Welcome

Welcome! This is where it all began. I no longer post on this website and some of the content reflects former convictions and understandings. Some of these posts are hard core on issues that I am softer on these days. I deleted many posts that I feared would lead people into legalism, so if you find a missing hyperlink that may be why. Our family is no longer "quiver full," I no longer wear a headcovering, and I do not wear skirts/dresses exclusively. These days I write at Covered By His Hand.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Family Picture



Well, it's true to life...
This is the closest we will get to a "real" family picture. My mom took this while they were here. I may get a better print of this in a few weeks when my Dad sends me the disk of pics he took on his good camera.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reading progress

I am writing this progress report mostly for friends and family who are concerned about my kids' education... especially those who are themselves teachers.

As you know we are learning to read with phonics, and not by sight. But, words become memorized as we progress. I printed off this sight words sheet about 6 weeks ago - just to keep myself on track. I wanted to make sure that Rebecca was learning the most common words. Today she read every word except for "you" and "said." She has not yet learned the sounds for /ou/ or /ai/.

So, I decided to look at the Sight Words List 2, and she knows most of these too. (Again, she knows them because she learned them phonetically. She memorized them from frequent reading). She is still unsure about /oo/ (in "look"), the many uses of the end e (as in "some" and "have"), and /ou/ (in "out") and /ow/ (in "down"). This gives me some direction on which sounds are most important to learn next.

Both Nelson and Rebecca are reading sentences in school every day. Yesterday we read some silly sentences that I made up:
That cat is black.
Ted is a man.
Ted has a frog.
Josh is my son.
My dog is fat.
My mom is Beth.
Nelson is my son.
My girl is Rebecca.

We may not know the Dolce words in order, but we have already learned /sh/, /st/, /ch/, /th/, /ck/, /ee/ and more.

And, today they read Genesis 1:1-2 (I wrote it on the board and underlined the combination sounds and split the syllables apart, to help them out. I take these ideas from Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spaulding). After that we looked at Psalm 1:1a as it appears in the Psalter we use for family worship. I was amazed at how well the kids read Genesis! I wanted to go on, but I did not want to exhaust them. I am getting more and more excited about teaching as their reading progresses!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Withhold Not Correction

The best biblical parenting book I have come across (so far) is Withhold Not Correction, by Bruce A. Ray.

I want to give one of my readers a new copy of this book. And, I will pay the shipping (so long as you live in the US).

Here is why I love Withhold Not Correction:

1- It's principles are based on Scripture, not pop psychology!

2 - It teaches a parent how to correct a child using Scripture, so you are teaching them why you have to discipline.

3 - It has an appendix with MANY useful verses (itemized) for use when administering correction.

I cannot say enough good things about this book! While I believe that the Bible alone is sufficient for teaching us all things (including correcting children), this book is an excellent tool to stand alongside of the Scriptures.

A friend of Paul's gave us this copy today (no, it was not a Christmas gift), and since we already own it - we thought we would pass it on to one of my faithful readers.

Leave a comment about why you want to read the book, or about how much you love my blog - and I will enter your name in a drawing! And, since I had only one comment on my last giveaway, your odds are pretty good! It pays to support the new blogger with verbal feedback!

The drawing will be next Wednesday, December 31, 2008 (sometime in the evening). Good providence to you.

I Confess...

When my husband is not here for lunch, the children and I eat off of paper towels.

We always buy the select-a-size paper towels (in bulk), and we each use one small section for our lunch.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My favorite things

I thought that maybe listing some of my favorite things would improve my mood - it certainly can't hurt.

- A God who loved me first
- My husband
- My children
- snowflakes that show their shape on my black wool coat
- the sound of a leather saddle as it is being climbed into
- the sound of horse hooves on pavement
- fresh baked bread

Life on Hold

These past few weeks, I feel like I have been running my life in a holding pattern! Every time that I think something is improving... two steps back. I am referring to my thyroid health (that all-consuming health issue that is my single most severe thorn in the flesh!)

As you know, I started taking Armour natural thyroid (the minimum dose) a few weeks ago. At first, there seemed to be improvements. My cognitive ability was better, my speech improved. But, all the while - my body temperature is dropping. I am not alarmed YET. I have not broken my all-time low yet (95.9 as a wide awake, 3pm temperature). I am still in the mid 96s. So, it could be worse.

The doctor raised my dose from the entry level, one grain, to the next step - two grains a day. I take one before breakfast and one in late afternoon. Still, no positive change. In fact, Rebecca asked me today (when she saw me take some supplements), "Mommy, which one is your new medicine that makes you so tired?" That is how it feels to me too! These past 2-3 weeks have been a terrible challenge! I am always cold, wearing many layers of clothes (while my kids run around in tee shirts! We set the heater up to 66 for me). I am always tired. I cannot wake up in the morning. I try to get up and make Paul's lunch, but that usually makes the situation worse. What happens is this: I force myself to get up at 5:30 or 6 and get Paul's lunch (and oatmeal). Then, I often try to read my Bible after he leaves. I end up feeling hit by a truck before 7! And, I go back to sleep right as the kids are waking! Most mornings they play quietly while I rest/sleep! And, most mornings I do NOT even know when they get up. Their play usually incorporates itself into my dreams. Though, some days I am jump started by some statement like, "Let's play haircut." Or, "let's go feed the dog" (outside). Ugh - I am in sorry shape.

I do a lot of reading on the Stop the Thyroid Madness site. They have so much useful information! They have some testimonials that sound just like me - I am hoping that some day soon I will be a testimonial for Armour as well!

BUT, I cannot, must not, will not put my hope in medicine! My GOD shall supply all my needs! (Phil 4:19) And, my GOD will make His strength perfect in my weakness! I am putting my hope in that!, but my hope is weakening. Each day I sleep a little more. Each day I work a little less. I am NOT lazy! You cannot imagine how hard it if for me to see work go undone! And, I often do work when I am beyond exhaustion. Every night I clean up the house before Paul comes home. Every night I stay up till 11 or 12 to meet him. But, I am weak. I am so very tired.

Please pray for me, I have so many people depending on me.

Friends who are adopting

I have some friends who in the end processes of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. I know Todd and Gretchen personally, and I wish I could support them beyond my prayers! If you want to check them out, start here - with Gretchen's most recent post!
They are still short on funds.

Friday, December 19, 2008

John Piper speaks on wealth

Listen to John Piper as he passionately renounces the prosperity gospel.



Can someone tell me how to post YouTube on blogger? (Updated - Thanks Arthur!)

Also, does anyone know how to get that font/function where you can write words and cross them out through the middle?

Winterizing

Maybe I should change the name of my blog to "The Old Missouri Farmhouse," because it seems like all I do anymore is whine about my home. Don't get me wrong - I really am VERY grateful to have a house! I have a roof that isn't leaking water on my head. I have central heat. I have indoor plumbing and hot water. These are all luxuries that I am very happy to have!

Paul asked me to post a picture of our house with the straw bales around it. He is so happy that the roaring wind has stopped (at least under the house.)

This first picture is the looking at the Southwest side of the house.
This is the East side of the house.
We also bought a heat lamp to put in the crawl space under the bathroom where the hot water pipes froze. (This is what the former tenants had to do). This has solved the problem of frozen pipes, but who knew one light bulb could cost SO much?! (I mean it costs a lot to run it! Our daily electricity usage is now up to $8!)

In other dismal news, Paul is hating his job more by the day. The demands upon his performance are great, but the pay is not equal to those demands. Since the job is not union, they only pay overtime after 40 hours. So, he can work 3/ 15 hour shifts in a week and only see 5 hours overtime. And, now the weather is worse and they still haven't issued him his coat and coveralls.

