Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Reflections

Well Christmas celebrations came and went this year. In reflecting, I have several observations about what transpired in our home over the past 4 weeks, and I thought I'd share them. Maybe you too have been able to enjoy, celebrate and re-evaluate your "christmas traditions".

First, I am grateful that my boys received very few presents this year. It sure made them appreciate what they did receive, plus it made the whole "gift thing" a smaller part of our Christmas season. If I can help them understand the rightful emphasis of gifting in the years to come, I will be grateful to God for help in this regard.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed for Christmas 2006 was reading a collection of 24 verses from Luke and Matthew during the advent weeks. It was great to read and re-read these verses with the boys, since the meaning grew with every passage over those precious words. My goal for next year (should we be granted another Christmas season) would be to have a dedicated time each evening for a "vesper" service -where we read God's word and sing carols. We tried this a few times - snuggled in mom's bed with the Christmas lights twinkling -and it was a special time. The only obstacle were the nights of christmas choir practice and Boys' Brigade. Maybe I can figure a way to have these services despite the later nights for the children.

Anyway, another thing that I relished this past season, was contemplating Christ's second coming as part of my Christmas "mind-travel". I would love to do a deeper study of eschatology in conjunction with an Advent preparation. Maybe the Lord will allow me that next year.

Finally, I was grateful that we were holed up in bed with the flu the week prior to Christmas. This afforded me a lot of time to read scripture, listen to John Piper, John MacArthur, etc. It was a special "treat" that was forced upon us in the midst of the Christmas flurry. One side benefit was that I realized that sometimes stepping back can give a lot of clarity to the whole "holiday" time. There can be great joy for our families in preparing for December 25th, but in the midst of our society's perversion of the holiday, we need to be vigilent in keeping our eyes glued to the truth of the incarnation.

These past weeks, I have been so thankful for the many reminders that God came to earth because of the dirty sinners that populate this planet. This includes you and me. We all deserve God's wrath. It is reasonable for law-breakers to be punished, and since we have broken the holy Creator's sacred laws, we deserve His pure and justifiable wrath, with judgement.

Thanks be to God for sending Jesus to walk this earth, next to sinful creature. Thanks be to Jesus for being faithful in purity, obedience and sacrifice. Had the incarnation not happened, we would all be destined to hell, BUT... praise God for His gift of a Savior.

Interestingly, Jesus' role as a Savior permeated all the Christmas events I attended this year, and it reflected the joy in my soul. He is my Savior!! I would have no hope... and now my future is completely changed. Already I experience the wonderful blessings of this changed heart, but I anticipate with even greater hope my final glory - when I will be face to face in God's presence... worshiping forever without distraction. Now that's a reason to celebrate - and not just on December 25th, but for the whole year!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

"S is for the Saviour"

The Saviour (from The Valley of Vision)

Thou God of All Grace,
Thou has given me a saviour,
produce in me a faith to live by him,
to make him all my desire,
all my hope,
all my glory.

May I enter him as my refuge,
build on him as my foundation,
walking in him as my way,
follow him as my guide,
conform to him as my example,
receive his instructions as my prophet,
rely on his intercession as my high priest,
obey him as my king.

May I never me ashamed of him or his words,
but joyfully bear his reproach,
never displease him by unholy or imprudent conduct,
never count it a glory if I take it patiently
when buffeted for a fault,
never make the multitude my model,
never delay when thy Word invites me to advance.

May thy dear Son preserve me from this present evil world,
so that its smiles never allure,
nor its frowns terrify,
nor its vices defile,
nor its errors delude me.

May I feel that I am a stranger and a pilgrim on earth,
declaring plainly that I seek a country,
my title to it becoming daily more clear,
my meetness for it more perfect,
my foretastes of it more abundant;
and whatsoever I do may it be done in the Saviour's name.

Coffee Cup Verse

Philippians 2:6-7
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made Himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Have a "Truly-Confused" Christmas!

We received several Christmas cards this week. Generally, I am not one to check the back of cards to see if my sender has "sent the very best". Somehow one card did get a backward glance and now has become the focus of a blog posting.

The front of the card says, "HIS STAR STILL SHINES IN EVERY heart THAT KNOWS HIM AND BELIEVES." The inside inscription says "MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND HOLD YOU CLOSE AT Christmastime AND ALWAYS."

I've been careful to mark the capitalization as Hallmark intended it, because I am sure they choose capitalization and font as part of the message on each card.

Naturally, I was glad to receive a card pointing to GOD and I was encouraged by the suggestion that people believe HIM.

The hand-written words from our friends affirmed the faith that we share in Jesus Christ. Up to this point, my heart was warmed -spiritually and emotionally. And then... the fateful back-side of the card. Here Hallmark lets us know what they meant by this card. This card is a "Mahogany" card... and Hallmark has even included a write-up for us:

The Hallmark Keepsake Ornament featured on this card is the first in A Celebration of Angels Collector's Series that began in 1995. During the holiday season, African-American families celebrate Christmas as well as Kwanzaa. Therefore, each year a new African-American angel dressed in a festive robe will symbolize the gift giving, reflection and reunion of this special time of the year.

I was kind of sad that I had caught these words. Here I was thinking that the card was about Jesus. You know, the "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes unto the Father but by me", Jesus (Jn14:6). And I suppose in one way it is about that Jesus... except for the but by me part... 'cause I guess that would eliminate the Kwanzaa part of the write-up....(Kwanzaa's definition of faith is " To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.) Plus, if they were honestly talking about Jesus, the symbolism of this "special time of year" would surely include worship, sacrifice, and incarnation.

Ladies, this kind of careful "word-crafting", which sounds very "christian" until we listen alertly, will most likely become one of the hallmarks of 2007 (no pun intended:)). May we all set our minds on Christ so that if "any man (or card company) is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received", we will not be swayed, but rather recognize the fake.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Think Like A Server" Link

To continue with the topic of serving our King, consider Titus 2:3-5 "Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. "

This is another part of our job description and I came upon a helpful perspective fix at Holy Experience: Think Like A Server. Often I can find myself becoming complacent in my "working at home"... and this was a reminder to work diligently, as serving the Lord.

As the festivities get busier, may we all do our work - as to the Lord... not because Aunt Jane will check behind our toilet to see if it's clean, not because we want to receive praise for our gingerbread pie recipe, not even for our families... but as a service to our King. I suspect this will make the broom a little lighter, the days less stressful, and our joy... overflowing.

Blessings, my fellow homemakers, as you work for your King!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Go Serve Your King

Being an ex-radio-host, I'm intrigued with sign-offs. Todd Friel, Way of the Master Radio, signs off every day with the line, "Go serve your King!"

These words remind me that I have a new job and a new employer... God Himself!

I have a new "job"... a new "calling"... since I have been made into a new "creation". 2 Corinthians 5:20a gives me my job description: "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us."

Ladies, God is entreating people through US! The King has sent us, as ambassadors into this land of temporary residence. Oh yes, we used to call this land, home. But now we are aliens. We have received a new citizenship. And when that citizenship became "official" with the Holy Spirit's seal on our heart, we were employed in the King's work.

We are now ambassadors, cleverly disguised as university students, mothers, nurses, teachers, etc. We have a job to do and are even "thoroughly equipped" to do our work.

So today, with all our strength, let us go and serve our King!!

Coffee Cup Verse

In keeping with the Christmas thoughts... God come to earth, Christ living and dying, these verses in Romans give me great insight into the WHY of Christmas. I pray pondering this verse will make this week of advent even dearer.

Romans 5:17-18
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness
there resulted justification of life to all men.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

God's Sovereignty - Debate-able?

My husband received The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions for his birthday, and I've been blessed by the eloquent expressions of theology found in this book.

