It’s the direction, not the velocity…

July 30, 2005 Categories: Faith | Comments Off  

The rate of sanctification is completely variable. We cannot predict how it will go. Some people, during some seasons of life, leap and bound like gazelles. Let’s say you’ve been living in flagrant sexual sins. You turn from sin to Christ; the open sins disappear. No more fornication, sleeping with your girlfriend or boyfriend. No more exhibitionism, wearing revealing clothes. No more pornography, buying Penthouse or the latest salacious romance novel. Ever. It sometimes happens like that. For other people (and the same people, at another season of life) sanctification is a steady, measured walk. You learn truth. You learn to serve others constructively. You build new disciplines. You learn basic life wisdom. You learn who God is, who you are, how life works. You learn to worship, to pray, to give time, money, and caring. And you grow steadily — wonder of wonders! Other people (and the same people, at another season) trudge. It’s hard going. You limp. You don’t seem to get very far very fast. But if you’re trudging in the right direction, someday you will see Him face to face, and you will be like Him. Some people crawl on their hands and knees. Progress is painful. Praise God for the glory of His grace, you are inching in the right direction. And then there are times you aren’t even moving, stuck in gridlock, broken down — but you’re still facing the right direction. That’s Psalm 88, the “basement” of the Psalms. This man feels dark despair — but it’s despair in the Lord’s direction. In other words, it’s still faith, even when faith feels so discouraged you can only say, “You are my only hope. Help. Where are you?” That counts — it made it into the Bible! There are times you might fall asleep in the blizzard and lie down comatose and forgetful — but grace wakes you up, reminds you, and gets you moving again. There are times you slowly wander off in the wrong direction, beguiled by some false promise, or disappointed by a true promise that you falsely understood. But He who began a good work in you awakens you from your sleepwalk, sooner or later, and puts you back on the path. And then there are times you revolt, and do a face-plant in the muck, a swan dive into the abyss — but grace picks you up and washes you off again, and turns you back. Slowly you get the point. Perhaps then you leap and bound, or walk steadily, or trudge, or crawl, or face with greater hope in the right direction.

We love gazelles. Graceful leaps make for a great testimony to God’s wonder-working power. And we like steady and predictable. It seems to vindicate our efforts at making the Christian life work in a businesslike manner. But, in fact, there’s no formula, no secret, no technique, no program, and no truth that guarantees the speed, distance, or time frame. On the day you die, you’ll still be somewhere in the middle, but hopefully further along. When we lengthen the battle, we realize that our business is the direction. God manages to work His glory in and through all of the above scenarios! God’s people need to know that, so someone else’s story doesn’t set the bar in a place that is not how your story of Christ’s grace is working out in real life….

Luther went on to describe the transformation that occurs as we live from-to:

“This life, therefore,
is not righteousness but growth in righteousness,
not health but healing,
not being but becoming,
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.”

From Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, John Piper and Justin Taylor, Editors
Chapter 4, Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken by David Powlison

Snapshots of…

July 29, 2005 Categories: Kid Stuff , This and That | 9 Comments  

Our week:

  • Josiah calling the video we checked out from the library “Maggie and the Roast Beef” (Ferocious Beast).
  • Jonathan inner-tubing for the first time at the lake Tuesday.
  • Josiah inner-tubing for the first time (with Daddy, of course).
  • Mommy driving the boat for the first time so Daddy could inner-tube with Josiah. I don’t think I did too badly, until the other boat came out on the lake and I (slightly) panicked. I think I scared them — they quickly headed over to an adjoining lake.
  • Attending the Chamber of Commerce luncheon and making contacts with (possible) jobs for Kevin’s business.
  • Meeting a cyber-friend in “real life” at the park. Lisa and I had a great conversation, without any “I’ve never met you before” awkwardness. I didn’t realize that she is on staff for The Old Schoolhouse magazine! She gave me a free issue, and I’m in the process of talking hubby into a subscription. Her daughters are delightful girls and my Natalie and her Michaela seemed to hit it off. They will possibly be camping at the lake with us next weekend. New friends are such blessings!
  • Attending the library’s Medieval Fair. For a small-town library, they did a nice job. There were wonderful stories, a juggler, and crafts. The kids made coats of arms, finger-dragons, crowns (for the boys) and circlets (for the girls) and had a blast.

I’m not sure yet what our weekend will entail. Natalie is off for a sleepover with Grandmama and Papa, and Kevin is thinking about taking the boys fishing tomorrow — which would mean a “free day” for Mommy. I’m trying not to talk him into anything, but I have my fingers crossed.

