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.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hmmmm

Not sure how this helps keep the mice out of my house...
These are two of the three kittens we have left. One of our grown cats, Rose, comes in too... but all she does is sleep on my pile of clean towels.

Someone remind me again how this helps keep the mice away? I have more faith in the "mouse beeper" that is on the wall in the picture above... I credit these (one or two in every room) for not seeing a mouse in any of my houses for years! But, alas, kittens are cuter... and softer... and snugglier...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Insight

It's all about perspective, really.

It has been hard to trust God with my health situation. (I am referring to my unnamed/undiagnosed disability, not pregnancy) I have had good days and bad days. On the good days I thank God for the health I have, for the lessons He teaches me through sickness, and the family I have that generally serves me with kindness. On the bad days I complain, grumble against God and my circumstances, and carry on like a big baby.

The recent insight that God gave me is this: 
I used to complain a lot about pregnancy! During my first pregnancy, I thought "I am never going to do this again." Looking back, it was just a typical pregnancy... morning sickness, itchy skin, moodiness, heartburn, etc. At the time, I thought it was a horrible experience! I had expected pregnancy to be all happy times with "glowing" skin... reality hit me like a load of bricks.
In the following pregnancies, I whined, grumbled, and complained as much as I could get away with. I still thought that pregnancy was HARD and I felt sorry for myself. I also thought that pregnancy lasted forever! It seemed to go on and on and on...
BUT, God has changed my perspective! Dealing with a real disability over the past year has been a real wake-up call. There were days I could not get myself dressed, walk, hold a dish without dropping it, or make a meal. THAT was hard. That was a real challenge. Compared to my disability, my pregnancy is a cake-walk.
I am amazed at how quickly this pregnancy has flown by! I am amazed at how little the nausea, vomiting, and heartburn have bothered me. I do not think that the severity has decreased from previous pregnancies, I think my perspective has changed!

The other day, on the blog, I said something to the effect "if I live through this pregnancy"... I was not merely complaining about pregnancy. I try not to complain about the blessing of carrying a baby - ever. I want to live in such a way that shows that I believe that having a baby is a gift from God. I do not want to grumble and complain about it. When I said that comment, which could easily have been taken as a horrible complaint, I was referring to my overall health situation. I am scared.

These past 4 weeks my joints have started hurting again. I am weaker by the day. I am still able to walk (easily). But, I have lost some of my fine motor abilities, and my upper arms are weaker by the day... just like last winter. I have doubled my dose of Vitamin D, and it seems to be helping some. But, I am still scared. I have never been scared of labor before. My labors have all been relatively easy (still a 10 on the pain scale, to be sure... but at least they have all been less than 10 hours long!). I have never had such weakness, fatigue, and pain preceding labor.
When I went to the doctor a few months ago (before my summer reprieve), to share how immobile I had become... he said there was "a serious concern as to whether or not [I] will be able to carry and deliver the baby." The carrying of this baby has not been too bad. As I said, this pregnancy has seemed easy and fast. But, what will delivery be like?

I have to trust my God. There are times when I wake up panicked in the middle of the night. I have to repent of my worries. I have to spend more time in prayer and less time in useless (worse than useless) daydreaming of disaster. I actually find myself grateful that I will be having a hospital birth, in case something does go wrong.

I have only 8 more weeks to enjoy and savor this baby's moving inside of me.

God has given me a proper perspective concerning my pregnancy... how it is a little inconvenience compared to a real disability. Now, I ask God to give me a good perspective concerning things to come. I need His grace to saturate my life! I need His perfect love to cast out all my fears! I trust Him to provide all my needs according to His riches in glory. I have to trust Him.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What is it all About?

There have been many, many times in the past three years when I thought "What's it all about? What is the purpose of life? What is the meaning of my Christian life?"

To live is Christ, says the Apostle Paul! (Phil 1:21)

In the past three years Paul and I have been walking a road that took us further and further away from the true meaning of life and Christianity. Being a Christian is all about living in Christ (Romans 6:8) and dying with Christ (Gal 2:20).

What is true religion all about? What is Christianity all about? I will let the Bible itself answer those questions.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:26-27 (NASB)

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
Gal 5:13-14 (NASB - original emphasis)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Eph 2:8-10 (NASB - emphasis mine)

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Phil 2:1-4 (NASB)

That is just the a small sampling from the texts in the Bible that speak of what true Christianity is all about. It is about turning away from your former lusts, snares, and desires. It is about continually repenting of sin and turning to Christ.

