Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The following is from another blog I like to read - "Joyfully Home" (joyfullyathome.blogspot.com) - and says what I'd like to say about yesterday's elections so much better than I can. With Jasmine's permission, you get to read her thoughts - all I say is Amen!


I woke up this morning, not filled with dread or disappointment at Barack Obama's election; no, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to face a new day. I woke up, unsurprised to find that God is still on His throne, holy, just, righteous, omnipotent, sovereign, and loving, and that we are His children, bought with a price, sealed for that marvelous day when the King of Kings will come to reign here on earth as He reigns in our lives, and sovereignly over all things.

America has fallen for Obama's promises of change... and change I'm sure we'll receive; President Obama is sure to provide us with ample opportunity for change, sliding on a downhill slope towards Marxist socialism. As one friend joked via email this morning, New Zealand's looking better and better to me each day. :-)

Reflect, however, on Romans 13:1-7... is Barack Obama's administration as unsavory as the administration that the Apostle Paul was submitting to when the Lord inspired him to write those words?

The Lord gave me peace this morning as I was able to reflect on a different type of change that can occur over the next four years under our new administration. I don't mean the change that means our troops perhaps coming home to soon, abortions being easier and easier to come by, taxes raising painfully high, and welfare spreading our money painfully thin...

I mean the change that could come within the lives of God's people. As we are forced to transfer our hope from a fallen human candidate, and into the hands of our all-wise God, perhaps He will quicken our hearts, soften our consciences, and give us a renewed passion for His Kingdom; He will sanctify us, He will strengthen us, and through that sanctification process, He will make us more and more able to carry out His glorious plan.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:3-5)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
(James 1:2-3)

The Lord has placed us in this time in history, in this country, for a reason; we are here on earth in this window of time to bring Him glory and honor, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, to leave a legacy for those that come after us, that they may continue this work long after we're gone. Obama's presidency cannot stop us from carrying out this mission; he can make it difficult, he can make it painful, but he cannot stop us.

In light of our present circumstances, I do have hope that a change will come; a revival, starting in the hearts of the children of God as they learn to trust and revere their mighty Maker. And I have a hope that this change will inspire us to do great and wonderful things for the Kingdom of God, through our submission to Him in all things.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

October 31 at our house....

Many years ago, October 31 was a great holiday. It seemed like it was made just for us kids! After all, when else could we dress up however we wanted (as long as the materials were in the scrap bag - nobody bought a costume!), go out after dark without adult supervision (just the big brothers), and ask for candy from strangers (yes, in the days before "stranger danger")?

Later, it became a holiday to relive our good memories through our children's fun...but something was different. This time around, 20-some years later, Halloween was a bit darker. The masks were scarier. The trick-or-treaters were older. The strangers were dangerous. We found ourselves at the mall one year in a slowly moving line of hot, tired little kids dressed up as who knows what, shuffeling our children from store to store to get their candy. All this for candy?

And then the Holy Spirit slowly started to turn our hearts toward Him on this issue. I started noticing one, maybe two families in the neighborhood that kept their porch lights off on October 31. I knew that they were being different...not disliked, just different. I started asking myself why, what was it that made them just quietly stay in their houses and not participate in the neighborhood party. I started seeing the activities we were participating in through God's eyes. I started seeing that God was calling our family to be different....different enough to quietly make our own little stand against the celebration of evil.

The next year we kept our porch light off, invited some friends over, and started a tradition of having a "Harvest Party" on October 31 - a time to make decorations for autumn, to decorate the house, and begin a month long celebration of Thanksgiving. If we were going to lose a holiday in the busyness of the last three months of the year, we were going to choose which one, and it wasn't going to be Thanksgiving! Other years we've studied Pilgrims, made pumpkin pie from the pumpkin up (I'll stick to canned, thank you!), and read "Of Plymouth Plantation" by William Bradford.

As time has gone on, our children have outgrown our Harvest Parties, but not the enjoyment of November as the season of thanks. We look forward to good fall meals of homemade soups, breads, and apple crisps. Cosy evenings sitting around the table talking together long after the meal is over with the curtains closed against the dark night outside. The gathering up and storing of our own family harvest...the memories that will last long after these children have moved into homes of their own and the table is filled completely only on occasion....and looking forward to the final harvest home, our final sabbath rest. This is our season of Thanksgiving.

Finally back on the blog!

I'm not sure what happened, but I haven't been able to post to my blog since July....okay, school happened, which cut back on my computer hours drastically, but besides that I haven't been able to sign in to my blog.

So now I'm back - yeah!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Resist the trivial....

We received the newest resource catalog from Ligonier Ministries a couple weeks ago, and this phrase was on one of the pages: "Resist the Trivial". What a concept! We are made for great things - no less than the worship of our God.