I have been reading on many blogs of excitement and anticipation for the new homeschool year. (For those of us who take the summer off, anyway.) As I read, I’ve been pushing down a bit of panic at my own unpreparedness. It’s not that I don’t want to be prepared. But finances have been a major issue in our lives this year and so far our curriculum account (meaning an envelope in our dresser drawer) is empty.

We’ve been here before. Last year, God provided a computer job for Kevin that lasted several days and paid for all of our curriculum needs. I know He is capable of doing that again this year. I also know I am capable of getting by with less purchased materials and more library materials. In the meantime, my trust is being tested.

I recently heard of a program in our area for homeschooling families. It is through the public school system, which initially made me hesitate. The kids meet together for three hours a week of group activities: science experiments, music, art, etc. The parents are required to draw up a learning plan and keep track of hours homeschooled — which I do anyway. The school system then sets up a student account with an amount of money that can be used for curriculum, athletic programs, art and music lessons — anything that is considered academic. My first question to the coordinator was, “Can I use Christian curriculum?” She responded by telling me that our superintendent who oversees the project is very pro-homeschooling. Imagine, a public school superintendent! Because any curriculum I purchase would be used for my children only, I can use anything I want. As far as I can tell, these are the only regulations. I will know more if my name comes up on the waiting list and I receive the enrollment materials. I figure it doesn’t hurt to check it out. Even if we enroll and laws change to make it more restrictive, we can pull our children out.

I am praying that this isn’t too good to be true, and that it works out. Natalie has wanted to take dance lessons for two years, but at $40 to $50 a month we haven’t been able to manage it. The boys would like to participate in tae kwon do, but for the older two, that’s another $80 a month. Noah would like to take drawing lessons. There are so many opportunities that we miss by being a one-income family with debt. (A small income, I might add.) I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining — we have learned much about God as provider and being content with what we have. We knew there would be certain sacrifices we would have to make for me to be at home with the kids and to homeschool them. But maybe this program is one way for God to provide for us. I don’t know yet, and the waiting is hard.

Are any of you involved in programs like this? Any opinions — pro or con? I’d love to hear of your experiences.

Time to think about cleaning the bathroom and preparing dinner. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Family movies

July 27, 2005 Categories: Movies | 12 Comments  

As our kids get older, Kevin and I find we are enjoying family movie night more. It used to be that Kevin would sit through the first half-hour, eat some popcorn, and then head down to the computer while I opened my book. But now that the kids’ tastes and attention spans are maturing, we’re watching more movies that we all enjoy. (For Kevin, that means no animation or talking animals, although he did like The Incredibles. I came up with a list of the ones we’ve enjoyed so far:

Galaxy Quest
Iron Will
The Rookie
October Sky
Daddy Day Care
Cheaper By the Dozen
Peter Pan
Flight of the Navigator
Swiss Family Robinson
In Search of the Castaways
The Parent Trap
Old Yeller
Agent Cody Banks
Spy Kids
Catch That Kid

Anyone out there have some family favorites we should check out?

Bits and pieces

Categories: This and That | 3 Comments  

Jo asked me to write about:

… where you live (you don’t have to get too specific if you don’t want to, but at least state/region please), whether or not you like it, the pros/cons of living there, the weather there and where you would rather live if you could. Also, I would love to know how you keep your food budget in line, your family’s favorite meals and recipes for such. Also, if anyone would like to share her schedules/routines that keep laundry done and house kept, this would be most welcome. Further, how do you reign in the internet monster? I think we are all tempted to get on here and stay all darn day. Do you ration yourself?

Whew! Is that all?

We live in northeastern Washington State. If you look at a map, we’re between Spokane and the Canadian border. I love our area. Some parts of eastern Washington are very desert-like — dry and brown. But we live in a beautiful valley with lots of green. We’re close to the lake we love to camp and boat at — we were just there yesterday. Our town is small and for the most part, people are very friendly. I would call the weather the only con. I love mild weather — spring and autumn are my favorite seasons. I’m not big on very hot or very cold, and at times we hit both ends of the spectrum. We usually have one or two weeks in the summer that get over 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) and lots of days in the 90s. During the winter we get a few weeks below 20 degrees and have even been down to 4 before. So I guess if I was making a decision based on just that, I’d like to live somewhere where the temps are always mild. My Dad was stationed in San Diego once and says the weather there is great. But there are too many other positives to our hometown, so I think we’re here to stay.

Food budget. That’s a tough one. Kevin and I go back and forth on this one. Maybe you can resolve the issue. Our weekly budget is $150. That includes all food, paper products, cleaning supplies, shampoos and soaps, etc. We have a family of 6. I think that is really good. There are weeks when it is lower — usually not lower than $120, and weeks when I go over, but not usually over $165. It is hard, but my shopping list software on my Palm makes it easier. I know what I’ll be spending before I even leave the house. In order to stick to our budget, I tend to cook the same things over and over and not vary from that very often. (I will post some recipes for family favorites another day.)

