Friday, December 28, 2007

How many gifts will you remember next year?

He used a tooth of a comb as a needle to sew with.

You want to check out both of these posts...

Here is a second post with pictures....

Anatomy According to Gloria

Note the spleen covering the toes, and the lung over the calf. Boy, do we have a lot of ground to cover!

Awesome hair!

Noah likes to twirl his hair around his finger. It's something that his father used to do back when his hair was long enough to do such a thing. We hadn't really noticed it until Noah decided to do some Bible reading for us during our weekly family meeting. He sat up, pulled out his Bible, & bent his head over- we were amazed. His hair is very straight, so all the curls you see in the photo were caused by his twirling. It may be time for a haircut!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Kids Sporting Their New Eyeglasses

Noah asked several times if I would take him to an eye doctor- he said his eyes were watery. I assumed it was an allergy problem, so I put the doctor's visit off for a while. One day last week, however, I noticed that he was having a really hard time doing his schoolwork. He kept rubbing his eyes, and at one point became frustrated with it and went to bed. "Hmmm," I thought, "maybe there is something to what he says." I took him to the eye doctor that morning, and sure enough, the kid is far-sighted. The watery eyes are caused by him struggling to bring his eyes into focus and keeping them open for too long. That's him in the middle.
Imagine my surprise when on a whim I asked the doctor for a vision screening for the other children. Elijah's vision is great, but Nicholas is another story. He is far-sighted and both eyes have astigmatisms. The doctor actually winced when he attempted to read the largest row of letters. I felt like such a bad mom- he's 10 years old and I never noticed he had trouble seeing!
Both of the boys chose glasses that look like their father's. I can't find a picture of Scott in his right now or I'd post it. It's too cute! Elijah really wants glasses- he's been running into things on purpose and rubbing his eyes a lot in an effort to show me how poor his eyesight is. I offered to get him some glasses without lenses, but that won't do.
Gloria wouldn't have anything to do with the eye doctor or the vision screening equipment. She told the doc, "Maybe when I'm older..."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

You Can Have All This World

It was an odd day. Sunday School started with 4 of the kids telling us how they either shared or attempted to share their faith over the last week. We'd encouraged them before to be available to be used of God, but nothing ever became of it. Honestly, they tend to be (like most teenagers) somewhat self-centered. This week was different, though. They shared with brothers, strangers at the mall, and a lone girl at the lunch table at school. I think they've begun to see what a dark world it is, and they've started to see the people around them who are mired in that darkness.

For our part, the day should have consisted of church and a birthday party. One of the youth had a surprise birthday party at his home. Among the attendants was one extraordinarily out of place grad student studying cancer biology at a very prestigious university. By her own admission, she believes there is a God but she chooses not to study or explore beyond that basic belief. I think this is mostly out of a fear that she will find it to be incongruous with her scientific studies. She is very smart, but at the same time so sad. It is noble to want to cure cancer, but if the pursuit of that cure means that you will not consider the Creator, what have you gained?
She has chosen to ignore the question of God's plan for her because she cannot apply her scientific theory to decipher it. It was an interesting and lengthy, albeit very friendly, debate. She employed the typical evolution talking points and attempted to make broad, sweeping generalizations about people who believe in creation. It was a looong birthday party. Many times I looked over and saw Scott with his contemplative look upon his face, carefully choosing his words. I suspect that this was the first time she entered into a religious debate with someone who was knowledgeable and well-studied enough to not get flustered and give up. Scott has never been one to nod politely and then ask after the health of the family pets when a difficult topic comes up. There were some folks who knew her who would walk into the room, listen for a bit, chuckle, then give up on trying to follow the conversation and leave. As for me, I engaged in a pleasant side conversation with the young lady's father while we both listened to the debate. Our prayer for this girl is that she will at least seek to know the Father and that her intellect won't be an insurmountable stumbling block. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

We left the party and went out to buy a tree- a Christmas tree to be specific. Yes, I know it is late, but frankly, it is not very important to us and we have not had the time to go and purchase a tree. We wanted a live tree, and it is not something that I could easily go out and do without my strong husband there. First we went to Lowes. They had a few wreaths, but no tree. Next we went to Home Depot. I stayed in the car with the kids while Scott went in. There remained one decent-looking tree, and two that looked like they got in a fight with a woodchipper and lost. Scott also had to get a stand- he found one without a price and brought it over to the cash register in the little enclosed stand in the garden center. Hunched over and crying was a girl in a Home Depot apron. Scott asked if she was alright, and she said she was. He then asked if she was crying, but she insisted that she wasn't. His look of disbelief probably convicted her to come clean- she was crying after all. She went on to share how her mother left her family and has turned her back on God. She was very nice, and Scott felt so sad for her. She was struggling with how to deal with her family situation and her relationship with her mother in particular. She had some righteous anger. Scott was the only customer that had been there all evening buying the last sale-able Christmas tree. We believe this was another divine appointment. Scott was struck by her story of sitting in the church parking lot of the church her family used to go to wanting to go in but afraid of what people would say or think. She could not bring herself to go inside. She was very aware of the fact that her mother was turning her back on eternal things for temporary lust of the flesh. She spoke with a wisdom uncommon among 20 year olds, but that was gained as she witnessed the collapse of her parents' marriage. She did most of the talking, Scott was just there to listen and console. He talked about how God gives us free will, and as much as we'd like to make choices for our family members or change the choices they have made, we can't do that. He felt confident in saying that one day her mother will look at what she gave away and how she hurt her family and will grieve. Still, it is not fair that we grieve now for the poor exercising of their free will. Scott told her about how whenever we drive into Knoxville and we pass the car dealership where my dad works, he looks over and sees tears on my face. It is difficult for those who are abiding in Christ because we know what our loved ones are missing. We mourn for them now, while they continue on seemingly ignorant of the pain that they have caused to the people that they once professed to have loved.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hillbilly Meets Mafia

Scott's family.

