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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years 2009: A Reading Goal & Resolutions

For 2009, I hope to read through one shelf of about 40 pre-selected books. Normally, I just grab and read whatever I want from whatever source on whatever topic is of interest at the moment. But this year, I've put together a collection of books from a variety of authors on a variety of topics... homeschooling, discipleship, marriage, Puritan classics, homemaking, sex, politics, gender differences, abortion, and more. I put them all on one shelf in our living room, and I'm going to (hopefully) work through the shelf as the year progresses. This way, I hope to be more intentional about the portions I'm "eating" in each area of interest as I read throughout the year.

As for other "resolutions", I have some personal goals I'm striving for (like losing the 15-20 extra pounds that always seems to hang on until I wean the baby, and finishing the novel I started writing in November)... but these really aren't related to the New Year as much as just the extra time I'll have after getting past the busy holidays and my parents' visit here (they're halfway through a 3-week long visit).

And I hope to continue doing my one-book-of-the-Bible-per-month reading plan. I've been doing this for two years now and I really enjoy knowing where I'm reading when I sit down with scripture, but not having to blaze through the Word at a crazy pace to stay on some pre-appointed "one-year" plan. This year, because we visited Ephesus (that picture is of me & our two oldest children in front of the library there last week), I'll start out with Ephesians in January. If you'd like to join me, e-mail me, or comment here, and I'll try to post more about Ephesians. If not, I might share my observations anyway. :)

I'm not one to make very strict resolutions-- at New Years or any other time. Maybe it's a lack of self-discipline; I just like to think of it as honest. :) I don't mean to shame others who do make goals and end up letting them slide over time... I just know before I even start that there are certain things that I just won't follow through on. So, generally, I don't make big sweeping commitments. No fault at all on those who do-- I think it's awesome when people set goals and really pursue them! And don't get me wrong; I do have goals in life that I'm shooting for... I just typically don't try to "start" doing something totally different than what we have been doing in life just because the calendar date changes.

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish? Do you set goals at each new year?

Regardless, I hope you had a very delightful Christmas holiday, celebrating the miracle and wonder of Christ's birth, and that you have a Happy New Years Day!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back to Work

If you are in the Arcadia FL area on New's Years Day and are needing an antiquing fix, please stop by the annual Maddy's Antiques New Year's Day Show where we are setting up for the first time. Our booth is located on the stage. Please see the info below for the specifics:

Maddy's Antiques New Year's Day Show
Arbor Banquet Hall
111 W. Oak St.
Arcadia FL 34266
Thurs. Jan. 1st, 2009
10am til 2pm
$2 admission
Rain or shine
Food available for purchase

Hope you will stop by the show! I'm sure it will be fabulous!

Happy and Safe New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008


In rural communities, windbreaks are a common scene and for good reason. They slow the wind down or prevent prevailing winter winds from hitting your house directly saving valuable heating dollars. In the summer they slow or prevent soil erosion. In the heat of the summer deciduous windbreaks help to cool winds before they reach your house. Some windbreaks provide a habitat for small birds

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Happy Gardening!Garden Gnome©2006-2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Just when we thought the sky couldn't possibly drop anymore snowflakes...


Winter wonderland.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008


For the last post of the year, I'd like to feature two posts from each month of 2008... one chosen by the readers (indicated by how many comments it received), and one chosen by me as my favorite from the month. Hopefully you'll enjoy this and find some things to read... and I'll enjoy getting to see 2008 in review. So let's do it... feel free to jump in and add your comments and thoughts to any of these.

MARCH 2008 APRIL 2008
MAY 2008
JUNE 2008
JULY/AUGUST 2008 (I took a sabbatical, so the posts were light in these months)
  • Apparently, my "true confessions" post struck a chord with many other mamas out there... "My Seven Month Old Ate Dirt" was the high-comment post for last month. (49 comments)
  • I love to celebrate adoption! Many of our friends had "gotcha days" this year, and it is such a blessing to see God knit families together!

