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Sweet Tea With Lemon


Updated: 2018-01-15T11:33:50.584-05:00


My Reading List From 2017


As has become my custom, here is the list of books that I read during 2017. I feel like my blog is languishing over here, but this one thing I still keep up with. Here's to hoping I get with it for more blogging in 2018.  I also read the Bible through this year, which is a treasured habit I've kept for many years now.  For 2017,  I used a chronological plan, and also read a chapter of the New Testament each day along with my church family, and, as has also become a treasured habit, a chapter of Proverbs each day, which means reading through the entire book of Proverbs each month.January 2017Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union With Christ - Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (NF) This is such a wonderful book. She has helped me to think well about the power of the gospel and to glorify God as I do. I highly recommend this and her first book, as wellWe Have Lost the President - Paul Matthews (F) This was a quirky little book I borrowed for free on my Kindle. It was ok, but not terribly memorable and I don't feel the need to read further in the series. Chosen by God - R.C. Sproul (NF) This was a reread, but so very good. It's important to read good, theological books, and this is definitely that. Recommended. No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God - Aimee Byrd (NF) I liked this book, especially the chapters on being discerning with what we read and listen to. I think it is a necessary addition to the discussions that led to her writing of it. Recommended. A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley, Book 1) - Elizabeth George (F). I've read this one before quite a while ago, but I see she has written several more since I last read the series, and I wanted to reread. I like this series, but I believe I should probably caution it does get a bit rough with language and such - it is a secular detective/murder mystery type of series. February 2017Payment in Blood (Inspector Lynley, Book 2) - Elizabeth George (F). See comment on Book 1 from the series.World Religions and Cults: Counterfeits of Christianity - Bodie Hodge and Roger Patterson (NF) This is very much written from a conservative, Bible-believing Christian worldview, and I found it quite helpful. It is the first volume in the series, and I intend to try to read the next volumes at some point, too. Well-Schooled in Murder (Inspector Lynley, Book 3) - Elizabeth George (F)What is the Trinity? (Crucial Questions Series) - R. C. Sproul (NF) These little booklets are a very helpful series for understanding doctrines of the Faith. A Suitable Vengeance (Inspector Lynley, Book 4) - Elizabeth George (F)March 2017Eric Liddell: Pure Gold - David McCasland (NF). I like to read biographies, and this one was such a great example of a life well-lived. It was encouraging to read of Eric Liddell's deep love for Jesus and his care and compassion for people.   In Fairleigh Field: A Novel of World War II - Rhys Bowen (F).April 2017For the Sake of Elena (Inspector Lynley, Book 5) - Elizabeth George (F)Loving Me: The Hidden Agenda of Self-Esteem - Rick Thomas (NF)  This was very short, but I found it quite helpful, full of biblical wisdom in retraining our thinking away from the worldly wisdom of the self-esteem bent of our culture. We do not need to think more about ourselves, but less - we need to be thinking more about GOD. Highly recommend. May 2017Missing Joseph (Inspector Lynley, Book 6) - Elizabeth George (F).The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine In Christian America - Candy Gunther Brown (NF).June 2017The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution - Gregg L. Frazer (NF)Playing for the Ashes (Inspector Lynley, Book 7) - Elizabeth George (F).Honest Evangelism: How to talk about Jesus even when it's tough - Rico Tice (NF) Excellent book and I pray I will take it to heart and cross the "pain line" and learn to be bol[...]

Treasuring God's Word


Psalm 119:11"I have stored up your word in my heart,that I might not sin against you."Psalm 119:24"Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors."Psalm 119:54"Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning."Psalm 119:105"Your word is a lamp to my feetand a light to my path."Psalm 119:144"Your testimonies are righteous forever;give me understanding that I may live."Every time I think I'm going to get back to more regular blogging, I seem to let life get in the way. I am in a different season of life than I was when I started this blog almost 11 years ago. And that is ok.  Once I discovered Facebook, I tended to drift over there more and more, finding it more 'social' to a point since the people I interact with there are people I actually know, and somehow in the midst of that, and in the midst of several moves and my children getting older and myself getting older, blogging here has fizzled. I didn't intend that, but here we are.Anyway, something I'm noticing recently is that I spend too much time scrolling through Facebook and I haven't always been as careful about sharing there as I'd like to be. Between the tremendous time waster I've allowed it to become and the fact that my Facebook feed is often filled with questionable theology and frustrating things to read, I've decided it's time for me to turn it off more often and check it less. I've also found myself in rather a bittersweet time of life as my oldest child is just about to graduate from high school, and in spite of all the wonderful things that come along with that, I am also finding that sometimes at odd moments I'm brought to tears and I struggle to fight for joy in the midst of it all, knowing that God is good and so very kind to His people and that He loves my son oh so very much more than I ever could. I know that every mother probably knows this odd tug at her heart that I am suffering, when her children begin to spread their wings - between the joy of watching them succeed and the memory of all the joys along the way (and sorrows and struggles, too - all the things that have gone into making him who he is today) as you sort through the pictures and memories of the boy he was and the man he is becoming, the tears will fall, but they are good tears, and I think even they are tears stored up in the Lord's bottle. (Psalm 56:8 "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?) Oh, how the Lord knows of my 'tossings' as I've cried out in the night when sleep is fleeting at times.While thinking all that, I realized I need the discipline of actively putting off time-wasting thoughts and putting on more fruitful thinking. I've noticed that as I've grown more comfortable with my smartphone, I've grown much less able to concentrate on reading or anything else for longer periods of time without 'needing' to check that stupid phone. This is not good. I want to retrain my brain to think more deeply than a Facebook meme and longer than the next 'hit' of scrolling through what people are saying - quite often nothing all that important, it turns out.I was remembering fondly the time I spent a few years ago memorizing the book of Philippians. At the time I was following a blog that encouraged its community of readers to Partner to Remember and we spent four months together memorizing Philippians. That was such a neat thing. I had never before tried to memorize a long Bible passage like that, and the tips and techniques I learned made it a very enjoyable and challenging experience. While I was working actively to memorize that book, I was constantly going over and over the verses, thinking scripture all the time, and praying scripture, and it was just a sweet thing to be filling my heart and mind with God's Word, and it was also a time of discipline to commit to the long haul and train myself to spend hours and hours memorizing, as I woke up, as I sat, as I walked along the way, and I want that again. It was amazing how often the very verses I was learning would come [...]

I Love Sundays


Hebrews 10:24-25“24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”A few weeks ago, I found myself standing in church, singing with my church family and fellow believers, thinking, “I really love Sundays.” There is something deeply encouraging about gathering with fellow believers, singing songs that reinforce biblical truth, hearing messages preached faithfully from God’s Word, and joining together to offer praise to our God. I can’t even explain how deeply encouraging this is, but it truly is. Some weeks I feel like I tend to drift along a bit, in danger of drifting along with the world rather than remembering who I am in Christ as strongly as I want to do. Then Sunday comes along, and the Word and fellowship remind me again about our mission, remind again to hold fast, and to ‘Keep on,’ as Alistair Begg says. That particular Sunday I was so encouraged to worship and so moved by how much we need to encourage each other while it is still called today, that I thanked my God for Sundays. A few years ago I read the book, ‘Jesus, Name Above All Names’ by Sinclair Ferguson and Alistair Begg. One idea that stood out to me, and still does today, is the thought that when we gather together to worship God, Jesus stands among us, His people, and through Him we are able to offer our praise to God through song and the hearing of His Word preached by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is through Jesus, our High Priest, that our praise is made acceptable to God. I once heard someone who had just returned from a youth-oriented conference where the music had been ramped up and like a concert most of the time bemoaning why can’t people worship like that at church. Even at the time that bothered me, because there is a real danger in mistaking the emotional manipulation that happens in that kind of setting for worship and assuming if we don’t exhibit that kind of emotional response then we aren’t truly worshiping. Sometimes I think we bank too much on a feeling and not enough on what we know to be true. We don’t have to have emotionally charged music and lights and smoke machines in order to truly worship, and sometimes actually, it’s probably better if we DON’T have all that. One Sunday that has stayed with me for a long time happened during the year we got to be members at Parkside Church. Pastor Alistair had just preached a sermon about our hope in Christ and looking forward to His return. The song we ended with was the hymn, “It is Well With My Soul.” Something very special happened that morning that I have never forgotten. There was no emotional manipulation in the music, just the simple musicians playing and the congregation singing, but, oh, what singing when you stand in a room full of people who genuinely, deeply believe the words they are singing and have just been encouraged again through the preaching of the Word with our great hope in Christ. That room swelled with the voices and tears of people as we sang those verses and the praise that rang in that room was surely merely a glimpse of what the praise in Heaven will sound like. This past Sunday, I had reminded my son of that moment and he smiled, he remembered. Well, our closing hymn Sunday night after hearing the Word preached and getting to take communion with our church family was ‘It is Well With My Soul,’ and you know what? It happened again. As we reached that verse that says, “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part but the whole is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul!” the voices in that room swelled and tears fell and there is just nothing like that moment when you are reminded again of how great a salvation our Lord Jesus grants us by His grace. How precious it is to be forgiven and have it be well with my soul![...]