Tonight, on the way to church, we caught ~5 minutes of a preacher on the radio. He was very specifically arguing against Calvinism. One of the big issues he had with the teaching of Calvinism was the sovereignty of God. Since the sovereignty of God is a biblical thought (Ps.103:19, 1 Tim.6:15), the attacks he was mounting were pathetic. Nonetheless, the conviction and passion with which he spoke was disturbing to me, since he was speaking from a "pulpit" (radio or otherwise).

Oh what a blessing to have words such as the following prayer from The Valley of Vision, which resonate with the power, authority and might that God has and is.

God the All

O God whose will conquers all,
There is no comfort in anything
apart from enjoying thee
and being engaged in thy service;
Thou art All in all, and all enjoyments are what to me
thou makest them, and no more.
I am well pleased with thy will, whatever it is,
or should be in all respects.
And if thou bidst me decide for myself in any affair
I would choose to refer all to thee,
for thou art infinitely wise and cannot do amiss,
as I am in danger of doing.
I rejoice to think that all things are at thy disposal,
and it delights me to leave them there.
Then prayer turns wholly into praise,
and all I can do is to adore and bless thee.
What shall I give thee for all thy benefits?
I am in a strait betwixt two, knowing not what to do;
I long to make some return, but have nothing to offer,
and can only rejoice that thou doest all,
that none in heaven or on earth shares thy honour;
I can of myself do nothing to glorify thy blessed name,
but I can through grace cheerfully surrender soul and body to thee,
I know that thou art the author and finisher of faith,
that the whole work of redemption is thine alone,
that every good work or thought found in me
is the effect of thy power and grace,
that thy sole motive in working in me to will and to do
is for thy good pleasure.
O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much
about man's creaturely power and goodness,
when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment,
we should be devils incarnate.
This, by bitter experience, thou hast taught me concerning myself.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Movie Night

We went to see The Nativity Story last night. Had an absolutely delightful time with friends. This was the first time hubby and I had been to the theatres since Jonah Veggie Tales was released. I found last night's venture to be a worthwhile time!

I was struck by the long journey they made from Nazareth to Bethlehem at the height of Mary's pregnancy. What a purifying and refining time that would have been for both of them. I was reminded of Romans 5:3-4 "...we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. "

The movie was also pleasantly surprising in it interpretation of the scriptural account of Christ's birth. Of course, there were artistic choices made to help us imagine the incarnation, but I found they were bearable, at times even imaginable (eg. Joseph's comment to Mary, "will I actually teach Him anything?")

More than anything, I found I was left sitting at the end of the movie wanting it to continue. My mind went on a mental journey to the cross, and ultimately it made me long for the 2nd coming of my King.

I've been contemplating Christ's return whilst decorating my home for Christmas this past week, as well.

We have a long railing that spans our front entrance area, and while putting up garland the other day, I was dreaming in my heart that I was hanging out bunting to welcome my King to my home. I was even pondering a way to hang a banner of sorts with the words King of Kings.

Wouldn't that be wonderful... our Savior and King returning for His bride. Come Lord Jesus... quickly... come!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Back In The Blogosphere

Well, we have hooked up our wireless internet connection... and I'm loving it!! (as much as I can love anything related to megabytes and pixels and kps:)

My first thought is to share a quote from Robert Murray M'Cheyne, thanks to our latest Sunday School teacher, Clint Humfrey. Here is a thought from M'Cheyne...

The greatest need of my people (for all us moms, insert...my children) is my personal holiness.

M'Cheyne was talking about his personal relation to his parishioners... and yet it is so poignant of the high calling all of us face as teachers of someone.

For this week-end, instead of a coffee cup verse (set to come on Monday morning:), I'm suggesting we mull over the need for our own personal holiness and pursue this with all our hearts. Might I suggest some time beseeching our God, who has ordained our sanctification from before time. Wow!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blogosphere On Hold

To all my friends in the blogosphere:
I would like to continue my relationships over the net via this site, but have taken a break. My computer was frustrating me the last few posts, and I'm not sure if this is related to blogger... or more linked to the delay that comes with dial-up internet. Since I was finding posts got lost, waiting 60sec -3 minutes for refreshes on posts, etc.... I decided to stop the frustration and pause my writing. However, hubby and I have been talking about wireless... and once we can get the money and system set up to go.... I plan to start my writing again. In the meantime, hubby has to endure my verbal meanderings over dinner. (Just this week he challenged me with, "that sounds like a blog post, Marlene"). Guess this may mean more motivation to get the computer kicked up :)
God bless you all!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Psalm 62:5-8
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortres: I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty ock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge fr us.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Psalm 56:3-4
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Deuteronomy 10:12-13
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?

Coffee Cup Verse

Deuteronomy 10:12-13
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God,
the faithful God
who keeps covenant and steadfast love
with those who love him and keep his commandments,
to a thousand generations,

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Submission - As To The Lord

Continuing in a look at Ephesians 5:22-24, we need to consider what is meant by "submit".

Such a word and concept is so contrary to our world’s thinking, which is "what have you done for me lately?" I think it was Michael Jackson’s sister, Janet, that sang a song like that. Sadly, that kind of thinking will kill a marriage. It is completely antithetical to God… and Jesus.

Christ’s way is one of service, denial of self for the betterment of another. That’s what Paul is talking about here in Ephesians 5. The word used for submission is hupotasso… "to be in subjection…to put onself under another".. to place your own desires, needs, wants and ways, second… and place someone else’s desires, needs, wants and ways first. This is tough, because it goes against every fibre of our natural man. It is a spiritual battle, and as a result, this means you must fight hard to work at this.

I found it interesting as I studied this word, hupotasso, subjection, that it is a word used to describe Jesus… and it is one of the few words used when God specifically addresses women and wives. Colossians 3:18 echoes Ephesians 5:22. Titus 2:5 tells women to "to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored." 1 Peter 3:1 says, "In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives," and 1 Corinthians 14:34 also talks to women about speaking, telling them to "subject themselves, just as the Law also says."

Obviously, this is important to God. Obviously, it is difficult for us to do, since He needs to say this over and over and over in scripture. But if we believe God’s word to be the truth, then we need to seriously work at submitting.

When you go to the heart of how to have an incredible marriage, I think you can boil it down to these 2 things… your walk with God and your submission to your husband. For me, problems generally begin when one of those 2 areas is slipping. If I haven’t spent time in God’s word and in prayer, if I’m being disobedient to God or walking in a sinful habit, this kind of behavior takes its toll on our marriage and I find repenting and turning to God for help is the only way to change things for the better.

In the same way, if I start focusing on me, and my way, and my desire, and me, me, me… again, trouble up ahead. As soon as I take my eyes off me, our marriage has a chance again.

Whether it’s in the bedroom, or in the kitchen, in areas of finance or extended family, parenting, recreation, ministry… all these areas of our lives are opportunities for us, as wives, to submit to our husbands as to the LORD. And in that light, we don’t want to miss those opportunities.

Marriage and submissive wives are God's ideas, and His ways are perfect. We may not always understand them… in fact, we may often wonder at them… but the Bible tells us that God’s wisdom far exceeds man’s wisdom, and so we are fools to disregard what He has told us to do.

P.S. Let us pray for each other as we strive to be obedient in this regard. Like I said, this is a spiritual battle, but it is a campaign that we must mount, and with our Lord's strength through the Holy Spirit, we are promised victory in our marriages.

Monday, July 10, 2006

As To The LORD

The following is an edited excerpt of a devotional I prepared for a bridal shower last week. As I was working through the passage, I was struck anew with the perspective of "as to the Lord". Thought it might be beneficial for others as well.

Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For, the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands,… in everything."

