Friday, December 22, 2006

A blessed Christmas to you all

There is so much more I wanted to say this Christmas . But my kids have been sick, and I've been getting ready for our trip (which is what I'm supposed to be doing now, too). And I want to say something beautiful, and Christmassy, and full of the hope and wonder that Christmas is...but I'm too tired to think deep thoughts. I can only be still. And know. And worship. And thank Him for coming. Because of all the things I don't understand about God, this is the largest. What made that dirty stable and the death He was headed toward worth it? Maybe this is why I've cried this year every time I see a baby in a manger, or heard a single verse regarding His coming. Maybe it's because He didn't have to, but he chose to. Because His love is so great. Because I am so undeserving. Because He came to bring us hope.

Please jump over to my husband, Brian's, blog to read his Christmas sign- off. I told him I wanted to steal it, so I'm claiming it for all of us. Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New Kid Pics

I was having technical difficulties with pictures lately, so I'm playing "catch-up."
The Three Munchkins
Two cuties at the Nutcracker

"Mommy," he said today, "will we get to light the Christ candle? Because we'll be at Gramma's." I assured him that the beloved advent wreath and much-anticipated Christ candle were coming with us.

I asked her,"what is the best thing about Christmas?" She replied, "going to Gramma's!" Yep, they're excited too.

Quotes from The Greatest Story Ever Told

Somehow He [Joseph] knew that this newborn baby, whose face was not red and crinkled but smooth and white, and whose expression was of such potent innocence and affection, had come into the world to get nothing and to give everything.

"The oddest thing about it," he told himself, in the absence of any companion, "was the feeling I had when I looked into that little fellow's eyes. I seemed to have known him all my life. He wasn't a stranger!"

"But what makes them brave now?" asked Annas sternly. "How is it a man can die so willingly? All the others, preaching today on the streets of Jerusalem, know that their ultimate fate is violent death. They know what they stand for and what you stand for, Caiphas, and they know this world will always be a place of fear, of want, of war, of all kinds of suffering, as long as two conflicting points of view exist. The world will be a better place, Caiphas, only when their side wins. And they will win. We can only kill them; but they can conquer us."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Favorite Christmas Books

I know before I even start that I'm going to want to constantly change this. I'm always finding new "favorites," but right now...

  1. The Greatest Story Ever Told by Fulton Oursler - very beautifully written, thought provoking
  2. Two From Galilee by Marjorie Holmes - Mary and Joseph's sweet story
  3. The Bird's Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin - this book from 1886 is a favorite from my girlhood
  4. The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
  5. Who Is Coming To Our House? by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolffe - the best board book for toddlers
  6. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore - I have at least four versions and love them all
  7. Here Comes Santa Claus by Gene Autrey and Bruce Whatley - Rosie's favorite book this year, and the older kids loved/love it too.
  8. Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers by Andrew Clemens and Kate Kiesler - a storybook that I love more than my children do
  9. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and P.J. Lynch
  10. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg - when I gave the girls Christmas bell necklaces on Sunday, Ethan said,"See, do you hear it? That means that you believe.."

Disney On Ice - Princess Wishes

I went through a great debate about buying tickets to take Anna Kate to this event recently. It suddenly occured to me that I could use the birthday money I've been hoarding since March, so I went to the box office and bought tickets 2 hrs. before the performance. I drove home and surprised Anna Kate, who decked herself out in her pink Sleeping Beauty dress and a pink crown. We were out late the night before, so she was tired, and therefore sucked her thumb the whole time, making it hard to gauge her response. But her intent gaze and sometimes very enthusiastic clapping (with her thumb still in her mouth, no less), led me to believe that she enjoyed it almost as much as I did. But we had to wait to ask her until the next day, because as soon as the show ended, she turned incredibly cranky. I picked her up in my arms and within ten steps, she was fast asleep. Everyone we passed was pointing and smiling at my pink Sleeping Beauty slumbering in my arms on the way to the parking garage. She definitely chose the right dress.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Favorite Christmas Traditions