So the next question is: how do we do that? How do we resist the trivial in our worship of God?

Since we moved to this fair city almost 3 years ago, we have searched for a church that allows us to worship God in a serious, reverent, God-centered way. What we have found is church after church doing the same thing - shallow worship songs, an entertaining worship band and praise chorus, shallow sermons that tickle the ears with relative topics, youth groups that try to entertain the teenagers with "their kind of games and music". The "seeker-sensitive" model. The trivial.

Before you jump on me, understand that I know the people in the churches we've visited are very serious about what they do - but I think they're wrong. The approach that most Protestant Evangelical churches take to worship today is man-centered rather than God-centered. The concern is more about which music will people want to sing rather than what does God want to hear. The concern is more about helping people get their lives "back on track" rather than teaching them who God is. And in many cases, the concern is more about getting bodies in the pews rather than discipling the believers who are already there.

Enough complaining, I'll get to the point - I really think the main reason we haven't found a church isn't because there isn't a good church here, but because God has other plans for us. He has led us to seek out other like-minded Christians to start a Reformed fellowship and Bible study - and we've finally taken those first steps. There is another family in town who has been searching for the same things we've been searching for. We have started meeting and studying together, publicizing our efforts and inviting others to join us. We are small (9 of us representing 2 families), but we have hope that God will bless our time together as we seek to honor Him. Will you pray for us as we seek to "resist the trivial"?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Planning, planning, planning...

Summer is time for me to start the countdown to school starting again (10 weeks, 9 weeks, 8 weeks...). At 10 weeks I get into my summer schedule of walking/gardening/cleaning in the morning, and working on projects in the afternoon. By 9 weeks I'm rolling.

At 8 weeks (that was last week) I painted the boys' bedroom while they were at camp. Their room is the "bonus room" over the garage, i.e. a huge room, with one window facing north. It had dark green walls when we moved into the house 2 1/2 years ago, and looked a bit like a cave with a very bumpy floor (it is a boy's room, after all!) and dark corners to hide things in. It's now a huge room with light tan walls and no dark corners. In fact, until the boys came home from scout camp, the room was even carpeted with carpeting instead of you-name-it! But the boys have been working hard on making their chores routine, and one of those chores is to clean up the floor of their room - so we'll see how they do! I have confidence that they'll meet that weekly challenge - they are Boy Scouts, after all.

So now we're down to week 7 - the planning week. This is when I start planning for next year's school year. Not that I haven't started already - the curriculum is chosen and some is even purchased, but the planning that needs to be worked on is exactly how the days, weeks and months are going to look. Do we give up a separate Bible study in favor of Tapestry of Grace's world view study for rhetoric students? Do we take the Logic course quickly or more slowly? Was one year of forcing piano lessons enough? (did that one year achieve the goal I had of both boys being able to read music?) And how much time do I set aside for math? How deeply do we need to delve into Latin? These are the questions that have been floating around in my head while I've been gardening, cleaning and painting.

This is the week I sit down with the computer, my Tapestry of Grace curriculum, the internet linked to the library web-site, and hopefully a realistic set of expectations for my boys - neither too high or too low.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Summertime and the livin' is easy!

After a beautifully cool spring, summer is easing its way into our neighborhood. Highs in the mid 80's and lows in the 60's is great weather - but the afternoons have been pushing (and reaching) 90. Can true summer be far behind?

Yesterday was a working day - put in another small raised bed for blackberries. Now our future fruit harvest should consist of blackberries, red raspberries, 5 kinds of apples and peaches. I also ordered 2 more kinds of apple trees from starkbros.com, so in a few years we should have fresh apples from July through mid-November...and applesauce for the rest of the year!

The garden is growing quickly! The zucchini plants are getting big, peas are getting tall, and I saw a cabbage butterfly leaving unwelcome eggs on the broccoli plants. I haven't decided how far to go in abandoning the true organic spirit of gardening. Last year's garden was quite a disappointment with how well the pests grew compared to the vegetables, so I'm thinking that this year I'll use a small amount of pesticides to keep the squash bugs and cabbage worms in check.

Now that school is done (or mostly) I'll be able to get back into my routine of working in the garden for about 1/2 hour in the morning after walking the dogs. That's the most enjoyable part of the day for me - before the sun is high, while everything is still fresh and cool. We walk our two miles through the neighborhood, then the dogs chill in the back yard while I clean up their messes, fill the bird feeders and take care of whatever needs to be done in the gardens. I know that tomorrow morning it's going to be weeding the flower bed at the mail box. I started on that yesterday morning, but quit when Floyd was ready to take the trip to Lowe's to get the lumber for the blackberry bed.

At the same time that I'm working outside, I can get some serious birdwatching done! More on that next time....