In our world today, a lot of the words used in this passage are not popular: submission, the LORD, headship, the church, Savior… these are words that speak to the heart of a believer – they are, thus, unpleasant, distasteful, even foolishness for those that are perishing…

So maybe that’s where we need to start our look at "wife-ing" –What wives is God addressing? What is Paul’s audience? By looking at Ephesians 1:1 we see that Paul is writing to the saints in Ephesus: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, TO the saints who are in Ephesus, and TO the faithful in Christ Jesus."

What does that mean, "the faithful in Christ Jesus"?

First off, these are people that are "in Christ Jesus", that is, "EN CHRISTO JESU"… Literally, Paul is saying… these words I’m about to write are for those that are "through Jesus Christ"….again, what does that mean… "through Jesus Christ"? Paul goes on to explain what this means in the next 3 chapters.

Number 1, "through Christ" they HAVE UNDERSTOOD WHO GOD IS… Ephesians 3:9 says He is the creator of all things, Chapter 1:17… He is the father of glory, Chapter 1:20… He is seated in heaven, far above all earthly power, might, dominion…

Number 2, "through Christ" the people receiving this letter also UNDERSTOOD WHO THEY WERE…. Look at Chapter 2: 1…"dead in sins", Chapter 2:2, "children of disobedience", Chapter 2:3, "walking, or conducting, ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind". These people, like us, are summarized by Paul as "children of wrath" in Chapter 2:3.

These Christians in Ephesus understood that God is holy…perfect…unattainable…They knew that a sinful person cannot be in the same place as Almighty God… because sin and holiness cannot co-exist. And they understood their perilous position in light of this - any person that commits a sin has no hope of ever being with God in heaven if they have no holiness.

Enter Jesus Christ. He came to earth - God clothed in human flesh. He lived a perfect life. He died, as an innocent on the cross. And he did this, so that his holiness and perfection could substitute for our lack of holiness. This is the third aspect which the Ephesian readers understood - JESUS CHRIST DIED ON THEIR BEHALF TO PAY FOR THEIR SIN (see 1:5, 1:7, 2:1, 2:5, 2:13)

Ahh, now this makes sense… "through Jesus Christ". That’s where we can stand, when we embrace Christ as our Savior in repentance and faith.

So, how does Christ’s death and resurrection affect marriage? Well, this is the backdrop to chapter 5 when Paul starts addressing wives … "submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord."

The LORD… who left the incredible beauty, serenity, peace, cleanness of heaven to come to earth and fulfill His Father’s plan.
The LORD… who endured a life on earth that was marked with service, lowliness, humility, amongst the riff-raff, to walk side by side with mankind.
The LORD… who gave up himself to face temptation from the devil, to endure bodily suffering…so that he could sympathize with our existence as humans.
The LORD… the one who hung on a cross, after enduring lashing after lashing on our behalf.
The LORD… who gave up his very last breath, so we (sinful, unholy, imperfect creatures) could have eternal life.

Suddenly, whatever this LORD asks of us, does not seem unfair. Suddenly, submission to our husbands is the very least we can do, when God tells us to do so… as unto the LORD. And suddenly we can understand why the world cannot stand the thought of "submitting to a husband".

Look again at our main verses, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. FOR the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body." God’s perfect plan is that wives first understand what Jesus did for them… this is then the context into which he places his command to submit.

Maybe, tomorrow I'll include my thoughts on submission :)

Coffee Cup Verse

Romans 11:34-36
For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Psalm 5:3
In the morning, O LORD,
Thou wilt hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee
and eagerly watch.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Way We Were

This was a chart we received in Sunday School last week, and I found it to be a great help. To prevent the self-righteousness as was evident in the Pharisees of Christ's day, a good hard look at "the way we were" before Christ is imperative... possibly daily. I thought I'd post this chart, because I want to print it out and glue it in my Bible to stimulate such introspection in my own heart more often. Why? Because it causes me to be more grateful for what Jesus accomplished when He breathed His last and said, "It is finished". The following is some of what was finished by His pure life and sacrificial death:

  • Far Off (Eph.2:13)
  • Old Self Corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit (Eph.4:22-24)
  • Darkness (Eph.5:8)
  • Fornicators, Idolaters, Adulterers, Effeminate, Homosexuals, Thieves, Covetous, Drunkards, Revilers, Swindlers: "such were some of you" (see 1 Cor.6:9-11)
  • Lustful - sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, etc. (see 1 Peter 4:2-3)
  • Domain of Darkness (Col.1:13)
  • Alienated, Hostile in Mind, Engaged in Evil Deeds (Col.1:21-22)
  • Dead in Transgressions with a 'certificate of debt' (Col.2:13-14)
  • Immoral, Impure, Passionate, Evil, Greedy, Idolatrous, Angry, offering wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech from our mouths (Col.3:5-9)


  • Brought Near (Eph.2:13)
  • New Man... in righteousness and holiness (Eph.4:22-24)
  • Light (Eph.5:8 and Matt. 5:14)
  • Washed, Sanctified, Justified (1 Cor.6:9-11)
  • No Longer "Lusty" (1 Peter 4:2-3)
  • Delivered From Darkness (Col.1:13 "conveyed into the kingdom of light")
  • Reconciled, Holy, Blameless and Above Reproach (Col.1:21-22)
  • Made Alive... forgiven of all trespasses (Col.2:13-14)
  • Putting Off: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, lies (Col.3:5-9)

I find the pictured opposites astounding... especially the opposites of Colosssians 1:21-22.... to think that we are seen as holy, blameless, and above reproach. This allows us to say with the psalmist,

The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD, And have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His ordinances were before me, And I did not put away His statutes from me. I was also blameless with Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.

With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind;

With the blameless Thou dost show Thyself blameless;

With the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure;

And with the crooked Thou dost show Thyself astute.

For Thou dost save an afflicted people; But haughty eyes Thou dost abase. For Thou dost light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines my darkness. (Psalm 18)

A Perk To Being A PW

So what's a PW, you ask? A Pastor's Wife.

And what perk could there be to such a role? Many. But today I want to highlight just one. I am grateful for the added understanding/ dimension/ perspective I receive from my husband's formal teaching. The added perspective because I know him better than any other person and with such nearness, comes a better understanding of his words as he expounds God's word. With such nearness, comes the understanding of his conviction of the truth - the deepness meant by certain tones of voice, the earnestness placed on particular phrases with (often subconciously placed) body language. With such nearness, comes the communion of soul as his heart is pleading with believers and unbelievers to understand words, when words are sometimes lacking to express the things of the spirit.

I've been cognissant of such added dimension twice in the last 2 weeks, and since they are actually correlated, I thought I'd share them.

First, last Sunday, Dan was working his way through Ephesians 2:4-10, and in his comments, he looked at the greatness of God's mercy and grace. He emphasized how God's GREAT mercy is highlighted by our incredible low state as sinners (verses 1-3). As we continued through the passage, God's GREAT grace is equally impressive in verse 8.

It struck me for the first time, that one of the greatest things about my testimony is not necessarily my salvation - though I am incredibly grateful to face eternity in heaven and I am full of praise for my redemption. One of the greatest things about my testimony is that it demonstrates God's character. I was struck afresh with God's delight at manifesting his GREAT mercy and GREAT grace.... highlighted by saving a dark, dead, immoral, impure, evil and corrupt girl named Marlene. You see, God relishes in showcasing HIMSELF. And it is not arrogant for Him to do so, since He is completely justified in doing so - He is God, after all. Plus His very character is worthy of praise and worthy of exalting. And one of the best ways for Him to "show off" the attributes of mercy and grace and love and faithfulness and forgiveness and patience and....(I could go on)... is by saving a human (such as myself), since we are the absolute opposite.

