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Sunday, November 30, 2008

"God Wants Us To Be Happy"?

The idea that, "God wants us to be happy," is the basis for a lot of bad theology in our day and age.

Happiness is elusive... even in supremely comfortable, desirable, and wonderful situations, many people will not "feel" happy... and even in supremely difficult situations, some people choose to be content and pleasant and might even feel happy.

While I'm sure God doesn't mind in the least if we're happy, I don't believe His main "want" is for our own happiness-- rather, it is-- primarily-- for His own glory and, secondarily, for our good. His glory and our good do not always add up to us being happy... they may at times, and they may not at other times. Particularly if our feelings of "happiness" depend on being able to have our own way, which they often do.

If God just wants us to be happy, then He sure has unnecessarily burdened many people with sadness and suffering and certain unhappiness, including Joseph, Hosea, Paul, Hagar, Leah, and Stephen (and me! can I make the list?), but above all-- Christ Himself . Happiness, I daresay, was not the ultimate aim there. Nor is it, I'd put forward, His aim for us today.

Joy may indeed be a derived and intended result from His will for us... but instead of joy through feelings of happiness, it may at times be joy through contentment: in pain, hardship, and sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Considering all of this, while I'm confident that God offers immeasurable joy to His children, we need to beware any theology based on shaky sentences like, "God wants us to be happy".

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Anger: Facing the Growing Mold

Our bathroom ceiling is in really bad shape. Sometime this summer, it started out with a few drips in one corner of the bathroom... almost imperceptible. Over time, we noticed that on another corner of the ceiling, the paint began to darken. Then, over the bathtub, it started to peel.

Now, let me back up a bit... lest you think us irresponsible or just flat out gross. We live in Central Asia. True enough, we live in a large city... but if one came to live in this city expecting it to measure up to western standards, it would be quite a disappointment. So we brought our expectations from China here... expecting inconveniences and differences in these most basic aspects of daily life. We called our landlord several times, and he eventually came, looked around, talked to our upstairs neighbors and pronounced the problem taken care of.

But what he didn't realize is that he had misdiagnosed the source. So the drips kept coming.

And over the past few months (in between landlord calls, visits, and a repeat of his same attempt at a solution again and again), the paint has started... well... molting might be the best word. Dripping. Flaking. Shedding. Little feathers of white paint littered our bathroom sink for weeks on end. I have vacuumed the ceiling several times. Guests notice. And while we still notice it, particularly when it flakes, it's just become part of the normal "landscape", if you know what I mean.

One night we had a neighbor family over, and we asked them about the problem... they said that ALL the buildings (and all the apartments) in our complex had the same problem and most had been dealt with 3-5 years ago. SO... the problem was INHERENT! It was part and parcel of living here. Only none of us realized it... not our landlord, certainly not us, and not our upstairs neighbor. We'd been trying to solve a problem without understanding it.

The landlord suggested that we just wait until the ceiling stops dripping and then he'll come and paint over the cracks, bumps, and whatever else is there.

Hmmm... that solution is not very consoling. The mold will still BE there, even if painted over.

But, that's not the point of my writing. I don't want suggestions on dealing with the mold problem. (Really, I don't.) Truth is, we hope to move within a few months anyhow. The point is that a couple weeks ago, as I looked up at the spots and cracks on the ceiling, I realized that this mold we're dealing with is like my own anger.

It has gotten worse and worse. It had gotten to the point of dripping into almost every day of our lives. At first, it was merely a slight, occasional, annoying but manageable drip. And, knowing that culture shock is stressful... and having babies... and medical emergencies... and moving around the world a couple of times... and learning languages... and raising four children... well, I have tried to have realistic, gracious expectations of myself in these present circumstances.

But when I tried to deal with the problem (anger), I misdiagnosed it. I attributed the source as external-- just like my landlord looking to the upstairs neighbor as the problem, and not realizing that the problem was in the make-up of the building. I've been looking at the outside problems as the problems... blaming others, the stress, or the conditions of life-- finding "reasons" to explain away the growing mold of anger.

But--aha!-- the problem is IN me. I'M the problem... this sinful flesh... my nature. Now we're getting somewhere.

I've been praying and working on it, and I've still got some work to do. This can't just be painted over. It'll require rooting out the problem and dealing with it at the true source.

Truth is, I don't know how to deal with mold... and I don't know how to really deal with anger. I don't mean just hiding it-- I mean slowly but surely getting rid of it. Rooting it out. And then working to actively fight against any future return. I've been taking it in prayer to the maker of this "building" and begging the Holy Spirit at work inside of me to fix this problem from the inside out.