My family.

Quilting Questions

Once again, I am contemplating work on a project started by one of our grandmothers. These nine patch quilt squares were made by my Mamaw Chandler.
Yep, after years of vaguely referring to her as "my grandmother," I am 'fessing up to my hillbilly roots. I had two Mamaws, each called by "mamaw" and her last name. My family came from the hills pretty recently. "We" were among the last of the folks kicked out of Cades Cove, and I remember the anger and indignation in my grandmother's voice as she would tell us about the unfair price her family was forced to accept for their farm.
So anyhow, I married up. We have a beautiful photograph of my mother-in-law at the age of 8 or 9 wearing a fancy white gown with matching white gloves and holding a bouquet of roses. Similarly, we have a photograph of my mother wearing a flour sack and holding a dead chicken. Well, okay, we don't actually have possession of that one, but it is rumored to exist.
But anyway, back to the quilt. These squares were made from satin scraps that my grandmother brought home from the furriers where she worked sewing liners for fur coats. My question is this: What kind of fabric should I use to attach these squares to each other? I am thinking that maybe I should use satin, but someone said that would be a mistake. That same someone didn't offer any alternatives, though. Does anyone know?


I have always been interested in adoption. ALWAYS.

As a teenager, I purchased a used set of books from a library sale entitled "The Adoptive Family." My friends thought I was nuts. So it's not surprising that I sometimes browse adoption websites. Over the years, I have looked into all manner of domestic and international adoptions. I've checked out the requirements, notified my husband of which ones we qualify for, and even told him that I've picked out a new kid or two. Always kind of joking, but also "feeling out the waters," so to speak.

This morning, I awoke early with a feeling that I should spend some volunteer time at an orphanage. I know that logically, we just don't have time for me to go out and do something like that. My husband works a full-time job in addition to being the youth pastor at our church. I homeschool our children, so I don't have any time without the kids to volunteer. Nevertheless, I got online at 5:30 this morning to google orphanages/children's homes close to us. There really aren't any, so I ended up browsing the list of children available for adoption. I looked at "special needs/older" kids, because it is safe- most of adoptions specify homes with no other children.

I say all of this to say that this morning, I "met" a child online who has been on my mind all day. I've cried because I feel a connection, illogical though it may be. He is one year older than my oldest son. He comes from a separated sibling group and wants to be placed in a home with other children. He loves taking care of plants and animals and would love to live somewhere that has woods to explore.

I really don't know where I'm going with this post. I'm sure that my husband doesn't feel called to adopt. I just needed to get my thoughts out somewhere.

Monday, December 3, 2007

While Strolling Through the Woods...

I found some sort of strange primitive fence. You may have to enlarge the photo to see it well.

It turns out that my kids really are doing something when they are playing in the woods. They have made some wonderful trails, as well.

I had a lot of work to do, so I only snapped a couple of quick photos. I plan to go back and get pictures of some of the nice trails, too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Open Letter to a Friend

While shopping after church yesterday, I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in a while. In a two minute conversation while my children were pushing my cart into other shoppers, she told me some very disturbing news. Here is what I wish I had been able to say to her. Maybe I'll still get the chance, maybe she'll read it here, or maybe it applies to more people than just her. Maybe some of you will join me in praying for my friend.

Open Letter to a Friend

You are still grieving the unexpected loss of your brother. You are very emotional right now, and you shouldn't be rushing to make any important decisions. When you say that the loss of your brother has pushed you to decide that "life is too short" to waste - via being held back in your worship of God... I don't understand that. I'm sure there is more to the story, but since this is what you've told me.... How about life being too short to completely shatter the foundation of your children's existence? How about life being too short to be selfishly focused on your grief? So focused on your own self, in fact, that others are enduring huge storms because of it, and you say that you know you have made the right decision. You won't be held back anymore, you say. Where is God here? He's not at the center of your life.

Your situation does not meet the biblical requirements for divorce, if what you told me is a true representation of the situation. I don't hesitate to say this because you are a professing Christian. Your husband is, by all appearances, a loving husband. I know him to be a wonderful father. I've often stood in admiration of his relationships with his children. Your daughter, a young woman now, still very much needs the stability of her parents. Most importantly, she needs to see that her mother has a close relationship with God. Instead she is seeing some scary stuff from her parents and I am sure she is having a difficult time reconciling what she's been taught by you with what she sees the two of you doing now.

Your family has been ripped apart. How can this be God's will? Yes, I will indeed pray for you as you asked. I am praying that you put God in the center. I am praying that you can separate your feelings of grief and anxiety (stemming from your brother's death) from your relationship with your husband. I am praying that you don't go through with this divorce, that you will come back humbled and willing to work through the problems in your marriage.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Meat & Potatoes

Here are links to some posts that are the figurative "Meat & Potatoes" of how we've arrived at this place in our lives, since we began to blog.

