Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A good reminder from an unexpected place

We Christians make much of the fact that this season is about Christ and His coming...about Immanuel and the truth that God made a way for sinners to know Him in His Holiness. But this video challenges me this Christmas to move out of my house with this knowledge and into the world with the thought:

If I really believe this stuff...I mean, really, truly believe that Christ came to make a way for people to live with Him forever...that a virgin was overshadowed by the Most High and gave birth to a Son who will reign forever as LORD...that angels really appeared to shepherds in that field proclaiming good tidings of great joy which are for all people...that wise men really traveled for weeks to find the King...that babies really died because they were destined to be born in a time and place that put them in the way of the sword...that the baby that was born grew to die because of my sin...

If I really believe that if people do not believe in Him, they are destined for an eternity apart from any joy, any comfort, any peace...receiving only the wrath of God forever...and ever...and ever...

If I really believe, maybe I'll act a lot more like they guy mentioned here.

FYI: Don't know who this guy is? Wiki has the answer here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Losing it

I thought it would be a cool picture if I could get their shadows on the water. And by the way, this is Texas in December...so, no...it wasn't cold. It was 78 degrees and sunny! Until the next day...but just wait! It'll be warm by Tuesday. Anyway...so here's how it went...

Me: Girls, just walk in the water a little so I can see your shadows.
Girls walk in carefully...icky moss on the rocks and cold water causes lots of protests and girly noises by Aisley which sets off this from Brennan...

Which brought about this from all...

Me: Okay, girls...that's enough...so of course...

Yeah...hair fixing time from the older two...Bren is still oblivious to things like that, but it won't be long! So, off we go...1, 2...nope...

Aisley loses it...but by now Bren (who started it all, remember?) has had enough...so though still laughing...

She's calling a halt...well until the frog jumped in...

Finally...Mean Mom comes out: Girls...for REAL! Stop it. Now.

Yes...you can see the fear in their eyes, can't you? All that just to get this...

Not sure this picture is any good, but I love the rest of them! Making memories, right girls?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas card preview

Yes. I know. Christmas is in just a few days.

But we just got around to taking these for the card. Read just a few posts below this to find out some of why that's happening...and then add a couple of cakes for friends on top!

I'm having a hard time deciding what will go on the card.

But I'm sure the girls will tell me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Fun

The girls are enjoying these sites today...


The Weepies

The Elves' Game Chest

Have fun!

(Yes, Mom...I will get you that list...really...and the lemon cheesecake recipe!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why blogging is hard this week...

  1. Cassie's home...being a senior means no finals...which means that the computer is constantly occupied as she practices what this generation thinks of as community. Who knew that sitting alone in a room, staring at a screen would ever count as building relationships??
  2. Teacher's gifts...if like me you sort of forgot for a while that you hoped to bless your kids' teachers, this recipe placed in a colorful bag is always a huge hit...and as mentioned we will, of course, always share the recipe...for a bit of a curve on that last test...
  3. Bren is under the weather again...and is still young enough to want Mama to hover.
  4. Choir practice with Bren, choir concerts with the other girls, basketball games, finals to help Aisley study for, Christmas buying, gift wrapping, something to do each night from 8 days ago until 4 days from now!
  5. Time must be made to be in His Word so that all this stays fun and exciting and blessed instead of one more chore to deal with.
Sound like your house?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Recipe Swap

I've had several requests for this recipe after it was served this past weekend at the Brindley's Christmas party. I got it from a friend who got it from a friend who got it...I actually have no idea where it started, but I remember where I first had it. Our senior pastor's wife hosted a Christmas gather of women who led Bible studies at TBC and she served it for dessert. I'm not even a fan of chocolate (yes...I know, but try to get past it and love me anyway.) and even I thought it was delicious. Enjoy in small portions...so rich...so good...and yeah, a little bit complicated, but well worth the effort, right ladies??

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake with Praline Sauce

1 cup butter, divided
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
2 1/4 cup sugar, divided
5 eggs, divided
1/4 cup milk
3 tsp. vanilla, divided
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 pkgs. (8 oz) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup pecans (or more, to taste)

Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, slowly heat 1/2 cup butter & chocolate in microwave until just melted. Stir often. Let stand until cool. Blend in 1 1/2 cup sugar. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time on low speed until blended well. Stir in milk and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix flour and salt together and add to chocolate mixture and combine until well blended. Pour into a greased and floured 9" springform pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

While that's cooking...mix cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix slightly. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time until well blended. Mix in sour cream.

When brownie has cooked 25 minutes, pour cream cheese mix over the top of it and continue baking 50-55 minutes or until almost set...edges should be just slightly browned, if at all. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edges of cake then let cool for a couple of hours at room temperature. Place in refrigerator 4 hours or overnight (best).

Before serving, melt 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan on low. Stir often until sugar is melted and it reaches the boiling point. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1 tsp vanilla and stir. Mix in pecans and cook on low about 5 minutes. Serve warm. (If making the day before, place in refrigerator and reheat in microwave, stirring often.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Joseph...I'm pregnant.

This was written as Desiring God's monthly newletter by director, Jon Bloom. Cassie pointed it out to me and we both agree that it gives us so much to think on this Christmas and so much to hope in as we go forward thinking about her college plans. How we long to know deep within us that we won't get this wrong. How comforting for her today to be reminded that God Himself has pledged to keep her from stumbling. I hope it blesses you...

Mary wasn’t herself. Joseph had sensed some urgency in her request that he meet her at “their” tree. She was staring at the ground. She seemed burdened.

“Mary, is something wrong?”

She looked up at him intensely. “Joseph… I’m pregnant.”

A blast of shock and disbelief hit him, blowing away all his coherent thoughts for a moment. His legs quavered. He grabbed at the tree to steady himself. It felt solid, rooted.

He stared at her. He was numb. No words came. Everything seemed surreal.

Mary was still looking at him with her intense eyes. He saw no shame in them. No defensiveness, no defiance. Not even tears. They looked…innocent. And they were searching his eyes for an answer.

Mary broke the charged silence. “What I need to tell you next I don’t even know how to say.”

Joseph leaned harder into the tree, bracing himself. He looked down to Mary’s feet. Her feet. They looked just the same as they did when he believed she was pure.

That was what made everything so strange. Mary looked as chaste as she ever did. If she had been the flirtatious type or had some discernible character weakness, this news might have been comprehendible. But Mary was literally the very last person Joseph would have suspected of unfaithfulness. He could not imagine her with another lover. He didn’t want to know who it was.

“What I’m going to say is will be very difficult to believe. But will you hear me out?” Still looking at Mary’s feet, Joseph’s nod was barely detectable.

“I have not been unfaithful to you.”

Joseph lifted his eyes to hers. Rape? That might explain her innocence. But why wouldn’t she tell me—

“God has caused me to become pregnant.”

This statement flew around his mind, looking for a place to land. It found none.

“Joseph, I know how it sounds. But I’m telling you the truth.” Then Mary described an angelic visit and the message she had received. She was to bear a son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, who would be called the Son of the Most High who would sit on David’s throne forever. God was the baby’s father. Mary was pregnant with the Messiah.

Mary sounded as sane as ever. Nothing about her was different—except that she was claiming to be pregnant with God’s child. He felt like his brain was exploding. Was she adding blasphemy to adultery? He could not conceive of her being capable of either.