Paul and his coworkers were lectured this morning on how they shouldn't bring their home life to work with them... BUT, what do they care that their men carry their work home at night and replay in their minds over and over "how could I have done that better/quicker?". His employers put SO much pressure on him! I am so glad that I am not the man! I would surely bust under the pressure.

BUT, we do praise God that Paul HAS a job! So many people these days are without work! And, it could certainly be worse!

We are praying for: wisdom, positive attitudes, a better paying job (to get us out of debt, not because we want more junk), and a smaller house with wood heat.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today is my nine year anniversary!

I am going to be brutally honest in how I see myself as I was then, and as I am now. In portraying my past sins, I do not mean to glorify the old Bethany! In fact, this is part of the mortification process - I am sore ashamed at who I used to be! I only post these things to hopefully encourage others that you can change.

1- I used to be a feminist. I did not even know it. (I still struggle with years of programming!) If the Christian life is graded by God on a curve, then I was doing better than average. I was just a woman who was used to being in charge. My idea of marriage was a 50/50 partnership: in household chores, in decision making, everything. Poor Paul! Maybe if he had known me longer, he would not have signed on to such a chore as being the Head of me! Oh, how I hated his rule over me in those days! He would say "no" to something and I would scream at him - hoping to change his mind. He would say, "we are going to my parents," and I would scream at him and make his life miserable for weeks.
I hated that he expected me to do the bulk of the chores. In fact, he did very little - and in my rebellion, I left many things undone (like dishes piled up on the counter). I hated doing the chores that he knew how to do better. He knew how to wash laundry (correctly), I did not. He knew how to cook, I did not. I hated that I was expected to do these things. Yet, at the same time, I was under conviction. I knew what I ought to be doing. And, I was struggling with pride! So, when he did offer his help - I screamed at him. (Especially when he would offer to help salvage a meal.)
I am not at all bitter any more! As I write today, I just feel pain from what I could have been! I feel pain because I wasted so much time with a good man. These very painful memories steer me in my rearing of the girls! I strive hard to shape them into a better woman than I am. Rebecca already amazes me at her servant's heart! She gets up early and makes Daddy's coffee for him (on his at home days). She is always attentive to what he may want next!

2- I used to hate thinking. It's true! I hated studying and thinking! I hated reading! God works in mysterious ways - He placed a young, selfish, spoiled girl with a man who was a deep thinker. Paul wanted to talk about the Bible, about doctrine. I hated it. I wanted to talk about something "practical!" I cannot begin to convey my agony in trying to converse with him and his friends. They were all talking about John Piper, John MacArthur, and various Puritans and Reformers - and I was yawning.
I don't know when God changed me in this! I don't know at what point I started listening to Paul and learning from him - it was not soon enough! Turns out - my husband is a genius! BUT, he does not just study to get smarter. He studies because he LOVES the Lord, and he wants to please Him! How blessed I am to have such a man!
These days, I LOVE talking with Paul about all things theological. Most days, I cannot wait for him to come home so I can tell him what I have read in the Bible, some book, or a blog! And, do you know what?, I think he enjoys bringing his thoughts to me as well. How great is our God!

3- I used to cook only from boxes. If it was not prepackaged, I could not make it! Ok, so I have not progressed as far as I would like. But, I am making huge strides in the right direction! My heart's desire is to cook entirely from scratch within the next year! If it does not happen in that time frame, that's ok - so long as I keep pressing forward! I have learned a lot of new recipes in these past few years (I did not care to improve in this area until about 3 years ago). There is still a LOT of room for improvement. As my food travelled the conveyer belt at Wal-Mart last night, I was dismayed at all my convenience foods! Some of the convenience foods I bought: deli meats and cheeses, instant oatmeal, cans of chili, muffin mix, and brownie mix. Ugh! Why am I SO LAZY? I hate my own slothfulness!
Look at this price - I spent almost $3 for instant oatmeal. There are only 10 bags in the box! I also bought an ENORMOUS conatiner of oats, for $2.36! Mark my words - I WILL learn to make oatmeal, and I will teach the girls too! This morning Rebecca and I made baked oatmeal (first time ever!). I never even knew there was such a thing till I saw a recipe on Kim C's site.
This is such an emotional confession (my telling the world that I cannot even cook oatmeal). Paul is the kindest and most patient husband I can imagine! He is so kind to me. As we are eating tacos for the second (or third) time in a month, he does not complain! But, I want to be able to bless him more! I want to reward his hard-day's work with a scrumptious mouth-watering meal! I will keep working on this!

This has been a fun post to write. I think I could go on for hours. But, I have lots of other work to do! I praise God for stretching me! I praise God that He put me with such a smart, God-fearing husband! I am very fortunate!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We have gas

ahem... I mean, we have propane.

When the gas man came (at about 4:30 pm) we had 0% in our propane tank. It could have been a lot worse! Our tank is now at 40%.

Purging

I have been very convicted of my vain lifestyle lately! I am reading the Bible more than I used to, and I am amazed at how much it says about our use of money. For example:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Matt 19:23-26 (KJV)

Many of you are reading this thinking, "Bethany, you are hardly a rich person. You can't even buy food, propane, and blankets." BUT, I say to you that I am wealthy. If only we could change our perspective on the issue! So many of us Americans/Western Europeans read the Bible through the goggles of our excess/comfort/wealth! So often we try to make the Bible say what we want it to say. And, we want the Bible to say that "wealth is a blessing." We want the Bible to say "live comfortably." But, who is the one deciding what comfort is?

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Matt 19:16-22 (KJV)

Jesus is telling this young man that it isn't enough to keep the commandments. He was asking the man to give up what he held dear, his great possessions! I am not going to wrangle with you, Reader, over how literally to take this for yourself. But, I am going to say that these verses cause me great discomfort (as they should!). We need to ask ourselves where we are laying up our treasures!

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matt 6:19-21 (KJV)

What does this look like in my life? How am I changed because of what I am reading? Well, for starters, my heart is broken for those that have less than myself! One of my heart's desires (and Paul's) is to adopt children in need. These can be American, Ethiopian, Chinese, it does not matter to us the ethnicity. We hope that someday we will be in a position to help others financially. I don't mean just "adopt" a child by paying a certain amount per year (though that is helpful too!). I mean that I want to bring children into our home and love and nurture them in the fear of the Lord! (I plan to post more about Ethiopian adoption in another post very soon)

How else are these convictions of my own wealth affecting me? Well, little by little we are purging our home of excess. Last week I sorted through the toy box. We did not have very many toys before, by American standards, but now we have a more moderate amount. (We still have too many, by my thinking.) I plan to go through the toys again in another month and re-evaluate. I did notice that the kids play with the toys more, now that there are less of them!

This week we looked through the bookcases. We picked out 2 big bags of books that we will be giving away locally. I am surprised that Paul was willing to part with so many books! I am very proud of him. We still have more books than we will likely ever read. And, I hope to re-evaluate the bookcases soon.

Another thing that I am going to be getting out of my home is my stamping/scrapbooking stuff. Here me when I say that doing crafts is NOT in and of itself bad! But, many of us have a propensity to take a good thing and make it sinful! For years I have spent money (that I should not have) on scrapbooking stuff (that was not a necessity) that I almost never even use! I was in love with the idea of scrapping and making note cards. But, it never seemed to work out in reality. The stuff just sits in boxes waiting to be used. What's worse - many times when I did use it I would be so focused that I would ignore my kids or yell at them for touching the sacred stamps. You see, now, why I am so content to give it all away.