They include some background, some great things that God has done, and some "thinking out loud" about our own faith. They are in chronological order.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lately I’ve had many things swirling around in my head. God has taught me some amazing lessons that I desire to share with anyone who cares to listen. The problem is, when I sit down to write about it all, the words don’t come. I write a little, but it comes out sounding like a second-grade essay without the cute-factor. I’ve always loved to write and fancied myself pretty good at it. So why won’t the words come to express what is in my heart?

Perhaps I have become prideful of my writing. Is this God’s work- humbling me through my ineloquence? It is definitely humbling to produce poorly written blog posts that seem to completely miss the messages that I am trying to convey.

Or could it be that the things I wish to write simply shouldn’t be written? I pray about what to say on this blog. So when the words don’t come, is it that God doesn’t want me to say what I want to say? Should I pray for new direction?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Showers of Blessings

1Ch 16:8-10 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

This Thanksgiving, the holiday was less about my forefathers in this land and more about giving thanks to my Father in heaven. I used to dread the time when we would go around the table and say what we were thankful for, but this year, my heart was so full of things to be thankful for that I kind of looked forward to it. And you know what? No one asked.

God has done wondrous works in my heart. His love overflows me. '
What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Glory that Will Be

Last year, Scott attended the "Empower Me Christmas Camp" alone. This year, I was able to go with him. We also took with us 5 kids from our youth group and 3 adults from our church. To read about last year's visit, click here.

Since this was my first time to volunteer, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I really hadn't put much thought into how I would interact with the kids. Once they started coming in the door, I became a little worried about how to treat them. I was concerned that I would talk down to them or try to help them too much. The group of kids that I stayed with were older than I was expecting... I was kind of thinking 5-9 years old, but instead we had teenagers and young adults- the same age that we brought along with us from our youth group.

I found that I did not for one minute pity any of these children. Some children were dropped off by their siblings who had no disabilities. Looking at them side-by-side, God did not allow me to be depressed over what could have been. Instead, He showed me the glory of what WILL be. In God's kingdom, all infirmities will be gone. "In You, where the hungry feast at the table- the blind frozen by colors in view. The lame will dance, will dance for they are able, and the weary find rest in You."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Glimpses of God's Plan

We find it interesting that sometimes God will give us glimpses of His plan (sometimes just enough to confirm that there IS a plan) through strange circumstances and unusual meetings with folks... the things that some would call coincidences, but we know better.

For example...

Two different goat farms that we were invited to see. They are run by people that we seem to share theology with.

Two different families encouraging our 4H adventure.

Two women named J_____ that we met today.

Two families, one we met today & another we met a year ago 700 miles away, who know each other as a result of shared mission work in a tiny country in the middle east.

It's like the Lord leads us in a direction and then immediately reinforces that by giving us a couple of well-placed encouragers. I am beginning to look forward to these "random" meetings with folks we don't really know. I know that God has a reason for crossing our paths.

On a separate note, we're contemplating or struck by how some people confuse "standard of living" with "quality of living." We heard a person discussing a trip to a foreign country and how sad the people were, and how poor they were, because they didn't have certain amenities that we enjoy in the United States. However, so many of us enjoy them at the expense of time with our children and families. Who has the higher standard of living? Someone with electricity and big screen satellite HDTV on which they can watch nature shows depicting God's Creation in breath-taking resolution and color, or people who step out of a paid-for familiar home and are too busy observing God's glory to turn on a TV if they had one. I know that there are probably some who think this is just self-loathing or "white guilt", but really, we as a society have so much to be so miserable.

Scott says that people who read blogs really want to see pictures, so here is one of a critter we found on the front porch.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Happiness is...

There's nothing quite as much fun as heading outside and felling small trees.

Monday, November 5, 2007

3 weeks...

3 visits to the pediatrician.

The first time, Elijah had chicken pox. It was a mild case due to the vaccination that he received.

Then Gloria had an ear infection. She took her last dose of antibiotics today.

Today Elijah has bronchitis and maybe walking pneumonia. We've started antibiotics. If there isn't a significant improvement in the next 48 hours, I am supposed to bring him back.

We'll be hanging out at home for a while to give everyone a chance to recover. My hope is that we didn't pick up some new germ while at the doctor's office. (sigh) We'll probably know that in 48 hours, too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Being Different

Amish do it. Old-order Mennonites do it. Motorcycle dudes do it. Old ladies with rollers in their hair do it. Some "religious" folks do it. Traditional Catholics do it. Folks having bad hair days do it. And so do I.

Aah, the wonderful world of head-coverings. During the first month that I wore mine, those who knew me well hardly said anything. My mother-in-law said something, but she typically speaks her mind. I expected it. My dentist told me he liked my "do-rag." The others were probably wondering if I'd flipped my lid or joined a cult.

I felt exceedingly uncomfortable. Was I crazy? There was a sense of relief that people weren't asking me about it, but at the same time, I wondered what they were whispering behind my back. Did I stick out like a sore thumb, or was I just paranoid? I have always been perfectly comfortable blending into the background. The last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself. Submitting to covering my head would definitely push me out of my comfort zone.

For scriptural support for the headcovering, see 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. You can google the "controversy" if you wish to read more about it.

I spent literally YEARS mulling this over before I decided to follow the convictions of the Holy Spirit. I knew no one who covered her head. No one at my church, no one in my neighborhood, no one in my homeschool group.