I've printed out some verses and put them up around my house to focus on the 1 Corinthians 13 qualities of love, and even taped the nine "fruits" of the spirit up on the ceiling over my bed, so it's the first thing I see every morning to remind me to pray for these things to be evidenced in my life. And I think, slowly but surely, God is doing His work. The more time I spend in Scripture, and the more time I spend focusing on love, self-control, patience, and gentleness, the "drips" of anger are diminishing.

I know I have to keep fighting, but I am thankful for His work thus far fighting and treating this mold of anger in my life. And I guess I just wanted to share that with you. He is faithful, and He is fruitful in our lives when we take our problems to our Creator.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Be Thankful

I want to wish each and all of you a very happy Thanksgiving day tomorrow. Be safe if you are traveling and take time to remember all that you have to be thankful for. Enjoy your loved ones and the chance to spend time with them.

Please be sure and check back next week as I will be posting about a fabulous little shop called French Nest! You will be enchanted! Until then, be safe and try not to eat too much~~haha!!

Thanksgiving Blessings To All,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Principles About Family in Scripture

I wanted to share some simple insights I found about the attributes of children, mothers, and fathers while reading Scripture today... this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but simply a list from what I found doing a few word studies ("like child", "like mother" and "like father"), today.

  • Children are like olive shoots... they grow and multiply and signify great blessing. - Ps. 127
  • Children are like arrows... they are to be sharpened and they are to be shot out with a specific, useful purpose.- Ps. 127
  • A weaned child is at ease and comfortable around his mother. - Psalm 131:2
  • Generally, scripture shows that daughters become like their mothers ( Ezekiel 15:44-45), and sons become like their fathers (2 Chron. 30:7-8, John 5:19-20), and children become like their parents (, 2 Ki. 17:40-41, Ps. 78:7-8). This can be either a promise or a curse. We should take it as a challenge.
  • Little children can sometimes understand spiritual things better than even the very wise. - Matt. 11:25
  • It is a terrible thing to lead a child into sin. - Matt. 18:6
  • When a child feels drawn to Jesus, no one should hinder him/her from that desire. - Mark 10:14-15
  • A child speaks, thinks, and reasons like a child, not like a man. - 1 Cor. 13:11
  • Someone who deserves to be treated like an adult will stop speaking, thinking, and reasoning like a child. - 1 Cor. 13:11
  • Fruitfulness is a blessing from God for mothers. - Ps. 127
  • A mother nourishes the little "olive shoots" God has grown on her "vine". - Ps. 127
  • A mother should gently care for her dear little ones. - 1 Thess. 2:6-8
  • Fruitfulness is a blessing from God to fathers. - Ps. 127
  • A father considers what inheritance he will leave his children. - Jere. 3:19
  • A father meets his children's needs and gives good gifts to them. - Luke 11:11-13
  • A father exhorts, encourages, and charges his children in the way they should walk as a member of his family. - 1 Thess. 2:11-12

Perhaps this will help us as mothers and wives and students of God's Word today.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Word for Me Today

From Oswald Chambers' My Utmost For His Highest, 11/13/08:
We should battle through our moods, feelings, and emotions into absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus. We must break out of our own little world of experience into abandoned devotion to Him. ...How dare we talk of making a sacrifice for the Son of God! We are saved from hell and total destruction, and then we talk about making sacrifices!
And from his MUFHH entry, 11/11/08, another timely word:

God’s command is, "Take now," not later. It is incredible how we debate! We know something is right, but we try to find excuses for not doing it immediately. If we are to climb to the height God reveals, it can never be done later— it must be done now...

"So Abraham rose early in the morning . . . and went to the place of which God had told him" ( Genesis 22:3 ). Oh, the wonderful simplicity of Abraham! When God spoke, he did not "confer with flesh and blood" ( Galatians 1:16 ). Beware when you want to "confer with flesh and blood" or even your own thoughts, insights, or understandings— anything that is not based on your personal relationship with God. These are all things that compete with and hinder obedience to God.

Abraham did not choose what the sacrifice would be. Always guard against self-chosen service for God. Self-sacrifice may be a disease that impairs your service. If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; or even if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential will of God means a hard and difficult time for you, go through it. But never decide the place of your own martyrdom, as if to say, "I will only go to there, but no farther." God chose the test for Abraham, and Abraham neither delayed nor protested, but steadily obeyed.

