Friday, November 28, 2008

Things For Which I'm Thankful

(This is only a partial list and may be expanded later....)

My salvation. The Holy Spirit. His comfort and peace. His conviction of sin.
My wonderful husband. A good marriage. Laughter. Love.
Having grown up in a Christian home. My excellent parents and their patient wisdom.
My sweet children. Bobby's cancer is still gone. The girls are healthy and beautiful.
My great in-laws. My mother-in-law may very well be the best one ever. (I don't know all the mothers-in-law everywhere, so I shrink from making an absolute statement about how great she is....)
My allergies have abated somewhat, and are under control with Claritin and Flonase.
We have electricity 24/7. My washer and dryer work. We have heat. We can drink water straight from the tap.
Our church. What a blessing!
Good friends.

In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thess. 5:18

Thursday, October 16, 2008

ENT Visit....Nasal Rinsing

So, I went to the ENT, Dr. Rashleigh, yesterday afternoon. The good news is I don't have a deviated septum or any other physical abnormalities that could cause my sinus issues. The bad news is that I apparently have, as he put it, "severe allergies." So I'm now on the generics of Allegra and Flonase, and am doing nasal rinses--a procedure that feels as though you are trying to drown yourself. Weird, but it seems to work. You just have to get over your natural tendency to NOT want water to get up your nose. Once you tackle that psychological hurdle, it's pretty easy to do and cleans out your nasal passages with a salt-and-baking-soda type rinse. I grew up with a former-nurse-mom (or is that once-a-nurse-always-a-nurse-mom?) who always made us do salt-water gargles for a sore throat, and this seems to work on the same principle. The ENT wants me to do all of this stuff for a month, then stop it all abruptly in order to see if these are seasonal allergies (to some sort of pollen) or general-year-round allergies to dust mites, mold, etc. To find out definitively I will probably have to go to an allergist and get tested--to see what things I should avoid or change in my environment. last thing...THANK GOD for generic prescriptions!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

To the tune of the Beatles' "Yesterday"

rhinitis is taking over me...
more snot than I thought that there could be...
oh, I'm allergies

Help me, please...
sneezing, coughing now exhaustingly...
is there any simple remedy?
oh, allergies have bested me...

why..they...will not go, I don't know! they're here for keeps...
my head's stuffed up tight and at night I cannot sleep... (oh, oh, oh)

and "non-drowsy" antihistamines...
will I ever see the end of these?
Oh, suffering from allergies...

Suffering...from allergies.

off to see the ENT at 3:00.
A nice man whose name is RASHleigh...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I was humbled and overwhelmed...

...on Tuesday night when what I thought was just a Ladies' Night Out with women from our new church turned out to have ME as the guest of honor! I had no idea that it was really a welcome thing for me. God has blessed our family greatly by bringing us to Chevis Oaks Baptist Church, and Tuesday night was just more of that blessing. We me at a local mall and played a photo scavenger hunt. This meant that each team had to have their picture taken doing a variety of things. Then we went to Logan's Roadhouse, a local restaurant. There, I had fun playing a guessing game where a description was read off a card and I had to determine which lady it described. I think I nailed all of them! This is because people at our new church have been amazing--welcoming, loving, and very open with their lives. I've been able to get to know a large number of people faster than I would have thought possible. I had a nice 6-oz. steak, a baked sweet potato, and sauteed mushrooms. I had a good time getting to know some of the ladies even more at our end of the table. It was a fun evening, and to top it off one of these wonderful ladies picked up my check. All I can say is that God is good, all the time.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's amazing....

...what just one night away from home, kids, responsibilities, and chores can do. This is where Eric took me Friday night to belatedly celebrate our anniversary. On the actual date of our anniversary, July 5th, I was in New York state with the kids and Eric's mom, and Eric was down here in Georgia. So on Friday his mom and dad took the kids for an overnight, and we went on an overnight of our own. It was great--I didn't know where we were going, and Eric had it all planned out. The River Street Inn is right on Bay Street in Savannah, overlooking River Street on the back side of the hotel. The river was just outside our windows. It's in an old building that was once one of the cotton warehouses which comprised the bulk of Savannah's business in the 1800's. We went out to dinner at an Indian restaurant, ate way too much (thali meal for those of you who know Indian food,) and then just enjoyed being in a nice hotel (with bed turn-down service, plush robes, and chocolates on your pillow!) As much as I dearly love my children, it is nice once in a while to have some alone time with my husband. We went to pick them up on Saturday feeling relaxed and refreshed.

On a side note: When we left the hotel on Saturday, there had been an accident just a few doors down with pretty impressive results. We walked down to see what was going on, and some German tourists asked us if it was part of a scene for a movie. (Savannah is used quite a bit for movie-making.) We had to tell them that no, this was reality. The lady driving the car took out my favorite statue in Savannah, a terra-cotta lion which was made in the mid-1800's. It's irreplaceable. Sad.

My Two Very Different Daughters....

Caroline is a Marianne Dashwood, and Mary is an Elinor Dashwood, despite their birth order.

I know I said in the post on school that we always know how Mary feels, but I should have qualified that by saying "about school." She loves school and learning, and isn't afraid of hard work. We usually have very little idea what she's thinking or feeling about everything else. She has very deep emotions that she keeps well-hidden. Only occasionally does she "let loose" and cry or get angry. On the negative side of this, Mary seems to have a harder time showing affection, hugging others, or being sympathetic to others' pain. I'm not saying that she's cold or unfeeling--she's NOT--just that she doesn't usually let her emotions show.