So why do I do this, especially since I claim to not enjoy the attention of sticking out? Because it is from God and not from me. I do not look down my nose at those who don't cover their heads. I've never told anyone that they should cover their heads. I have suggested trying it out to those who were contemplating it. Wearing the headcovering actually reminds me to be friendlier and more outgoing than I would otherwise. Some people will look at me and judge me to be "religious" or "fundamental", and I want to be certain that they don't remember that the woman in the long skirt and headcovering was rude or impolite or unfriendly.

Most people still don't comment on it. Some children ask me why I wear a scarf, and some adults ask my children why I do it. Does anyone else find it odd that an adult would ask a 4 year old to explain why his mother always wears a scarf? He can't even explain why he ate breakfast this morning! Sure, he knows he ate it and it was good, but he can't tell you WHY.
Either the funny looks I used to get from strangers were imagined or I've grown used to them. I have peace about it now. So I don't fit in... I never really did anyway, I only looked like it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Reclaiming the Backyard

This is an abandoned dog pen that previously could not be seen. There were 4" diameter trees inside it, and 1"diameter vines all over it. Some of my favorite childhood memories are scented with the sweet smell of honeysuckle in bloom, but I don't think I will remember it quite so fondly now. It was a beast to untangle and cut all of that out.

Our goal is to have a backyard. I have a good view of this area from the kitchen, so the kids can be outside playing while I am cooking. They can easily amuse themselves for hours out there.
Scott tore down an old goat shed yesterday afternoon. The ceiling was caving in, and the sides were riddled with bullet holes from Scott's carefree, youthful summers.
Here Scott is tearing down the rotten wood in the back.

This photo was taken after the first side was removed. We found some huge brown recluse spiders in there!

The shed has been been reduced to a pile of rubble. Most of the tin sheets are already loaded into the trailer awaiting a day that Scott makes it home before 5 to take them to the local dump. Aah, progress!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Calling all bakers....

Like the Incredible Hulk ripping through his T-shirt, our bread is growing too big for its neatly shaped exterior.
Can someone who knows a little something about baking bread help me figure this out? When I'm scoring the bread, am I not cutting deep enough? Or is there something wrong with my temperature setting?
At least it still tastes good, and, hey, it didn't turn green!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Late night musings on my faith.

posted by Scott

Wikipedia: "The theory of evolution by natural selection was proposed roughly simultaneously by both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, and set out in detail in Darwin's 1859 book On the Origin of Species.[5] It encountered initial resistance from religious authorities who believed humans were divinely set apart from the animal kingdom. In the 1930s, Darwinian natural selection was combined with Mendelian inheritance to form the modern evolutionary synthesis,[6] in which the connection between the units of evolution (genes) and the mechanism of evolution (natural selection) was made. This powerful explanatory and predictive theory has become the central organizing principle of modern biology, providing a unifying explanation for the diversity of life on Earth.[7]"

There was a time when the Christian Church looked toward the scriptures to understand where we came from, what we're here for, and where we will go when we pass away. The answers were simple, yet required faith in something that couldn't be scientifically proven with our natural senses. As each generation has passed since Thomas probed the wounds of Christ, so in has crept the old doubt. That doubt has been exponentially increased since the advent of the theory of evolution and modern science & industry. It has crept in so much so that I would venture to say the faith of most Christians is today only nominal. If you would like evidence of that, take a look at the state of the modern church. Look at the atrocious things that "Christians" have allowed to come to pass in the name of progress. Most modern "Christians" don't believe that Christ was who he said he was or that the scriptures are the inspired word of God.

Where sincere Christianity required a faith unto obedience, nominal Christianity requires little more than occasional church attendance or adherence to various and sundry church traditions. You can be a nominal Christian, yet place your full faith and confidence in man, through science.

Of course, I see how much easier it seems to place faith in something like science. After all, science has quite convincingly developed answers to questions where the bible seemingly left gaps. Never mind the fact that many of the answers are pure fiction or are so far-fetched that they require even greater leaps of faith in reason to believe, than the scriptures. Science is the only belief system taught in today's government education institutions. Science is the religion of mass-media. Science is the god of modern man, who looks to it for knowledge of the past, guidance for the present, and prophecy.

I, born in the middle of the 20th century, feel so far removed from the times of Christ, that I scarcely can imagine what it must have been like to hear of this Galilean who makes the blind see and the lame take up their beds. The language has changed. The customs, geography, dress, and even the government has changed. Growing up, the Gospel of Christ seemed like a fairy tale. It was as real to me as Santa or the Easter Bunny. Perhaps worse yet, I saw evidence of Santa and the Easter Bunny. Alas, that turned out to be a hoax. Science though has turned out to be a savior, or so we are led to believe. You disagree? Consider the curse:

Gen 3:16 To the woman He said, I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception. In pain you shall bear sons, and your desire shall be toward your husband, and he shall rule over you.Gen 3:17 And to Adam He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it! The ground is cursed for your sake. In pain shall you eat of it all the days of your life.Gen 3:18 It shall also bring forth thorns and thistles to you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.Gen 3:19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.

For centuries, we lived subject to the curse in much this way. Then, somewhere in the middle of the 19th century, things began to change...