A Thought From My Morning Reading


Proverbs 30:5-6“(5) Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (6) Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”  This was part of my Bible reading this morning, and verse five was such a comfort to me that I shared it on my Facebook page. I got to pondering how awesome it is that God has given us His  Word, and what a refuge I have found it to be throughout my life. When I’m discouraged as I have found myself to be recently, I know to turn to God’s Word and to prayer and to dig in and pursue Christ - even when I don’t feel like it, especially when I don’t feel like it. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am that my salvation and sanctification are not dependent upon how I feel at any given moment. My salvation and sanctification are grounded, firmly rooted, in who Jesus is and what He has done to grant my salvation and sanctification. It is not how much faith I have, it is WHO my faith is placed in, and He will never, ever fail. He came to save whoever believes in Him. Our memory verse for this week’s Bible study lesson in my women’s group at church as we are working through the book of Titus this year was Titus 2:11-12: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires, and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age”, and as we looked at Titus 2:11-14 this week, we also discussed our blessed hope in Christ, and we looked at passages in the Bible that encouraged us that Christ will present us who belong to Him holy and blameless to God. So, as I thought about Proverbs 30:5 this morning and read on to verse 6, I realized the thought isn’t complete without that verse, too, so I shared it as well. What immediately came to mind for me was that this is just one of the many things that I believe are wrong with certain books that have become popular in Christian circles, specifically books like The Shack and Jesus Calling. In a sense they are adding to God’s Word in a way we really ought not to do. The Shack in that it has God presenting Himself in a way He does not in the Bible, which He gave to us specifically so we would know Him as He wants to be known. We have no right to misrepresent God. I am so tired of hearing the argument that that book helps people to understand God better. Not if what you’re coming to understand is contrary to what He has said in His word, you aren’t. Remember, our feelings are NOT the judge of what is true and right. God’s Word is. And Jesus Calling, well, it’s claiming to be the words of Jesus. I don’t need Jesus Calling when I have the actual, you know, Bible. Tim Challies had some great posts about both of those books here and here, by the way, and another good post about why he doesn’t plan on seeing the movie version of one of them, either. I think the reason I’m rambling on about this is that I’ve seen some discussion floating around about the upcoming movie, and what bothers me a lot is how quick people are to defend very strongly these books, but we who are concerned about holding a high view of God’s Word are called legalists and told we’re putting God in a box (um, no). I’d rather be vigorous about defending and sharing God’s revealed Word than some fictional book that has a lot of problems with it. Read it or not as your conscience allows, but turning a blind eye to the concerns people are voicing and claiming these books help you to know God better is flat out dangerous. A friend of mine posted something and got some push back and I private messaged her and encouraged her, but, frankly, I find it exhausting to get into Facebook comment thread arguments over these books. No, I DON’T have to read them so I can be better informed. I just don’t. My dad and I were talking once about how frustrating it is when people spend so much energy defending popular books that have bad theology [...]

Books and Reading


I never intended to quit blogging, but as I only posted twice during all of 2016, that seems to be what has happened. I blame Facebook, and I'm not even kidding. I firmly believe smartphones have NOT been a good thing for us as a culture, and me as an individual. I am germinating a blog post on that, so hopefully more thoughts on that sooner rather than later as I'm trying to break my addiction to that dumb thing and retrain myself to think and read in longer chunks like I used to be able to do. I never intended to become addicted to a tiny screen, either, and it's got to stop.

Now that the new year is two months along and no longer new, I've finally gotten my reading lists updated, moving 2016 into the archive list and starting the 2017 list. I did keep a list of the books I've been reading in the hopes I would ever get myself to the computer to put them into my sad little blog, and now I'm up to date.

Several of us were talking around my table on Saturday at the women's seminar we had at our church, and one of the young ladies happened to mention that she and several other ladies in our group are participating in Tim Challies's 2017 Reading Challenge. I had seen his post about it a while back and meant to check it out, but in the haze of the end of the year and the holidays and then getting back into the swing of things again in January, I never took the time to look into it, finally thinking that maybe my legalistic little self didn't need another artificial burden added. Then this conversation happened, and I decided I would at least look at it, though I figured I was probably too far behind at this point, but it turns out that several of the books I've already read will fit nicely into some of the categories and others can probably be tweaked into them, or not. The point being, I'm not actually too far behind to at least try some of it, and that's what I decided to do, so you'll see that noted if you want to look at my reading list.

I had thought about maybe starting a reading group over on Facebook and share reading ideas with friends. I used to be a part of one before that started out well until people began dropping off and all that was left was someone who kept posting about Amish romances (urg), so I let myself drop out, too. But then I thought part of the reason I haven't taken the time to write over here at my blog, something I very much enjoy, is that Facebook tends to sap time and thinking energy in a weird sort of way, so maybe I don't want another thing to tempt me to open it all the time. If there is anyone still reading this blog, feel free to share what you're reading sometimes. If I can make myself take this up again, hopefully once in a while I might blog about a book or two that I particularly enjoy or find interesting along the way. And yes, I do find it ironic that after all my words about Facebook, I'll be posting a link to this blog post there.

Here's what I'm reading currently:

Happy Reading!

Character Matters


Anyone who knows me well knows that we are a ‘band’ family. Two of our boys march in the high school band, and this is not for wimps, mind you. If you are not aware of this, there is a whole subculture devoted to competitive marching band, and when I say ‘competitive,’ I mean it. Our high school band competes at the state level and in Bands of America competitions, and they do very well at them. I say all that to set up this post to share something that got me to thinking about something more important than band this morning.Last night our boys and over 200 of their closest friends, their marching band, had their first competition of the year. They came off that field feeling great and we parents were so proud of their performance. For the uninitiated, let me just say there is something special about the camaraderie that develops over the hours and hours of hard work these kids put into learning a very difficult show, and the high that comes from a performance well done is incredible. There’s not much else quite like it. They had a terrific night last night. However, while talking to one of my boys today, he told me about something that happened that has led me to thinking a bit. He said that in the restroom after competition while waiting for finals results, some of the members of the band that ended up winning the entire competition saw the school he and his friends were from and basically cursed them out with language and a rude gesture. Hmmm. My son didn't think anyone from his group had said anything to provoke it, and I sure hope that's true. When my other son heard that, he said that sometime during that same time period, he and his friends had seen some other members of that band and congratulated them on a job well done and he said they completely ignored him. Not cool. Our band members have been taught not to trash talk other bands and to be encouraging and congratulatory, no matter how disappointed they may personally feel. Our band members have been taught that when they have that uniform on, they represent the entire band program and their school, and they need to act in a way that honors that. I can only hope our kids act according to how they've been taught and do better than these kids did as reported by my sons.We talked together this afternoon during lunch after church about how they really need to be careful not to respond in kind when treated that way, and certainly NEVER initiate that sort of interaction with someone from another band, especially when in uniform. They seem to have handled it ok last night, but I acknowledged how hard that is when all you’re feeling is you’d like to punch the guy in the nose, but that their actions reflect on the whole band’s, even the whole school’s, reputation. We talked about how they (and now I, too) now feel about (that school band). Unfortunately, though intellectually we know it was just dumb kids being dumb, the actions of a few taint how we feel about the whole, right? Don’t be that for your band. They may win, but no one will like them if that becomes their reputation. You want to be the band everyone likes. Character matters a lot more than winning stuff. All of that got me thinking deeper, though. I started thinking about, and also talked with my sons about, the fact that we who are Christians wear the ‘uniform’ of Christ at all times, no matter where we are or what we ‘feel’ like. We are His ambassadors, always. We represent Him to a lost and dying world. We who love Jesus ought to be the kindest, most gracious of people. When we speak the truth, even hard truth, it should be obvious we speak from a heart that wants the best for people. Our words, our actions all reflect on people’s understanding and perception of Him, whether we realize it or not. We need to be careful that we fight for the right things, not the wrong ones. We need to be Kingdom minded. We need to guard our words and our la[...]