Caroline, on the other hand, wears her emotions on her sleeve...and on her chest...and on her back...and all over her skirt...She tears up easily, gets angry or upset fairly often, but also shows great sympathy for others easily. She is extremely affectionate and it hurts her to see others in pain. She is learning to watch what she says and not let her emotions rule her, to stop and think before flying off the handle.

Those of you who have known me all my life already know that when I was Caroline's age, I would have scored as Marianne. But the Lord has taught me through my life's circumstances how to be an Elinor. Learning self-control is a hard lesson, but I think God has brought me to a place of knowing how to balance my emotions with reason. It's something I still pray about every morning.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Which is Which?

A challenge for those of you who know my daughters well (actually, even if you just barely know them you can probably guess)AND have some knowledge of Jane Austen novels.

They have both taken the "Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You?" Quiz (see sidebar to take it yourself.) One of them came out as Elinor Dashwood, and the other as Marianne.

Which is which?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ten Months of Slavery Followed by Two Months of Jubilee

That's how Bobby described school Monday morning when it was time to start. He sure has a way with words. His statement also shows how little he really knows about slavery and its horrors. Home schooling is like a party compared to what his life could be like! Yesterday actually went quite well despite his prophecies of doom. Caroline began 10th grade, Mary started 6th, and Bobby was propelled unwillingly into the 4th. By this morning he had decided to get with the program, and was up early doing schoolwork along with Mary. We're (meaning I'm) excited to be back on a more regular schedule, and to be learning new things. I took a few pictures yesterday to commemorate the start of the school year.
Caroline looking totally bored as a teenager doing her Algebra 2 (this was a posed picture):
With Mary you always know how she really feels:
With Bobby we never have a doubt, either:
But I did get them to pose for a nice "First Day" shot:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Current Happenings...

This past weekend was our church's Homecoming Sunday. Saturday we had a church clean-up day to spiff up the grounds and inside. Lots of people showed up to clean, straighten, landscape, set up, and fellowship. We worked for about three hours. While we were all doing that, the Cub Scout Pack that the church sponsors had a fund-raising car wash in the front parking lot at the church. It was really hot out, but those little boys worked hard and raised over $400 for their activities.

Saturday night we had a hot dog supper, and then a Gospel group sang for us. There was a lot more sweet fellowship.

Sunday morning we had about 230 people at church (we usually have 140-150.) Eric preached a sermon called "You're not a good person, and neither am I." He laid the gospel out there, and now we are praying for it to take root in the hearts of those who were there who are not saved.

After the morning service, what do you think we did? Ate, of course. We are Baptists, after all. We had a HUGE covered dish dinner, where everyone ate plenty/too much/enough for an army.

So here's what I've been thinking: There are aspects to Homecoming Sunday that are kind of sad. Seeing people come to church who have left for some reason, knowing they may not come again until next year--that's sad. Knowing that there are some people who won't come back for Homecoming because they had their feelings hurt in the past--that's sad. Realizing that there are church members missing this year because they went Home to be with the Lord--that's sad. Oh, wait, that's also happy! And it leads me to this: there are plenty of happy, joyous, wonderful things about Homecoming Sunday. Family members get together, old friends are reunited, everyone worships together and praises the Lord for His goodness, and we have a big feast. Does this sound like anywhere else to you? It makes me long for heaven, for the ultimate Homecoming of which all believers will be a part someday. The great weekend we just had here on earth is nothing compared to the fellowship, worship, and feasting that will take place in the presence of God.

While we're waiting for that Homecoming, the special Sundays here on earth are a great reminder of what awaits us.

Monday, August 11, 2008

We're Cool....

We are back in normal temperatures in our house, thank God. A nice man came Thursday morning and fixed our AC unit, HALLELUJAH! We got out of here while the house cooled down and took the kids bowling and to Chik-Fil-A for lunch. I haven't posted since Wednesday night because I couldn't get online here in the house and was too lazy to walk over to the church to do it. But this morning the internet is up and running here in the house, also a reason for praise. If it's still on later, I'll post about the great weekend we just had. Right now I have to leave and take Mary to the neurologist for her annual check-up.

For Shannon, Renata, and Chandra: Thanks, my wonderful sisters, for your comments on the last post. I miss all of you a lot! Wish I could teleport and suddenly be with people I miss...but that's a subject for another post.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

90 Degrees

That's how hot it is in our house tonight. Our AC unit is not working, and it was 102 today in Savannah. So here we sit, sweating....

Tomorrow we're going to get out of here and go somewhere air-conditioned. I hope that someone can come fix this tomorrow. What a spoiled American I am, expecting to live in a comfortable 76 degree house all the time. How dare the AC unit quit on us!!! At least I can imagine what it's like for our friends that have lived through the heat season in northern India. Although they deal with 115+ degrees over there, so this isn't anywhere near as bad.

It's too hot to keep holding this laptop on my lap. More tomorrow...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vacation recovery, VBS, and Vertigo

We came home and spent a week recovering from our trip. Doing laundry, cleaning the house, finally doing my home school curriculum order, and spending some much-needed time with my husband filled the first week back. Then last week we had VBS at our new church. It kicked off on Sunday night and lasted through Thursday night, averaging 200 people each night. I helped in the Craft Shack, and had a blast. It was fun, if exhausting, to work with the children. I also had a great time getting to know the people I was working with. We are blessed to be at a church with a lot of people who have a great sense of humor and who enjoy laughing together.

