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. These days I write at Covered By His Hand.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another Lydia Update

Drawing closer to Lydia's testing for Cystic Fibrosis and her appointment with the Oncologist has caused me to rely more on God. At least, that should be the appropriate response. Yet, as Friday draws nearer I am filled with tumult and anxiety. I know - it is a sin to worry. I know - I need to cast all my cares on the Lord. But, there seems to be a break between my mind and my practice!

This morning I got a call to confirm her CF test for Friday at 9:00am. And, the Oncologist will be able to see her that morning as well, at 10:30. I need your prayers friends, I am scared. I do not want to lose my baby. Not now... not in 15 or so years... not before I die. I am carnal and selfish, and I want to keep my doll here on Earth for my own pleasure. Yet, I know that I must surrender my will, my plans, my life to God. If He decides to take any of my children or my most precious treasure, my husband, I need to trust that it will all be for His Glory.

Pray for us that we will be good witnesses for God in the coming days/weeks/months while we attempt to determine what ails our girl. Pray for me that I will not give in to anxiety.

InstaVerse

Have you seen InstaVerse? It is so great! You scroll your cursor over a reference and it shows the verse (you pick the translation) in a box. Amazing invention - very helpful!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Welcome to my home

The other day I was moved to thinking about my language and attitude in my blogs...
1- Am I kind and loving?
2- Am I tearing down the Church or building it up?
3- Is what I write God-honoring?
4- Am I telling people how they can have a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe?
5- Where can I improve?

If you are new to Grace in Bloom, welcome! My intention in blogging is to encourage believers (I tend to focus more on ladies, but I welcome gentlemen too). I tend to be strong-willed and I have strong opinions. But, it is NOT my intention that every christian should model themselves after me! When I pose deep thoughts and questions (which is nearly every post) I do not want to make a bunch of disciples of Bethany! In fact, sometimes I lament that my tedious questions may take the focus off of Jesus.

There are so many things that we Christians CAN and WILL disagree on! But, we need to be able to agree on how we answer the question, "What must I do to be saved?" I have already touched on this topic in my post Salvation - A Resting Place. I do not want people to come here and get bogged down by new ideas/concepts. I want to stir your minds to thinking in a new direction, but I admit that I am human and prone to error. I have changed SO much in the past 8 years (that is how long I have been married). But, there is always a chance that my strong opinions will change again in the coming years, because I am ALWAYS re-examining why I do what I do!

This blog is mostly me thinking out loud... it is like a diary of my own spiritual journey. I love blogging, but I often forget how big my audience can be... not all of you are in agreement with me on many of my pet issues (Bible versions, birth control, and entertainment - to name a few). That's ok! I recently gave my family a link to my blog and that has really caused me to rethink my posting habits! I am not ashamed or afraid of who I am, but when I am in family circles I keep silent about the more controversial issues. I do not want to be taken as being contentious! But, here, in print... well, it's like my alter ego takes over. Outspoken, bold, controversial Bethany W takes over.

To my extended family - I love you. I hope that you will not role your eyes and write me off as some whacko on "the other side of the family." I know that many of you are just here for the pictures and the updates on our little Lydia. I welcome you! And, precious family, if you do not personally know Jesus as your Saviour, if you are not confident that you will go to heaven when you die - please, let me share with you how to know God for yourself! Do not let my strong opinions scare you - I am a rather unusual person, I admit it. But, I humbly ask that you do read the Scriptures that I reference and see if there may be any grounds for my oddities. My family may always call me or write me with questions, concerns, or comments.

To my new visitors that I haven't met - Welcome! I hope that you read some things here that peak your interest (not interest in me, but interest in God and the Scriptures). If you, new friend, do not know Jesus as your Saviour - please, ask me anything you want. You can e-mail me at flutefelicity@aol.com . This site focuses more on people who are already saved, but I still have a desire to say things that can help people learn more about God to become saved.

Thank you for reading this lengthy (and somewhat unusual) post. I hope this helps you to know who I am and what I am all about.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Raising meat eaters

"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby"
1 Peter 2:2 (KJV)

"I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able." 1 Cor 3:2 (KJV)

Paul and I are eager to raise children that hunger for the Truth of God's Word. We want them to be spiritual meat eaters. We often talk about what we can do to raise spiritually healthy children. I want to share with you some of our ideas, admitting that our children are yet young. However, I will say up front that we believe that Christian parents should try to pass on their beliefs and expect their kids to grow up to love and serve God as well.
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Prov 22:6 (KJV)
First and foremost we read the Bible to our children. We do not read them story Bibles (at least not as the "main dish"), we read to them out of the actual Bible. We stop often to explain terms and ideas. (It is often the ideas of the story that need explanation. For example: Lot offers his daughters to the men of Sodom or Lot's daughters get him drunk...) Kids are SO much smarter than we give them credit for! I think that kids will rise to the expectations that we have for them (tongue in cheek, I admit that my oldest is only 6...).