Favorite Books From my 2015 Reading List


Well, here we are at the first day of 2016. I hope to make time to blog more in the near future, but I've said this before, so we shall see. For today, though, I think I'll go with what should become a small tradition on the blog and I'll mention some of my favorite books that I read during 2015. If you are interested in seeing the complete list of what I read during 2015, good, bad, and indifferent, I've put the 2015 list on the page at the top with the previous years' reading lists and cleaned up the current reading list page to prepare for what 2016 may hold. One of my criteria for which books I leave on this list for this particular post versus deleting a book but leaving it on the master list up in pages is that if I remember the book at the end of the year and remember enjoying it or gaining something  from it, it stays, but if I don't really remember the book or remember it as kind of so-so, but not remarkable or really didn't like it, I delete it from this list. So, if anyone is still interested, these are the books I liked best from my 2015 reading list, in the order in which they were read, not necessarily in the order of most beloved, with my original comments or lack thereof still attached, and additional comments added today in italics:Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me - Kevin DeYoung (NF). Very good book.Listening Woman (Navajo Mysteries, Book 3) - Tony Hillerman (F). Enjoying this series. This series held my attention all year. I really enjoyed the Navajo Mystery books.Name Above All Names - Alistair Begg and Sinclair B. Ferguson (NF). This was excellent. So much I'm still thinking about and I am very glad I read this one. On Sunday as I worshiped at church I was brought to tears thinking about what I'd just read about Jesus standing with His people when we worship and offering our worship, making it acceptable to the Father. That has changed how I sing and worship when we gather together in a profound way, causing me to think much more carefully and richly and deeply about worship. I'm planning to reread this book in January 2016 after seeing this and remembering how much I liked it.Risky Undertaking - Mark de Castrique (F). My brother-in-law happens to know this author and gave me a signed copy of this book for Christmas, which is a very thoughtful gift knowing how much I love to read. I enjoyed this one and will look for more by this author. Standing Strong: How to Resist the Enemy of Your Soul - John MacArthur (NF).People of Darkness (Navajo Mysteries, Book 4) - Tony Hillerman (F).The Dark Wind (Navajo Mysteries, Book 5) - Tony Hillerman (F)The Ghostway (Navajo Mysteries, Book 6) - Tony Hillerman (F).Law & Liberty: A Biblical Look at Legalism - General Editor Dr. Don Kistler. This was very good.The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God's Word is Misunderstood - Eric J. Bargerhuff (NF). Skinwalkers (Navajo Mysteries, Book 7) - Tony Hillerman (F)The Maze Runner - James Dashner (F). One of the benefits of being mom to teenage boys is reading books I probably wouldn't have even known about otherwise. I read this one because one of my boys is reading the series and I try to keep tabs on what they're reading. As I told a friend who asked if I liked it, I think 'like' is too strong a word for how I feel about this one. It was interesting, but frustrating and pretty violent. I'm starting the second one, but not really enjoying it very much so far, and it won't be making onto any lists of favorites for me, I don't think.  I see that I said this wouldn't probably make it onto a list of favorites, but seeing as how it stuck with me, and the boys and I still talk about it, I guess I was wrong in that assessment, after reading the whole series. It's probably not the best series[...]

The Silence Was Broken


“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power, After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Hebrews 1:1-4"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined." Isaiah 9:2I have an admission to make. “Silent Night” has never been one of my favorite Christmas carols. I never really knew why, but it just hasn’t been up there on my top list of favorites. I think I know why after thinking about it some recently. For one thing, I’m not a fan of schmalzy sentimentalism, and this song has a bit of that. I mean, was it really silent and calm? Probably not. But I understand the point and I’m not saying I won’t sing the song with gusto every Christmas, because, “Alleluia to our King. Christ the Saviour is born!” Yes, and amen, I love the last lines. And “Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,” what a glorious truth, even in the midst of the sentimentality. So I’m not suggesting it’s a bad song or that I won’t sing it out. I just like some of the other Christmas carols better.  Kevin DeYoung posted this yesterday, and the first line in the song, “It was not a Silent Night,” resonated with me. I can’t say I like the song he posted as much as he seems to, though it’s a good one,  but it got me thinking. No, it wasn’t a silent night, for the reasons mentioned in the song, but in an even more significant way. Here’s where I went as I pondered yesterday.It had been about 400 years since the last prophet had received a word from God to share with Israel. Think of it. 400 years of seeming silence from God as the people waited for the fulfillment of His promise to send Messiah to save His people from their sin. Many were looking for Messiah and hoping in God, the time was right, and those who knew the Scriptures, were waiting. Then, suddenly the silence was broken, not by another prophet, but by the cry of a baby, the baby, and the announcement of angels to a group of shepherds in a field, the angels were praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14) The silence was broken when God sent His Son into the world to redeem His people. He, Himself, came to rescue His people from their sin. Simeon in the temple was one of those who waited, and He recognized Him, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2: 29-32) Hallelujah! Christmas isn’t just about the baby in the manger. What we who know Him are celebrating isn’t just the manger, but the Cross and the Resurrection. We celebrate because Immanuel, God With Us, came to live among us and live out the law that we could not and be righteous, fulfill all righteousness, for us. He is our ultimate Passover Lamb, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the o[...]

Slow to Anger


Psalm 86:15“But you, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Last night our church held a praise service where members were invited to share praise and thanks to God for His faithfulness. Even the children participated. One young child said that he is thankful that God is slow to anger, even when we are not slow to anger. I was very much struck by that. I thought, “Do my children know this? Have I taught them specifically that God is slow to anger, and what an incredible mercy this is? When you think that at any moment what I deserve is to be wiped out because of my sin, yet we are shown such mercy?” In Sunday School recently, we have been studying the attributes of God, and yesterday we discussed His faithfulness. Have you truly pondered the awesome truth that God is a covenant-keeping God? Our teacher yesterday took the book of Ruth and taught us about the faithfulness of God. I have to tell you, I was reduced to tears several times yesterday, though I thought I knew the book of Ruth very well and have read it many times, as I pondered in a fresh way how patient and faithful our God is. I was struck by several thoughts as we discussed this book. First of all, and I’ll admit you might want to take this first observation with a grain of salt as I’m not 100% sure it’s an accurate thing to take away, but I was struck by the fact that Naomi suffered due to decisions her husband made for their family. Yet, in her submission, you don’t see her blaming him. Then, when things seemed most dire, she returned home, back to the land of the covenant promises of God, and God rescued her. He was always faithful to her, even when her family left to escape covenant consequences in the land. God gave her Ruth. Then I got to thinking about Ruth. I wonder, what did Ruth see in Naomi and her God that she was converted to trust in and follow God? I wonder, did Naomi teach her about Him? What we do know is that Ruth didn’t only commit to stay with Naomi, but more importantly, she trusted God.The book of Ruth is a rich picture for us of the Providence of God in the lives of His people, and such a shadow that points us to the grace of God. What reduced me to tears yesterday was when Ruth has this exchange with Boaz, “Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, ‘Why have I found favor in your eyes that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”  (Ruth 2:10) I got to thinking that this is the kind of amazed awe and gratitude I have for God when I ponder the gift of salvation and grace He has granted me. Why me? Why, Lord, have you opened my eyes to see the wonder of Your law and to see my wretchedness and to see the amazing gift of grace in Your Son? Why have You seen fit to shower such grace on me to rescue me from so much of the foolishness and bad teaching that abounds in much of evangelicalism and brought me into the Light and shown me the truth and granted me a hunger for Your word? It has to come from You, Lord, I could never have come to this on my own. The second thing that humbled me to tears yesterday was reading what Boaz said to Ruth, “The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:12). On reading this, it came crashing in to my understanding in a way I’ve never fully appreciated in just this way before that this is what we do when we trust in Christ. Let me explain what I was thinking through and rejoicing in. Ruth placed herself under the refuge of the covenant keeping, only true God, and she could trust Him. When we are trusting in Jesus, this is exactly what we are doing. We are not striving to earn His favor, we are not having to perform or jump through [...]