The one blot on my week was on Tuesday morning when I woke up and the room was spinning. This condition, which is called vertigo, has plagued me a time or two before, and it comes from my having too much fluid in my inner ear canal. I usually take Zyrtec every day, and had forgotten to do so. Twice before vertigo has hit me in the evenings, which is not really a problem since I can just go to bed. This time it hit as soon as I got up. I couldn't keep my eyes open, or walk around without becoming nauseated. I spent the entire morning lying on the couch as perfectly still as I could. I took decongestant as well as Zyrtec, and by about 2 p.m. I could at least get up and walk around slowly, holding my head as steady as possible. I didn't go to VBS that night. On Wednesday I still felt a little dizzy, but by Thursday I was up'n'at'em.

On a very sad note, I read an e-mail today from my friend Denise, to find out that a little boy I've been praying for, Jair, has gone home to be with the Lord. He was fighting cancer and seemed to be doing great when, after the doctors tried an autologous bone marrow transplant, he reacted badly and became very ill. His parents, Teo and Lety, are now grieving the loss of their little boy. This hits me pretty hard. I can imagine their pain.

Also, this last week I tried to e-mail my friend Hilda in Puerto Rico, whose husband passed away in May due to cancer, and have not heard back. Nildi, I tried to write to you--did you get it? I love you!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The children and I arrived home Friday evening, along with Eric's mom, after two long days of traveling. We are all still tired but we're thrilled to be home. I missed Eric so much while we were gone, and I definitely don't do the "single parent" thing very well. Saturday night a family from our new church had us over to eat dinner with them and some other friends, and that was great--I didn't have to cook, and the food was outstanding! (Thanks, Heather and Kenny!) Then today we went to church and were invited to another family's house for Sunday dinner. (Thanks Mrs. Leola and Mr. Donald!) It was another wonderful meal. What's even sweeter is the fellowship that we have with our new church family. It makes me thank the Lord again for bringing us to Chevis Oaks. This morning we all shared in the Lord's Supper together, and at the end we sang:

Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like that to that above.

Before our Father's throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other's woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

What a privilege it is to share in communion with other believers.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Seventeen Years...

...ago today Eric and I were married. Words cannot adequately describe how blessed I am to have Eric as my husband. God has given me a godly, sweet, caring, intelligent and funny man to be married to for life. During our marriage we have lived in three states and the country of India, had three children, gone through a cerebral aneurysm with one child and cancer with another, and seen Eric's profession of school psychologist change to the calling of being a minister. The foundation that has kept us solid through all of this is our relationship with the Lord. I don't know how anyone who doesn't know the Lord can go through some of the things that we have endured. But because the center of our marriage is God, the center holds when other things seem to be spinning wildly. The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.

Eric, I love you! Happy anniversary.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Who is the extra boy?

I just looked at my previous post and realized that most of you would have no idea who the handsome young man (not Bobby--the other one) in the photos is. No, Eric and I don't have a secret child that we usually hide, and no, Caroline doesn't have a boyfriend who is younger and shorter. That nice young man is my nephew Kevin, who flew up from Texas to be on vacation with us. He's lots of fun, likes to laugh, swims like a dolphin (literally!) and generally keeps us laughing. We are thrilled to have him here with us.

Some scenes from our trip so far....

We've been at the lake for almost a week now, enjoying the water and the beautiful relaxing scenery. The kids have gone tubing, we've had campfires and s'mores, and we went to see the movie "Wall-E." It's been fun so far--and here are some of the pictures we've taken:

On Tuesday we traveled to the Corning Museum of Glass to see the collections there and play in the Innovations exhibit:

These glass fruit are much bigger than they appear--the pear in the middle is about three feet tall:

This was the first reflector cast for the Palomar Observatory. It cracked, and they had to make a new one:
You can take your own picture upside down with the magic of mirrors!
The kids inside the large, black, glass egg at the museum:
Beautiful sky over the lake:

Saturday, June 28, 2008


David, the little boy I posted about last month, had to have more surgery early last week to remove more nodules of tumor. After only five weeks the ependymoma had begun to re-grow. I heard from his father, Jesse, yesterday, and David will begin his radiation on Monday, July 7. He has to have six weeks of radiation, five days a week. The whole family will be traveling down to Jacksonville, FL, for this treatment. They are experiencing a total disruption of normal life, and all of the terrible emotions that go along with having a child with cancer. Please pray for them as they go through this incredibly difficult time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Traveling Mercies...

Last week my son asked me what the phrase "traveling mercies" means. He heard someone use it in a prayer. I explained that we sometimes ask God to extend special grace and mercy over somebody as they take a trip, keeping them safe and making the trip go smoothly. Today we experienced such mercies. My mother-in-law and I, along with my three children, drove from Savannah, GA to Chambersburg, PA in about twelve hours, with absolutely no problems at all. We thank God for His "traveling mercies."

Tomorrow we are driving another six or so hours to Seneca Lake, about which I have written before. Then after a week there we'll go on up to see my parents...YAY!!!

Meanwhile, back at home in GA, Eric is throwing himself into the task of pastoring at Chevis Oaks Baptist Church, our new church home. We love the people there and are really excited about serving alongside them and ministering to them. I know Eric will be lonely for us, but he's got plenty of people looking out for him!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Do we cry like Jesus?

Wednesday night our pastor, Devin, addressed an issue that to be honest, I had never given much thought. As part of a series on "walking as Jesus walked," he taught us about the times in Scripture where Jesus cried. Now, of course I knew about these passages, and have heard many sermons about them, have read them, and have even thought about them. But I don't think I've ever really considered their application to my life. I always just thought that they showed a human, emotional side to Jesus; that they portray His humanity and deep sensitivity. Devin discussed them from this angle, too, but at the end he applied them to us as Christians. That's the part that really has me thinking over the last two days.