Well, hubby was sharing this, and I'd be curious if others in the class were able to share the plea of his heart, as I was privy to. It' s the same when we share depth of meaning with our spouses when we're talking with a group of people about a topic that is dear or sensitive to our lives in a "secret" or "intimate" or "private" sort of way. We all have these things that we share. Sadly, I fear, it is often the negative or difficult that we can "share a look" or "nudge an elbow" about, rather than the encouraging or helpful.

I'm thankful that this has made me mindful to listen even more intently as my husband teaches and preaches... so that I can partake in just a bit more of what God has enlightened his mind with, from the Word. This not only affords me the opportunity to know my husband more, but my Abba too. Now that is truly a perk worth writing about:)

Coffee Cup Verse

Psalm 1:1,2

How blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

BUT his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Here's a verse I encountered in my daily reading that the seer Hanani spoke to Asa. I found part of it good for contemplation, and thus it has become my coffee cup verse for the week.

2 Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the Lord
range throughout the earth
to strengthen those whose hearts
are fully committed to him.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Outreach and Evangelism: One and the Same??

Tim Challies has some really helpful comments about "outreach" and "evangelism" today, in his article called, "Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God". Some highlights include:

"There is clearly a significant difference between outreach and evangelism. They are both noble actions and bring honor to God. It is important to realize, and this should be clear through the descriptions, that they are not synonymous. The greatest difference is that evangelism is primarily a message while outreach is primarily an action."


"The message is delivered not through outreach, but through evangelism. It is simple enough to attract people to a message through outreach, and we can gather a large group of people through simple outreach, but we may not have evangelized them, even if they fill the pews of our churches."


"Do you wish to fulfill our Lord's great commission? Then go boldly, sharing this foolish, offensive gospel message, knowing that it carries in it the very power of God. Trust and believe that in so doing you are bringing honor to our Lord and Savior and doing your part to build His Kingdom. Reach out to the lost, but ensure that you always leave them with the message of the gospel. Actions may draw them, but words are necessary to convey the message through which God saves His people."

This article has made my mind chase around the motives and methods of such programs as Pioneer Girls, Alpha, and our Kick-off Sundays or Stampede Breakfasts.

What are your thoughts on his article?

Laundry Day Tips

I try to save energy, where I can. My mom was the best teacher for this. When it comes to laundry, a lot of energy goes into drying clothes. Naturally, fresh air is the cheapest dryer to run. But if you don't have a clothesline, consider this:

Toss your clothes into the dryer for 10 minutes. Remove the heaviest items (jeans, towels, any shrinkable fabrics, button-up shirts, etc.) and place onto hangers. I let these dry in my laundry room on a rod. Resume the dryer load with the lighter items, which should just need another 5-10 minutes.

By the way, besides saving energy, you also might save yourself some ironing too! I find most pants, tops, and sweater look great and are ready to fold neatly once they're dry.

Green Thumb Tips

Got my hands on Lois Hole's Vegetable Favorites - a must-have for gardeners in Alberta. It has specific information on a host of vegetables, arranged in an easy-to-read format. The photos are helpful, as are the problem sections for each crop.

Here are just a few tips from our former lieutenant governor and gardener extraordinaire:

Spinach: 1. spread blood meal along the row to encourage a larger, more succulent crop

2. consider planting spinach between rows of taller-growing vegetables, as it has a tendency to bolt (go to seed) in too much hot sun

Carrots: 1. never add fresh manure; it may produce rough, hairy roots and will cause forks and splits

2. try this trick: mix radish seed with your carrot seed before sowing. Vigorous radish sprouts will easily push up through the earth, breaking the way for the carrots. Radishes mature earlier, and as they are harvested, space is left for the carrots to grow.

Peas: 1. pick peas when they are young and tender for best flavour. Peas which become too old for fresh eating can be left on the vine until dry, and used in soups.

2. be gentle with plants when picking, as the vines are brittle and break easily - causing the plants to stop growing.

Zucchini: 1. water deeply once a week during dry spells

2. water around the base of the plants, not over them, and try to do so early in the day to allow plants to dry before nightfall. Avoid splashing dirt onto the leaves; many diseases are harboured in the soil and can be transferred.

3. pick twice weekly to increase yield

Beans: 1. try to plant in a site where beans or peas have not been planted for at least a year to keep disease problems lower

2. adequate watering is most important during and immediately after flowering, and once pods have formed, in order for the plants to produce a high yield of evenly-shaped beans

Coffee Cup Verse

Yup! I'm back! Took a week off. Busy with some ridiculous things... maybe I'll blog about it later. But to keep up my verse for the week to contemplate, let's consider the following:

Colossians 3:23,24
Whatever you do,
do your work heartily,
as for the Lord rather than for men;
knowing that from the Lord you will receive
the reward of the inheritance.
It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Proverbs 21:2
All a man's ways seem right to him,
but the Lord weighs the heart.

What Do I Do With The Gospel?

Lately, I've been pondering the gospel.

What exactly would be considered "the gospel message"? (See my husband's post, The Simple Gospel, for discussion on that question). How does the gospel affect my life - as a wife, a mother, a child of the King? (Check out Girltalk's post called Mom, Remember the Gospel).

Christians are called jars of clay, into which the gospel has been placed. Consider 2 Corinthians 4:4-7:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure (ie. the gospel) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

So what do I do with this treasure?

Check out what the Bible itself tells us to do:

Matt.24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come."

Mark 1:14 "Repent and believe in the gospel."

Acts 20:24 "To testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God."

Rom. 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel,..."

Rom 15:16 "... ministering as a priest of the gospel of God"

1 Cor. 9:14 "... proclaim the gospel"

1 Cor. 9:18 "... offer the gospel without charge"

1 Cor. 9:23 "... do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it."
2 Cor. 9:13 "... confession of the gospel of Christ"

Gal. 2:2 "... submitted to them the gospel"

Gal. 2:5 "that the truth of the gospel might remain with you..."

Gal. 2:7 "... entrusted with the gospel... "

Eph. 1:13 "after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation... "

Eph. 6:19 "to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel"

Phil.1:5 "participation in the gospel"

Phil 1:7 "in the defense and confirmation of the gospel... "

Phil 1:16 "I am appointed for the defense of the gospel"

Phil 1:27 "only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel"

Phil 2:22 "furtherance of the gospel"

Phil 4:3 "... have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel"

Col. 1:23 "and not moved away from the hope of the gospel"

1 Thess. 2:2 "we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition"

1 Thess. 2:4 "entrusted with the gospel"

1 Thess. 2:8 "we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our lives"

1 Thess. 2:9 "we proclaimed to you the gospel of God"

2 Tim. 1:8 " join me in suffering for the gospel"

Philemon 1:13 "minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel"

1 Peter 4:17 "what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?"

So to sum up God's thoughts on what we should do with His gospel:
we are to

  • preach it
  • believe it
  • testify solemnly to it
  • not be ashamed of it
  • minister as a priest to it
  • proclaim it
  • offer it without charge
  • do all things for the sake of the gospel
  • be partakers of it
  • confess it
  • submit it
  • have it remain with us
  • listen to it
  • make it known
  • participate in it
  • defend it
  • confirm it
  • conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of it
  • further it
  • struggle in it's cause
  • not be moved away from it's hope
  • speak it
  • impart it
  • suffer for it
  • be imprisoned for it (if necessary)
  • and obey it.

WOW!! Feeling a little convicted? I was too. Please take the time to consider, confess your areas of failure to God, and move towards treating this treasure as it was intended in your life. I know I will need to move differently today than I did yesterday, and with the Holy Spirit's power, God can use this clay pot to touch others with His good news. Blessings, fellow clay pots as you do what you can with the gospel.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

My 2 Trees- In Bloom

So I've got the picture uploaded finally. Sadly the blooms are almost all gone already. I must say, they were particularly beautiful this year. We had a flood go through our town last year after years of near-drought conditions, so our trees are singing this summer.