Since I am always behind on my laundry and my housework, I will let someone more qualified answer this one.

The internet. Well, I have been much more lax in this department during the summer. That will definitely change when we start our school year again in September. There are days when I get a lot done and the temptation isn’t there. But when I am tired, or we’ve been extremely busy, I have a tendency to sit in front of this screen much longer. I usually just give myself a break for a day and try to get back under control the next day. It seems like there are days when there are so many things to blog about, and days when I can’t think of a durn thing!

Contentment

July 26, 2005 Categories: Faith | Comments Off  

Randi at I Have to Say has a great post on contentment. She begins with this quote:

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common . . .

-Author unknown

Check it out! It was a great reminder that I can find pleasure and joy in the people and things God has provided, instead of looking for it elsewhere.

Review or Opinion?

Categories: Books , Reviews , Writing | 2 Comments  

BJ Hoff has a great post over on her blog Grace Notes about the difference between a review and an opinion. I thought it was good advice, especially for those of us who are reviewing for Mind and Media. Here are a couple quotes from Ms. Hoff:

Some folks set themselves up as ‘experts’ and share freely their opinions on the work of certain writers, or more commonly, a particular genre or, in some cases, an entire industry, such as CBA. But when their opinions are questioned or scrutinized or challenged-or ignored–they don’t seem to understand why, and even occasionally become contentious.

and:

I’m convinced that a clear understanding of what opinion is meant to be and what a review actually is could go far in dispelling some of the confusion and misunderstanding and resulting tension that seem to be clouding the blogosphere. And then writers like me could spend more time on writing our books instead of tiresome blog posts like this.

Some things to remember:

When reviewing a book, you are reviewing that book. It is not the appropriate time or place to criticize the author’s whole catalog of books or a publishing house’s whole list of authors or other books they may have published.

Personal attacks against an author or publisher are never warranted.

Remember that it is possible to not enjoy a book that is well-written. People have different tastes, and just because you don’t like it does not mean it wasn’t crafted well.

I haven’t seen any instances of this on any of the Mind and Media reviewer’s blogs, so this is not aimed at any one person or blog. I wanted to remind myself, as much as anyone, what our job is.

Anyone else out there have ideas for reviewing guidelines that I might have missed? I’m sure there are, I just mentioned the few that came immediately to mind.

Also, go check out the rest of Ms. Hoff’s post. It’s well worth reading.

Serendipity

July 25, 2005 Categories: This and That | 4 Comments  

I’ve read on many of your blogs the wonderful chances you’ve had to meet in “real life” people who read your blog, or vice versa. It always amazes me to realize what a small world this is. But since I live in a very rural area in northeastern Washington state, I doubted this would ever happen to me. It’s not like anyone just “passes through” our town. We’re not really on the way to anywhere, and if we are, there’s usually a faster, more convenient way to get there.

Well, three weeks ago as I was clicking the “Random Blog” button over on the Homeschool Blogger site, I came across a title that said, “Anyone out there from…” and listed a town ten minutes from us. The post went on to say that this family was moving from the coast (what we easterners call the western half of the state) and wanted to know if there was anyone out there from our area who homeschooled! I was delighted and responded to her post. To make a long story short, they moved two weeks ago, and we will be meeting at the park Thursday morning to visit and get to know each other and let the kids play. Then we’ll head over to the library for a medieval fair they are putting on as part of the summer reading program.

I am excited, not only because I’ve never met any of my blog friends in “real life”, but also because she has daughters. My daughter has very few friends her age. (And no, it’s not due to lack of socialization — don’t get me started!) Our church seems to have a glut of boys age 1 to 10 and not many girls. She met one girl who she really clicked with, but her family serves as missionaries to the Ukraine and she was only here for two days.

So we will be heading to the park on Thursday, both of us girls excited to meet new friends. It is truly a small world.

Show Me the Memories sale

July 22, 2005 Categories: This and That | 1 Comment  

Kevin has noticed that most of the hits to his business site have come from my blog. So we are announcing the first annual (I’m not really sure if it’ll be annual, that just sounded official! :P ) Show Me the Memories blogger sale!