“I…I don’t even know what to say to you, Mary. I can’t even think straight. I need to be alone.”

Joseph spent the late afternoon walking up on the brow of the hill that overlooked Nazareth. Things were clear up there. From this 500-foot perspective he could see the Sea of Galilee to the east, and to the west he could just see the blue Mediterranean on the horizon. But he could not see how Mary’s story could be true. He could not recall anything like it in the Torah. “God, show me what to do,” he pleaded.

The sun was setting as Joseph walked back toward the nearly finished house that was to be their home—the house he had dreamed just that morning would someday know the happy voices of his and Mary’s children. That dream was now dead. He decision was made. Mary’s claims were too incredible, maybe even delusional. He needed to end the betrothal, but he resolved to do it as quietly as possible, shielding Mary from avoidable shame. He still loved her.

That night he fell asleep, exhausted from grief. And then the angel came to him and his world was again flipped right side-up.

There is an encouraging lesson to draw from this story. Joseph was a just man (Matt. 1:19) and assessed the situation in the integrity of his heart, and, I assume, with a deep trust in God. He made the best decision regarding Mary that he could, which turned out to be the wrong one. But God, full of mercy, intervened and gave Joseph the guidance he needed. And he will do the same for us as we trust him.

To encourage your trust in God’s merciful disposition toward your imperfect, sin-tainted decision-making ability, let me point you to John Piper’s message, “The Goodness of God and the Guidance of Sinners.”

Notice that God, through the angel, did not rebuke Joseph. He gently corrected him. As we prayerfully approach our difficult decisions, let’s be bold in our faith. God will guide us, and knows how to lovingly correct us if we get it wrong.

Princess Sydni

Mom, here's what I couldn't describe well on the phone. At least I can show you why I didn't post Thursday-Saturday...

To my in-the-know readers, please remember anytime you view one of my creations (which will be a rarity given the spread of fun on the internet), CakeWrecks only takes submissions from baking professionals! Though I think I at least beat this one.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A baby who is larger than the universe

A short time ago, our associate pastor, Stephen Cheung gave a sermon on 1 John 4:1-6 (number 9 on the list) in which he talked about the amazing understanding that God became flesh and dwelt among us. One thought spoke deeply to me when he expounded on the idea that in that manger scene we had the ultimate melding of sacred and secular. Now everything we do is no longer one or the other, but in Christ everything we do, say, think, feel is sacred. Everything we do is out of faith in Jesus Christ whether that's eating and drinking or whatever I do either in words or actions.

When I heard him say that I immediately thought of a video I saw recently. Do this with me in preparation for Christmas...
  1. Watch the video here when you get a few minutes.
  2. Think about this Scripture.
  3. Then, finally, ponder and treasure this unbelievable thought as Mary must have done every time she felt her baby kick .

Monday, December 8, 2008

Really? A month?

Doesn't seem possible. Truly. And I really have nothing to explain why I've not posted even an update. It just didn't make the cut. Can anyone relate? Got a few things that seem like really good ideas, but given their position on the daily to-do list...well, they remain in the theoretical realm.

But a couple of huge gaffs have been included...I have so much to be thankful for and will post about that soon. And I didn't post on Aisley's birthday...shame upon my head...but I'll make up for it soon, promise. Then there's the end of football (thus the screams of joy that shook windows in the nearby neighborhoods!). Now the challenge and joy of reintegrating Wayne into our lives (I forgot how much I get done in the evenings when he's not here!).

But for now, how about just what I've been pondering on today? I meet on Mondays with three amazing women who I met through a mutual friend (stay in bed, Jenn!). We're starting to look at 1 Peter which means that we might finish by the time their husbands are out of residency in 18 months! So, today, we blazed through the first 5 verses! But they know not to get excited...I may spend a week on vs. 6...you never know.

We noticed a couple of things that made us pause and think...first of all, here's the text...
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
We covered the basics of background, geography and moved to pondering the vastness of the foreknowledge of God, how the Spirit sanctifies us and what difference it would make if we truly understood that we are exiles FOR obedience to Jesus Christ...much less if I could grasp more fully today that I have been truly sprinkled by His blood and made clean.

But it was the next line...8 little words...that struck me. How often have you prayed for grace to be multiplied to someone? As we thought about it, it seemed that we were alike in asking for peace...comfort...strength...discernment...help...but not grace. Grace felt like something that we got before. Like Ephesians 2:8...by grace you have been saved. But Peter doesn't treat it like it's something behind him, but something he has and wants more of.

Then there's the nebulous definitions we give to help us remember the difference between mercy and grace. You've heard it, I'm sure. Mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Grace is getting what you do not deserve. But again, Peter's not speaking of it like it's just the favor of God, but of something that we need...would desire more and more of if we just new more of it.

Then God brought to mind 2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all sufficiency
in all things
at all times,
you may abound in every good work.
Which means that Paul also saw what I never put together fully. Grace isn't just what got us to life in Christ, but what sustains us, strengthens us, supplies us, moves us to abound in every good work. Can you imagine what a different Christmas season this would be if I was all sufficient in all things at all times? Can you imagine if I believed in the power and promise of God to grant what I ask? I want that...and I want that for you.

So, here's my Christmas gift to you...believe with me...May grace and peace be multiplied to you in Jesus name. Can I hear an amen?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quick quote

From the hymn "The Love of God"...

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Spirit of Adoption

In honor of our GA friends...

But when the fullness of time had come,
God sent forth his Son,
born of woman, born under the law,
to redeem those who were under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
And because you are sons,
God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, "Abba! Father!"
Galatians 4:4-6

HT: Between Two Worlds

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Family Woman

I loved this video...it's message and the graphics...but what I especially loved was that it told the story of my life...well, if you could insert "family woman" into the story. (I wasn't a man...promise.) But the life I wanted is far, far, far from what I have...and I couldn't be more grateful. God knew me so much better than I knew myself...how thankful I am for all the times He said no to my prayers...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Words for the Wind

Piper on Job, Part 2

During the first message, Piper reached the section of Job 2 after the sores covered his body...
"What's the result? His wife can't take it anymore...I have a lot of sympathy for this woman. And I think the author and Job do too because of the wording here. I mean, she's just lost her kids, alright? Ten children. And she's watched her husband who valiantly worshiped God be struck with boils. This is not easy. We're going to cut her a lot of slack, right? And if words come out of her mouth...there's this beautiful verse in chapter six that talks about 'words for the wind'. 'Will you judge a man for words that are wind?'

There are a lot of words for the wind in the midst of tragedy. Pastors need to discern what are words for the wind...and he doesn't correct them. He just let's them go off into the wind. He knows they will say better tomorrow."

Then after Job's wife says to curse God and die...
"But he (Job) said to her...now here's what he did not say: 'You are one of the foolish women.' He said: 'You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.' I think that's intentional. Giving her a break. 'You're not one of them, honey! This isn't you!'"

This comment on Job's wife was one of those moments that stick for a long time. All of our group mentioned it later and told of the impact this section of the conference had on us. I will admit...I've never had much sympathy for her. I never put myself in her place. I never cut her much slack. She just went into the category of the three friends and off I'd go until Elihu speaks in chapter 32. How grateful I am for this perspective.

Piper refers to Job 6:26 (NASB)...
Do you intend to reprove my words,
When the words of one in despair belong to the wind?