CDs is another thing we sorted through this week. We piled up all of the CDs we don't listen to or kept around for mere sentimental reasons. We RARELY listen to music in the home! When we do listen to it, it is to be enjoyed - not just background noise. We make enough noise on our own! So, we kept some CDs - but I would like to re-evaluate again soon!

This has been just a small start. It may sound like a lot, but I assure you that my house is still brimming with useless junk. I have not even touched the attic yet! When we moved in here, we put oodles of boxes in the attic. If I don't miss it, while it is in a box in the attic, then chances are that I do not really need it! I do plan to keep all the kids clothes for future children. I see this as being good stewardship. BUT, if the Lord takes us to a smaller home, then I am comfortable giving those clothes away. (Until that time, we will keep the clothes for our own use).

But, all of the other stuff in the attic - ugh! Why do we feel the need to keep so much stuff??? Do you realize that there is an whole industry in America built upon our greed and excess?! I am speaking of storage units. Some people may have a legitimate need for storage. But, most people keep their excess junk in storage. (Or, maybe just your garage). Maybe it is seasonal decorations, or sentimental stuff, or books you may want to read someday - but it rarely gets used. Do we really need all this excess? No.

Let's rethink our possessions. Do we need all that we have?

Staying warm

Besides all the layers of clothes, how are we staying warm? Take a look

video We are dressing like we are Eskimos this morning. This is the perfect time to study Alaska! We just did a YouTube video search on Alaska + kayak, what fun! Today I am wearing a suedecloth skirt, a cotton slip, flannel pajama pants, and knit leggings. Oh, and I have on two pairs of socks. The kids are all multi-layered too. The Baby is in footed pajamas, over a long sleeve shirt. And, he has a fleece coat on outside his pajamas. I don't think that the kids are cold at all!

Trusting His Providence

I wrote yesterday about how God is Sovereign over everything, even something we think is a big loss. Today, I am writing to remind myself that our Heavenly Father can be trusted.

We called the propane company on Monday. Yesterday the gauge on the tank said 4%, he still had not come. We called the propane man, and he assure us that he will be here sometime today with our 200 gallons. (That will take us to about 40% of our 500 gallon tank).

We turned the heater to 60. We slept in a lot of extra layers. We used every blanket in the house (again.) I should have closed off the doors to the homeschool room last night, but was too cold to think straight. Our school room is now closed off. I would love to cook up a yummy something in the oven for breakfast, but I am out of just about everything (including eggs). I think I am just going to run the oven without any food in it.

I am trusting God's Hand. I am trusting my Heavenly Father.
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:11-13 (KJV)

I am not saying that God has to do anything for me. Rather I am saying that I can trust God in everything He does. These days God is letting us drink the bitter cup of poor decision making. We are suffering the consequences of years of poor financial decision making.

God is good all of the time. He is good whether I have heat or not. God is good whether I have enough food or not! I am grateful to live in a house at all! There are children all over the world who would happily change places with my kids in a heartbeat. I pray that I will keep a positive attitude during this time. I pray that I will be teaching my kids about God's kindness, even in the midst of hard times.

I can trust my Heavenly Father!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanking God for His Providence

This summer my family spent every available moment at Paul's parent's farm baling hay. We did square bales (those are the rectangular ones used to decorate in the fall.) Square bales are a lot of hard work!

One day last summer, Paul and I spent an afternoon preparing the hay to be cut and baled. There was no rain in the forecast - none. But, after we had cut the equivalent to 150-200 bales of hay, the sky poured rain upon us. The rain lasted so long that the hay was all ruined. We cried, but in our anguish, we did not turn our backs on God. We kept thanking God for His goodness. We were determined NOT to forsake God, or think that He had forsaken us, just because we lost a good deal of money. To get the moldy hay out of the field, we went ahead and baled it up. We threw it in an old barn. My father in law keeps everything, and you never know when you will be desperate enough to need moldy hay. Who knows?

Fast forward 5 months. The temperature is 10 degrees and I live in a farm house with NO insulation. The wind moves under the house, through the crawl space, like it is in a hurry to be somewhere else. Our home is cold. I have never lived in a cold house before. I have never had to use every blanket in the house before, just to keep us from getting too cold. But, now I have experienced this. And, God is using it to mold me and to shape me. Praise God, that He keeps sending new trials to grow me!

After our pipes froze the other night, we decided that we just might have to spent some money to winterize this house. But, no - not yet, God had other plans. Remember that moldy hay? Paul and his dad loaded it up today and brought it over to our house. We surrounded the entire house with the ruined hay. Wow. Who would have guessed that God sent the bitter providence of ruined, moldy hay - not only to teach us then about patience and faith; but to practically help us now through this terribly rough season of our lives.

To this, and all the other incredible things I have to be thankful for - I say: Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Next time you have an episode of something that is liken to our ruined hay - remember, God may still turn that around!

Monday, December 15, 2008

At least...

... I have indoor plumbing. (most of the time)


At least... I still have my sense of humor. When Paul went into the crawl space to assess how many of our hot water pipes are frozen, I turned on Vivaldi's Winter (from his Four Seasons) as mood music.

At least... the pipe did not bust.

Many apologies to Grandpa Jim who spent time preparing the floor for linoleum. But, at least we now know why there was a hole cut in the bathroom floor.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shameless Bragging

Rebecca read Pepin the Not-Big today (from Veritas Press Phonics Museum). She read it all by herself and understood it. Her reading is sounding more fluent/less broken. She is reading sentences now, not just individual words!

In school today, I wrote words on the board and had Rebecca and Nelson take turns reading the words. We did some 3-letter, 4 letter, and even a few 6-letter words (kitten, mitten, button - that last one got a lot of giggles *rolls eyes*).

What a blessing!

Mere Vanity

I am vain. I admit it, though not eagerly. I like to look nice. I like my kids to look nice. I like my home to look nice.

There is nothing wrong with wanting something to look nice until it starts to be a consuming desire!

I know that a lot of Christian writers are writing to women about what it means to be a "keeper at home." (See Proverbs 31) The problem is: I think too many of these books are actually telling us what we want to to hear, not what we need to hear! Most personal growth books I have read spend much time cultivating a wife's desire to make a pretty home for her husband! This, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad. BUT, so many of us have long since crossed over from making a comfortable/welcoming home - into being driven by something called Homemaking, that is really nothing different from materialism.

I know, I am speaking severely. Please know, Reader, that I am scolding myself too! You see, God made me with a bent towards liking pretty things. God made me to want to make my home nice/welcoming/comfortable. This is the Gift of God in making me the Woman. All of those things are pre-programmed. The problem is - due mostly to excessive media pressure - my sinful nature will frequently corrupt this Good Gift from God!

I may say that I am trying to keep a nice home from my husband and family. I may say it is fulfilling Proverbs 31, BUT in reality - I may be using Scripture to my own end! Because, you see, I like to decorate. I like the instant gratification that comes from finding the perfect colors to accent the perfect pictures.

God has grown me enormously in this area!
As you know from reading my past blogs, I used to live from project to project. I found my joy in activities, not my Savior and His Spirit at work in my life! Many of these activities were home remodeling or yard landscaping. I literally lived to paint and tend to the yard. While that sounds awful, I am certain that many of you are not far from that yourselves.

As with all things, it is hard to find the happy medium! We need to follow Scripture! We ought to strive to be all that we see in the Woman with value above rubies! We ought to keep our homes clean. We ought to keep our homes welcoming to our husband's taste. We ought to grow gardens (if we can) to provide food for our families. These are all good things! The problem is when our sinful nature comes in and tries to take over.

How do you know when sin has taken over?