In our society we are taught that real men don't cry, at least not in public, but that isn't the picture we see of Jesus in the Bible. Let us see:

John 11:35 Jesus wept.
This happened in Bethany outside Lazarus' tomb, when Jesus saw the grief of Lazarus' family and friends.

Luke 19:41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it...
Jesus knew the destruction that would take place not too long after this, when the Romans would come in and literally tear the city down. He knew the fate of the people, and even though they had rejected Him, He wept for them.

Hebrews 5:7-8 ...who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
This is a description of Jesus when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He was Crucified. We know that He was in such agony that He sweated drops of blood in addition to shedding many tears. He was in a deep emotional state as He looked ahead to the suffering He would endure.

We therefore see Jesus shedding tears in three different situations which I would sum up:
1. Compassion for others' grief and grief of His own over death and its hold on man
2. Sorrow for the lost, who face destruction both physical and spiritual
3. Deep personal anguish and suffering

Applying these to our lives, then, is simple yet intensely profound. Do we cry with and for others when they are hurting? REALLY cry over their sorrow? Not just tell them we love them and will pray for them but sit down with them and cry? Do we shed tears for the lost? Are we moved to such deep feeling for sinners that we weep for them and for the destruction they surely face? Do we cry out to God with "vehement cries and tears" when we are suffering greatly?

Perhaps I'm wrong about this, but I think many of us have become hardened and jaded in this area of our lives. We think that crying is a sign of weakness, or we don't want to be seen as emotional basket cases. I'm not advocating that we spend all our time crying and wailing, or that every Sunday be a huge emotional experience where we go to the altar and sob. After all, we are only told of a few times that Jesus wept. But I admit that I have tried NOT to cry over the last year, maybe because I fear that if I begin crying, the tears will go on for too long a time. Oh, there have been a few times I've cried--one night in choir the words of a song we were singing brought me to tears...("Sometimes we wait, simply to find, sometimes the answers come with time...there is a place where we rest in His grace, when sometimes we wait on the Lord.") I've been moist-eyed a few times in church, here and there. Usually I just try to get it under control as quickly as possible. But now I'm thinking--would it be cathartic to cry before the Lord with "vehement cries and tears"? How long has it been since I truly wept for the lost? How long since I had "a good cry"?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another Reason for Bobby's Cancer

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 reads:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

Over the past year our family has seen many reasons for our having to go through something as difficult as Bobby's cancer. We have seen spiritual growth in ourselves and others around us, we have had opportunities to witness, and we have learned to be content in whatever situation God puts us in. (Okay--we're learning to be content...)

Now we have a new reason. Last week the social worker from the oncology clinic, Donna, called us to find out if we would be willing to reach out to another family whose little boy has just been diagnosed with cancer. She really wanted to know if we felt recovered enough to take on something like this, and I told her that we are. So Monday night we went out to eat with another family who are just starting out on the long journey of cancer treatment. I have not sought their permission to use their full names on here, so I'll just use first names.

Jesse and Vicky have three children ages 11, 8, and 4. A few weeks ago their lives were totally normal, with Jesse working as a pastor of a local Southern Baptist church, and Vicky working three night-shifts a week as a nurse at a local hospital. About three weeks ago, their oldest child, David, started to notice that his left foot wasn't feeling right. He was dragging it a little, and didn't feel like he could tell it what to do correctly. He told his parents that he was thinking what his foot should do, and it was not responding with the action. This condition worsened over a few days, and they sought medical help. Within a week they had their answer: David had a brain tumor.

Two weeks ago David had the tumor removed from his brain. The pathology report shows it to be an anaplastic ependymoma (translation: malignant, no-good, low-down, dirty-rotten cancer.) The doctors believe they got it all out during his surgery, but this does not mean that there aren't cancer cells hiding in the surrounding tissues. Because of this possibility, he is now facing eight weeks of radiation treatments. This sweet family's entire lives have been turned upside-down.

As we sat and talked with them Monday night, we realized just how thoroughly God has prepared us to be able to help, comfort, and encourage Jesse and Vicky. Bobby was able to answer a lot of questions for David and encourage him, too. We can share experiences, give advice, give comfort, pray with them, and uphold them during this time. It was nice for them to have somebody saying "We know exactly how you feel." It reminds me of last March when the Botelhos came to visit us in the hospital and we shared an immediate bond. There is the bond of brother/sisterhood in the Lord, and the bond of parents dealing with a child with cancer. We really do know how this family feels. We can now comfort them with the same comfort with which we have been comforted.

As for David, he's doing remarkable well. He is recovering from his tumor resection well, and only has residual weakness on his left side and loss of balance. He is starting physical therapy this week, and is also have a spinal tap to check his cerebro-spinal fluid for cancer cells.

How wonderful for our family to see that God will use us to come alongside this precious family and help them through this time. As we left the restaurant on Monday night, we gathered around David as he sat on a bench just outside the door. We laid hands on him and lifted our prayers for healing to our loving, gracious, merciful Father God. Please join me in praying for healing for David.

P.S. His mom is setting up either a caringbridge or a Care Pages web site for him. I'll post the link as soon as I get it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Edible flip-flops....

Here is the promised picture of Mary with her birthday cake. She would rather be wearing flip-flops than any other kind of footwear, so I made her a pair of flip-flops on the beach. The "sand" is graham cracker crumbs, and the straps are made from sour-fruit candy. The polka dots are giant sprinkles. Caroline painstakingly applied all the polka-dots. The cake went over really well, and tasted yummy, too--french vanilla flavor. Her birthday is now over for another year...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I ponder as I wander...

