February 26, 2012

Week #1 With Our Katherine

One week ago we brought our baby girl home from the hospital.

Since then she has tried on new outfits,

had a bath,

snuggled with and gazed a lot at her daddy,

spent a lot of time being cute and small,

been held daily by her biggest fan,

received much affection from both of her siblings,

slept quite a bit,

mastered pacifier sucking,                                            taken up "reading,"

 and graciously hosted many visitors.

Having Katherine home has been wonderful.  As far as babies go, she is a delight and Baby Wise has helped  us to establish an amazing routine.  (I'll write about that book sometime soon.)  The greatest challenge of bringing home baby has been the little guy featured with me in this photograph:

I love this little boy to death; he's our family comedian, fully of joyful energy, adores his baby sister, and loves a good snuggle (among many other things!)  Bringing his sister home, though, has resulted in expected but sometimes very overwhelming disobedience. Our theme word this week has been self-control ... praying it and speaking about it for myself as much as Brian.  At times, he's fine, helping or playing like his normal self.  Then, Mr. Hyde emerges and it's like he's incapable of hearing my voice or Colin's or getting himself under control.

So right now I'm praying for wisdom and discernment about how to love an interact with him in a way that will fill up his little "love tank" and lead to a reduction in the act-out behavior.  I've done a lot of yelling this week, or speaking in harsh tones, given time outs and threats, and taken things away.  This approach helps in the short term, but leaves me feeling miserable when I tuck my little boy into bed at night.  Sure, he needs discipline, but I want to take it another step further and study my little boy to know how to best tend to his little heart during this time of transition.

So, while our first week has been really quite wonderful - the best newborn homecoming we've ever experienced; we've even been to the park, library, and grocery store - it's also had its moments!  I am thankful that God keeps interrupting me with the gospel, reminding me of my need for it (Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, repent and believe; Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, repent and believe!), and my need to extend mercy to my husband and children too.

Have a blessed Sunday.  I pray that God meets you in worship.  I cannot WAIT to get to church this morning!!

February 24, 2012


In an attempt to start catching up on how behind I am in my daily Bible reading, I jumped back into it this morning and, after some Leviticus, found myself in the first chapter of Mark.  We've been studying Mark in our Community Group this year, and every week we're baffled a little more by Jesus.  In the first chapter of his gospel, Mark provides these snapshots of Jesus:
  • His coming is prophesied
  • He's baptized
  • He's tempted (physically and spiritually)
  • He proclaims that God's kingdom is near
  • He calls
  • He exorcises a demon
  • He heals
  • He prays
  • He preaches

My conclusion: This man came on the scene, and it was a BIG DEAL!  He's a man the likes of which the earth has never seen.

Later in scripture, He's described like this:
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

This passage offers us not only a description of Jesus, who He is and what He's done, but also what it means for our lives if we put our faith in Him.  ONCE we were alienated from God, His enemies, BUT NOW because of Jesus, we've been reconciled to God.

This is the firm foundation upon which you, dear Christian, can and must stand every day.  We never escape our need for this good news, not one single moment of any day!  Be encouraged today, if you have placed your faith in Christ, you have the hope offered only by the gospel: you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:3



Yes, today, let's live as those whose lives are defined by an exclamation point, because of what GOD has done by His SPIRIT through his Son JESUS!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life! For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him!

February 21, 2012

A God Story

Since I disappeared for the month of January, I missed getting to tell you that my dad moved to Rwanda early in the month.  He's been a professor of electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University for many years and was asked to direct a new master's program that CMU is opening in Rwanda.  You can read more about it here.  He and my mom will live there for the next one and a half to two years.  (My mom stuck around here to meet baby Katherine and help us after her arrival; she leaves to be with my dad on March 1.  I'm so happy for them and so sad for us.)

One of my father's colleagues is a young woman my age named Crystal.  They discovered a while ago that her father was at University of Illinois doing graduate work the same time as my dad WAY back in the late 70s.  :)  The families didn't know each other.  Since then, though, my folks have met Crystal's, who now live in Kigali, Rwanda's capital city, and my father has been attending their church there.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom made a discovery.

She's been furiously going through all of the closets, cupboards, and rooms of their house, preparing it for the tenants who will live there while my folks are gone.  There is a LOT of stuff in my parent's house; we'll pretend that it has nothing to do with tons of junk that my siblings and I still store there ...  a-hem.

