January 31, 2009

Jerry Bridges

It would not be a waste of time for you to read any book by Jerry Bridges. In fact, it would be a wise use of your time!

Three that I've read and recommend. (Ask if you'd like to borrow them!)
  1. The Discipline of Grace
  2. Respectable Sins: confronting the sins we tolerate
  3. The Gospel for Real Life

January 30, 2009

Awesome

Pittsburgh area schools are already starting to call 2-hour delays for Monday morning.



PITTSBURGH'S GOING TO THE
SUPER BOWL!





January 29, 2009

Joy School

This year, Elizabeth and I were invited to join an Joy School group. Joy School is a home-based preschool program that meets 2 mornings/week and is taught by the moms of the children participating. There are 5 children in our group, so I teach one week, every 5 weeks. The curriculum is creative, thorough, fun, and cheap! For more information about starting a group with your 3 or 4 year old, poke around here.

We're into our second semester and still loving it! I have been very pleased with the curriculum, both the content for Elizabeth and how easy it is to prepare for me. Lessons include: stories, art projects, activities, rest time, free play, snack, puppet shows, games, field trips, etc. The kids have a blast and the time flies by! Here are some pictures from our time together at our house this week.


Creative Movement with Streamers!

Cutting and Taping Fun!

Working on a group goal, a cleaning project!

January 27, 2009

Andrew Peterson: always a good decision

If you're not familiar with Andrew Peterson, he's a Christian singer/song writer who has quite a way with words and music. His lyrics often express things my heart and mouth would never be able to convey without sounding like a bumbling idiot. I appreciate his dedication to knowing Scripture, knowing man, knowing God (as much as He can be known!), knowing life, and not being afraid to say it like it is, with great hope. In addition, he's got a fabulous sense of humor, as demonstrated by some of his lighter songs. Matthew's Begats is a good example.

Unfortunately, the law of the land prevents me from uploading a bunch of songs here. But I did want to put on the lyrics to one of his latest, 'Hosanna'. (Does the law prevent us doing that to?) If anything, perhaps you'll be intrigued enough to purchase the CD Resurrection Letters Volume II. Without further ado, the lyrics:

I am tangled up in contradiction.
I am strangled by my own two hands.
I am hunted by the hounds of addiction.
Hosanna!*
I have lied to everyone who trusts me.
I have tried to fall when I could stand.
I have only loved the ones who loves me.
Hosanna!
O Hosanna!

See the long awaited king
come to set his people free.
We cry O Hosanna!
Come and tear the temple down.
Raise it up on holy ground.
Hosanna!

I have struggled to remove this raiment,
tried to hide every shimmering strand.
I contend with these ghosts and these hosts of bright angels.
Hosanna!
I have cursed the man that you have made me,
as I have nursed the beast that bays for my blood.
Oh, I have run from the one who would save me.
Save me, Hosanna!
O Hosanna!

See the long awaited king,
come to set his people free.
We cry O Hosanna!
Come and tear the temple down.
Raise it up on holy ground.
Hosanna!


You have crushed beneath your heel the vile serpent.
You have carried to the grave the black stain.
You have torn apart the temple’s holy curtain.
You have beaten Death at Death’s own game.
Hosanna!
O Hosanna!

Hail the long awaited king,
come to set his people free.
We cry O Hosanna!
Won’t you tear this temple down,
raise it up on holy ground.
O Hosanna!
I will lift my voice and sing:
you have come and washed me clean.
Hosanna.


*Hosanna means "Save now!" or "Save, pray!" And it's what the people cried out to Jesus as he was entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. See Matthew 21. And Hallelujah! When people cry out to God to save, He does. He has, and He does.

January 25, 2009

Birthdays with the Nations

This weekend, Elizabeth was invited to 3 birthday parties, all on the same day. I'm not sure how she has so many friends with January birthdays, but so it is. Much to her delight, it worked out that she was able to attend all of them. Given where we live, this was not only a fun day of celebrations, but also a day of cultural variety.

Ali (center with the party hat) is from Egypt.

Claire is from Australia.

Aashna is from Canada, parents from India.

January 23, 2009

The World According to Elizabeth

Two short blurbs from conversations with Elizabeth in the last couple days:

1. We're having dinner, which includes green beans. I get frozen beans and microwave them for a quick dinner side dish. Elizabeth loves them, and the previous day had 2 helpings. This particular night, she was also devouring them. But in the middle of eating one she stopped and said, quite emphatically:

"Mom, don't buy these beans ever again." Then, putting her hands up in exasperation, she continued, "They are too ... JUICY!"