May God richly bless you all in this final week of 2008! I pray that Christ will become more highly prized and more richly exalted in your home and mine as we celebrate His birth! Merry Christmas & have a delightfully Christ-centered remainder of the year! "See you" in 2009!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowed In...

Just a week ago we were discussing the unlikeness of having a white Christmas this year. After all, our fall was dry and rather warm so winter seemed far off. Well, as weather goes, that changed overnight because we are completely snowed in.

So I have been spending a lot of time at home. And let me tell you, there is nothing good to eat in this house. I'm thinking chocolate or Christmas cookie or some warm eggnog. I have none of these things. I do have those apples, which I could bake...and some ice cream...but this is for Christmas Eve so it would be kind of 'stir crazy' for me to eat our not-yet-here Christmas Eve dessert (and I'm not sure if that's a comment or a question).

OH! Hubby just called and he's going to swing by home (nine-miles out his way), pick me up (rescue me), and take me to see my friend's Christmas concert downtown (yes, the outside world!!)!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

He Has Dealt Bountifully with Me

Sometimes, between the new gadgets and the gimmes and the advertisements, we can forget God's profuse blessings and get caught up in a sea of negativity... and I just read something that I think will combat this in our lives if we let it roll around in our minds:
Psalm 13:6--
I will sing to the Lord,
Because HE has dealt bountifully with me.

So, I want to share some of the ways that God has dealt bountifully with me:

  • He placed me in a family that taught me things of God from the very beginning of my life.
  • I have been raised in a country where we are able to worship God freely. I have always known this, but having lived in places where Bibles are hidden and churches meet secretly, I am much more aware now of what a gift this really is.
  • I have always had a copy of His Word available to me in my language, and I was taught to read from a young age.
  • Though I could have gone hopelessly astray, He righted me and gave me a series of mid-course corrections. He kept me from ruining my own life.
  • This husband He picked out for me... y'all. Seriously. What a man... I am so very blessed.
  • He has allowed me to be home with our children from the very beginning, and (having held my "dream" job before having kids) I am fully convinced that no job could compare with this one of wife & mom.
  • He is changing us to be more and more like Him... I see evidence of His work in Doug and in my own life as well. And though we're not anywhere near completed, it is exciting to know that "He's still working on me."
  • He has given us four beautiful, incredibly funny, unique little people to (Lord willing) raise up into men and a woman of God.
  • AND... He is already drawing them to Himself. Each one of them is being drawn towards Christ at his/her level, and it is precious to see.
  • He is faithful to teach me through His Word.
  • He is faithful to convict me of sin and not just let me wallow in mediocrity or shallow, unrefined faith.
  • He is faithful to give painful, much-needed discipline when I am hard-hearted and need it, and to deal with me gently when I am broken and easily moldable.
  • He is faithful to continue the work that He starts, and I see evidence of that all around me... in our lives and in the lives of the people all around us.
  • He has given me Making Home, which has become such a neat place where I can encourage, exhort, love, and sharpen (and be encouraged, exhorted, loved, and sharpened by) the Body of Christ, even from a great distance.
  • He has even allowed us to live in amazing places all around the world-- letting our family see the day-in, day-out hopelessness and emptiness of atheism, idol worship, and works-based religions. I am so grateful that my children in particular have had this firsthand evidence of the insufficiency of religions that depend on man. I trust that this is part of His plan to draw each of them towards faith in Him & His extravagant grace.
  • When I offer myself up (through hospitality, writing, praying for a friend, or being willing to do whatever I can do) for His service, He uses me! What a sweet thing it is to be a useful "pot" in the hands of the Almighty God!
And I could go on and on! And you probably could too. Take this day to consider how God has dealt with you.

Psalm 13:6--
I will sing to the Lord,
Because HE has dealt bountifully with me.

A request: please don't let this list serve as reasons for grumbling or complaining, even in your mind. There are many, MANY things I could have listed that would not sound bountiful. But the truth is that even in those things, God has been gracious. If I listed out every negative thing that ever happened to me, or every sin I have willfully committed against my God, it would not be a pretty sight.