My time in the garden is at an all-time high right now. We put a vegetable patch in 2 weeks ago, which will add to the work outside. But I am hopeful for a crop of lettuce, etc. There is nothing quite as quick as hopping into the backyard to do your grocery shopping. And no one can beat the freshness.

Blessings to all you gardeners out there. May the Lord grant you sunshine and rain to make your crops break open the storehouses.

Proverbs Bites

As I was reading through Proverbs 16 and 17 today, I came upon some real morsels of food for thought. Thought I’d just post them and let some of you snack on your way.

16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.

(Prayed for my trip to Cotsco today, my fencing endeavor around my garden – post sure to come, the wedding shower gift I need to purchase, to name a few of my plans for the day.)

16:5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished
(A good reminder about the destiny of all those "good people" that live an unrepentant & proud life around us in the supermarket, in our neighbourhood, and possibly in our homes. It is only the humble - those acknowledging their sinfulness and need for a Savior - that stand behind Christ's robe of righteousness and have the hope of heaven.)

16:32 Better a patient man than a warrior,
a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
(This should prove helpful with my "warring" sons... we are definitely in need of understanding of this verse in our home!)

17:3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.

(A good reminder to examine my own heart... as our pastor said on Sunday... to look at the motives with which we live.)

17:4 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam,
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
(Again, great for the children. But also helpful when we are hurt by others. Goes well with Jesus' "turn the other cheek".)

18:2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding
but delights in airing his own opinions.
(A great check in the blogosphere.)

18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Thank you Jesus for being that friend. And thanks to many of you, who have become close friends to me:)

Biking Gone Mad

Okay, it's been 6 days since the training wheels came off, and my boy's becoming a kamikaze (sp?). I warned him about being careful yesterday, because he could hurt himself and scrape his knees. (I'm his mom, of course I'm supposed to say things like this.)

What does he say, but "mom, it doesn't matter to me. What matters is that I get better and better on my bike. Faster, turns, all that stuff."

Ah, the invincibility of youth. I remember having that same attitude about cliff-jumping at Calibogie Cliffs in Ontario. Are we simply fools, as youngsters? I guess sometimes only time and God's grace can make us wise.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

I've been reading Proverbs lately and here's one of the ones I underlined in my Biblia.

Proverbs 8:13
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way,

And the perverted mouth, I hate.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

All Kid-ding Aside

On the advice of a friend, I came upon a really interesting article, entitled "Who Wants Kids?". It is about the word "kid" - as commonly referring to children. Above Rubies author, Nancy Campbell, takes an in-depth look at the behavior of sheep versus goats, in the realm of mothering. Then she continues with a list of words that God uses for children. This definitely has affected my vocabulary... and gives a wonderful perspective on children.

Teaching Your Child To Ride A Bike

Last week, my 5 year-old was riding his bicycle with training wheels attached. I came upon an article in the latest issue of Parents magazine that gave great advice for teaching a child to ride. Yesterday my son rode his 2 wheeler and nailed it first time! Here are the tips offered by Rich Conroy, bicycle-education-programs manager for Bike New York.

Step 1 - Remove the Pedals
Riding a bike is all about balance - and believe it or not, the easiest way for your child to learn that basic skill is without the pedals on his bike. You may also need to lower the seat so that he can put both of his feet flat on the ground.
Tip: The old rule "righty tighty, lefty loosey" only works to loosen the bike's right pedal. You'll need to turn your adjustable wrench in a clockwise direction to remove the left one.

Step 2- Watch him Balance
Have your child push off the ground with both feet 2 or 3 times. Once he gets going, he should try to balance by lifting both legs out to the sides as he coasts. Once he can balance and roll around confidently, he's ready for pedals.
Tip: Tempted to hold on to the back of your child's bike seat? Don't do it! It'll give him a false sense of balance, and it'll give you a major backache.

Step 3 - Teach the Power Position
To get a good start, your biker should begin his ride in the power position, with his left foot on the ground and his right leg bent so the pedal is at 2 o'clock. This way he's at the top of his stroke - when he pushes down on the pedal, he'll gain momentum and can start pedaling normally.

Step 4 - Show him how to Stop
Many beginners simply drag their feet on the ground as they come to a shaky halt. Instead, teach your child to use the foot brake by moving the pedals in reverse, rolling to a stop, and finally putting his feet down.

All the best, if you're facing the "biking lessons".

Friday, May 26, 2006

Yoko, Oprah and Other Dead Ends

This morning I happened to be listening to the radio and caught Chuck Swindoll's one-minute "Insight". He was talking about how grace and peace come only from God.

This was not new information for me, but somehow, it struck me differently today. It seems the world (especially Western entertainment gurus) is on the rampage to "make" peace. Some of the women, such as Yoko Ono, are trying their very best to make peace. Sadly, this is an impossible task... impossible, without the Prince of Peace, Jesus, being part of the equation.

The same can be said of grace. Women have long aspired to be graceful - in their posture, movements, speech, etc. Particularly in the deep South, where debutantes and ladies are trained, grace is part of the "package" of femininity. Oprah and similar female "role-models" advocate self-esteem, yoga, and all kinds of other ways to find peace and grace within.

Of course, in both of these cases, the meaning of true peace and ultimate grace is not exactly what Hollywood's spokespeople are advocating. However, I find it interesting how these words have come to have a "new" definition. For instance, is peace "no fighting (war) in the world"? We could all simply be co-existing, hating each other deep within our souls, and yet not fighting. Would that be peace? No. Do we need to accept each other's opinions or viewpoints and buy into the idea of "tolerance" without opposition? Is that peace? Again, no. (This would be impossible with mutually-exclusive viewpoints).

And what about grace? Is it walking smoothly across a room, or speaking in a particular tone of voice? Not really. We can control ourselves in our decorum, while grace or forgiveness in our hearts towards another person is lacking and simply disguised with pleasantries and elegance.

So let us consider what God says concerning peace and grace:

Ps. 29:11 The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.

Rom 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

Clearly, PEACE COMES FROM GOD, and is available once we acknowledge God's sacrifice on our behalf, in Jesus Christ, His Son.

Ps. 84:7a For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory;

Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;


Mankind has made some amazing discoveries, such as DNA, outer galaxies, and so on. However, I find it interesting that in the pursuit for basics such as peace and grace, we seem to be lost - looking in all the wrong places.

God offers us the means to peace and grace in our lives. He offers this through the blood of His Son. I suggest that we be sure to give the lost around us the truth - there is peace and grace available. There is only one way to that grace and peace, Jesus. And once we come to God, we can rejoice on life's road, because He offers genuine peace and unstoppable grace!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hello Mr.Robin

Look at what popped up in my favorite tree, yesterday. Reminds me of Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Hope a little birdie comes along your way to encourage you and remind you that you are in good hands... and very loved!

Monday, May 22, 2006


I was outside last night, planting some pots. It was late- after I had put the boys to sleep. As I was working in the mud, I was overwhelmed with the fragrance of the evening. The air was thick with the perfume of the trees in spring. My Hawthorne tree is full of blossoms, plus there is a cherry on the other side of our deck that is loaded with blooms right now. Together, these trees afforded me a taste of heaven.

"I wonder what God smells like," was a thought that jumped into my mind.

"What do you mean?" the conversation continued.

"Well, God made the sense of smell... the Bible talks about God enjoying fragrances... surely, He must have a smell too. "

Then it was as if God answered, "I'll smell a little like this tree, but a lot better.. in fact, the best smell you've ever smelled."