As I go through my daily routine, I have one or two songs that play over and over in my head, usually songs that I have been playing on the piano or that we have sung in church. Last week I was playing through my hymnal, and this song has been in my head ever since:

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

Published in 1925 by Kate B. Wilkinson, this hymn was inspired by two of my favorite Scripture passages. The first is Philippians 2:5 "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..." The passage goes on to explain just what that mind of Christ entails. This is perhaps my favorite passage in all of Scripture--verses 5-11 in Philippians 2. The other verses that Wilkinson clearly alludes to are Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." I'm pretty sure there are other verses referenced, also, but those are the two main ones.

I love the lyrics to this hymn, as the author asks for the mind of Christ, the word of God, the peace of God, the love of Jesus, and His beauty, to live in, dwell in, rule, fill, and rest upon her. I have been singing these words over and over (in my head) for the past few days. I'm not sure if we are supposed to meditate on things other than Scripture, but I think this song falls within the guidelines of Philippians 4:8 as something that should be thought upon. So I'll continue to keep playing it over and over in my head as "background music."

Are there any songs on your mind these days?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Can't Believe It

My middle child, daughter Mary, turns eleven years old today. It amazes me that it has been that many years since Eric and I first held her in our arms. Then, she weighed 6 pounds and was about 19.5 inches long. Now, she's almost 5'1" and weighs about 86 pounds! In her short life she has survived a cerebral aneurysm repair, (no, it never burst, thank God!) lived in two states and for a few months in another country, and tolerated being the middle child quite admirably. She is very different from her older sister and younger brother in personality, but she's no wallflower. Mary impresses me with her ability to make friends easily and get along with almost everyone. She is kind, loving, and friendly. She really wows me when she gets up early, nearly every day, and gets most of her school work done before her siblings even start theirs. She is extremely self-motivated. She also reads her Bible every morning and every evening, and the fruit of this is evident in her life. She is striving to be more Christ-like each day. This is starting to sound like a college recommendation letter, and that was NOT my intent. I merely wanted to write about Mary today, telling anyone who reads this how very much I love her. I have been blessed beyond belief to have her as my daughter. Here are her last three birthday pictures. After her party on Saturday I'll post a picture of her with this year's cake.
Mary's birthday in 2005:

In 2006 celebrating her birthday at the Old English Tea Room with Caroline, Miranda, and Lindsay:

In 2007 with her Eleanor the Elephant cake:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Body of Christ in Action

Sunday night our family experienced the love of Christ in a VERY tangible way. Most of you know that we have been living in a house provided by Rothwell Baptist Church in Pooler, Georgia. They have allowed us to live here rent-free for over a year now, which has of course saved us a ton of money. All we have to do is pay our utilities. During the time that Bobby was in treatment various church members also gave us grocery-store gift cards and brought over food and other supplies. We have gotten involved here at RBC: Eric has preached a lot and taught quite a bit on Sunday nights, Caroline and I have joined the choir and been involved in the women's ministry, and Mary and Bobby have really enjoyed GAs and RAs respectively. This has come to be our church family, and we love the people here a lot.

A couple of the young ladies of the church put together a pantry shower and money tree reception Sunday night to benefit our family, and it was amazing! Between the financial gifts and actual gifts of food, we have at least three months of groceries taken care of. What an incredible blessing this has been to our family, not just materially but also spiritually. We see the body of Christ in action, and God at work taking care of our every need--and some of the kids' wants, in the form some foods we usually can't afford...

Our hall closet is stuffed with paper products:

And here are Mary and Bobby with all the food we were given:

It strengthens our faith when such things happen, and makes us more aware of others around us whom we could be helping, as well. It's easy to teach your children about God's provision and about helping others when you are, yourself, the recipient of such generosity. Soli Deo gloria!

Friday, April 25, 2008

OK, Be Honest: Have You Ever Done This?

I confess that I have done this before. But during everything that our family has been through, and seeing just how much people praying for us helped us, I have not done this. When I tell someone I'm going to pray for them, I write them down in my prayer journal and actually do it. I may not be able to pray for them every single day, but I do lift them up at least weekly. And not in just the "Dear God, help so-and-so, amen" way, but praying for their specific needs. It's important that we share specific prayer needs with one another, not just "please pray for me." I'm not saying we need to pour out our hearts to everybody we meet, but we each have a few trusted friends on whom we can depend. These are the people we should share specifics with, and trust to lift us up to the Father.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Famous Birthdays

I know it may sound crazy to some people, but this whole week I've been waiting for something bad to happen. I posted about this last year. Some of the worst things have happened right around my birthday before, so it's nice to have a year when mid-April is peaceful. I also found out this year that while I share a birthday with Hitler, my husband shares his with Charles Manson. It's kind of fun to see what famous people share your birthday, even though it's utterly meaningless. For example, in addition to good-old-Adolf, I share a birthday with: Joey Lawrence, Carmen Electra, artist Joan Miro, Don Mattingly, and quite a few other Hollywood-types. My husband, in addition to Manson, shares his with Tonya Harding! He also gets a lot of "normal" famous people: Sammy Sosa, David Schwimmer, Nadia Comaneci, Al Michaels, Wallace Shawn, Grace Kelly, and "The Thinker" sculptor Auguste Rodin. On a side note: anyone who believes in astrology should spend some time looking at these birthday lists. The idea that all of the people born on a certain date share similar characteristics and fate would quicky be dispelled. For example, my father shares a birthday with the late Vladimir Lenin, my mother shares a birthday with the equally infamous Nikita Kruschev, and my mother-in-law shares a birthday with the hanged-for-war-crimes Saddam Hussein. Hmmmm.....I sense a communist/fascist/absolute dictator theme going on in my family....