I am so thankful (and indebted) to whoever's blog it was I read recently that recommended subscribing to this rss feed. If you don't, consider getting My Utmost For His Highest through your bloglines, google, yahoo, or whatever rss feedreader you use. God has used this man's writings in times past to speak to my heart-- and He's done it again this week. Perhaps you'll find the same thing to be true.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Beauty of Adoption

Doug & I used to dream of adopting at least one child from every inhabited continent. In our wilder-thinking moments, we still do. :)

I can't help but love adoption. Not being an overly emotional-feely gal, there are few things that make me teary-eyed... but just the thought of my friends Michael & Jana getting on a plane today to go get their Ruthie... well, it does it. Or the idea of our son's little buddy, Bobby, getting a new little Ethiopian brother next Summer... wow.

Or praying for other friends, that their son's birthfather will be located quickly so that the proper paperwork can be completed & he can come home with them when they go to pick up he & another little girl they're adopting from Haiti. What a tragic thing it would be, after over two years of waiting, for them to have to go pick her up without him. We are heartily petitioning God on their behalf.

Or hearing this week about our friends John & Julie and their adorable son Stephen who, though it seems like yesterday, has been a part of their family for over nine months now. And his smile looks so kind and welcoming-- just like both of them! He is already reflecting his parents' sweet personalities.

Or some friends of mine from high school who brought their precious daughter home from Korea in the Spring... and it is EVIDENT that she was made for them, and they were made for her.

There's just something breathtakingly stirring about this thing of adoption... the way God moves people around to form these amazing families. It's beautiful, and I count it my privilege to pray for friends and acquaintances (and, yes, shed some joyful tears) as they seek out how God would grow their family. Perhaps one day it will be our family-- but even if not, what a neat thing that God lets us play even a small role (through prayer) in these awesome journeys that give such a rich and deep picture of God's plan for believers:

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. ~Ephesians 1:4-5

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" ~Gal. 4:4-6

You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ~Romans 8:15-17

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. ~Romans 8:18-24

Might God be calling your family to consider growth through adoption? Or might God be calling YOU to be a part of His family through adoption? Whatever the case, I wholeheartedly praise God for this sweet thing of adoption-- both spiritually, and as a way to grow beautiful families, and as always, I welcome your comments.

Random Acts Of Decorating

So at the request of some of my readers, I am trying to blog more often. What do I love to see when I check my favs? Lots of pics! So sparing the witty text, here are some of my favorite little vignettes around my home. I hope you enjoy them...

The living room.

A fab old apothocary bottle found in Indiana.

Built in bookcase full (and I do mean full) of my favorite things.

The other half of the bookcase. I am such a "stuff" person...

Fab old frame with vintage sign letters spelling what else? JUNK

A tart tin with old typewriter keys.

Another fab frame filled with French papers from Corey Amaro and above a piece from Linda at Willow Nest Farm in Texas.

Old wisk brooms under a dome.

Mercury glass! Nothing more needs to be said...

Part of my nest collection in a wardian case.

Wardian case that houses some of my nests.

Another nest resting on a stack of ironstone platters. Behind is a fab mirror I got from TOT.

Old pitcher filled with tallow berries under a cloche.

Old glass battery jar filled with mercury glass ornaments.

The vignette inside a fab metal display case I bought from Donnie at Round Top. The pic is me...

The wonderful metal cabinet I got from TOT with the display case, a killer clock face and don't you love the birch sleeve from Pottery Barn?

Old wire market basket full of clock faces.

The hall bath and my collection of old medicine cabinets.

Baby dress form and my rosary bead necklaces.

Old signage in the guest bedroom.

My baby bed springs with my junk assemblage.

Cool huh?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Working on Titus 2... a continual process

We've all read plenty of Titus 2 analysis that laser-beam-focuses in on that whole "keepers at home" part. It's good, it's significant, and it's biblical to learn this part of young womanhood, and it's a particularly hard lesson for young women of my generation, who have been taught that anything-- ANYTHING-- is more significant than "just" staying home.

But for my part, it's a lot harder to read other parts of that text... because they cut right to my sin and struggle; I'll bold them here:
train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
For me, other parts of that aren't so difficult to live out (although I definitely don't have those "in the bag")... but that whole self-controlled part... that's not anywhere near easy. I am sad to say it-- but there is no doubt in my mind that the word of God has been reviled many times because of my lack of self-control. There are times when I am out of control in any of the following areas: words, letting everything I'm thinking spill out without a biblical "filter", eating, anger, letting discouragement cloud out everything good that is happening in the world, time on the computer, and more...

And, yowzas!, that little four-letter word, "kind"! For some of you, that's probably second nature... maybe you're as Melanie Wilkes as they come. For me, it's so very difficult. It is easy for me to quickly slice and dice someone, their words, or their behavior/attitude/personality in my mind... and too often, out loud too. My deficiency in this area of kindness is severe-- whether or not I ever say a word. I know, even if no one else sees it, the depth of my own unkindness. And it can be u-u-ugly.