Secondly, we do not watch Bible-based kids' videos. I know that many of you disagree with me - that's ok. But, don't tune me out, let me explain. Paul and I do not allow the kids to watch Veggie Tales**, because the stories are often misconstrued or misinterpreted. My fear is that to make the stories fun and entertaining the truth of Scripture has been watered down. (Remember, this post is about teaching your kids to crave the MEAT of the Bible). I am not entirely against making learning fun, BUT if you have to change the Bible story to do it - then it borders on heresy. I know that when I used to watch the movies with my kids I would often forget how the stories really went.
For example:
- Peas did not throw slushies off the walls of Jericho. The people of Jericho were terrified of the God of Israel and hid within their walls.
- David did not have a rubber duckie fettish. He lusted after another man's wife and sinned grievously because of his desire for her.
- Esther did not fear being banished to the isle of perpetual tickling. She feared for her life, because no one was allowed to appear before the king uninvited.

Maybe you think I am nit-picking. But, Paul and I are doing our best to make sure that our kids don't just grow up to learn about the Bible, but that they learn the Bible!

Thirdly, we do not allow entertainment or media in our home that does not share our biblical worldview. This will change as our children age and become capable of discerning things for themselves. For the time being, we keep the tv in the closet - we aren't missing out on much.

Lastly, we homeschool. We feel that we are better able to decide what the children should be taught than the public school system. ALSO, we want them to grow up to be Christ-centered, and how can we manage that when they spend 8 hours a day at a godless institution? Since God gives us knowledge and in Him all things were made - it is only natural that all school subjects focus on Him! (As a side note that maybe should have been on my first point: Have you ever thought of all the things your kids learn from the Bible? World history, Math, Civics, Science, Music, English/spelling/grammar/writing, and more).
"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes." Deut 6:5-8 (KJV)
We need to teach our kids daily. Some may think that it is odd that our family reads the Bible at every meal time. But, isn't that what we see in the verses above? From what I have seen, it is very unlikely that children will grow up to love the Word and love God if they do not do it at home DAILY. Learning about God will just become something we do at church on Sundays. This is the pattern that I see. This is the reason that 9 out of 10 kids who go to church with their parents stop doing so at age 18! (God can intervene and break this pattern. Neither Paul or I were homeschooled. Neither of us had regular family worship growing up. But, God accomplished his Will in spite of these things. There is nothing too big for God - but let's not put Him to the test.)

So many Christian parents are concerned over feeding their kids' physical bodies. Our kids' bodies are important (feed them those veggies and that wheat bread). BUT, their souls are of even greater importance! Feed your little sheep!


**We don't mind the stories that are teaching Bible truths without massacring the Bible narrative. And, we find the silly songs quite funny (we let the kids watch the silly songs videos).

Lydia update


Everyone is showing a lot of concern for Lydia - I appreciate that! Many of you are asking, "How is she doing?"
She is always very weak and fragile. She is always cold and sleepy. This morning she fell asleep in Paul's lap at the kitchen table during family worship. (This is highly unusual since we had just finished breakfast).
She is oblivious to our concerns. She is loved and happy, but she doesn't think much of "being sick." She is so very sweet, she has the best temperament to handle this illness (whatever it is). She is teaching me more daily about having "faith like a child." She has no worries, she just goes with the flow. As long as she has a parent to snuggle, she is all love and sunshine!

my health update

Paul has forbidden me to give up caffeine. He says that I am too sick and weak, and that he thinks caffeine is medicine for me. He forced me to drink coffee this morning. Paul is very good at moderation - I stink at moderation. I will place myself under his authority. He says, "If you were healthy it would be a different story. But, as it is, you need caffeine." He has also reminded me that the reason I started drinking caffeine a few months ago was under doctor's orders. (My pulse was dropping into 40 bpm. The doctor said "Drink a Coke. Do whatever it takes to get your heart going.")

I still haven't found a new doctor for my thyroid condition, but I do get to see an endocrinologist on May 13th. I have heard that endos are the least likely to use Armour natural thyroid, they prefer the synthetic treatment (Synthroid). I am still taking my Synthroid (it is better than nothing), but it does not seem to get me healthy or normal. My dose has been increased and with that I am feeling a little more energy and my hands and joints aren't as sore. But, it is still a daunting task to homeschool the kids.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Idols

On Hammer and Nail's blog the other day I made a comment about idols. My comment was that "an idol is something that replaces God that we don't want to give up." Ever since the day I posted that, I have been under a heap of conviction. There is one thing in my life that I often use as a crutch... sometimes I let my joy for it replace my love for God (especially in the morning). I am talking about my dependency on caffeine. I am NOT joking, I am really addicted. As I write I am suffering from a headache that is the trademark of withdrawal from an abused substance.

I am in sin when I am enslaved to the power of caffeine. This morning was my first morning to face the effects of life without caffeine. Honestly, I did not even want to get up. This is pathetic! The joy of the Lord should be my strength. I should not lean on anything but God to get me through each day.

