.  Here it is!  My sisters are both so amazingly talented, it blows my mind!