But we all have so much to be thankful for. Even those who do not know Him as God receive grace from His hand every single day. Rain, food, love, provision, friends, each and every breath of life... all of these things are undeserved grace from His hand. We all have much to be thankful for.

So consider. If you were to sing of God's bounty in your life, what would be the themes of your song?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Spirit Of Christmas

Christmas decorating has always been a favorite thing of mine to do, and I am finding that it gets a little more simple each year. That is largely a by-product of having owned a shop where the decor had to be over the top, so decorating at home gradually took a back seat. Though I no longer have the shop to decorate, I am enjoying keeping things simple and stick to a mostly white palette. Bits of color can be found here and there in vintage mercury glass ornaments and aged red linen heart ornaments made by a crafter in Indiana that was a previous vendor for my shop. I am also loving the glittery pine cones I found this year at Target and the silver trees from French Nest. I hope you will sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy the tour and the lovely sounds of Christmas.

Merry Christmas To All!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

(UPDATED!) Burdened for a Dear Friend...

12/29 UPDATE:
He has been moved out of ICU, but is still in the hospital as they await full healing in one lung. Thankfully, he is able to nurse full-time, they can hold him and interact, and he is alert and active. When we contrast how he arrived in the major city-- with the doctors telling his parents to "expect the worst"-- to how he is today, God has certainly acted mightily and healed this young man!

We are so thankful, and we praise the LORD for all He has done!

12/24 update-- What a blessing; there is much to be thankful for!!!
* This morning, the doctor decided that because of his great progress, he would be taken off of the respirator. He's been breathing on his own most of the day and remains stable! This has happened 10 days sooner than expected.
* He's feeding through a tube in his nose frequently throughout the day. He is getting stronger and stronger as he gets this nourishment.
* His mother was even able to hold him today! Praise God things are looking better each and every day!

Thank you all for your prayers; what an amazing thing it's been to see God heal and sustain this sweet baby through so much.

12/22 update-- Praise the LORD! His fever is going down, his body is showing signs of responding well to the medicine, and he is now receiving his mom's milk through a feeding tube. Please pray for continued healing and also that her milk supply will increase back to the level of 8 days ago, before this medical situation began. God is acting strongly on behalf of this precious family... keep praying!

12/21 update--
everyone has arrived safely in the major city and it is now a "wait and see" situation. The infection has spread and we need to pray for the medicine to fight off the infection that has become so strong in his weak body. Pray, too, that the family will have a peaceful transition to living in this new city for however long they have to be there. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR PRAYERS!!!

12/19 update-- the baby and his father arrived in the major city and he is still in very critical condition; pray for healing from an infection and for continued strength in his small body. Also please pray for the mother and his 2-year-old sister to have an easy time as they will travel to this same city on 12/20.

Original Post 12/17: Please join me in praying for a dear friend of mine's sweet one-month old son... he is in critical condition in a hospital in just about the farthest place on earth from good medical care. They are currently awaiting air transport to a quality facility many hours away.

PLEASE pray for his mother and father-- that they will be comforted with peace that passes all understanding, for the doctors-- that they will have wisdom from the Great Physician, and for this sweet baby to be miraculously protected and healed. Pray that their family will be a testimony to God's great care and grace.

Thank you so much for joining your heart with mine and so many others around the world in lifting up this precious family.