Yet, all day long I am finding myself frustrated, impatient, grumpy, and above all - irked by a massive headache. Pray for me friends, I am serious about wanting to kick this addiction once and for all!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The call you never want to get

I just received a phone call that you never want to get. (Especially after you are reassured by the Doctor two days before that your child's condition is minor). The call went something like this:

Nurse: Hi, Bethany. How are you today?
Me: Fine. Do you have the results from Lydia's stool sample?
Nurse: No, I am calling to set up Lydia's appointment with the specialist.
Me: We already have an appointment to see the immunologist on May 29th.
Nurse: No, I mean the oncologist.
Me: *Gagging* The what? I think I heard you wrong.
Nurse: The oncologist in ...
Me: This is news to me.
Nurse: Her diagnosis is lymphadenopathy.
Me: Can you spell that?
Nurse: (spells it)
Me: This is news to me (yes, I repeat myself when I am troubled... yes, I repeat myself when I am troubled).
Nurse: She also needs another appointment for a sweat chloride test.

OK, you get the gist. And, you can safely assume that I am sitting here choking back tears. What mother of a two-year-old can handle this information without tears?! Not only has she indeed got some lymph node problem, and she may have cancer, but now they are testing for Cystic Fibrosis as well! I am not made of steel, I am more of a delicate petal - I weep!

Lydia gets the sweat chloride test on May 2nd, and we will try to get her into the oncologist the same day (as Springfield is a lot of gas away).

Some of you have gotten that call! I know at least one of my readers has been through the turmoil of a child with lymphoma. I cannot imagine what that is like; honestly - I hope I never do know what that is like. But, here on earth we are all affected by sin. It corrupts our bodies. But, more importantly - sin corrupts our hearts! Has your heart been washed clean by the blood of Jesus? Are you trusting in Him alone for your salvation? Friend, if you do not know who this Jesus is, please e-mail me! So, if you ever get "the call you never want to get" you can go into the crisis knowing that Jesus is going with you! I could not go through this process of testing my baby for all kinds of lethal diseases if it were not for my standing upon the Rock of my Salvation!

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7 (KJV)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Salvation - A Resting Place

My Faith Has found a Resting Place,
by Lidie H. Edmunds.

(Verse 1) My faith has found a resting place,
not in device or creed;
I trust the Ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

(Chorus) I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me!

It seems that in most every blog I write I end up stating "it's not worth splitting the church over." There are a lot of things that us Christians can disagree on and still worship together. But, when it comes to salvation - that is a different story! We live in a society that is always saying that you should do "what works for you." Or, we hear that all faiths lead to the same God. I do not agree with either of these statements.

First of all, I believe that Jesus Christ is the sinless Son of God and that only He can issue to us salvation! (John 14:6) Only through the sacrifice of His blood can we be saved. "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." (Heb 9:22 KJV) It is because of the precious blood of Jesus that we can be forgiven of sins and cleansed from all unrighteousness! I am not going to put all the Scriptures that relate to this topic, because that would require quoting most of the Old and New Testaments! But, I will tell you that the book of Hebrews (especially chapters 9-13) speaks strongly of the blood of Jesus! Here is just one example: "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (Heb 10:19 KJV). It is because of the blood of Jesus that we can approach the throne of Grace with confidence! This is huge! Without Jesus, God would hate to look upon our wretched sinful beings!

I love creeds, my favorite is the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. It states all the promises of Scripture in such beautiful language! BUT, this confession is NOT my hope for salvation. The confession points me to the Bible which tells me of the One who IS my salvation!

If you do not know about this Jesus that I speak of - PLEASE e-mail me. I want to tell you about Him. Let me share with you how He wants to be your Savior too! Are you trusting in your good works to save you? That's not enough! Are you hoping that if you follow most of the commandments most of the time that you will go to heaven? That isn't enough! Are you trusting in a creed to save you? That's not enough!

(Verse 3 of the song above)
My heart is leaning on the Word,
The living Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior's Name,
Salvation through His blood.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me!

Lydia update

Read Saturday's blog first.

First, I need to clarify some things... I am going to be specific without being crude or explicit. (It is not ever in my nature to be crude or vulgar, just so you know... you are safe here!) When Lydia has a bowel movement something red and fleshy becomes exposed. But, after she has finished and been wiped it retracts back into the rectum.

When I took Lydia to the doctor this morning nothing looked unusual, the "thing" was inside of her. I did my best to describe to the poor lady - who did her best to keep a straight face as I kept referring to "the thing" as "the thing." (Yes, friends, that's my college education at work!)

As is usually the case at doctors' visits, we found out a thing or two, but were left with more questions than answers! The doctor is certain that the condition is either 1)a partially prolapsed rectum, or 2) an intestinal polyp. At her age it is most likely a polyp and they are usually benign (that is, non-cancerous!) We cannot be sure without my looking very closely at "the thing." If it is a polyp, she will most likely require surgery. If it is a prolapsed rectum... well, we'll see.
In the mean time, she is planning to look over Lydia's whole chart and see if this new development sheds light onto an overall condition.