So, although it really means nothing, it's kind of cool to see who might be having a birthday cake and hanging out with their friends and family on the same day as you. Even if their idea of hanging out with friends might be something crazy like this,or this. I, on the other hand, went out to dinner at a Moroccan restaurant with my husband on Thursday night, and will have a nice dinner with family tonight. Then, tomorrow, (my actual birthday, ta-dah!) I will go to church with my family and hear my husband preach. Now that's a real gift--to be in the house of the Lord with other believers, worshiping together and being taught from the Word. We've been invited to another family's house for lunch, so I won't have to cook, either. It all adds up to a fine day in my book.

P.S. Just got back from my in-laws' house, and it was actually a small surprise birthday party! I wasn't expecting it. My mother-and-father-in-law were there, as well as Eric's sister Esther and our brother-in-law Nate, and Teddy and baby John. Charlotte made delicious pot roast, potatoes, carrots, and a salad, and we had strawberry shortcake for dessert. I even got to open most of my birthday presents. It was a wonderful time.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

An Honor and a Privilege

Yesterday I was able to do something I've never done before. I helped coach my sister-in-law through childbirth. Her husband was there, too, supporting and coaching. Of course, my s-i-l did all the real work and I was incredibly proud of her. I've given birth three times, so I knew what I was in for, but I had never before been in the room when someone else was having a baby. It was a wonderful experience. I'm thinking maybe I missed my calling when I studied to be a high school English teacher. Perhaps I should have been a nurse, doctor, or midwife. It's too late for that now, sigh! I'm too old to go back to school, and don't want to I'm glad I got to experience what I did yesterday.

Baby John was born late in the afternoon, and I was literally in tears at the beauty of childbirth, the miracle of the infant emerging into the world. What an amazing thing it is to see the baby for the first time, and to see the joy of his parents at meeting him, finally, outside the womb. I'm so happy for my sister-and-brother-in-law. God has blessed them with a second child. I was blessed to be there with them.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Being Disciplined--What I'm Learning

No, this isn't a post about whether to spank or not to spank. It's not even about spanking at all. I just thought the picture would get your attention.

I've been thinking a lot about what it is that God is teaching me through the difficult circumstances of my life. It's actually discipline, you know. Not the "you were naughty and must be spanked" kind of discipline, but the kind described in this definition. Part of the definition is: "1. Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement." which then leads to "2. Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control."

We tend to think of discipline as always being punitive in nature, so when things happen in our lives that are unpleasant or produce suffering, we don't like to say that God is disciplining us. We often say that He is testing us, or has merely allowed these things to happen and will somehow work them for good. But if we see the word discipline as a good thing, a training, a teaching, our perspective can change. Go to Bible Gateway and do a search of the word "discipline." (I did the NASB and the NIV.) What rich treasures we find in God's Word regarding His love for His children and His discipline of us. Think of it this way--if Eric and I never disciplined/taught/trained our kids, we would be poor parents, indeed. See how God's Word echoes this:

Hebrews 12
God Disciplines His Sons

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

There are many other places in Scripture that encourage us to accept discipline joyfully. Job 5:17 tells us not to despise the discipline of the Almighty. Psalm 94:12 says we are blessed when God disciplines us. Proverbs 3:12 says that God disciplines those He loves.

So, I don't think God is punishing our family for anything with all that has happened, but I do think He is disciplining us, in order to make us better disciples. We are being stretched, and growing. We are learning patience, endurance, trust, long-suffering, hope, faith, and the utmost importance of fixing our eyes on Jesus. We are learning the grave importance of self-discipline in the areas of Bible study, prayer, and fasting.

What is it all for? What about that big question: WHY? Some people would say that we may never know until we get to heaven, and it's true we may never know the specifics of "why?" But I'd like to think that we do know the general reason: It is for making us more like Him. It is for molding us into His image, getting rid of the dross so that we may be purified. Ow, it's painful and unpleasant! But we sure are looking forward to that harvest of righteousness and peace.

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

So Many Thoughts Tumbling....

around in my head these days. It's hard to even put things into words or at least, words that make sense. I was in a depressed state for a while there and feel like I've come out of it. Reading Elizabeth George's Finding God's Path Through Your Trials, which I haven't finished yet, has really challenged me to "count it all joy" and quit feeling sorry for myself and my family. I had forgotten for a few weeks to count my blessings and instead was totaling up my worries. When will Eric get a job? Where will we live? How will we not go bankrupt before this all happens? What about setting up a house? Where will we get everything? What if Bobby really isn't in remission and the cancer comes back?

I have a genetically inherited tendency to worry about things (no disrespect intended, Mom) and I have to fight that tendency pretty hard right now. In God's Word I read "Do not be anxious about anything" and "Cast all your cares upon the Lord" and "I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined and heard my cry." The trouble for me is how to put these things into effect day-to-day. The Lord has been helping me. A few weeks ago He sent our friend Rachel to us for the day to encourage us in our prayer life and in fasting. Her account of revival at her church was inspiring and made me stop and take stock of my own life. Do I long for personal revival as well as universal-church-wide revival? Am I in the Word daily, praying during a devotional time as well as throughout the day in order to stay in close contact with the Lord? I have decided that all I can really do right now is learn to count life on hold as joy.

I went back and read my post from last year about this same topic and reminded myself of a few things: God is in control. I do not have to be in control. There are plenty of things to do while we are waiting on the Lord. Things could be a lot worse: we have a nice, pleasant house to live in, Bobby is in remission, the girls are doing well, we are all healthy, we have a great church to attend, we have lots of friends to call on in times of need, and we are saved by His grace and mercy. When I put things in perspective I am overwhelmed at God's goodness and love. And when I'm tempted to start worrying again, or feeling down,I can always go to His word and meditate on it. Phil. 4:8 helps a lot, as does that good ol' stand-by Prov. 3:5-6.