The Rwandan Flag
But, back to the story.

One evening she'd spent quite a while going through photos that had been haphazardly tossed in boxes at some point.  She was on the last box and ready to just pitch it, but felt something telling her she should persevere and finish.  As she got toward the end of the box, she found a few photos from the day I was dedicated at their church in Champaign, IL.  As she looked at the picture she could hardly believe it: there were two African families in the photo and one couple looked very much like what she imagined Crystal's parents might have looked like 30 years ago.  She asked herself, Could it be?  Could Crystal and Heather have been dedicated on the same day almost 33 years ago?!

Contact with Crystal's mother seemed to confirm that yes, it was them.  For final proof, my mom checked my baby book and found this bulletin clipping:

When my dad wrapped up one of  his bi-weekly letters to family with this story, he concluded:
As I wrote to Anne (Crystal's mom), "if something like this were in a novel or movie, it would be dismissed as simply being too unrealistic."  I’ll close here for this time. 
Can’t come up with anything more to top that.

We can't come up with stories to top the work of our Sovereign God, can we?!

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

I'm left wondering what God has in store for my parents as they begin this new adventure.  I'll keep you posted.

February 20, 2012

We're Home!

Yesterday Katherine was released from the hospital!
The kids are totally smitten with her, especially her big brother.

Today we're taking it easy, as we will for the next several weeks.  Katherine had a good visit at the pediatrician's and with the formula supplements at the hospital is still almost her birth weight.  Little piggy.  We've also had visits from a couple of friends, as well as having mom here this morning to take care of all of us ... and give me a nap.  After a somewhat rough night, it's been a good day!  I'm pretty smitten with our little girl, too.  :)

February 19, 2012

How Deep?

I heard this song this morning on Pandora; it's been a while since I've heard it.  I think we sang it fairly regularly at our church in Cambridge.  But anyway, what a beautiful reminder of the gospel on this Sunday morning!  A couple of weeks ago, our pastor preached on John 3:16 and challenged us to consider seriously  what it means that
God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
He spoke of the depth of our depravity and need to be rescued from sin & God's wrath (and that God made it possible!), but how we often take that salvation so lightly because we just want some little aspect of our life to be nicer, more comfortable, less difficult.  Oh the glory of the salvation offered in Christ!  This song declares it so well.  Listen to the song and may the Spirit fill you with joy in your inmost being with the truth that God has saved you, given you new life, and gone to great lengths to call you His own!

  How Deep the Father's Love for Us

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

February 18, 2012

We're Not Home Yet

We had a little blip on the screen, our little Katherine came down with a fever on Wednesday night, so she had to be admitted to the NICU for observation and antibiotics.  Since then, the fever has come down and she's doing fine as far as everyone can tell.  The staff of the hospital has been great!  They have made room for me and several other moms to stay in the maternity ward while our babies are in the NICU.  It's been good to be close to Katherine.  The NICU nurses are just so sweet, caring for all of these little ones - and they've been busy the last couple of days!

Yesterday the doctor said it's unlikely we'll get home today (which was really discouraging news to me) but should be able to take her home on Sunday.  I've been tempted to get down, but really there's so many ways God has provided for us, for Katherine, for our whole family ... combating complaining with thanksgiving, and finding it to be a great remedy!  That said, I will be so glad to get home, be outside of the hospital, hang out Elizabeth and Brian, and settle into life as a family of five.

Anyway, here are some photos.  You gotta give the people what they want!  (Colin has a bunch of good ones from his camera too; I'll get those up when we're home.  I don't have any pictures of the grandparents on my memory card!)

Visits from family and friends

And  little fun mixed in!

February 15, 2012

She's Here!

Katherine Hope joined our family last night around 11pm!
She weighed in at 9lbs 4oz and measured 21 inches.
She's doing great and we're all so excited to have her to hold in our arms!

The proud older siblings.

And then there were five ...

February 12, 2012


This picture sums up what the "winter" has been like this year.
Nature has been very confused.

To all of our delight, the snow came Friday into Saturday, so dad was home to play in the snow with us.

To our dismay, it was not snowman snow.  So after a little snowball throwing in the back yard, we took a walk in the neighborhood and to our local park.  Going down slides in snowpants into piles of snow is so fun!  (I didn't have the camera with me, so you'll have to imagine how awesome it was for the kids.)