In the heat of the moment...when the impact of the suffering is still raging...when the news has just hit...when the pressure is still on...we all speak "words that are for the wind". Words that reflect our panic, our pain, our grief, our worry, our discouragement, our anger...but do not reflect our hope. Like Peter our eyes see the storm and not the Lord in the storm with us.

I can't do it anymore. I can't. I quit.
I want him gone. I'll never be able to forgive him.
There's no reason for me to even be here any more. I just want the pain to be over.
That's it. Forget it. If this is the kind of God He is...then never mind. I don't want anything to do with him.

And those are just my words. I've heard so many others from women in deep pain...one just yesterday. She can't see the way through. Why would God continue to pour grief upon grief? Nothing is working...it just seems to be getting worse and worse. And God isn't doing anything! If He loved me, wouldn't He do something? Why, Kim? Why isn't He helping me? I don't want to be here. I want this over. I'm so tired. Sobbing followed for long minutes...

Words for the wind. She knows the Lord. She's loved Him and served Him for many decades. She's just overwhelmed...and will be again. The tide did turn during our conversation. I was able to speak gentle truth to her (keeping in mind yesterday's post). I didn't berate her for her words...I just showed her His hand. Reminded her of the Cross and that Jesus is a man acquainted with grief and full of sorrows. That she has a sympathetic High Priest who is able to help her in her time of need. And held her as I said I'm sorry...over and over and over and over...

If the theology continues to be bad in six months or a year when the grief has abated a little? We'll work together to see the Lord clearly. There's time for mourning and words for the wind...there will be a time for laughing and rejoicing in our Father again. I want to be there for both.

And like the words Piper put in Job's mouth...This isn't her. This isn't who she is. She loves the Lord. She trusts Him. How do I know? She belongs to Him. I can remain completely confident not in her, but in God's ability to finish what He began. Did you know that God Himself is bringing her to completion? God Himself will sanctify her completely...her whole soul and body and spirit will be kept blameless until the Day Christ returns. It's true. He wrote it in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. And the very last words seal it...He is faithful. He will do it.

It's my job to remain confident in His ability to bring everyone to the end...to see them not for who they are, but for who He is making them to be. To see not their grief, but their hope. Not their windy words, but their final proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord. All I need to hear is their heart and know these words are a measure of their pain. They are not meant to make me worried, but compassionate...not angry, but seeing to the depths of their suffering and believing for them that He who began this good work is faithful to complete it until He comes again.

Like the friends who lowered their friend on the mat...sometimes in the midst of suffering, it is our faith that makes them well...if I can get out of the way enough...and bring out Jesus enough...and wait with them until the healing of the Lord comes...and let their words go to the wind.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I'm so thrilled that this morning the doorbell rang and the Fed-Ex guy dropped off a package with my gift from Mom...my ESV Study Bible! YIPPEE!

And inside is a precious second gift to me...another Bible for Wayne. It's a good mama who builds up not only her daughter, but her daughter's house. We don't take lightly all that you do to bless us, Mom. And the gift of the Word is the best you could do.

I'm so very grateful today! Thank you!

Good theology...hurt people

Piper on Job, Part 1

So, you know now that we attended Desiring God's Regional Conference on Job. I'm going to spend the next several posts thinking through some of the content most meaningful to me. I'll start with a quote or thought and move from there.

On Job's friends..."They got it so right theologically...mostly...and so wrong practically."

"True theology can hurt people very badly."

"True theological statements can cause harm and become false in their application and destructive in the mouths of fools."

It's always been so easy for me to dismiss those three friends in Job. All they did was pick a theme (What have you done wrong, Job?) and beat it into the ground. Now I see that I am them. Piper pointed out that they mostly got it right. You can find Scripture after Scripture that says exactly what they say. Righteous people are blessed...wicked are punished. Rahab at Jericho. Daniel. David over Saul. (And to cut them some slack, they didn't have ANY of the Scriptures. Imagine how much we'd get wrong without this Word that we take for granted so easily.)

It is not enough to know truth. We must also pray for the wisdom to use it rightly. Proverbs 25:11 says A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. It's not the word. It's when and how it's spoken.

And you'd think I'd get this because I can remember the sermons that led to us leaving the church. We had moved when I was going into the sixth grade to a small west Texas town where we weren't known. We had begun attending a small church outside of town. There were probably 10 kids in the entire youth program. Then change again...after years of strife and unfaithfulness, Dad was leaving and they were getting divorced. As I was in Jr. High, this wasn't a shock to me nor even unwelcome. Back then there were very few divorces and you could only get one for a few reasons. When it happened, it was shocking. I can name only a few friends whose parents were divorced and can distinctly remember that the reaction was like a death in the family. We were all shocked, saddened...didn't know what to say to them. Then it was our turn. It caused a huge turmoil in our family. We tried to keep living life...school, activities, church, youth stuff.

Then came that Sunday...small Texas towns post updates on the town each week. Who got a speeding ticket in town...who got arrested last night...who applied for a marriage license...who reported stolen property...and who was getting divorced. I think I remember Mom telling us that it came out, that now everyone knew. When we walked across the parking lot, I just remember feeling uncomfortable, butterflies in my stomach. I didn't know what it meant that everyone knew. At first it didn't seem any different. I went to class then on to service. Just like always. Until the sermon started. You guessed it...divorce...the damage it does...the sin that it is...repent, repent, repent.

Then came the visit from some of the men in the church. Men who had never been in our home before. Men who had no idea what life was like for us. The message was the same. Repent. I remember the tears of hurt and anger from Mom. I remember the feelings of rage in me. I think I probably went back for a few more times, youth stuff mostly. But that was the last time that I felt like I had a church home. I didn't attend a church again on a regular basis until Cassie was about 18 months old...10 years later. And when I did, I was wary.

I get it now. They weren't trying to harm us. They had the truth...divorce is wrong...it is not what God intended for what He joined together. I stand with them in that theology...but they, like Job's friends, had the right thoughts with the wrong heart. And I know I've followed after them more than once.

God told us to weep with those who weep...to comfort those who are afflicted with the very comfort you yourself have received. When Jesus saw people who were suffering, He didn't just preach a sermon. He had compassion and stayed until it was late to relieve it. And when He came to friends who were grieving, He only asked them to remember who He was while He wept with them because He was moved by their tears.

There is a time for truth and we must be ready with it. God can stand up to the hard questions we have. He is more than sufficient for our every fear and our every challenge. And we must be also. There are large truths that will steady us in the storms of life and have soothed my heart as I've come through suffering. But the delivery of those truths matters as much as the truths themselves. For in speaking for God with the truth of God, we must take care to represent Him not only in word, but in countenance...not only in deed, but in emotion. Then people near us can taste and see that He is good...and ready to meet them as a refuge in their pain.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What a blessing

I'd love for you to check out the conference messages Piper did on Job. You can watch them, listen or read...but if I could talk you into it, please watch it. You'll get such a better feel for what was conveyed. I noticed already that much of what he said that hit home most wasn't on the script.

I'll blog more this week about some of what helped me most. But for now, I'm so grateful that I was able to share it with 14 brothers and sisters in Christ. Included there are my oldest, Cassie, who left it saying, "I wish I could get all my friends to something like this. It was amazing." Makes me tear up in gratitude.