Also, the doctor did say that she does not think her immunological problem is anything really serious. She is sending us to the specialist out of precaution. That is good to know!

Oh, I told her about the dog having worms recently (in the last year she has had round worms, hook worms, and whip worms - not to mention the neighbors dogs...). I have to get a stool sample from Lydia.

Keep on praying for us. Even if this is just a minor thing, Lydia's overall health is not "normal" for a 2-year-old. But, praise God, her lymph nodes were NOT swollen today! She did, however, have a fever and fluid in her left ear.

Nine month old (and up)

Joshua is 9 months old now. He can:
-pull up on any furniture item
-walk along the furniture item (the problem is getting back down!)
-crawl,roll (been doing these for months)
-speak some dialect of jibberish
-get a new bruise on his head per day
-make any grown up light up with his love and laughter

Lydia is 2. She can:
-talk clearly (most of the time)
-be as sweet as sugar
-bully her older brother who has been taught to never hit a lady
-set the table
-sort and categorize anything

Nelson is 4. He can:
-recognize letters and sounds, dissect words and identify the letters used
-run, and run, and run, and run, ...
-count (to 20) and add (to 5)
-be the sweetest boy you've ever met
-tackle, romp, tumble with the best of the them

Rebecca is 6. She can:
-be the biggest helper you've ever met
-sit perfectly still in school and church (if she chooses to)
-take care of Joshua
-boss little sibs around
-clean herself in the shower without ANY help - woohoo!
-help cook meals

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Prayers Needed

This evening my husband discovered that my 2-year-old, Lydia, has a partial rectal prolapse. He was quick to diagnose it, but graphic photos on the internet confirmed it. The illustrations on this link are just drawings, not explicit.

This condition could be caused by many things, including whipworm - which the dog was recently treated for (FYI: not all heartworm meds are created equal! Make sure yours treats heart worm, hook worm, AND whipworm!).

I am asking "Why Lydia?!" She already has this mystery lymph node problem and the mystery immunological problem... now this?! I am NOT ranting at God! I know that He can be trusted! I know He holds all things in His hands! I am just trying to wrap my mind around the idea that my poor, sweet doll has one more thing wrong with her.

I am encouraged in my suffering by John Piper, he is such an eloquent preacher. This sermon on John Bunyan is fantastic! (Be sure to download it, as it is an hour and thirty-one minutes long).

Run out of things to say?

Some people have trouble blogging because they don't have enough to say (Paul has told me this). I never have this problem! So, if there is ever a two-day lapse in posting - someone is sick! This week I have had a sinus infection and an ear infection. Also, Baby Joshua still has an ear infection.

For me, going without blogging for two days is like losing my voice! I have so much to say that I am not sure where to begin... I better pace myself.

One piece of good news: Last week when I balanced the checkbook, there was only ONE "eat-out" on the statement! Woo-hoo! This is a huge accomplishment for both our budget and our health!

Also, in regards to saving money, we have decided to keep the AC set as high as possible this year. We are always saying how we could give it up all-together if God called us to foreign missions... but, for some reason that isn't enough for us to live sensibly all the time! Meaning, we think "We have it, let's use it!" This year we will use it to control humidity and allergens, but we will set it high (78-80).

More later.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

School pictures

Above: Kids are ready for family worship.
Below: Joshua is safe in his pen while we do school.
Nelson practices his pre-writing - with his tongue out!
Why is Lydia in mittens? I don't know! It must be a two-year -old thing!

Children are a blessing

Unless you are a complete social recluse, you have heard recent remarks by Barak Obama that reveal his thoughts on childbirth. In short, he said that he didn't want his daughters being "punished with a baby" if she made a mistake/bad choices. Conservative Christians are outraged - "How can he call babies punishment?!"

Here is the question I pose to you...
Nearly every week someone (family, friend, complete stranger) will comment that we must be "done" having children. The really vocal ones quip, "Four and no more!" And, every month we will be in some Christian setting where someone discussing having more babies will say, "We're not having anymore, we took care of that problem!" (I have even heard Reformed brothers and sisters say this!)

Problem?! Punishment?! These terms are synonymous!

Paul and I are what you may call "quiverfull." (Read Psalm 127) We are simply leaving the matter in God's Hands. We did not come to this decision over night! We have been studying and praying for years!

There are moments when I question God, "Why are we always so different from other Christians? Why can't we just be normal?" Over the years, Paul and I have both been told "You think too much." We are the type of people that challenge EVERYTHING! We both grew up Baptist, but we still ask ourselves "Why do we believe...?" This questioning has led to many life changes! I am content being a person who thinks too much! I am content that God made me and Paul so abnormal. (God was gracious in putting me with another person who challenges the status quo! What if I had married a man who never asked "Why do we...?")

But like so many issues, birth control isn't worth splitting the Church over! Nor will we leave a church just because people make rude comments. I welcome my Christian brothers and sisters to leave comments, even if they disagree. Just please, be kind.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Great day!