Seeing Through the Glass Darkly


I found myself weeping as I stood in the greeting card aisle of the store today as I tried to find a sympathy card that didn’t sound so very trite and full of empty sentimentalism void of true comfort to send to some friends. I wept as I read empty sentimentalities and thought of the deep, deep pain my friends must be suffering today. I did finally settle on a card and added my own feeble words to send, but, oh, how my heart hurts to contemplate the sudden and unexpected grief my friends are experiencing.

 I know that these friends know the Savior and that we who know Jesus, when we grieve we do so with deep and abiding hope, but grieve, and grieve deeply this side of Heaven we still do. And I believe our compassionate Savior sees those tears, every single one of them, and He intercedes for His own. But, oh, how we see through the glass darkly here during the journey of life some days.

I once heard Sinclair Ferguson say, “The boasts of one Christmas letter may be the griefs of later ones.” I know I’m not feeling much like writing a happy, happy, happy Christmas letter this year. I know too many for whom this Christmas will be a bittersweet one. This has been a hard year. 

And yet, there IS hope. This world is not our home. Peter tells us that this life is fleeting, but a little while. (1 Peter 1:6-9) Jesus has conquered the grave. We have real hope because of His resurrection. When we abide in Him, resting the weight of all our hope on Him, we trust that His promises are true. For those who repent of their sin and trust in the righteousness of Jesus, we have a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls. He alone is the way to peace with God, and that peace is a sure and steady anchor. 

I recently learned this hymn, and it has become a favorite, as I often find much comfort in songs that remind me of truth, not empty sentimentalism, but real comfort that lasts and points to our sure Savior. 

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Treasures in Song


We found my hymnal. I’ve been looking for it for the last two years. I guess it was in one of the boxes that went into storage when we downsized for the last two years, and now that we’re finally opening all the boxes in our new house, we found it. We also have our piano back after two years of storing it. It’s days like these that I wish I’d listened to my mother and really practiced the piano instead of just sort of practicing. She told me I’d feel that way one day, and she was right.This hymnal has been a great help for years, and I’m glad to find it again. These have been the go-to songs for me since childhood, treasures that help me remember timeless truths that focus my eyes on my God and Savior, especially at times when I feel adrift or lonely. Tell me you can keep a self-centered pity party going while singing “Jesus Paid it All.” Certainly after singing the first three verses, once you get to the fourth verse and sing these words, “And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete, ‘Jesus died my soul to save,” my lips shall still repeat. Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow,” you just see if tears that started out self-pitying and self-centered don’t melt into tears of repentance and joy and just awe with a renewed focus on what truly matters in life and in death.I love that with the church we have been attending since we moved here my children will learn and sing and hear the voices of the saints in the aisles around us sing together a beautiful mix of rich hymns and also a solid mix of the rich new hymns that are being written by people like the Gettys and Sovereign Grace and people like that. What a rich heritage good music that sings the deep things of the gospel gives us to lean on when our hearts are heavy and when they are joyful and all the times in between. I wonder if anyone is going to put together a new hymnal with some of those good newer songs. I would like that a lot. I have complained a great deal in the past about how shallow so much of the newer praise choruses are, but one thing I’m very thankful about having gotten the privilege of worshiping with Parkside Church last year while we lived in Cleveland was being introduced to the wealth of actually good new music is being written. I truly did not know. I had not heard much of it before then. So it’s a joy to find a church here that also sings those songs I’ve grown to love and so many of the timeless old hymns as well. Serious, thoughtful, doctrinally deep preaching of the Bible and music that focuses our attention on the gospel are so refreshing to start the week and encourage us in the faith.Yesterday we sang “Amazing Grace,” and the verse that stuck out to me where I am right now was this one, “The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures; he will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.” I almost put those words out as a status update, but I didn’t because out of context I know so many people who would take it the wrong way, with a shallow view of the Lord promising good to me, and I just don’t want to convey that. It’s not talking about worldly riches, but eternal life, and that is real hope. Jesus, the anchor for my soul. I am thankful. So very thankful.[...]

Because We Can!


I didn’t actually mean to quit blogging. The early days of blogging when we formed friendships and networks and linked to each other and blogged about our blogging addiction and lived for comments and links and badges for the sidebar and whatnot seem very long ago indeed. These days, writing long blog posts seems to be much more difficult. These days, short little Facebook status updates and Twitter tweets seem to take up more time and energy. Does anyone even read blogs anymore? For me, when the Google reader went away and I discovered Facebook, it seems my infatuation with blogging dwindled. And I’m not all that sure this is a good thing, this addiction so many of us have to Facebook. Not at all. In fact, I have thought for some time now it’s quite the opposite of a good thing, but I haven’t given it up yet, either. I still want to write blog posts, but finding time and energy seems harder. Where did I find the time back in those long ago blog days? (Long ago in blog time, anyway. It does seem almost a lifetime ago, but in fact it was almost 9 years ago when I wrote my first blog post with trembling fingers, wondering if I was really ready to put my thoughts ‘out there’ for strangers to possibly read. I know this because my daughter was just a baby, and she’s 9 now. Wowza. Where in the world did all that time go?)All that said, to say I would like to blog more, truly, but I’m not making any promises. I’m not even sure anyone ever even reads this blog anymore besides my parents. It’s not like I’ve had anything interesting to say here for some time. But there’s a new me. Well, not actually a new me. More like the same me, but older, in a new place. We’ve moved. Again. Third summer in a row we’ve had to pack up house and move. Hopefully we will get to stay here a bit longer this time. Packing up and moving three summers in a row is exhausting.For a bit of fluff blogging, here’s a bit of a where I am right now sort of post. After two years of living in an apartment and/or duplex kind of place, we get to be in our own house again, and we are loving it. The last two years were kind of difficult, but I’m finally feeling like we’re home, and things are settling nicely. Since moving to the great state of Texas this month, my husband and I have adopted a new catch phrase: “Because we can!” Let me show you a bit of our weirdness:·         Park in the street over night? Yes! Because we can!·         Park the camper in front of the house for one overnight while we’re unpacking? Yes! Because we can!·         Launch a potato gun into the green space behind the house? Yes! Because we can!·         Fireworks in the backyard? Yes! Because we can!·         Tiki torches on the back porch? Yes! Because we can!·         Drive 70 (or more) legally on the interstate or on the way to church? Yes! Because we can!·         Drive faster than 35 MPH legally anywhere in town? Yes! Because we can!·         Listen to loud music? Yes! Because we can!·         Put the surround sound speakers back on the TV? Yes! Because we can!·         Stop walking on tiptoes in the house and worrying about bothering someone else? Yes! Because we can!·         Grill on the back porch? Yes! Because we can! ·         Not have to remind my youngest ONE M[...]