I also can't wait to see the fruit of it in the 4 women from my Bible study who were there. What a gracious providence that we'll be talking about suffering this week. They got a crash course!

Piper's in TX

I was so blessed last night and helped throughout Dr. Piper's first talk on Job. And as they are amazing at this tech stuff you can read a transcript or listen to it here. I'll post more fully this afternoon, but here's some highlights from me as I sit and ponder without my notes:

When talking about Job's friends...good theology can really hurt people.

When thinking about God turning to Satan to say, "Have you considered my servant Job?"...Piper likened it to a thief entering a jewelry store and running into the owner. Instead of kicking him out, he turns to him and says, "Have you seen the biggest, most precious diamond I have? It's right out front, but it's locked. Here's the key."

Shortly after that...my paraphrase...God is not a bumbler. He doesn't say "Oops. Didn't mean to say that. And I sure didn't mean for that to happen."

On a side note, Piper talked about the compassion that he has for Job's wife. She had just lost 10 children...her husband that could do no wrong is covered with sores...all around her would be whispering the things that Job's friends would soon say (What have you done wrong, Job? God doesn't let things like this happen to good people.), but she knows that Job's not done anything wrong. He pointed out that he thinks Job's had a great deal of compassion for her too because he doesn't say that she was a foolish woman, but that she sounded like one.

Fun moment...Piper talks about the sores that are covering Job's body. They are described in the book as oozing, grimy with dirt...and filled with worms. Piper then said, "You don't know this kind of suffering." I turn to my dear sister who is with me and we smile. Oh, yes, she does. She and her infant daughter were covered with them! You have to wait weeks to wait until they are fully grown before you can get them out. You sit, feeling them wriggle inside you...eeek.

Later in chapter 6 he pointed out that Job says that there are words which are for the wind...words which are said in the heat of the moment of suffering which we as those trying to help don't need to correct. Let them just go to the wind. When they have been restored a little, they will know the difference. Job's wife's words are an example of these. Just comfort during this time.

Time to go to the conference again! Love Piper Day!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Homecoming Queen

Here's a great story that happened last week in the town of Aledo, TX. Warning...I should have grabbed a tissue first. Click here to meet Aledo High's newest homecoming queen.

HT: Challies

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

I want...I want...I want...

Oh, how expectations can kill my focus. It's one of the graces in my life that God has shown me how true this is, especially during football season. We have a school holiday, staff workday here today. Parent conferences all day long. But this year at the high school, they weren't going to start until 11am Wayne told me. But what about football practice? I asked. They usually bring the freshman up in the morning and do the varsity practice at the normal time in the afternoon. Nope. We've told the freshman, no practice. What?? So what do you have to do in the morning? He replies Sunday morning...nothing. I don't have to be there until 11am. I'll be home with y'all.

Wow. Really?? I was so thrilled. We canceled some plans we'd made. Cleared the calendar 'cause Daddy's home! Nothing comes before that! The ladies I was going to meet with were so glad for us. They are walking with me through this year. They understand what this means for us. (If you're not sure what it's like, just click here.) I took Aisley and Brennan to their babysitting job at a friend's house when the phone rang. It's Wayne. Couldn't be coming home already, could he? Wouldn't that be something! Early to come home and a morning off! How quick my bubble burst...coach just told them to be there at normal time tomorrow. No morning off.

My mind went immediately to the truth God had shown me so many years before. If I hadn't expected it, I'd have been fine. He's never home on a Monday morning. This one isn't any different. Except for that little expectation. So I had a fight last night with my flesh. The sons of Korah's words rang within me from Psalm 42:5-6...
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones called that kind of talk "preaching to yourself". Take yourself in hand, he'd say. Question yourself. Pull yourself back from stumbling and turn your eyes back to God.

What came to me as I lived and prayed with God that evening is how I cling to wanting what it is clear that God doesn't not want. Christ prayed in the garden...take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done. He went in sorrowful and troubled, the Word tells us. But He arose from that time, ready...willing...steadfast...strong. Rise, He told them, let's go.

What that says to me is that when He prayed "not my will, but your be done"...He meant it. He wanted what the Father wanted more than He wanted anything else. He went to His Father, asked for what He wanted...I did that, too. Father, I want Wayne home tomorrow. I want him to spend time with his girls. I want talk to him, tell him all that's been going on around us and within me. Please. Let him stay home. I even did that second part, just like Jesus. But Father, I want what you want more than anything. Sort of. Well, not really. Really, I just want Wayne home. I want what I can see. I want...I want...I want...

That was my battle last night. Competing wants. Do I want what the Father wants? Do I want anything more? What does it mean in me that I still want what the Father has said no to? It means that I don't know Him like my Savior knew Him. He's a good Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children. He loves me, loves my girls, loves my husband. He doesn't withhold any good thing from us. His plans prosper me, not harm me. He gave His Son to seal the argument...if He'll give up the treasure of heaven, will He not together with Him freely give me all things?

What this means is that my prayer continually must turn from give me to the prayer Jesus never prayed...Father, let me see you clearly so that I may love you truly and trust You in everything You do in my life. Give me sight Father to behold Your glory so that I might be changed into the likeness of Your Son just one degree. Give me satisfaction in You...in Your plans...in Your ways so that I might be one who looks like Jesus. Wean me, Father, from a desire for anything that is different than what you give that you might be my all...in all...all ways, all times, all places, all circumstances. Change my I want...to I want You. For the sake of Your Name.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A turn around

In more ways that one...
Brennan and I finally had a day yesterday where no breathing treatments were needed.
The Wildcats won a game.
Hope was restored to a dear sister in need.
I woke to new mercies from our Father...Lamentations 3:19-26...

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

25The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Notice though what had not changed...both the Lord and Jeremiah's circumstances were the same. That's good for me to remember today. How much I love it when my hope is restored because my situation has changed...when the illness ends, the money matches the wants, the wounds are healed, the bitterness forgiven, the team wins...

But Jeremiah has found the truest help in his time of need. Not a different day, but a different view of God. Notice in verse 21 the discipline of pulling his thoughts back into line. He called it to mind. Thought hard about God. Who He is? What's He like?

Oh, yeah...that's right. The Lord is steadfast. His love never wavers. His mercies will never cease toward me or any of His people. Jehovah arises with blessing for us. He is faithful. Great is His faithfulness.

But notice now what changed everything within Jeremiah. In verse 24, he gives me a further instruction. Not only did he discipline his mind to think on God, but what Jeremiah saw of God was more than thoughts, more than words. They became his portion. His treasure. His truest good. His highest goal. His only hope.

John Piper wrote a book titled "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ" that was written to get after this kind of seeing. That second word is what Jeremiah was doing in that verse. It is not enough to see Christ, to view Him from an emotional distance. Satan has stood before the throne and seen the Lord face to face. But he does not love what he sees. He is unmoved by the beauty and supremacy and glory of our Savior. And too often I am just like him...and because of it, I am without hope.

But like Jeremiah, I too can turn my thoughts back to God and move not just to thinking but to savoring all that God is for me in Christ. The Lord is steadfast. Oh, Father, how true that is. You have never wavered toward me. You have sealed me in Your Son and I remain free in Him. Your mercies will never cease toward your people. Yes, Father. Your Son has done all that was needed to secure not just the end of Your wrath, but the fullness of Your pleasure toward us. His righteousness is now ours through His blood on the cross. He is faithful. Not just faithful, Father, but Great is Your faithfulness. There is no shadow of turning with thee. You remain faithful when I am faithless for you cannot be untrue to Yourself.