  1. Our cookie exchange party (coming up this Monday! - I'm making Russian tea cakes.)
  2. Going home to PA every other year - I feel like a little kid again. It sure is easier on Santa when we stay home, though.
  3. My Grandma's Christmas dinner. It's always exactly the same. A perfect ham (I mean it, I've never had ham that good anywhere else or at any other time), baked potatoes, green beans, corn, crescents, milk, and Christmas cookies from the Serbian church.
  4. Our shepherding group Christmas party and white elephant gift exchange.
  5. Filling the book basket, coffee table, and end tables with our Christmas books, getting even more from the library, and reading Christmas stories all month.
  6. Lighting the Advent wreath each evening, singing carols together, and reading about the Promised One. The children constantly calculate how far away Christmas is by the number of unlit candles and love to blow the candles out after our family time. Every Sunday of Advent is exciting because a new candle is added to the old ones. And the Christ candle remains white, unlit, waiting until Christmas Eve. Like the world was waiting, waiting, so long ago.
  7. Learning the Christmas verses for the year. We're working on Luke 2:1-16 and should have it perfected by Christmas. There are so many opportunities to say them as we see angels on street lamps, and nativities in front yards.
  8. The children also love to learn as many Christmas carols as possible. Rosie's favorite is "Away In a Manger," she does all of the motions. Anna Kate loves "Angels We Have Heard On High," and Ethan really likes "Silent Night," but "The First Noel" is starting to win out. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is always a hit, we've really enjoyed Reliant K's version this year, and we love to sing along with Bruce Sprinsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." I wish you could all hear Ethan sing this; Brian always comments, "when can you start giving him voice lessons?!" It's hysterical. Okay. I obviously have a passion for Christmas music, I'm actually feeling guilty for not mentioning Bing Crosby, Gene Autry.....
  9. Wearing my Christmas sneakers.
  10. Christmas jewelry. I buy a new pair of Christmas earrings nearly every year (the $1-2 variety). My favorite pair is the gold jingle balls with a small red and green plaid bow at the top.
  11. Christmas movies - White Christmas(my Daddy and I love to sing "Snow"), Christmas in Connecticut, A Charlie Brown Christmas, How The Grinch Stole Christmas...
  12. Visiting a living nativity.
  13. Driving through a holiday lights display. We have one in our tow that takes about 10-15 minutes to drive through, and then gives you the option to loop back through before you leave. We usually have to go through at least three times - and then "hurry, hurry, buckle back in!"
  14. "Christmas Lights" runs (see below).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Five things to do this weekend

  1. Visit a living nativity. We have a really great one about 40 minutes away from us that's worth the drive.
  2. Bake Christmas cookies. Leave some for the mailman, and save a container for the UPS guy too.
  3. Check to be sure your camcorder batteries are charged, and be sure that you have enough memory or blank tapes. You could record all of the Christmas activities that you do this week along with songs, verses, and messages. This makes a wonderful great-grandparent gift. My Nanny said that she watched hers over and over again last year.
  4. Make plans to see the premiere of Love's Abiding Joy tonight at 9EST on the Hallmark Channel.
  5. Finish most of your Christmas shopping. Save your mall shopping for a weekday morning so that you don't get trampled.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Praying - and carolling in pajamas

Please pray for my brother's wife, Kristy. She just found out that she is pregnant. We are, of course, delighted to have a new baby, but with Nathanael in jail and four month old Brooklynn at home, this must be more than a little overwhelming.

We were busy today doing Christmas crafts. I hope to post pics soon. I'm also planning to post favorite Christmas books, and in response to Kim's request, Christmas traditions.

We enacted one of the kids favorite traditions tonight. After they're in bed, we call out "Christmas Lights" and they come running out to don robes and shoes and go look at the lights. We headed over to see a friend's house that is particularly lovely and started singing Christmas songs on the way there. Ethan decided that we should sing our songs to them, so our lights trip turned into Christmas carolling. In pajamas, no less. (Don't worry, Brian and I were fully clothed :^) Our pastor's family lives next door to our above-mentioned friend so we carolled there too (we love our pastor!). And they are off the beaten path, so it really wasn't too weird, and we sure did enjoy ourselves.

My mind is full of things to post, but my fingers are slow and my life, like yours I'm sure, is insanely busy right now. Just thought I'd let you know I'm still alive. :^)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Carol of the week

This is a different kind of carol. A newly written carol that makes you rethink your preconceived ideas of what Christ's birth was like, and leaves you with a fresh glimpse of His overwhelming love for us. It is from Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb.

Labor of Love
Listen here.

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

Words and music by Andrew Peterson

I hope these colors are not horrible, and that the song is red and not orange. The color in our monitor went out this morning, so I'm giving my best guess. :^)

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Out of the bosom of the air,
Out of the cloud-folds
of her garments shaken,
Over the woodland brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Five Things to do this weekend

  1. Attend a seasonal choral concert such as the Messiah.
  2. Begin tracking Santa at NORAD. If you haven't seen their promotional video you must watch it right now - your kids will love it!
  3. Last chance to order photo gifts. If you still need grandparent gifts, check out the great options at Walmart's photo center.
  4. Make these wonderfully simple cinnamon ornaments.
  5. Light the second candle (for peace) on your advent wreath. We'll be following Lindsey's suggestion and saying "May God's peace dwell within us."

May God's peace surround all of you.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Please pray for our family

For those of you who don't already know, my brother Nathanael is back in jail for the third time. He is a thief and a liar, and other than that pretty much the nicest guy you'd want to meet. But he has really done it this time. Third felony, parole violation, federal offense - it's looking really bad. Not to mention that he has a wife and a four month old daughter now, too (and he's just 24 years old). And it gets much worse than that in terms of the legacy of destruction he's left in his wake, and the massive problems it is causing my parents. And it is promising to get even worse, before it gets better. Please, please, pray that he finally hits bottom hard, sees what he really is, and sincerely repents and turns to Christ. Then all of this misery would be worth it. Pray for his wife and innocent child. Pray for my parents. Pray that I can have wisdom to help my mother deal with this mess and encourage her from several states away.