I hope that you are able to enjoy some good Sabbath rest today,
rest that restores you, mind, body, and soul!

February 11, 2012

What Kind of Mom Are You?

Here's a question for you, moms out there:

How many times this week have you compared yourself to another mother and found you come up lacking?

I'm embarrassed to admit how many times I do this after:
  • seeing other children following their mother perfectly through the grocery store;
  • reading a blog post about the cool crafts or activities another mom has done with her kids;
  • hearing from another mom about how her kids are excelling at this or that; or
  • learning how much more another mom seems to be able to accomplish.

Another question:

How may times this week have you judged another mother by some personal standard, just to make yourself feel better?

Uh, yeah, that question makes me really uncomfortable too ...

There is yucky stuff going on in our hearts, isn't there?  We're trying to puff ourselves up by being "better" than the next gal.  Or we're hoping no one notices just how inadequate we are; praying that somehow our kids turn out okay!  Either way, our pride keeps us focused on ourselves.

The place to begin to tackle this problem is with Jesus, at the foot of the cross, confessing the depth of our pride and self-love, the lack of our humility and love for God or others.  If we start there, we find hope for transformation, because Jesus forgives our sin, His mercies are new every morning, our shackles are loosed, and freedom to pursue righteousness is found.  (For the record, spending time at the foot of the cross is a regular routine for the Christian; daily we need to repent and believe the good news.  Our deceitful hearts are kept in check in that place.)

*     *     *

If you're looking for some ideas on what to ask God to do in your heart to replace the pride, jealousy, self-love, judgmentalism, etc. that can plague you as a mom, allow me to offer three:

Let Go of Who You THINK You Should Be
With the variety of wonderful resources available to us today, we have access to an amazing array of ideas for good parenting, great outings, fun crafts, cozy at-home activities, and so on.  But it IS possible to have too much of  a good thing.  We can start to drown in all of the "I shoulds": I should do this.  I should stop doing that.  I should start this routine.  I should be more like ... .  Are you familiar with this paralyzing thought process?

Ask God to help you let go of who you THINK you should be.

That leads into my next thought.

Embrace Who You ARE
This needs to happen on two levels: your identity in Christ and the unique way that God created you to be you.  On the first point, if you are a believer the Bible says that you belong to God, your life is hidden with Christ in Him, He made you, redeemed you, adores you for YOU - without comparing you to others to see how you measure up.  I need help to embrace this reality daily.  It is reality for the daughter (or son!) of God, all of His amazing grace!

Secondly, God knit you together on purpose and with purpose.  You have a unique history, personality, education, and set of gifts & talents.  God placed you in a family and gave you (again, on purpose and with purpose) your children.  Your family needs you to be YOU for them.  Your husband doesn't want you to be Jane from down the street or Donna from down the pew; he proposed to you, [insert your name here.]  And your kids don't need you to be Jane or Donna either.  How much energy do we waste trying to be something we're not?  That's energy we could put into being who we actually are and are growing to be!

Ask God to remind you daily that you are his precious daughter, 
created with purpose, intentionally given the family that you have.
Ask Him to help you let go of false ideals of yourself and too embrace who YOU are with joy and gratitude.

This leads to my final thought.

Delight in Who Others Are
Growing security in our identity in Christ and how God created us as an individual, brings us to a place where we can honestly and sincerely delight in others!  With our focus removed from trying to measure up and placed on honoring God with and because of what He's given us, we can find joy in hearing of other's accomplishments; we can learn from those we previously viewed as "the competition"; we can have deeper and richer relationships.  And (I think this is the coolest thing) the church is edified and grows up more into Christ.  We're all different parts of one body, and the body needs all the different parts!  Christ is glorified when His people dwell together in unity.

Ask God to forgive you for so often putting yourself before others.
Ask Him to work in you a heart that loves Him and loves your neighbor more each day.

*     *     *

These are all areas of continuing growth for me.  Shaking off my pride and fear requires the strength of the Gospel, the miracle of saving grace.  Isn't it beautiful that God then starts to replace our self-love with love for Him and others?  As the song goes: What a mighty God we serve!

So, here's a final question, one I've been asking myself over the last few weeks:

What kind of mom are you?

Because of the truth of the Gospel, let go of comparing yourself and be YOU for your children and your family.  Please, still read cool articles & books and steal good ideas from other moms (there are so many creative people out there!)  But don't try to BE anyone but YOU.  Create a culture in your home that is uniquely yours and ENJOY it, even and especially because it's not like another's.