This I call to mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord is good...so I am good. And it is good for me to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Time out

There's nothing like a time out from God. This week it was in the form of a sinus infection for me and a hard hitting cold for Brennan that kept us side by side on the couch (some good things come from hard times!).

But now I've taken a downturn with a Reactive Airway problem that has flared up. Basically, this means that sitting here typing this makes me feel like a can't breathe and I'm beginning to sweat from the exertion! So, back to resting, praying, reading, meditating, listening to some amazing talks from the Desiring God conference. If God gives you some time like He has me, take advantage of those talks...Sinclair Ferguson's was amazing, convicting and has moved me to action. What grace it is to live in 2008 with the technology to be impacted for the Lord 1000 miles away.

Let me give you a taste:

When I was a late teenager, I was taken on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II. It was a mammoth ship. Then I was taken to see what, comparatively speaking, is this tiny rudder that guides it every which way it goes. James says this is what the tongue is like. It is so small. It has no bone. And yet it is so powerful to build up and destroy. Why does it do that? Because it carries the breath of our souls into the world in which you live.

When I was coming down the elevator, a person came in who had obviously been smoking. Each time this person opened his mouth, the air became more polluted. Why? Because this person could not but breathe out what was within. James says this is true of the tongue. And like smokers, we never notice the atmosphere we are breathing out. James says every time we open our mouths, we give ourselves away. As the KJV says, “We give ourselves away.”

One of the burden of my life living in the U.S. is that people keep telling me I have an accent. I can’t open my mouth without betraying my identity. It’s the apparent disproportion between this tiny, little instrument and the connectedness it has to my being that I can’t open my mouth with out showing whether or not I give myself away as someone who breathes depravity in the room.

And then at the end:

As I said early on, almost everywhere I go people say I have an accent. The most wonderful thing is that 15 minutes into preaching the word, no one remembers my accent. The best place outside of the sanctuary is in elevators. I get off on my floor, and people say “Where do you come from?” As the doors close, I say, “Columbia, SC” and see a puzzled look. That’s a parable for what’s possible for the people of God in our own time.

Wherever you are, it’s not so much what you say while you're in the room, it’s the questions people have when you leave the room. “Where do you come from?” This is someone who has been with Jesus. By God’s grace, James says that we may so grow to maturity that we may begin to speak like our blessed Lord Jesus.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Faith and Generosity

I heard a good word today from a friend. He was thinking about what motivates our economic markets and pinpointed it to two things: fear and greed. People enter the market to make more money and they leave it for fear they will lose some if they don't get out now. The question he asked to some college guys this morning was How much of your life is lived out of these two motivators? One guy was quick to speak the words my heart cries out...Too much. The Lord revealed to him two other words that shape not the American economy, but God's economy. Those are the motivators of faith and generosity. A life lived without fear and without need. Oh, how I long for that today.

I long to look more like my Savior who was satisfied not with what He saw but in His Father. He was always content, but never complacent. Always busy, but never stressed. Always in want, but never in need. Never self-seeking...always wanting what the Father wanted...always doing what the Father...even saying what the Father wanted.

But I can see that I was different last week. It's not a surprise that it came now, three games into the season. I start off at a sprint with thoughts and words like I expressed here...but then comes this part and it's like I hit a hill...a long, long hill. Some sweet ladies that I meet with one morning asked how they could pray for me. I told them that they could pray that I would believe my own blog postings! The Lord has used those words from a friend today to shine light in my heart's dark places...I lived last week with greed. I wanted more than the Lord provided...more time with Wayne, more help around the house and with the homework, more rest, more money...more...more...more...

I can see the movement that God has done in my life over the years. I was one who from childhood lived always wanting more than she had. God's grace has moved me to the path of becoming a woman who wants what God gives. I long to be the woman who desires what, and only what, the Lord provides, who has learned the secret of being content...I can truly do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But not last week. Last week was a blast from the past. A woman who lived each moment wanting more than the Lord provided. With that comes weariness, seeking after gain for myself, stealing rest when I should be working, then struggling to catch up which causes stress in me and in my family. And I know where it leads...from greed to fear. Self-protective, words that seek to be filled up rather than giving out, anxiety about the girls, the money, the house, the future...which lead me to greater greediness to get from this world so that I can be free of the fear.

How I long for the attitude of a wise man named Agur from Proverbs 30. He has the humility I need:
1The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.
The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
2Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
3I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
But also the perspective I need to live my life in such a way that I neither deny my Father or profane His name:
7Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9lest I be full and deny you
and say, "Who is the LORD?"
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
He saw in himself that tendency to cheat and lie when he feels like he doesn't have enough...and to deny the very presence of God when he is satisfied. The wisdom is found in the fact that he knew it. He knew that the middle ground of contentment with what the Lord has would gain him the world. He learned thousands of years before Christ spoke the words that if you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all those things would be added unto you.

A life lived before God, with God and to His glory. A life free of greed and fear. That'd be a better week! One in which my girls could taste and see that the Lord is good. One in which my husband would know no lack of gain. Small steps today will lead to large gains in my life...beginning with a little faith and generosity.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another good gift from our Father

(Part 1 & Part 2)

Part 3 - How we finally got out of it...

It's been a while since I wrote part 2 of this tale so you may want to back up a little to understand what's coming...but, yep. You read it right. 5 years to sell our house back in Marlin. Quite a different ending from the quick 6 weeks that it took us to get out of debt from Cassie's car! So, if the title of these postings has been about another good gift from the Father, what's the gift? The house in Temple? The provision of all the money we needed over the years just to pay bills? Well, those were amazing gifts. We are grateful. But that's not the gift I'm talking about. In this case, the gift was the 5 years it took to sell it. He couldn't have chosen a more perfect gift for our family.

When we began that school year, we waited a few months for it to sell. We really didn't have much of a choice. You've already heard about how our football season goes around here. Wayne had no time to help get the house ready to rent. I knew nothing about it. So, we just sat on it, paying two mortgages. Though the payments were a lot for our single income family, they weren't causing us not to eat. We just did without a lot of the extras that we were growing to like. We prayed together every night for it to sell. Night after night. But the season came to a close with no offer and we went ahead and put out the word that we could rent...only month to month while we waited for it to sell. We heard from someone right away. We priced it just to cover mortgage and insurance and got a young woman who was coming in to teach at the Christmas break. Perfect. And it was...for about a year and a half. Then she moved.

Tried again for a while and didn't hear much. Football was rolling around for the third time and I was starting to get worried. Finally we ended up getting a young, single mother who happened to be one of Wayne's former students. Didn't have the deposit, but could pay it out. Whew. Money in the bank. Felt good not to think about it. Life sailed on for a few months like that. She was late a few times but always came through. We continued to put aside a couple of months rent and had some extra from summer school money. We continued to work on getting completely free of debt ourselves. Then the call from her. She couldn't pay rent because of other bills. Could she pay us back in a few months and just make next month's payment? We talked it over, knew her situation with her young son and said sure. Then it happened again in about 3 months. Sure, not a problem. Then two months in a row. By this time she owed us about $2500 dollars with more to come in just a few days. She was open about it, never ducked the calls. What do we do? By this time she'd been in over a year. We'd never even received the deposit. We told her we'd need to talk about it.