And I could almost imagine Him saying this to me... and without any sense of arrogance in His voice.

The conversation ended at that point, cause I kind of thought it was bordering on the ridiculous. But this morning I went to my Bible program and was interested to find verses about smelling. Some are about the smells we give off (foul and pleasant), others about the smells that God has made. It was an interesting search, so I thought I'd share some.

Solomon 1:13 The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!

Hosea 14:6 His shoots will sprout, And his beauty will be like the olive tree, And his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.

2 Corinthians 2:15,16 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?

Exodus 37:27 And he made the holy anointing oil and the pure, fragrant incense of spices, the work of a perfumer.

2 Chronicles 13:11 And every morning and evening they burn to the LORD burnt offerings and fragrant incense, and the showbread is set on the clean table,

Ephesians 5:1,2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Genesis 27:27 So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said, "See, the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed;

1 Corinthians 12:17,18 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

Genesis 8:21 And the LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done."

Leviticus 3:5 Then Aaron's sons shall offer it up in smoke on the altar on the burnt offering, which is on the wood that is on the fire; it is an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.

I was surprised to see how often the Bible talks about smells and smelling. God smells. Leviticus and Numbers are filled with references to "aromas pleasing to the Lord"... and there are also some which are a "stench". We smell and have a smell. I guess this leaves me with 2 thoughts and challenges for myself:
1) Do I stop enough to smell what God has placed around me to enjoy? Do I relish the nose I've been granted and consider the physical sense of smelling?
2) What about the fragrance I give off spiritually? What kind of smell am I... to God, to others... I enjoyed the verses that followed Ephesians 5:1,2. The verses following explain the making of our spiritual fragrance:

verse 3,4 But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

verse 6,7 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them;

verse 15-22 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

chapter 6 verse 1 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;

verse 6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

Oh, ladies, we are careful to put deoderant on, before we leave the house. May we also be careful to walk in a cloud of spiritual fragrance that pleases God.

Coffee Cup Verse

Romans 6:11
Even so consider yourselves
to be dead to sin,
but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Blogging Frustration

Well I have tried several times to upload the photos of my trees this past week, but with no success. Living in the country means dial-up internet, and somehow Blogger does not like to wait for picture files. So, I'm going to leave my idea for last week, and start a new week in the blogosphere... without photos. (Maybe I can convince hubby to take the camera to work and post them from there... maybe.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

My 2 Trees

Spring has definitely arrived in Southern Alberta. We’re poised to set a record in high temperature today, 30 degrees Celsius (86 fahrenheit for all the Americans reading this). I look forward to spending time in my new patch of dirt. We just put in a vegetable garden yesterday. Right now it’s just dirt, but with God’s blessing, we may see carrots, potatoes, lettuce, beets, etc. My son in trying to convince me to plant eggplants, but I’m not quite sure yet. Maybe it’ll be his experiment!

With the arrival of spring, I have come to anticipate the blossoms of 2 very special trees. One is a double-flowering plum. It comes out with incredible display of pretty pink flowers. The people who lived here before us planted it, and chose the perfect spot for it… maximum growth potential and maximum show. It’s like a diamond on display amidst my other trees.

My other "favorite tree" is a Hawthorne that was planted right behind the house. It is definitely the centerpiece of the yard, with beautiful spreading branches and lush foliage. This is the tree that I view out my kitchen window, so it also carries a special place in my heart, as I often enjoy looking at it while cleaning up dishes, or baking, or when I’m up to my elbows in tomatoes during canning season.

I’m gonna update with pictures everyday so you can enjoy the handiwork of the Creator unfurled in trees. Of course the camera will not do justice, but we'll give 'er a go!

Happy Spring!!

Update: Couldn't get the pictures uploaded yesterday. Here they are.

Coffee Cup Verse

Proverbs 31:26-28,30
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord,
she shall be praised.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

After a day of being honored, I feel we may need a little exhorting to bring us back to earth:) This morning at church we received a poem, which I found to be inspirational and helpful in giving direction for this blessing we call Motherhood.

Talk To Me- My Mother

Talk to me- my mother,
Tell me all the things you know;
So when I grow to be older,
My Father's love will show.

Talk to me- my mother,
Tell me how the world was made,
So when I look about the land
I'll know whose plan was laid.

Talk to me - my mother,
Read me Bible tales of old,
They will be example
Of The Way, as they are told.

Talk to me - my mother,
Hold me close and give me of
The tender care you know so well,
That truly shows God's love.

Talk to me - my mother,
Tell me why you think and feel
His plan is so important
To build a life that's real!

Talk to me - my mother,
Show me how to live a life,
That pleases God in all I do -
And comforts those in strife.

Talk to me - my mother,
Share ideas of how to be
The person in the Christian life
Who God says, "Pleases me."

Talk to me - my mother,
Tell me all the things you know;
So when I grow to be older,
My Father's love will show.

I pray that we all take seriously the task God has entrusted to us - to bring our children up in the way of the Lord. Blessings, fellow mothers, as you pick up the task every morning.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

BJ- Part 2 "Extreme Living"

So we returned from shopping and I immediately headed to the kitchen to get supper going. In the meantime hubby came home and headed downstairs to catch the end of a hockey game. The boys were quiet - playing downstairs, I assumed. But not so.

Suddenly my eldest strode into the kitchen wearing his Sunday suit and holding a tie in his hands.

"Mom, I need help with this."

"Oh," was my comment, "and why are you so dressed up?"

"For the funeral service, of course," he replied, with a look that said, "why else would I be dressed like this?"

I fixed the tie and returned to finishing my salad.

In the meantime, he was re-arranging the living room. Chairs were placed in a row, and once again everyone was summoned for a service to remember BJ.

My son clarified, "We need to have a service inside too... and then pickles for supper." (At many of the funerals we've been to, pickles have been served beside sandwiches). We all sat down, while my son (acting as the minister) stood behind a make-shift podium (a.k.a. the coffee table).

Again, we sang the ode to BJ, and then my son looked around at us blankly. I suggested he give a speech. He shifted back and forth on his feet.

"You know, you could say what BJ meant to you or something, " I prompted - but to no avail. My son didn't seem troubled that time was going by. He just stood there quietly, thoughtfully.

I was thinking about my potatoes that were getting ready to boil over, and after what seemed like 5 minutes, hubby stood up and said, "Well, I'm gonna go catch the rest of the period. It was tie-game and next goal probably wins."

This left my in-laws, the "preacher" and myself to finish the service.

At this point I was sure my potatoes were starting to boil, so I said, "Okay, mommy will give the speech."

I stood up and began, (something like this) "BJ was a special little kitten and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Named after his father, Bandit Jr. was born, out in the country, on April 25th and passed away peacefully, in the garden shed. He lived to be one day old.

"He was born to Phillie and Bandit, and leaves behind his brother and sister as well."

At this point, my father-in-law started sniffling and asking for a kleenex. I wasn't sure if he was tearing up because of his sympathy for his grandson, but I continued in the spirit of the moment - trying my utmost to make this seem sincere and "grown up" for my boy.

"BJ was a gentle kitten, small and helpless. His impact on our family will be remembered for years. It is with great fondness that we reflect on his soft coat - so pretty... and almost golden in colour, " I continued.

Now I was sputtering and cracking up. I could hardly contain myself and, as I looked at my father-in-law, I suddenly realized he was busting a gut too! He's a pretty reserved man, so this made the moment all the harder to contain. Before I knew it, we were all laughing - deep, gutteral, belly laughs... and my son was looking around quizzically. I don't think he was finding this funny, but the fact that all the adults were giggling uncontrollably made him begin to laugh too.

This continued until I remembered my potatoes and scurried off to the kitchen to turn down the water.