Like all sensible American's we have cut way back on gas expenses. For us, this has meant combining trips. We live in the country and I am always very eager to go "into town" (doesn't matter what town, any town!). But, we have been scaling back on our travel. We used to make up reasons to go to Wal-Mart, now we try to go only once a week.
Paul has a Pastor's meeting "in town" every Monday, so I took the kids to Wal-Mart for groceries. This is a big deal, because I am so afraid of being alone with the kids in public. What if someone has to pee? What if Baby has a meltdown? What if I have a meltdown? And, all those other what-ifs.
Today, however, was the best trip I have ever had to the store! I had Rebecca push Baby in the umbrella stroller. My two year old rode in the cart seat. And, Nelson (he's 4) walked with me and helped put groceries in the cart. We made a school trip out of it by reading labels and sounding out words. We talked about colors and shapes - whatever was age appropriate to keep each kid busy.
But, I had quite a laugh in the store -
We were just turning to go down an aisle when we saw 2 ladies walking towards us (35-40 in age). Both ladies stared with dropped jaws, one commented "you sure have your hands full." The other said, "Are they all yours?" "Yes." I simply replied. As we walked away Rebecca said, "That was weird, why would she ask if we are all yours?!" I laughed out loud at the precious mind of my girl!
Another funny story, security actually followed me through the first part of the store! No joke, the guy was trying to be incognito! Yes, friends - the homeschooling mother who is crazy enough to drag all four children into Wal-Mart must be a dangerous criminal!
All in all, it was a great trip. We learned a lot, we laughed a lot, and we didn't do anything to bring shame to God or Paul.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sin's Curse on Woman

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. Gen 3:16 (KJV)

As a conservative Christian, I believe that the Bible means what it says. In this case, I believe that all women are cursed. I believe that all women will have pain in childbirth. But, my focus today is on the latter part of that curse.

What does it mean for a woman's "desire to be for her husband?" We have all heard so many explanations on that verse. But, I believe that the best way to understand anything in the Bible is to let the Bible interpret itself. Immediate context - this is a curse, something bad. So, it does not mean that a woman will simply desire to be around her man.

In a larger context, as we continue to read through Genesis we see a story that may help us. In Genesis chapter four we see Cain and his brother offering their gifts to God.
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. 8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
Gen 4:4-8 (KJV)


Did you notice verse seven? Sin's desire is for Cain, to rule over him. Likewise, woman's desire is for her husband - to rule over him. I think this is a very strong case to show that God did indeed mean that a wife would want to rule her man! But, this is a curse! Ladies, we have to submit to our husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24; I Peter 3:1-6).

Another important lesson to learn from Cain - verses 6-7 mention that Cain's countenance has fallen... he has a bad attitude. The text indicates that (humanly speaking) this whole situation could have been different if he checked his attitude when God first sent conviction. But, Cain did not fix his countenance by doing well... instead he fell into great sin.

1- I must submit to Paul.
2-I must guard my attitude, lest I run into some terrible sin!

Legacy

When I was a teenager a popular question to ask people was "If you were to be stranded on a deserted island with two people, who would you choose?" I can honestly say that my husband, Paul, would be one of those people. For the other, I would choose my Grandpa (on my mother's side). My grandfather went to be with Jesus in February 2002, but not a week passes that I do not think about him! He is so, so precious to me. I can feel tears forming as I struggle to convey these thoughts...

My Grandmother has since followed him to heaven, and more recently their family home as been sold. This is a big deal to me, because he built his home with his own two hands. Many of the items in the home were also built by him. I get physically ill sometimes thinking about all the things that were left behind: bookcases built by grandpa, the workbench where he taught me so many things about craftmanship, a cedar chest that he made. I lament out loud, "Paul, why didn't we go get those bookcases and the chest? Why didn't we take grandma's old sewing machine and table? Why didn't we get...." (The answer is, we were in Florida and we could not make a trip to their home in Pekin, IL)

These are regrettable losses. BUT, there is a bigger loss. My Grandpa was a true man of God. OH - the things he could have taught me if I had just been willing to listen! He loved his precious Bible and no other translation could compare to his King James! I wish I would have asked "why?". He worked hard every day, but never on Sundays, I wish I could have asked him "why?". They never ate "out" at restaurants, I wish I could ask "why?". He didn't like contemporary/pop Christian music, I wish I could ask "why?".

Do you know what is really sad about these above statements? Grandpa tried to talk to me about these things! And, like the willful, foolish child I am, I didn't listen. I was set to argue for using my NIV Bible and I was offended that he did not like my music. I scorned his years and his wisdom. My heart breaks within me for this folly!!!

Are you learning from your elders? Is your church full of grey hair, as mine is? When Paul and I invite young people to church we always get the same answer - "There is no one there my age." What a shame, that we see no value in our elders! All too often we think of them as a burden, or someone to be tolerated. What a shame! Our grandparents, our elders, have a wealth of experience that they would eagerly share with us. Let's make an effort to honor our elders and enjoy their stories and rebukes.