Some GREAT Parenting Advice

I just came across this thought-provoking and instructive article (via Challies) written by a father of five: 39 Lessons, 20 Tips, and 10 "Don'ts" for Parenting

Here are some of the things he says that I would echo with a hearty "Amen!":
  • Consistent, loving, faithful discipline brings peace to the home. Inconsistency brings chaos.
  • On some days, it's just fine to accomplish nothing more than keeping your kids fed and safe.
  • Arm your children for the world, not (necessarily) shield them from it. Consider getting your high-school-aged children out of the Christian bubble.
  • Make sure your kids keep short accounts with each other. Create a culture of care and forgiveness in your home (1 Cor. 13:5: "Love…keeps no record of wrongs").
  • God uses children as a mirror to your own heart to expose your sin and hypocrisy.
  • God elects. God saves. Parents cannot do this heart-changing work. At best we can pray and point to the One who can cause our children to be born again.
  • Talk to both good and not-so-good parents; you'll learn lessons from both.
  • Talking to really old parents may not prove to be fruitful as their memories fade and they'll remember raising kids as either a nightmare or a glorious experience. Talking to parents 5-10 years ahead of where you are seems most fruitful (Prov. 15:22: "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed").
  • Don Whitney encourages "brevity, regularity and flexibility" in family worship.
And here are some things he says that challenge me:
  • Preach the gospel of grace, not self-discipline.
  • Parents should become "smaller" as their children become bigger. In other words, a parent should become more transparent in confessing one's sin and in sharing past struggles as children mature. Your children should hear more about your fight for faith as they grow older. Don't be a plastic Christian!
  • Do not feel outside pressure to baptize your children. Look for and test for a credible profession of faith in your child (Prov 22:15 "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child…").
  • One's conscience is not the same as the Law of the Lord. If conscience is defined as "That inner-voice that acts as a guide as to the rightness or wrongness of a behavior," then your conscience is only as good as your knowledge of God's Word. An informed conscience can be a trustworthy thing if it is drawing from God's Word, God's Law. An uninformed conscience is incredibly dangerous. Inform your child's conscience by pouring in God's Word.
Go check it out... it's an excellent article: Lessons for Parenting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Real Verses Artificial Christmas Trees

It's that time of year for the most popular holiday icon to make its presence. A decorated Christmas tree is a must have for many. In years past that meant going out and cutting your own tree. In recent times it means pulling the artificial tree from the closet and setting it up. Either way the Christmas tree is a seasonal tradition. There are definite reasons for choosing a real Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2008

'Quiet Time" Encouragement for Moms of Littles

I've been reading "A Mom Just Like You" by Vickie Farris (ghost-written by her second daughter), a book written to encourage homeschool moms, and I came across a very encouraging word from Scripture.

Mrs. Farris certainly empathizes with the mom who has many little ones and knows (from her own experience, many times over) how difficult it is to find any good chunk of time to give to the Lord when you are up in the night with a newborn or trying to homeschool and parent toddlers, or dealing with sickness, or potty training, and on and on the list could go.

Sometimes it can feel like you're just not making enough of an effort when you don't have a lengthy sit-down time with God every single day. Mrs. Farris shared a word of encouragement that came to her at a critical time in her life as a mom:
One day I was talking with my friend Linda, who is the mother of eleven children, about this problem. When I expressed my frustration about not being able to get enough time with the Lord, she nodded sympathetically. "Vickie," she said, "think about the promise in Isaiah 40:11, 'He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.'

That verse has meant so much to me," Linda explained. "It's just comforting to know that he 'gently leads' those of us who have little ones. He knows our struggles. He's not going to zap us for failing to give Him a full hour every morning like we used to. But even when we can't give Him that ideal chunk of time, we can find time to meet Him in little moments throughout the day."

And I've found that it's true. God is gracious to us when we are moms with young children.

With each additional child, and each new phase, He has shown me His faithfulness. When I draw near to Him even a little bit, He draws near to me. When I put up any amount of effort to read or listen to Scripture, He is faithful to speak to me. When I try to memorize, He is faithful to bring those Scriptures to mind when I need them.

God is faithful, gentle and gracious to those of us who are weary and in a busy season of life with young children. Don't be overwhelmed with guilt... our Shepherd sees and knows and promises to gently lead.

Creole Spice Blend

Paprika is the base for this smoky Creole spice blend that's hot and very flavorful. Use it to spice up your meats and vegetables. For the best results, use a quality paprika. Many of the imported varieties have either a sweet or very spicy flavor, use a blend or go with the sweet. Better yet, this spring, try planting a variety of paprika peppers and dry them for your own ground paprika blend.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Combating the "You Should Get Out of the House More" Mentality

Let's be willing to say it like it is: as moms of young children, the best place for us to be is at home.