I told my mother right after it happened that God will always get glory from whatever happens. He will. It's really just adjusting our thinking. In terms of eternal destinies of those we love most, it is not always easy to rest in that. My new prayer is, "God make my desire to see you be glorified more important than anything I feel, or anyone that I love." To God alone be glory. Every knee shall bow.

Redeeming Love

Okay, here's the question of the day. Have you read Francine Rivers' book Redeeming Love, and do you think it's appropriate for young (unmarried) ladies?

First of all, I love this book. It's one of my favorites. But I have seen it being recommended for teenagers, and I have serious qualms about that.
It is a Christian book. A retelling of the book of Hosea, set in California during the gold rush. A man led by God to marry a prostitute and show her Christ's love. A story of redemption.

There are no explicit scenes in this book, but it is definitely dealing with sex and prostitution and the intimate side of marriage throughout. It is not the least bit offensive to me, but I believe in guarding the purity of young minds and not leading them in directions they are not ready for. I run a sort of lending library to my young friends, and turned down a 16 year old's request for this book today. She told me that a pastor's daughter at her school had the book, had read it, and had a waiting list of friends eager to borrow and read it. That didn't change my mind, but it did make me wonder. I suggested to her mother that she read it first and decide if she found it appropriate for her daughter.

I grew up in a very sheltered home. I didn't date - wasn't allowed to. But I also chose innocence for myself. I chose to remain ignorant of many things until I had a reason to know them. And I am glad of that decision. On the other hand, I realize that most girls cannot be this sheltered from outside influences and it is far better to be taught things from the right perspective by your parents, than to learn things elsewhere. I will also say that while I had never read secular romances, I was (and still am) a serious romantic, and devoured any Christian love stories within reach. And I wonder what type of daydreams are really appropriate for a young lady that is wanting to keep her mind pure. I have never found any of these books to be a stumbling block since marriage, but I have often wondered how to make good judgments for my own girls as they grow older. I don't want to be ridiculously overboard with caution, but I'm just not sure that being "clean" and Christian automatically makes it appropriate.

So tell me what you think about this topic in general, as well as this book in particular.

And after all of that, I'll leave you with a favorite thought from Redeeming Love.

He watched Susanna pace back and forth, plans gushing forth like a fountain. Angel was laughing and tossing in her own ideas, one on top of the other. They were both so beautiful, it was hard to look at them. Light shining in the darkness.
Jonathan closed his eyes. Oh, God, it's not the way I had things planned.
But then, what of real, lasting value ever is?

I just was reading the reviews at Amazon when I created the hyperlink and many people were recommending it as required reading for teen girls to see what a godly man and marriage should be. In contrast to what the average teen is bombarded with from Hollywood and attending their local high school, this might be true. But then, I'm not sure that I want to rear average teens. I'm pretty far from the teen phase, though, and if I've learned anything from being a parent, it's to never say that I or my child will never do something. Because you haven't been there yet, and your perspective is so different. So tell me what you think...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas."
- Irving Berlin

Assurance of Salvation

Kim at Lifesong has a post on assurance that resonated with me. I realized that my comment was getting too lengthy, and that I should write a post here instead.

Just before beginning my blog, I started a Bible study on this topic and found a fantastic article online,
"Assurance" by Arthur W. Pink. I would encourage anyone struggling with or seeking a better understanding in this area to read this article. I believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross, and have given my life to Him. Growing up as an Independent Baptist I was taught proof texts for assurance of salvation, and thought that if I just believed enough I would "feel" assured of the salvation that had already been purchased for me by Christ's blood. But it wasn't always so simple. And it seemed like it was simple to so many others. I thought I might go crazy. I wondered about things like the passage where the people said, "Lord, Lord" and He said, "I never knew you." I alternated between absolute certainty and outright terror. I needed better doctrine. While at first this article may make assurance seem less attainable, the author urges us to make our "calling and election sure;" and, for me, his historical and Scripture-saturated treatment of the topic resulted in the very opposite effect. Here are a few samplings from the article:

"Let the really concerned soul read slowly and thoughtfully through this first Epistle of John, and let him duly observe that not once in its five chapters are we told, “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we are resting on the finished work of Christ.” The total absence of such a statement ought, surely, to convince us that something must be radically wrong with so much of the popular teaching of the day on this subject. But not only is there no such declaration made in this Epistle, the very first passage which contains the familiar “we know” is quite the reverse of what is now being so widely advocated as the ground of Christian assurance. “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). Is not that plain enough? A godly life is the first proof that I am a child of God."