February 10, 2012

Did you notice?

My friend, Hilary, created the new blog header!  What do you think?  I love it and her for spending a little time to make this little space in the cyber-world look more put together.

Thank you, Hilary!

I learned a wonderful lesson in the process.  Often I'm very willing to help others as I am able, but just as often UNwilling to ask folks for help when I need it.  Shameful, I know.  I find myself bubbling over with gratefulness to Hilary, because I could never have accomplished what she did (especially not in such a short time!) and because I feel so unworthy to have her use her time to serve me.  On that latter point, how proud am I?!

My take-away from this is, JUST ASK.  It's a treat to use our talents and abilities, time and energy, to help each other; I guess that means two things:
  1. be willing to serve
  2. be willing to be served
At times all throughout our lives, we will need to be willing to do one or the other.  Beautiful things happen when we are bound together in love through service.  Makes me think of these verse from Ecclesiastes 4:
 Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
   his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
   and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
   But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
   two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Go forth to graciously serve and be served today, friends!

February 9, 2012

Thoughts on Hospitality

Like a parent trying to squeeze in final instructions to a child about having fun and staying safe before he/she rushes out the door, the Apostle Paul often closed his letters to the New Testament era churches with strings of commands.  Here's one instance, from Romans 12: 9-13.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

These lists are always interesting.  For example, here the first several verses seem to be such weighty reminders: loving sincerely, hating evil, clinging to God, honoring one another, serving the Lord zealously, joyful hope, patient affliction, faithful prayer, sharing with the needy.  Then he closes the paragraph with practice hospitality.

I think it is important to note that this is not a list of spiritual gifts.  Paul instructs all the Roman Christians to practice hospitality.

Quickly one's mind can rush to the images on the cover of home magazines with beautifully laid, seasonally-themed tables: matching glasses, cloth napkins in rings, a stain-free tablecloth, a perfectly browned turkey, a mosaic of fruit on a tray.  So inviting!

But is this what Paul is talking about when he instructs us to practice hospitality?

Let me highlight that rarely are there any people in these magazine photos.  So the table is beautiful, but is the host or hostess willing to have the tablecloth stained, joyfully do all of the dishes, allow anyone who comes to sit at the table?  Will there be fellowship, joy, and laughter around that table?  Does being hospitable mean that our table has to look that amazing before we can have people over, that all of our home improvement projects need to be done, and that all of our stuff needs to be perfectly organized?  What does it mean to practice hospitality?

I learned a lot from my mom about hospitality growing up.  I have since also drawn from Sally Clarkson and Edith Schaeffer's thoughts on the subject.  Here are just a few thoughts to encourage you not to gloss over, but rather to take seriously Paul's command to practice hospitality.

Hospitality is about relationship!  Giving the people that come into your home - owned or rented, single family or apartment, dorm room or mansion - an environment where they can breathe easy, be edified, and sure, enjoy a treat and something to drink ... that is hospitality!  Create a space where people can walk in and know that you are glad they're there, making them feel loved and cared for, whether you knew they were coming over and have time to set a beautiful table and make something homemade to eat or they arrived unexpected and you make a pot of coffee and put some store-bought cookies out for consumption.

If you know guests are coming, you could prepare a welcome sign for the door.
Your kids can help!

How can you use your home, whatever kind of place it is, to practice hospitality?

Hospitality is NOT about impeccable housekeeping!  Recently I began hosting some monthly gatherings for ladies and their kids at my house, very informal and open house style, because I was craving more time with women and the Spirit spoke to my heart, You have the space, make the time and see what happens.  These have been a blessing to me, causing me to pray that ladies that enter our home will be blessed, that it would be a refuge in the middle of a busy day, that we'd all be mutually encouraged.

Last time, part of the kitchen counter looked like this:

But the other side looked like this:

Keeping the perspective that hospitality is not about a spotless house, but about the atmosphere you create in your home - the way you treat those who enter - allowed me to leave those crazy piles of lesson plans, coupons, lists, books, notebooks, etc.  There wasn't time to get to them, and that was okay.  Sure, it's polite to make sure your guests can walk across the floor without falling over toys and risking a trip to the ER!  But our standards must line up with God's, not Martha Stewart's.  Our pride (fear of judgment or rejection) can too easily keep us from opening our hearts and homes to others, can't it?