1- Look at your ledger/checkbook/budget. Are you spending what is necessary for keeping a home? Or, are you spending excessively to garnish your home?

2- What do you think about/talk about most?
I need to be very careful how I explain this. Because I do NOT wish to say that thinking about home keeping is bad! As I already said, we are required by God to fulfill that role in our homes! BUT, we often stop thinking of it in terms of ministering to our families. Then, we think about things in terms of impressing others (though I, for one, never would have admitted that!)

This post may seem harsh. You may be greatly troubled. And, I want to cheer you...
Friend, make your home comfortable. Make your garden grow good things. Make your walls any color you like. But, do it with a heart of service for your Heavenly Father. Let these verses encourage you:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:14-17 (KJV - bold mine)
Let us strive not to corrupt God's good gifts.

The After Pictures

We mopped up all the gunk we could. Paul did most of the mopping, because my back was already getting sore from the day's work.

I took a break from putting their room together to catch a few grins!

And, lastly, what we have all been waiting for -

Ta Dah! The room looks a million times better (even with the peeling wall paper!) I took this picture this morning, so Joshua is screaming something to be interpreted as "Get me out!" Take note: The beds are made and I did NOT make them!
I have arranged the room differently from what it was before. With this new set up, the kids can reach both sides of the bed to make it with greater ease.

We all slept well last night. Lydia is not coughing or sniffling. There are no snot towers dripping from her poor nose! I know we have a lot more work to do, but we have made significant progress!

I feel better about my house now - much better. This project has helped my attitude tremendously!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Woe is Carpet!

BEFORE: Removing the moldy carpet was a family affair! Everyone helped.

These pictures also show just how badly the wallpaper has peeled.

Above - Here is a closer look at what has been growing under the carpet. I don't think I will ever use carpet again!

Below - This is the halfway point of our project. All the carpet is out of the room. Now we have to scrape mold, remove tacking, and mop. I wish we could cover the walls with something, but that is a project for another day!

I can hardly wait to see the After pictures. I hope to have those up tomorrow. I am ready to have this project behind me!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Confess...

The baby spends most days in footed pajamas.

It is just so much easier than looking for his pants, shoes, and socks each time he pulls them off!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Updates

Since I have been offline for a few days, it is high time for an update.

Joshua's health: The Croup is gone! He is well.

Lydia's health/the House of sickness: This past weekend, we spent a tiny sum of money on this old house of ours. We bought some cheap 3M air filters to see if they could be fit into our furnace. Ultimately we want to use hypoallergenic filters, but we weren't sure if we could make them fit at all. We have since learned that we can special order washable or disposable filters made-to-fit.

After forcing the air filters to fit, we noticed an immediate change in Lydia! She is not coughing nearly as much, and she is far less snotty (her nose, I mean). Still, there is so much in the air - the problem is not completely solved yet.

We got to looking at the kids' floor, and have decided to remove the carpet. Our old farmhouse has one thing that is still in good condition - hardwood floors! We will be taking out the carpet/padding and leaving the floor bare. We hope that this will help the kids' environment some. BUT, we still need to fix the wallpaper problem. We have 100 years of wallpaper peeling off the walls with moldy adhesive between every layer and plaster beneath it all. The wallpaper cannot be removed, because of the way it has been laid over our old wood lathe/plaster walls. Our landlord is promising to put paneling on the walls... someday. Still, this is only a cosmetic change. The mold will still be on the walls, just covered up better.

Rebecca's reading: Paul has been working with Rebecca and she is improving drastically! He is so much more patient than I am! Yesterday, he spent an hour and a half with her trying to get through one primer (Bad Meg!, from the Veritas Press Phonics Museum.) Today we got out the next primer in the set (To the Rim of the Map, a story of the Pilgrims). She is reading it quite well. Along the way she has memorized the most common words: the, a, of, to. We learned the words phonetically, but the frequent use of them caused memorization. She is doing much better, and I am so pleased with both her and Paul! Praise God that he gave me a husband who has a passion to see the kids learn! Paul's heart is that Rebecca would soon be able to read the Bible and sing new songs from the Psalter with us! I can take little credit for Becca's strides these past few days - it is all GOD, working through my VERY patient husband!

My back: is fully functioning! I put myself on partial bedrest last week and that seems to have cured it (for now).

My thyroid: I had a blood test last week that showed that my body needs more thyroid support. This is no surprise to us... little by little I was getting worse. I know the signs: fatigue, weakness of muscles, and worst of all I couldn't think/speak clearly! When my thyroid is low, I stutter terribly, and often become so delayed by my own stuttering that I forget what it was I was trying to say in mid-sentence. Paul was urging me to fill my prescription for Armour a week ago, but he knew I wanted to see if the Maca Root and Kelp alone would be enough. But, yesterday, he used his power as my Head to say "You are going to fill it and start taking it TODAY." My only complaint is that I have a bad taste in my mouth since I took the first dose. Does anyone take Armour Thyroid? Does the bad taste go away?

I woke up this morning feeling less weak and groggy. I have not stuttered at all today. YEAH! Hopefully, each day will be one step closer to health!

On a much more personal note: You may have noticed that I was taking Tylenol 3 for my back pain last week. (I think I wrote that on Facebook, and not on this blog) This should be an indication to my readers that I am still not yet expecting another baby. While this makes me a little sad, I know God's timing is always best! I am happy to have four children! I love my babies! Still, I ask God for as many blessings as He wished to give me! We stand with open arms awaiting His gift of children!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Visit with Dear Friends

We went to church in Troy, MO at Covenant Family Church again this Sunday. One of the families there generously let us spend the night with them. We left from their house to go to IL on Monday morning (to see my parents). It was such a blessing to spend time with like-minded believers.

I hovered over the Dear Mother as she cooked, trying to glean anything I could (while shifting a shy Joshua from one hip to the other). I learn SO much when we go to other people's homes! It is so sad that churches these days (for the most part) are short on breaking of bread within each others' homes! How can we (the whole body of Christ) really be Titus 2 Christians, teaching the younger/learning from the older, if we only see each other one day a week. Plus, many of us wear a "game face" on Sunday morning! We need to be in other people's homes learning how other Christians handle various situations. I learned a lot of practical things about feeding 13 people!

I fear that many people don't want to have guests over for really superficial reasons. You may think: my house is such a mess, they won't like my dog, I don't know how to cook, my house isn't as nice as theirs... these are not good enough reasons to rob yourself from fellowship with other believers! You are doing your friends a real disservice of thought if you assume that they will judge you by your disheveled or out-of-date home! Would you want them to think the same of you? And, if it isn't about what your friends will think - then it is about your own pride!
Right now, Paul and I live in a small house that has a lot of problems (both structural and cosmetic). Still, we have already had people over for dinner and childcare. As we were leaving our guest's home the other day, I said "Our home is too small to put you up for the night, but if you come through the area I would love to feed you dinner!" She answered, "We can bring a tent." Wow!, what precious new friends!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Preparations

After a decent night of sleep, I felt up to doing a few last minute preparations for my family (because my back is going "out"). At this point, I think I used my morning wisely. I hobbled into the grocery store to get some unusual foods (Read: frozen pizzas and junk) I also bought paper plates and bowls, so that Rebecca does not have to do as many dishes. I know that she "has to learn sometime." BUT, trust me, she is already worn out! She cried herself to sleep last night, because Daddy wouldn't be here to help today.

Paul was out making Pastoral visits the last time my back went out. Rebecca was with me and watched as I went from bad to worse. They all remember how Mommy had to go away in an ambulance. (Lydia was terrified of ambulances for a month after that!)