As I recall, she proceeded to eat the rest of her beans.

2. You may have noticed that a new president was installed this week. (If you didn't, we have a new president; his name is Obama.) Elizabeth has been paying attention in her 4 year old way. We watched some of the inauguration together and told her the names of the people on camera.

Yesterday we were at the library. She walked past a rack of newspapers then came running over to me and said, "Mom! I just saw a paper with Michelle and that new president on it!"

She'll do really well on all of the first lady questions in future history exams.

January 22, 2009

Back to School

I know, it's January. September is still 9 months away. But the reality is setting in for me that we have to decide where, if anywhere, E will be attending school for the '09-'10 school year.

For many, it's a no-brainer, you decided years ago that your child(ren) would attend public school, private school, or that you'd homeschool. I thought for sure that I'd send my kids to public school straight away. Now the time has arrived (almost), and I'm just not as settled on that choice anymore.

I began thinking about homeschooling a couple of years ago, when I realized how much fun it is to teach your own child and discover the world with them. It's amazing! But honestly, I could hardly believe that I would entertain the idea of homeschooling. When I was growing up, the few homeschooled kids that I knew were weird and out of touch with what was hip and cool, at least from my perspective. Nevertheless, I eventually bagged the idea for a few reasons:
  • I decided I wasn't hard core enough to do it: the research to choose curriculum, choosing a "style," sticking with it, doing a good job, etc.
  • I learned of a Spanish K program in Pittsburgh, that would give E a leg up on her Spanish language development. (For those that don't know me, I studied Spanish and have spoken some off and on with E since she was a little over 1 year old. And we'll be moving to Pgh soon.)
  • I started thinking about how nice it would be to get back more time for me and my plans for my life.
Recently, however, I've been thinking about homeschooling again for these reasons:
  • I shouldn't can an idea just because of the unknowns or because I don't think I'll be as good at it as X.
  • The Spanish K program - beyond costing $6,000 for the year (a good price for what you get, I think, but still $6,000!) - is full day, just like the Pgh public schools.
  • Now might not be the time to simply think about me, but to think as a whole about what I want our children to be learning during these early, impressionable years of their lives.
So, the experiment begins. Elizabeth seems very interested in learning to read. So, I purchased a well-reviewed book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I'm getting acquainted with it and will attempt to begin teaching E soon.

Baby steps, folks. I'll keep you posted.

January 21, 2009

Brian's Haircut

Our little man was looking pretty crazy. So we finally cut the comb over. We now have an older looking, blonder little guy! The pictures are in order before, during, and after the cut. Thanks to dad for taking pictures of this momentous event.





























Elizabeth was 2-1/2 before she got her first cut. A photo just for fun!


January 18, 2009

Good Morning!

Hi friends! It's early again for Heather. Our little guy likes to be up before the sun. Elizabeth was just the same as a baby. She still wakes early, but her brother will not be outdone.

On a "bad" morning my response to this involves a lot of external and internal moaning, groaning, and complaining about:
  • how awful my life is,
  • how I'll never get to sleep in again, for the rest of my life,
  • how if the kids had their own rooms, if we had a bigger house, I could leave him to play and catch a few more winks,
  • how somehow my husband is not pulling his weight in the family because I am the one who gets up with the kids,
  • how my kids must be trying to destroy me!
And, sadly, these "bad" mornings are all too frequent. Perhaps you astute observers may note some discontentment, self-righteousness, anger, selfishness, rage, bitterness, and more in these thoughts? I'm looking into a job as a poster girl for Paul's sinful nature list in Galatians 5.

Then, a few weeks ago, as I was in my kids bedroom playing and talking with them, I was reminded of this verse: "This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." Oh, snap! Not only did this remind me to rejoice in the Lord from my first waking moment, but it also convicted me of my sin. God is good!

This morning, though I'm not having one of my signature "bad" mornings (praise God!), I wanted to look at the Psalm that verse comes from. I won't include all 29 verses here, but would you believe that the preceding verses talk about Jesus?! Remarkable.

Psalm 118: 22-24
The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the LORD has done all this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

In His usual form, God takes me from my petty complaints right back to the very source of my life. What God has done in saving me, in saving you, in redeeming all of His people, is marvelous! He has done all this. Let us rejoice and be glad this day!