Thank God for GRACE!
We all are works in progress... there is a "working out" of our salvation... there is sanctification... there is a continual process of casting off the old and putting on the new. I am so thankful for His grace in my life... because while I can fairly easily check off the boxes of "working at home", or "loving her husband and children" (even though both of those still need work and attention at times and to varying degrees), there are some parts of Titus 2 that (for me) aren't easy at all.

Perhaps your rough spots are different... but aren't we all in need of grace? While I think it's biblical and right to encourage women towards "working at home" or other parts of specific mandates towards Christian women, I don't want to overlook the twin planks of unkindness and self-indulgence in my own eyes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And Finally...

Finally, I have a moment and some energy to blog! Two sales and one show in three weeks is just a bit much I have found out. All three went pretty well considering the economy, and it doesn't hurt that gas prices are falling lower daily. It finally reached $1.99 today near our house! Woohoo as they say at WAMU! So I just finished a show at Renningers on Sunday~~my first time back there in a couple of years as a dealer. I used to do that show every month but gave it up when I opened a larger shop. So it was awesome to get back out there and see familiar faces and meet some new ones as well. It is always a nice surprise to find out that so many people are reading my blog, especially people I am meeting for the first time. Thanks so much to all of you who stopped by the booth and said hello, and for your support of my business. Here are some pics of the booth. Please pardon the tarp background in some of them as they require the booth to stay covered until 10am on Friday when we can begin selling in the field.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Show & Tell: November Notions

Looking for stuff to ponder? Learn about? Be challenged by? Here are my "show and tell" offerings for November-- enjoy!

Thoughts on Blogging
Thoughts on Life With Kids:
Thoughts on Womanhood
Thoughts on Saving Money
Thoughts on Homeschooling
In the "Amen" Corner:
Enjoy... there's some good stuff here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thoughts on Humor in the Home

I recently overheard our four-year-old son having one of his Lego men say to another bad-guy-Lego, "I'm gonna punch you in the nose, hopscotch!" (Line courtesy of Mickey Rooney on "Night at the Museum"... thanks mom and dad!) Doug and I couldn't help but crack up at his little squishy voice delivering such a line!

Having kids to laugh with, who laugh together, and bring humor to even the most dreary situations... well, it is SUCH a sweet blessing. I love laughing with my kiddos... and-- I'll admit it-- AT my kiddos. They are just such spunky little quirky individuals. Each one has had funny things they've said or done that make life at 2, 3, and 4 so much fun.

Watching kids' "logic" develop can be hilarious... seeing them get into precarious situations (like when they start crawling) brings a sympathetic chuckle... and who could KEEP from laughing at the funny things they SAY!? And seeing them learn to laugh together as siblings, and enjoy God's world gives me such joy.

I've always thought God has a rich sense of humor-- in His Word, He uses wry wit and obvious sarcasm to bring salient points to light (like His questions to Job) ... and He DID create us with a sense of humor-- some people (Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, and John Cleese & the Python boys among them) have obvious innate giftings in the God-given "medicine" of laughter. Plus, while on earth, Jesus hung out at parties... apparently a LOT of them, with the way He was scolded for it. I'm betting there was no small portion of laughter and enjoyment in His presence.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven:
...a time to weep, and a time to laugh..." - Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4

Personally, though, I sometimes have difficulty discerning what is OK to laugh at. Some things strike me as hilarious, ironic, sarcastic, or just absurd, but I also recognize that some of my "taste" in humor was acquired when I absolutely was not making choices in light of God's Word... so I sometimes need to reevaluate the things I laugh at.

Tell me-- what are your thoughts on humor? How do you and your family enjoy humor in your home? Do you struggle, as I do, with knowing what IS and ISN'T OK to laugh at? How do you and your family determine that?

If you've learned something or grown in this area of humor and what is and isn't OK to laugh at, OR in some way that God's Word has spoken to you on this issue, feel free to share it with the rest of us!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Review: 50 Veteran Homeschoolers... Things We Wish We'd Known

A few months ago, I read a recommendation for this book by Diana Waring, called "50 Veteran Homeschoolers Share: Things We Wish We'd Known". While in Texas in September, I stopped into a Half Price Books and, lo and behold, when I scanned the homeschool shelf, this book was one of only a few books on that shelf. YAHOO! I grabbed it and bought it (for something like $6, gotta love that!)... and just finished it.