So, if I am trying to rest - why did I go to town this morning? Well, it had to be done! The house was not ready to be without a Mom for a few days. I know that Paul has VERY little time to do anything when he comes home from work. I plan to take a Tylenol 3 now, and sleep till dinner. I started a huge crock pot of chili this morning. The idea is that the leftovers will carry us through many days!

Thank you all, dear readers, for your prayers!

As for Joshua's Croup... he is not getting better. We put a humidifier in the room, but it does not help. The kids know that we cannot make him laugh of cry. Someone was teasing him this morning and he went from cooing to barking (that is, the classic seal-like-cough of Croup) almost instantly. We have not given him any meds, but we did put some Vicks on his chest under his pajamas. When we leave the house he is WELL. The cold, brisk outdoor air has a healing effect better than anything else we have found! (Cold humidity is better than hot humidity for the Croup. If you find that a steamy bathroom isn't working, try stepping outside next time!)

Gotta get out of this chair, sitting up is the worst thing I can do. This is part of the progression. I can walk still, I can lay down. I can NOT bend at the waist or lift anything. The kids did all the work around the house and at the grocery store this morning! Rebecca made the PB sandwiches for lunch and poured all the drinks. This really isn't anything new - but to do it like this, under pressure, is more trying to her little nerves. She is a peach!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pain in the back... literally

If you have been with my blog for a few months, then you know that I have back problems. Last time it was diagnosed as "bulging disks." When my back goes "out" I require bedrest. Last time my back went out, Paul was only working 4-8am with UPS. (His ministry hours were flexible). And, my church family and actual family helped immensely with kids and chores. This time - I have no help. I know that today is probably my last day of walking erect for a while, unless God intervenes on my behalf!

Also, Joshua has Croup!

I cannot post any more at this time about my condition or Joshua's. I cannot sit here at the desk any longer. I gotta go lie down. Please pray, I need help!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Swimming in Curriculum Options

I have spent the last hour reading reviews for different science curriculums - I think I am getting a migraine now! (Half joking)

By the time Rebecca was 4, I was already sure that we would use classical, Christian curriculum, and that it would be purchased through Veritas Press. By, the time Rebecca was 5, I realized that our income cannot begin to afford the things in that catalog. Looking back, I am glad that we didn't spend the $1000 I wanted to (for one year's supplies!), because I don't know if I would have really used everything.
I have said on my blog before, that I pick and choose what works for me. I love the freedom of this kind of picking and choosing. BUT, lately I have been wandering how long I will be able to keep this up! I have been homeschooling my kids for pennies. I have not had to buy much -and what we do have was bought with gift money (mine and Paul's) and our tax return. Homeschooling for free requires a LOT of time researching and printing things off the internet, many trips to the library, and a tremendous amount of self-discipline (by the teacher, me)!

So, I am asking myself: Will I be able to keep doing this even as Lydia begins to write, and Joshua joins our class (as a student). What if we have more kids? Will I be able to keep up with everything?

Also, while I love classical ed models, I am frustrated by the lack of science. (They do not introduce science till the child has a much larger vocabulary). So, I really want to get my hands on some Christian, 6-day creation based, science books. My kids are fascinated by blood and heartbeats, all that. And, they ask about stars and planets. They are very interested in bugs, animals, birds, and sea animals. Sounds like the headings in my grade school science books growing up!

I am going to keep using Saxon Math. I am going to keep printing everything I want off of Old Fashioned Education (this is where we get our history and so much more). I will keep reading the Bible to them often! I will keep getting books through the library. But, I want to begin to use some organized science plan!

Here is your chance to sound off. Your opinions count for more than the hour I spent at homeschoolreviews.com! What do you love for science? Does anyone do science for free? Where? I found free worksheets, but only as a supplement to other books and things. I am just too tired to keep trying to run a three ring circus every day it is time to prepare for tomorrow's school.

Schooling with Youtube

Homeschoolers have access to so many things on the internet! I am amazed at all the useful things I find when I browse YouTube. This morning we looked at volcanoes. Tomorrow, I plan to show them avalanches. (I am going to stick with catastrophes that do not happen in Missouri, we do not want nightmares).

NEVER LEAVE YOUR KIDS ALONE WITH YOUTUBE!!!!! Be very, very careful! (Watch out for nudity and obscene language. In addition, you will find that most science videos make reference to "millions of years.")

Anyway, I wanted to let you know about the 7 Days in a Week song. It may drive you crazy, but your kids will love it and the tune is catchy.

Also, look at her video about US coins. Very catchy, very helpful.

Go take a peek.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why God says "Wait"

It boggles the mind that some people get married at a young age, while others have to wait a long time. It does not make sense how the women who most want to get pregnant have to wait the longest (or may never have any at all). We ask "Why God?" In a world where so many people rush into seemingly foolish marriages and get divorces in less than a month, and others wait their whole life for the right one to be committed to and devoted to, only never to find that person. Or, we see people in the news and in Wal-Mart that are angry at being pregnant, they don't want their babies. Then, we see so many godly Christian women begging and pleading God, "Please, God, when will it be my turn?" So often we see God asking us to "Wait." Some people may wait their whole lives for something and never get it (marriage, baby, salvation of a family member). We ask "Why God, what is your purpose in this?"

I have a theory. I think that God wants to see us grow, even if it brings pain to us. Read this passage from James: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4 (KJV)

Here is yet another part of my theory, follow me as we ride on my train of thought...
Some Christian women are in training their whole lives to be brides and mothers. They can cook and sew beautifully. They have the patience to deal with a half dozen babies all at once. These women seem to be the ones who have to wait the longest to meet their husbands and their future children (this can be said of men wanting to be husbands and fathers, as well). We all think, "God, she would be the perfect wife, the perfect mother." But, maybe God is thinking something like "she will be an excellent wife, she is all ready for that business. The best way to shape her and refine her is to make her wait for this - her deepest longing."

Then, we see women (like me) who grew up entirely selfishly, never thinking of anyone but herself. Never learning any useful thing to prepare her to be a good wife or mother. And, I end up married right after I turn 21 (to a man I knew all of three months). And, then I have 4 children in succession. So many times I would cry out, "Why God?" I struggled hard as a new wife. I wanted to run away more times than I can count. Then, I struggled as a new mom - I didn't know anything about raising babies! I have often questioned why God would entrust these four precious babies to a woman so unqualified as myself! But, maybe God is thinking something like, "She is so good at being independent. She is so good at thinking for herself. The best way to shape her and refine her is to give her a husband who will teach her about submission. Then, she needs many small children to give her patience and teach her not to be so selfish."

I do not mean to make light of God here - I know that his "thoughts are not [my] thoughts, neither are [His] ways my ways, saith the LORD." Isaiah 55:8 (KJV - adaptation mine) I am just trying to point out that different people need different circumstances to grow! Am I saying that God is cruel, or ignoring our prayers for things? NO, absolutely not! God is a giver of good things! Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17 (KJV) God is more generous that we will understand in this lifetime!

Let's not forget that the same God who gave His son for our sins (Isaiah 53, John 3:16, Mark 12, Romans 5:8-10), gives perfect gifts, at the perfect time!

What did you do for Thanksgiving?

Every Mommy Blogger I see has pictures of her kids helping to prepare the big turkey feast. I have no such pictures. We do not plan to do a big feast, Paul is working today. We may go over to my inlaw's house later - depending on Lydia's runny nose, Nelson's cough, and Paul's really bad cough (that makes him lightheaded and dizzy.)

Anyway, here is how we spent our morning.... in school! We had a great time, learning about Thanksgiving, talking about Pilgrims, "Indians," the Mayflower, it was great. Here are pictures of the kids as they color their pictures of the Mayflower (courtesy of abcteach.com).
Poor Becca is all alone at the big table, because she outgrew the little table, and Nelson is just not quite tall enough to write at the big table.
Rebecca is a very deliberate artist, no scribbling here!