The Strangeness of Growing Older


You know that moment when you find out that one of the more mature members of the cast on a show you watch was born just one year before you were born, and that feeling of surreal shock it gives you, because he seemed so much older than you still feel on the inside? Or that moment you sit outside the banquet hall where your husband’s high school reunion is being held, and he says, “This can’t be the right place - it’s all old people going in that door,” and you think for a moment, blink a couple of times, and say, “You know, I think we are the old people now,” and you both sort of psych yourselves up to either go in that door or leave and not look back? Or when you try to wrap your brain around the fact that U2 and all the other ‘80s music groups that you’ve loved are ‘Golden Oldies’ to your kids in the same way that your parents’ beloved ‘60s music was to you? Or when you are reminded that 1990 really isn’t 10 years ago, not by a long shot, even though it really, truly feels like it? Or when you realize that BOTH of your sons are taller than you, and have been for a while now, and their voices have that deeper man-quality about them all of a sudden and they all of a sudden need to shave? Or when you realize your oldest son only has 2 more years of high school left, and his brother is right there at his heels ready to start high school next fall, and you try really hard not to do the math for remaining years that will take your breath away if you think too long about it regarding their little sister, and you feel like it’s only been a few blinks since they were little and cute and cuddly and barely walking and you felt so overwhelmed with being a mom to ‘littles’ and you were frustrated with all the older moms who kept telling you to ‘cherish every moment’ because it goes so quickly? And now here I am, living that moment, living that season of life. I no longer have ‘littles’ and all the types of frustrations that filled the mommy blogs and MOPS discussions back then, (and which complaining - which it very often was, honestly, I found annoying even at the time - I wasn’t all that into ‘mommy blogs’ and parenting magazines that focused on superficial things that in the long run weren’t actually the most important concerns). No, now I have the, in my opinion, more difficult, but so rewarding, time of older kids, being an older mom when I don’t think it’s nearly as cute or wise or funny or kind to blog about the things my kids say and do. Now I’m much more careful about what I share about them, because they really are their own people. And I should have been more careful, back then, too. But that’s for another blog post, another day. It’s not really what I had in mind to write about today, but I did read a good post regarding that here, that is worth reading and thinking about.Those older moms who always wistfully told us to cherish every moment? I understand them a little better now. People are not kidding when they tell you that time flies. It does. Oh, how it does. And as I’m in this season of being an older mom with kids who are getting older and on the verge of flying from the nest in just a blink of time, it seems, I find myself wondering and pondering. Have I taught them enough? I know I’ve failed in many ways, as we all do, none of us are perfect parents. But I know they’ve heard the Gospel along the way, often, maybe not as often as I wish now looking back as it could have been, but often and in various ways and discussions and watching us live life in light of the Bible truth we know and the Savior we love. My prayer is that, in spite of our imperfect and learning-along-the-way parenting, please, God, would You draw my chi[...]

Status Update, March 2015


Seeing as I haven’t posted anything here since the end of December, Happy (not so )New (anymore) Year, blog world! My blogging ability seems to have waned along with my mood this winter. Winter in Cleveland has been quite an experience for this former Florida girl. I thought I liked a little winter, and I do like A LITTLE winter. Snow is great and pretty and fun when you only get a couple of big snows and then it melts away soon after. Though people jokingly warned me about winter here, I do not think I was prepared for quite so MUCH winter. I think you can’t be prepared for it until you experience it, and when you experience it you will either love it or hate it. Guess which side I landed on along with my many falls on icy sidewalks? I told someone recently that I think Cleveland winter has done its work and turned me into a bona fide snow Grinch. We haven’t seen grass or sidewalk or driveway since November (brief respite in an unusually snow-free December which lulled me into blissful unpreparedness) and January, oh, January, when we began to get mounds of snow and ice and more snow and gray, gray, gray, dismally gray skies for MONTHS. I’ve been truly fighting a bit of the winter blues, what with winter in general and some other things along the way that I don’t want to write about, and my energy for writing was completely sapped. So, if anyone even bothers to check here anymore, I’m sorry for the blog silence, but maybe, just maybe I can start getting my head above the gray clouds again now, with the hope of spring around the corner.Driving here is not fun on a good day, in the winter it’s been….interesting. Throw in the mix that the last time we had the oil changed in my car (the one 4-wheel-drive vehicle we own) they put the wrong size cap on and it slowly lost all its oil without us realizing it, resulting in one day the car just not driving at all and the bad news that the engine was completely fried, and, well, it’s been a frustrating winter. Now, three weeks and quite and expense (but not a new car payment!) later, I have my car back with a new engine. Thankful, I am.I know I shouldn’t complain and be so low in the winter. I know people who are facing real hurts and struggles, for whom I’m praying daily, and my griping about winter in Cleveland is pretty lame, which only makes me feel even more guilty about the confusing fog of blues into which I descended over the past few months. But my fog was real for me, and I’ve been praying through it, and God is good all the time, even when my feelings and emotions lack zeal. How extremely thankful I am that my standing with God and salvation are not based in my feelings and strength, but in my gracious Savior Jesus, who never wavers and who is ever interceding for His own.Some great news today is, as I said on my Facebook wall just now: The sun is shining! The snow is melting! It’s a glorious 46 degrees and for the first time since November it feels LOVELY outside without a coat! No coat! No need for hat, scarf, OR gloves! The air doesn’t hurt my face! And I can see pavement on the sidewalks! No more ice skating to school! There are even a few spots of, what’s that stuff called again? Oh yes, grass! Dare I say the long, gray misery of winter may be coming to a close at last? AND I hear birds. Birds! I’d almost forgotten how very much I love to hear birds singing. It’s a lonely world when the birds go silent. So long, winter!I will say that one very bright spot in our year here in Cleveland has been the church we get to join with while we’re here. The prayer, music, and Bible teaching are so rich, and I have been greatly encouraged by this body of believers and their commitment to worshi[...]

Highlights (and Lowlights) From the Books I Read in 2014


I’ve kept track of the books I read this year in the page called, “Books Read 2014” on this blog,  but here at the end of the year I thought maybe I’d highlight the ones I either liked best or that have stuck with me most.11/22/63 - Stephen King (F). I wrote quite a bit about my thoughts on this one on the list page, and as I said, I probably wouldn’t recommend it without qualifications, but it’s one that I still think about and enjoyed.Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue - Matthew C. Mitchell (NF). I wrote a blog post about my thoughts on this one here, and yes, it’s one that I’m glad sticks with me, and I probably need to read it again at some point. Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese (F). My mom and dad gave me this one for Christmas last year and I very much liked it.The Orphan Master’s Son - Adam Johnson (F). Another one my mom and dad gave me last Christmas that I very much liked. Both of these I find myself remembering long after I had put the book back in the bookshelf, and both I will probably re-read at some point.Two books in this one: A Time of Departing  and For Many Shall Come in My Name- Ray Yungen (NF). These have stayed with me, too, and I found it disturbingly eye-opening to the influence of “New Age” type of spirituality that is creeping into the evangelical church. I do wish more people would be alerted and concerned about this.I thought when I was reading the first of the Divergent books by Veronica Roth that they would end up on a list like this, but I ended up HATING the last book and ending so much that I would say, “Don’t bother,” if anyone were to ask me about this series.Safely Home - Randy Alcorn (F). Though there are things about this book that made me a little uncomfortable, over all it has really stayed with me and I find myself thinking about the overarching story in a good way.A Land More Kind Than Home - Wiley Cash (F). I’m looking forward to reading more by this author. The four Light books by Terri Blackstock - Last Light, Night Light, True Light, and Dawn’s Light - (F). I really enjoyed this series, and I don’t typically like much Christian fiction for reasons I’ve mentioned on the blog before like how problematic many I’ve read are theologically, but these I did like, so they make the list.The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare (F). This is a classic I had not read before, and I very much liked it.The Gospel’s Power and Message and The Gospel Call and True Conversion - Paul Washer (NF). Written with a pastor’s heart.The Hole in Our Holiness - Kevin DeYoung (NF). Another very good read that I hope sticks with me, and just may need to be read again. This one was challenging and I'm glad I read it.Stepping Heavenward - Elizabeth Prentiss (F). Probably one of my favorite books since I was a young girl. I like it more every time I read it.John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace - Jonathan Aitken (NF). I very much enjoyed this biography about a fascinating Christian man. I love how his testimony and life show how he never forgot God’s amazing grace.Unfriend Yourself: Three Days to Detox, Discern, and Decide About Social Media - Kyle Tennant (NF). This has been the beginning of me finally starting to break my addiction to Facebook, and it couldn’t have come at a more welcome time. The Blessing Way and Dance Hall of the Dead - Tony Hillerman (F). Books one and two of Hillerman’s Navajo mysteries. I read some of these years ago, but didn’t read them in order, so I’m reading them from the beginning now. I am enjoying the mysteries and the peek into Navajo culture and thinking. These are not all of[...]