I agree with the person who recommended it to me-- this is a very motivating, encouraging book. And because it does not delve deep into guilt-inducing specifics (like, "you need to be...", or "make sure you..."), it is also very liberating. For those who are already inclined to march to the tune of their own drummer, it will be confirming. For those who are inclined to box-check and feel the need to meet every point on a scope and sequence, this book may be life-altering and heart-gladdening.

Because it presents so many different perspectives and approaches, I found it to be the most freeing book about homeschooling I've read. Normally, when reading books about homeschooling, you get one particular "angle" (patriarchal/family-centered, unschooling, unit studies, or Charlotte Mason, etc.). But instead of getting only one person's perspective or approach, this brings together 50 different approaches. At the same time, all 50 are Christian homeschoolers, so it certainly does come at it from that "angle".

The book is comprised of 50 different chapters, each written by a different homeschool mom or family... and each of those chapters deals with different issues. Some of the chapters do repeat themes of other chapters, but because I just read one or two chapters a night, I didn't find this frustrating... rather, I found it to be reinforcing. The section of chapters that helped me the most (although I enjoyed almost all of them) was the portion about character development and spiritual training.

Some highlights/memorable quotes:
  • For young children and curriculum choices: "Keep it simple! Everything looks so attractive, it is tempting to load up on five times more material than you could possibly use. Resist that temptation. For first graders, there are only two objectives: (1) teach them to read and write, and (2) teach them to count, add, and subtract." ~F. & S. Cooper, p.29

  • About being a Lifelong Learner: "One great realization was that I could also pursue my own interests (such as gardening) and be a model of learning. We believe it's important for children to see their parents as learners, and not just as educators. Modeling a passion for learning... helps them internalize the notion that learning is valuable and worthy of pursuit, even after they leave the homeschool." ~V. Goodchild, p.35

  • Identify your target: "What benefit was it to finish a particular textbook if the children had little recollection of the information?... [So] we began with these fundamental questions: 'As graduates of our homeschool, what will our children need to know?' and 'How will we prepare them to be able to appropriate needed information in the future?' ... We formulated a list of broad objectives on important topics and courses... [covering] each area of life for our children: spiritual, academic, physical, life skills, and employment. Examples of long-term objectives are: 'ability to research a topic biblically,' 'know the flow of history and apply its lessons to current events', 'possess admirable work ethics'. These objectives and smaller sub-goals became our scope and sequence." ~R. Curl, p.59-60

  • Loving while we teach: "Plan to heartily embrace your children every day with direct eye contact, open arms, and adoring smiles, carefully tending to their conversations, needs, and dreams. ... Look, listen, and learn all you can about the incredible, marvelous gifts God sent in these soft, sweet little bodies." ~C. Summers, p.103

  • Re-evaluate regularly: "I wish I had know to have been regularly evaluating what we were doing with our day. It may be a wonderful curriculum, or an approach that fits our family philosophically, but it is continuing to work for the needs of our changing household? What might have succeeded for our family of four might not be effective for our family of seven." ~N. Robins, p.139

  • Schedule vs. Distractions: "There is always a distraction. Even for a disciplined person, it is hard to keep a schedule. ... We decided that people and real life experiences are more important than schedules. We should plan our days, yet be open to respond to ministry opportunities." ~D. Ward, p. 207

  • Give your kids your best: "Instead of using my gourmet cooking skills to wow the neighbors, I needed to prepare some fancy dinners for my children and teach them how to cook French food. ...Instead of singing just with adults, I needed to sing with my children and teach them how to harmonize. Instead of always being responsible and sober-minded with my children, I needed to laugh with them daily.

    "Over time, Michael became my chef d'extraordinaire, cooking meals we could hardly pronounce. ... As we began giving ourselves to our children-- knowing and being known-- and as we allowed our children to mature at their own pace, a marvelous thing occurred: homeschool became a place of wonder, of discovery, and of excitement. A perfect homeschool? No. A good place to learn and grow? Yes." ~D. Waring, p. 225

By offering many different kinds of families, many different versions of "the homeschool mom", and many different ways of challenging and teaching and discipling our children (and students), it has been very encouraging to me at this particular "juncture" of our parenting and homeschooling journey. I eagerly recommend it to others.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Remembrance

I come from a strong military family with ancestors that were instrumental in shaping the history of Canada. I grew up surrounded by relatives who had fought for this country. Some of them made the ultimate sacrifice and while they are no longer here they live forever in our memories. If this video does not bring tears to your eyes, nothing will. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Busy As A Bee

Wow, sorry to be MIA for so long! I have been busy, busy! Two weeks ago I had a home sale~~huge thanks to all who attended, you guys are my peeps! Then I got a wild idea to have a garage sale yesterday. Big money? No. But alot of good junk found a new home and that is awesome! The leftovers got donated to The Salvation Army. And now you say? Well today I went to Renninger's Antique Market to secure a booth for the Extravaganza this coming weekend. I was soooo lucky to get a booth in the outdoor pavilion I used to be in! My booth is 520 so if you are planning to come out, I hope you will come find me. I promise to take pics of my booth! Until next time~~stay safe and keep junkin'!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Seven-Month-Old Ate Dirt... (and other true confessions)

My seven-month-old son ate dirt TWICE this week.
Really, he did.