Joshie doesn't want to be left out! He attends many days in school too. I guess he's our mascot!

The kids are so patient to let Joshie color on their masterpieces!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Propane Tank Mystery

First, you need to know that we were almost entirely out of propane. Secondly, you need to know that we could not get anyone to leave gas and bill us. Everyone wants to be paid before they fill.

Today we saw a propane gas truck leave our house, we never heard him come in. Paul checked the door for some kind of advertisement. Instead, he found a receipt for 100 gallons of propane -PAID!

One of you dears put gas in our tank and heat in our house. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I didn't expect anything like that to happen, because none of you has my real address (or do you?). I asked my Dad, but he said it was not from him (but they are sending us some money to buy gas for a one-day trip to IL next week).

The only part of this mystery that I can solve is this: God is taking care of our needs - as He always has.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than eat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matt 6:25-34 (KJV)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good beginning

Our family has had a good beginning to the week, despite a rough start (the van died, the dryer died, etc). I can barely type fast enough to tell you about what is going on here!

I was made aware just how good a reader Nelson already is! I gave Rebecca some work practicing writing letters and numbers, so that I could work with Nelson. I already knew he could pick out letters and put them together to make words (they are puzzle pieces from Veritas Press Phonics Museum). Still, I wasn't sure if her can do it the other way around -read something already written out. (This might seem like an odd consideration, but for a LONG time Becca has been able to write words, but not read them at all!) He sat on my lap and READ one word after another!!! What joy (bitter sweet though it is) I feel! Seriously, you don't know how many times I thought I was the problem with Becca's reading! I thought "I must be a really bad teacher!" But, Nelson has shown that is isn't the fault of the teacher.

So, my boy can read 3-letter words, very easily, no pauses at all!... and my 6 year old daughter is still not able to catch on at all. You can see why I said it is a bitter sweet joy!

What a good start to the week! I hope your week is going as well as mine is. If it isn't let me know that too! I want to pray for you! Post a comment and let me know if you need a lift - we can all pray for you!

Extra day of work

In my post Power of Prayer, I asked you all to pray for our financial state. Then, I posted about the Small Things God was already doing to get us through.

Today is just a continuation of praise for what God is doing in this specific situation. Usually Paul has Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off work. Then, he has every other Wednesday off. This was to be his 4 day weekend, but he got offered a chance to work today! We took it as an answer to prayer, even though he had no desire to give up his "weekend." So, he may end up having over time on the next paycheck! OR, if he gets Thanksgiving off (which is not likely, people want their satellites working for all the big games!) he will not lose any hours! Either way, this extra day of wok is a blessing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Praise for the Small things

I said that I would post as God answered our collective prayers. I have one thing to be grateful for already. (Two actually) It was almost 60 today, so I had two loads of laundry line dry. I put another load to hang throughout the house... that is always good for the humidity in the house too ;)
Paul took apart the dryer and took parts into the appliance store... we did NOT need a new element, we just needed a new sensor. So, that fix only cost $30. I praise God for my handy husband!!!
Also, weather is supposed to be decent... maybe, just maybe, the gas left in the propane tank will last 11 days till the next pay day!

Power of Prayer

"And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." John 14:13-14 (KJV)

I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that prayer changes things. Usually, when I ask for prayer on my blog it is for something VERY important - the salvation of a friend, a suicidal friend, etc. But, today, I am going to ask you all to pray for our family. It is not a matter of life or death. And, please know that the only help I am asking you for is your prayers!

That said, my family is in dire financial need. Our old farm house does not have a wood stove and we are not allowed to put one in. So, we rely entirely upon propane. We have not been able to add to our propane tank since we moved in, and now it sits at 11%. We keep the house at 63-65 (it depends if someone is sick and coughing. When Nelson and Paul get their coughing fits, we turn it up to 65). We were planning to have it filled this morning, but then the car died y-day... and the dryer died last week... and we have to eat -first and foremost. (We do not have insulation either, but we do have 2 little electric radiant heaters).

I am asking that y'all would pray that God's Will will be done! Secondly, I am asking that you would pray for Paul and I as we face these financial challenges. It is so easy to turn on one another and get snippy, just because your up against the wall. We want this time of difficulty to bring us closer! Also, ask God to give us wisdom - that we would know what we can do to ease our own burden (how to freeze dry clothes on the line, how to warm up water on the electric stove, how to best use what few resources we have). Lastly, is this yet one more sign that we need to move to somewhere with wood heat? Is this one more sign that Paul needs another line of work? Today, while the kids nap, we are going to to have a very serious conversation about what this money shortage means to my family.

Friends, please help us carry this heavy load to God. In a sense, we are crippled with this heavy burden of financial needs - will you carry us to Jesus? I will post and tell you how God is answering our prayers!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One more reason I homeschool

This fall I began doing our school lessons with all my kids in the room (Rebecca 6, Nelson 5, Lydia 3, and occasionally Joshua 1). While we say that Becca is a first grader and Nelson is a Kindergartner, we keep those titles merely for the rest of the world. In reality, they all hear the same lessons every day. They all sit and listen and then I adapt the handwork to their level. (Obviously, Lydia cannot yet write letters).

Anyway, I have been struggling for two years with teaching Rebecca to read. She not only sees things backwards, she hears them backwards. (She will read /c/ /a/ /t/, then say "tac"). I keep going back to the basics with her, thinking that at some point it will "click." Along the way, Nelson learned all the letter sounds (and Lydia knows most). Nelson is already sounding out words. For months now, I was trying to keep him from passing Rebecca. I was buying into the world's philosophy that everyone's education has to look exactly the same or it is "wrong!"

Meanwhile, Paul knew that Nelson was in school with us, but had no idea what he was doing. (It's not that I didn't previously tell him- it is just that he didn't listen, or he forgot) When I told Paul how Nelson is picking up things so quick, Paul insisted that I stop holding Nelson back!

When my husband was in first grade he was held back because he couldn't read, even though he excelled in other fields of study. As a result, he became the class clown, because he was bored with all the review the next year of repeating the same grade. THIS is why I am glad that I homeschool! I can take my kids at their own pace! I can let them excel where they are gifted! And, I can go slower where they are struggling!

I love being a homeschool Mom!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The doctor I have been praying for!

I have such great news to share today, I found the doctor that I have literally been praying for for years!

Yesterday's appointment with the DO (my first ever with a DO) was an answer to prayer! First of all, I get there and I hear "Holy, Holy, Holy" playing in the waiting room. I began to see that it wasn't a fluke, as it was followed up with many other hymns and praise tunes. All the magazines were clean and family oriented! (no Redbook, Vogue, Sports Illustrated!) And, the kids books were all Bible stories or Max Lucado's stories.

Then, we got into the room (I took Rebecca, as my doctor is a man) he actually listened to me!!! He sat with me, talked to me, and listened to everything I said. I told him that I have been on Synthroid for 22 years and that it isn't working. I told him that I wanted to try a natural thyroid medicine like Armour or Westhroid. He said "I have no problem with that." I literally yelled, "Hallelujah!" (Becca thought that was pretty funny). He wrote me a script right then for a starting dose! We decided that I should wait a few weeks to begin to let the Synthroid work its way out, and to get a blood test without the influence of the Synthroid. He wants me to start the Armour in about 3 weeks.