“For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in (or “by”) God” (John 3:20, 21). Here is one of the vital differences between the unregenerate and the regenerate, the unbelieving and the believing. Unbelief is far more than an error of judgment, or speculative mistake into which an honest mind may fall; it proceeds from heart-enmity against God. The natural man, while left to himself, hates the searching light of God (v. 19), fearful lest it should disquiet the conscience, expose the fallacy of his presumptuous confidence, and shatter his false peace. But it is the very reverse with him who has been given “an honest and good heart.” He who acts sincerely and conscientiously, desiring to know and do the whole will of God without reserve, welcomes the light."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Baptism Question - Feedback needed!!!

My son, Ethan, made a profession of faith over a year ago (he's five, now). He has always had a tender heart towards God, and did this completely on his own. We heard about it later, the next time salvation came up. I don't think he really remembers his three year old profession, even now, but he believes and knows what he believes.

Brian and I grew up in Christian homes with what seems to be the normal multiple professions of faith and baptisms that come from various doubts about having "done it right," etc. We have decided to specifically not remind our children that they are saved/have made a profession, but to leave that up to the Holy Spirit; so that whatever doubts they have will not be created by us, nor their assurance of salvation based on what they, or us, remember or forget. I also accepted Christ at the age of three, but have struggled with so many doubts, largely due to my limited memory. But having two children who have done the same thing, I can see genuine faith in them.

Now comes the question. Ethan has asked about being baptized a few times. It seems to me that we ought to encourage this as the next step of obedience. But we are still explaining salvation as he grows and is able to understand more and more about it. That he has an openness to God is unmistakeable, but we don't want to hinder him from making his "calling and election sure" because he has been baptized. Am I making any sense? How do you know when your children go from childlike faith that they've had since birth to a true personal relationship with God? And when do you have them get baptized?

Anna Kate has also made a profession of faith. She was not nearly as God-oriented as Ethan had been, but there has been a huge change in her since then. She went from not caring in the least when I told her that she was making Jesus sad or dsispleasing God, to singing spontaneous songs of praise and thanksgiving that she constantly makes up.

So what do you think?

Are you in need of encouragement this morning?

Go view this beautiful movie of Psalm 23. My sister Hannah sent me this link on my e-mail, and the verses in it (not just the psalm) are so beautiful.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Carol of the Week

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

Words: 15th Cen­tu­ry car­ol (Es ist ein Ros ent­sprung­en);
vers­es 1-2 trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Theodore Baker, 1894.
verses 3-4, Fried­rich Lay­ritz, trans­lat­ed by Har­ri­et Rey­nolds Krauth, 1875.
verse 5, trans­lat­ed or writ­ten by John C. Mattes, 1914.
Music: Es Ist Ein Ros’, Alte Ca­thol­ische Geist­liche Kirch­en­ge­säng (Köln, Ger­ma­ ny: 1599); har­mo­ny by Michael Praetorius, 1609

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas 20 Questions

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? I love both, but I drink hot chocolate nearly every night.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? He usually wraps them, but due to the size of the bike and the dollhouse, he may not this year.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White, but I really have a soft spot for those old-fashioned large colored bulbs like my Pappy used to decorate with. And while I'm not fond of multicolored strings, I do like intelligent usage of solid red, green, or blue strands.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? We did until our artificial sprig went to pieces, and the only one I saw in a store this year had a purple ribbon!
5. When do you put your decorations up? The weekend after Thanksgiving.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? My Grandma's baked ham.
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Too many to choose just one - Christmas carolling and stopping in at Nanny's for cocoa and cookies,watching the Nutcracker, my Pap's elaborate electric train set that only came out the month of December, a candlelight Christmas Eve service, Candylane at Hersheypark,the heady anticipation riding in the car to my Nanny's on Christmas Eve....
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't remember ever believing in him as a child (but I do now!)
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Sometimes. We don't have a hard and fast rule.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? We've done several different themes/color schemes, but I got stuck on the natural look. White lights, pinecones, plastic icicles, chrocheted snowflakes, homemade cinnamon cut-out ornaments, and raffia tucked in randomly. Topped with a straw angel or stick star.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Adore it!
12. Can you ice skate? Yes.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? The teddy bear and perfume my future husband gave me a couple of weeks after I first met him. We were just recently "espoused"(and that is one story I shall have to tell sometime!)
14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Focusing my heart and the hearts that have been entrusted to me on the unspeakable love of the Father who gave us his only Son.
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Christmas cookies- and anything chocolate.
16. What tops your tree? A star or an angel, depends.
17. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving. Kids change everything.
18. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Just one??? Handel's Messiah
19. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?? Yum when used as stirrers in the hot chocolate
20. Favorite holiday movie? White Christmas

Encouraging Reads

Kelly at A Spacious Place has a wonderful post called I Corinthians 13 for Moms.

Kim at Lifesong has a great Thursday Thirteen list of books she's given as gifts.

A great quote posted by my sister Hannah at This May Be My Life.

Encouragment to study the Old Testament by my Brian at Growing Vertical.