It was great to see my in-laws laugh so hard. It felt great to laugh that hard myself. I love laughing. And, although, I am not a grim person, I don't think I laugh enough. It was interesting to see that it took a funeral to get my belly shaking that day. I find it strange that sometimes that's how life is: extremes of emotion. But I guess this echoes Solomon's thoughts, "A time to weep , and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance;" (Eccl.3:4)

Hope you get a chance to enjoy some "extreme living" today!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

BJ- Part 1

Two weeks ago today our cat had kittens. Four. One was still-born, which my husband disposed of into the garbage can. 24 hours later another kitten died. This time, mother cat, Phillie, had taken the lifeless body and hidden it under a part of her blanket. Grandma and my eldest son made the discovery, while visiting the new brood.

Grandpa became the undertaker and pulled the corpse (not sure if this is the appropriate term for a deceased cat body) out from under the blanket. He then laid it into some kleenex from his pocket, and allowed my boy to carry the kitten out of the shed.

"We've got to have a funeral," my 5 year-old said, and came to gather the rest of the family - which included myself, grandma, grandpa, and the 2 boys.

As we determined to bury the kitten under a tree, along the fence-line, the "processional" began. The undertaker and his assistant were already armed with shovels for the task at hand.

Once the hole was dug, my eldest carefully wrapped the cat in the kleenex. It was interesting how the recent focus on the Easter story gave him an understanding of how to wrap a dead body.

The cat was laid to rest. Dirt was returned to its place and the grave was marked with a paint stir-stick found laying nearby.

"We have to sing and pray," were the next words from my son's mouth, "and he needs a name."

So we named the kitten BJ - Bandit Jr. after the father. The first song (sung to the tune of Mary Had A Little Lamb) went something like
BJ was a little cat, little cat, little cat
BJ was a little cat, who lived for just a day...

I can't remember the other verses, but the mournful song seemed to strangely amuse and comfort my boy.

Next came a prayer - thankfulness to God for his creation, etc.etc.

And then we had to hurry on our way. This whole incident had interjected our plans, as we were getting ready to go to the library and run some errands.

"So, let's get going," mommy urged, "you can get your marker and write BJ on the stick when we get back."

I thought the incident was literally "laid to rest", but stay tuned for part 2.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Reading Just Won't Go Away

Okay, okay. I said I was going to leave this "reading thing" alone, but I went to Susan Wise Bauer's blog, and came across an article that made my skin get a little bumpy. After that, I headed over to Trivium Pursuit Online, by the Bluedorn's (also proponents of classical education, but christian classical education). At their site, I found a helpful article about choosing literature to study. Thought I'd post all the links for you to explore.

Coffee Cup Verse

Romans 6:19
I speak in human terms
because of the weakness
of your flesh.
For just as you presented your members
as slaves of uncleanness,
and of lawlessness
leading to more lawlessness,
so now present your members
as slaves of righteousness
for holiness.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Homeschooling Crazy?

All right, after this post, I'm gonna leave the Reading Theme for a bit. But the whole topic is making me think... a lot. First, I'm considering what I read. Is it God's Word? If not, why not? Why am I reading it? Am I growing? Am I challenged? Am I enjoying?

My second line of thought, concerns my search for curriculum - rather, reading material for my children. I have a 5 year-old that reads voraciously. Everything that is put in front of him in print form is consumed. This means I need to be vigilant in examining the food his mind is devouring. Since he is only 5, this has meant a lot of books off the 1,000 Good Books list. I have not placed the Bible in front of him, thinking it is an intimidating volume - visually. We have lots of Bible story books, but the pure word would be best for him to "eat". So how do I get him reading it? I guess, here's a project for me over the coming months.

Finally, I'm even wondering if the teaching of my children should come exclusively from the Word of God. This is why I called this post "crazy". Could I honestly teach my sons all they need to know for life (including calculus, algebra, literature, history, etc.) using the Bible alone? Has anyone else considered this?

Or in the effort to enjoy creativity and beauty (words, phrases, rhyme, meter, etc.), is there a place and time to explore books that are written by man, but a reflection of God's creativity? Is there a time and place to discuss the material written by unbelievers that have a "darkened mind"? What about music? art? relating to the world we live in?

If I'm sounding a little crazy, just credit it to "birthday madness" - a malady that appears just once a year... we hope. Got comments? I'd love to hear from you.

Read It 3 Times - Impossible?

As discussed in my previous post, Susan Wise Bauer encouraged mothers (and particularly home-schooling mothers) to become readers. She particularly encouraged the reading of literature that stretches the mind and develops our brains. Anticipating the struggles that average readers, such as myself, face when tackling weightier books, she suggested reading these books thrice. Yes, three times, is what she said. I must have had a horrified look on my face. But so must all the other listeners in the lecture hall, because she continued to explain.

She told us that the first time she reads things, she reads to abosrb, but does not read to understand all that the author suggests. If there are any difficult passages that she struggles to grasp, she simply marks them and then moves on. She explained that this will help her the second time through.

Once she has finished the book, and has thus developed a broad focus and preliminary understanding of the author's perspective, she returns to the book for a second reading. This read is more like a perusal, simply returning to marked places to see if there is some clarification offered from having finished the book. (She admitted that often many of her initial struggles at understanding are clarified at this point.)

Her final walk through the book is a compiling of thoughts and a place to determine response to the book.

She likened the 3 reads to the 3 phases of learning: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The opinions and dialogue (rhetoric stage) about any topic can only come once information is collected (grammar stage) and understood (logic stage).

I have never worked through books this way. However, as I've been contemplating a book review of Created To Be His Help Meet, I have been thinking of re-reading the book. This may give me the parameters to analyze this book with greater clarity and discernment.

My mom's been visiting this week from Ontario, so I haven't begun any "heavy" reading yet, but this has definitely inspired me to pick up some volumes that I ordinarily may leave to my student-type husband to wade through. Topping the list are some theologians, as well as some classics. I came across an interesting book the other day called Honey For A Woman's Heart, by Gladys Hunt. Since I have the child's version, it caught my interest. It just may be a good place to start for some suggestions of brain-stretching exercises.

P.S. I've heard before the phenomenal brain benefits of memorizing scripture. I cannot remember where I heard this. If you know, please drop me a line. Of course, the benefits of hiding scripture for our spirit are obvious, but as with many things that God has designed, there are often a plethora of additional benefits to God-honoring behavior. I'm sure scripture memory makes the brain stronger, but I'm looking for the studies which affirm that.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Read More - The Challenge

Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Trained Mine, Story of the World, First Language Lessons, and similar Homeschooling books, was at the BC Christian Home Educators Conference we attended last week. Although I appreciated her practical information about homeschooling, the comments that most gripped my brain actually had less to do with my children and more to do with my own mind.

I went to school for more than 16 years and yet it's alarming how very little I know. I'm finding this even more disconcerting as I endeavor to teach my children. However, I am discovering that my learning did not end upon graduation of university, but has probably multiplied exponentially since the arrival of the boys. Thus, my lack of "knowledge" has led me to open books and learn more (most of all - the Bible:).

Susan encouraged us, particularly mothers, to make time to read everyday. She even suggested using classical books that strain our brain. Mrs.Bauer made a case for such reading:

1) For our children. Susan begin, "Some day our children may come to us as 15 year-olds, and ask us about the ideas set forth by authors such as Hitler in Mein Kampf. Rather than sending your child to someone else for such a discussion, wouldn't you like to be able to say, 'Well...' and engage in that conversation yourself with them?" I have to admit that such reading would probably paralyze my brain, but I do have a son that might have such an aptitude. Personally, I do want to be the one discussing such heavy topics, rather than sending him to "experts" in such literature, who probably don't have my perspective on life. This means I need to start exercising my brain already. Susan suggested starting with 15 minutes a day. She reminded us that the brain is a muscle and therefore needs to be worked up gently, but consistently and diligently.