What obstacles about your home or in your heart keep you from practicing hospitality?
How can you confront those with the Lord and step out in faith?

Hospitality is about Jesus!  Whether you're in your home or in your car, at the grocery store or at the park, you're the aroma of Christ to those who you encounter.  Hospitality fits with Paul's previous instructions both to honor one another before yourselves and pray faithfully.  Because, well, sometimes people show up when you're NOT expecting it and it's not part of the day's plan, don't they?  In fact, this might be the way we practice hospitality most of the time.  Are our hearts prepared and at the ready?*

Remembering the gospel can really help here.  Think about how God welcomes people - welcomed you! - into His kingdom.  There's always room for one more, always a party (Luke 15), no one is turned away.  Having received such, shall we not ask God to work in our hearts to extend the same loving welcome to those we met?

Have you ever considered hospitality in the context of the Gospel?
How can this perspective spur you on in the area of hospitality?

*     *     *

You have been uniquely placed in time and space and can, therefore, uniquely bring glory to God there.  I don't have the same family, friends, or neighbors as you; I can only strive, by God's grace, to be salt and light where I am.  You can do the same in your home, neighborhood, and relationships.  God will use you to touch the lives of those around you as you reach out in genuine, God-directed hospitality.  And He will change you more into His likeness in the process.  His blessings be upon you as you consider these things and take action to spread the aroma of Christ because of all you've received from Him!

*I've recently been convicted even of how extremely inhospitable I can be to my own family when I'm preparing the house for guests,  acting like the need to be ready and hospitable to others negates the need to be kind and honor them in the process.  I wasn't sure how to fit this into the post, but I want to keep it real folks!

February 7, 2012

Jacob: Scoundrel Saved by Grace

In the book of Genesis, we met a lot of "famous" Bible folks: Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah, Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebekah.  Then, in chapter 26, Jacob and Esau are born, about whom the Lord said:

Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.

Before their birth, we learn, as Isaac and Rebekah did, that there's going to be something unusual about this pair.  What on earth does God have up his sleeve?

The story continues like a soap opera.
  • Parental favoritism: Dad loves Esau; mom love Jacob.
  • Unkindness: Jacob gets Esau's birthright in exchange for stew.
  • Marital disunity: Rebekah encouraging her son to deceive his father.
  • Deception: Isaac dresses up at Esau and steals Esau's blessing.
  • Murder plot: Esau plans to kill Jacob once his father is gone.
  • Dishonoring of parents: Esau intentionally takes wives from peoples his dad hates.

It's a mess.  And these are God's chosen people we're talking about!  Yup.  You've read it all over the Bible, The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  So, what in the world?!

After all of the lies and deception, Rebekah devises yet another scheme to help Jacob run away and escape being murdered by his brother; she convinces Isaac that Jacob needs to go find a wife from within their family to avoid marrying a Canaanite woman.  Isaac blesses Jacob and sends him on his way.

En route, God meets Jacob in a dream and a change occurs in him because 

he personally encounters the Living God.

Here's the text, Genesis 28:10-20.

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. 
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

In modern language, I think we can say that with this encounter, Jacob is converted!  A scoundrel is saved!!  A self-centered, unkind, deceitful, sinful jerk is worshiping His God!!!  (Even crazier, God spoke blessing into Jacob's ears and heart before he began to worship Him.)

I'm baffled by this story,

but it gives me so much hope.

*     *     *

Are you feeling like a scoundrel today?

Have you deceived someone, not quite told the truth, lost your patience with your spouse or child(ren), participated in evil, chosen injustice over mercy?  Are you letting yourself be defined by your less-than-clean history, your screwed up family, your mistakes, your very scoundreliness?

Did you read the above story?  I don't know if Jacob was feeling bad about what had been going on in his life, but at the very least, he was aware that he was "on the run" because of it;

and God met him THERE.

Scoundrelly child of God, guess where God will meet you?  You got it, right in the mess where you find yourself!  I don't know what you know about the Bible, but it is the story of redemption from beginning to end.  God didn't suddenly "get nice" when he sent Jesus; Jacob's story is in the Old Testament.  God is in the business of rescuing people from slavery - slavery to their sin and brokenness, bound by the only way they know how to function ... as scoundrels.

Do you know what happens when a scoundrel encounters the Living God, the God of Jacob?  Worship.  Just like Jacob, our hearts are opened up to love and honor the only one who can meet us where we are and transform us into what He wants us to be.