  • Modern air conditioning emerged from advances in chemistry during the 19th Century, and the first large-scale electrical air conditioning was invented and used in 1902 by Willis Haviland Carrier.
  • Dr. John Bonica invented the epidural block and administered it to his own wife while she was in labor with their second child in the 1930’s.
  • In 1892, a blacksmith called John Froehlich, from Iowa in the United States, built the first ever farm vehicle powered by a petrol engine. It was also the first tractor which could be driven forward and in reverse. Only 2 Froehlich Tractors were built. Both of them were sold and both of them were returned by dissatisfied customers!Later that year John Froehlich joined with others in organizing the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company, which later became known as the John Deere Tractor Company.
  • The feminist movement (a.k.a. Women's Lib) began in the 19th century. Gender roles have become confused, monogamy has come under attack, & etc...
  • Genetically modified foods have been available since the 1990s. In the US, by 2006 89% of the planted area of soybeans, 83 percent of cotton, and 61 percent maize was genetically modified varieties.

As science began to provide relief from the curse, that old doubt that I earlier mentioned crept in voraciously like a lion waiting to devour its prey.

So, what can someone do so that they can come to know what is truthful?

  • Be objective. I think an objective person must start with the premise that there are two opposite agendas at work here. There is the agenda of science and there is the opposing agenda of the scriptures. The Bible is a subversive document, when studied and applied by the reader. Adherence to the Bible is dangerous to an ever-further reaching and global government, which can not afford too much individual freedom of thought or expression. Therefore, government seeks to neuter the scriptures and the followers of Christ. Science provides comfort. Science seeks to bring about peace. Science is full of individual men's contributions for the greater good. Science is safe and perpetuates the government, global economy, & etc.
  • Earnestly seek the truth. The scientific agenda is carried out, wittingly or not, by mass-media, government, corporations, and even the organized church. Therefore, an objective person must not place undue trust in these organizations. One must seek alternative first-person sources of news, they must work to influence government, they must not forget that the profit motive of corporations trumps any altruistic motives, and they must diligently study the scriptures themselves to rightly divide the word.
  • Perpetuate truths. The scientific agenda is implemented across generations. There is simply too much in this agenda for change to occur in one lifetime. This is a multi-generational agenda, which is greater than any one man. The agenda does not require your belief and complicity, it is content to seek that from your children and grand-children. One must thwart the agenda by protecting their children from secular or false teaching. Private Christian schools are not always protected from the agenda. Unfortunately, many parents have placed their children in "Christian" schools, only to have them indoctrinated with false Christianity. Ultimately, parents must take the lead role in their children's education, either through home-schooling or other equivalent involvement in their instruction.

If one does these things, I believe that they will come to know and perpetuate the truth to later generations. Seek and you will find! Knock and the door will be opened! I find it telling that true Christians will most often suggest to doubters that they study and see for themselves. Those who oppose Christianity often seem so threatened by it that they want any vestige of it removed from the society. They seem afraid that their religion can not stand up to the careful scrutiny of someone desiring the truth. I believe they are right in that fear!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

One More Reason to Homeschool

I don't normally post news stories, but this report is impressive in scope. I'm glad the AP decided to study this and release their findings.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Free from Sin

John 8:34 & 35: Whoever practices sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not abide in the house forever, but the Son abides forever.
Preachers don’t preach this stuff. We were very fortunate to have been led by a pastor (many years ago) who taught us that, “You may sin, but you don’t have to.” If Christ has freed us from sin, why would we be powerless to stop sinning?

That same blessed man who told us we did not have to sin always encouraged us to read our Bibles for ourselves and not take anyone’s word on anything. He said we should study it and apply it to our lives. We trusted him so much, that we (ironically) didn’t read it nearly as much as we should have at that time. But God definitely used him in our lives to get the ball rolling. Circumstances changed; he left that church and so did we. We spent over a year searching for a “good church.” Eventually we went back to the old church because it felt like home and we thought that perhaps we should never have left it. Imagine my surprise when after only a couple of months, God called us away from it in an undeniable and unmistakable way. I am ashamed to say that I was heartbroken and terribly distraught.
I was still learning submission. I was never one to tell my husband what to do or even to disobey his stated wishes, but Scott has always been very perceptive of my feelings. He always wanted to please me. I never asked it of him, but I had come to expect it. When Scott made this decision with full knowledge of how I felt about it, I knew it was the right thing for us to do. It hurt my feelings a little but felt amazingly good at the same time. My husband was making decisions to please God and not to please me.

Once we got to this new place of service, it became clear that we would not have a pastor. I decided to read all the way through the New Testament. I felt like I already knew it pretty well. I taught AWANA at our old church and helped my oldest son memorize his Bible verses, so I had a decent scriptural base. So why, why, why had I never heard Romans 6 preached? With the exception of the last verse, I never heard any of it in church. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. That’s an AWANA standard, from the first Sparkie handbook. Lesson #652- Always read what comes before and after selected passages of Scripture, especially when the passage begins with the word “for.”

Here it is in its entirety.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound?
Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection;
knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
For he who died has been justified from sin.
But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
knowing that when Christ was raised from the dead, He dies no more; death no longer has dominion over Him.
For in that He died, He died to sin once; but in that He lives, He lives to God.
Likewise count yourselves also to be truly dead to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. Do not yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but yield yourselves to God, as one alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law, but under grace? Let it not be!
Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to him whom you obey; whether it is of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness.
But thanks be to our God that you were the slaves of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
Then being made free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness.
I speak in the manner of men because of the weakness of your flesh; for as you have yielded your members as slaves to uncleanness, and to lawless act unto lawless act, even so now yield your members as slaves to righteousness unto holiness.
For when you were the slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
What fruit did you have then in those things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
But now, being made free from sin, and having become slaves to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The entire chapter tells us that we are not powerless over sin. We can and should live a life free from sin. We who are children of God should not sin. Obedience is a choice. Sin is a choice. You decide.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Slowly, but Surely...