Another thing that helps, and about which I've blogged before is being thankful for everything God has given me. Right now at the top of that list is my husband, Eric. He is amazing. I know it's driving him nuts not to have a job right now, but he still treats me like a queen. And I love the fact that he leads our family in Bible study together almost every day (not usually on Sundays or Wednesdays.) He has been teaching us through the each book of the Bible, not reading through every book, but learning the basics about each book: who is the author (if known,) what are the theme/main passages/main ideas, what are the main things we can learn from it. It has been wonderful so far. We are in Psalms right now. I feel so blessed to have a husband who loves God's Word and wants our children to know it and love it, too.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Current Reading Material

About a month ago I gave a list in one of my posts of the books I was reading:
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham
Culture Shift by Al Mohler
What's So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D'Souza
The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham.

I have finished all of these except The Power of a Praying Parent, which is kind of an ongoing thing. More about these books in a second. My new list looks like this:

Finding God's Path Through Your Trials--Elizabeth George
His Excellency George Washington--Joseph J. Ellis
Lies Women Believe--Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Christian Fiction:
Sommerfeld Trilogy--Kim Vogel Sawyer--currently on book two
The Sword of Lyric Trilogy--Sharon Hinck--currently on book three

I have previously reviewed Carry On, Mr. Bowditch and What's so Great About Christianity?
To those reviews let me add two short reviews:

Culture Shift--Al Mohler
This is a quick read, and an excellent book. In it Mohler explains how Christians must engage the culture, and delineates the areas in which we have dropped the ball as far as understanding the major shifts in our culture throughout the last generation. He addresses politics, education, law, science, morality, world news and Christian character. If you have the chance, read this book.

Family Driven Faith
--Voddie Baucham
I actually finished this one over a month ago. If you have children, please read this book. You may not agree with everything Baucham espouses (he doesn't believe in children's church or youth groups, he does believe in homeschooling, etc.) but he backs up his assertions with both scripture and statistics that will knock your socks off. It is well-written, easy to read, and yet very convicting as he explains clearly that the responsibility for our children's faith and religious beliefs falls not on their Sunday School teacher, Youth Pastor, AWANA leader, or Bible class instructor, but on US--the parents. OUCH! This is such a good book I think it should be given to all new parents in churches.

Okay--that's it for now. I may blog more later tonight about our lives and what we're up to....

Friday, March 14, 2008

In news of the weird... may or may not have seen this story. Now, I enjoy my time in the bathroom as much as the next stay-at-home mom. I even confess to sometimes staying in there a little longer than necessary, avoiding emerging from the peace and quiet to the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, and doing laundry. I freely own up to taking extra-long showers, and sitting for a little too long. But--TWO YEARS!?! Doesn't it seem like this woman's boyfriend should have figured out sooner that something was desperately wrong? I mean, like after a day or two? I mean, my family won't let me stay in there more than about fifteen minutes, much less fifteen days or months. And the guy was bringing her food and water, he says. Well, what about calling in some professional help, buddy? And didn't anybody miss this woman? Why didn't anybody help her sooner? It's just too weird.

I suggested to my husband this morning that he start bringing me food and water, and maybe I could live in our half-bath for the next few weeks. He just laughed. It also shows that bathrooms, and toilets in particular, are just way too comfortable in this country. In India this would never happen--who would want to sit on a squatty potty for two years?

All right, enough of the potty humor...tomorrow I'm going to post about a more normal topic.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I Cant' Resist Posting This

This picture is from a link sent to me by my friend Renata. You can tell she knows me very well. "And that's all I got to say about that!"

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sisters in more ways than one...

Two of my sisters commented on my blog yesterday, and I love them both dearly. One is my sister Mary, who lives in Indianapolis. She's my sister in three ways: she is my blood-sister, (older, by the way) born to the same father and mother as I; she is my heart-sister, one of my dearest friends in the world, and she is my sister in Christ. The other is my sister Shannon, who lives in India. She is my sister in only two ways, because we were born of different parents. So she qualifies in the heart-sister way (younger, I might add,) and as a sister-in-Christ. Even though we were only neighbors for a few months, I still miss her and think of her as my younger sister.

This all got me thinking about how blessed I am with true sisters. Not to leave my other blood-sister out, Ruth qualifies in three ways, also, and we IM'd last night for a while, and e-mailed today. And besides these three so far, God has given me many women with whom I truly have unity of spirit, in such a way that we feel like sisters. Isn't God great and amazing? When I have been separated from my "real" sisters by many miles, He has always provided others for me: older sisters to give me advice and words of wisdom, same-age sisters to share related experiences with (like reminiscing about all our terrible hairstyles in the '80s,) and younger sisters that I can encourage and, I hope, help grow. I am always thankful to God for that bond that He gives us with other believers, and especially with other women. Now that I stop to think about this, in Christ, even my mother and daughters are actually my sisters! Strange, huh?

I won't even start listing all my other sisters here, for fear I may leave someone out and hurt someone's feelings. Or perhaps I would list someone and they would think, "Weird...I never thought of her that way." But my sisters know who they are, and I thank God for all of them.

Have you thanked God for your sisters lately?

P.S. I just re-read this and realized I neglected to mention my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who both qualify under two definitions, also. I am just so blessed!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Year Ago....