We have some plants on our balcony, which adjoins both our living room and kitchen, so it's a very easily-accessible place. Anyway. Two times this past week, I found him in the process of eating dirt. The first time, with dirt all over his hands, face, and in his mouth. The second time, he had just gotten to the pot. He's getting into all kinds of things these days, as the picture attests (he was chewing on cardboard in that particular moment)... which is fun (to see him hauling his cute little self around the whole apartment) and forces me to be on my toes.

My two-year-old is coloring on EVERYTHING.
She colored on the wall twice this week. One time, she took a crimson crayon and drew one big long line across our hardwood floor in the living room. Thankfully, it's lacquered, and we have a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

My four-year-old is going through a talk-back phase.
A sample conversation:
  • Me: "Darlin, it's time for you to put away up your ____ now."
  • Baxter: "But I don't want to."
  • Me: "I said, 'it's time to put them away'. Yes, ma'am?"
  • Baxter: "No, ma'am. Of course I won't."
Because of conversations like this, that poor child is getting some major training sessions from mom and dad. Slowly but surely, he's coming around. But we've been dealing with this for a couple weeks now, off and on.

My six-year-old, it pains me to say it, has started rolling his eyes.
And boy, does it drive me crazy! We're working on it, too, but we are hitting new things with him all the time. Poor guy; he's the guinea pig for all of our parenting successes and foibles.

To give you freedom and to help you give yourself grace!
And to give you hard, cold EVIDENCE that no one has it all together. I don't ever want it to appear like everything is always grand, the children always obey, my crawling babies never get into things they shouldn't, or whatever.

My aim here at Making Home is NOT to get you to imitate me. Although, sometimes, that's an appealing thought-- imitation is flattery, right?-- and we all like to be admired and thought well of. But, more than that, I want you to imitate Christ, and not get caught up in the game of comparisons that chokes out the joy from so many young women in the throes of motherhood.

So hopefully, for those of you who think a mom of four younguns must be either saintly or totally out of her mind, this is a little sneak peak/real picture of motherhood. It's not always easy... and it doesn't always run smoothly or perfectly. Your crawler may get more germs than you'd like, and you may need a Magic Eraser. You may need every amount of self-restraint you can muster to NOT yell, "don't you roll your eyes at ME, Mister."

But... it is worth it. Talking about whether or not there will be chicken teriyaki in Heaven. Hearing a four-year-old recite (with a slight, endearing lisp) Psalm 121. The day-in, day-out discipleship and the sweet cuddling... little people who walk over to you and give you big hugs for no reason... oh, it is SO worth it. And I don't want to lose sight of the eternal significance of having loved and trained up four people to love Jesus and serve others.

But it's not all perfect. And I don't ever want to seem like we are. So there it is. My seven-month-old ate dirt. TWICE. And how was your week? :-)

Update 3

Sorry it has taken me a bit longer than anticipated for updating. I really wanted to update the background to the new style that I like but at the same time I wanted to keep the ivy graphic. Most of the updating is finished and I'm happy with the results. Over the next few days you may notice a few minor changes but nothing really disruptive. I'm considering eliminating both the "digg" and "

More Updating

I'm working on finishing up the blog changes today so don't worry if you see a few strange things going on.Happy Gardening!Garden Gnome©2006-2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Harvesting Coriander - Coriander Tea

If your cilantro is calling it quits for the season, don't forget to harvest the coriander seeds for winter use. Shake the seed heads into a paper bag, allow them to dry completely in a cool, dark place, and store them in an airtight container.Medicinal Uses for CorianderCoriander seed is a powerful, natural anti-bacterial agent. It can be used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes, and has

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Biblical Rebellion

Two of my favorites, LeCrae & Driscoll, combine their musical and verbal skills to challenge us in the new song, "Rebel":
"I know in our day, rebel means sinner. But everyone is sinning, so it's no longer rebellious to sin. Jesus was a rebel who was countercultural."