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.
Lev 19:32 (KJV)


The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.
Prov 16:31 (KJV)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pilgrim's Progress

In a recent post, I mentioned some of the great books we use in family worship. I accidentally left out The Pilgrim's Progress. I highly recommend this version, because of the pictures it has on nearly every page. It keeps our kids very quiet while listening to Daddy read!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Aids for Family Worship

Curious minds want to know how we are able to do family worship with 4 kids (ages 6 and under). We are still experimenting - trying to figure out what works best. But, I do have some ideas to share.

We are currently doing a different portion of Scripture after each meal, but we are moving in succession through the Bible. We read Genesis after breakfast, Psalms at lunch, and Matthew after dinner. We try to do one chapter at each sitting.

We also have some neat books that help us.
1- Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs - this is a combination of hymns and Psalter.
2- Truth and Grace Memory Book - this is more or less a Reformed Baptist catechism for children. The first part of the book is verses and songs for the children to memorize. The final half of the book is questions and answers.
3- Psalter
4- The Pilgrim's Progress - wonderfully illustrated

We have also found that sitting at the kitchen table tends to keep the kids better focused. (Especially if we can keep the two year old strapped in her booster chair).

Hope this information is helpful to you as you worship with your families!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How I've Changed...

This past week, Paul and I have been thinking a lot about how much we have changed in the last 8 years. (Let's leave my clothing size out of it!) Some of these changes are enormous, in other ways - well, I wish I would have changed more!

My Passions -
Then: After we first got married I asked Paul, my parents, and my brother what they thought my biggest passion was (based on my lifestyle). They all answered eating/food!!!
Now: When I asked Paul the same question yesterday, he answered that he thinks I am passionate about being a godly wife, mother, homemaker, and teacher.

Reading-
Then: "Paul, why are you always reading? Don't you care about me? Can't we talk? Who wants to read in their free time anyway?!"
Now: I love reading! It is one of my favorite pass-times, second only to writing.

Free Time-
Then: "Paul, I'm bored." I was always bored, I would often practice flute for hours.
Now: Who has time to be bored?! I haven't played my flute for months. I play piano every day to prepare for family worship, but not flute.

Homeschooling-
Then: "Why would anyone want to homeschool? I thought we were supposed to be the salt and light to the lost world?"
Now: We now homeschool.

Theology-
Then: "What is so important about doctrine? Why can't we all just get along?" "Can't we talk about something besides the Bible?"
Now: I LOVE to read and study the Bible and theology. I love to talk about doctrine.

Music Choices-
Then: Paul made me give up country music. "Bethany, this music is not very edifying."
Now: I like music that is Christian, but I like other things as well. I especially like music that is instrumental only.

TV Viewing-
Then: Addicted to "Days of our Lives." Yes, it's true. I watched anything, and felt little remorse or shame. (I do know what I am talking about it my posts on entertainment!)
Now: The tv is in a closet gathering dust.

Laundry/Cleaning-
Then: "Paul, what temperature water do I use with this bleach load?" and "What kind of idiot uses cloth diapers? yuck!"
Now: I know all about laundry temps, I know now that absorbent fabrics (towels and diapers) shouldn't be washed with fabric softener. I find pleasure in cleaning diapers. I use vinegar and baking soda for lots of things now.

spiritual giftedness:
Then: I encouraged everyone with cards and kind words (except for poor Paul). And, I had no discernment.
Now: I have little time to write cards. And, I don't often think to use kind words. And, poor Paul and the kids hear my most deprecating speech. BUT, Paul told me last night that he still believes encouragement to be one of my spiritual gifts. Paul also says that I have a gift of discernment/knowledge. (Update 11-08-08: Since God changed my life, I am now much more positive to my family!)

Cooking-
Then: "Paul, how do you cook....?" followed by tears and screaming, "Why are you always taking over the cooking, that is supposed to be my job!" Then stomping off to my room to cry.
Now: "Paul, how do you cook..." followed by tears BUT I try to watch and learn. I now try to cook a lot of new things (and ruin them) then I run crying to my room. "Cooking is supposed to be my job. I am useless." (Updated 11-08-08: Since God sent His Holy Spirit to fill me I am no longer plagued with thinking I am useless over a little thing like cooking. And, I am no longer running off and slamming doors. My cooking hasn't improved in these past months, but my attitude has!)

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Phil 1:6 (NASB)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What Not to Watch

One of the issues that really gets me fired up is that of entertainment. I have strong opinions about what Christians should/should not be watching. This afternoon I read an article in HomeLife magazine about setting tv limits for kids ("Remote Control", February 2008). I'll admit right off that I read everything in this magazine skeptically - expecting my discernment to send up red flags. It isn't that the magazine is bad, it is in fact published by the Southern Baptist Convention, through LifeWay. BUT, every issue is infiltrated with easy-believism and sometimes other "isms."

What I do like about this particular article is that is says you need to teach children to discern for themselves - that's good (though not something most kids are capable of doing). But, what I don't like is that the article only makes brief mention to refraining from tv/movies altogether. And, even then it seemed to be slanted saying, "for some kids this is effective." Some? Just some?