Merry Christmas!


Isaiah 9:2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.John 1:9-189 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ” 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.“When we were undone, with no will or ability to return to Him, He came, God-incarnate, to save us, as man to die our death, to shed His blood on our behalf, and work out a perfect righteousness for us.O God, take us in Spirit to the watchful shepherds and enlarge our minds, let us hear good tidings of great joy, and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, and adore. Place us with the oxen and sheep in that stable, to look with them upon our Redeemer’s face and know ourselves delivered from sin in Him. In Him, you have given us so much that heaven can give no more. (Adapted from Valley of Vision).” - from our Christmas Eve service at Parkside Church last night.Merry Christmas! Hallelujah! What a Savior![...]

Far As the Curse is Found


Revelation 21:1-8 “1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’  5 And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ 6 And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’ “Revelation 22:12-14 “12 ‘ Behold I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.”Revelation 22:20 “20 He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”I’ve been thinking quite a bit the past several months about relationships. There are several reasons for this pondering, but one is that I read a book recently called, Unfriend Yourself: Three Days to Detox, Discern, and Decide About Social Media by Kyle Tennant. I wrote a little about the book on my book list page, and I’m not writing a review of it here since it isn’t the final point I’m wanting to make today, but that book has done what it was meant to do and started me thinking a little more about how and why I use social media, which has also helped me continue thinking through relationships in general. What came out of reading that book for me is that I’m really trying to spend less time with Facebook - reading and posting. I think that we impose expectations on social media that it really isn’t designed or able to fulfill. Social media is helpful and can be good for networking and maybe staying in contact with people when, like my family, you have to relocate often. In that way social media has been a blessing and I’m not ready to completely give it up. But, on the other hand, social media can hold some dangers in that sometimes we can expect it to provide closer relationships than it is actually capable of delivering. A couple of observations I’ve noticed along these lines to sort of lay some groundwork for the point I really want to make is that, first of all, we can be tempted to assume that if we interact often on Facebook that we have a close friendship, or that we’ve sort of done our duty to care for our friends. This an especially attractive temptation for those of us who are more introverted and not as naturally outgoing. The sad thing is that, though that kind of friendship is a type of relationship and sweet in its own way, it isn’t as close as real, face-to-face, in-the-flesh rel[...]

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made


Psalm 139:13-18“13 For you formed my inward parts;you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works;my soul knows it very well.15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,intricately woven in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them,the days that were formed for me,when as yet there was none of them.17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!How vast is the sum of them!18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.I awake, and I am still with you.”My oldest son is taking AP Biology this year. He loves it. He has that kind of a brain that gets science and math and really, really enjoys learning it. I don’t have that kind of brain, but he does, and it’s been fun watching his eyes light up as he learns things and tries to share them with me. I say tries, because, honestly, lots of times I don’t actually understand all the intricacies of what he’s trying to explain, but sometimes I get just enough of the idea of it to be able to join in his excitement, and that’s pretty awesome.For example, we had a true ‘awe’ moment the other day. As I’ve said here before, ‘awe’ is not a word to be used lightly, and I’m not using it lightly here. I’ll try, in my limited way, to explain, because it really was a moment of AWE for both of us.My boy was struggling with a chapter on genetics and DNA and having a bit of a time truly grasping what he was studying, and feeling a little nervous because he had a big test coming up at the end of the week and he wanted to have a firmer grasp of the concept than he felt he had on the first several reads through the material. The light finally went on, though, and I saw it in his eyes when he brought his book downstairs and said something along the lines of, “I think I finally get this! I’m finally understanding it!” What he was studying about was the process of meiosis and reproduction. As he just explained to me when I asked while writing this, “It’s the process of splitting DNA - both parents producing half of their DNA to produce a brand new human being.” Those individual cells formed through meiosis in the mother and the father come together to form a whole new little person with his or her very own unique DNA combination. I’m NOT going to get all technical in this blog post, because, frankly, I can’t because the whole thing kind of blows my mind, but what we discussed that afternoon was how complex our DNA actually ends up being. My DNA comes from both sets of my parents, which comes from each of their parents, which had also been through this meiosis process for all the successive generations of parents upon parents, meaning my DNA isn’t JUST from my two parents, but a combination of everyone in my family history, and their histories, and their histories, and so on and so on. We know this, of course, being that we know about our family trees, and all, but thinking about the extreme complexity of the chromosome pairs that intertwine in each parent to create a whole new pair of chromosomes, meaning, well, it gets very complicated, but the process of combining all those sets of genes involves complex crossing over,even more complex than I can even try to hint at in this limited blog post, and I thought, “Wow. The Bible says we are knit together in our mother’s womb,” and I said that. My son said, “Yeah! The picture in the book looks a lot like knitting in a way.” Awesome.I’ve always loved the po[...]

Driving, Not My Favorite Thing


Until last night I’ve been able to say I’ve never been pulled over while driving. Not once, no tickets, nothing. Those of you who know me and what a wonderful, hahaha, driver I am can all share in a small laugh right now if you so choose.When we moved here, we joked that if I managed to get through our year here without being pulled over, it would be amazing. Driving here is that difficult. I made it almost five months. Yay me. How fun it was last night to be driving home from taking my oldest son to the doctor, hungry and cranky after waiting at the doctor’s office for over an hour right at dinner time, fighting off the beginning of my own raging headache, minding my own business, driving carefully because I was determined to beat the odds and not get pulled over for driving like a bonehead around here and because I had seen the police car in the next lane over, when I turned onto the main road home and immediately heard that ‘bloo -oop!’ and saw lights in my mirror. My son looked shocked and said, “Is that for us?” I said, “Looks like it is.” So I pulled over and sure enough it was for us.As we sat there waiting for the officer to come tell me what I’d done wrong, I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. I had my turn signal on, wasn’t speeding, signaled my lane change, what?? Turns out my plates expired last month (exactly 24 days ago). Somehow in all our moving around, we either didn’t get the renewal notice or, worse, I’m going to find it accidentally filed away somewhere when I clean out my files. It’s been a rough year. I have been wracking my brain trying to remember if I ever saw a renewal notice or not. Doesn’t matter now. We went online last night and took care of it, and that little clerical error will now result in me having to pay a not-so-welcome fine to the city and get a report sent to the Ohio Division of Motor Vehicles. Happy I am not.At least the police officer was nice about it while he handed me my ticket, though I felt really stupid when he said, “Are you aware your plates are expired and have been since October?” and I had to honestly say, “No sir, I was not aware of that.” I didn’t even try to explain about moving and not getting the notice to renew. Fun times, fun times.  And that headache that was just nudging at me behind my eye last night?  I woke up with it raging this morning, since apparently three of the five of us now seem to be fighting what the doctor informed us is a nasty head-cold that’s going around. Yay me, again.Actually, I’m thankful that if I had to be pulled over for this, and it was inevitable since I’m pretty much the only one who drives that car and we really weren’t aware it had expired, that it happened at a time when I wasn’t late for an appointment or, even worse, taking my son to school. Can you imagine that humiliation, to be pulled over in the high school car drop off line?So, I can no longer say I’ve never been pulled over, but at least I can say it wasn’t for being stupid with my driving. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. [...]