Pictures on this project have been sparse, primarily because the photographer (yours truly) has been Project Assistant. The boss wouldn't let me take a break to take pictures.

Scott would not recommend this particular greenhouse kit. Many parts had to be disassembled repeatedly because of gaps in the instructions. What started out to be a weekend project has consumed 2 entire Saturdays, and it is still not finished. There just isn't enough light to work on it in the evenings when Scott comes home. I attempted to complete the roof on Monday, but quickly figured out that it was a bad idea to be on the ladder while the 3 little ones and their canine friend ran amuck in the yard. Nicholas, of course, was on the other ladder trying to help me with the placement of the roof panels. We're hoping that Saturday morning the project will be complete.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reverse the Curse?

Gen 3:16 To the woman He said, I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception. In pain you shall bear sons, and your desire shall be toward your husband, and he shall rule over you.
Gen 3:17 And to Adam He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it! The ground is cursed for your sake. In pain shall you eat of it all the days of your life.
Gen 3:18 It shall also bring forth thorns and thistles to you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.
Gen 3:19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.

Epidural, women's lib movement, fast food, $100,000 tractors, mega farms, air conditioning, & etc...

Does it seem like the ultimate goal of science and society is to reverse the curse that mankind earned in the garden of Eden? We must appear to God like a child who, after committing some act well deserving of punishment, runs and covers their posterior in an attempt to avoid a paddling from dear old Dad.

Now, as having given and received more than my share of paddlings in life, I can tell you that Dad only lets you run and cover your behind for so long. Eventually, he catches you and proves who is in charge. Oh, and when he does, you realize that you would have been better off if you had not attempted to avoid your due punishment.

Have we not learned that punishment is best taken promptly and with a contrite spirit?

When men strived to build a tower to heaven, God eventually took action by scattering them and confusing their language.

Mankind now, this time through science and society, seeks to be "as God" and to reverse the curse. What arrogance! How long will God allow this to continue?

How should we, who seek to be contrite, live?

Honey Seed Cookies

I have always heard that honey cannot be successfully substituted for sugar in a cookie recipe. Naturally, I had to try it for myself. I am pleased to announce that these cookies were enjoyed, and even preferred by my children. I left out the chocolate chips all together, and there is no processed sugar in the cookies.
Here is the recipe as I modified it today:
Honey Seed Cookies
1 cup raw orange blossom honey
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 c freshly milled soft white wheat flour
1 c oats
1/4 c freshly milled pinto bean flour
1 handful each of millet, flax seed, and raw sunflower seeds
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
I followed the same procedure as yesterday's recipe.
We loved the flavor of the orange blossom honey. (Though I am now thinking, "Why do we buy raw honey if we are just going to cook with it?") These cookies were a bit thinner and larger than yesterday's batch. They tasted a tad saltier, even though the salt content was the same. Over all, we are very pleased with them, and I don't feel guilty about eating them. Sometimes the pickiest eater at our house is Dad. We'll just have to wait and see what he thinks when he gets home tonight (if there are any cookies left.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Breakfast Cookies

I am posting this recipe primarily so that I won't forget it. I set out this morning to make muffins in cookie form, but ended up doing something different. My plan is to tweak these cookies so that they will be healthier by substituting honey for the sugar. I'll let you know how that goes.

The chocolate chips were only added because I was afraid the kids wouldn't eat an overly seeded cookie without them. Not because Mom likes chocolate chips.
Seed Cookies

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups freshly milled soft white flour
1/2 cup freshly milled pinto bean flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 handful golden flax seeds
1 handful raw sunflower seeds
1 handful millet
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, blend eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing well. Make into 1" balls (I use a cookie scoop to do this)and place on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Yields 45 cookies.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sunday afternoon

After Mom's now routine afternoon nap, we all went outside to enjoy one of the last days of summer weather. While Nicholas and Dad had the most difficult task of greenhouse construction, the rest of us had some pretty grueling work to do as well.

Elijah constructed a watering hole for the squirrels. His tool of choice was a pointy stick. He then used the pressure washer to fill the hole with water and wash the mud off of his feet. In his spare time, he also crumbled a large styrofoam block in the front yard.

Gloria and Noah took Penelope for a walk.

Then Gloria rested in the shade...

And Noah held onto the leash for dear life while Penelope jumped around the freshly tilled garden rooting for and eating grubs.

Penelope will be great for our organic gardening.

A New Location for Our Greenhouse

After much studying, Scott has begun work on our new greenhouse. He purchased a kit from Harbor Freight over the weekend. He and Nicholas have put several hours into its construction already. They have several hours of work left to do.

Part of the greenhouse is put together. These photos only show the menfolk leveling the ground. We'll post more pictures as the project progresses.

Some random things that keep me awake at night...

Tonight I had some trouble sleeping. Here are some of the things that kept coming to mind:

*A young man was beaten and likely gang-raped. He had barbed wire wrapped around his neck and was left for dead behind a local store. This wasn't even reported in the news.

*A visitor to our youth group has 7 children with 7 different women. He has encouraged all of his girlfriends to kill the babies, but at least 7 have not. The young man is 21 years old.

*A 19 year old has been in gangs since he was 9 years old. He has "hurt the families" of rival gang members, shot at people, beat people up, robbed strangers, and even been shot. He wants out now, but he is well-known in the projects and his tattoos give him away. He is currently locked up.