The Lord gave us that time to talk in the form of a gift from an older couple in our church, the Winburne's. Nancy and Leroy had a guest house that was actually more like a large suite of rooms attached to their home in the tiny town of Little River. Their's was a modest home, nothing fancy. But they loved to host people and every now and then would ask a young couple if they'd like to use their guest quarters to have a night away from the kids. Just to be together was such a treat for Wayne and I, so we loaded up the kids to a friend's house and off we went, all of 10 miles down the road for the first overnight we'd had from the kids in their lifetimes!! (I'm not kidding. We'd never been away from them.)

We ate dinner with them, beautifully prepared and graciously served. We sat outside on their back porch and marveled at the silence that we missed so much from our growing up years. We talked about everything from the girls to his job to ministry to our marriage to our goals...finally getting around to talking about our finances and the rent house. We sat in amazement that the Lord had done so much for us in that time. We'd never gone without...not only the basics had been provided, but extras abounded. The girls had gifts at Christmas and birthdays and even a meal or two out a month. And all that with two mortgages. We couldn't have imagined it 5 years before. We were debt free now except for the houses and more resolved than ever not to charge our lives away again. We talked about the young woman in our home and how much we sympathized with her, but was it wise just to fund her life? Should we hold her accountable for what she owed us? We saw from time to time what she had in the home and worried that she was just taking advantage of us. We knew there was also a boyfriend living with her recently. Couldn't he contribute and was that okay with us given what we believe? What to do? We prayed together that night and put it aside for the evening.

The answer hit us as we were driving home. We were talking about Nancy and Leroy. How much it meant to us that they opened up their home to us. How they had opened up more than that to us since we'd known them. They felt like grandparents to us. We loved them so much. Then the question came up...what if it were Nancy and Leroy in that house in Marlin? What would we do then? Answer was quick in coming. We'd tell them not to worry about the money. They were welcome in our home. It would be a privilege to pay their rent. We'd do anything we could to love on them. They could have our car, our possessions, our money...they're our family.

Just that quick the Scriptures opened up before our eyes...

Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' Matthew 25:34-40

The least of these...not the greatest of these...not the ones you love the most...not those who have the most and are giving it out to you. Whatever we do for the least, we do it for Christ.

I'll admit it. We rationalized for a while. I think it says what we do to other believers, doesn't it? I don't think they're Christians. And should we enable them to continue to get away with being irresponsible when we felt like she could pay for at least part of it? But it pounded home finally. If Christ needed a home, we'd give Him the best. If Nancy and Leroy needed us, we'd give whatever we could and take out a loan for the rest. Then that's what we do for her. So, Wayne called that next night and talked to her. Told her that she didn't have to worry about moving. She could pay us what she could, when she could. He told her that we were doing it for Jesus because if He were here that's what He'd do. We told her of our hope outside of money and houses and that we would be glad to help with anything else if she needed it. Just let us know.

She paid us from time to time. Sometimes for a few months in a row until the next fall when she got hurt on the job. No AFLAC duck to come in and pay the bills. No problem. Just work on getting well and take care of your little boy. That lasted until Christmas when she called to say she was moving; she'd found another job in another town. She hoped she could work on paying us back. Oh, no. Wayne told her. You owe us nothing. It was our pleasure. Really. Just remember that Jesus is the one who told us to do it for you. Think about Him for us.

It never rented again. We just kept it up for the next year, wondering what He was doing. Then one day Wayne called me out of the blue. A realtor in town wanted to know if we still wanted to sell our house. Sure! We never really thought that it would go through until all the papers were signed. And what did we make on it after all that time? Funny. We had to bring a check with us to get out of it. Fitting end to the story, we thought. As we drove away from Marlin, Wayne and I couldn't believe that it might be the last time we come there. We arrived in that town so very different than the ones who left. The Lord had been so gracious to give us, not money, but life...to bless us not with a profit, but with a openhandedness to money and possessions that changed the way we thought about everything we bought...to grant us hearts that were a little closer to His...to grant us a freedom from our possessions that has lasted to this day.

So, I understand how simple it seems that we were rejoicing over the provision of Cassie's car...but I also want you to know that it's been a hard fought battle for our heart by His Spirit to get us to the place where we would wait on His provision...not go into high debt...not seek after the newest and best and have it now...and to be ready and willing to give it up tomorrow if He calls us to it. He has brought it home to us that we own nothing. He owns it all...and the cattle on a thousand hills. He'll give us what He gives us...and withhold what He withholds. He is right to do both and deserves the same praise from us because He is our treasure. The rest is just pretty firewood.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dodged a bullet

A reminder of our American blindness to any suffering but our own...and at the end, a mental picture of our Republican nominee for president that I didn't need...

You need to watch it again to read the funny, funny trailers across the bottom of the screen.

Friday, September 12, 2008


It's here, Mom. I know we said we weren't going to talk about it, but it's time.

Cassie is 18!!

As it got closer and closer people all around me have remarked that they can't believe it...she can't be. Then they'll ask Can you believe it? Well, yeah. It has been 18 years after all. But I understand what they're saying...time flies, doesn't it? Though who I was 18 years ago...fresh from graduating from college just two short weeks before her delivery...having been married 1 year and 1 month...having no idea what I was doing with my life much less guiding a baby girl's life...but that seems like ages and ages ago. In large part who I am today is because of God using Cassie's presence in my life. Kids make you grow up fast, don't they?

So here are some of the things about Cassie that touch me as I look back on who God gifted to our family...
  • Cassie has two volumes of speaking...loud and excited loud. I used to think maybe her ears were constantly clogged because she usually speaks as if she's got headphones on.
  • She also is in constant motion...even when in a casual setting. Whether fiddling with her rings, messing with the charm on a necklace, tucking her hair back or using dramatic gestures for the littlest things, Cassie exudes energy. You might think she was nervous, but it won't take you long to realize that that's not it. When she's nervous, she's irritated because she can't stand that she's nervous!
  • What this translates to for the rest of the family is a sense of expectation when you know Cassie's around. There's always the possibility of something happening...to use Cassie words: something that's amazing, hilarious or so much fun.
  • When the girls and I would be waiting to pick her up from school, we'd see her get close and start to grin. It would have been so quiet in the car...quiet talking, someone reading...happy, content, relaxed. But then one of us would spy Cass and it's like a force you knew was coming. We sort of geared up for the entrance of life.
  • Until, that is, you catch her in the early part of the morning. She's definitely a night person which made the switch to public school a more difficult one. Homeschooling, we could allow her to sleep until whenever. Then came 6:30am volleyball practices. Cassie's alarm would go off. I'd hear her stumble around and out she'd come. She'd head straight for me and demand that I hold her...in my lap!...while she stretched out on top of me. Worked great until she was taller than me. But still she'd do it every morning. I learned to move my Bible reading from the chair to the couch. It's hard to catch her willing just to be still any other time which is why I never minded...until I couldn't stand the lack of oxygen from the weight of her.
  • She loves people. I don't just mean being around a crowd. I mean she loves people. Loves talking to them, being around them, learning about them, watching them...she'll do it everywhere. I'm usually on a mission when I'm out. A hunter, not a gatherer when I shop. Cassie's neither. Shopping is what you do so you can be with people.
  • Cassie believes in the age old principle that it's better to give than to receive...but she applies it to words. We're learning though, right Cassie?! And part of why she's growing in listening is because she's becoming more and more aware that God has built into her years of learning about who He is and the hope that there is to be found in Him. I've been so privileged to watch her grow to awareness that she has gifts, talents, wisdom to share with others and to grow at the same time in awareness that you must know the need in others to know how best to serve them in the gospel. Girls look to her for help, advice and fellowship. She's taking that seriously...and I'm so grateful to see it.
  • There's also a growth in her that touches my heart and that is her continuing to see her sisters as part of those girls who desire her company. How easy it is to serve outside your home. How hard it is to begin first with those God has given us in our every day lives. As Aisley and Brennan have gotten older, she's pulled them more into her world. Watching her drive off with Aisley to drop her off at school makes me smile because I know how much it means to Aisley...especially this last year before college.
  • She's efficient, loves to serve, gets the job done...
  • She's a procrastinator, hates opened ended projects, is impatient with delays...
  • She's loving, affectionate, generous...
  • She hides well the deepest part of herself, is often more burdened than anyone knows...
  • She's soft hearted and empathetic...weeps with anyone who's weeping!
  • She's self-contained...doesn't want others to see her weep...
So, she's complicated? She's a woman! Now, it's allowed, right? Even expected. But like the best woman, all this is just what makes her amazing, hilarious and so much fun. It is a joy to know her, but it's a privilege that I could never deserve to be her mom.