Praise the Lord! I have been praying for YEARS for a doctor to listen and let me try something natural! I cannot explain how bad my health has gotten in these past few years. I cannot tell you how hard it is to change medicinal doses every 6 weeks! I cannot tell you how hard it is for me to hear a doctor say "You only gained 6 pounds this month, that's not bad." I cannot begin to tell you how frustrated I was to have my previous doctor refuse to try a different medicine, because he was afraid my body might not be able to handle it; then he turned around and nearly killed me by dropping my Synthroid dose too much. (Really, I am not exaggerating!!)

I do NOT put my hope for this life in doctors! But, I do find that this new plan of action brings me great pleasure! My hope for healing comes from the Great Physician!

Friend, do you know Jesus Christ, the Great Physician? The one who heals peoples' bodies, but more importantly heals our sinful hearts? He can bring you joy and peace like you have never experienced! It will not always be easy, it will not always be fun - but there is an eternal reward that outweighs all of our struggles here on Earth!

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (KJV)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fighting Fatigue



These past few days have been very difficult for me. I feel as though my body has gone into hibernation mode. I am sleeping at least 12 hours and waking up tired. I cannot/do not wake up when my kids get up. I have been completely unable to perform normal tasks.

This is nothing new to me... BUT I had a few months reprieve and I was taking my health for granted. As you know, I am hypothyroid, and I cannot seem to find adequate treatment. I haven't tried anything but Synthroid, because my insurance won't pay for anything else.

Monday I go to see a DO for the first time and I am hoping that he will be able to recommend natural methods. Paul has agreed to pay ANYTHING out of pocket in attempt to make me well. As I have said here before, I know that God is a healer. But, I know that He may have reasons for not healing me (even though my family begs and pleads). We know that God is all powerful and all-knowing! We trust ourselves to Him! If God will not heal me, then I can/will trust that it is for my good and for His glory.

Still, I wander how bad it will get... Will I be able to keep teaching the kids? In the past I have gotten too tired to teach, too tired to cook, too tired to clean. How bad will it get this time? But, I am blessed! The Lord has given me a daughter who has the heart of a servant! She blessed me today by insisting that she would do the dishes alone! Up to this point she has been learning to wash, and has been supervised. I usually look over her shoulder to watch for dirt that didn't get cleaned off. But, this afternoon, my Precious Becca did all the work herself.

What's more, I heard her reviewing some phonics sounds with Nelson and Lydia today. And, I heard her teaching Nelson to write the letter "X."

I am crying... (sniffles) ... because I don't know what I would do without her. I know that the kids will not go hungry because she can cook too! My human mind doesn't always understand why God doesn't always heal, but this afternoon I am glad that I am sick. If I wasn't so tired I would never know just how precious, useful, and giving my daughter is!

I am so unworthy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Family-integrated Lord's Day

We went to a family-integrated church this past Sunday.

I have been convicted of the need of family-integrated worship for a relatively short time, but Paul and I had not been able to experience the atmosphere in real life. (It is one thing to read about it in books, it is another thing entirely to be there in reality!) It was such a blessing to see so many children in attendance.

The entire time we were at our former church (where Paul pastored in IL) our children were in worship with everyone else. So, I have been working with them for 3 years. And, before that I would take 2 year old Rebecca to seminary chapel services. I have had hard days, to be sure, but I thought my kids were doing pretty well.

Now, I see how much more improving we need to do! The children who are regular attenders of Covenant Family Church were SO very quiet, even the babies! I am filled with a longing to know "How do they do that?!" People have often asked Paul and myself that question, and I thought we were doing very well. But, yesterday I saw just how much better they could be! And, not only in church worship, but in fellowship at someone's home afterwards!

We were invited to go to Pastor Marcus Serven's home for dinner and fellowship (that's right - they invited over complete strangers!) It was a fabulous time, except that the kids (mostly Nelson) mortified us! Well, it wasn't the kids so much as it was knowing that we were the most immature parents in the bunch.

I long for older women to teach me and train me. Since we started having kids (then added another, and another) friends have been looking to us as a model. That is so much pressure since I myself do not have a model! I have the Bible, and I have books - but no real-life woman.

Paul and I are greatly stirred by what we have seen. Though we are embarrassed to recall how our kids behaved, we were sharpened by the experience. What would it be like to go to that type of church atmosphere every week? The kind people at that church could teach us much about marriage and parenthood!

We are talking about what this may mean for our family... Do we stay where we have been attending, as an example to others (a very poor example at times)? Do we go to another church where we ourselves can be fed and nourished with both the preaching of the Word and with real life living it out? Could God be leading us a new direction in life? Could God be showing us what type of atmosphere Paul may be serving in, in the not-so-near future? So many questions... so few answers.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Love - it is key

If you have been reading my blog for long, then you know that I am a changed woman from the time this blog began. Every day I realize something new about myself... something that has changed. There were immediate changes, and some that I realized more slowly.

Just this week we were in the van and I asked Paul, "Do you remember how I used to hate everyone and everything?" He answered a hearty "yes," as though how could he forget such a thing. I am amazed at this change! I used to be so irritable all the time. I used to be so easily annoyed at every little thing. I screamed at my kids all day long. This screaming was rooted in my own selfishness! Little annoyances like spilled milk would make me irate.

The day after God changed my heart I called a good friend of mine who knows me better than most people (she lived on the other side of a duplex from us!). Through joyful tears I explained what had happened to me. My exact words were "If I didn't know any better, I would say that I was not even a Christian before, but I am now." There are times that I can look back and see that I was actively serving the Lord, but during these times I was not under the serious refining fires that I am now (meaning I was not married, I had no children, I was not always sick and tired).

I believe that someone who loves the Lord and longs to serve Him will want to spend time reading His Word! I think that if we really love the Lord that we will not make excuses to get out of reading the Bible and praying. Yet, after I got married, and after I had kids I never made time to read my Bible. (Not regularly anyway).

So, what am I saying - I was allowing many things to choke out my love for the Lord like weeds. If I was saved, I certainly had no power to change. And, how is that possible? If the Holy Spirit is in you - there is power!

Still, most shocking is my own lack of love in the former days. I would say "I hate..." about so many things and occasionally people. The Bible makes it clear that if you love God you cannot hate people! (Read I John 2:9, on second thought - read the whole book!) Seriously, I hated everything. I hated my house, my van, my husband (from time to time), my kids (most of the time), my very life (all the time). I am being brutally honest here, because I want to be able to help others! I do not think that all my pain was for nothing! I believe that I am here, on this blog, to tell others my story and tell others HIS story. I want to lead other people to the Lord!

This is a relatively new desire for me. I now pray every day for lost people that I know by name. I pray for the supermarket cashiers, I pray for Taco Bell employees - you get the idea. I love everyone and I want to see everyone in love with the Lord and truly satisfied! My heart breaks for people like never before!
I want to ask you, friend - do you love people? Do you care that people around you are dying and heading to hell?

You may have noticed that the emphasis of this blog has changed of late. I still desire to encourage ladies in their walk with the Lord - that has not changed. But, also, I want to make sure that the Gospel message is presented on my blog clearly. I love my readers, especially the ones who post the nasty comments that never get posted. I hurt when I think that there are other ladies out there feeling like I used to!

If you hate everything, if you hate people, please listen to me. There is a better way to live! You do not have to keep hating life. You do not have to keep yelling at your kids! If you are a professing Christian - God wants better things for you! You are to be the salt of the earth, and a light to the world! (Matthew 5:13) Beg the Lord to forgive you. Beg the Lord to enable you to live better. Here's how (it is not a formula, but it is a starting point) - Jesus says in John 15:4-5 says to Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:4-5 (KJV) We can do nothing without His power enabling us! I firmly believe that the most excellent way to tap into this power (to be the branch off of His vine) is to read the Bible everyday. I cannot tell you how much this can change your life! I cannot state it strongly enough - reading the Bible will cause you to change!