That's just the truth. One can find all sorts of arguments about having the right to be elsewhere, exceptions (a widowed or abused single mom) and more, but the overarching, general truth is -- and we all know it -- children are happiest and best raised when mom is home with them and engaged in their daily lives.

It's strange that it's politically incorrect to say that moms are needed. At home. To be there for their children.

No one has a problem with a boss who says things like, "Jim is the reason for this company's success." Or, "Sandy holds th
is office together." No one gripes and says it's demeaning for a worker to be needed in their job. So why is there a cultural problem with saying that moms are needed by their children? It's the truth. And, interestingly, that is what God tells young women that they need to learn: to be "working at home", loving their children.

It can be good to attend a ladies' Bible study. It can be beneficial to be a part of a co-op or playgroup. It can be wonderful to get together with a friend. These things can be quite beneficial. But on the whole, more often than not, young moms should be at home. God has given the privilege of conceiving, birthing, and nursing children to young women, and it is only for a season.

"They" are always saying all sorts of things, aren't they? There are an abounding number of loud voices telling us that we "need" to get out... that we can't be mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually satisfied and stimulated at home... that our self-worth depends on having individual aims that are separate and distinct from who we are and what we do in our homes. And all too often, we believe it.

Some take it so far to say that if we have a brain, we ought to be using it for society. That other people can raise our children for us (because that's mindless work), so that we can contribute to the surrounding community (as though raising hard-working, honest, God-fearing children isn't a significant contribution). But even without these feminist notions in our brains, we still hear the common refrain: "You need to get out of the house more." Even within very godly circles, young moms can easily feel that what they are doing in their daily lives at home is not really the most faithful, godly thing they could be doing.

But what kind of world is it, really, where women are encouraged to feel negatively about being home with the very people who need them most? Where women are encouraged to get away from moments that bring great joy and delight? Where women are made to feel that their minds are only fully used outside the home? Where women are made to feel guilty when they choose to use their intellect and passion to infuse the minds of the next generation with a strong moral foundation, good common sense, and a broad, wise understanding of the world around them?

It is lousy, unbiblical advice that encourages women to abandon the God-appointed place of their sanctification and usefulness to Him.
And for young moms, generally, that place is in the home.

Our homes ought not be run according to the principles, wisdom, and priorities of the world. Even as Christians, this is an easy trap to fall into.

Sometimes it's difficult... minister's wives, for example, may be pressured or expected to take on more than they should while having young children at home. Young mothers who display any sort of spiritual depth will likely be asked to teach Sunday school classes, head up ministries, or contribute time and energy to "good" things. Young moms are often actively encouraged to join groups like MOPS, scrapbooking clubs, ladies' Bible studies, or other fine and fun activities.

It can be hard to discern what God wants us to do when other people are so vocal in telling us what we "need" to be doing. It may require that we learn to say "no". We may need to learn to graciously but unapologetically stand up for what God reveals in His word-- that God's general plan for young moms is to be doing the basics-- loving their husbands, loving their children, exercising self-control, living purely, and working at home, offering kindness to others and submission to their own husbands. It's not popular, but following God almost never is.

And sometimes you can even get lambasted for it by other Christians... that you need to be doing "more". Sometimes it is the very people who ought to be encouraging us to stay home-- the "older women" mentioned in Titus 2-- that ask or encourage us to be away from our homes. But regardless of who's doing the asking, we need to take to heart the things that God would have us learn and do as younger women, and implement these things into our lives.

When you are discipling little souls and training them to love Jesus while wiping their noses, tying their shoes, and cutting their meat into smaller
bites, you ARE "doing more". It is a HUGE thing to be daily in contact with one or more young disciples that you are loving and training up in their faith. It is a HUGE thing to be available to answer their queries, tell them a Bible story, listen to lengthy explanations about the purpose of a new toy creation, or to pray with them at night when they are scared. It is a HUGE thing to be, daily and hourly, earning the trust and respect of a little person, so that they might later all the more fully trust and respect Christ.