2) For the mommies. Susan said we should read for ourselves, as well. She discussed how often we get bogged down with the daily tasks at hand, and don't allow ourselves the pleasure of reading.

Susan also made some suggestions about when to read, etc. She pointed out that our minds are freshest in the morning and therefore we should read then. She also told us how she keeps her children in their rooms until 8am, when she and her husband have finished their "reading time".

Now, I have to be honest that I struggled with some of the things she said in this session.

First, my time in God's Word must be the number one reading activity in my life! As part of a Berean Bible Study, this has meant a commitment to spend at least one hour a day in His Word and in prayer. At times this has been a struggle, but often, if I'm undisturbed (ie. I've gotten up before the boys:), this is truly food for me to help get through my day.

Considering more reading projects, therefore, is a stretch. However, I do agree with Susan's point that we need to be reading mothers: reading for our children, reading for ourselves. I enjoy reading, but have to admit that I generally read material that is below my reading level. (Susan discussed 3 reading levels: instructional (stretching); on level; and below level). My goal is to read "brain building material" 15 minutes 3 times a week. This may have to be in the evenings, contrary to Mrs. Bauer's suggestion, but in my life that's the only way I could consider it. Plus, this will mean that I've had the day to ponder God's Word and guide me as I encounter man's ideas, as written on the page.

I'll continue this topic tomorrow. Susan talked about reading books 3 times, which sounded impossible to me. I'd like to get your opinions on her ideas.

Coffee Cup Verse

Psalm 33:13-15
From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
from His dwelling place He watches
all who live on earth-
He who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Slow Pour

I'm often in a rush. This could be the result of growing up with a mother that is very hard-working and thus always moving. It could also be a sad reflection of my bad habit of procrastination. Needless to say, it is a way of life for me to "bustle about". My husband has even called it Hurricane Mode, when I really get going.

Last week, I learned a valuable lesson and was confronted with this habit, which may be keeping me from enjoying some of the quieter moments that life affords.

We checked into a beautiful resort in Kelowna. The rates were really reasonable because of the homeschooling conference and so we splurged for the weekend stay. Of course, because it was a pretty fancy place, and breakfast was gonna cost us close to $50 for the family, we decided to eat in our room. I had brought along some oranges, biscuits, and juice boxes. The room also had a coffee-maker with coffee, so I made a cup of java to get us going. We had a big day ahead of us at the conference.

As all mothers, I was not only preparing breakfast, but getting the boys dressed, finishing my own hair & make-up, tidying up the toys and books scattered about the room, etc.

"Oh, the coffee's done. Here, let me pour you a cup," I said to my husband and quickly grabbed the carafe.

Turning my wrist I proceeded to pour the coffee into the mug, but about a third of it ended up on the counter because I was pouring too quickly - the spout was quite small. After cleaning up the spill and getting hubby comfortable to enjoy his morning fix, I continued to pour a cup for myself. This time, however, I was more careful, and was stunned at how slowly I had to pour in order to avoid spilling. The coffee was satisfying and I didn't give the incident another thought.

That is, until the next day. Again, we had breakfast in the room, complete with yogurt and muffins, and of course, coffee. This time, I was wise to the fact that I had to pour slowly, and so as I filled our mugs, I noticed how enjoyable this activity can be. The sound of the liquid filling the cup, the aroma filling the air, the rich caramel colour of the coffee, were all delights to the senses. Sadly, I have filled many cups of coffee in my life, and never really stopped to enjoy the pleasures of such action. Why? Because I'm doing it in a hurry.

This begs the question: how many other "pleasures" are there along life's road that I am not relishing because I am engaging in these activities in a hurry? Sadly, I have to admit that this is probably more frequent than God wants it to be. He has created me to participate in the abundant life, which I believe, also includes the small "pleasures". These small "pleasures" come as part of the everyday and are experienced via the five senses that God created us with. Surely, He delights when we delight in these small gifts.

Of course, these "pleasurable" activities should never become our god. But they may just be another way to offer praise and gratitude to the One that grants us life and breath. And with such perspective, I thank God for a pleasurable slow pour of coffee.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Mountie Meal

About two years ago, I bought Bison to try as an alternative to beef. In the process, I came across a recipe book put together by some of the top chefs of Alberta. It's a really lean meat with a nice mellow flavor - not gamey, as I had expected.

Just last week, my eldest son asked me to make this recipe again. It is one of his favorites, and I hadn't made it for a while. This time I didn't use buffalo meat, since my freezer is full of beef. It also tasted great.

Based on the name, Mountie Meal, I suspect this is similar to what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police used to cook when they were up in posts - isolated from towns and their regular homes. It cooks up in one pan, making it a great option for camping trips. It's also a nice meal to come home to (if you want to delight hubby when he comes in after a long, hard day), as the spices are very fragrant.

Mountie Meal

1 lb. ground lean bison
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pepper, chopped
2-3 tbsp. chili powder (I use less with small children)
2 tsp. cocoa
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. allspice
2 large tomatoes, diced
16 oz. tomato sauce
15 oz. pre-cooked pinto beans
15 oz. pre-cooked black beans
1 cup water
(opt. 7 oz. diced green chili)

Condiments: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onion, sliced olives, sour cream, tortilla chips.

Saute bison for 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic, saute 5 additional minutes. Mix in chopped pepper and spices. Cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, sauce, beans, water and chili. Stir to blend and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Serve with condiments.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

One Meal Two Ways

Our first stop last week was Vancouver. The drive was incredible. Clear blue skies were the backdrop to pristine white snow that had fallen just days before. The sun shone with radiance that made the weary fall into deep sleep - which is exactly what I did for about 3 hours as we navigated our second mountain pass. (This was the first of several "great sleeps" that God granted me on this trip. To a mom of two high-octane little boys, this is a blessing that I thank the Almighty for).

In Vancouver, we stayed with my aunt and uncle. They are wonderful hosts and fed us like kings. Their home is beautifully kept - white carpets, leather furniture, interesting artwork - even a special room, which my eldest dubbed "the Look-Out Room", since it affords a spectacular view of Grouse Mountain. Both my aunt and uncle enjoy gourmet food, and we were treated to delicacies such as grape leaves, filo-wrapped veal, hummus, etc. Many of these were new and unusual for my boys.

The last evening we were visiting there, my aunt invited my cousin and her husband to dinner. The menu included scalloped potatoes (actually, I think they were potatoes au gratin, but to my husband they're scalloped) with ham and a chicken dish. It was a delightful meal, complete with pleasant conversation and music befitting the city-lights sparkling in the distance.

The next day we left Vancouver for another cousin's home in Abbotsford. Again, we had a fantastic visit. My cousin has 5 children (plus another on the way from Liberia). Her house is in the country and is like stepping into a basket of warm buns - lots of love, lots of laughs and lots of food.

Dinner at their place was just like "down-home". She had cooked a ham, complete with scalloped potatoes, salad, fresh buns and concord grape juice - made with the grapes in their backyard. We ate with 11 people around a huge oak table. There was lots of "please pass me..." and conversation that ranged from IT to high school soccer practice. Afterwards we sat around the living room and talked until the wee hours of the morning.

Upon reflection, I was struck by how both my aunt and my cousin gave us a wonderful gift. And although they both cooked the same food on paper, their meals were both served in such a unique way - that they were individual offerings of love. As such, we enjoyed them both tremendously and grew in understanding: it's generally not as much about the food, as it is about the company. This is a great reminder for me to "be myself" and just relax about the menu when company comes. Generally, the food will be edible, and the company? If it's without pretense or pride, it should be most enjoyable and fulfilling.