Today marks one year since we returned from living in India so that our son Bobby could be treated for lymphoma. I can hardly believe it's been that long, and yet on the other hand it seems like it's been forever. I can truthfully say that it has been the hardest year of my life. We have faced the possible death of our son, watched him go through chemo and all that it brings, waited for results of scans to see if he's cancer-free (still waiting...) and had a total change of career and
direction in life. We are still waiting in that regard, also. What I have learned is that I must not give up trusting in the Lord and having faith that He is in control. Even when things seem dark and hopeless, "there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still," as Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsy said in the concentration camp. In that vein, I've been thinking of these word by Samuel Trevor Francis today:

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

I really like the ocean imagery, and the idea of a restful haven. Also, it reminds me of this passage in Ephesians. So we'll press on, knowing that God knows the plans He has for us, even if we don't. And even if this next year is as hard as the last one has been, or harder, I will still praise Him.

What's So Great About Christianity?

That is the question addressed by Dinesh D'Souza in his recent book of that title. In it, he uses evidence from history, theology, philosophy, and science to show the incredible impact Christianity has had on the world. If you are a Christian, as I am, you may be saying "Well, of course! I've always known this!" But wait--you may not be aware of many of the aspects of history D'Souza addresses in this book: the biased presentation historians give of the crusades while generally ignoring Muslim atrocities, and the numbers of people killed under atheist regimes compared to "Christian" killings i.e the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, etc., D'Souza clearly elucidates these issues. His book is deep and complex, yet readable and understandable. I disagree with his position on reconciling evolution and creation,(At what point would man have been "evolved" enough for God to breathe a spirit into him? Were Adam and Eve not real people but rather archetypes of humanity as expressed in mythological literature? There are some questions here about the truth of the Bible) but in the other areas he addresses, I think he's right on the money. The last chapter becomes much more personal, as he describes what Christianity means to each of us as individuals. He ends the book with "Come quickly, Lord Jesus." D'Souza also has several other books that are worth reading:

The Enemy at Home
Letters to a Young Conservative
What's So Great About America
The Virtue of Prosperity
Ronald Reagan
The End of Racism
Illiberal Education

I especially appreciate the fact that he writes about conservative issues without becoming sarcastic, harsh, and vitriolic as some other conservatives do (Ann Coulter and Bernard Goldberg come mind.) If you want some good intellectual stimulation, D'Souza's books are just the thing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I forgot...

to mention that a few years ago my in-laws went on a "small ship" cruise off the coast of New England on a ship named....the Schooner Nathaniel Bowditch. Pretty cool, huh? I'm glad there are still things being named for him. I also forgot to mention his method of learning a language: get a grammar of that language, a dictionary, and a copy of the Bible. Go to John chapter 1 and start translating! After having learned Latin and French, when he started learning Spanish he discovered he already knew most of the words. What a great guy. Reading the book has inspired me to continue with my Hindi studies, and perhaps one day to actually conquer French.

More later today on another book.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sailing By Ash Breeze

One of the best books I've read recently is actually a children's book, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. It was assigned as a "read-aloud" for my two younger children's curriculum, which means that the parent reads the book aloud to the child and they have discussions together about the book. Kind of like having your own tiny book club at home. But I digress...

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is a wonderfully written account of the life of Nathaniel Bowditch, (1773-1838) who is famous in the history of navigation for writing what became the book on sailing for American sailors for over 150 years. It's worth reading the Wikipedia article on him--this man will amaze you. In a nutshell, he was a math genius whose family was too poor to send him to school--they needed him to work to help support the family. Instead of letting this get him down, he taught himself Latin so that he could read Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica, and actually found an error in that famous work. He eventually learned to speak French and Spanish, also, so that he could communicate with sailors from those countries on his travels. His dream had always been to go to Harvard, and later in his life that institution gave him an honorary degree based on his life accomplishments. It is an inspiring book, cleverly written with humor, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves history, sailing, or both.

And what does "sailing by ash breeze" mean? You'll have to read the book to find out....or I suppose you could Google it, you computer freaks out there. I encourage you to read the book.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spring has Sprung in the South

Yes, I'm still alive, any of you who have checked my blog and despaired of me ever writing again. We were gone for three weeks, and then our internet wasn't working, and now it is, and here I am. So--what's new with us? Well, we are withdrawing from service with our company as of March 15th, and my husband is job-hunting. We have all had a terrible "flu-like" upper respiratory infection, and are just getting over it. Our son Bobby had a PET scan a few weeks ago that was NOT clear, but he was sick at the time, so he has to have it repeated in a few weeks. The doctor thinks it's a false positive. But I ask myself these days--at what point will I stop wondering if the cancer is coming back? When does life REALLY get back to normal? What is "normal" anyway? As for blogging--I sympathize with my friend Renata--I, too, have so many things going through my head that it's hard to know where to start blogging.

The blessings have continued:
--Time spent with my parents, my brother Jon and his family, and our friends the Irwins.
--Rothwell Baptist Church is still letting us live in their "Chatham House."
--Unexpected financial blessing from some friends who were led by the Lord to send us some money.
--It's great to live so near Eric's parents, and his sister and her husband (and Teddy--let's not forget Teddy!)
--I've been able to talk to my Indian friend Pintu a few times on Skype--it has been wonderful to be in contact with her. And she assures me that if we go back to visit, we are always welcome in their home. What a lovely woman she is!

I've been reading. (duh!) Those of you who know me well know that I'm never without two or three books-in-progress. I'll just list some of my recent or current books, and next post I'll review one of them:
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham
Culture Shift by Al Mohler
What's So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D'Souza
The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Home schooling calls, so I'll leave you with some pictures I took this morning in our front yard. (These are especially for my parents :) ENJOY!!!