January 15, 2009

Saying good-bye, for now

For the 2nd time in my life, today I received the news that a Compassion child that I sponsor no longer qualifies/needs sponsorship. The first time around, it was great news. Anna Maria's family no longer needed support because they were able to financially support themselves. It was good news, but I cried in grief that our relationship was over and that it was so abrupt. I was not expecting the sponsorship to be terminated so soon.

This time, I had been mentally anticipating that my sponsorship with VerĂ³nica would end soon. She just turned 17, and I assumed it would end with her finishing school this or next year. As it turns out, she's gotten a job that conflicts with attending the Compassion institute, so she no longer qualifies for sponsorship. I am sad to "lose" her, but also very happy for her, that she's grown into a beautiful and responsible young woman. I imagine that she's working to do her part to support the family.

I've sponsored VerĂ³nica for ten years. It confounds me that it's been that long (and that I'm old enough for that to be true!) I will miss hearing from her and writing to her. But the most beautiful thing about this is that recently I had been wondering if she's a believer. The fellow confirmed this over the phone, without me even asking. God is good! So I will have to say good-bye in my final letter to her, but not eternally. We will one day worship the King, together, in the same place, not from different corners of the Earth. Hallelujah!!

And it is a new beginning! Colin pointed out that he "married into" this child. Now, as a family, we can adopt another child to love and support from afar. If you're interested in learning more about Compassion, check it out: http://www.compassion.com . They do amazing work on behalf of children around the world.

January 12, 2009

Little Boy Blue

I was nearing the end of my second pregnancy a little over 7 months ago. We knew we were having a little boy and his womb name became "Little Boy Blue." For a long time after he was born and we (finally) named him Brian, it was difficult for me to feel like that was his real name; he'd been my Little Boy Blue for 5 months. I think about this quite nostalgically. So much has changed in Brian's short 7 months of life outside the womb. Now he is most certainly our Brian and I've not referred to him as Little Boy Blue until today.

Before his birth, I didn't know what he looked like, and couldn't wait to find out! Now, I know what he looks like, but still know so little of what he will become. There's still so much mystery, so many things to learn over the years about who he is: what foods he'll like ... and hate, what kind of tantrums he'll throw, what interests he'll have, what will bring him joy, what gifts and talents he'll display. In that regard, he's still my very unknown Little Boy Blue. My sweet, cuddly (for now!), precious Little Boy Blue. And I'm loving every - well, almost every - moment that I have to get to know him!

Here we are! Thanks for snapping this photo, dad!

January 11, 2009

Got Guilt?

I've been thinking a lot lately, as much as a mother of a talkative 4-year-old can think! And I've realized that I've plagued with a lot of guilt recently. Now, mind you, it's not the kind of guilt you feel when you know you've done something wrong and you'll feel bad until you deal with it. No, it's the kind of guilt that seeps into your being and feels like it's rotting you from the inside, because you feel you're not a good enough mother or wife or friend or sister or daughter, because your house is never clean, because you just did another thoughtless thing, because you just lost your temper ... again, because you should just know better by now! That kind of guilt. You feel me on this one? Come on. Be honest. I know you've been here before.

Enter the common sense of the gospel: Yep, you are guilty, but that's what Jesus came for! If I get to the point where I've got it all together, I don't need that precious Savior. My guilt runs so much deeper than the petty things that I feel bad about, but that serious, real, deep sin was dealt with on the cross two millenia ago. I need to cling to Jesus to keep me from thinking like an orphan, without a Father, and keep thinking like a daughter, a beloved daughter of the King.

Even as I type I'm convicted by the reality that my idols are SO HUGE. What would it mean for me (or you) to be a "good enough" mother or wife or friend or sister or daughter anyway? What is it that we want, deep down, to satisfy us? We want to be loved and feel secure. But instead of drawing on the Father's love, that Father that gave His Son to rescue us from the most horrible of fates, I want to be admired, stroked, told that I'm great. What is it for you? From whence to you try to draw love and affection? All I know is that it's not working for me. I'll never be satisfied "looking for love in all the wrong places."

Thank you, Spirit, for your quiet whispers that draw us back to our Father, that remind us of His love, that call us to repentance, that sustain us through this life!

And so it begins ... again.

About 2 years ago, I started a blog here: http://imladris.mit.edu/heather/blog In those short years, I posted less than 50 times. (I know what you're thinking, "How did she manage to post so many times?!")

Today, my husband commented that when we move my blog (pathetic as it is) would cease to exist, since it's hosted on the school's network. He suggested that if I wanted to get back into blogging, I should simply use Blogger.

And so it begins ... again.