Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Confessions of a Busy Mom

  • I allow my children to eat food that's been dropped on the floor. In fact, Amariah spilled her cereal in the bathroom this morning, and I still let her eat it.... What she doesn't know won't hurt her... I hope....
  • Sometimes I lock my kids out of my bedroom for a few minutes so I can get something done without "help."
  • When dozens of toys and plenty of discontentment began to take over our living room, I moved all the toys to the kids' bedrooms. Now my house looks like a home again; my kids find contentment in playing with a few toys at a time; and Mommy trades a little busyness for some purposeful, uninterrupted play time.
  • Last night I left the kids with Travis while I went to a nice salon for a haircut. As I sank deep into the soft leather couch in the quiet waiting area, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should get my hair cut more frequently....
  • I have a bowl of ice cream every day when the kids lay down for their naps.... And once in a while I have another bowl of ice cream when they lay down for the night.
  • Abel still likes to sit on my lap and play with my hair while he drinks his milk... and that makes me feel good.
  • I love my children and hope for more, but it's kind of nice to not be pregnant and/or nursing... for now.
  • When Amariah started throwing fits at the table and refusing to eat, I thought she was boycotting food. It turns out she was just boycotting my feeding it to her. (I tend to forget she's not a baby anymore!)
  • Sometimes I can't help but laugh at my kids when I'm trying to discipline them.
  • The first thing I do when I get up in the mornings is to open up the curtains and let the sun shine in. The second thing--pour Abel's morning cup of diluted juice. (Shhh! He assumes the water is supposed to go in it!)
  • I rarely take a shower by myself. Three bodies and a handful of toys in a standard-size shower is crowded but do-able.
  • I used to pass judgment when I saw a two-year-old wearing a diaper. Abel is almost 2 1/2, and I just bought him another box of diapers this week. (We're getting there, though!)
  • When I was in high school I was rarely seen without full make-up. Seven years and two kids later, I am rarely seen with it.
  • Once in a while I miss having a career. But with every sign that my children are learning and growing at every moment of every day, I know without a doubt I am right where I belong.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Four Things...

I saw this on Megan's blog and thought it looked like fun....

Four jobs I've had:
1. Wife and Mother
2. Personal Banker
3. Bank Teller
4. Pizza Hut waitress

Four movies I've seen more than once:
1. Dirty Dancing
2. Pretty Woman
3. You've Got Mail
4. The Notebook

Four TV shows I watch:
1. House
2. American Idol
3. Everybody Loves Raymond
4. Anything on HGTV (when I get the chance--we don't have satellite!)

Four places I've been:
1. India
2. Niagara Falls
3. Orlando
4. Toronto

Four people who email me regularly:
1. Travis (and we talk on the phone a few times a day!)
2. my mom
3. Melissa
4. Emily

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Sweet corn
2. Chocolate ice cream
3. Texas Roadhouse rolls and cinnamon butter
4. Chocolate

Four things I'm looking forward to in the next year:
1. Paying off debt!
2. Watching my kids grow
3. Growing through church, Lighthouse (small group), and Bible study
4. Teaching my children

I'm tagging Travis and Amber!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Kneading" Heaven

I never would have guessed that making noodles would make me long for heaven....

If you've been following my blog, you know from previous posts that I LOVE to write. Putting written words together to convey my thoughts is one of the most enjoyable things I do on a daily basis. These days I use a computer for nearly all of my writing, but that hasn't always been the case.

Until about six years ago, I used to hand write letters, papers, notes... and then sometimes rewrite them just for fun. Not only did I love to write, I loved to hand write. I always thought I had pretty penmanship, and making it look just perfect was enjoyable to me.

About six years ago, towards the beginning of my sophomore year of college, something changed. I began to experience a frustrating problem that completely stumped me. I would be sitting in class taking notes or in the library doing homework, and my grip on the pen would suddenly become very uncomfortable to me. I would try different grips, but nothing felt quite right. Before long, the problem advanced to where my pen would suddenly fly out of my hand mid-word, and my wrist would involuntarily bend into an uncomfortable 90-degree angle. I started noticing a gradual decline in the "prettiness" of my penmanship, and handwriting--which had always been easy and enjoyable--began to become laborious and painful.

I started seeing a chiropractor in hopes that maybe my problem was due to a simple misalignment. After a couple months of treatment and no improvement, my chiropractor referred me to a sports medicine doctor. There I had either MRIs or CT scans--I can't remember which--and the results came back normal. They gave me cortisone shots in both wrists (next to childbirth, the most painful thing I've ever experienced) which caused absolutely no change in my mystery condition.