Starting today and running until August 15th, all business we get from people who read my blog will be 10 percent off, and we will not charge shipping when we mail your videos/DVDs/photos back to you. Most of his services, such as tech support and programming, wouldn’t apply to those of you who aren’t in our area. But his specialty is transferring people’s home videos and photos to DVD. He also makes cool slide-shows with music — they can contain both photos and video clips. For examples, check out this page. (The examples are our kids T-Ball video from this year, and our wedding highlights — 10 years ago. Please, no comments on my hair and how nervous we look!) For a list of services and prices, go to this page. Keep in mind that these are full price — your price would be 10 percent off of what is listed.

If you’re interested, please leave a comment or click the “Email me!” link in my sidebar.

Clarification

July 20, 2005 Categories: Books , Faith | Comments Off  

If you have already read my post on Harry Potter below, please go back and read the clarifying statement that is in bold print. I added it after I received a comment on my Homeschool Blogger site that pointed out I had not been clear enough in one of my assertions.

Heaven

Categories: Books , Commonplace Book , Faith | 3 Comments  

While re-reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn in preparation for teaching women’s Bible study this fall, I came across this quote from John Eldgredge:

“Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an un-ending church service…We have settled on an image of the never-ending sing-along in the sky, one great hymn after another, forever and ever, amen. And our heart sinks. Forever and ever? That’s it? That’s the good news? And then we sigh and feel guilty that we are not more ‘spiritual’. We lose heart, and we turn once more to the present to find what life we can.”

Now, as a song leader at our church, I LOVE to sing. And I love to sing as an expression of worship. But the idea of doing nothing but singing all of eternity leaves me a little flat. And yet the Bible does tell us that we will worship God for eternity in heaven. So what does that mean?

I think the problem is that in today’s church, the word worship has come to mean music. “First we have worship, then the offering, then the sermon.” Christian music is not worship. It is one expression of worship. Believe it or not, there are many other expressions of worship. The Bible tells us to do all to the glory of God.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1

The dictionary defines worship as reverence and honor for a supreme being and any act that expresses reverence and honor for a supreme being. Is God more honored and worshiped when I sing to Him than when I change my baby’s diaper? No. If I am changing her diaper as an act of obedience and to glorify Him and express His love to my daughter, then that is an expression of worship. Can I change a diaper without it being worship? Of course! If I’m changing her and all the while muttering, “Why did you have to do this now? Don’t you know we were supposed to be at the doctor’s office five minutes ago?!” (which I have done) — then I am probably not expressing worship – at least not of God. I could be worshiping my schedule or my expectations, though. Can I sing worship songs and have it not be worship? Absolutely. If I am singing worship songs and in my head thinking, “I wonder if anyone can hear how wonderfully I’m singing? Can they see me raising my hands? Don’t I look holy?” (sad to say, I have also done this) — then I am definitely not worshiping God. It is much more likely I am worshiping myself.

So if worship doesn’t mean just singing, and we will worship God eternally in heaven, what will we do in heaven? Randy Alcorn presents some very strong scriptural evidence that we will do many of the same things on the New Earth that we do here on this earth. Things like: serving each other, reading and learning, working, eating and drinking, laughing and talking, and yes — singing. You may be reading this and thinking, “That’s not what I’ve been taught about heaven!” I encourage you to read this book. And I leave you with this quote from Mr. Alcorn:

“From the beginning, I want to make it clear that it’s vitally important that this book be true to Scripture. I believe that most of my conclusions, even those that significantly depart from current evangelical thinking, will stand up to biblical scrutiny. Inevitably, however, some may not. In the context of prophetic statements, the apostle Paul says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It’s up to you to test by God’s Word what I say, hold on to the good, and reject the bad.

Through biblical study and extensive reading, dialogue, and critique, I’ve tried to detect any conclusions that don’t pass Scripture’s test, to eliminate them before this book was published. But despite my best efforts, some errors undoubtedly have slipped through. I call on readers to be like the Bereans, who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Don’t throw out the baby of truth with the bathwater of what you regard as my mistakes — but, by all means, do throw out the bathwater!

I invite you to contact me if you believe you have biblical grounds for disagreeing with anything in this book. I am open to correction — in fact, I seek it and I will make any warranted changes in future editions. (Keep in mind, though, that “I’ve never heard this before…” and “I’ve always thought that…” and “Our denomination teaches…” are not biblical arguments.)

Many things in this book will be new even to readers who are veteran students of Scripture. New ideas are rightly suspect because they are often heretical. However, when biblical truths have been long neglected or ignored, attempts to present them may sound far-fetched. They may appear to be adding to or misinterpreting Scripture, when in fact they are simply portraying what Scripture has said all along but we’ve failed to grasp. In these pages I will introduce some biblical truths that I believe have been long ignored or spiritualized and thereby stripped of their richness and significance.”

Isn’t humility refreshing in an author? Read this book — it is well worth the time.