"You're just a conformist if you're drunk and naked, driving around on a loud motorcycle, smoking cigarettes, and breaking commandments, and getting pregnant out of wedlock. Everyone's done that; that's so tired! If you really want to be a rebel, read your Bible. Because no one's doing that. That's rebellion-- that's the only rebellion left!"
Yes!!! Get in the Word. It's the only inoculation against this money-idolizing, sex-worshiping, power-seeking, comfort-focused culture of ours.

Scripture internalized into our hearts and minds will change us, from the inside out. Yes!-- I want to be a rebel. Rebellion in our day means obeying God instead of pleasing self... living for the long haul instead of for today... and instead of listening to the words of Katie Couric, Tyra, Oprah, the latest best-selling novel, or Osteen (him OR her), meditating on the timeless, perfect words of God.

Father God, enable us to be rebellious towards our culture. And to live in radical obedience towards You. Don't let us stay comfortable in sin-- shake us up! Do whatever it takes to seize us with your great affection. Draw us to Your Word, so that it can rightly divide the right and wrong in our lives and ultimately draw us to You.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Post-Election Day Meme

This once-every-four-years occurrence seems like a good opportunity for a meme.


This is an historic election, and a special one in the hearts and lives of a people that have not been well-treated by our country; I'm thankful for this opportunity to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. For other people that have not been well-treated by our country, it is an outcome with horrifying potential. I probably won't agree with much of anything Obama does as President, but I am moved by this moment, and I pray that it will do much to heal deep wounds in our nation.


  1. I REMEMBER: nothing about this election. I was one year old when Reagan was elected.
  2. I WAS: a toddler and preschooler... living in Texas and Colorado.
  3. DURING THAT FOUR YEARS: I learned to read.
  1. I REMEMBER: not much. I don't remember this election. My husband, however, attended a Reagan Rally in Oklahoma and remembers the confetti.
  2. I WAS: 5-8 years old and we moved back in Texas.
  3. DURING THAT FOUR YEARS: I professed faith in Christ and started school.
1988: GEORGE BUSH (Sr.)
  1. I REMEMBER: not a whole lot about that election. I wasn't politically-minded in my early years.
  2. I WAS: 9-12 years old and lived in Texas.
  3. DURING THAT FOUR YEARS: I started sporting poofy bangs and tight-rolling my faded jeans.
  1. I REMEMBER: being appalled that one of my friends voted for Clinton in our school's mock election. ("Don't you know he's for killing babies?," I asked, aghast that anyone I knew would vote for him.) Little did I know that 10 miles away, my future husband was casting his ballot for Perot in their school's mock election, because he thought Perot could single-handedly pay off the national debt.
  2. I WAS: 13-16 years old and still living in Texas.
  3. DURING THAT FOUR YEARS: I lived recklessly... rebellious towards my parents, I tried all sorts of foolish things, ignoring the Holy Spirit's warnings in my heart every time. Those years have cost me much sorrow and self-loathing... but serve as a reminder and warning to me of the lure and price of sin.
  1. I REMEMBER: knowing that Dole didn't stand a chance. Kind of like McCain this election, this modern world looks delightfully on young, hip people and scoffs at the old and battle-tested.
  2. I WAS: 17-20 years old, and lived in Texas for the first two years and went away to college in Arkansas for the last two years.
  3. DURING THAT FOUR YEARS: In God's mercy, He drew me back from the bad choices I had made and set me in a high place. I had a blast at college, made friends, and even got elected class president. The last year of this time was when I met Doug and, for the first time in my life, found someone I absolutely couldn't stand to be away from. I met the love of my life, and he asked me to marry him.
  1. I REMEMBER: SO much about this campaign, election, and everything. I took a "Campaigns and Elections" course in the Spring (during the primaries) and then an "American Presidency" course in the Fall (during the election). In fact, I skipped a class session to go to a Bush/Cheney rally where Doug & I met Dick Cheney. It was the first time I could vote for President. That election may end up being the most vividly remembered one of my life.
  2. I WAS: 21-24 years old and lived in Arkansas, the outskirts of Washington D.C., and then we moved back to Texas.
  3. DURING THAT FOUR YEARS: I became a wife to Doug and a mother to Ethan and Baxter. Prior to motherhood, I worked in the Arkansas legislative session and for the State of Texas in Washington D.C. I gave up the "perfect" job for something even more perfect and prized: being at home with my sweet baby.
  1. I REMEMBER: thinking John Kerry was willing to say anything to get elected. He came off as so scripted, out-of-touch, and insincere-- in a way that is similar to Mitt Romney this year, I think.
  2. I WAS: 25-28 years old and lived in Texas, China, Texas again, and Turkey.
  3. DURING THAT FOUR YEARS: we had two more children (Maranatha, our first daughter, and Silas), moved all around the world, and grew in faith and perseverance through some difficult challenges. I would never want to re-live those years (except, perhaps, the precious time we had in China and the sweet moments when I first "met" our children), but I am thankful for the lessons we learned and how God grew us through the struggles.
  1. I REMEMBER: feeling that my "team" was done after the South Carolina primary, when Thompson kept Huckabee from winning, and McCain began having the momentum that comes from "inevitability". I will always be glad that our party didn't choose Mitt, and still believe Huckabee was the only Republican who could have, possibly, beaten Obama.
  2. I WAS: 29 and lived in Turkey... and who knows where we'll be or end up by the end of this four years?
  3. DURING THAT FOUR YEARS: we shall see... I am hoping and praying that there are some promises that will not be kept.