Frugal Friday Double

Okay, two Christmas tricks for all of my frugal friends.

First, I discovered a few years ago that a round, plastic, felt bottom tablecloth makes a great tree skirt. If you have an open floor plan, you can match it to your tablecloth, and if you change your color scheme, you can find a very inexpensive replacement. Simply cut a line to the middle and wrap around the tree, no sewing required. It can be wiped clean and pine needles will be a snap to clean up.

The second I discovered this year. Our artificial Christmas tree warped where the screws go in and we had to replace it. I hate to throw away anything that could prove useful, and I quickly realized that I could use the branches as greenery anywhere that the metal ends could be hidden. And I stuck the top part (a perfect mini tree) in a planter and strung it with lights outside.

For more tips head to Biblical Womanhood.

Five things to do this weekend

  1. Attend a Christmas lighting and carol sing.
  2. Enjoy a local Christmas parade.
  3. The Nativity Story opens today. View the trailer here, and Focus on the Family's Plugged In review here.
  4. Take advantage of online shopping whil there's still time. The Lakeside Collection is a great place to find affordable gifts for almost anyone.
  5. Light the first candle on your advent wreath.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Gospel for Asia

While you are considering what you can do for others this holiday season, please consider Gospel for Asia. Many blogs have mentioned sponsoring a child, and that is a good thing. Our family, however felt that we could do the most good by sponsoring a native missionary. These missionaries head out into the remotest parts of Asia spreading the hope of the Gospel. They may plant dozens of churches in their lifetime. Some have families, and they may go for days without food because of their efforts to take the Gospel to a new area with no outside support.

The vision of
Gospel for Asia is linking these native missionaries with North American resources so that they can spread the Gospel freely. You can sponsor a missionary for $30 a month; the total amount for support of a missionary is $90-120 a month, which includes family and ministry expenses.

At the very least, please
go request their free book, Revolution in World Missions. If you've ever wondered, "why did God place me in America and give me all of this- there must be a reason?" You will have an answer to your question, and be challenged to reevaluate how you live and where you store up your treasures. The only reason for not requesting this book is fear that it will challenge the status quo and change you -- because it will.

If you still would like to
sponsor a child, you can do that through Gospel for Asia as well. And whether you are sponsoring a missionary or a child, 100% of your sponsorship money goes to that person. Nothing is taken out for administrative expenses.

Yes, you can do this. Did you know that most of the world doesn't have clean drinking water? We take this for granted.
Revolution in World Missions suggests that if the average American simply cut out of their diet the junk food and soda that is bad for them anyway, the grocery money that they save could easily cover the monthly sponsorship of a missionary. Even if you don't eat junk food, you probably drink a lot more than just water. So please consider it.

The Parable of the Rich Fool
13Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 14But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?" 15And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 16And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' 18And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."
Luke 12:13-21(ESV)

I'm challenged again every time I think about it.

The gift of an experience

Tickets to all sorts of things are great gifts. Purchase family memberships to the zoo or science center. I want my children to appreciate cultural things too. Try tickets to the ballet, a children's concert at the symphony,or a children's theatre production. I know that these sound expensive, but local colleges often have free plays and concerts. Also our local symphony association has a program for homeschoolers that offers tickets for just a token price. In the past I've given my husband tickets to Lord of the Dance and he's taken me to plantation for the day, and another time bought me tickets to Les Miserables. You could also make your own "tickets" up for a variety of local activities like ice skating, a historic home tour, etc., and make your kids a tour package. Give the gift of a day trip to an attraction, event, or historic site farther from home. Treat grandparents by taking them along to activities they would enjoy sharing with your family. And classes or lessons: cooking, sewing, gymnastics, piano. Be creative and do your own. And tell me some of your ideas.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Carol of the Week

I love this carol, but I never knew that it had so many verses. I'd only heard the first three. It makes more sense with all of them -- it's the rest of the story.

Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man's nature
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

Then afterwards baptized I was;
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard from above,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

Into the desert I was led,
Where I fasted without substance;
The Devil bade me make stones my bread,
To have me break my true love's dance. Chorus

The Jews on me they made great suit,
And with me made great variance,
Because they loved darkness rather than light,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

For thirty pence Judas me sold,
His covetousness for to advance:
Mark whom I kiss, the same do hold!
The same is he shall lead the dance. Chorus

Before Pilate the Jews me brought,
Where Barabbas had deliverance;
They scourged me and set me at nought,
Judged me to die to lead the dance. Chorus

Then on the cross hanged I was,
Where a spear my heart did glance;
There issued forth both water and blood,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

Then down to hell I took my way
For my true love's deliverance,
And rose again on the third day,
Up to my true love and the dance. Chorus

Then up to heaven I did ascend,
Where now I dwell in sure substance
On the right hand of God, that man
May come unto the general dance. Chorus

Monday, November 27, 2006

Brian's birthday last night at his Mom's


My wonderful husband is 33 years old today!