I and those who love me were all distressed by and greatly concerned with what was going on, and we were all praying that God would bring healing or at least give direction in our search for a diagnosis. Then one morning I got a call from my mom. She couldn't sleep the night before, so she had decided to get up and watch TV for a while. Turning to the Discovery Health channel, she stumbled upon the bizarre story of a man suffering from a debilitating condition called dystonia. Throughout the course of the program, she learned that dystonia comes in different forms and degrees; and she felt sure that this was the very thing which was causing my strange problems.

I began to research this disorder called dystonia and soon came to agree that it had to be the answer. I learned that my next course of action was to see a neurologist; and upon doing so, the diagnosis was confirmed: I have a focal point dystonia of the forearm more commonly referred to as (simple) writer's cramp. While the diagnonis brought peace of mind, it did not lead to a cure. With no good treatment options, this was something I would probably deal with for the rest of my life. Praising God for my unaffected left hand (and for computers!), I moved forward by teaching myself to write left-handed and utilizing the computer for as much of my writing needs as possible.

Six years later, I still ask God to remove this thorn from my side; but knowing that He might not, I continue to thank Him that the dystonia has not "jumped" to my left hand (as I have learned it can do) and that He has allowed me to function in spite of it. (Many people tell me that not everyone can learn to write with the opposite hand.)

So when I say I love to write, there is much more passion and pain behind my words than most people realize.

I'm sure you're wondering what all this has to do with making noodles....

While my form of writer's cramp is "simple" (meaning it causes difficulty with only one specific task (i.e. writing)), I have experienced increased weakness and pain in my right wrist which affects and/or is affected by many other tasks. Things as simple as opening jars, carrying my children, and kneading dough cause pain in addition to agitation of the muscles in my forearm.

As I was kneading the dough for my homemade noodles yesterday, the pain it caused made me simultaneously long for heaven and for my new and perfect body. Someday there will be no more pain and suffering; and I guess if it takes pain and suffering to make me long for that day, then I will gladly endure it until the end.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's Just a Phase?

Listen closely.... Do you hear the screaming?... It's shrill, demanding, selfish, and angry.... It's stubbornly striving to exert its own will.... It's searching its boundaries seeking control.... It's human.... It's sinful.... It's Amariah.... And it's just a phase?

If I were to say, "It's just a phase," it certainly would not be in any type of agreement with society's use of the phrase.  If a phase is something that naturally passes with time--which I think is the generally accepted meaning of "it's just a phase"--then indeed a phase it is not.  But if for my purposes I may define a phase as something which will pass, though not naturally (and I mean it will pass only through a purposeful effort of Biblical training and discipline), then perhaps I could consider calling this a phase.

Then again, we're talking about a human being--a sinful human being.  So even in the context of my definition, can I accurately say, "It's just a phase"?  Indeed, it's the fleshly desire of the maturest of adults to practice selfishness and to seek control.  Isn't this really just the earliest signs of the sinful nature which rears its ugly head in different ways all throughout this life?  [Christians, praise God that sin shall not be master over you! (see Romans 5-6)]

Perhaps from a parental perspective, it's just a phase.  For, if dealt with correctly at it's onset, the battle will be won (by the parent, that is).  Lines will be drawn, boundaries defined, respect cultivated, selfishness subdued... not to mention groundwork laid for conquering the flesh (through the power of Christ) later in life.

With all that said, gear up, Self!  For whether or not this is "just a phase," the battle is on, and it must be won!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Childish Play

As our church continues to grow, there is a growing concern amongst the leadership that newcomers could easily go unnoticed, getting lost in the crowd that fills the lobby before and after each Sunday service.  To help prevent this from happening, our elders have encouraged members to approach people we don't know, introduce ourselves, and strike up a conversation.  Apparently, they know the human tendency to settle into a "comfort zone" of familiar faces.  As a way to move us out of those comfort zones, our lead pastor put it this way:  "Get over yourself, and get to know somebody!"

I've been really challenged by the whole "get over yourself" thing.  It's not that I think I'm better than anyone else or somehow above needing to introduce myself to unfamiliar people.  It's more some sort of insecurity that the introduction will be awkward and the conversation strained.  To help me through this, I've decided to volunteer as a greeter at church.  (Surely if it's my job to speak to people I'll find more confidence!)

...Or maybe I should just watch my 2-year old son....

I took the kids to the park today, and my heart was warmed as I watched Abel interact with other preschoolers.  With the greatest of confidence, innocence, and joy, Abel engaged in play and conversation with people he's never met before and likely will never meet again.  As I watched, I wondered how something that my toddler does by nature could be so difficult for me--and probably for adults in general.  I suppose it goes back to the alienation which resulted from The Fall.  The unstrained, untainted fellowship which naturally occurs between Abel and his peers must be a picture of what God intended for our relationships with each other.