We do not have tv in our house, but we do have a dvd player. In the past two weeks we have watched 0 hours of visual entertainment (that's right, I said zero). Our oldest is 6 and she has no discernment. When the kids do watch something we watch it with them and talk it through with them. For example, most kids' cartoons are openly believing evolution. We own the Jungle Book, but every time we watch it Rebecca will quote back to us our speech that apes cannot become human. She knows that speech, but would NOT recognize evolutionary elements in other programs. We recently rented a Wiggles dvd and it had songs and dialog about evolution!

In the January 2008 issue of HomeLife there is an article called "The Media Diet." This article says that Christians should not withdraw completely from media, because they will become irrelevant. This thought of relevance is so prevalent within modern day Christianity. I have heard countless sermons about how we need to stay in tune to current music and movie trends so that we can better minister to our society. WHY? How can we reach out to the world if we are just like them?! Dick Staub, who wrote both aforementioned HomeLife articles, maintains that we need to watch tv and listen to pop music to be able to reach out on the level of the lost person. Again - why?! I fear that too many Christians have bought into this mentality and as a result we are now hearing cursing from behind the pulpit, and we are seeing clips from rated R movies in worship services! It's an outrage!

We are to set our minds on things above (Romans 8:6-7; Colossians 3:2). We are supposed to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We are supposed to dwell on things that are "pure, noble, right, true, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy" (Philippians 4:8 NASB). How can we so guard our hearts and minds if we are polluting ourselves with media?!

Maybe you, reader, are not like me. Maybe you are not as impressionable as I am. But, when I hear cursing, I find myself filtering it out of my own thoughts before I should happen to say it. And, when I see certain sins repeatedly portrayed on tv/movies, I become hardened of heart. I become quenched to the Holy Spirit's prodding. At present, when I turn on the tv I am repulsed, that is a good thing! But, if I watch too much I find my discernment is marred. If we take in a healthy "media diet" as Staub recommends - we may find ourselves too quickly becoming gluttons!

I am terrible at moderation. Maybe you, reader, aren't like me. Maybe you can carefully regulate yourself with discipline. But, I am unable to do so - with so many things I am all or nothing (including caffeine). I had to let go of entertainment, because I saw that I was addicted. (Sure, I only watched a few hours a week, but that was enough to deeply affect my mind.)
Without any tv/movies we are able to spend more time in worship, more time in reading, more time with the kids... I just can't think of any reasons NOT to give up visual entertainment!

Are you watching media to stay relevant to the culture? Is it working? Or, are you becoming so submersed in the culture that you blend in with it?

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." Colossians 2:8 (NASB)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Growing in Grace

God is truly using my life circumstances to sanctify me (that is - to mold me into His image).
(I Corinthians 1:26-31; Hebrews 12:14; Romans 8:28-29)
Yesterday, my 8 month old - Joshua, came down with a fever. His fever of 103.7 was the highest temp I had ever seen! He has an ear infection and he is cutting teeth. That made for a night full of fussing. I was soooo tired- and I wanted to stay in bed. Or, at the very least, lay on the couch. But, the poor baby wanted to walk with my rocking as I walked. Not only that - he wanted me to sing. So, I sang . . . through tears. The first song I sang was the praise chorus, "Change my heart, Oh God." Never has the song meant more to me! I truly was praying for a new heart! I am so selfish - without a doubt God has given me four children to rid me of that. Next I sang Psalm 146 from the Psalter, "Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah." I could hardly choke that one out for all the sobs wracking my body. It was a long night.

After my long night, I woke up to find my 2 year old sick. For those of you who don't know - Lydia has recently been diagnosed with some type of immune deficiency. Right now they are very vague about it, but we do know that it is direct correlation with her lymph nodes. Her glands were all swollen (again) and she slept in till 10. She would not eat, but kept saying "I want go bed... I want go bed." We took her to urgent care and they were again vague... not her ears, she has a red throat though. She is on antibiotics (again) for her mysterious gland problem.

OK - so just one kid sick would have been strain enough on me. With my fighting for energy sucked away by thyroid disease; financial strain from Paul's leaving his secular job; and searching for a doctor to no avail... that would all be quite enough (humanly speaking). But, no - God has decided that His best work can be done through adding another child's illness to it.

I know I must be awfully sinful, awfully rebellious to require such pruning from the Lord's hand! I must be awfully willful to refuse to submit to His plan through this time of molding! I know that I need to be as Clay in the Potter's Hand (Jeremiah 18:6). But, OH, it is so hard! I have been blessed by good sermons like this one on suffering. And, I have been blessed by the Elsie Dinsmore books, by Martha Finley! I do not pray that God would bring me suffering, but I do pray that during suffering I would be able to stand. These past few weeks I have been at a breaking point. I write positive blogs, but I am a wretched sinner. In between my blogging I weep and struggle with God. Why cannot I accept the blessings of suffering?! I KNOW that God means all things for my good! I know that he promises suffering to His children! Why can't I bend to His will?! Why must I balk at these new trials? (James 1:2-4; I Peter 4:19; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Pray for me, friends, I am so weak!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Worship as a family

Last week my husband quit his secular job, at UPS. His only "job" now is as a pastor of our small, country church. Since his schedule is more flexible now (and he has tons more energy) we have become more committed to family worship. We have moved from once a day to three times a day (after each meal). I don't say that to brag! In fact, sometimes I think we are down-right weird! Who reads their Bible as a family 3 times a day?! (I never did with my family as a kid. I never knew anyone else who did...) This is all so new to me - I have to keep reminding myself that this is why we homeschool - because we are so different.