Let these verses encourage you :
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.Isaiah 55:11 (KJV)

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.Heb 4:12-13 (KJV)

You cannot read the Word of God and walk away unchanged, unless you are like the man mentioned in James 1:22-25 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
And, if you get really brave, read the next verse - If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.James 1:26 (KJV)

This is meant to encourage you, not judge you. I am here to help you gain strength for your long journey of faith, not to cripple you! If you have comments or questions, I am here for you. But, I will never be able to answer questions as well as the Bible itself can! I encourage you to go read it now. Not only that, I encourage you to take on something that I have recently - Make reading your Bible such a priority that you would not get on the computer until after you read the Bible!!! I have one friend who mentioned not eating until you have read your Bible. I encourage you to get some type of accountability in this area! Without the Bible we cannot know God.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How do I know if I am saved?

If at any point you need more clarification on what salvation is and how to "be saved" then please read my post entitled Why do I need to be saved?/What am I saved from?. This post is mostly for people who think they are saved, but are unsure. But, I have also included enough for someone who does not even know what it means to be "saved." Please, keep reading, there is something here for everyone.

The book of First John, in the Bible, is something of a litmus test to see if you are a Christian. As he is preparing to end his letter, John writes:
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)
I am starting with the end, instead of the beginning of the book to establish that what I write below, bit and pieces of I John, will either establish you as a Christian who is "saved" (that is, safe from eternal damnation) or whether you are not a Christian. Entire volumes could be written about First John, today I undertake a mere survey.

Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, God's Son.
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 1 John 5:1
We also see that:
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 1 John 5:12
This entails more than a mere belief in Jesus' deity, it involves all of the other things mentioned in I John as indicators of salvation.

First of all, do you think you are a sinner? A sinner is a person who sins. And, sin is transgression against God's laws, that is - someone who disobeys God's rules. First John 3:4 is a definition of sin:
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law
First John 1:8 says
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
If you have never admitted that you are a sinner, then you are not a Christian. To be a Christian, you first have to admit that you are indeed a sinner.

Have you confessed your sins to God? Once you realize that you are a sinner, that you have disobeyed God, then you need to admit that to God. Of course, He already knows you are a sinner, but He wants to hear you say it. He wants you to tell Him that you are sorry.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
This needs to be more than a mere apology. This is an apology that has with it determination to really change and be different. The word that Christians use to describe this change is "repent" or "repentance." The Apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans,
if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
Have you been baptized? We are commanded to be baptized as a sign to ourselves, God, and everyone else that we are saved. These verses are from the book of Acts,
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:38-41)
Do you read the Bible and keep its commandments? First John 2:3-5 says,
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. John also says that, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3)
These verses show that we need to keep God's commandments. And, to know what His commandments are we need to be reading His Word - that is, the Bible. God's Holy Spirit, which He gives to believers, will help us to obey His rules.
And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us. (1 John 3:24)
I read this to mean that if we have the Holy Spirit we are saved, and we know we have the Holy Spirit when we keep God's commandments - because we cannot do it without His help!

Do you love people? Throughout First John we see a description of being in the light verses being in darkness. A Christian is a person who lives in the light. A person in darkness is a person who does not love God, a person who will go to Hell when they die. So, what does it look like for a person to live in the light? How do I know if I am one of those in the light? Read this -
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. (1 John 2:9)
In a later verse we read that
He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (1 John 3:14)
As I said in a previous post, we cannot fake love. And, love is a huge indicator of a changed life!
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
(1 John 3:18-19)
You can have assurance of your salvation if you love people!
Here are some verses that get to the heart of the matter (pardon the pun):
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
There you have it - if you do not love people, then you do not love or even know God (because to know God is to love God!)
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)
You cannot love sinful things. Here is a description of what worldliness means to God. (I need to define one word before you read these verses. John uses the word "world" to mean the evil things in this world - as the verses will themselves explain).
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)
God calls us to be different from everyone else in the world. We are not to live by our lusts and by our pride. We should not make our life decisions because of how it would appease our lusts and our pride. We need to live and find our purpose in living for the things of God. In fact, John says that we may seem completely unrecognizable the the world.
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)
The word "know" in that verse can mean "to understand." People will not understand Christians, we are different! We are holy, because God is Holy (Read I Peter 1:13-16).

If we know that the world will not understand us, if we know that we cannot be like the world - then, why do we try so hard to fit in and be just like everyone else? Everything about Christians should stand out as different: our speech, dress, activities, hobbies, homes, kids. This is NOT just a negative thing. It is not just about "you can't do this" or "don't do that." Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead to bring us life and freedom, not just a list of dos and don'ts! A Christian ought to have more peace and joy than anyone else he knows! (And, if you don't have more joy than someone who is clearly unsaved, then there is something wrong! Keep reading). So, it is not merely through denial of earthly things that others will know (and we can know) that we are saved! It is very much about acquiring good things about you (love, joy, peace, patience - to name a few! Read Galatians chapter 5 where it compares a life lived for God through the power of His Holy Spirit, verses a life lived for your own pleasure).

A Christian has hope!
A Christian can have hope in life and in death! If you are a professing Christian that fears death and the possibility of going to hell - there is something wrong. I am not talking about your concerns of leaving your family - none of us wants to abandon our loved ones. I am saying that if you fear that right now dying means a possible separation from God and hope - you need to question whether you are really saved.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
(1 John 3:2-3)
This next verse could have been put in the hope or the love category -
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:17-18)
You do not need to fear death, you should not fear death. If you do fear death/judgement then John said that person is "not made perfect in love." And, as John points out, GOD IS LOVE (5:8). Therefore, if you are made perfect in God you do not fear death. (This is one of the examples in Scripture where the word "perfect" means "complete" or "finished.") I am saying that your salvation may not yet be complete if you fear death and judgement for yourself.

We all need to read all of the Bible to truly understand God and the salvation He offers us. And, this has been a brief overview of First John. But, remember what John says about the letter he has written... he wrote it that we may KNOW we are saved (I John 5:13).

You can know and you can have peace in your salvation. If you can read the book of First John and know that you are (by God's grace) trying to be more like the word picture he has painted, then you can have assurance. If your life is marked by love and following God's commands, then you can have assurance. But, if you fear all the more from reading I John, then you are likely not yet saved. And, if you are so scared that you will not read the book at all, then you are not likely saved. I do not like saying those words! I know that I am hurting some of my readers. Yet, I would inflict this pain on you if it brings you closer to salvation! My goal is not to judge anyone. I do not sit in the judgment seat! I am just trying to draw some lines in the sand to help you see things more clearly.

Let me pray for you,
Lord Jesus, I ask that, in your mercy, you would show my readers if they truly be saved. So many people are unsure and it breaks my heart! Oh, God, that You would make things clear to each one who reads my blog. I ask that you would bring to repentance and salvation the ones who do not yet know you. And, if there be any who think they are saved, yet they cannot pass this "litmus test" in I John, then I beg you to convict them all the more and bring them to true repentance, true change, true forgiveness, true love, true knowledge of you. I ask that you would cause my readers who are believers to proclaim the Good News of their salvation from every rooftop. I beg that you would make me and my Christian readers more vocal about our faith. Cause us not to worry about offending others, what is offense compared to someone's eternity in hell? Give us the boldness that your Holy Spirit brings, the boldness that we see in the book of Acts each time the Holy Spirit comes in power. Use me, Lord, and use my Christian readers to draw others to Yourself.
Amen


Read a great poem on this topic by John Newton here.