*4 of the students we work with have reported to us incidents of sexual abuse.

*A mother recently released from jail for the umpteenth time leaves her kids home hungry so she can attend an all-day sporting event and booze it up with her buddies.

*A sweet young lady sucks her thumb, talks to herself, laughs in the middle of church because she's having a conversation with herself, hops, kicks, and skips down the aisles and across the parking lot. On the phone, she carries on a perfect conversation, never missing a beat. In person, eye contact makes her extremely uncomfortable and she will usually walk away while you are still talking.

These are all people we know, with the exception of one who is known by a close relative. We minister in a small rural area. We live in a small rural town. My fear was always sheltering my children too much- giving them an unrealistic expectation of the world. God in His infinite wisdom has worked that out for us already. They cannot develop a rose-colored view of the world when they labor together with us. Sure, they don't know all the gory details, but they will one day.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


This is why Penelope should be an outside dog.

Tilling the Garden

The boys caught this photo last night of their dad tilling with our new (to us) rear-tine tiller. He is preparing the garden bed for spring. He's worked for a couple of hours last night and he's been out for 3 hours so far this morning. Judging by the size of the garden, the boys are going to be very busy come spring.

Cheese Failure

Elijah and I regret to report the failure of our feta cheese. The liquid became cloudy and the cheese developed small brown specks. I googled "feta gone bad" and read that it won't kill you, but it will ruin your dinner with a soapy taste. Daredevil that I am, I tried it. ICK! Sure was easy to throw out after the taste test!
Alas, there will be no late night raids on this feta. We'll try again another time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sick day

Last night, Elijah vomited twice in his sleep. He never woke up. He didn’t even know he was sick until this morning, and neither did I. My mother-in-law kept the kids last night. We only live 10 minutes apart, and the kids enjoy the occasional unscheduled overnight. You’ve got to love a grandma who keeps the kids even when they’re tossing their cookies all night.

So the kids and I stayed home from church tonight. I've been feeling guilty that Scott had to go alone when he was already missing 3 of his workers. I am #4. Elijah seemed to be feeling okay earlier, except that he wouldn't eat anything. Just before bed, though, he developed a headache and low grade fever. At least I know I did the right thing by keeping him home.

Wednesdays are always late nights for us. We are done at the church building a little after 9, since Scott drives one of the vans to take kids home. That gives us a chance to clean up the rooms we have used. After he returns, we all head over to a friend's house. We purchase our milk from them (they have a couple of milk cows) and they lift our spirits. God placed them so close to our church, we think, so that we can receive encouragement from them. Wednesday nights were harsh emotionally and spiritually before we met them. We would come home and not sleep well. We couldn't even begin to discuss the evening until sometime the next day. Things seemed dark and bleak... hopeless is the word that comes to mind. We were not hopeless, but to look out at the teens we had was like looking into the face of death. There was a heaviness around them. It was very, very sad. Thanks to our milk-bearing friends we haven't felt that in a while. The only way I can describe it is that you can feel the spirit of the Lord around them- such peace is there. Scott gets to visit them alone tonight.

I just got a call that one of the kids from church was involved in a football accident. The young man he tackled is going in for emergency surgery right now. He has a perforated bowel and it is possible that his stomach could rupture. Your prayers are needed and appreciated.

Sunlight requirements for greenhouse

Just in case anyone else wants to know....

To use your greenhouse to extend the growing season, you should place it where it will receive 6 full hours of sunlight. You probably shouldn't have it surrounded by trees...

That's her in the background.
Oh, well. Time for Plan B.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Farm chores

Our container garden is taking root. The plan is to make it a bit more attractive than what you see in the photos. I was in a hurry to get the seeds started. All of the broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce have germinated. I am very hopeful that we will have a fall harvest.
The "greenhouse" has a black plastic bottom now. If it turns out that we are able to use the structure as a greenhouse, then we will put gravel down over the plastic. Scott has appointed me the task of determining how much sunlight a greenhouse should receive vs. how much sunlight our greenhouse spot receives. If it is not enough, we will cover the framed shelter and use it for a picnic pavilion of sorts. Then we will start over with a truly sunny spot.

We dug up a rather large flowerbed in an inconvenient spot. I dug by hand 2 large pots full of iris bulbs, then Scott brought over the tiller and finished the job.
The kids have done some more digging there, and found some other flower bulbs. We plan to replant them somewhere else (out of the way) and see what grows.
All work and no play makes Kevin a dull alligator. For the last two years, when there is fresh garden dirt, there is Kevin. He gets buried repeatedly, but he's always a good sport.

And finally, the chicken tractor is nearing completion. Scott added the wood to the end. All that's left now is the main door, a chain and hinges for the nesting box door, and a coat of paint on the exposed wood parts. Gloria wants to paint it pink. She'll have to talk to Dad about that. You can see our greenhouse frame in the background.

Feta Cheese Recipe

I found this recipe online, and it sounded so easy that I had to try it.

1 gallon room-temperature milk

1/4 cup cultured buttermilk, 1/4 cup plain yogurt, or 1/8 tsp Mesophilic A culture

20 drops vegetable rennet

1/4 cup water

After the milk is brought to room temperature, add the buttermilk, yogurt, or culture. Add the 20 drops rennet to the 1/4 cup water and mix to dissolve. Add this to the milk. Allow to sit undisturbed for 2 hours. Stir slowly and carefully to break up the curd. Then put in cheesecloth bag and drain for 8-10 hours.