I was looking around the table after our late breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls (dairy and gluten free, no less!). My family all together, a new prelit Christmas tree shining, and Bing Crosby crooning in the background. And thought, It doesn't get much better than this. Merry Christmas, ya'll.

The best place to shop for Christmas toys...

is our local thrift store. On Friday I got a nearly new fisher price dollhouse for $.50, a boy's bike for $7.50, a huge Rescue Heroes plane in perfect condition for $.50, a bunch of new Christian books, some pillows for the play corner I'm making for the girls for Christmas, and more! My second run on Saturday produced a working Little Touch Leappad for $.50 and a beautiful Moses basket complete with yellow gingham bedding for $8 (future baby shower gift- usually $70-100). I'm on a roll--gotta go back today.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"Praise Him for His mighty acts:
praise Him according to His excellent greatness"

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Favorite Thanksgiving books

My friend Sherry asked for this list. It is primarily geared to a young child's taste.

  • Off to Plymouth Rock by Dandi Mackall and Gene Barretta
  • Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas and Shannon Stirnweis - most favorite
  • Thanksgiving Mice! by Bethany Roberts and Doug Cushman
  • N.C. Wyeth's Pilgrims text by Robert San Souci - beautiful illustrations!
  • Molly's pilgrim by Barbara Cohen and Daniel Mark Duffy

We also are reading A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620, part of the Dear America series. The book is a bit difficult for my children to follow, but they loved the video Dear America: Journey to the New World which is based on the book.

Favorite Thanksgiving tradition

My favorite thing to do at Thanksgiving is to pass around these leaves which have Bible verses on them and specific ways to apply those verses; such as, "giving thanks always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" : Give thanks for a specific prayer request that was answered. Each person gets two leaves. Sometimes we pass around a basket, sometimes we leave them by the plates, and sometimes the leaves are scattered all around the dinner table as part of the decorations and each person chooses two. But every year we share sweet fellowship as one generation praises His works to another, and declares His mighty acts.

Giving thanks for answered prayer

Choosing a song to sing together

Monday, November 20, 2006

Blessings from DaySpring

DaySpring cards sent this out to everyone on their e-mail list last year. I had printed it out and added it to my Thanksgiving file. When I read it again this year, I had to pass the blessing on.

Giving Thanks for God's Overwhelming Generosity
By Roy Lessin, co-founder DaySpring Cards

Everything in your life that flows out of love has come to you from God. Everything in your life that is good has been initiated by God. God has done everything for you, He is everything to you, and He is enriching other lives through you. His generosity is overwhelming, His blessings are limitless, His love is endless.

No one has favored you more than God. He has removed every stain of your sin, He has cleansed all the defilement of your iniquity, and He has silenced every voice of condemnation that hung over your head. He has saved you, redeemed you, and justified you.

All of God's grace abounds toward you, all of Christ's riches are made available to you, and all spiritual blessings are provided for you. In Christ, you have received the treasures that can never be taken away, the hope that can never fade away, and the life that will never pass away.

As you walk with Jesus day by day, you will find that your thankfulness to Him is an ever-increasing symphony of praise, building into a lifelong crescendo of gratitude that flows from your heart to His. You, who have so little, have received so much, because He has been so generous.

There are so many riches that He has given to you; so many answers to prayer that He has granted to you; so many kindnesses that He has manifested to you; so many joys that He has provided for you; so many mercies that He has extended to you; so many benefits that He has showered upon you. Everything you have has come from Him, and that is the reason why your heart can be so grateful.

Thank Him today because --
He formed you and made you.
He has given you the breath of life.
He has given you this day.
He is working in you to become all that He has intended you to be.
He is working everything in your life together for the good.
He is using your difficulties and trials to conform you to His image.

Thank Him today for --
The forgiveness of your sins.
The peace that passes all understanding.
The smiles that have come to your face because His joy is in your heart. The comfort of His presence that has quieted your heart and calmed your fears.
The hope that is in you because He has promised to always be with you.
The place in heaven that He has reserved and has prepared for you.

Thank Him today with --
Words of exaltation.
Songs of celebration.
A heart of strong devotion.
Thoughts of deep reflection.
Acts of admiration.
Claps of loud ovation.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
Hebrews 13:15 (KJV)

Still being blessed

I had to write a follow up to my "hymn of the week." I've been listening the song online over and over since I found it for the post and it is blessing and convicting me still!

"Let no vice or sin remain That resists Your holy war"
Yes! "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!(Psalm 139:24 ESV)"

The whole second verse nails the doctrine of election:
"I was blinded by my sin Had no ears to hear Your voice ...Had no taste for heaven's joys Then Your Spirit gave me life Opened up Your Word to me"
"having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you (Eph.1:18 ESV)"
Hallelujah! "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.(II Cor. 9:15)"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hymn Of the Week

We sang this today at our church's fifteenth anniversary harvest service. It is from Sovereign Grace ministries new CD Valley of Vision inspired by The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. I love it.