While sound doctrine is no doubt very important to the New Testament writers, it is for the purpose of living together in love and peace. If we strive for sound doctrine it ought to be so that we can better love and serve one another. But, what I have seen in my own life (all too often) is a pursuit of knowledge for merely the sake of knowledge and intellect. But, read this exhortation:
Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 1 Cor 8:1-2 (KJV)
I also like this translation of the same verse:
Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know;1 Cor 8:1-2 (NASB)
Now, this does not mean all knowledge and learning is bad - by no means. Scripture is also filled with exhortations about acquiring more wisdom and knowledge (see Prov 4:5-7; 2 Tim 2:15) We have to find a balance, and we have to judge our own motives. It is very good to read the Bible! It is very good to read books about the Bible to gain more understanding into the Bible. It is very good to read books about Christian living. SO LONG AS you are reading these books for the end goal of being edified and edifying others. If you want to learn something so that you can seem smarter or debate better, you need to be cautious in your desire to learn. But, if you want to learn more, so that you can better present the Gospel to the lost world, so that you can better love those around you - GREAT!

A bit of personal reflection here - when I was in college I was a part of a campus ministry called "Christian Student Fellowship (CSF)." (The founders/teachers of this group are from the Christian Church, and the group consists of many differing denominations.) My Christian life blossomed under the care of this group! I worshiped and fellowshiped weekly with those who had a variety of beliefs. I served on missions teams with these students. I shared the Gospel with the lost while I was in this group, I was discipled and discipled others while in this group... I was a healthy active Christian with love for the lost world around me, striving to live out the Gospel in my whole being. These were precious, tender years.
Then, I left CSF, I went to Bible College. Somewhere in the following years my pursuit of knowledge conquered over my pursuit of love and genuine growth. Because, frankly, I began to mistake book knowledge for growth... meaning, I was thinking that I was growing in my Christian walk merely because I was reading such knowledgeable authors.
I greatly slacked in my witnessing. I started loving all people a little less. I started drawing divisions between myself and other Christians that never should have existed. I parted fellowship with those who did not believe as I did on the issues that I considered most important. I was in a sorry state, and I was miserable.
You would think that all my Bible knowledge would have caused me to have more compassion for the lost, more love for all people... but that just isn't the case. Because, I was learning to attain intellect... not edification.

I finally feel like, after these past several years of building knowledge without love and separating myself from others, that I am getting back on solid ground. My husband, Paul, and I have had a lot of really good talks about this lately. We are re-evaluating our motives, our love, everything.

My blog life has been quite varied, with the pendulum swinging far into legalism at points. This legalism was not at all helpful to myself or others. In fact, it almost always drove a wedge between myself and other Christians and between myself and the lost of the world who I am required to witness to. I was not the salt of the Earth. I was not a light to the world. I was repugnant... to just about everyone, except those who thought just as I did.

I was not living a life hid in Christ. I was flaunting my own attempts at holiness and right living.

As I blog in the future, I will try to question my own motives more severely.
-Am I writing this to edify and encourage?
-Am I writing this with love?
-Would I want Jesus Christ to read this? (Of course, I know Jesus knows my every thought...)
-Will this cause an unnecessary division among God's people?
-Will this lead others to love and serve the world around them more?

I will still write about the topics that matter most to me: doctrine, modesty, entertainment, materialism, and more... but I will not try to make such a clear cut set of rules as I have in the past. I hope that my readers will notice a difference... in fact, I hope that in the past weeks you have already noticed a difference.

Fall Pictures


 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Live Upon God

This afternoon Paul and I finished listening to a fantastic sermon by John Piper.

To Live Upon God that is Invisible

Each time I listen to a Piper sermon, I feel a little more life seeping through my spiritual veins! This particular sermon was preached at a pastor's conference, so you can get a feel for his heart for what/how a pastor ought to preach and love his people.

The focus of this particular sermon is the suffering in the life of John Bunyan. It is an amazing sermon, and I encourage you to download it and listen to is as you are able!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I must be nesting

It's official... I'm nesting.

Proofs:
- I moved the baby changing table into our bedroom this week
- I am winterizing the house... a bit early
- I rearranged my kids' rooms
- I am mouse-proofing again... don't ask, just don't ask...
- I have made double batches of lots of food this past week, so my deep freeze has been partially re-stocked with: 1 dozen plain muffins, 10 blueberry muffins, 1 dozen cream cheese apple muffins, 1 loaf of apple bread, 1 pkg of beef and onion precooked for chili, and a dozen pieces of french toast (I LOVE my vacuum sealer!)

Paul told me yesterday that he knows that I don't have any energy, so I must have a lot of "drive." I'd say that's about right! I am determined to do my best to keep the mice at bay... I am determined to keep the house as warm as I can... I am determined to have my room all set up for our new addition (that I keep thinking will come early...probably just a maternal, unsubstantiated fear)... I am determined to have food ready for the worst most challenging days of pregnancy to come and for post-partum healing days...

You get the idea - I'm nesting! Note: this does not mean I feel "good." It just means that I am determined! Praise God for drive when energy and health are lacking!

Friday, October 9, 2009

My kids teach me!