Hmmm... this is where I first had a little trouble. After 17 hours, mine was still dripping whey. It was noticibly smaller, which was a good sign.

I ended up taking the curds out of that bag and wrapping them in a high quality paper towel. I then squeezed the whey out.

Once that was done, I proceeded to follow the recipe.

"Cut cheese into chunks. Layer in a clean glass jar with basil, oregano and salt. Pour olive oil over the top so that no cheese is exposed to air."

It is not as pretty as the photo I saw on someone else's blog. I suppose it is not bad for my first attempt at cheese. The taste? Well, that remains to be seen. We're supposed to wait 3 days before we eat it. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Elijah sure had a good time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Things I Learned From My Mother

Mom and I have never had an easy relationship. Now we have no relationship. I have not spoken with my parents since February. There was no argument, no disagreement, nothing at all that I know of. They just stopped answering the phone when I would call. They are still in contact with my siblings, but not me. My children have been asking lately if we would be able to visit Grandma & Grandpa this Christmas. What can I say to that??? "Grandma & Grandpa don't want to know us anymore," doesn't seem like a good answer. I haven't figured it out yet. Fortunately while we were in Knoxville it didn't come up. I suppose they were too busy playing with their cousin, aunts, and uncle to think of it.

So I started feeling sorry for myself just a little. Wishing that I could have the kind of mother I could call when I was down or share stories about my kids with... comparing the way my kids are with the way I used to be. The sort of stuff women tend to do with their mothers. I've come to accept that it will just never be that way for us. I am blessed to have a mother-in-law who is very maternal and is always interested in hearing about my kids. She calls to check in nearly every day, and lives close enough to come to dinner on weeknights.

When I started to feel sorry for myself, I decided that instead I would focus on the things my mother taught me that help me to be the wife and mother that I am.
Respect your husband; never "bad-mouth" him.
Do not usurp your husband's authority.
Do not demean your children with name-calling and insults.
Allow your children to make age-appropriate decisions.
House rules should be in line with Godly principles.
Do not voice your worries to your children.
Do not adopt worldly perspectives.
God first, husband second, children third. Do not allow anything or anyone to upset this balance. This, of course, does not mean to stand back and do nothing if you have a husband who abuses your children.
Continue to love your children when they make mistakes- and let them know it.
Control your tongue. Hurtful words tear down a child's self-worth.
Never say, "I wish I didn't have kids", "Don't come back", or "I'll leave you."

Visitin' With Family

We had a chance to go into Knoxville on Sunday afternoon and see my side of the gene pool. We were able to see my sister and my younger brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. We had a great time catching up and reminiscing. Scott had to work 1 hour outside of Knoxville, so the kids and I spent the day with my brother and his family. I actually felt like an aunt! We even had the opportunity to babysit for a short 20 minutes while some errands were run. The trip there seemed remarkably short after the drive from Texas, and we're hoping to do it more often.

Catching Up On Chores

We had 3 days of fall, then summer made a re-emergence. We fully enjoyed the cooler days and can't wait for more of them.

Noah harvested and cleaned the basil.

Our fence is a work in progress. Scott's done a great job on it.

While we were planting our fall crops, Gloria found an old pot and mistook it for a hat. This is her in mid-dance. Note the disco-style pointing fingers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The last few days have been full of activity. So much, in fact, that Noah tearfully asked yesterday if we could just stay "home" in the hotel room.

Friday we drove for 8 hours then went to a Rangers game. Saturday we toured Scott's old neighborhoods and went to the Rodeo. Sunday we attended church 2 blocks away at First Baptist Dallas where W.A. Criswell preached for nearly 50 years, then took the train to the zoo. Here we are on the DART.

We got rained out at the zoo, so we took the train back to downtown and got drenched walking the 2 blocks back to the hotel. The Dallas Zoo is much like I remember the zoo from my youth. The animals were mostly behind chain-link fences and had brick buildings into which they could retreat for privacy or protection from the weather. We did not get to see the African exhibit, which is mostly accessible by monorail. It was closed due to rain. Anyway, when we reached the hotel we changed into dry clothes and headed out for an early dinner. We had to make another stop to pick up a few necessities at a local store. Once we were back at the hotel we rented Ratatouille, which kept the kids calm and still for a good while. On Monday, we took the kids to the Dallas World Aquarium & Zoo. It was very nice... much nicer than the Dallas Zoo. It was all indoor, for one thing. The other nice thing is that there was virtually no separation between us and the animals. We stood a foot away from a Three-Toed Sloth. Here is his photo.
We learned that a male sloth has a stripe down his back, and that sloths only descend to the ground to defecate every 2-8 days. My kids were thrilled to know that.
But we didn't stop there. Oh, no, we didn't stop there. We went to the Sixth Floor Museum at the former Texas School Book Depository to see the JFK stuff. We walked around the Grassy Knoll. Scott went out into the middle of the 3 lane highway to take a photo of the Depository from the X on the ground that marked the spot where the first shot hit the motorcade. Here's that photo.

See that car coming? She had to slow down and go around Scott. There was another man out there doing the same thing.
So today, we've been at the hotel all day. Scott is in his meetings. We've eaten cereal bars and sandwiches made of deli meats and cheese we picked up from the store yesterday. Scott will pick up dinner tonight. We're getting ready to run downstairs to mail some postcards and then come back up for a game of hangman. Let the fun begin!