O Great God
Based on The Valley of Vision prayer "Regeneration"

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven's joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life

Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

Help me now to live a life
That's dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me

Words and music by Bob Kauflin
Copyright 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise
Listen here.

I found my Thanksgiving reading!

It is called "Five Kernels of Corn," from Home School Marketplace's e-journal.

Friends and funerals

Do I know them well enough to go to the funeral? Should I go to the viewing? What do I say? Common questions, I expect. Kris gives her answers as one who knows. I hope you will be encouraged to reach out the next time you start asking these questions.


Do your kids ever sound just like you? I apparently have a habit of giving a three point answer as to why my kids can't or will do something.

Rosie has a cold and has been fussy today. She was still fussy when she went to bed tonight. After the girls had been in bed for a few minutes, I heard Anna Kate start griping at Rose and Rose's fussing escalating. (Rose gets very upset if Anna Kate gets out of bed and leaves the room, especially since she's stuck in her crib.) I went to their room to settle them back down and opened the door just as Anna Kate was ready to open it and walk out. She immediately launched her defense:
  • A. I had a bad dream
  • O. Rose is screaming and keeping me awake
  • A. I'm going to your room to go to sleep.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Open Eyes

I just followed a link on Cerulean Sanctum to read the powerful story, "She Just Quit." Please go read it (it's short), and then look around this Sunday morning at your own church to see who might have become invisible.

Five things to do this weekend

  1. Attend a high school play. (We're going to a local Christian school's production of Alice in Wonderland.)
  2. Get all of your food shopping done so that you can focus on food preparation next week.
  3. Send out your Thanksgiving cards to family and friends.
  4. Let your kids print out a Thanksgiving craft or game at
  5. Plan a family activity or reading for Thanksgiving Day that will draw your family together before God with overwhelming gratitude for the blessings He's given to you this year.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Brian and Anna Kate

Thirteen Things I Love About My Husband

  1. His passion for God.
  2. His insistence that I'm beautiful, even at moments when I'm obviously not.
  3. His ability to fix anything that's wrong with the computer.
  4. His love of nature.
  5. He is the sweetest and nicest person I know.
  6. He can't keep a secret from me (it at least drives him nuts to try).
  7. His willingness, yea even eagerness, to take me to all of the living history and cultural stuff I enjoy.
  8. His excellence in the field of "daddying." There's nothing he won't do.
  9. His desire to rear our children to be the kind of men and women that will be pleasing to God, and the energy he expends to back up that desire with action.
  10. How well his genes mix with mine (as in, I think our children are beautiful - I know, I'm shameless. I can't help it.)
  11. He puts up with me. I'm telling you, he ought to get an award for that, especially when I'm pregnant (no, I'm not right now).
  12. His faithfulness to provide for our family even when he's feeling terrible. I appreciate it so much.
  13. He improves with age. Not that he's old. He just gets better and better all the time at all of the wonderful things he does.

This is my beloved and this is my friend.

And anyone that is married and reading this can now consider themselves tagged.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

For Girls Only

I think that my husband and my brother are the only guys who venture here, but just in don't want to spoil the surprise.

Now girls, would you like to make your husband's day? I was wearing one of those new outfits my husband bought me today, and I got a crazy idea. I really missed him, and my mother-in-law was at my house to assist, so I had her take a close-up picture of me blowing a kiss, and I e-mailed it to him. His quick response was that he had new wallpaper. And his later response was that I had rendered him useless for the rest of the day. (I'm grinning still.) And then to top it off, his huge computor screen caused the photo to blow up too much and pixilate, so my artist husband took me into photoshop and fixed the lighting and airbrushed me! He was pleased as punch about the whole thing, and when I mentioned sharing the idea with you, he strongly encouraged it. But he wanted to keep the picture to himself.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

According to His excellent greatness

As I was teaching my children Psalm 150 today, this phrase struck me: "praise him according to his excellent greatness.(v.2)"

How excellent is God? "For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.(Psalm 97:9)"

How great is God? "O Lord GOD, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? (Deuteronomy 3:24, ESV)"

There is no measure for either. "Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;his greatness no one can fathom.(Psalm 145:3, NIV)"

There is only one response:"I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.(Psalm 34:1)."

Let the thankful heart sweep
through the day and, as the
magnet finds the iron,
so it will find, in every hour,
some heavenly blessings!

-Henry Ward Beecher

Memory work this week

Scripture : Psalm 150

1Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD

Song: Come Ye Thankful People, Come
by Henry Alford

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Poem: Over the River and Through the Woods

Over the river and thru the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh,
Thru the white and drifted snow, oh!
Over the river and thru the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and thru the wood,
To have a first-rate play;
Oh, hear the bell ring,
"Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day-ay!
Over the river and thru the wood,
Trot fast my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Scarecrow lover

Rosie loves scarecrows. She points them out everywhere, and has taken to kissing the one on our front door each time we enter the house.