I feel so grateful today, Cassie...I know my Savior better because He gave me you.
I love you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Proof that God's people live by grace alone and not by works

In honor of Cassie on her birthday...I thought you'd like to know that we can still praise God and play our rock and roll. And that Jesus is like a Mountie. And that He zaps us anyway He can. ZAP! (Come on, Cassie! Sing with me!) J-J-J-Jesus!

HT: Reformation 21

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another good gift from our Father

Part 2 - How we began to crawl out only to dig a deeper pit...

So, you've heard my whining story of our first house purchase. At the time, it seemed like a gift from God. And so it was, but not in the way we usually think of gifts. If Cassie's car works great, runs for 10 more years and gets great gas mileage with few repairs, it'll be a great gift. If it breaks down repeatedly in the next year, costing us thousands more, I doubt we'd look back on its coming to us as a blessing. We're more likely to think that it was a trial sent to test our patience and endurance! Gifts are blessings depending on how they serve us, right? Well, that's the end of the story, but here's the middle...

We were only in this small town about three years when God opened up a job in Temple just about 45 minutes away. That's the same town where we attended church, small groups and Bible studies. Needless to say, we longed to be there and not spend hours on the road...though TBC was definitely worth the drive for us. Thanks to some amazing people there who built into our lives and to the amazing power of God's grace to such sinners, we were so different than when we arrived. We went from trying to find our Bibles each Sunday to reading them, studying them, even teaching from them. We went from being so far in debt that we couldn't make it month to month, much less try to give what we owed our Father through our tithes...to having only a student loan and house payment and finally learning what it meant in Malachi 3:7-10 to return the whole tithe into His storehouse. We moved from being consumers of church to servers, givers. We saw our oldest put her faith in Christ alone for her salvation. It was a good few years. What had started as my worst nightmare became a place of great blessing.

But a few things hadn't changed...like how stupid Wayne and I could be when it came to grabbing after what we want whatever the cost. But God had plans for that as well. (And this time we're praying it sticks!) So, the job comes open in Temple. Wayne applies, gets an interview and learns that the head coach and his family are planning to attend TBC. Instant connection. The job also couldn't have been more perfect...9th grade football (much fewer hours than a varsity job) and head track coach which is Wayne's first love. (He was an all-American hammer thrower in college...yes, I'm bragging...) We tell a few friends about it...all pray together about the job, really feel like it's what we're supposed to do. And what do you know?? He gets it! Yipee!

First things first...put the house in Marlin on the market. Start packing boxes for the day it sells...surely that won't take long. There's still nothing else to buy or even to rent. Someone will need a nice, brick, three bedroom home. We price it low for a quick sell. Won't even make money off of it. Make plans for the next house by looking online, driving around Temple on Sunday afternoons, considering friends' neighborhoods. A month goes by...then another...then another...it's summer. Wayne starts football in just a few weeks. I'm out of town when Wayne says that he thinks he's found one we should make an offer on. Well within our price range. We actually have a down payment this time and won't even need it as the seller is very anxious to get out from under it. It's lower by far from what we qualified for. What a difference a few years make. So we put a contingency on it and waited...and waited. Nothing. Not one looker for our present home. Now what?

Well, having learned such a good lesson from the years past and having seen so much freedom from being in debt, we of course decided to buy it anyway. That's right. Two mortgages. After all, how long could it be before we finally get an offer? We can make the two payments for a few months. We move in late July, a few days before coaching school. Friends help us move. Wayne starts football...learns the job is actually a varsity position job as well as head freshman so the hours go up. But that's okay! We're in Temple. Friends everywhere. Good paycheck. And that house will sell, right? Right?

Sure did. 5 YEARS later...and telling about that journey will take another post...

I kept thinking it was a parody...

Too bad I was wrong. Don't stop watching...the dance moves truly begin about 2 minutes in...

UPDATE: The video was pulled from youtube. But Cassie found this clip with hilarious commentary at the end by "God". You'll catch enough of the video to get the gist...along with a huge laugh! (Well, at least we did...) The part you're looking for is about 25 seconds into the video...

HT: Between Two Worlds

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Another good gift from our Father

Part 1 - How we got into that mess in the first place...

I wrote in a previous post about our praise for Cassie's new car. It was meant with all my heart, but can seem a little bit obvious. You got a car, paid for mostly by others, and you're praising God? Well, guess what? He gives me a car and I'll praise Him, too. Yeah. Not a stretch, I know. So I thought it might be helpful to some of you for me to tell you about another kind of gift the Lord gave us also from a purchase...this time it was a house. It'll take a bit of telling, so settle back.

It all started with being fired right after we found out that we were going to have our third child. From the highest of highs to WHAT? I probably just sat stunned for days. It was out of the blue to us. Plus I was so overwhelmed by that point at the thought of another baby when Aisley wasn't even crawling yet that I couldn't see how to make the bed much less move a family. Add to that, these were some of our first true friends that stick with you a lifetime. We would be leaving Cassie's first best friend. Our first real church home. I couldn't managed to process it...so, I checked out on the search for our new job. Wayne could handle it...I hoped. After 8 months of nothing...not one interview...I was pretty panicked. But sure enough, literally while in labor in the hospital, Wayne gets a call to go on an interview in central Texas. Manna from heaven.

He returns to tell me about this great little town. Quaint houses. Quiet streets. People walking through town. Seems like just the thing. Only problem? Not a single place to live. Truly...not even to rent. But just when I'm beginning to think that Wayne's going to leave us and go work 3 hours south, we hear of a place. We'll take it! I screamed. Whatever it is. Who cares? So with three days before we needed to arrive for him to start and five weeks after Brennan's birth, we're off. Only to arrive with me asking him a ton of questions, like what part of town he'd seen during the interview because I wasn't seeing what he was. Come to find out it was at the time the poorest town in one of the poorest counties in Texas. Quaint houses? Oh, you mean houses which haven't been updated in 60 years. Quiet streets? Well, yeah, because no one lives here! People walking the streets? Of course they are! This town had the highest unemployment rate in the state one year. And this is a BIG state. People weren't just walking the streets...they were living there!