Things I Never Considered When I Lived in Florida


Things that I had never considered or even realized people might have to do when I was growing up in Florida and complaining about the occasional cold day, but which have become a part of my life now that we live up north:Using a hairdryer to try to dry out the inside of an 8-year-old’s snow boots because she got a little overenthusiastic the day before while playing in the snow mounds on the way home from school and I didn’t realize snow had gotten inside the boots and the insides actually got wet and now it’s frigid and we have to leave for school soon and I don’t want her to have wet feet on the way to school. Finally giving up because my hairdryer is overheating and inserting the rack in my dryer so I can put the snow boots in the dryer and hope I don’t have it set too hot for them.Waking up to a weather forecast that says, “Feels like -7˚ F” in NOVEMBER. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!Wondering why my strange neighbors next door have their window open when it feels like -7˚ outside and I am standing in my kitchen freezing with the storm windows closed and the radiators on all the time. Seriously, I’m not kidding, my neighbors’ open window is one of the things that plagues my curiosity. I’m not trying to be overly nosy, it’s just so….odd. They’ve had it open every day since the snow started. I would not want to have to pay their heating bill.Checking the various websites and my text messages every so often, hoping school is closed or at least delayed due to snow or cold. They really take school seriously up here. Tons of snow, arctic temperatures, no snow day. Our last city where we lived for the past four years got snow days when there was even a hint that snow might happen, and 1-2 inches meant at least two snow days. Not here in the snow belt.Wondering since they didn’t grant us a snow day when we had lots of inches on the ground and snow was still falling or when we dipped into negative temperatures, yet I know they did have some snow days last year, how bad, exactly, is it going to get here? Feeling grateful for snow plows and salt on the roads.Counting shoveling snow off the driveway as part of my exercise routine. Actually putting ‘shoveling snow’ into my fitness tracking app so I can count the calorie burn.Remembering when I thought 60˚ was cold, and it really, really was cold, because I had never lived up north.Being amazed at how the body adapts to real cold and that what used to be, not just feel, but actually be, cold now is something I long for as a ‘warming trend,’ and realizing just how self-centered I am. Cold is cold, wherever you are, and when you’re used to warm all the time, and you don’t have cold-weather clothes, it takes a lot less time to feel cold in Florida than it does where it gets colder and we’re expecting it. It’s not a contest. Perspective, I guess. Eagerly anticipating snow because I just love it and it is so pretty, but dreading it at the same time, because driving in it is not fun. Pretty snow is great when all you have to do is sit and watch it out the window. I love that. But when you have to get out and function in it, not as fun.Buying several different coats, and not really being satisfied with any of them, because I grew up in Florida and am clueless about how to buy and dress for winter. Wishing I had a personal clothing buyer who could just shop for my winter wardrobe for me and say, “Here, this is exactly your size and it will look just right on you, and we were able to do it on a budget that di[...]

Reading Proverbs


For the past several years I have added a chapter of Proverbs to my Bible reading every day. Since there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, I usually read the chapter corresponding to the day of the month we are on, and double up at the end of those months that don’t have 31 days. It’s been very helpful. I wish I could say I apply and follow all the wisdom perfectly after all this reading, but that would be very far from the truth. It is becoming more and more part of my thinking, though. One thing that has often struck me is how very often the Proverbs I read speak directly into my life in the exact situations I’m walking along in each day. It says something very ugly about me that sometimes in my flesh I find that I have to fight the temptation not to think about other people to whom I want to apply them sometimes, and when that temptation is strong, I’m learning to turn it around and ask myself, where do I need to apply this to myself? Stop looking outward and look at my own deceitful heart. Trust God to deal with everyone else. And when I’m hurting and confused, run to my Heavenly Father and tell Him, and pray for wisdom, understanding, peace, and grace. His grace is sufficient in every situation. I must learn to rest in Jesus.One verse that I’ve done a lot of thinking about over the years is Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” With that I also think about Proverbs 18:13, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” The gravity of these thoughts came home to me in a striking way some years ago when I was serving on our county Grand Jury for a couple of months. We had a very complicated case come before us that took the greater part of one day just to listen to the testimony, and no small amount of debating among us about what to do with the testimony we’d heard afterward. The general consensus of the group was to send down an indictment on two people, though it was a confusing and very complicated case, and some of us disagreed about whether both people might be guilty of the indictable offense.  All of us were quite confident about one of them, but not all of us were sure about the second one, though in this case it only required a majority to carry the case forward. Well, when the story of the indictment hit the newspapers, there was much about the case that couldn’t be reported due to some strict confidentiality restrictions on it, so the story in the newspapers, while factual, did not present a very true overall picture of the whole case. I happened to read some of the comments people left under the story on the internet version, and it was amazing how differently things looked to the readers and what that led them to believe and say from what I knew to be true about the case, that it wasn’t nearly as cut and dried as people assumed from the short news article. I learned something after that experience, and it was to be more careful about my assumptions. I wish I followed this better more of the time, but I am at least aware of it in a more real way now. I may think I absolutely understand a situation, but I need to realize I may not know all there is to know and it’s quite possible that if I knew more it might change entirely how I viewed the story. This is easy in theory, but very hard in practice. Turned the other way, when someone unjustly misunderstands me or misreads my intentions in a really big way, it’s hard for me to remember[...]

Status Report - November 2014


Drinking… pumpkin spice tea with honey. I’ve already had a large amount of coffee, and I don’t want my hands to start shaking if I drink much more, but since the cooler weather is settling in for the long haul, only to start growing colder now, hot tea it is.Making….sourdough starter, well, already finished making it this morning. Hoping it turns out well. I’ve not had a lot of success with sourdough, but my husband likes it, so I’m trying it again. Hoping it will be warm enough in the kitchen to get this starter going.Enjoying…how absolutely beautiful Fall is here in Ohio. We live in a neighborhood with lots of older trees, and the colors have been splendid. It’s like drinking in the gorgeous colors as I walk and drive through town. I’ve never seen so many ginormous piles of leaves on the ground before, either, as the glories of the season are beginning to wind down and we head into the cold and snow of winter, as people keep taking some perverse pleasure in reminding me is just around the corner.Speaking….of driving through town, that is something of an experience around here, and not always a pleasant one. Wowza. Some days I feel like I’ve held my breath the whole way between home and where ever it is I’ve had to drive to. Thinking…about how ‘social media’ isn’t so much a good thing for the social life. It seems to have a role in hurting more relationships than helping sometimes. I’m learning to be a whole lot more ‘surface’ in what I post and staying out of a lot of conversations when at all possible. Then you get into the whole internet vs. ‘real life’ face time discussion that I don’t want to flesh out here. Logging out….of Facebook on my iPhone for a while. Part of that thinking up there. I am becoming convinced that, for all the good that comes from smart phones (maybe), they overall aren’t actually such a good thing for us in the long run. I’ve never seen something that I find so addicting as that stupid, stupid phone. I find myself scrolling and scrolling social media and checking in on the two games I play, and it just is NOT healthy in so many ways. SO much wasted time, energy, and emotion. I’m trying to use November to wean myself away from it a lot. That and it's really annoying to only see the tops of people's heads these days as everyone else seems to be just as addicted to the dumb phones. We are becoming a nation of phone zombies.Reading…..a book called Time and Again by Jack Finney, which I did not realize until I looked up the link to share here just now as I write this is actually book one of two. Hmmm….. Well, I’m enjoying this one at the moment, and I’m about halfway through. I’m also reading Expository Listening by Ken Ramey, which I received from Truth for Life. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but if you are not listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life, you should be. :-)Finding….that I am having a harder time sitting down to focus on reading than I’ve ever had in my life. I feel like I’ve developed adult onset ADD or something. I am sure it is directly related to my dumb smart phone. One more aspect to my love-hate relationship with the crazy thing. Writing….quite a few blog posts that I’m not quite ready to post in public yet. It’s frustrating. I have a lot on my mind, all of which it helps to write about, but none of which I believe is ready for the blog, if it ever will be. My private journal is getting lots of wear and tear l[...]