SO THAT's my election meme. Maybe you learned something? It was helpful for me to examine my life in four-year increments.

If you'd like to participate in this one (conceived in this brain'o'mine this morning), just follow these simple rules:
  • First, post three sentences about your thoughts on this year's election results
  • Then, starting with the year nearest to when you were born, post the election year, the winner, and these three things:
  1. What, if anything, you remember about the campaign/election/outcome.
  2. How old you were & where you lived during that President's four year term.
  3. What happened in your life during that four-year period?
You can use this format (if ya like):
  2. I WAS:

So if you want to participate, come on! And leave a comment so I know where to find you. It'll be a fun way to review the elections of our lives.

May God bless America during the next four years. In both good times and in times of suffering, and in the times when we are delighted and the times when we are discouraged, God is good and has a plan that we can rest in, for individuals and for nations.

Father, "may all the peoples praise You!" We ask for wisdom and grace to be poured out on Barack Obama. That he will lead honorably, that he will protect the people's ability to live peaceably and quietly. We ask that You will move his heart towards mercy for the unborn. We thank You for Your sovereign hand that leads us in all times.

We ask for grace for our nation, that Your will will be done in all things, and that You would allow us to act in accordance with Your will. Use this next four years to sharpen and change us into Your likeness. Continue to teach us how to honor You and be thankful in all circumstances. "May all the peoples praise You, O Lord!" Thank you for Your grace and peace. Amen.


Blog Update: Starting tomorrow morning I will be updating this blog somewhat. You may see some weird things going on as I test things out. Most of the changes will involve the sidebar and header. I'm still debating other changes like the background. Please don't worry though as these changes will not affect the posts or archives. So please bare with me for the next couple of days. I

Sunday, November 2, 2008

God is Sovereign Over All Human Authorities

Eight years ago, my new husband and I were glued to the TV screen watching every facet of analysis and political commentary we could hear. Our then-engaged friends John & Julie came over to our tiny apartment and we all stayed up late into the night, waiting to see who would win... only to give up in the wee hours of the morning (which turned out to be a good thing, as the election didn't get cleared up for many weeks).

Four years ago, again, we watched eagerly, from our home in Texas, and were glad to see clear election results after the scandal and drama of the previous presidential election.

2008: McCain vs. Obama
This year, living in an apartment in Central Asia, I have been able to check in on the election when I want to, and aside from the fury of blog articles popping up in my bloglines account, I've been able to almost ignore the election except for when I go looking for information about it. Honestly, even though it at times feels strange to be so "out" of it (particular as a politically-minded gal), it's been kind of nice.

I'm sure some of my lack of worry and sense of disconnectedness comes from this being the first time I live overseas during the presidential elections, and the fact that I'm not seeing 24/7 wall-to-wall coverage of it. Some of it probably comes from the fact that "my" horse in the presidential race dropped in the Spring and I'm not *jazzed* about either candidate (although I definitely DID vote... and you should, too!).

But, also, God is giving me a new sense of peace about it all. Regardless of who wins... and however we feel about that (I know Christians who will be angry if McCain wins, and some who will be angry if Obama wins, and some who will be angry no matter what happens), it is absolutely wonderful to be able to rest in God's sovereignty.
Psalm 47: 8 says:
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

Proverbs 21:1 says:
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.


I feel challenged myself... and want to share this challenge with you all: whoever wins, let's agree to lift them up in prayer... no matter who it is, he will need it.
1 Timothy 2: 1-3 says:
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
We don't have to despair or be driven into fearmongering or slander. No matter who wins, let's avoid despair. Let's avoid letting this consume us. Let's not sink to bitterness or slander.

Our citizenship is in Heaven. Our hope is not in one who will promise change (in whatever party/ideology), but in the One who never changes. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is still in control! Our salvation does not lie in human governments. Our hope is not in a candidate. True change does not come with a new administration. Let us hope in Christ!

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