Okay, enough of that. Onto better complaints...We moved into a rent house that had more problems than I'd ever seen. Dirty. No clean water. Holes in the floor. Rats and cockroaches everywhere. No air conditioning in the August, Texas heat. Add to that Cassie went from one of the best school districts in the state to one of the lowest performing. (The teacher told me a few days in that she was having Cassie tutor the kids in the hallway one-on-one. She was 6!!) Wayne's gone from 6am to 11pm. I'm at home with a 6 yr old, a 20 month old and a 6 week old. We knew no one. Not one soul showed up to help or to welcome us. I was miserable, depressed, angry, bitter...if it was negative, I was feeling it.

I'll warn you...I'm trying to sucker you into my mindset. Get you to see it from my world, cause then maybe what I tell you next won't seem as unlikely, or as stupid, as it really is. Because it was then that I told Wayne that we had to get out of that house. Now. NOW. Ever felt that way? You can't take one more day of whatever it is. I remember I was crying, shaking even when I said it. So Wayne made some calls and sure enough, through the grapevine, we heard of a house that was being rented right now. Maybe they'd be willing to sell it. The answer was YES! with a few conditions. They were non-negotiable on the price. Whatever, I said. I was in no position to bargain.

Thus began the following stupidity...we couldn't get a loan for their asking price due to all the debt we carried. Considering we had 13 small loans and credit cards, a car loan and school loans at this time, that wasn't surprising. We also had no down payment. But what I did have was a finance degree from a university which taught me all sorts of creative ways to finance your life. (Ask me sometime how I managed to get to England using a Dillards card. Yes. I'm serious.) So, we arranged with the owners to take out another small loan from them to get to their asking price...arranged with the mortgage company to extend us the sum they would...and charged the down payment on the house to a credit card. Yep. You heard me right. We charged a house. (And no, you're not supposed to be able to do it. And no, I won't teach you how.)

So, over the course of the next few weeks we slowly moved...one night at a time, hauling stuff over in the back of the car or a coach's truck after Wayne would come home from football. But I was happy. The girls had a home we could live in. They could actually get down onto the floor without concern they'd fall through it! I settled in and settled down. We got Cassie rolling in her second school (first one burned down a few weeks after we arrived...again, another story...) and even made friends with the people we bought the house from. Things were looking up. We found TBC, got started with a small group of wonderful families, started working on the debt problem and the bigger problem in our hearts towards money.

The Lord so convicted us at this time in so many different ways. We knew that we had been stupid in getting this house. But as He often does, He blessed us despite ourselves and brought us to a good place in our home, in our marriage, with our children and with our money. We prospered there. So, now you're thinking...Wait. They even sin and He blesses them. What's up with that? Well, it's right about here that the story takes the turn. But since you've been reading for a while, I'll finish that thought tomorrow.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's not whether she can...it's whether she should

It seems that America has found a new reality TV show that it loves...Election 2008! What an amazing and exhausting time it's been. We had the unbelievable race between Obama and Clinton...followed by his victory and history making acceptance speech. I thought we'd ride that to the ground, but just one week later Obama's name drops from sight as a hockey mom from Alaska steps into the limelight.

I've been asked over and over what I think of all the drama of Sarah Palin. Should she be Vice President? Is it okay to even think of a woman in the White House? What about her daughter and grandbaby-to-be? Not to mention her newborn. Well, my silence and reticence to speak doesn't come from a lack of an opinion, but you knew that already. I just really wanted to think about it before I spoke...a novelty for me that I'm learning more about as I age!

So, here's my two-cents...First, in the public realm, yes. I believe that a woman can biblically hold the highest office in the land. The Bible speaks clearly about the roles of men and women in the home and in the church. I am a complimentarian when it comes to my views of male headship...which in summary simply means that I believe men have been ordained by God to represent Him here as leaders in these two areas. Women have great value, equal value in the sight of God as men. But God has given some areas of governing and teaching in the church strictly to men. He has also given them highest authority in the home. (I'd love for you to think more about this by clicking over to CBMW.)

What this means to me is that Sarah Palin can lead our country but not our church. The same may be said to be true of any man running for president. The qualifications for both offices may have many similarities in terms of what I'm looking for in a leader. But the office of elder is a tougher one to fill compared to president...just see 1 Timothy 3 and compare it to our past presidents. Even the much applauded Reagan wouldn't have made the cut. And as to that, neither would McCain. But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't vote him president. The same would be said to be true for Palin, but I'm grateful to say that it would be for different reasons than those two men.

Secondly, though, and most personal to me, is whether or not she should be vice-president. This isn't about women in general as much as it is my opinion about her specifically. I am one of the millions who tuned into her speech and left humored and impressed. She did an excellent job not only delivering that speech, but in making the case that she is qualified for this office. It's not the speech that gave me pause...it was the shots of her daughter smoothing down her infant son's hair while sitting next to her other daughter, pregnant with her first grandbaby.

Because I'm at home with my girls, I admit I long for other moms to be there, too. I want them to be the primary caregivers to their children. I don't want them gone for hours at a time when they are infants. I don't want her 17 year old daughter to be facing these days right now with mom traveling the country. I want Sarah Palin home with her kids...because that's where I am. That's what I am called to. And that's what I love.

But it isn't necessarily a sin for her to be out doing what she's doing. Nor is it necessarily a sin for any of the other millions who are in the workforce. Many women I know who are working feel that they not only want to work, but feel called to work. They make sure that their children are well taken care of. They make sure that they fulfill all that God has blessed them with in their homes. Their husbands love them and feel cared for by these great women. Many of them have blessed us over and over in their work...what would we have done without our Dr. Black! They have sought the direction of the Lord. They feel called to it. They are supposed to be there. So they are. I'm sure that there are those who are working in rebellion against what God is calling them to. Just as I'm sure that there are millions of us at home who rebel every day against what we know He is calling us to. Rebellion against God isn't about where we work. It's about our hearts. And I'm not close enough to very many to taste the fruit of rebellion in their hearts...much less Sarah Palin's.

Sarah Palin has stated her belief in Christ. She has spoken about a relationship with God. This puts her in the realm of all the other women around me who are living their lives weighing before the Lord what is best for them and their families. Homeschool? Public school? Dating? Courting? Spaghetti strapped shirts? How short is too short? Make-up? Working outside the home? We're all in this together...making our way one step at a time...weighing it out before the Lord...asking, begging for Him to give us an answer...what would He have us do? Which way would be best for us, for our kids, for our husbands? Should I? Should she? Should any of us?

For me, I'm leaving her and her family to the Lord and asking Him to bless her time with them. I'm asking Him to bless her work and her words, that she might hold with integrity this office that she feels called to. I'm also asking for an extra measure of grace in the form of renewed energy every night she comes home to them whether as governor of Alaska or Vice President of the United States. And I'm asking God that her husband might be encouraged in what he might be called to do in Washington.

And I'm thanking God for reminding me to pray for those that are much closer to me in my life. That God might give them these same graces. I don't want them to live my life. I want them to live the life that God has called them to...and I want us all to do it well...for the glory of the One who made it all, purchased it all on the cross and sustains His church till He comes again.