When you're convicted of sin, a Scripture verse comforts you, a prayer is answered, or a "God-thing" occurs, do you recognize the presence of God in that place?  Do you respond with worship, giving praise and thanks to the God of Jacob who is at work in your life?

Dear child of God, you belong to Him, He has a plan for your life, and He calls you His own.  Under the economy of grace we receive FAR MORE than we deserve; we deserve death, but instead our sins are forgiven, Christ's righteousness is imparted to us, and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts so we are never alone.

As with Jacob, this all begins with God meeting us when we're "on the run"; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Then the pursuit continues, as the Holy Spirit works in our hearts that we might share in God's holiness.

Fellow scoundrels saved by grace, join me today in worshiping the God of Jacob!

February 5, 2012

Why I Won't Read My Daughter's Diary ... (Even Though I REALLY Want To!)

Elizabeth is seven and a half.  She's just begun keeping a diary in a little Disney Princess notebook she got years before she could write down her thoughts.

Can I tell you how badly I want to read it?!

SO BAD that I have to use bold, italics, underline, and all caps on the word so!

As her mom, I want to know her sweet inner thoughts; as her teacher, I want to see the writing and spelling she produces when there's no pressure.  Would it really be harmful to read it?  I surely could do it so sneakily that she'd never know, it would help me to know her better, and it's just so cute.  Right?

BUT I cannot read that diary because she has asked me not to.  Period.

*     *     *

Our children are people, just like us.  They are younger, with less worldly wisdom, sure.  But they are individuals worthy of as much love and respect as we would afford any adult in our life.*

Do you respect your kids?  Do you value their opinions and really listen to what they have to say?

I confess (but please don't tell anybody!) that I have an uncanny ability to tune out my children better than anyone else in my life.  I also speak to them in harsher tones than I would use with anyone else in my life.  And, as in this diary case, I can easily justify to myself that it's okay to invade their privacy.

Does the second greatest commandment not apply to how we relate to our kids?
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 

 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Yes, friends, it does.  Those that live under our roof with us are our closest "neighbors."  Let's consider today how we can love and respect these little ones just as our Lord would have us.  They are certainly precious in His sight!

PS  Please pray that I don't cave and read that diary.  The temptation remains!  :)

* I draw basis for these thoughts from chapter eight of H. Clay Trumbull's Hints on Child Training, Honoring a Child's Individuality, that I reviewed a while back.  Check it out for more great parenting wisdom!

February 4, 2012

Book Recommendation: Games for Writing by Peggy Kaye

This is one from the archives that I wanted to endorse again. We follow a copy/dictation/from-memory writing plan.  On Fridays, we've been using a game from this book for Elizabeth's writing lesson, just to mix things up a bit. She is always so excited when it's a "Games for Writing" day!  Parents, I highly recommend this book, especially if you have a hesitant writer in your family and even if you don't.  I'd be happy to lend this book to you if you're local and want to check it out!

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October, 2010

I bought this book last year because it was recommended somewhere. I enjoyed using the activities a little here and there, but didn't get into it much.

Games for Writing: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Write

Last week, I was thinking our writing routine was getting a little monotonous and returned to Games for Writing. We played two games this week and E wrote up a storm! One reason these games have been fun, is her current writing level: she knows how to form all of the letters (though not always in the correct orientation!) and has attempted a little writing and invented spelling on her own, outside "school time." As her teacher, I picked a couple of games I thought might really get her going.
For the record, this is a book full of fun activities you could do with a child in school; it's not a homeschoolers book or part of any curriculum. Many of the games grew out of a desire to inspire kids who hated writing and is geared toward children in Kindergarten through third grade.

I'm sure you're wondering, so here are the two games we played this week!
  1. A Race of Words - Race the child to write as many words as they can naming things in the room in 10 minutes. You can give the child a head start and she suggests a scoring system.
  2. Do it! - Take turns writing down something for the other to do, and then they have to do it! For example: jump up and down three times, crawl around the table like a crab, go up the stairs and slide down, etc. (Both of these games are writing, NOT spelling, activities.)
I think the games in this book for after the child already knows his letters and can do a little writing are more fun than the "getting started" ideas. That's not a fault of the book, just a personal observation; I'm mostly excited to see my girl writing!

And why not let it be fun?