This morning my 4 year old, Lydia, brought me a paper she was working on. "Mommy, look at the numbers I made." I was looking only half-heartedly, when I noticed real letters and numbers she had written! I know most homeschooled 4 year olds can write. This post is not about how exceptional my kids are. (Though I do think they are mighty special!) This post is about God taking me, an imperfect vessel, and teaching children in spite of me.


What amazed me is that we have been doing only pre-writing exercises, tracing lines, patterns, and shapes. I had not tried to introduce numbers or letters yet... I didn't want to rush her the way I did Rebecca.(And, Nelson has a fine motor delay and he is having trouble writing... silly me, I forgot that every child is different!)

So, in school this morning (yes, I actually did school in the morning with all four kids at the table! And, yes, we actually accomplished something!), I gave Lydia letters to trace from Donna Young. AND, she asked for plain ruled paper to write her own free-hand. I am amazed!

God is working in my kids in spite of my deficiencies.

(Pat me on the back. This is my first time using the new scanner and uploading a scanned document!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Recipe Chart

Growing in grace is not always about theological knowledge. For me, growing in grace can be very practical. One area of my life in which God has vastly grown me, in the last ten years, is my baking/cooking skills. Knowing how to provide a good meal for my family has been a long-term project! I want to pass on something that has been VERY helpful to me, a recipe chart. Since I am ADD/scatter-brained, I have a VERY hard time following a recipe. I almost always forget to turn on the oven (because the oven temperature is always listed last), I get steps out of order, and basically everything that can go wrong does! But, an older friend of mine suggested this kind of recipe chart to me, and now I convert my recipes to make them easier to read. The recipe below was adapted from this online recipe to add a bit more texture, flavor, and healthy ingredients.


Cream Cheese Apple Muffins
Yields 12-15 muffins

TURN ON OVEN TO 375
Prepare muffin pans

1 unpeeled apple

Chop apple (I use a food processor),  set aside for later use

¼ cup butter
4 oz cream cheese

Soften the cream cheese and butter in a pan until nearly melted. Put into a mixing bowl and blend well (I use an electric mixer)
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 Tbls. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla



Add these items into the mixing bowl and mix well
1 ½ cup flour (I use whole wheat)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¼  cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
3 Tbls. oat bran
dash of nutmeg
½ tsp. cinnamon


Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add them slowly to mixing bowl


Fold the chopped apple into the mixture and pour into muffin cups
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. brown sugar
Combine in a small bowl and then use as a topping for the muffins. (If you want more of a streusel topping, melt 1 Tbls of butter and add it to the dry ingredients)
BAKE at 375 for 20-25 minutes


Notice how I have the oven time at the top - very helpful to me!
 I hope this recipe chart will be helpful to you as well! Let me know what you think.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Can you SEE the difference?


Please leave a comment. Little ears need encouragement!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Can I move to your house?

... That is, unless you have mice.

I am terrified of mice. They cause me to panic. If I hear one in the attic I will stay awake all night. If I hear one in the wall behind my bed I will cry. And, when I hear them in the ventilation, I cry.

A few months ago I was hearing a LARGE mouse-like noise every night for about two weeks. I cried and cried. It was climbing around in the ventilation duct by my bed. I cried and tried to cover my head with a pillow. To dampen the noise I put a large book over the vent. This also made me feel safer... in case he should happen to chew through my steel wire covering. (I have heavy guage steel wiring on all my vents to hopefully keep out crickets, spiders, mice, and snakes, and anything else... possums, etc) Anyway, Paul was somewhat calloused about my fears, reminding me that nothing can chew threw that steel wiring.

Paul was wrong. We vacuumed all the vents out today, to prepare for using the heater. In the duct by my bed there was a large-mouse-size hole in the wire fencing. I am SO glad that I put that huge book on top of my duct!

I am not sure I will ever sleep in this house again. Sure, I have never actually had a mouse in the living quarters of my house... but in the ducts is too close for comfort.


Feel free to tell me I am a baby. But, I would rather have you commiserate with me! Would you live in my house?

Cooking with Little Hands

Even though my oldest is now 7, I still feel like a parenting novice! I knew so little about children before I had my own! So, on occasion I like to write down some practical helps for those like me... who know nothing to begin with.

My suggestion for today is this:
Even the little hands can help put muffin mix into the pan! I used to always pour it myself while the kids cried "I want to help too!" Well, we have a solution now. Did you know that you can fill a standard muffin cup using a 1/4 cup measure? Kids can handle that really well!

One more suggestion:
Sometimes I let my littlest helpers mix the dry ingredients in an enormous (spill-proof) bowl, just to feel helpful.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Basic Math - Part 2

Two adults
PLUS four kids collecting walnuts
TIMES two hours of work each
PLUS two hours waiting in line to cash in
----------------
$16