So, once again, God has used my children to teach me something.  Okay, so maybe watching Abel run around the playground with strangers won't actually supply me with confidence; but it does show me an innocence to strive for! :-)

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Biblical Look at Spiritual Gifts

Sometimes I wonder what unbelievers in our culture consider church to be.  The programming of GodTV, TBN, and the like doesn't always show what a Biblically-based gathering of the church should look like.  Even the local "seeker sensitive" church may not be following Biblical guidelines for the gathering.  So if an unchurched or unbelieving person were to visit your church service, what preconceptions might he come in with?  And maybe more importantly, what notions might he leave with?  It is these questions (in part) which make 1 Corinthians 11-14 so important in the conducting of a church service.

In the world of Christianity today, we unfortunately see much perversion of the spiritual gifts which God distributes for His glory and for the body's edification:  the gifts of faith and healing being used as tools of prosperity, the gifts of tongues and prophecy being used chaotically for self-glorification.  The result is that many Christians shy away from seeking and/or using these gifts.  But this is not the Biblical way to respond to such abuse.  As Pastor Todd put it, the solution to abuse is not disuse but proper use.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:1,39, "...desire earnestly spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.... Desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues."  And in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 Paul again says, "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances (i.e. gifts).  But examine everything carefully...." So we are to desire these gifts--especially prophecy-- and we are also to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).  Certainly we are to use spiritual gifts, and in using them to exercise discernment (1 John 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21) and order (1 Corinthians 14) and love (1 Corinthians 13).

When it comes to gifts such as these--tongues, prophecy, healing--there is a certain level of fear that comes with our unfamiliarity, lack of knowledge, and misconceptions; but if we suppress these gifts for such reasons, we most certainly are missing out on the edification for which God has given them.  As a body, may we believers earnestly seek spiritual gifts--for the right reasons--and properly use them that we may be edified and God glorified.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Word on Writing

Wow, it seems that my posts have been few and far between lately.  I'm sure it's not because I have nothing to say.... Don't women always have something to say?!.. I always have something to say; but I guess I have a tendency to think that my thoughts aren't blogworthy unless they're "deep."  Because writing is a passion of mine--and probably because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, too--I take what (and how) I write pretty seriously.

Writing is something I've always enjoyed.  Some of my favorite homework assignments throughout high school and college were papers; and when I started working full-time, I found that composing business letters was the highlight of my duties.  But when I became a stay-at-home mom, I suddenly had little more to write than a few important emails here and there (oh, and dozens of baby gift thank you's!).  Needless to say, blogging has been far more satisfying to me than I expected, giving me an avenue to exercise this gift of writing.  All in one place I get to organize my thoughts, articulate them just so, and share them with those who care to read!

So, dear blog reader, I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I enjoy the writing....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Greater Longing

Today is the one month anniversary of my miscarriage.  I can hardly believe it's been that long since that painful night, and yet somehow it seems longer.  So much healing has come in the past four weeks.  I believe I will always miss my baby, but it will be with the hope that I will meet him/her one day in heaven.  God has taught me over the years that I ought not to doubt His promises; so I cling to His word, knowing that what He says is true and trustworthy.  "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).  God, how I long for that day now more than ever before.  And if that be the only good that comes out of this trial, it was worth it....

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Body of Christ

Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Todd's timely sermon on the body of Christ. "Timely," I say, because a few weeks ago I would have fully understood neither the importance nor the function of the body of Christ. But as is typical of our great God, He used a couple recent events to prepare me for this lesson.

Just prior to his sermon on the body of Christ, Pastor Todd preached about spiritual gifts and the fact that each member of the body is given different gifts which are distributed and to be used for the edification of the body. At the time of this teaching, I was in the midst of emotionally and physically recovering from a miscarriage; and by His grace, the Lord was placing various people with various gifts in my path and using them to strengthen and encourage me. Some showed compassion; some offered words of encouragement; some gave gifts; some prayed. Each member was used in different ways to help me in the healing process. Through this, the Lord opened my eyes to see the body of Christ in action and to thereby more fully understand the importance and blessing of being an active member of it.

So when Pastor Todd preached through 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 yesterday, I really understood his teaching that in the body of Christ there is 1.) no inferiority, 2.) no independence, and 3.) no inaccuracy. In other words, each member of the body is 1.) equally important, 2.) in need of the other members, and 3.) providentially "seated" by God in a designated place. Praise God that through both teaching and trial He prepared me to receive this message. May I allow Him to use me and my gifts to edify others in the body just as He has used others to edify me.

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