I can hear my critics now, "Shouldn't you spend that time doing something productive?" Well, what could we do that is more productive than teaching our children Scripture? And, it isn't just for the kids! It brings so much more accountibility to my own heart when I come face to face with my sin 3 times per day (plus my individual reading time). With four kids, I need all the encouragements (and rebukes) that the Bible has for me!

I heard a great sermon by Joel Beeke this afternoon on this matter of family worship. (We download sermons on CD and listen to them in the van). He encourages families to daily have time together spent in studying God's word. I found the message very encouraging!
Does your family do family worship? Do you do it daily? Deut. 6:4-9 says to teach your children when they get up and go to bed (these things happen every day!)

People are always saying, "just wait until they are older..." Paul and I know we are terribly sinful creatures, and we are bound to make countless mistakes. BUT, we are trusting in the Lord to hold our children in His hand and save them from rebellion. This concept is so foreign in today's culture - that we may be able to keep our kids from going astray. We think that family worship is laying this foundation for them. We are going to try to do our best with the few years we have to point them to the Savior - and through God's Grace, they may yet become as weird as we are!

Homeschool Computer "curriculum"

When Rebecca turned 6, she received a Webkinz from her grandparents. (A lion she named Aslan) This little toy has turned into our computer skills "curriculum." She gets to play games, make webkinz money, and have a virtual pet with many fun and frustrating choices. For example, should she decorate his room and buy him clothes, or buy food and save money for a potential doctor's visit. So, not only does it teach computer skills (typing, hand-eye-coordination, etc), but it teaches real life scenarios. It is not just a game, for her it is real. While I do not recommend it for anyone under 6, I think it would be great for a child up to 13 (girls more than boys). Games and quiz questions very in difficulty by age.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Big Boy


My Joshua is getting
so big.
As I was empying
the dishwasher,
he found some
new toys.
We have let all our
kids play in the
"tupperware" cabinet.

Magazine Covers

While in line at the grocery store y-day I saw some sad magazine covers.
Cosmo Girl!Prom issue says "996 Ways to Turn a Head"
Another line: Sexy prom gowns that...
(BTW, this is yet another reason that I am soooo glad that we homeschool!!!)

These headlines show us how sad the state of affairs is in our young girls! A junior and senior in high school should NOT be trying to turn heads and find a sexy gown! I am heartbroken for these young ladies brought up to think that the best thing they have going for them is their bodies! Oh - if they only knew how fleeting good looks are! (Proverbs 31:30)

So, what can we do? Most importantly, let's set a good example! We need to let our good works define who we are, and not our bodies! (In other words, dress modestly). Secondly, we should not be looking at Cosmo or Vogue for fashion sense either! Those magazines are certainly not God-honoring. Such magazines are all about how to turn a head - this flies in the face of a the biblical command of "shamefacedness." (I Timothy 2:9)

Are we teaching our daughters (and sons) that a woman's value is in her figure? Or are we teaching her that her most important asset is her fear of the Lord?! How are we modelling these things? Are we chasing after the fountain of youth by pursuing every new diet, surgery, make-up etc that comes along? Or, are we striving to live a healthy life - because we are God's temple? Before we can teach the younger women how to behave, we must first examine our own selves.

Practical application: Give your daughter positive attention for her mind and skills and not only her body. We need to set a pattern for her now, that she knows the men worth having are the ones who look at her heart and not her chest!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New Mercies

I am still searching for a new doctor (or endocrinologist). It is a laborious task. But, thanks to all your prayers, I am feeling a little better today. A very gracious lady in my church made our dinner last night. We had: homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie. The baby enjoyed his servings of potatoes and pumpkin pie. The meal didn't exactly fit our new diet, but it sure was yummy!

School went amazingly well this morning! We had taken a few weeks break, because I was/am so tired. (Read: "I was too impatient to be a good teacher, especially to teach my kindergartner to read.") Today we were back at it - and she did great! She wrote all the words that I dictated with little help from me. This is a HUGE improvement! But, maybe she didn't change. Maybe the change is in me.

I started reading The Three R's, by Ruth Beechick last night. It is a fantastic book and gave me the encouragement to charge right ahead in homeschooling even though we cannot afford fancy curriculum (or any at all, for that matter). This morning at the breakfast table when we got out our Bibles for family worship, Becca said "I am going to be reading along soon."
Great is His faithfulness to me!