If you have a Dollar General near you, you may want to run down there today and check out their fall decorations. They, along with the Halloween stuff, are already 75% off ! I was able to purchase a flower arrangement in a cornucopia (now the centerpiece on my table) for $2, ceramic amd metal pumpkins for $.50, a matching olive metal vase and large metal leaf tray both for $2, two caramel apple scented jar candles (large size) for $.75 each, and two stuffed scarecrow dolls for Rosie for $.25 each. I love a good deal!

Hymn Of the Week

This is an old hymn that few people know, but it has been a favorite of mine since high school. I especially love the third verse. Which is your favorite?

Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

Music by: Henry Williams Baker, 1862.
Words attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 12th century
translated from Latin to English by Ray Palmer, 1858.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Living History Pictures

Corn harvest circa 1814

The girls working on their cobs

Making apple cider

Enjoying the music (she did a number of original dances,as well)

Harvesting corn the old-fashioned way

"Pretty baby, pretty baby,
Rosie bug's a pretty baby "

"Oh, my goodness!"

Indians in the woods

The little man

sweet Anna girl

Purple princess

Friday, November 10, 2006

Five things to do this weekend

  1. Find a footbridge over running water and play "Pooh sticks." (This is the name my children have given to reenacting a scene from a Winnie the Pooh cartoon where the characters stood on a bridge, and threw sticks into the water, and watched them float downstream.)
  2. Check your local paper for any living history events in your area. We're having beautiful weather and are planning to attend one near our home tomorrow. The children love to watch someone turn sheep's wool into thread. It fascinates them.
  3. Rake some more leaves.
  4. Try out this amazing twist on pumpkin pie. I had the nerve to serve it at Thanksgiving in place of the traditional version several years ago, and there's been no going back.
  5. Stop and look at your children and take a moment to really see them for each of their beautiful selves. Then hug them close and thank God for this day with them; life is a vapor. I served a meal before the funeral of a five year old today. It makes you grateful for every moment God gives you with those you love. Pray for Laura and Jason. Their arms feel empty tonight.

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Today is my sister Hannah's twenty-third birthday. You can wish her a happy birthday here or over at her blog This may be my life.'s a surprise(until she checks our blogs, of course.) I was seven and a half when she was born, and I am so blessed to have such a crazy-wonderful little sister. Love ya, girl!

Hannah and her husband, Joseph

My sisters, Hannah and Rachel

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Out of the mouth of the babe

I wrote this down right after it happened, but then I lost the note. So this is my best reconstruction...

Brian and I were discussing the fact that God is not bound by a time-line like humans. He transcends time. I commented that "he even rewound death" at times, bringing the dead back to life. About this time, Anna Kate starts chiming in from the background, " I know what rewind means." Certain that she is about to explain the workings of a VCR, we continued our conversation. But she was not deterred, and again insisted, "I know what rewind means." So I gave in, and said, "what does it mean, Anna?" And then I got a surprise.

"To rewind death means to take it away. And it not be there anymore. And we don't go there. And that's what Jesus did."

I was speechless.

Of course, not everything she says is that profound.

Last evening's devotions were the story of Mara, and the children of Israel's repeated search for good water. Brian read how they found a place with good water...Anna Kate enthusiatically took over,"and they had a picnic, and they roasted marshmallows, didn't they? And they made smores. I think they made smores!"

You never know what that girl's gonna say.

Bad Day Fix

I'm not usually big on forwards, but I got this link in my inbox and it is unbelievable! Take a look!

"Made to Work"

Anna Kate thought it would be great fun to wad up toliet paper and throw it into the toilet. While I was trying to unclog it and clean up the resulting mess(at least it was cleaning day and my bathroom is now sparkling), I had Ethan running to get paper towels, bleach,etc. And I heard him muttering to Anna Kate,"I can't just play all day. I'm a man and I've got to work. That's what I was made to do."

One Night With the King

In case you've missed it so far, I wanted to remind you that this lovely motion picture about Esther is still in the theatres. The sets are astounding, the story is inspiring, the acting is well done, and the details of the story's personal aspects are handled modestly and gracefully. The book by Tommy Tenney, Hadassah:One Night with the King, is even better (is there ever a movie that's actually better than the book?), and truer to the Biblical record. But I think you will find the movie a refreshing change from Hollywood's usual, and not at all low budget in appearance. I, personally, believe that if we want to complain about the way things usually are, then we ought to support those that try to do things differently. Especially one as well done as One Night with the King.

Thanksgiving Book for Kids

I just read the best Thanksgiving book : Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving. It is beautifully illustrated and unfolds the events through the lens of God's sovereign will. You will love it even if you don't have kids. But if you do have children, you simply must go buy or borrow it (like I did, we have the best library system here) in time for the holiday. I'll be posting the rest of our favorite Thansgiving books as soon as we read through the stack I've borrowed (we actually own several too, I'm a holiday book junkie), and decide which are our favorites. So seek and find, friends.