It is a HUGE thing to "just" spend time with your children. Christ Himself spent three entire years with 12 grown men and some of them still took a while to really get it. And let's not forget that it wasn't all miracles and parables... sometimes, Jesus & His disciples were just sitting around eating fish, or taking a nap in the hull of a ship.

We as moms are given (Lord willing, if we are blessed to watch them grow into adulthood) potentially 18-20 years of daily interaction with our children. We are privileged to pray for and with them, "study" them-- learning their personality, their strengths & weaknesses, their skills, their interests-- and, in so doing, offer wise guidance as counsel as they grow, and serve them with kind affection. Spending time together, watching, teaching, learning, and loving-- these are no small things.

Should I strive to "get out of the house more"?
Sometimes I struggle here, particularly in an overseas setting-- I want to be able to communicate with my neighbors better. I wish I had more time for Turkish study. I would enjoy being able to share deeper things and communicate more clearly, instead of at a toddler-level of communication in this language. There is a natural pull there for me.

And sometimes, well-meaning others even give me that oft-offered advice, "you should get out of the house more". I know that from the outside, mine seems like a very cloistered life.

But right now, I have four small children... four little people I get to communicate with every single day. Four souls that I can impact and disciple every single day. Three men and one woman who I can begin influencing and shaping right now. I am doing big things and changing the world by discipling those that God has put into my immediate sphere of influence. And it's a job no one else can do in the way that God has equipped me to do.

Whether or not the world salutes it, whether or not the Christians around us value it, there is high value and eternal significance to this work of motherhood.

Day-in, day-out motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Our culture whispers lies about it, saying it's easy, insignificant, or that anyone can do it. But the difficulty of it lies in the facts about it-- very few do it for the long-haul, and even fewer do it well.

I want to be one that crosses the finish line with exuberance. One that struggles through even the hardest of times with God's peace and joy, and thankfully walks through the good times. One who is a reliable, rock-solid source of comfort, strength, wisdom, and encouragement (all drawn from the wells of God's word) for my husband and children. One that doesn't come up with excuses of why I am the exception in God's plan for younger women. One who yields to the demands of the Potter who knows much better than I do what I was made for... I am striving to be a young mom who says, "yes, Lord. Yes. Here am I. Use me."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells..."

Before we finished the last leftovers of turkey, I was already talking about getting our Christmas tree. To my surprise, my husband thought we had weeks before we started thinking about Christmas trees. You see, he grew up 'trimming' the tree on Christmas Eve, while I grew up 'decorating' the tree much earlier.

So we met half way and 'trimmed the tree' this past weekend. For me, it's the squeezing in as many games of Scrabble, fireside chats, and sips of hot apple cider next to a gorgeous twinkling Christmas tree as you possibly can.

Needless to say, it's looking a lot like Christmas around here...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Everyone Leaves Some Things Undone

No matter how perfect the magazine photos, or how classic the stories, or how beautiful the decor, no one has it all together and does *everything*. We need not feel intimidated by the actions or homes of others, particularly during this Christmas season.

If you go to a Christmas party and the house is decorated perfectly, perhaps they're not taking time to make homemade Christmas goodies. Or maybe she has grown children. Maybe their master bedroom is a mess. Maybe she has a natural flair for that and it doesn't take near the effort it would for you or I. It could be that their family is using disposable everything-- dishes, napkins, diapers, and more-- during this season.

What I'm saying is this: don't heap on guilt because you don't have whatever someone else has or aren't doing what someone else does. We don't always see the whole picture.

If their kids are geting all the most expensive and "must-have" things for Christmas, it could be that they scrimped and saved all year. Or maybe they got a windfall bonus and decided to have a big Christmas this year. It could be that their grandparents are wealthy and give extravagantly (sometimes even despite the wishes of the parents). Or perhaps they're in mounds in debt.