Take Heed


I found out something by accident the other day that has left me profoundly saddened and thoughtful. There is a pastor from whose teaching I have benefitted in the past, and I happened to know, because I followed him on Twitter that he had preached through a book of the Bible recently that I have been reading. I had heard his first several sermons in the series some time ago via podcast, and when I finished reading through the book I went to look up the rest of the series since I thought it might be helpful to listen to it. When I pulled up the church website, I was astonished to read a statement on the front page that this man is no longer a pastor or elder at the church and has been disqualified and to contact the church if you require more information about the situation. I cried. It truly grieved me to read that statement, and to see that all of his sermons have been taken off the church website, including the series I had gone to find. I really and truly did not expect such a thing. I do not know what happened or what he did, and I don’t need to know, but I do pray for the whole situation. I may not know, but God knows it all, and I pray for restoration and healing and for the health of a church that is left grieving and hurting in the wake of whatever it is.I’m not naming this man or even speculating on what happened, because this is not a gossip blog or a watchblog, and you probably don’t even know who he is, and who it is isn't all that important to the rest of this post. He’s not a certain big-name pastor who has been all over the evangelical twitter verse and blogosphere and who many of us are not surprised to see in the predicament he is in. No, this is someone else less famous, but who I’d heard of through another ministry I listen to and I had appreciated what I’d heard of his teaching. I told my husband that I’m surprised at how much this unexpected news bothers me, and how sad it makes me. He wasn’t my pastor, I’ve never even been to the city where his church is or heard him in person. But in this internet age, I had listened to his teaching, read one of his books and very much liked it, and learned from his contributions to the other ministry where I had first come across him. Here are some things that this has served to remind me and that I’ve been thinking about as I ponder just why it bothers me so much:Be careful not to hold any man or preacher or teacher in too high esteem. Even the best man is only a man at best, and capable of disappointing. It is Jesus we worship, not any teacher or preacher, no matter how much we may like them.Never assume you know a public figure or know what is going on behind the scenes. Learn from men who preach the Word well, respect your leaders for as long as you have no reason not to, but ALWAYS be like the Bereans and search the scripture for yourself to be sure what someone says it means is really what it says. Let it be the Word of God that draws you, not the charisma of a preacher.PRAY for your pastors and elders and church often. Ask God to guard their hearts and to keep them true to the command to pastors to guard their life and doctrine closely. Pray for them diligently to stay true to Jesus and His word and to steer clear of anything that would bring dishonor to the Kingdom, the Church, and the Lord.PRAY for yourself and your family. We need God’s grace daily for persevering faith. Never assume that we can stay faithful in our own strength and never ass[...]

Thoughts on a Fall Morning


Wow, have I let this poor little blog slip away. I never meant to enter into blog silence, but it sure seems I have. I blame Facebook. That vortex of time wasting has ruined my blogging ability. There are days I wish I'd never given in to the invitation to join it, truth be told, but there's something about it that seems to lead to a no going back once you've been seduced by the siren song. You do know that the sirens in mythology were calling sailors to their own destruction, don't you? All that said, I find myself more and more wanting to tune out the song and turn it off. I am not at all convinced that having a smart phone has been overall a good thing. But ask me if I'm ready to give it up completely.All that said to say that I miss the old-fashioned blog days a bit. I miss having something to say that took a little more thought than what tends to fill my typical status update these days. I'd like to walk away from momentary and time-wasting repeated scrolling of the news updates and get back to thinking through more regular blog posts. I am not, however, naive enough to make any sort of sweeping promise of a new post here every day for the next 30 days or anything, because I know myself much too well for that. But I do want to come back home and use this space to rejuvenate my writing bug, because I want to pick up my writing projects again and regain what I've lost to the mental energy drain of Facebook and constant connectivity. Ok, that's much more on this topic than I even intended to say when I sat down to write this post. There is a beautiful picture up there in the left corner that I've ignored in order to get these thoughts off my chest, so now, here's the post I meant to write when I sat down:I have admitted here and elsewhere that I've found living in our new community challenging in some ways. Challenge isn't necessarily bad. It's good to stretch out of my comfort zone and learn to live a little. I didn't say easy, but I did say good. It is good because my good and faithful Redeemer, Lord, Savior, and God has placed our family here for such a time as this and for His glory and for our good. How do I know this? Because we are here. In the midst of a fairly stressful challenge recently, I was able to say to my husband, "You know, if we had not been here, this year, we would not have caught this and dealt with it when we have. Better now than later, and I'm thankful for it." Friends, that is God's grace. I am so thankful that He has brought me to the place where I can view challenges in this way and trust Him with it, realizing I am not 'all that' and that I need Him. How I need Him. We can see His hand and I'm so thankful that we can also trust His heart.You know I grew up in Florida, and because of this, I had never seen a glorious, full-blown gorgeous Fall until I was in my twenties. I had, of course, read about the leaves changing, and I've always loved the season, but now that I have been able to live in parts of the country that actually experience the turning of the leaves for the past 5 or six years now, I have to confess to you that I never get tired of the beauty of this season. When I walk in my neighborhood full of old trees and drink in the vibrant colors, it just gives me a joy, because what I think every time I see these beautifully breath-taking colors, and what I often tell my kids, is that I am awestruck at our Creator God. He could have just made a functional world for us [...]

Where I Am Right Now, Thoughts on Moving and Where We Are Planted This Year


Moving to a new community is always interesting, and each move brings with it challenges, joys, sorrows, and struggles. The community where we are planted for this year is no exception. It is interesting, challenging, but also has some good. One thing that’s added to the mix this year is that the city we live in, in the greater Cleveland area, is, on some measures, one of the most liberal cities in Ohio, maybe even the country. We in our family have been known to call it the USSR of (our city name). It’s definitely the most liberal school system we’ve ever encountered. It is also a totally IB-infused curriculum from elementary to high school throughout the entire school district. Those of you who love that curriculum, please don’t be offended or feel the need to convince me otherwise, I’m glad for those who like it, but that wasn’t actually a draw for us. I wouldn’t choose it for my kids if I’d had a choice. At least we really, really, really love our church, even though it’s kind of a drive to get to it several little cities over.That said, there are some great things about this community and school system, IB and all. I’ll start with that before I get to my rather short point. First of all, this is probably the most diverse community we’ve ever lived in, and that is a really good thing. I love that my daughter is completely race-blind. She truly wants to befriend anyone that will be her friend, whether black, white, brown, or whatever, we are all descendants of Adam, created in God’s image. I love this for my kids. May their tribe increase. I also think it’s great that they get to meet people who aren't necessarily just like them and don’t think like them. I am very encouraged by the discussions we have at home as they work through what they believe and why they believe it and learn to embrace the faith as their own and also learn to respectfully discuss issues with people who hold very different beliefs. Our Sunday School class is studying the book of Daniel, and last week we discussed the balance between being resolute in our convictions and what we hold to be true, and know to be true, and respectful in how we seek to follow them and talk about them. I found it quite helpful in light of some things we face daily. Another thing I like about the schools here is that academically they are quite rigorous, and when I went to the elementary school open house, I liked some of the strategies they shared for how they are teaching math and reading and other things. Musically we could not ask for better education. Both of my boys have top-notch private lesson teachers. And the band totally rocks. That said, there is a feel here, for lack of a better word, a kind of smug sense of self-righteous superiority that pervades the atmosphere here that I find a little creepy, and it’s mostly from the IB stuff. First of all, people are NUTS about scores and tests and stuff. One of the first things high school parents ask when they meet me is, “What classes is your son taking?” And there is an underlying arrogance about whose kid is taking the hardest classes. It’s creepy.Then, another thing that defines our experience here is that there is a group-think mentality I find off-putting, even as they stress characteristics like independence and learning to think critically. However, listening to my older boys talk when they come home from school, there[...]