Whatever the case, and whatever the reasons for their situation, someone else's life doesn't have to speak judgment into your life and your actions/inaction.

Everyone leaves some things undone. For our family, some of our "must-do"s are: time together as a couple, homeschooling, nursing, having friends over, and spiritual input into the hearts and lives of our children. And right now, I'm also making baby food and preparing for a lengthy visit from my parents in just 10 days (YAY!). So here are some of the things we're leaving "undone" this year:
  • Cloth diaper usage has been put on "pause". About six weeks ago, the laundry was mounting up, the holidays were approaching, and we began having more gatherings in our home... so we've been using disposables for a while.
  • We still haven't decorated for Christmas. We might do some small things, but I'm not going to do much this year.
  • Our master bedroom is a mess. I had this on my list of things to tackle this autumn, but I just haven't gotten around to it. A random assortment of duffle bags, nursing bras/pads, 0-6 months baby clothes, and a not-yet-switched-to-Winter clothing wardrobe has left it a mess. And we're OK with that. We're both messies anyhow, so for us, that's not a big deal.
And there's probably more I'm not thinking of right now. But, my point is this: everyone leaves some things undone. Extend grace to yourself and don't feel bad if you don't have it all together... cause no one else does either.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"One Thing" in Scripture

If you had to boil down your life to one thing... what would it be?

What's the theme, the substance, the summation? What would the people around you say that it is?

Here is a challenging series of men and women and their "one thing"s from Scripture:
  • "One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple." ~Psalm 27:4 (King David)

  • "As [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." ~Mark 10:17-22

  • "A woman named Martha welcomed [Jesus] into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving... The Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'" ~Mark 10:38-42

  • "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven." ~John 3:27 (John the Baptist)

  • "One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." ~John 9:25 (A blind man healed by Jesus)

  • "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

    Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 3:8-14 (Paul)

If you have time, go back and just read the bolded parts-- there's a definite theme among all of them. They're all zeroed in on discipleship & dependence on Christ. We can get so easily distracted from the "one thing", can't we?

Father, keep us focused on the "one thing": dwelling with You, following after Christ, listening to You, recognizing that all things are from You, remembering what You have done for us through Christ, and straining after what You have laid before us.

It is amazing to me how clearly You've laid out the "one thing" that our lives should center on, throughout the entirety of Your Word. Your Word is so clear and illuminates our path.
Thank You for speaking clearly to us-- today as always. Teach us to strive after the "one thing"-- knowing and learning from YOU, through Your Word, identifying with Christ who suffered and bled for us.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Walk to the Honey Bees

Our walk to the honeybees was just a short walk from the house. It's not an unfamiliar sight to see bee boxes around here as the farmers use them in their orchards to pollinate the fruit trees, but being up close and personal was pretty exciting.

The bees were buzzing wildly under the warm sun. It hadn't occurred to me that they might sting us --- until I realized that were thousands of them.

Although the honey bees were quite mesmerizing, we decided to continue on with our walk.

LOVE to explore the horse stables.

And a stable is not a stable without a few stable cats and several varieties of stable dogs. This little guy below was fierce. Never said a word but stood very strong.

We continued down the road and came across the field horses. I said, "okay, get in formation so I can take a picture."

They did.

These horses run free in this big field here that they share with several heads of cattle. When they spot us walking down the road (which we often do), they run towards us full speed. I'd like to say that they're just happy to see us but in actuality, they're hoping that we have a few apples stashed away in our pockets. We never do as we're hesitant to feed horses that aren't ours so we kind of feel bad when all we can offer is verbal adoration and scratches behind the ears.

As you can see in Mama's eyes, she'd prefer the apple.

Our journey continued to the alpaca farm. They are so cute you just want to squeeze their soft little cheeks!

It was getting near dusk by this time, so it was time to wander on home.

As our walk came to a close, I felt like a kid again having
played outside the entire day.

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